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Five Things to Know About US National Championships

Sat, Jan  3, 2015 - By USSA

HOUGHTON, MI (Jan. 3, 2015) - Cross country ski racers from across America will be vying for titles and team spots this week as the U.S. Cross Country Championships come to Houghton at the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center with several hundred skiers expected for the Jan. 4-10 event.

This year's U.S. Cross Country Championships move from Soldier Hollow (shown here) to Houghton, MI. (USSA-Sarah Brunson)

This year's U.S. Cross Country Championships move from Soldier Hollow (shown here) to Houghton, MI. (USSA-Sarah Brunson)

Where is it?

The 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships will be held in Houghton, Michigan Jan. 4-10 at the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center. While it is common to call it U.S. Nationals, the Championships name reflects more of what it is- a championship event in the early season focused on team selection. The Tech trails sport 35 expertly maintained kilometers, plus a staff accustomed to hosting big races. Houghton hosted Junior Olympics in 2006 and U.S. Championships in 2007 and 2008.

What events take place?

This year, skiers will compete in four races over the span of eight days: a freestyle distance race, classic sprints, classic mass start distances races, and a freestyle sprint. Official training begins the day before the first race and then it’s race, rest, recover, repeat.

How does a sprint work?

Here’s the nitty gritty on the sprint. Racers ski an individual start qualifier of 1.2 to 1.6 kilometers. The 30 fastest times move on to quarterfinals. Athletes get a few hours to rest then they line up for head to head racing. The top two from each quarterfinal move onto semifinals. Additionally, all the third place finishers are ranked according to time, and the top two—the “Lucky Losers”—also move onto semifinals. 12 athletes ski in semifinals, six move onto finals. The top three podium.

Who races at U.S. Championships?

U.S. Championships is a big deal for domestic racing. Many of the top athletes in the U.S. who ski professionally will attend, as well as college teams and some high school kids. Additionally, the 2014 Super Tour leaders (Caitlin Gregg and Reese Hanneman) will be back from the first period of the World Cup to race. Houghton’s race organizers expect roughly 400 skiers to attend.

Where do the racers go from there?

In addition to chasing podiums, U23 skiers (skiers under the age of 23) also have a chance at earning spots on USSA’s international racing trips: World Juniors and the U18/Scando Trip. These spots are filled based on race results and are highly coveted.

For more information on this year’s U.S. Cross Country Championships, log onto:

Sunday, Jan. 4
Men’s 15k freestyle
Women’s 10k freestyle

Monday, Jan. 5
Men’s and women’s classic sprints

Thursday, Jan. 8
Men’s 30k classic mass start
Women’s 20k classic mass start

Saturday, Jan. 10
Men’s and women’s freestyle sprints