WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. (Nov. 20) - The USSA Cross Country SuperTour, with 11 stops throughout the United States, is set for the 2007-08 winter season with opening races Friday. It has become a vital development tool helping athletes transition to the elite competitive level of the World Cup, World Championships and Olympics.
Cross country ski racing is a fast-paced, action sport. At the elite level, it requires the ultimate physical and mental toughness to succeed. Top performances in the SuperTour help athletes gain U.S. Ski Team berths and ultimately a spot in the Olympics, World Championships or in World Cup races.
Within a season of winning a SuperTour overall title, six skiers posted a World Cup or U23 World Championship podium, or World Championship top-5 finish. The group includes Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), Carl Swenson (Park City, UT), Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK), Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) and Laura Valaas (Wenatchee, WA). Ivan Babikov went from winning the tour to the Russian national team.
U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner said the 22-race tour, which will mark its 12th season of competition, is celebrating the payout of its one-millionth dollar of prize money since its inception.
The SuperTour was designed to provide top domestic athletes with the money to compete head-to-head with each other all season. It also was to enable their club and industry teams to promote themselves each season and to narrow the jump between domestic and World Cup competition. "It's succeeded on all fronts," he said.
"That local organizers at our greatest skiing venues have been able to drive a million dollars to our best athletes is something that continues to amaze me even today. It's a wonderful example of the grassroots support behind our team allowing them to achieve new, historic levels of performance," Bodensteiner said.
The 2008 USSA Cross Country SuperTour schedule:
Nov. 23-24 - West Yellowstone, MT (Freestyle sprint, Men's 15K/Women's 10K Classic technique)
Dec. 8-9 - Bozeman, MT (CL sprint, Men's 15k/Women's 10K FR)
Dec. 15-16 - Soldier Hollow, UT (CL sprint, Men's 15K/Women's 10K FR mass start)
Jan. 1-6 - Houghton, MI (U.S. Championships - short distance; Men's 10/Women's 5K FR, Men's 15K/Women's 10K CL, FR sprint, CL sprint)*
Jan. 19-20 - Mount Itasca, MN (Men's 10K/Women's 10K CL, Men's 10K/Women's 10K FR)
Jan. 23 - Duluth, MN (FR sprint)
Jan. 25-27 - Telemark, WI (Men's 10K/Women's 5K CL, Men's 15K/Women's 10K FR mass start)
Feb. 2-3 - Madison, WI (Capitol Sprints - CL sprint, Team FR sprint)
Feb. 7-9 - Aspen, CO (Men's 10K/Women's 5K CL, Men's 30K/Women's 30K FR mass start)
Feb. 23 - Hayward, WI (American Birkebeiner - Men's 52K/Women's 52K FR mass start)
March 28-30 - Fairbanks, AK (U.S. Championships - long distance; Men's 30K/Women's 15K pursuit, Men's 50K/Women's 30K CL mass start)*
* - U.S. Championships; double SuperTour points
"Cross country skiing is a healthful, lifelong family sport. Every U.S. Ski Team athlete got started skiing for fun with family," Bodensteiner said. "The SuperTour has become a great way to connect our elite athletes with the nation's cross country skiing family. That helps contribute to the development of top World Cup racers for the future."