Farmer's Almanac, Junior/u23 Nordic Worlds 2017
American Birkie and Lahti 2017
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.