Noah Hoffman (USA) was 6th in the season opener this weekend. Here from the 15k skate at FIS World Championships in Falun (SWE). Photo: NordicFocus

Noah Hoffman (USA) was 6th in the season opener last weekend. Here from the 15k skate at FIS World Championships in Falun (SWE). Photo: NordicFocus

The November 26-29 season opener weekend features six FIS World Cup events for cross-country and two for Nordic Combined.

With fresh snow in Kuusamo/Ruka (FIN), the stage is set for a rock-n-roll start to the traditional FIS Nordic Opening. In addition to the cross-country and Nordic combined events, there will be two FIS ski jumping competitions in Ruka as well.

Cross-Country Skiing
While the cross-country “Ruka Triple” mini tour took a break from the World Cup schedule last season, the popular stage race is back and treats racers to a sprint on Friday, a skate distance on Saturday and a classic pursuit on Sunday.

For Madshus racer Noah Hoffman (USA), the Finnish venue holds both good and bad memories.

“I have a lot of experience with this venue, both bad and good. Two years ago, I won the final stage of the opening mini-tour World Cup here. Last year, I broke my ankle in the 15km classic here. So, I’m hoping to channel the good and not so much the bad here this year,” Hoffman said to Madshus.com prior to the World Cup opener. Read more about Hoffman’s 2014 adventure in Finland.

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Noah Hoffman broke his ankel during the 15km skate race in Kuusamo last year. Photo: NoahHoffman.com

Noah Hoffman broke his ankel during the 15km skate race in Kuusamo last year. Photo: NoahHoffman.com

Hoffman is excited for the season to get underway, and for a season with no major championships, he is particularly excited about the World Cup tours, of which there are several this year.

“I really like the mini-tours and the full tours. They suit my strengths well, and I like having lots of races in a row,” said Hoffman, who is coming off a solid 6th place in the 15km skate race at the Swedish FIS season opener last weekend.

Between the Ruka season opener this weekend and the season finale in March, there are 36 competitions per gender across nine countries on the 2016 World Cup schedule. In a season with no major championships, the Tour de Ski, which celebrates its 10th anniversary will be one of the major goals for many of the racers. Additionally, the new Tour de Canada, which is scheduled from March 1-10, 2016, is already drawing significant attention both from the racers and the fans. The new tour also serves as the 2016 season finale.

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Heidi Weng fighting the last few meters to the finish line up Alpe Cermis, the last stage of the 2015 Tour de Ski. Photo: Nordic Focus

Heidi Weng fighting the last few meters to the finish line up Alpe Cermis, the last stage of the 2015 Tour de Ski. Photo: Nordic Focus

Madshus racers claimed five podium finishes at the FIS Season opener in Beitostølen (NOR) November 13-15, and then two podiums and several top-10 finishes at the Swedish and Finnish season openers this weekend, which bodes well for the first World Cup events. Madshus racer Hans Christer Holund (NOR) posted two podiums at Beitostølen, while Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR), Heidi Weng (NOR) and Pål Golberg each had one podium at the 2016 season opener. Read more about the Nov 13-15 season opener.

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Hans Christer Holund (NOR)

Hans Christer Holund (NOR)

Nordic Combined
According to the FIS, this season there is a bigger field of athletes than in a long time. Madshus promising young racer Jarl Riiber (NOR) is certainly one to keep an eye on this season. He just moved up from the juniors with a gold and a bronze medal from the 2015 FIS Junior World Championships in Almaty (KAZ), and was 13th at the World Cup in Trondheim in March.

The 2016 FIS Nordic Combined World Cup treats the athletes to twelve different venues across Europe. The third edition of the Nordic Combined Triple in Seefeld (AUT) is among the season highlights for the Nordic Combined racers. Also, the Nordic Combined competitions in Schonach (GER) will also be a special occasion, as the village is hosting the events for the 50th time.