The U-23 Championships starts at the Soldier Hollow Olympic venue in Heber, Utah – USA on Wednesday February 11.
Fourteen nations have sent their best skiers to compete in this unofficial World Championship for skiers under age 23. U-23 is intended to be a steppingstone and motivation for young skiers in their quest to become successful at the World Cup – often dominated by “older” skiers.
The week’s events include:
Double Pursuit on Wednesday (5+5 for Women, 10+10 for Men)
Individual Sprint, Free Technique on Thursday
Team Sprint, Classical Technique on Saturday
Mass-start, Free Technique on Sunday (15 for Women, 30 for Men)
American Kris Freeman won the 30-kilometer mass-start race at last year’s U-23 in Italy, and went on to have a very successful “regular” World Ski Championship only a couple weeks later.
The US team is among the largest while some nations have sent much smaller teams.
US Development team Coach Chris Grover noted that it will be nice to have a bigger wax crew and overall staff than the other teams for a change.
Andy Newell is skipping the first event and gearing up for the sprint and sprint relay. He is departing for Europe and World Cup races immediately following the last race of the U-23 Championship.
Ethan Foster of University of Vermont has been “kicking butt” in the Eastern College Carnival Circuit recently and is ready to “get it going fast” at Soldier Hollow.
The Norwegian coach Morten Aa Djupvik and Swedish coach Krister Anderson had teamed up to share a wax trailer. They were impressed with the venue’s tracks and conditions – great grooming and super tracks were their comments. Both coaches were curious to see how their “low-land” skier would handle the altitude at Soldier Hollow. Their teams arrived last Tuesday and the first race will be on their 8th day at this elevation. None of the Norwegian skiers we talked to seemed to have much altitude-racing experience. One skier mentioned having raced at 1500 meter once. The Soldier Hollow stadium is at 1690 meter.