Today's SuperTour Sprint Season Opener was not held due to cold temperatures. The race was originally scheduled to start at 10:30AM, but early morning temperatures were in the range of -14F to -15F/-25C to -26C. At 9:00AM the start was postponed for one hour, to 11:30AM. About one hour later the Jury once again pushed the start back one hour, to 12:30PM.
Finally, at about 11:00AM, with the temperature having moved grudgingly up to -11F or -12F/-24C , the Jury decided the likelihood of being able to conduct the race was nill, and called it off for the day. That proved to be the correct decision, as the high temperature of the day at Birch Hill was about -10F/-23C.
Ironically, one of the factors in the slow temperature rise was that a thick cloud of man-made snow from the snowmaking operation on the small alpine hill on Fort Wainwright on the diagonally opposite side of Birch Hill obscured the sun once it was over the horizon.
The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks will still go ahead with tomorrow's 5Km+5Km and 10Km+10Km skiathlons, providing temperatures are legal. The start will be delayed if necessary to get the temperatures into the legal range.
Monday's weather forecast calls for warming temperatures into the positive single digits (F). If Sunday's race is held, the Nordic Sk Club plans to organize a sprint race on Monday, with a skeleton crew of club volunteers, and assistance from the coaches of the many teams present in Fairbanks. If Sunday's race is not held, and Monday is warmer, then the Skiathlons will be held on Monday.
Teams with skiers in the races include: UA Fairbanks, UA Anchorage, Eagle River Nordic Training Center, Alaska Pacific University NSC, Alaska Winter Stars (all from Alaska), and Bridger Ski Foundation (MT), Maine Winter Sports Center, Burke Mt. Academy (VT), Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, Subaru Factory Team, FSx and Fischer Teams, Rossignol Team, Atomic Team, and the Alpina Madshus Team. All coaches and skiers who are present have indicated a strong desire to get the races off if the weather cooperates, even if the races are a day or two late.
The afternoon forecast predicted overnight and early morning temperatures for Saturday night and Sunday to be similar to those 24 hours earlier. However, more recent forecasts call for more overcast conditions which wil prevent the radiational cooling which occurred Friday night. Current temperatures (11:30PM Saturday) are around -10F/-23C at Birch Hill and in town. Time will tell if temperatures get into the legal range.
You can get a realtime weather update from Birch Hill at www.nscfairbanks.org/weather/currentdata.html. You can catch a glimpse of tomorrow's action – if there is any – at www.nscfairbanks.org/gallery/webcam.html. The webcam image is refreshed every 30 seconds.
If the race occurs, in progress race results will be available on the Summit Race Timing website. Final results will be available at www.sportalaska.com/noramskiraces/2005-2006
The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage, scheduled to host a SuperTour weekend on the 12th and 13th, will be making a decision in the next 72 hours about the fate of those races. Anchorage currently has little snow, but there are some options which might make it possible to race there as scheduled.