The winter sports season is fast approaching, but like many things in 2020, it has had to be adjusted and adapted for a COVID-19 world.

Athlete health and safety is obviously of the utmost importance and that has had an impact on when and where Team Canada athletes will compete this fall and winter – or in some cases, if they will compete at all.

Read on for some of the major changes and key dates to look out for in sports that are held on snow. Part two of this series will give you a little more insight into ice sports.

Alpine Skiing

The Big News: 

There will be no World Cup races in North America this season. FIS has cancelled the traditional late November/early December men’s and women’s speed events in Lake Louise, as well as races in Killington, Vermont and Beaver Creek, Colorado. Those races will instead be incorporated into existing European stops, where the circuit will almost exclusively take place this season.

Valerie Grenier competing at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic games

Valerie Grenier of Canada competes in the women’s Super-G at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre during the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/COC)

Schedule Highlights:

The season kicks off the weekend of October 17-18 with men’s and women’s giant slalom events in Soelden, Austria. The first women’s speed events will be a pair of super-G races in St. Moritz, Switzerland on December 5-6, while the men will have their first downhill and super-G events in Val d’Isere, France on December 12-13. The season concludes with the World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland on March 17-21. You can click here for the full World Cup schedule.

Olympic Test Event:

The one World Cup event outside of Europe will take place February 24-28 when the women compete in the downhill and super-G at the National Alpine Ski Centre in Yangqing, China, which will host Olympic events at Beijing 2022.

World Championships:

As an odd-numbered year, 2021 will include the biennial world championships for alpine skiing. This season they will take place in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy from February 8 to 21.

Biathlon

The Big News: 

The IBU is cutting down on travel for most of the World Cup season by having athletes stay in a location for two weeks of competition instead of just one, eliminating at least three stops from the schedule. You’ll find more info on the updated schedule just below. In a temporary COVID-19-related rule change for just the first trimester of the season, each country can register two athletes who have not fulfilled the usual World Cup qualification criteria. In a non-COVID-19-related change, the IBU has created the Blue Bib, which will be worn by the top competitor under the age of 25. This replaces the IBU Rookie of the Year Award.

Team Canada Emma Lunder PyeongChang 2018

Canada’s Emma Lunder competes in the women’s 4x6km biathlon relay at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Korea, Thursday, February 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – COC – Jason Ransom

Schedule Highlights:

The World Cup season kicks off in Kontiolahti, Finland on November 27, with races there through December 6. Biathletes then head to Hochfilzen, Austria for races from December 7 to 20. After a break for the holidays, the World Cup circuit resumes in Oberhof, Germany for another two weeks of racing (January 4-17). The schedule for the third trimester of the season (late February to March) will be confirmed at the end of November. The full schedule can be viewed here.

Olympic Test Event:

The World Cup is currently scheduled to be in China from February 23 to March 1 for the test event of the Olympic Biathlon Centre in Zhangjiakou.

World Championships:

The World Championships are scheduled to take place February 9-21, 2021 in Pokljuka, Slovenia as the last event of the second trimester of the season.

Cross Country Skiing

The Big News: 

Athletes will now earn individual World Cup points in team events according to the final ranking of their team. Relays will count towards the Distance World Cup and Overall World Cup standings. Team sprints will count towards the Sprint World Cup and Overall World Cup standings.

Team Canada Dahria Beatty PyeongChang 2018

Canada’s Dahria Beatty competes in the ladies’ team sprint at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Korea, Wednesday, February 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – COC Ð Jason Ransom

Schedule Highlights: 

The cross-country World Cup season gets underway with the traditional opener in Ruka, Finland on the last weekend of November. The circuit will stay in Europe until the final event on the calendar in March. An annual highlight is the Tour de Ski, which will take place January 1-10 with races in Val Müstair (Switzerland), Toblach (Italy) and Val di Fiemme (Italy). FIS has strategically reserved the first weekend in February in case of any adjustments or cancellations to the schedule. For more details on the schedule visit the FIS website. 

Olympic Test Event: 

The World Cup Finals scheduled for March 19-21 will serve as the Olympic test event of the Olympic Nordic Centre in Zhangjiakou for Beijing 2022.

World Championships:

The biennial World Championships for all Nordic skiing events will be held in Oberstdorf, Germany from February 22 to March 7, 2021.

Freestyle Skiing

The Big News: 

There will not be a ski cross World Cup stop in Canada this season as the event planned for Nakiska has been postponed. This keeps the circuit in Europe all season. With various travel restrictions and quarantine measures in place, FIS has implemented a special participation rule before an event will be confirmed as a World Cup. For ski cross as well as park and pipe events, 70% of the nations represented by the top 20 athletes of the World Cup Start List must be allowed to travel without restriction. For moguls and aerials, 60% of the field must be able to attend the competition. The allowance is contingent on an athlete’s own national government guidelines.

Cassie Sharpe in the middle of a race

Cassie Sharpe competes during the Freestyle Skiing – Ladies’ Ski Halfpipe final at the Phoenix Snow Park on February 20, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.(Photo by Vincent Ethier/COC)

Schedule Highlights: 

There will be 10 moguls World Cup events in seven locations across three continents, beginning with the opener in Ruka, Finland the first weekend of December. The Canadians will have two chances to compete at home, in Tremblant on January 23 and in Calgary on January 30. Aerials gets underway that same weekend in Ruka, with a Canadian stop in Val St-Come on January 31.

The ski cross season kicks off December 3-5 in Val Thorens, France, the first of eight World Cup stops. Slopestyle is set to begin November 20-21 in Stubai, Austria, while the first halfpipe and big air World Cups are scheduled for December 16-19 in Copper Mountain, Colorado. The three freeskiing disciplines are on the calendar for Calgary, March 5-14. The complete World Cup schedule for all freestyle skiing events can be seen here on the FIS website. The annual Winter X Games in Aspen are expected to take place January 28-31, 2021.

Olympic Test Event/World Championships:

It’s two for the price of one. The 2021 Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships taking place February 18-28, 2021 will also double as the Olympic test event of the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, China.

Nordic Combined

The Big News: 

In an important move towards achieving gender balance at the Olympic Winter Games, women will compete in Nordic combined World Cup events for the first time ever this season. Women will also debut at the world championships.

PyeongChang 2018 Taylor Henrich Team Canada

Taylor Henrich competes in women’s ski jumping at PyeongChang 2018 on February 12, 2018. (Photo by Vincent Ethier/COC)

Schedule Highlights: 

The men will open their World Cup season on the last weekend of November in Ruka, Finland. The following weekend, they’ll be joined by the women in Lillehammer. Here is a full list of the World Cup schedule.

Olympic Test Event: 

The FIS Nordic Combined World Cup, February 6-7, 2021, will serve as the test event of the Olympic Nordic Centre in Zhangjiakou for Beijing 2022.

World Championships:

The biennial world championships for all Nordic skiing events will be held in Oberstdorf, Germany from February 22 to March 7, 2021.

Ski Jumping

The Big News:

So far, no World Cup ski jumping events have been cancelled. To get everyone to the Asian stops safely, consideration is being given to having charter flights to make it easier to comply with travel regulations.

Team Canada PyeongChang 2018 Mackenzie Boyd Clowes

Team Canada’s Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes takes qualifying round jumps on the normal hill at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre, PyeongChang, South Korea. Photo/David Jackson

Schedule Highlights: 

The most-anticipated annual event is the Four Hills Tournament. This season it takes place December 28, 2020 to January 6, 2021 across the four traditional venues: Oberstdorf (Germany), Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany), Innsbruck (Austria), and Bischofshofen (Austria). The full World Cup schedule can be seen here.

Olympic Test Event: 

The World Cup circuit will be in China February 10-14 for the test event of the Olympic Nordic Centre in Zhangjiakou.

World Championships:

The biennial world championships for all Nordic skiing events will be held in Oberstdorf, Germany from February 22 to March 7, 2021.

Snowboard

The Big News: 

There will be no World Cup stops for snowboard cross or alpine snowboard in Canada this season. FIS and Canada Snowboard made the decision to cancel the only North American events because of Canada’s quarantine retirements. Those circuits will stay almost exclusively in Europe. Still on the World Cup calendar is a March 5-14 stop in Calgary for halfpipe, big air, and slopestyle, which also have other North American stops.

Team Canada Mark McMorris PyeongChang 2018 slopestyle final

Team Canada’s Mark McMorris competes in the snowboard slopestyle final at PyeongChang 2018 Photo: COC/David Jackson

Schedule Highlights: 

The alpine snowboard season begins December 5-6 in Bannoye, Russia. Snowboard cross gets underway the following weekend in Montafon, Austria. Copper Mountain, Colorado will see the first halfpipe and big air events of the season in mid-December. The World Cup season runs through March 2021. You can see the full World Cup schedule here. The annual Winter X Games in Aspen are expected to take place January 28-31, 2021.

Olympic Test Event/World Championships:

The 2021 Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships taking place February 18-28, 2021 will also double as the Olympic test event of the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, China.