PARK CITY, Utah (Dec. 12) - High-level competitions within the nordic ski world converge on Utah as the USSA Cross Country SuperTour and the nordic combined World Cup-B open at the 2002 Olympic cross country trails and ski jumps this week.
As coaches and athletes began arriving in the Park City area, Olympians
Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Bill Demong (Vermontville, NY) were
headed back to Europe for World Cup combined events this weekend in Ramsau,
Austria. They had returned home from Norway because of poor snow conditions and
the uncertainty of upcoming events, but recent snows have improved conditions in
Ramsau, scene of the 1999 FIS Nordic World Championships.
Meanwhile, Friday and Saturday, the nordic combined World Cup-B, comprised of athletes trying to make their onto the World Cup tour, will be competing on the large hill at Utah Olympic Park and on the trails at Soldier Hollow. Saturday and Sunday, the $130,000 USSA Cross Country SuperTour will offer distance and sprint races at Soldier Hollow; the overall champions from the SuperTour earn places on the World Cup to start the 2008 season.
"The snow's good," nordic combined World Cup Coach Dave Jarrett said Tuesday. "The guys are ready to go, and we're looking at what should be a couple of good competitions."
The World Cup-B Tour stopped in Steamboat Springs, CO, over the weekend for the Mountain Resorts World Cup-B events; Olympian Brett Camerota (Park City, UT) reached the podium Saturday and was just 11 seconds away from a victory in the season opener.
The World Cup-B schedule has opened in the USA in recent seasons because of the reliability of snow in the American West. After this week's two meets, the tour heads to Lake Placid, NY, for the annual Lamb Lumber Classic with competitions Dec. 20-21 before the Europeans head home.
Some new snow this week further spruces up the track conditions at Soldier Hollow, which is offering more than 20 kilometers of skiing. There are short distance freestyle (skating) races - women's 10K and men's 15K - Saturday with classic technique sprints Sunday. In the sprints, everyone skis the course in a qualifying time trial and the field is cut to 32 for finals heats.
Olympians James Southam (Anchorage, AK) and Caitlin Compton (Minneapolis) are the SuperTour leaders after the first seven races; the SuperTour champions will compete on the World Cup next season but of more pressing urgency is the opportunity to earn a place at the World Championships in Japan next February.
The schedule: (all times Mountain)
9 a.m. - Nordic combined: Large Hill (134m) jumping at UOP
3 p.m. - Nordic combined: 15K race at Soldier Hollow
9 a.m. - Nordic combined: Large hill jumping at UOP
9:30 a.m. - SuperTour: Women's 10K freestyle technique at Soldier Hollow
10:30 a.m. - SuperTour: Men's 15K freestyle technique
2 p.m. - Nordic combined: 7.5K race at Soldier Hollow
10 a.m. - Sprint (classic technique) qualifying for women at Soldier Hollow
10:30 a.m. - Sprint qualifying for men
Noon - Finals heats begin