One year after granting World Cup start rights to the overall winners of the Nor/Am SuperTour, the International Ski Federation gives North American cross-country ski racing another boost with the official formation of the FIS North America Marathon Cup. The program, new for 2004-2005, consists of four pre-existing marathon races in the U.S and a $2,000 cash prize for each of the overall male and female champions. Skiers stronger in the freestyle technique will have the upper hand this year, with three of the four races to be held in this format. Here is the race schedule, with equal distances for male and female categories:
January 29 Noquemanon 50k C Marquette, MI
February 6 City of Lakes Marathon 35k F Minneapolis, MN
February 12 Owl Creek Chase 30k F Aspen, CO
March 20 Gold Rush 50k F Royal Gorge, CA
All races except the Noquemanon are also included as part of the Nor/Am SuperTour race series, and will be scored to the SuperTour points list in addition to a separate Marathon Cup list.
This winter marks the debut not only of the North America Marathon Cup, but also a similar series in the Far-East. According to U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner, the Asian Pacific countries of China, Japan, and Korea were instrumental in developing the idea for a non-European, FIS-sanctioned, regional marathon cup.
The original, international FIS Marathon Cup, which began in 2001, will continue as in the past. This year there will be seven races in Europe plus the American Birkebeiner.