PARK CITY, Utah (Oct. 11) – The 2008 U.S. Cross Country Championships will conclude with long-distance races on a rugged course March 28-30 in Fairbanks, Alaska, U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner announced. This marks the first U.S. championships held in Alaska since 1994.
“The 30/50K course in Fairbanks will be the most challenging physical test of the entire domestic season, and will be the toughest race many of the competitors will ever participate in,” Bodensteiner said.
The races again will double as the SuperTour Finals. Bodensteiner said the championships, to be staged at Birch Hill Recreation Area, complement the short-distance title races to be held Jan. 1-6 for a second consecutive season at Michigan Tech in Houghton, MI.
Each U.S. championship race counts as double SuperTour points and a special ingredient in this season's championships will be staging the pursuit races March 28 under the lights at Birch Hill.
“Fairbanks does a great job with staging races and has such an enthusiastic cross country community. This should be a challenging and exciting finish to the season. Nighttime racing is always special,” Bodensteiner said.
Friday, March 28 – Pursuit races (Men's 15K CL+15K FR; women's 7.5K+7.5K)*
Sunday, March 30 – Men's 50K classic, women's 30K classic
* – Night races
In addition, Bodensteiner said there will be two days of midweek racing preceding the U.S. Championships for a spring-style series finale. This will also give local junior racers an additional opportunity to gain experience against the nation's best skiers.
“The long-distance races are a great way to close the season. We've struggled for many years trying to find the best way to incorporate the women's 30K and men's 50K into the national championships, either as a stand-alone race in the spring or during the championships in January. In both cases,” Bodensteiner said, “we experienced many top athletes deciding not to take part in the competition, because of either the physical demands of racing such a long distance during the heart of the competition season, or because traveling for a stand-alone competition wasn't practical.
“With the recent development of the pursuit into a long-distance race, it's become a perfect companion to the 30/50K races. The pursuit allows our athletes to shift these races – which require a lot of recovery time – to the end of the season. Last season was a great debut for this new program, and Fairbanks is poised to solidify it as a great new feature on our national calendar,” said Bodensteiner