ANCHORAGE (Jan. 2) - The nation's premier cross country athletes are set to compete for the title of best in the U.S. as the 2009 ConocoPhillips U.S. Cross Country Championships heads to Anchorage's Kincaid Park Jan. 3-8.
The event will name the nation's top able bodied and adaptive cross country athletes in sprint and medium distance disciplines.
"Anchorage is a great place to hold the U.S. Championships, it has a terrific nordic culture, and has been a successful host of cross country events for decades, " said U.S. Nordic Director John Farra. "Home to many great cross country skiers as well as a training ground for all, a city like Anchorage will be an incredible host for this event."
One of Anchorage's brightest cross country stars, Kikkan Randall, will be on hand to compete in her hometown and says she's happy to be able to race with her community's support.
"We haven't raced here in a while, so it's exciting to showcase what Anchorage has to offer and be able to race in front of the hometown crowd," Randall said. "The community has already rallied in getting ready for the races and it's exciting. So many people have been out working on the courses and there's definitely a buzz. I think we're going to have a good cheering crowd out, a lot of racers and it's going to be fun."
Also expected to compete are U23 Championship medalist Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT), SuperTour winner Morgan Arritola (Ketchum, ID) and Olympian Chris Cook (Rhinelander, WI) as well as adaptive cross country athletes like Paralympian Monica Bascio (Evergreen, CO), Greg Mallory (Portland, OR) and Sean Halsted (Ephrata, WA).
Signed on to host the event for two years, Anchorage is a fitting venue for the cross country championships according to USSA Director of Events Calum Clark.
"This is one of our very few urban venues. We are right on the edge of Anchorage," Clark said. "The people of the city of Anchorage are great fans of cross country skiing. You see people cross country skiing there all the time and they have a passion for racing."
According to Clark, Anchorage will give athletes a chance to perform in similar conditions to the 2010 Olympics.
"It's going to be a great opportunity as we lead into the Olympics. We have a two year programs there and it is in a similar climactic zone, a similar time zone, it's similarly close to sea level," Clark said.
The action at Kincaid Park runs Jan. 3-8.
"The city is really behind this event and it is commanding everyone's attention," Clark said.
The 2009 ConocoPhillips U.S. Cross Country Championships schedule:
Jan 3 - Sprint (Classic)
Jan 5 - 10/15km (Freestyle)
Jan 7 - 5/10km (Classic)
Jan 8 - Team Sprint (Freestyle)