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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
Without further ado, we present the 2002-2003 racing calendar...
| 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
This upper Midwest publication should be in every skier's