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Comments on the Noque Classic Status for the Michigan Cup

Thu, Sep  28, 2006 - By Ernie Brumbaugh

I note that there is much discussion on the Michigan Cup schedule this year concerning both classic racing and the preferred classical status of the Noquemanon Ski Marathon. Let me take some of the space on this forum topic ("Oh No! Noque scoring 2007)" to review the situation from both an historical perspective and the current situation.

The Michigan Cup was founded and the governing principle has always been that it is a race series with the intention of crowning a state champion at the end of the year. Albeit a Lower Peninsula state champion, since UP skiers simply do not travel the Lower Peninsula to race. Likewise LP skiers don't travel to the UP unless there is a marathon to be had. Since it is a race series it has always held to the principle that only one 1st place can be awarded on one day of competition. This is a fairness issue primarily in that all skiers should have the opportunity to race in the race on that day. If they choose not to then that is their choice. However, having two races both scoring the same points held at the same time, splits the field and makes neither 1st place a real first from a Michigan Cup perspective.

When the Vasa and White Pine decided to offer two disciplines, freestyle and classic, the initial response of the Michigan Cup was to choose one discipline and designate that as the race of the day. It was always freestyle and those doing to the classic version did not get points. Eventually it was decided to allow the classic racers to count by scoring the race as one big freestyle race. Freestyle as a technique includes classic. This results in a fair race if you consider that classic skiers have the choice to ski whatever discipline they want to. Granted that classic technique is about 10% slower than skating at the Masters World Championship level. Classic was never the designated Mi Cup race because 75% or more of the skiers were skaters.

The short version of each of these races were added, so that skiers could still score Mi Cup points both for themselves and their teams. At this time it was still recognized that only one race would score full points. And I believe on certain years the short races in each marathons did count for the full 200 points and the marathons for 150 points. Recently, only the marathons have counted for full points.

Along came the Noquemanon and a fervent discussion of the classical skier "discrimination". I appointed a classic committee composed of one representative from each of the Mi Cup teams to come up with a recommendation for the Mi Cup Committee meeting in August. The committee researched the question well and submitted a report. At least one and all of the members were invited to the Mi Cup meeting. Jim Monroe of Traverse City was able to attend and headed the discussion. Mike Muha was also a member of the committee and attended in his capacity as NSR team captain as well. The way the organization of the Mi Cup is set up, each team/club has one vote at the Mi Cup meeting and that vote belongs to the Club president/Captain or their designate. Up to three members of a club can attend the meeting. Usually a team vote results from a discussion of the members of that team present. The recommendation of the classic committee was to count both long race disciplines at the Noquemanon equally scoring at 200 points. This was met with substantial opposition among the committee members, so much so that Randy and Curt are correct, the #1 recommendation was not voted on. It simply became obvious that it was not going to pass. Discussion proceeded and a compromise was reached. Make the Noquemanon a preferential classic race in which the classic marathon starts at 200 points and the freestyle at 180 points, the short races are 150 and 130. The classic skiers got what they wanted, a Mi Cup classic marathon, and the freestylers are still able to score points.

As to the discrimination in the Michigan Cup against classic skiers, I would like make a few observations. In the marathons there was discrimination because there never was a designated classic marathon. However, it was always the choice the skier as to whether they did skating or classic. With this change there is now a classic marathon and two freestyle marathons. The Michigan Cup committee has always recognized that we had to do something to make sure that classic skiing survived. The vast majority of new skiers go into skating. Our solution was to ask organizers to schedule a classic race every weekend with freestyle races. At first these were sparsely attended but participation has grown over the years. To add incentives to do classic races the races were scored the same as a freestyle. When only half the number of classic racers show up for a given race, it is much easier to score points in a classic race than a freestyle race. This was felt to be a pretty good incentive to either learn classic or do classic races.

Classic is now the preferred race technique on the Michigan Cup circuit. Before you scoff too much did you realize that last year there were seven classic only races on the Mi Cup schedule (only six were run as Hanson Hills cancelled) and there would have been eight had the Holley Cup not been scheduled on a Thursday. In contrast there were four designated freestyle races. In addition there were three marathons that could be skied either technique but were preferentially freestyle from a scoring perspective. Essentially a freestyle skier could win the Michigan Cup by doing five freestyle races, at least one of which had to be a marathon. A classical skier could win the Michigan Cup by doing 5 designated classic races in which the field was smaller (easier to score points) and did not have to do a marathon. A classic skier could win doing only short classic races. A freestyle skier could not.

The current schedule is a compromise, as it always is. This year the classic skiers have a preferential classic marathon making eight classic races on the schedule. Freestylers pick up a sprint race and keep two preferential freestyle marathons giving that discipline seven races. I am sure there will be much more discussion on the subject this year and frankly I am pleased that there is. When skiers care fervently about their sport it is only good. The Classic Committee did not get exactly what they wanted, however, that is the process of governance. I wish to urge all of you reading the forum to express your appreciation for their work on this subject. I know I do and will. Lastly, I would urge that if you have comments, ideas, etc. to talk with your club president/captain. They are responsible to bring all issue to the Mi Cup Committee meeting. If you don't receive satisfactory redress there you can always write to me at the Mi Cup address and I will make sure the subject is addressed. I can't guarantee that you will get what you want, but you will get a fair hearing. Lastly, please don't try to pigeonhole me at the start of a race when I am frantically trying to get my wax right. I probably won't be too nice.

Thank you for the time it took you to read this

Pray for Snow and lots of it

Ernie Brumbaugh