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SCROLL DOWN BELOW THE LINK MENU FOR THE NEWEST USA UPDATES -- Occasional updates will appear on this page throughout Fall/Early Winter 2023. Posts will start to be more frequent as we get closer to Winter 23/24. Then very frequent in January. Anticipate daily updates posted here from start of the MWC2024 trip until the evening of the last race day.
AXCS Travel Package Deposit Payment Process (all the info you need on the various ways to pay your Deposit for AXCS Travel Package reservations)
Break Sokos Hotel (AXCS has a large block of single & double rooms reserved for Team USA)
Vuokatti Sport Chalets (AXCS has a cluster of chalet apartments reserved for Team USA) Added note on apartment chalets -- there is a small supermarket 1.6km away walking on plowed multi-user paths over pretty gentle terrain. It's also possible to get a few things in the “sport campus” area as well.
Vuokatti Sport (all about the sport campus where MWC2024 is based.....and so much more!)
Ski Service for MWC2024 -- AXCS has not been approached by any USA ski service providers for the MWC2024 trip. However, the local folks at Vuokatti Sport provided ski service at the MWC2016 and USA skiers using those folks were quite pleased. So it should be possible to book ski service on-site. More info coming this fall.
Local Web Cams & Ski Conditions
USA Ground Transportation Information (coming Dec/Jan)
MWC 2024 TEAM USA UPDATES
Updates posted by AXCS National Director J.D. Downing
Current MWC2024 AXCS Lodging Chart (last update September 11 -- 10pm PST)
Wednesday, September 27 -- 11:30am Pacific Time updates
--> Updates for Post-MWC2024 Mini-Tour
Most important update is that we have around a couple dozen USA folks confirmed as strongly interested or committed to the Post-MWC2024 Mini-Tour of Southern Finland Ski Spots (Feb 17-18-19) -- and thus we are "GO" with this part of the Vuokatti adventure.
A few items are still subject to change, but our planned itinerary has been holding up logistically and this all looks to be a very fun add-on to the MWC2024 experience.
If you have NOT committed via email to JD that you want to be part of the Mini-Tour, please email jd at xcskiworld dot com as soon as possible and let JD know that you want to be put into the planning mix.
Here's the breakdown of the Mini-Tour Itinerary
--> The last MWC race day is Friday, February 16, so the “mini-tour” is designed to start the next morning.
--> Day One: Beginning the morning of Saturday, February 17 (we will tentatively use 8am as time of departure) we will board a charter bus(es) in Vuokatti and travel roughly 2.5 hours south to Kuopio. We will ski local trails (as long as you wish), potentially add some local attractions as a group, and stay overnight. The current recommended hotel from tourism officials is Scandic Atlas which is in the city center allowing for easy walking for shopping, restaurants, and entertainment.
--> Day Two: The morning of Sunday, February 18 we will load the bus(es) again using a tentative departure time of 8am, and travel roughly 2 hours to Jyväskylä which is a very famous race venue similar to Vuokatti. We'll ski local trails there (as much as you wish). After skiing and eating lunch, we’ll continue another 2 hours further to the southwest to Tampere which is consistently being mentioned by AXCS contacts as a “must see” tourism spot. Tampere is famous for mostly off trail afternoon/evening adventures (although there are smaller ski trail systems available, so you probably can ski more there if you really want to). Our recommended hotel right now is Torni Sokos (same brand as our USA hotel in Vuokatti).
--> Day Three: Finally, on Monday, February 19 we will drive 2 hours to Lahti (famous World Cup venue & location of the Finlandia Worldloppet). We will ski local Lahti trails (as much as you wish) and then drive a final hour down to the Helsinki Airport area and the “mini-tour” official end point. We should be able to get to the Helsinki airport by mid-to-late afternoon (roughly 3-4pm) on the 19th so everyone will have several options at your disposal. You can immediately hop on evening flights back home or elsewhere in Europe. Or you can check-in to an airport hotel (AXCS recommends two options dialed right at the airport). If you want, you can take a train into Helsinki for evening sight-seeing.
Pricing for the mini-tour at this point really depends on the number of participant confirmations we get. The one universal cost is transportation and JD's guesstimate right now for bus transport is around 200-250 EUR per person. Final cost depends on the final number if paid participants. Final cost will be quoted and billed when we do the Lodging Balance payments in November.
The retail rate for the two recommended hotels in Kuopio and Tampere are very similar to the MWC prices including just breakfast. JD is currently trying to get a discounted group rate for both hotels. Whether or not we can get a group rate will determine whether you will make hotel reservations via AXCS or on your own. Stay tuned.
Lunch/dinners and any fees for skiing will be additional costs determined each day and for which you will pay on your own.
If you have not already let JD know that you are seriously-interested in the mini-tour, please send J.D. a "yes, seriously interested in the mini-tour" message via email << jd at xcskiworld dot com >> or phone (5413170217) as soon as possible. Although we have enough people to make the mini-tour "GO" -- we need to know by mid-October if we have a lot more takers as is changes some logistics and costs with buses and hotels.
The best guess is that we will need to "lock things in" for the mini-tour by late November with the transportation and any admin costs being non-refundable up to a certain level (although you could "sell" your spot). Flexibility with the hotel fixed costs is more uncertain right now, but we should have clarity in the next week or two.
Overall the mini-tour is shaping up to be a once-in-a- lifetime chance to experience multiple famous locations in Southern Finland with easy and flexible logistics. Our aim is for everyone to be able to customize your time on the trails each of the 3 days based on how you feel each day, the weather, etc.. We'll combine great skiing with plenty of new sights to see and places to explore in Southern Finland off the snow.
Monday, September 11 -- 10:30pm Pacific Time updates
--> Helsinki Airport General Notes
The Helsinki airport is exceptionally modern and recently updated in many sections.
There are limited direct flights from USA gateways. These are very worth considering given the extra time required (both directions) to transit via more “normal” European gateways such as Amsterdam, Munich, Paris, London, etc. as well as the necessity of at least one more significant travel leg beyond Helsinki to/from Vuokatti. Even if the price is a bit higher, a direct Helsinki flight from a USA gateway can keep your total number of flights down to three which is much easier on you physically, requires less time, and reduces the risk of complications from missed connections, bags going awry, etc..
Smart tip: HEL ticketing and security tends to move super fast especially in the early hours so planning terminal arrival 2 hours before your flight time is plenty of elbow room even for international departures.
--> Hotels at the Helsinki Airport
AXCS has previewed (in Fall 2022) and can strongly recommended two great hotel options immediately outside the HEL arrival hall to break up your travel to/from USA and Vuokatti. Both of these hotels can easily be booked on-line yourself. Note: If we have enough folks doing the post-MWC mini-tour of Southern Finland Ski Spots, AXCS can ask about getting a group rate for the night of Monday, February 19.
Scandic Helsinki Airport and Hilton Helsinki Airport are very large and modern hotels within a whopping 4-6 minute walk (yes, that is easy walking time) of the arrival hall doors. Pricing on both hotels is similar (<$200 USD single). Scandic is a bit higher in price as breakfast is usually included. Both offer a (very) early breakfast option (starting 3am) and the Scandic option even in the wee hours is a complete feast. Both hotels have on-site restaurants for PM meals, but if you retrace your short 4-6 minute walk back to the arrivals hall (outside of security) you can find an entire food court of lower priced food/drink options plus a small 24-hour grocery market with amazingly competitive prices on all sorts of things you don’t normally find at an airport mini-mart.
Note on the walking route to the Scandic and Hilton hotels, once you pass the final customs declaration doors and reach the arrival hall (you’ll see folks waiting to welcome arrivals), proceed past the food courts and shops, turn right into essentially a paved outdoor parking lot and courtyard where there are bus boarding stations. Scandic is immediately across that area and Hilton is the next building over. There are signs that guide you to both entrances. In rain/snow there are also covered walkways for the majority of the short walk plus short-hop elevators to avoid a couple sets of stairs.
Other hotel options at or near the Helsinki Airport....
There are many other nearby hotels reached by shuttles and one other option in the airport campus (GLO Hotel -- AXCS did not try this option) that may or may not offer lower pricing. JD (AXCS) has stayed off-airport for MWC2016 and found both Scandic/Hilton totally worth the extra cost given not only the proximity to the terminal plus ease of finding a variety of food options at reasonable prices (shockingly difficult at the off-airport hotels). Bottomline: If you are a tight budget, there are many hotels a shuttle away from the terminal that will price generally $60-80 USD lower for a one night stay. But skiers won’t go wrong with the Scandic Airport and Hilton Airport options.
Thursday, July 20 -- 2:30pm Pacific Time updates
--> Arrival and/or Departure Regional Airport Connections to Vuokatti
Several USA folks have asked when/how you need to set up airport shuttles from regional airports (Kajaani, Oulu, Kuopio a per the June 12 updates),
The MWC2024 OC plans to have a system to set up airport shuttles. We do not know the cost yet and JD does not anticipate a system being in place until late fall. But we know that is the organizer plan.
AXCS will have more detailed info on the airport shuttle process by the late fall.
Monday, June 12 -- 4:30pm Pacific Time updates
--> Detailed Info On Arrival & Departure Travel Planning
The MWC2024 has a wide range of options on how USA skiers can plan your individual travel to and from Vuokatti. It is assumed that most folks will transit in and out of Helsinki -- but the options come in with how and when you get too/from Helsinki and Vuokatti.
This winter you do have a lot of viable options with the MWC2024 trip on date of arrival and departure in terms of both lodging and ground transfers from airports. That's not always the case with MWC events. Our USA lodging options can be modified for any date of arrival or departure. The Organizing Committee will be setting up ground bus/van transfers (at cost) and you should be able to get an airport transfer for any flight in/out of the three airports listed below.
One additional flux issue for MWC2024 will be the development of the proposed AXCS "mini-tour of Southern Finland" targeting the 3 days following MWC2024 (February 17-19). An update on the mini-tour is posted below.
Domestic Finnish Travel Decisions You'll Need To Make
Inbound: AXCS has used a couple different methods to get to Vuokatti and the first thing you will need to figure out is which overall inbound plan suits your needs the best.
Option "A" involves flying from your USA starting spot into Helsinki (HEL) -- overnight at a Helsinki Airport hotel (AXCS has a couple solid recommendations right at the airport itself) -- then complete the journey into Vuokatti the next day. Pros: Splits up what otherwise is a very long inbound travel process. Gets you started with time adjustment. Potential Con: May or may not add a travel day with lodging/food cost.
Option "B" involves a long travel string from your USA starting spot thru the domestic Finland travel steps. Pro: Gets all travel out of the way. Potential Cons: Depending on how long it takes you to get to Helsinki, can be a very long/taxing travel process. If it takes 3+ flights/20 hours to get you to Helsinki -- this isn't a wise option. But some home-to-Helsinki sequences are fast enough that adding the two steps (short flight + ground shuttle) to complete the trip into Vuokatti might not be a huge deal.
Outbound: You again have the options above (in reverse), but you also should consider whether or not you want to consider the "mini-tour of Southern Finland ski spots" AXCS is working on (see below for the current mini-tour thoughts). If you did opt for the mini-tour, your outbound plan from Vuokatti is pre-planned for you. But if you skip the mini-tour, figuring out whether to overnight in Helsinki again needs to be considered mainly because it can be tricky lining up the flight to Helsinki to match your trans-Atlantic flight(s).
Options for Helsinki -Vuokatti travel
--> Fly: The fastest option is to fly, but the trick is deciding which Central Finland airport you use and when. Domestic plane tickets are around 200-250 EUR per person roundtrip.
The closest airport is Kajaani (KAJ) with a roughly 30 minute shuttle to Vuokatti. The downside with Kajaani is that there are only two inbound options (only via FinnAir) on Thurs, Feb 8 and only one outbound option on Sat, Feb 17. Notable: There's also 2 flights on Friday.
There are multiple daily direct flight options on FinnAir between Helsinki (HEL) and both Oulu and Kuopio airports with roughly one hour flight times. The downside with both these airport options is that you will have a longer shuttle ride (2.5 hours Kuopio, 3 hours Oulu).
--> Rail: It is possible to take rail from the Helsinki airport to Kajanni (one transfer, roughly 6 hours total) and then a 30 minute ground shuttle into Vuokatti. Several USA skiers used this option in 2016 and liked going this route even with the extra time involved.
When to start booking travel components
Over the spring months, flight pricing has been relatively stable for Winter 2024. But if you know that you are 100% planning to travel on certain inbound and outbound dates now, you can jump on good flight sequences (at least for trans-Atlantic flights) when you wish. It will be useful to keep an eye on FinnAir seat capacity if you really want/need to be on certain planes (particularly in/out of Kajaani to/from Helsinki). On the other hand, if you want to see the final plan for the AXCS "mini-tour" optional extension, it might be a good idea to wait into July to see more details.
Update on the "mini-tour of Southern Finland ski spots" post-MWC2024
Below are the current thoughts on this potential add-on. Everything you see is subject to change -- but AXCS has gotten some excellent input from super knowledgable folks and a plan is for sure developing. AXCS is still trying to nail down a tour partner. But we also may just see if we can set up logistics ourselves and if so -- the hope is by mid-July pinning down how many USA skiers are really keen about the mini-tour.
Very rough draft plan as of June 12
Day One: Beginning the morning of Saturday, February 17 we would board a charter bus(es) at Vuokatti Sport and travel roughly 2.5 hours south to Kuopio. We will ski local trails (as much as you wish), potentially add some local attractions, and stay overnight.
Day Two: On Sunday, February 18 we will travel roughly 2 hours to Jyväskylä and ski local trails there (as much as you wish). AXCS is then working on a choice of options. We might overnight in Jyväskylä (the caveat is that it's much like Vuokatti and mostly the claim to fame is as a National Sport Center). The other thought is (after skiing and eating) continue another couple hours further to the southeast to Tampere which is consistently being mentioned by AXCS contacts as a "must see" tourism spot for mostly off trail afternoon/evening adventures (although there are smaller ski trail systems available). We'll continue working on this part.
Day Three: Finally, on Monday, February 19 the thought is to head to Lahti (famous World Cup venue & location of the Finlandia Worldloppet). The drive would be roughly 2 hours regardless of whether we start from Jyväskylä or Tampere. We will ski local Lahti trails (as much as you wish) and then drive a final hour down to the Helsinki Airport area and the "mini-tour" official end point. We should be able to get to the airport by mid-afternoon so from that point everyone will have several options at your disposal. You can immediately hop on evening flights back home or elsewhere in Europe. Or you can check-in to an airport hotel (AXCS has a couple great options dialed right at the airport) and take a train into Helsinki for sight-seeing.
If anyone has specific thoughts or suggestions with this draft plan, please feel free to send word to JD at your earliest convenience -- jd at xcskiworld dot com
Thursday, June 8 -- 12:30pm Pacific Time updates
--> USA Reservation Deposits Required as of June 10
Effective Saturday, June 10 -- to place and hold a reservation with the Team USA Lodging Package for MWC2024, you will need to pay a $750 per person deposit and also have at least one person in the hotel room or apartment with current AXCS membership.
All the information you need about the MWC2024 deposit including terms/conditions can is found via this page.
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