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National Ski Championships Heading for Houghton

Mon, Dec  18, 2006 - By Dean Woodbeck

HOUGHTON MI -- The nation's top cross country skiers will travel to Houghton, Michigan, in early January for the 2007 US Cross Country Championship. The Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center will host the national championship for cross country skiing January 1-7, 2007.

The event features four days of racing, including distance races on January 3 and 4 and sprint races on January 6 and 7. More than 400 skiers will participate, including many members of the U.S. Ski Team, regional development teams and top collegiate teams.

Spectators will walk on groomed trails leading to virtually any part of the race course. Three web cams will allow distant visitors to log into www.seniornationals.org and track starts and finishes. A huge stadium scoreboard will display results throughout the race day.

Both the 2007 and 2008 championships will be held in Houghton. The races are the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) national Nordic skiing championships. USSA is the national governing body for skiing (both Nordic and alpine) and snowboarding.

The Houghton organizers earned the bid based on the success of the

2006 Junior Olympics (JOs), which were held at Michigan Tech University last March. The JOs serve as the national championship for skiers ages 14-19. More than 350 skiers from around the country attended the week-long series of races.

"The upcoming event is the national championship for cross country skiing in the U.S.," said Mike Abbott, chair of the organizing committee. "With the experience our volunteers and organizers gained at the JOs, I'm confident we will be just as successful with this event."

The cross country championship week begins with two training days, January 1 and 2, before the first races commence on Wednesday, January 3. Skiers will participate in the distance classic races, with men covering a 10km course, while the women will ski 5km.

January 4 features the freestyle races: 10km for women and 15km for men. After a training day on January 5, skiers will race a classic sprint on Saturday, January 6 and participate in a team freestyle spring on January 7. This will be the first time the USSA has held a team sprint at a national championship.

The Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center was designed to be spectator friendly. Many viewing locations are an easy walk, on a groomed trail, from the stadium. Most of the sprint course can be seen from the stadium. The large stadium, including bleachers, allows easy viewing of the start and finish areas.

The newest improvement to the trail system is the Boss Snowplow Nordic Wax Center, added for the Junior Olympics with a generous donation from Boss Snowplow, based in Iron Mountain, Michigan. The center includes ten separate team wax rooms and a community wax room and changing area.

Complete information on the event, and a peek at the webcams, is available at www.seniornationals.org.