Every year, the U.S. Cross Country Skiing Championships, often called “Nationals” plays host to the skiers not racing in Europe, skiers making a jump to the next step, beyond racing in the U.S. to international competition and a global ski career.
“A popular question is, ‘How do we obtain International success in Cross Country skiing?’ ” explains U.S. Ski Team Development Coach, Bryan Fish. “Obviously, it takes hard work and well-planned consistent training, however success also stems from knowing the key opportunities as an upcoming skiers. These opportunities are both domestic and abroad.”
The 2015 US Cross Country Skiing Championships January 2-10 on at Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center in Houghton, Michigan is that opportunity. These are the events that are measured as key pillars in becoming a World Class skier. “ALL athletes need a FIS license for these trips. Some/parents/ coaches encourage their athletes to not purchase a FS license until they qualify for the U18 trip for example. This however means they go into these races with no FIS profile and hence poor starting positions at the races. FIS licenses are good to have in advance for this purpose.”
So athletes need a FIS license, a Passport, but what of the trips? What are the details? Here are the basic sketches of the NNF funded, USSA sanctioned devo trips at the US Cross Country Skiing Championships. Skiers will be competing for berths in the following three critical international development teams. Selection for the teams is competitive and spots are limited.
- The U18 Trip – Often called the Scando Trip, this competition is geared for 16 and 17 year old athletes en route to a career of international racing. An annual two week trip focused on raising the level of skiing awareness for developing Americans this event focuses athletes by exposing them to stronger competitive events, skiing clubs and programs in Scandinavia.
Details: Feb 1-11 Örnsköldsvik, Sweden (Trip total: 12 athletes – 6 female & 6 male)
- The WJC / U23 Championships– Internationally recognized as a stepping stone to World level skiing, racers who go on to World Cup success often have posted results in the top ten at World Junior competitions (for athletes under 20 years old) or the U23 World Championships (for athletes under 23). The NNF funds the majority of this trip, subsidizing the individual costs for those that qualify through strong domestic racing.
Details: Jan 28 – Feb 9 Almaty, Kazakhstan (22 athletes – Juniors = 6 female & 6 male; Under-23 = 5 female & 5 male)
- The World Cup/ World Championships (Double points for US Champs to name SuperTour Leaders & compete for World Champ berths) – Skiing’s highest level of competition, young skiers have the capacity to make this leap early if talent allows. (Jessie Diggins and Sadie Bjornsen are examples of women who raced from a young age at the World Championships.)
Details: Based off points selections. Numbers will vary.
Each of these teams builds towards the next team, the next level, the next caliber of racing. Success requires step-by step-opportunities to allow the athletes to grow and improve their skiing. Lastly, all of this takes money and the USST does not provide funding. The National Nordic Foundation was founded by Reid Lutter for this very reason back in 1995. The NNF funds the majority of the expenses associated with these events as NNF Pillar Projects.
“Step one for every developing skier is taking part in events like the US Cross Country Skiing Championships,” Fish continued. “You have to toe the start line and compete for a position to qualify for one of these teams. “
For more information on the U.S. Cross Country Skiing Championships, log onto www.nordicchampionships.org
For more information including the criteria in determining each of these teams, log onto the USSA website at: www.ussa.org
To learn more about the National Nordic Foundation, log onto www.nationalnordicfoundation.org.