Due to the lamentable conditions in West Yellowstone, there’s a chance that the SuperTour freestyle sprint originally scheduled here this weekend will end up taking place at Bohart Ranch instead. The Bozeman venue is already set to hold a SuperTour classic sprint and mass start on December 1 and 2.
Bridger Ski Foundation director and race organizer Dragen Danevski said on Tuesday that he was confident Bohart could pull off a third race, which is being proposed for Thursday before the classic events. When conditions prompt a last-minute schedule addition like this one, however, several things have to fall into place for it to be possible.
Number one, the conditions in Bozeman have to improve like they’re expected to. With temperatures in the high 40s on Tuesday, what snow Bohart did have last week is currently melting. However, the air is supposed to get back below freezing and stay there early next week, with more snow in the forecast for several days.
Given cooperative weather, Bohart has several course options. The original, newly-homologated sprint course is one. The other is a trail higher up in the meadow that has cooler temperatures and longer-lasting snow.
“It will be better if we can race on the original sprint course and not on the B course,” Danevski said. Heats could be possible, “but it would be difficult. The start and finish is narrower, and the course itself will be very difficult.”
If expected snowfall becomes an actuality, Danevski thinks Bohart will be able to use the original sprint course without a problem. As an added precaution, BSF also owns snowmaking equipment and is willing to loan it to Bohart to lay a good base for the earlier SuperTour. The only question is whether Bohart has people to do the work.
“Bohart has the water source and we can provide the pipes and all that, but for them it will be lots of work,” Danevski said. “We (BSF) have volunteers and some paid people; they don’t have the manpower.”
Snowmaking is an option, but it’s a lot to pull off within a week and a half. Danevski, who is also in West Yellowstone this week coaching his own athletes, has been on the phone with Bohart every day making plans.
Logistics become chaotic when a race changes venues and hosts, and is a factor Danevski considers as he determines what he wants to take on.
“Registration fees and all that can be messy. People are registered [in West Yellowstone], but this would be cancelled,” he said. “Racers will not want to pay again. I expressed my frustration with that. What happened in the past is we had three races and didn’t have prize money for the prologue. People got upset.
Danevski says he can host the additional race, but that competitors would have to adjust their expectations.
“I told [USST Nordic Director] Joey Caterinichio we could do it but I don’t want coaches and athletes to start coming to BSF saying, ‘Where is the prize money?’” he said.
If coaches and athletes want to pay for all three races, Danevski thinks he could offer purses for each race. “But if they say, ‘Oh, we already paid once in West,’ we probably will not be able to provide prizes for three races.’”
The available options will likely be a major topic of discussion at the coaches meeting in West Yellowstone on Wednesday night. As a coach, Danevski very much wants to see full sprints in Montana this first period of the SuperTour, and to help make it possible at Bohart.
“I think if we would like to develop sprinters and good skiers, we should have full sprints. A prologue is only one third of the race,” he said.
As an organizer at the same time, however, “We’ll have to kill ourselves to make this possible.”
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.