Anchorage, Alaska – Today marks the last chance for the US National Championships. If all had gone according to plan, three races would have been completed by this point and the week would be wrapping up with an exciting Team Sprint competition. But unusually frigid temperatures have wreaked havoc on the schedule, and thus far only the distance skate race has been completed.
Both the Team Sprint and the distance classic event have been officially canceled. The individual classic sprint is scheduled for today. In an attempt to maximize the odds of holding the race, organizers have outlined four different start options. All are contingent upon temperatures warming above the legal limit of -4F. Highs are predicted at 1F so there is not much wiggle room.
The start scenarios are as follows:
A – Qualifying at 2:00, completed by 3:15. Heats start at 3:45 with a timed Lucky Loser. All heats will be run, including Juniors and U23. Top 24 Junior/U23 skiers outside the top 30 will advance to Jr/U23 heats. Racing completed at 6:20.
Option A is the most complete race, and the only significant difference from the original schedule is the short time between qualifying and the heats.
B – Qualifying at 3:00, completed by 4:15. Heats start at 4:45 with untimed Lucky Loser. All heats will be run, including Juniors and U23. Top 12 Junior/U23 skiers outside the top 30 will advance to Jr/U23 heats. Racing completed at 6:30.
Option B cuts back on time by eliminating half the Jr/U23 heats. Additionally, Lucky Losers will advance based on qualifying time as opposed to heat time. This would mean that heats would not have to be timed at all, allowing for faster turn around.
C – Qualifying at 4:00, completed by 5:15. Heats start at 5:45 with untimed Lucky Loser. Only the top 12 qualifiers will advance, meaning the heats will start with the semifinals. No Jr/U23 heats will be held. Racing completed at 6:20.
Option C maintains a minimal level of heats while staying within the expected temperature window.
D – Qualifying at 5:00, completed by 6:15. No heats will be held.
Option D is obviously the choice of last resort as no heats will be held. The official results will be based on the qualifying time only.
Additional lights will be brought in for additional illumination.
Apparently the World Junior and U23 teams were scheduled to be announced following last night’s coaches meeting. There has been no official release of team lists.