At a specially-called meeting tonight (Monday night) the Cross Country Alaska Competition Committee voted to relocate Besh Cup races 1 and 2 to Fairbanks, and to hold them this weekend, December 16-17, the same dates on which the races had been scheduled to be held at Kincaid Park.

Sixteen coaches and club representatives were in attendance at the teleconference, including 11 representatives from Anchorage and two from the Mat-Su. Several votes were taken so that the Committee could move step-by-step through the process.

  • The first vote was to NOT hold the races in Anchorage.  There were only two votes in opposition to that motion.
  • The second vote was to make a one-time exception to the Committee’s normal rule requiring 10-days advance notice for relocating races.  Only one vote was in opposition.
  • The third vote was to relocate the races to Fairbanks.  That vote was unanimous.
  • The fourth vote was to relocate Besh Cup races 5 and 6 to Anchorage.  That vote was unanimous.

The primary reason for not holding the races in Anchorage was concern about the quality of the races – as pertains to snow conditions and course availability.  Anchorage/NSAA does an excellent job of organizing races, but their snow conditions are very poor right now, and the forecast calls for warm temperatures and some rain for the next three days.  It is highly unlikely that it will be possible to make any snow during that time period, while it is likely that there will be further snow loss.  NSAA personnel felt that they could not ensure that conditions this weekend would be good and fair for the competitors.  Also, they would not be able to hold the races on the best Kincaid Park competition courses.  Finally, Anchorage is hosting the US National Championships January 3-8.  They want to do everything possible to make that a great event.  Not having to worry about trying to cobble together something this weekend for the first two Besh Cup races will enable them to focus on the most important objective.

The reason that the Competition Committee voted to waive the 10-day rule on a one-time basis has to do with the National Championships being held in Anchorage.  Many Alaska skiers will be racing in the National Championships, where they will be hoping to earn positions on the US teams to the Olympics, the Junior and Under 23 World Championships, and the U18 Scandinavian Cup trip.  From an athletic standpoint, it is good to have a couple of quality competitions under your belt before you get to your most important races.  The Committee believed the best way to ensure that skiers can get in quality competition prior to National Championships is to relocate the races and still hold them this weekend – before National Championships, but with sufficient time to recover and do some good training between Besh Cups #1 and #2 and the National Championships.

Fairbanks was chosen as the site for relocation due to snow conditions and the quality of the courses – and because there were not a lot of practical options.  Homer has no snow.  Conditions at the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna are similar to conditions at Kincaid.  Mark Strabel, whose home course is the Government Peak trails in Palmer/Wasilla strongly recommended that the races be held in Fairbanks.

Finally, NSCFairbanks doesn’t want to host two-thirds of the Besh Cup schedule – although we love to put on good races, it is a lot of work for our volunteers.  NSCFairbanks representatives also believe it is important that the races be spread around the state, so from the start of these discussions the position of the NSCF was that Fairbanks would accept the responsibility for organizing Besh Cup #1 and #2 if Anchorage would accept the responsibility for organizing Besh Cup #5 and #6.  The committee voted unanimously to support that change in schedule.

The Cross Country Alaska Competition Committee will meet again Wednesday night to go over the details of, and any adjustments that need to be made to the competition program for this weekend.  The plans are to hold a sprint in classic technique on Saturday, and either a mass start or interval start free technique race on Sunday.  Start times, etc., will not be nailed down until Wednesday’s meeting.

The Cross Country Alaska Competition Committee realizes that relocating these races will cause some inconvenience for a number of skiers and their families.  However the Committee voted to take the action that it did because they believe that relocating the races to Fairbanks this weekend is the best possible method for achieving the CCAK Mission and objectives.