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2007 Senior Nationals in the Midwest? With or Without Lower Peninsula Racers?
September 9, 2002 - By Mike Muha

Sten Fjeldheim sent this e-mail recently (I've edited it slightly to make it easier to read):


The NMU ski team will be hosting a combination collegiate and FIS race this winter 2/1 and 2/2. If you have a FIS license and or USSA license you are welcome to race. Joe Haggenmiller will be the race Chief, Chief of race. 

The reason we want to have a FIS /NRL [National Ranking List] race is so that we here in Central can start building a good points base within our own Region . We (Central) should have 3 weeny FIS races every winter after the Senior National Championships. This would allow are athletes to earn NRL points and not travel as much, we can not just simply say, "Luke didn't give us any FIS points races". 

Here are some facts, The last time Senior Nationals were in the Midwest I raced on wooden skies, I have picture from the 1974 Nationals in Minneapolis, Bob Gray won the race; today he is 60+ years old (still fast). What's up with that, why have we not had a bid for Senior Nationals from Minneapolis? 2003 and 2004 Nationals will be in Rumford Maine (ever been there?), 2005 and 2006 will go back to the west, that means 2007 Central has a chance again. 33 years later. 

The point I am trying to make is that we MUST create our own 3 race January-first-week-of-Febuary race series for the colleges and top level seniors and juniors. Having a FIS /NRL race is no big deal, need a trail, timing and a place to take a dump. Some people want us to think that when we host a FIS or NRL race it needs to look like the Olympics. Believe me, I spent many years as a USST coach and have been to World Cups in just about every country that has snow and some that don't, most places are not fancy at all, good trails and timing. Also, the Superior Land Ski Club will host the International Spring Series that March and April, I expect all skiers from the Central division to attend, do not hang up your skies after the Birkie and the JOs, 

I have spoken with REED LUTTER about chartering a Grey Hound bus from the Minneapolis area , or maybe XC Scott Wilson get the bus organized so, get on the bus and get up here for some great racing. Get on the bus and get up here, please!!! Spring Series in Marquette and Ironwood March 29th to April 5th.

I sent e-mail back to Sten asking a couple questions:

Question: It appears you consider Minnesota and Wisconsin more a part of the UP racing scene ("...charter bus from Minneapolis...") than the Lower Peninsula - Is this because their are so few USSA skiers under the bridge, and should this be used as an opportunity to grow USSA racing down here?

"Yes, this is a big region, the skiers from MN and WI are faster and have better USSA points than skiers from lower Michigan, therefore I refer mostly to MN and WI. Although there the Lower P has a few good skiers, it takes 5 good point skiers to create a points base that will result in a good points race."

Question: Can you take advantage of lower peninsula races for USSA races?

"Yes, but not enough competition in the Lower P. to make worth the travel, it would not work. Not enough skiers who have USSA Points NRL."

This is a really interesting e-mail, from several angles. First, is this the start of a Michigan racing renaissance? First, Marquette gets the 2004 US Masters Championship. Could Michigan also get the 2007 Senior Nationals? 

Second, has Sten thrown down the gauntlet to lower peninsula XC ski racers? Should the lower peninsula be more involved in USSA racing? Or will / should the lower peninsula remain independent?

What do you think?