"Travel Teams" — what are they? How to qualify?

WestonSeptember 1, 2012
Skate sprint at 2005 Junior Nationals

Scoreboard at U-23 World Champs in 2004

Here are a number of exciting events that take place every season. They are in order by ascending age (and degree of difficulty to qualify!):

  • BKL Festival: A weekend-long festival for kids up to age 13 (K-8th grades). This is not just a “race” weekend — the event is more like a fair with different theme each year. Kids get to enjoy face-painting, mini-tours, some short races if they desire, food, friends, and a great time. Typically 400-600 kids participate each year! This event is open to anyone in this age group. Venue changes each season: Weston Ski Track hosts in 2013.
  • New England J2 Championships: A weekend-long race series for the top J2’s in the region (ages 14-15). Athletes must qualify to participate (at the EHS/J2 qualifier races in mid-February each year). 2013 J2 website. Each state in New England has its own qualifier races. Vermont has a 3km classic followed by a 3km skate. Finishing time = the sum of your 2 races and the top 20 J2’s from Vermont earn a spot on the J2 Champs Team.
  • Eastern High School Championships: a 3-day weekend of racing for the top high-school skiers in the region. Athletes must qualify to participate (at the EHS/J2 qualifier races in mid-February each year). The qualifiers are a 3km classic + 3km skate, with the top 24 high school athletes being named to the team. At the EHS Champs, athletes compete for individual honors, and also represent their home-state in a team competition. Events include a sprint prologue, a relay, and 2 short distance races. 2013 EHS Champs website.
  • Junior National Championships: athletes from age 14-19 qualify to represent their region at this week-long race series, which includes a sprint race, 2 distance races, and a relay (as well as a dance that kids get really excited for). Skiers compete against their age group for individual honors (J2 = 14/15; J1= 16/17; OJ = 18/19). There is also a team competition which pits the 12 regions against one another. New England has won the team competition for the past 4 years!! 2013 Junior Nationals take place in Fairbanks Alaska. To qualify in New England, racers must participate in the Eastern Cup races and score NENSA Points. After the last Eastern Cup, the New England coaches use the NENSA Points in each age-group to select the team: 6 J2’s of each gender, and 15 J1/OJ’s of each gender (total = 42 athletes). There is an entire section of the NENSA website dedicated to athletes that would like to participate at JN’s.
  • J1 Scandinavia Cup Championships: This is an international trip sanctioned by the US Ski Team. Based on results at Senior Nationals, the top-6 boys and girls from the J1 category are named to this team (age 17 or younger). The competitions take place in Scandinavia in late-January or early February. Link to J1 Scando Cup blog.
  • Junior World Championships: Another international trip. Location varies from year-to-year; typically it takes place in Central Europe or Scandinavia. Athletes qualify based on results at Senior National Championships. The top-6 boys and girls (age 19 and younger) are selected each season. 2013 JWC’s take place in Czech Republic.
  • U-23 World Championships: International trip that overlaps with the Junior World Championships. This is for athletes up to age 22. 2013 U23WC’s take place in Czech Republic.
  • World Championships/Olympics: we all know about these! Only for the best-of-the-best. There is no age limit — you’re never too young or too old!

Senior National Championships: held annually in early January. Typically a 4-race series that includes 2 sprints (skate & classic) and 2 “short” distance races (approx 5/10km for gals, 10/15km for boys). These events are open to anyone with a USSA license. The best juniors in the country will participate in hopes of qualifying for the J1 Scando Trip, Junior Worlds, and U-23 Worlds. The races are hosted by Soldier Hollow (Midway, UT) in both 2013 and 2014.

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