MIDWAY, Utah — With the first race of the 2014 U.S. Cross Country Championships taking place Saturday, FasterSkier took to the trails of Soldier Hollow to preview the course and get a sense of how racers were feeling about the four-race series. Between wax testing, tactic planning, and pickups, athletes expressed excitement about the 10 and 15 k races.
However, with a challenging 5 k course at altitude, many also said they were wary that skiing hard from the start might not be the best strategy. With possible Olympic bids on the line, everyone is looking to ski their best.
Check FasterSkier for up-to-date results and reports as the championships unfold as well as live timing on summittiming.com and complete results on the event website, uscrosscountrychamps2014.com.
Take a look at our photo gallery to see the Soldier Hollow course from our perspective, and read a selection of quotes from racers in the championships.
“I’m pretty excited! It’s a really fun course this year. It’s great to get to stride on so many hills. For me my biggest challenge will be to stay focused on good technique an not getting into that pain cave too early. I have a tendency to want to go really hard really fast and that won’t do so well on this course.” — Heather Mooney (Middlebury College Ski Team, past Junior World team member)
“It’s the first time that I’ve ever skied the olympic 5 k course. It will be fun. There are a lot of big ups and big downs. Pacing is definitely key, and it’s important to find the perfect spot between going hard and not blowing up too soon. Hopefully the conditions will be the same as right now because it’s fantastic.” — Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation, national champion in the classic sprint and third place in the skate sprint in 2013 U.S. Cross Country Championships)
“It’s always cool to be in SoHo. It’s a great place to race. I’m starting the week with the skate sprint. It’s a new course so that adds a new dynamic. I think it’s going to be really nice that they’re adding some more hill.” — Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation, national champion in the classic sprint and 30 k in the 2013 U.S. Cross Country Championships)
Lander Karath is FasterSkier's Associate Editor from Bozeman, Montana and a Bridger Ski Foundation alumnus. Between his studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, he is an outdoor enthusiast and a political junkie.