2003-2004 Racing Season Preview
November 3, 2003
appropriate to be writing a preview for the racing season
as the first big snowfall is hitting the region here in early
Last Season Recap
Two in a row -- two bad skiing seasons in a row. For most
skiers, the season didn't even start until early February
and didn't last more than about 30 days. In fact, most of
the racing crowd became very familar with man-made snow skiing
conditions. In the Twin Cities, nearly every race was held
on either a lake or at a downhill area. Amazingly, almost
all of the major area races managed to pull out a race, including
the Pepsi Challenge, Noquemanon, Mora Vasaloppet and
American Birkebeiner. And most surprising, a new upstart,
the City of Lakes Loppet, held its inaugural event
in a rather snowless Twin Cities, yet drew over 800 skiers.
Gone But Not Forgotten
As the new season opens, there are a number of sad race depatures
to note. Perhaps the most alarming is the demise of the St.
Paul series of ski races: the La La Palooza Loppet, King
Boreas, and popular New Year's Day races all have fallen
due to budget cuts and lack of support. Only the Classic Hiihto
survives from the original series. The fun and challenging
Governor's Cup is out -- maybe permanently -- a victim
of the recent poor winters and difficult calendar dates. The
Twin Cities lost two additional events this season as the
Ski Games at Battle Creek and the Murphy Challenge
are both not on the calendar this winter. The Porcupine
Mountains Ski Marathon is cancelled this season but hopes
to return in the near future once the new management of the
Porkies skiing area has settled in.
As much as every season has a few races folding up, every
year there are a number of new ones to take up the challenge.
This year is no exception.
In mid-December, Wolverine in Ironwood, MI, helps kicks off
the season with the Grandview XC Ski Challenge which
includes two days of top notch racing. The New Year's holiday
weekend is the landing zone for the Ice Age Challenge,
a race put on by the Madison Nordic Ski Club. The next weekend
Iron County in NE Wisconsin features their trail systems with
two days on racing in the Stormy Kromer Pursuit. Near
the end of January, Ramsey County helps fill some of the recent
racing void in the Twin Cities with a new classical race at
Tamarack Nature Center in White Bear Lake, coined the Classic
In addition to those new races, there will be a couple of
national series coming to the region this winter. The NorAm
series goes super-size, becoming the NorAm SuperTour,
with an expanded series of races across the country. The Midwest
will host two SuperTour events, one at the challenging Mount
Itasca course in Coleraine, MN in mid-January and another
one, a week later, on the popular Telemark Resort trail
system in Cable, WI. And if all that isn't enough, the National
Masters have dropped into the middle of some of the busiest
racing action of the season with a nearly week long event
hosted in Marquette, MI this winter.
Some other highlights from this season's calendar:
- Because of the National Masters invasion, Pepsi
Challenge has for this winter at least, moved their
race to the last Saturday in January.
- Snowflake in Duluth opens the season with two days
of racing in early December.
- The third weekend in January continues to remain quite
popular, this season hosting at least eleven events.
- Even with the recent "snow challenged" seasons,
racing will go on this season: a number of races will be
hosted on man-made snow courses, with many other events
using such sites as backups in the event of poor conditions.
- As it has been for many years now, the Birkie continues
to dominate its race weekend with no challengers on the
- Maplelag's Lotvola Cup wins the award for the most
unique positioning this season: their race will be on Leap
Day, February 29th.
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.
Without further ado, we present the 2003-2004 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