Friday, March 11, 2011

Organizers get ready for Nordic Nationals

Volunteers sought for March 26-April 2 races in SV

All U.S. Nordic Ski Team racers are expected here in the Wood River Valley for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) SuperTour finals and U.S. Championships starting Saturday, March 26.

Local organizers are seeking volunteers to help out with staging the five high-level races in eight days. In total, $27,800 in cash prizes for the series will be awarded as part of the 2010-11 season-ending finals here.

For the first time, Ketchum's Lake Creek trail system is hosting the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships (long course) Saturday and Sunday, March 26-27. Courses are 50 kilometers for men and 30k for the women.

Training days are March 24-25 at Lake Creek, the home of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation's Junior Nordic ski team. The men's 50k national classic technique race (25k Junior Men) is March 26. The women's 30k classic national race (15k Junior Women) is March 27.

SVSEF Nordic program director Rick Kapala said, "The Lake Creek trails are hard, but we will also have climbs equal to the standard for World Cup races. As part of the 50k, the racers will have go up our South Bench 50-meter hill seven times, for about a total climb of 3,500 feet."


First-place prize money for the nationals is $1,200 for each gender.

The 2011 U.S. Nationals will fold right into the March 29-April 2 USSA Super Tour finals making it a huge week here. "We hope to have 200 to 300 competitors here for the Super Tour finals. Our goal is to stage the Super Tour finals for two straight years," said Kapala.

The SVSEF is the host organization for the week of six high-level Nordic races capped by the Super Tour Pursuit Start Finals Saturday, April 2 on Dollar Mountain. Partnering with SVSEF are Sun Valley Resort and the Blaine County Recreation District (trail grooming).

USSA Super Tour races at Lake Creek will be held in a Mini-Tour format. The series of four races will build to a grand finale atop Dollar Mountain, complete with vuvuzela noisemakers given out free to spectators who climb to the top of the course, said Kapala.

Prologue races (4.5k men, 3.5k women) Tuesday, March 29 at Lake Creek are designed "to set the field," Kapala said. The mass start classic 15k (men) and 10k (women) races Wednesday, March 30 will be at Lake Creek. Thursday is a training day.

Individual sprint races are Friday, April 1 at Lake Creek. Based on their sprint finishes, racers will have bonus time subtracted to determine their starts for the Pursuit Start finale on Saturday, April 2. It should be a challenging course on Dollar Mountain—the first to cross the finish atop the hill's summit earning the overall title.

"We'll start near Quarter Dollar and go up and over towards Elkhorn, then back towards Dollar summit. The elevation gain should be 650 to 700 feet," said Kapala.

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