National cross-country season openers are well underway, and as usual with limited options for snow and international events, the start lists at both events are hardly short of the World Cup level.
Finland launched their national FIS season opener last weekend in Muonio, Russia concludes their FIS openers in Vershina Tea on Wednesday. Now the Norwegians are ready for their national FIS kick-off at Beitostølen on Friday.
Beitostølen opens with 10km and 15km classic events on Friday, continues with 10km/15km skate races on Saturday, and concludes with sprint events on Sunday. On the start lists are racers from several other national teams as well, including Italy, Germany, France, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Bulgaria, and even Luxemburg and Croatia.
Sweden is hosting two national season openers this weekend, the biggest and deepest field heading to Bruksvallarna, and a second FIS season opener in Gaellivare. Aside from Swedish racers vying for a spot on the national World Cup team are skiers from the Czech national team, Canada, France, Poland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Lithuania, as well as Denmark, Australia, Great Britain and Tonga.
In Bruksvallarna, the party gets going with 5km/10km classic races on Friday, continues with 10km/15km skate races on Saturday and finishes with sprint races on Sunday for both men, women and juniors. The Gaellivare season opener features sprints on Saturday and 10km/15km classic races on Sunday.
For most the racers, these national openers are important gauges of where they are at the start of a new competition season, and also serve as a last chance to adjust their training plans for the World Cup opener in Finland (November 28-30).