Last Friday and Saturday the USSA Cross Country Competition Committee met for its annual meetings in Park City, Utah to plan for the 2004-2005 season. The committee continues to work efficiently and the near perfect attendance for this year’s meetings represent the committee’s determination and commitment to representing all interest’s of the US Nordic community.
The first item on this year’s agenda was the annual program report from Luke Bodensteiner. Luke stressed the successes that the US has achieved over recent years and looks forward to continued success at the upcoming Olympic Games in Torino. Luke’s confidence in the athletes and USST staff was easily detectable in his words and enthusiasm. The only negative section of Luke’s report came with words regarding finances a struggle that is felt by many in today’s economy. Nordic members should be encouraged in the fact that the Nordic piece of the pie continues to grow regarding the USSA budget. Unfortunately, the pie as a whole continues to shrink due to decreasing sponsorship funds. In turn this means that there will be less support at the lower levels from the USSA and it is up to the regions to make up for the lack of funding. The World Junior Team and the Development Team are just a few areas that will feel the financial strains.
Turning from the only negative comments of the convention, the committee began creating positives. The USST will be well represented in Europe this coming year from the onset of the competition season. Eight athletes will be across the pond for the early World Cups, allowing them the consistency needed to perform at that level. The domestic scene continues to develop and will be stronger than ever. The Super Tour will grow in both the number of events and prize money. New race formats will also provide for exciting events at various Super Tour venues as well as at the Junior and Senior National championships.
The Super Tour will see the addition of â€œCity Sprintsâ€ in Madison and Minneapolis. These two events will be run in the center of both cities and are expected to attract large crowds, putting Nordic on the map. The Super Tour will also see the addition of team sprints to the competition format at Soldier Hollow and at Spring Series. The sprints will be scored towards the overall Super Tour title as well as on the NRL. A scoring formula is currently being developed to assure that this format will be represented fairly on the NRL and in the best interests of the athletes. In addition to added events and formats, the Super Tour will be extended. This coming season, the Colorado International Spring Series will serve as the Super Tour finals providing athletes with high level domestic events until the end of the season. Finally, look for double Super Tour points to be awarded at the US Nationals. This will give the athletes who spend much of the season in Europe a chance to remain in the hunt for the overall title by scoring big point totals at nationals.
Nationals will also see the addition of new formats. For the first time ever, the Duathlon will be added to the program, replacing the 30 and 50K’s as the final event of the championships. The distances will be 7.5+7.5 for women and 15+15 for men. Classic sprints are back and here to stay as indicated by their incorporation to this year’s World Championships. In following the international format, the sprint event at the US Nationals will be in classic technique. And for you distance specialists, not to worry; the National Marathon Championship will still be awarded. Although dropped from the schedule at the Nationals in January, hard work by the USST staff has resulted in the return of the distance championships in the spring. Although the venue remains to be negotiated, a 50K National Championship for men and women will take place in March. This is a major development as the possibility of a spring championship has been pursued for many years now with little success. Thanks to the staff of the USST for making this a reality!
The seniors are not the only athletes who get to have fun. In future years, juniors will see the classic sprint at the Junior Nationals as well as a mass start event and a single discipline relay. These formats will alternate in other years with a freestyle sprint, a duathlon, and a four person dual discipline relay (CCFF). Due to the late scheduling of the World Juniors this upcoming season, juniors will get to take advantage of the Super Tour events in February as qualifying events for the World Junior Team.
The next season should prove to be an exciting one for the US programs and one that you will want to be a part of. As in the past, you can direct your comments and questions to your athlete representatives to the CC Committee (Chris Klein, Jon Engen, Nina Kempall) by e-mailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org. And the latest news and information regarding schedules, qualification criteria, and registration can be found at www.ussa.org.