HOUGHTON MI – Despite suffering from one of the lowest December snowfalls in memory, organizers of the 2007 US Cross Country Championship say the show will go on – even if the snow doesn't.
Houghton has had about a foot of snow this December, well below the historical average of 57 inches. But organizers say the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center race courses are 100 percent covered with snow.
The center will host the national championship for cross country skiing January 1-7, 2007.
The city of Houghton and many volunteers have pitched in to move snow from where it is NOT wanted to the place where it IS wanted – the ski trails themselves.
Dump trucks have spent two days making the rounds to local football fields, soccer fields and just plain fields in search of snow.
"The courses are covered and there is a chance of snow this weekend,"
said organizing chair Mike Abbott. "Our volunteers, partners and sponsors have made an outstanding effort to make sure the course is ready to go."
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.
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 sprint on January 7. This will be the first time the USSA has held a team sprint at a national championship.
Sponsors of the event include the US Ski and Snowboard Association, Michigan Technological University, Portage Health, the Boss Snowplow, Plum Creek timber company, the Keweenaw Tourism and Convention Bureau, Sayen's Business Equipment and Sayen's Auto Sales.
Complete information on the event, including links to three webcams, is available at www.seniornationals.org