ANCHORAGE, (Dec. 30) - One of cross country's biggest and most well known playgrounds, Anchorage, is geared up for it's second season of elite national racing as the ConocoPhillips U.S. Cross Country Championships hits Kincaid Park to name the nation's best in the sport.
Just over a month out from the 2010 Games in Vancouver, the Championships, which take place Jan. 2-8, could play a significant part in the naming of the Olympic Team. The event is the final stop for cross country athletes to improve their points on the USSA National Ranking List (NRL) which closes on Jan. 8 after the last race in Anchorage.
"Anchorage is going to best an exciting place to be in early January for nordic fans. In addition to deciding our U.S. Champions for 2010 the door is still open for someone to make their way onto the 2010 Olympic Team," U.S. Nordic Program Director John Farra said. "The NRL is determined with an athlete's best four races over a one year period. With four races in Anchorage there is still time for a dark horse to put themselves in contention in one series of races."
Prime time World Cup players competing in Anchorage include World Championship silver medalist and hometown hero Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), along with Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), who has been setting personal record after personal record this season.
One of the most well known and greatest venues for cross country skiing in the country, Kincaid Park sits inside the city of Anchorage ready to host the event, which is produced by the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA).
Being able to compete in her hometown so close to the Olympics is especially important for Randall, who says the competition in Anchorage is a chance to showcase her town and her sport.
"The best word to describe it would be fun. I love having the other racers from around the world here to show off Anchorage. It's also a great chance for friends and family to come out and see a race, which doesn't happen often," Randall said. "It's also a chance to sleep in my own bed. I'm looking forward to going out and having a good time with it."
The week long cross country competition begins Jan. 2, just over a month before the athletes head for Vancouver to compete in the Olympics.
The U.S. Championship long distance event (30/50km) will be held in Fort Kent, ME later in the season.
The 2010 ConocoPhillips U.S. Cross Country Championships schedule:
Saturday, January 2
Freestyle Sprint Qualification and Finals
Monday, January 4
Women's 10K Freestyle
Men's 15K Freestyle
Wednesday, January 6
Women's 20K Classic Mass Start
Men's 30K Classic Mass Start
Friday, January 8
Classic Sprint Qualification and Finals
For more information go to the event website here.