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High School

2002-2003 Racing Season Preview

October 28, 2002

While Halloween is just days away, many of us have already seen our first coating of snow. Sounds a little like last season? Let's hope not...

Last Season Recap

Last season? Were there any races last season? Ugh, it's almost a topic most skiers would prefer not to talk about. With over 40 cancellations due to poor snow conditions, many of the die-hard racers became quite familar with the term "short notice" race. St. John's University, Maplelag Resort, Snowflake Nordic, and Woodland Trails were just some of the locations for races that were organized only days before being held.

However, four of the big marathons managed to pull off races, all with modified courses. The Noque had some "interesting" sections, the Vasaloppet went lake top, the Finlandia featured some intense 10K loops, and the Birkie was saved by a final day's snow storm and managed to use most of the traditional course.

New Races

As many races as there are on the calendar, it's always amazing to see those brave souls who venture forward with a new race. Just selecting an "open" date on the calendar can be a complex decision.

The first weekend in February has remained a popular target for new races, and this year sees two major events taking aim. The Lutsen-Tofte Tourism Association is featuring the North Shore trail system with the North Shore Mountain Challenge on February 1st. On that same date, the City of Lakes Loppet runs point-to-point, through Theodore Wirth Park and then weaving along parkways and onto lakes in Minneapolis to end on Lake Calhoun.

While early December has always been a risky scheduling period with snow conditions and holiday dates, Michigan Tech has bravely ventured forward with a racing double-header on the weekend of December 21-22nd. The Christmas Classic Stride and Skate races should benefit from Houghton's usual lake effect snowfalls.

In January, the Ski Games at Battle Creek will try again to hold their inaugural race weekend, with a number of events scheduled for the famed Battle Creek venue in St. Paul. And the organizers of the Crossroads Nordic Challenge also hope to finally pull off this race this season in Sturgeon Bay.

The Afterhours ski trails in Brule enjoyed good conditions along with good skier traffic last season, and thus they are hosting a second race on their calendar this year with the Brule River Timber Cruise on February 15th. The new race will feature much of the new trail additions they've been working on this past summer.

Finally, after a couple of years absence from the racing calendar, Iowa returns this season with the Iowa Winter Games ski races in Dubuque on February 8th.

Rest In Peace

As with each new season, there are always some races that for one reason or another (and usually a large combination) decide to retire from the calendar. This season, we mark the passing of the following races: Giants Ridge Christmas Classic, Twin Ports Championships, Crivitz Ski Colosso, and the Superior Ski Classic.

Other Highlights

Some other highlights from this season's calendar:

  • Most weekends seem to be better balanced this season, although Seeley Hills and the Pepsi Challenge continue to face-off over that third weekend in January.
  • The first weekend in February now features one of the more difficult decisions with Governor's Cup, North Shore Mountain Challenge, City of Lakes Loppet, and Porcupine Mtns Ski Marathon all hoping to provide some marathon training experience.

Final Notes

While viewing the racing calendar, realize that the first racing dates are still more than a month away. That means you may find the calendar information changing frequently, and that many of the web site links may still contain last year's racing info as those site organizers are working to get ready for this season.

This year's calendar introduces the start of a transition to a more dynamic web site at Skinnyski.com. Not only should this new system make it easier for us to provide timely updates, it should also eventually provide a more fluid and smoother experience for the site visitors. Watch for more changes, and drop us a note with your input as the new system slowly rolls out.

Race Calendars

Without further ado, we present the 2002-2003 racing calendar...

December 2002

January 2003

February 2003

March 2003

Once again this season, we'd like to acknowledge the excellent publication, Silent Sports. Editor Greg Marr readily exchanged information with us throughout the summer and fall as the director's calendar materialized.
This upper Midwest publication should be in every skier's mailbox!
-- Ed.

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