MADISON, Wis. (Jan. 13) – The $120,000 cross country SuperTour resumes Sunday with 1-kilometer classic technique sprint races involving many of the premier cross-country skiers in North America around the Wisconsin Capitol in downtown Madison. In addition, the U.S. cross country squad for the 2005 World Championships Team will be announced.
“We've wanted to have urban races for some time,” said U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner, “and this will be a lot of fun, a lot of excitement. We're expecting great racing by athletes who have just finished the U.S. Cross Country Championships, and they'll provide some exciting racing for what we're expecting to be a big crowd of spectators.”
Bodensteiner, who grew up skiing in West Bend, Wis., and competed in the 1992 and '94 Olympic Winter Games, said snow had been hauled into the area around the capitol and a 1-kilometer loop with machine-set tracks was being laid out for the races, which will begin at midday Sunday.
“This is exactly what happens in Europe where snow is made elsewhere and brought into the downtown area so skiers can race before huge crowds. There's a lot of excitement and a lot of action – kind of like moto-cross on skis,” he said. “The beauty of the sprints is you can see just about the entire race, and since everyone starts together, there's no question about who's leading. If you're a racer and someone's ahead of you, you know you're not winning…yet.”
In the sprints, each skier is timed racing individually over the course. The top skiers are then broken into groups of four or six and compete in heats. The two fastest in each heat advance until the final foursome, which duels one last time over the 1K course.
Bodensteiner said the World Championships Team, based on results this season, is expected to be announced after the races and awards ceremonies. The championships will be staged Feb. 17-27 in Oberstdorf, Germany.
In addition to the SuperTour status, the Capitol Square Sprints also will serve as a qualifier for Junior Olympics and a SuperTour Masters event. “There will be a lot of things in motion – JO qualifier, SuperTour standings and just good racing. It should be a kick,” Bodensteiner said.
The SuperTour is includes more than two dozen races across the nation – from Maine to California – in both classic and freestyle techniques, beginning in November and ending in April.