Master skiers from across the U.S. are gearing up for a long weekend trip to Anchorage, Alaska in just a few weeks time as the 2009 AXCS National Masters Championships returns to the great white north -- March 5-8, 2009.
The AXCS (American XC Skiers) National Masters is North America's largest championship event and features official age groups starting at 25-29 up until 90+ years young. No qualification or licenses are necessary. Skiers sign up and take part regardless of ability level.
The NM2009 begins with 10km classic events on Thursday, March 5 evening for all categories (male and female). Then on Friday, March 6 the fun continues with an evening freestyle sprint relay featuring 3 skiers x 3 legs each x 750m laps. The NM2009 will conclude on Sunday, March 8 with "official" distances assigned to various age/gender categories in the popular Tour of Anchorage freestyle ski marathon.
Both the NM2009 classic race and sprint relay race will be conducted at Anchorage's incredible Kincaid Park trails with on a portion of the stadium sprint course utilized for the 2009 National Championships in January. Well known local Masters are forming formidable teams and planning to continue the local dominance that has marked the last two National Masters Championships held in Anchorage. Organizers are hoping for some competition from outside in all the age categories.
Up to 150 skiers are expected for the Thursday and Friday evening events with as many as 1,500 skiers possible for the Tour of Anchorage.
"For anyone from the Lower 48 that has dreamed of skiing in the Tour of Anchorage -- this is the perfect chance, says J.D. Downing, AXCS National Director. "This amazing American Ski Marathon Series event actually crosses nearly the entire city of Anchorage and features one of the truly incredible finishing stretches along the Cook Inlet ending at the world-famous Kincaid Park stadium. No XC ski race fan can really claim to have been there and done it all without taking in the Tour of Anchorage at least once in their lifetime! To have two bonus shorter NM events prior to this year's tour makes for a perfect masters long weekend."
Tim Stone, Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage Organizing Committee Chair says that currently ski conditions in Anchorage are very good and the forecast is for moderate temperatures and snow showers for the next two weeks.
Says Stone, "The Tour trail is in excellent condition and, barring a major meltdown, we predict very good conditions for the races. The sprint and classic race courses are posted on 2009nationalmasters.com along with detailed race schedule. Our sponsors have provided great prizes for drawings at the Masters and Tour banquets. Despite the low entry fee, participants will receive a memento of the event and other goodies. The event will be informal but highly competitive and conclude with a fun filled dinner and award ceremony."
The long-standing traditional awarding of the U.S. Masters Team will continue for the NM2009. Featuring awards to all honorary team members provided by Podiumwear by Borah, the U.S. Masters Team will be based on a best two-of-two race format in 2009 using the 10km classic and official distances in the Tour of Anchorage. Skiers of any age are free to ski any distance (or technique) they wish in the Tour of Anchorage -- but only official NM distances for age/gender categories will be used for the U.S. Masters Team or the designations of Masters National Champions.
Several former Olympians, including Adam Verrier, Todd Boonstra and Tiger Demers are among the early registrants. Multi-World Masters Champions, Dick and Ann Mize, are ready to add some unique awards to their collection as are too many former U.S. Masters team members to list.
The Inlet Towers and Hilton Garden Inn are offering discount rates for the NM2009 with information posted on 2009nationalmasters.com. The ceremonial start of the Iditarod in downtown Anchorage is on Saturday, March 7 and there are spots along the race trail throughout the city where visitors can watch the dogs and mushers. In several places the Iditarod trail coincides with a section of the Tour of Anchorage trail. If you like to watch ski jumping the Junior Olympics Jumping Championships will also be hosted by NSAA during the week.
For those lower 48 skiers still considering a trip up north, a quick check of popular on-line travel agencies show that prices for airfare up to Anchorage are at or below price levels from Fall 2008 -- making this long weekend trip much more affordable than you might think.
Additional updates and information can be found on 2009nationalmasters.com or xcskiworld.com over the next three weeks. American XC Skiers looks forward to once again seeing the masters nation in beautiful Anchorage soon!