Photo by Mark Johnson
by J.D. Downing
The 2008 Masters World Cup, taking place March 1-7, 2008, in McCall, Idaho, will mark the first ”Worlds” hosted in the U.S. since 1998. The event will bring together more than 1,000 adult skiers of all abilities, from over two dozen nations and throughout North America, for a week of fantastic skiing and lifelong memories. Depending on your age/gender category, the MWC2008 features a choice of technique in three individual races ranging from 5 to 45 km plus a national team relay.
The race venue, Ponderosa State Park, is located on a 1,000 acre peninsula on the shores of breathtaking Payette Lake. Only two hours northwest of Boise, Idaho, McCall offers a true cross country ski vacation destination in every way. Featuring a half-dozen groomed trail systems all within a short drive, the area offers plentiful blue kick-wax snow, a moderate 5,000 foot elevation, plentiful lodging options, incredible scenery and easy access either via air travel into Boise or a long day's drive for skiers from the western U.S. and Canada. “Everybody is incredibly excited to bring this event to McCall,” says Erin Roper, Executive Director of the MWC organizing committee. “It will really help put the area on the map.”
At a volunteer expo held in mid-November organizers were overwhelmed at the number of volunteers who came out to offer their help, some signing on for the whole eight-day event. According to Roper, the event will require up to 130 volunteers per day.
In addition to the diverse world-class Nordic trails, the McCall area also offers several nearby alpine options as well as snowmobiling, ice skating and sledding -- not to mention great shopping and dining. Combine all of that with a proven race crew that has hosted four U.S. championship events in the past decade and you have all the makings of a perfect place to welcome the world. “We’ve got a great committee,” commented Roper. “And the park is a fantastic venue. We’ve had tons of snow this winter – we could hold the event easily right now.”
The Masters World Cup is the world’s largest traveling ski-sport event drawing up to 1,400 competitors and a similar number of family and friends each year. The event is held at a different international venue every winter providing an incredible ski vacation experience along with the action on the trails. “It’s a little hard to say where we are right now with numbers,” say Roper. “Every country’s organizing director submits their entries as a block. But we’re definitely on track for 1,000 or more participants.”
There is no qualifying process for the Masters World Cup other than being at least 30 years young (as of 12/31/07). U.S. skiers are required to have current membership in either American Cross Country Skiers ($35 annual dues) or USSA ($125). MWC participants range from low intermediate-level skiers to former Olympians.
“Skiers from across North America have been focusing on the MWC2008 for many years now and we are now on the final countdown to the main event,” says J.D. Downing, national director for American Cross Country Skiers, executive producer of the 2008 Masters World Cup. Presented by Blackhawk, a planned community with Nordic trails in McCall, the organizing committee and sponsorship base have been working hard for the past six years putting this event together.
The number one question American Cross Country Skiers has been fielding about the Masters World Cup is “will I be in over my head?” The answer is that any citizen skier who has taken part in local citizen race events will likely feel at home at the MWC.
“If anything, the worlds format is even more user-friendly for middle-of-the-packers than big races at home because you start in small waves with just your age group,” says Downing. “We estimate the largest wave start in McCall will only be around 80 people which, compared to huge marathons with thousands of skiers all starting at once, is a piece of cake. The vast majority of skiers at the worlds are not after medals, but instead want to celebrate our favorite winter sport. Everyone -- and we do mean everyone -- has a great time.”
And it’s not all racing either. Participants can look forward to a welcome at the opening ceremonies by Nez Perce Native American singers and dancers and entertainment by musician and Idaho favorite Pinto Bennett.
Lodging options surround the downtown McCall shopping district not far from the Ponderosa State Park race venue. To book your MWC2008 lodging, contact www.inIdaho.com -- a no-fee provider serving all of Idaho, but based in McCall.
The world is coming to McCall, Idaho, this March. Make your plans to join in on the fun. For complete event information, go to www.mwc2008.com.