Bobsledders and skeleton athletes from North America might be logging a lot of miles in the looming Olympic year, without any close-to-home races to help them out.
The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation released its tentative World Cup schedule for next season Thursday, with no races in the U.S. or Canada on the slate. That could be a huge disadvantage for American and Canadian sliders, who may have to spend three months or more in Europe and Asia going into the Beijing Olympics next February.
Canadian bobsledder Alysia Rissling tweeted: “This can’t be right… no North American World Cup races and only week for Christmas?!? So basically North Americans will be on the road for 4 months straight (AGAIN)!!!”
It would seem so, though nothing is finalized — and there’s still some uncertainty about when and where the World Cup season will start.
The IBSF plan is for the first World Cup to be the weekend of Nov. 19-21 and many sliders expected that to be on the new Beijing track built for next year’s Olympics, though the World Cup luge circuit will be competing there that weekend. There will have to be, at minimum, a training week in China at some point prior to the Olympics, since most of the world’s sliders have not even seen the track.
For now, there are only seven IBSF World Cups confirmed, with four in Germany, one in Latvia, one in Switzerland and one in Austria.
That would suggest there’s a chance that an eighth gets added to the end of the schedule, with no World Cups currently slated past the Jan. 16 finale in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The Olympics begin Feb. 4.
The tentative IBSF schedule calls for races in Innsbruck, Austria Nov. 26-28; Konigssee, Germany Dec. 3-5; Winterberg, Germany Dec. 10-12; Altenberg, Germany Dec. 17-19; Sigulda, Latvia Dec. 31-Jan. 2; back to Winterberg Jan. 7-9; then St. Moritz Jan. 14-16.
Luge’s schedule, released last month, includes two North American stops: World Cups are planned in Whistler, Canada Nov. 27-28 and Lake Placid, New York Dec. 4-5.
There were no World Cups in North America this past season because of the coronavirus pandemic and concerns about international travel. Lake Placid was supposed to play host to the bobsled and skeleton world championships, and Whistler was to play host to luge’s world championships. Both were relocated to Europe.