By Leandro Lutz
While we look forward to the next race of Visma Ski Classics, Reistadløpet in Norway, which will be held on April 6, we will explore yet another beautiful, yet unlikely, location for perfect Nordic skiing.
For many, today's destination is as exotic as cross-country skiing in South America. I had the privilege of traveling to this country twice in the 2017/2018 Winter Season and the experience I had was extremely positive.This is a Eurasian country, situated in the far west of Asia and south-east of Europe.We are talking about Turkey, a transcontinental country with a little more than 75 million inhabitants and an ancient culture.
In recent years, Turkey has excelled in the Nordic Skiing scenario and organizes some FIS events. The country has several cross-country skiers and biathletes but so far, no professional athlete in the Visma Ski Classics Tour. Turkey has a couple of places with good conditions for Nordic skiing and among them Gerede/Bolu and Kandilli/Erzurum.
I had the opportunity to visit and compete in Erzurum, which hosted the Universiades in 2011, the European Youth Olympic Festival in 2017 and was a candidate for the 2026 Winter Olympics. Erzurum is located in the east region of the country, in the heart of Eastern Anatolia and 1200 km from the capital Istanbul. Famous for its leather and metal crafts, it enchants foreign tourists and has one of the best structures in Turkey for Nordic sports like cross country ski, biathlon and ski jumping, as well alpine skiing, snowboarding and ice sports.
The Nordic Center for cross country skiing and biathlon is located in Askale District and is called Kandilli Ski Resort, really complete and just 30 minutes away from the city. Situated at 1700 meters above sea level, Kandilli has tracks for the cross country skiing and biathlon, featuring 1.3 km, 1,6 km, 2.5 km 3.75 km and 5 km long trails, as well as a ski stadium for Nordic skiing and another for biathlon.
The complex also has more than 20 wax cabins for cross country skiing and the same amount for biathlon, as well as artificial snow production system, a lodge and a restaurant, everything just 200 meters from the tracks and all the infrastructure required for a good stay.That is, a true Nordic Center that leaves nothing to be desired by the standards of Central Europe or Scandinavia.
Although Turkey is an "exotic" place for Nordic skiing, winter tourism is growing and they have a good infrastructure of hotels, restaurants, shops and a well-connected transport network. We can say that Erzurum and Turkey are rich in snow experiences. They perfectly combine winter sports and tourism.
Come and experience Turkey!