LAKE PLACID, NY (Oct. 10) - With the 2009 U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships on the horizon Oct. 11 in Lake Placid, NY, there are several topics of interest that add extra spice to this year's title events.
1) Sans Snow - This is the first U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships that will be held off snow. While it may seem unorthodox, the 2009 U.S. Championships are going to be in October - without Father Winter. Nordic athletes spend nearly their entire summer jumping on plastic ski hills and training for cross country in roller skis. So, when the option of having the event during the annual Flaming Leaves Festival in Lake Placid, NY was presented everyone jumped at the chance - no pun intended - to try something new. The U.S. joins Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other prominent ski jumping and nordic combined countries with holding a non-winter national championships event.
2) Maplus Makes the Event Roll - This is the first U.S. Nordic Combined Championships to be held using roller skis instead of snow skis. While most people would just see a few wheels attached to a rod as only a boot away from being an inline skate, there are some very distinct differences between inline skates, and roller skis. For starters, where inline skates have a number of wheels and feels like an ice skate on asphalt, roller skis have a narrow wheel at either end of a long rod that requires the athletes who use them to skate as though they are actually on cross country skis. For this year's event, Maplus, a leading producer of roller ski equipment, is supplying 50 pairs of roller skis ensuring that all competitors are on the same speed 'skis.'
Following their use in this Championship event, Maplus has offered to sell the rollerskis onsite to clubs, coaches and athletes at a discounted price.
3) Feel the History - Olympic history runs deep in Lake Placid site of the third Olympic Winter Games back in 1932 when all the ski competitions were nordic events (alpine skiing was added in 1936). And today's MacKenzie-Intervale Ski Jumping Complex, where the action will take place this weekend, was built to host the 1980 Olympic Winter Games and has been holding jumping events ever since. Talk about a place to make history in your own country! Walking the hallowed ground where incredible moments in Olympic history have taken place and will have everyone chanting "citius, altius, fortius" or as non-Latin speakers say "faster, higher, stronger".
4) Hometown Hero - The Lake Placid region is the home of U.S. Ski Team's Bill Demong. He was born and bred in the Olympic town and while there might not be a sign on the town's water tower noting the home of the 2007 World Championships silver medalist, the crowd will still be cheering loudly as Demong and his teammates show them nothing short of a spectacular competition on Saturday. According to the northern New York native, the combination of dryland competition and hometown comfort have him predicting this to be the season's event people must get to. Additionally, the Lake Placid region was the birthplace to the U.S. Ski Jumping Team's Alissa Johnson.
5) A New Format for the Ages - The new nordic combined competition format launched by the International Ski Federation will be tested for the first time in the United States during these national title races. It will allow athletes more competition experience before the World Cup and World Championship season gets underway, not to mention provide spectators with a fresh look and renewed excitement in the sport. This new format includes a single jump event with a 10K skiing distance.