Nordiq Canada has revealed plans for its new East-West International Ski Federation (FIS) Cup Regional Race Series for the 2020-2021 season, designed to ensure cross-country skiers have opportunities to compete amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Canada's cross-country skiers will be able to compete in four regional races in either the east or west of the country between December and February, and additionally the World Championships Trials will remain in Whistler from January 7 to 10.
Splitting the country in half should reduce travel, while Canada's high-performance athletes can also now earn FIS points without having to leave the country.
This is especially important with international travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine periods likely to be in place during the season.
To ensure there is social distancing, the World Championships Trials will have a limited field and be focused on the under-20 and open categories.
Later in the season, the best in the nation will be able to travel to Nakkertok Nordic Ski Centre in Gatineau in Quebec for the 2021 Canadian Ski Championships, set to run from March 14 to 20.
This new series replaces Nordiq Canada's annual NorAm Continental Cup Series.
"COVID-19 has forced us all to adapt, to be innovative and adjust to a new way of doing things," Jeff Ellis, of events and partnerships at Nordiq Canada, said.
"Our number one focus is to support all of Canada’s cross-country ski athletes in their continued development by providing safe training and competitive race opportunities while respecting guidance by provincial government and health officials.
"Athletes are born and bred to race, and do not want to be left behind their competition.
"While we realise these difficult times will create additional stress and anxiety for all of us, we believe this new regional series eliminates the dilemma for athletes, coaches, parents and officials to put their health at risk by travelling multiple times across the country for sport.
"Until the pandemic has run its course, we recognise there may require travel for athletes in the Atlantic provinces and Territories, but we are encouraging our entire community to ‘Race Local.’"
Prize money for the top five women and men will be on offer at eight races.