ANCHORAGE (Jan. 4) - After a second day of freezing cold temperatures at Anchorage's Kincaid Park, races at the 2009 ConocoPhillips U.S. Cross Country Championships were postponed Sunday.
Able bodied and adaptive sprint races were originally scheduled for Saturday, the opening day of the championships, but temperatures dipped to -16 Fahrenheit and did not rise above -4 F, the standard which FIS has determined safe for cross country competition.
Sunday's temperatures were colder according to U.S. Nordic Program Director John Farra.
"They were significantly colder when we had to make the decision. It was minus eleven F. It wasn't a hard decision," Farra said.
The cold spell has forced organizers to make changes to the competition schedule. The freestyle technique event will be held Monday, Jan. 5. The start time will be later than the published start time of 10:00 a.m., but is yet to be determined. The distances have also been reduced to 5km for women and 10km for men. The race will be held on the course scheduled for the 5k/10k classic, which is scheduled for Jan. 7.
"It's obviously disappointing but coaches and athletes understand this is an outdoor sport," Farra said.
Farra said shortening the distance Monday gives organizers the best chance possible to hold the race because it will decrease the window of opportunity needed to complete the event should temperatures continue to be cold.
"We need about a two-hour window this way. Shortening the races will shave about an hour and make pulling it off more of a possibility," Farra said.
Farra said the organizers would meet Monday night to determine how they can reschedule to the sprints. It is possible they will run them Tuesday, Jan. 6.
"We still have enough time to get all four events in. We may not have a day off, but we're remaining hopeful," Farra said.