ANCHORAGE (Jan. 3) - The nation's most preeminent cross country athletes will have to wait to prove themselves as both able-bodied and adaptive races at the 2009 ConocoPhillips U.S. Cross Country Championships were canceled Saturday due to extreme cold that dipped to -16 degrees Farenheit. Races will resume Sunday at Anchorage's Kincaid Park if temperatures rise above -4 F.
U.S. Nordic Program Director John Farra sounded disappointed after a day of trying to pull off the opening sprint races in Alaska, where winter days are short.
"We tried to postpone and just hold the qualifiers today, but the weather would not cooperate. We gave ourselves every chance," Farra said.
The FIS rule is that cross country races cannot be held in temperatures below -4 F. Farra said it was -16 F when the over 400 athletes competing in nationals arrived in Anchorage.
Extreme cold is dangerous for cross country athletes, especially in sprint races, because of the sheer volume of air the racers take in, Farra explained.
"The volume is much larger and more extreme than what's taken in during a paced effort over distance. It's especially a concern for young racers," Farra said.We will try again tomorrow, there is a warming trend in the forecast but unfortunately tomorrow's forecast is not favorable. To get the first race out of the way would have been so nice. We'll have to wait for Mother Nature."
The 2009 ConocoPhillips U.S. Cross Country Championships schedule:
Jan 4 - Sprint (Classic)
Jan 5 - 10/15km (Freestyle)
Jan 7 - 5/10km (Classic)
Jan 8 - Team Sprint (Freestyle)