Farmer's Al­manac, Ju­nior/u23 Nordic Worlds 2017

American Birkie and Lahti 2017

SkiTrax - - Graves On Nordic - By Peter Graves

The leg­endary Farmer's Al­manac – often a re­mark­ably ac­cu­rate prog­nos­ti­ca­tor of the weather – not long ago sug­gested that this win­ter will be snowy and cold in many re­gions of North America. I was thrilled to read this, as we all need a good one badly – a win­ter that will ben­e­fit our ath­letes, our ski cen­tres, the ski in­dus­try and all who love be­ing out­side in win­ter.

This win­ter will be very busy and full of such events as the an­nual American Birke­beiner (Birkie) and the 2017 FIS Nordic Ju­nior and U-23 World Cham­pi­onships to be held in Fe­bru­ary at Sol­dier Hol­low in Utah. Both 2002 Utah Olympic venues will be in play, with ski jump­ing at Utah Olympic Park and the cross-coun­try ski events tak­ing place at Sol­dier Hol­low, which will have hosted the U.S. Na­tional Cham­pi­onships just two weeks ear­lier. Hav­ing the U.S. host these events is a huge op­por­tu­nity for North American teams to race on home snows, a first since 1986, when they were hosted in Lake Placid, N.Y. Tra­di­tion­ally held in early Fe­bru­ary, the Ju­nior Worlds and U-23's will bring in more than 400 ath­letes from 30 na­tions to com­pete in 17 events across three dis­ci­plines. It's a very big event, and here's hop­ing for a huge turnout of spec­ta­tors to wit­ness it all.

I re­cently had an op­por­tu­nity to catch up with the American Birkie's Al­lan Ser­rano, di­rec­tor of Race Op­er­a­tions, who told me of some of the ex­cit­ing new hap­pen­ings sur­round­ing this race run from Cable to Hay­ward, Wis. It looks as if the 44th edi­tion of the Birkie will be a big one.

This be­gins with the new start­ing area at the Birkie trail­head in Cable. The 30-acre start­ing area, once part of the Tele­mark Lodge prop­erty, has now been cus­tom-built to host the race's grand start, com­plete with a 7,000-square-foot Great Hall build­ing for pre-race warm-up, a race-man­age­ment build­ing and new start­ing gates – all done to en­hance the Birkie ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ser­rano, a for­mer Uni­ver­sity of Ver­mont head coach of cross-coun­try, said that this will be a huge im­prove­ment: “The new Birkie trail­head will not only serve as our start, but will also be a huge year-round as­set for the community of Cable. It's a CAMBA moun­tain-bike trail­head too, and the Great Hall will be avail­able for community events and will see a full sched­ule of events this win­ter.”

In other news, Ser­rano said that the famed Kortelop­pet will now fin­ish in down­town Hay­ward due to growth of this event. “The Korte is a race for young skiers, first-timers and folks need­ing to step down in the dis­tance; it will now be held on Fri­day before the Birkie and starts at a new area we are de­vel­op­ing at the High­way OO trail­head and fin­ishes down­town in Hay­ward, which will give those skiers a bet­ter course and the same ex­cit­ing fin­ish as the Birkie,” he said.

The Birkie com­mit­ment to ath­letic devel­op­ment is be­ing fur­ther en­hanced this year with the top Korte fin­ish­ers 20 years old and un­der be­ing awarded schol­ar­ships to­talling $6,000 to be used by the skiers for camps and com­pe­ti­tion trips spon­sored by USSA and its part­ner re­gions. This is in ad­di­tion to the $5,000 that is given an­nu­ally to the top American fin­ish­ers, $2,500 re­spec­tively, in the Birkie, and the award­ing of $35,000 in skier-devel­op­ment grants each year. This is great news, and con­grat­u­la­tions to Ben Popp, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Ser­rano, their staff and the American Birkie board of di­rec­tors for the con­tin­ued vi­sion in de­vel­op­ing the sport.

Heidi Weng and Pet­ter Northug of Nor­way were the big win­ners this Au­gust at the Nor­we­gian sports festival Top­pidrettsveka held in Aura and in Trond­heim.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Colin Rodgers, who has re­cently been named the Nordic di­rec­tor at Green Moun­tain Valley School in Ver­mont.

We hear tick­ets for this year's World Cham­pi­onships in Lahti are sell­ing like hot­cakes – more than 50,000 have al­ready been sold. If you are plan­ning to head over to watch, book your event tick­ets now.

On the heels of the fab­u­lous Ski Tour Canada 2016, I hear that both Nor­way and Sweden are talk­ing with the In­ter­na­tional Ski Fed­er­a­tion for rights to host a new tour event on the World Cup cir­cuit in the year 2020. The goal would be to have a com­pact tour that elim­i­nates long trav­el­ing dis­tances. Stayed tuned for more on that one.

See you on the trails this win­ter.

The jumps and sta­dium at the Lahti 2017 Nordic World Cham­pi­onships, where ticket sales are flying.

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