WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. — With another day gone by and no more significant accumulation on the Rendezvous Ski Trails, the West Yellowstone organizing committee is in the process of figuring out what races the South Plateau trail could handle. The logging road a few miles outside town is being considered as the first backup option to hold the SuperTour sprint and 10/15 k freestyle on Friday and Saturday should the weather continue to be uncooperative.
The original venue had brand new trail work done this summer to create a freestyle sprint course that could hold FIS-certified races on homologated terrain. The South Plateau option, on the other hand, is essentially and out-and-back road and definitely does not meet homologation standards. The road is currently groomed for skate and classic skiing and is deep enough to completely cover the ground in most areas, with rocks only periodically showing through.
On Monday Chief of Competition David Robinson scouted out the possibilities should the option become Plan A, a decision that the OC plans to make Tuesday morning.
“We are not able to have sprint heats up there due to course width constraints,” Robinson said on Monday evening. “We do have some very good options for distance events and a prologue, however those decision aren’t final yet. We want to make sure that we have a good course for the top level skiers given what we have to work with, and that we are able to maintain the SuperTour schedule and format as closely as possible to what was originally planned.”
Should a prologue replace the sprint, Robinson said the race would still count as a FIS-sanctioned event, but “we want to make sure that whatever we do it’s a quality race.” Likewise, the distance race would also still count as a FIS race.
Race Director Moira Dow said their bottom line is making sure athletes trying to make the Canadian World Cups in December have the best and fairest possible opportunity to do so.
On Monday evening she announced that the Biathlon Clinic (scheduled for Tuesday at 10:30 am) and Sprint & Novice races (scheduled for Wednesday) had been cancelled due to lack of snow.
While trying to figure out a way to hold the SuperTours, organizers have also been attempting to come up with alternatives to maintain trail access for the large number of recreational skiers in town for the festival part of the week. The South Plateau is only so wide, and has been congested at peak hours in the morning and afternoon.
“While we understand the frustration some skiers are feeling, we appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to accommodate all of our skiers in the most reasonable fashion,” Dow said in an email to team coaches on Monday night.
Also on Monday evening, Dow sent out a press release announcing the postponement of the Yellowstone Ski Festival On-Snow demo, originally scheduled for Wednesday through Saturday, “pending adequate snow conditions.” The Passport Program has been canceled, but all wax clinics and indoor demonstrations are still on.
“Conditions for the On-Snow Demo will be reevaluated on Friday November 23rd at noon,” the press release stated. “If several inches of snow have fallen around the stadium area and the groomer can set tracks, a demo will be held on Saturday. Please make sure to visit the vendors at the Indoor Expo Tuesday through Friday 7pm – 5pm at the Holiday Inn to check out all the latest gear.”
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Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.