Minnesota State Meet PreviewFebruary 14, 2022
The Minnesota State High School Nordic Skiing Championship turns a new chapter this season as the league includes a sprinting competition and evolves into a two day meet. However, one thing doesn’t appear to have changed - the threat of cold weather.
This season the league rolled out team sprints as part of the section meets and the State Meet. The team sprint involves two skiers per team, racing in a relay format with a skier doing a lap of a short course (typically 1.2K to 1.5K) and then tagging off to their partner. Each skier will ski the course twice, for a total of four laps in the event. The format is freestyle technique, but that could change in the future.
To accommodate the team sprints, the old pursuit and team competition has been reduced slightly, going from four scoring skiers for a team down to three. The new team score, which determines the overall champion, is now the combined score of those three pursuit skiers and the team sprint placing (three fifths weight to pursuit skiers, two fifths to the team sprinters).
There are a number of other rules, most of which we covered in our section preview. However, one rule that became very important during sections is the team score tie breaker. The new rulebook uses some interesting tie breakers that weigh heavily on the best pursuit skiers. The tie breakers are as follows:
- Combined times of the fastest two finishers in the pursuit
- Combined times of the three fastest finishers in the pursuit
- Best placing relay squad
- Best placing of the fourth place finisher in the pursuit
It seems unlikely that anything but the first criteria will come into play, making the tie breaker heavily weighted on the team with the two best pursuit skiers. The old rulebook used all four of the pursuit team skiers times as the tie breaker.
Other restrictions to be aware of:
- Violations of classic technique - Most of this comes down to skating while attempting to herringbone, and excessive lane changing.
- Violations of equipment restrictions - The biggest issue is ensuring the ski poles don’t exceed the restricted lengths.
- Wax restrictions - No fluoro waxes are permitted whatsoever (glide and kick, powders, liquids, etc)
- Uniform/logo restrictions - Avoid logos on hats and any type of slogans.
- Code of conduct violations - Swearing can get you disqualified.
The first day of racing is Wednesday, February 16th, with individual classic 5K races, starting with the boys at 2 pm followed by the girls at 3 pm. Thursday morning opens with heats of the team sprints, beginning at 9 am. The winners of the sprint heats automatically advance to the sprint finals, along with the next five fastest sprint teams, for a total of eight sprint teams in the finals. After a short break at noon, the team sprint finals begin at 1 pm. The freestyle pursuit races conclude the tournament with the boys starting at 2 pm and the girls at 3 pm.
While those dates/times are what were published in the February update, be aware that Giants Ridge has a long history with cold weather. As of Monday, the temperature graphs for Thursday show temperatures well below zero in the morning. The legal limit is -4F, which might cause the races to be delayed with new start times for all of the day’s events. Monitor our Racing Outlook for any late meet changes we receive.
On the girls side, the returning State champion, Molly Moening, St. Paul Highland Park, is the front runner again. Gunning for Moening’s crown: Sydney Drevlow, Hopkins; Jordan Parent, Forest Lake; Maggie Wagner, Edina; Lily Brown, Duluth East; Inga Wing, SPA.
The boys side gets a little more interesting as the previous State champion and runner up have graduated. However, Minneapolis Southwest’s Cooper Camp is the highest returning skier and has been skiing strong all season – he’s definitely the favorite. Other skiers in the mix for top podium spots: Davis Isom, Highland Park; Andrew DeFor, Edina; Daniel McCollor, Wayzata; Jon Clarke, Jefferson/Kennedy; Benon Brattebo, Eden Prairie; Ben Lewis, Blaine; Noah Erickson, Forest Lake.
Figuring out the team favorites is a much harder challenge due to the new team sprint competition. On paper, it seems the best teams will be big squads with strong depth – schools that can field five strong pursuit skiers while still having two great sprinters. Although only the top three skiers in the pursuit formulate the team score, the other two skiers definitely play a significant role as they receive points and can push other team scores lower. The importance of the team sprint can’t be over emphasized: It makes up 40% of the team score, and there is a three point difference per placing. Slapping names on the wall, some of the favored teams include: Duluth East boys and girls, Forest Lake boys and girls, St. Paul Highland Park boys and girls, Wayzata boys.
Some final thoughts: Be kind, be patient, and enjoy it. Being the first year of this new format, it’s entirely possible there will be some issues that slow things down. And weather may play a role as well. Everyone is trying their best to do the right thing. Enjoy the camaraderie of teammates and friends, be thankful for the abundant snow and the opportunity to compete in one of the most technically difficult and physically challenging sports on the planet. Best wishes to all the competitors, coaches, and volunteers!
And if you’ve read this far, take note of the scheduling Wednesday – the Minnesota high school Alpine championships are also on Wednesday, which could make for some significant traffic/parking issues at Giants Ridge.