By Leandro Lutz
What is the first sport that comes to mind when we talk about South America?
Certainly, it is soccer… Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay are some of the South American powers and they have some of the best players in the biggest soccer teams in the World.
Football in South America can be compared to Nordic skiing in Scandinavia, with development of grassroots athletes, technology and scientific approach in preparation and training, and a real battle to be selected for the top teams.
But what about other South American sports? And our so beloved cross-country skiing? Where do we fit into this very different reality of countries with a strong tradition in Nordic sports?
Skiing, both alpine and Nordic, is not a completely new concept in South America. It was brought over by European immigrants in the early 20th century, mainly by those who settled in the cold and mountainous regions of Argentina and Chile and who sought to maintain their traditions and cultures.
After almost a century, what can we say about the evolution of snow sports and especially Nordic skiing in South America?
We currently have several athletes from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela training and competing both in South America and around the world. There are organized several FIS events in the region, as well as a Worldloppet event called Ushuaia Loppet, which will take place on 18/08/2019 and will feature a 50 km classic race.
Our readers may wonder if they really want to travel to South America in the austral winter (between June and September) and where to train Nordic skiing?
All the Nordic skiing tracks are located along the Andes Mountain Range that crosses the continent from North to South, making a natural border between Chile and Argentina, and West to East in Tierra del Fuego, where the southernmost city in the World, Ushuaia, is located - the host of our Worldloppet event.
The main Nordic Centers in South America are as follows:
Argentina: Bariloche (Cerro Catedral and Cerro Martial - XC and Biathlon) and Ushuaia.
Chile: Portillo (XC and Biathlon and is perfect for altitude training - 3000m) and Termas de Chillán.
And why would I recommend skiing in South America? If I were to define it in one word, I would say: Nature! Unspeakable landscapes and the best that nature can provide. But not only that, South America has a complete winter infrastructure with airports, transportation, hotels, restaurants and everything a Nordic ski lover needs.
In addition, we have the winter from June to September, which provides two winter seasons a year (austral and boreal), we have FIS races and the world's southernmost Worldloppet event. Finally, to make your trip even more lucrative, there is nothing like the receptivity and warmth of the South Americans.
What are you waiting for? Just book your flight to South America, pack your ski bag, come over and have fun!