The sprint day is a very long day, so whether you are a racer, coach, official, volunteer or spectator, prepare for a full day out at Birch Hill . . . and then some.
In the qualifying round, both genders and all classes will compete over the 1350m sprint course. Having all skiers compete over the same distance as a single start group gives all those skiers the best opportunity to earn “good” USS&S National Ranking List (NRL) points and FIS points.
In the elimination heats, the U16 skiers will compete over the shorter 1100m course, which has 15m less climbing than the 1350m course. This decision was made based upon a consensus of the team leaders for the 2023 JNs.
The 1350m course starts with a gradual B climb (12m ascent at 6.2%) up the Ramp with at 180-degree turn at the entrance to Tower loop, then a descent of the Ramp with a slight “detour” around the Ramp Elbow. After traversing the east side of the Stadium, skiers will take a sharp right turn and descend the Sidewinder-Roundabout-White Bear-Surprise Cutoff descent, followed immediately by the White Bear B climb (27m ascent at 9.7%) which takes the skiers back to the stadium.
The descent from the stadium through Surprise Cutoff is technically challenging, with advantages gained by choosing a good line. It is likely that the decisive moves in the U18 and U20 heats will take place on the White Bear B climb, which is a long, straight, wide “almost A” climb which will reward fitness, especially in the later rounds, and which has good opportunities for overtaking.
Once the skiers have re-entered the stadium, they have about 140m to go to the finish, with a 90-degree turn about 100m from the finish. Based upon our experience using this same finish at the 2017 SuperTour Finals, if the order of finish has not clearly been established by the time skiers top out on the White Bear B climb, there is plenty of space in the stadium for skiers to settle a close finish without obstruction.
The first 750m and the final 250m of the course over which the U16 skiers will compete in the heats are the same as the 1350m course they skied in qualifying. The difference comes after descending Sidewinder and entering Roundabout. The U16 course does not descend to Surprise Cutoff, but continues left, around the Roundabout turn, and then ascends the Groomer Ramp B climb. The course that was used at the 2017 SuperTour Finals used the same final 400m as this course. In that women’s final Jesse Diggins took the victory over Kikkan Randall, while Fairbanks’ own Logan Hanneman captured the men’s title.
Awards for each class will be presented on-site immediately following the completion of the respective brackets during the breaks between brackets.