Note: This article has been updated to reflect a more accurate elevation difference between the trailheads at Bohart Ranch and the Rendezvous Ski Trails.
The opening U.S. SuperTour races of the 2016/2017 ski season scheduled to take place next weekend, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 in Bozeman Mont., at Bohart Ranch were recently canceled and rescheduled for West Yellowstone, located 90 miles south and at roughly 600 feet higher in elevation in Montana.
Due to lack of snow at Bohart, the races were called off on Thursday and moved to West Yellowstone as of Friday, where there is approximately 25 kilometers of trails open at the Rendezvous Ski Trails. Though the Bozeman-based Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF) said it was ready to host the races, not enough snow coverage caused the organization to cancel.
“We wait to postpone the decision until yesterday, Thursday, but didn’t get the snow we expected from that last storm,” Dragan Danevski, BSF’s head nordic coach and program director, said on the phone Friday.
Danevski indicated that BSF and West Yellowstone race organizers communicated after the cancelation regarding potentially moving the races.
“We were working back and forth with their organizing committees and ours,” Danevski said. “I just officially heard that West Yellowstone organizing committee agreed to host the SuperTours we couldn’t.”
The races will keep the same format and remain on their scheduled dates, with freestyle sprints on Saturday, Dec. 3, and 10/15 k classic on Sunday, Dec. 4.
In terms of the U.S. Ski Team using these races for scoring and consideration purposes for 2017 World Championships, it doesn’t appear this will change anything.
“West Yellowstone just agreed to take the weekend of SuperTour racing today. Same formats,” U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover wrote in an email on Friday night.
Asked how this affects out-of-town athletes’ travel plans, Alaska Pacific University (APU) skier Reese Hanneman said that aside from “the logistical headache,” it’s not too different.
“Big thanks to the people in West Yellowstone for taking them over. From a racing standpoint, not what we were expecting but nothing we haven’t seen before,” Hanneman, last season’s SuperTour sprint leader, wrote. “I personally think it’s a pretty solid sprint course, I have had good results there so I am stoked!”
On the Canadian side, it’s taken a bit more reshuffling. Cross Country Canada (CCC) intended to use Bozeman as its NorAm opener as well as selection races, but West Yellowstone’s altitude of nearly 6,700 feet is “too high to use it as a selection race for the Canadian team – will not count for the FIS COC series,” CCC High Performance Director Tom Holland wrote in an email Friday night.
Now instead of considering an athlete’s best three results out of seven race days, CCC will consider three out of five races to help select its World Championships team and Continental Cup leader World Cup spots.
“Bozeman was going to be a really fun race series I am a little bummed because I thought it was good to have two races that were points for both Canada and USA it would have been an amazing field,” Russell Kennedy of the Canmore-based Team R.A.D. wrote in an email on Friday night.
“That being said it was pretty easy for me to cancel my plans and put my focus to [the second NorAm in] Silver Star [Dec. 10-11]. I have also been focusing on getting everything prepped for this weekend of racing so it hasn’t sunk in too much,” he added. “The selection looks like it is changed slightly but it shouldn’t impact us too much. I am super pumped to get my season underway and look forward to all the American competition in Silver Star.”
“I feel bad even though it’s just weather,” Danevski said. “I feel bad that we had to cancel because we were so excited to have the SuperTour in Bozeman and whole club and volunteers were excited, but the weather didn’t cooperate.”
— Gavin Kentch, Gerry Furseth and Alex Kochon contributed reporting