PARK CITY, UT (Oct. 15) - For the second season in a row the ConocoPhillips U.S. Cross Country Championships will call Kincaid Park its home as the event makes its way to Anchorage, a hotbed of cross country action, during the first week of January, just over a month from the time that top athletes competing will be Vancouver Bound.
The Championships will also play a pivotal role in the naming of the Olympic team as it is the last chance for athletes to boost their points on the USSA National Ranking List.
"There is much excitement surrounding our return to Anchorage for the U.S. Championships. These races not only represent the highest level of domestic competition in the U.S., but they mark the final chances to improve ones standing on the USSA National Ranking List which is used in part to select our 2010 Olympic Team," U.S. Nordic Program Director John Farra said. "There is a large population of skiers who dream of a chance to qualify for the Vancouver Games and performing well in Anchorage will go a long way to achieving that goal for many of them."
One of the best venues for cross country competition in the country, Kincaid Park, which is inside the city of Anchorage, will be home to the championship competitions. The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA) will again host the event, which is set for Jan. 2-8.
"We are excited for Anchorage to host our largest domestic event prior to our athletes heading to the Olympics in Vancouver," USSA Vice President of Events Calum Clark said. "Anchorage will also serve the athletes as they compete at a sea level venue, which replicates expected conditions in the Callahan Valley during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. It will be an additional benefit to our athletes headed to that competition."
"We are excited to have the U.S. Champs back for a second year. This year being an Olympic year is a special year to host," NSAA Organizing Committee Chair Joey Caterinichio said. "Together with the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage, the municipality of Anchorage and all the volunteers, we are getting ready to host a first class event, and welcome the athletes and coaches."
One athlete in particular is excited to be able to compete in her hometown before she makes her way to the Olympics. World Championship silver medalist Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) said she wants to be able to share her journey with her hometown.
"For me it's nice because I get to spend a little bit more time at home and relax going into the Olympics. I think it's pretty much the best option I could ask for," Randall said. "On one hand, it's good for me being in Alaska, but at the same time it's cool for the community that's supported me to this point to be able to experience this with me. At home I can share it a bit more"
A week of cross country action kicks off on Jan. 2, just over a month before the Olympics begin in Vancouver.
The U.S. Championship long distance event will be held in Fort Kent, ME later in the season.
The 2010 ConocoPhillips U.S. Cross Country Championships schedule:
Saturday, January 2
Sprint F Qualification and Finals
Monday, January 4
Wednesday, January 6
20/30km Mass Start C
Friday, January 8
Sprint C Qualification and Finals