HOUGHTON - The U.S. National Cross-Country Skiing Championship will once again be held at the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center in 2015 and 2016. After successful championships in 2007 and 2008, Tech received the bid based on a challenging trail system, which was renovated and expanded in 2001. The volunteer organizing committee also successfully staged the junior national championships, known as the Junior Olympics, in 2006.
"It is an exciting time for Michigan Tech Skiing as we will once again be able to showcase the Michigan Tech Trails and our race organization to ski enthusiasts from across the country," race coordinator Jim Tervo said.
"Many of the volunteers from 2006, 2007 and 2008 have been asking when we will have another chance to host a national tournament. We are pleased to be able to tell them that our first racing will begin about January 3. A web page will be in place around the first of the year, and people will be able to start signing up for their assignments at that time."
Competitors race on the Michigan Tech Trails during the 2008 U.S. National Cross-Country Skiing Championship in this file photo. The Nationals are returning to Michigan Tech in 2015 and 2016. (Mining Gazette file photo)
Spectators will have the opportunity to see the top skiers in the country, including many who were members of the U.S. 2014 Olympic ski team.
"I'm excited to be hosting the US Nationals," MTU Nordic ski coach Joe Haggenmiller said. "For our team, it's a chance to race at home against the best competition in the United States. We also get to race more of our athletes in the event instead of having a smaller roster like we usually do with a week-long event."
Haggenmiller also talked about the impact hosting U.S. Nationals will have on recruiting: "It will bring in a number of high school athletes who are trying to qualify for a U18 trip to Scandinavia or U20 trip to the World Junior Championships.
"Those are some of the skiers (who) we're looking to recruit. We want to focus on the top skiers in those age brackets and getting them to campus will certainly help us sell our world-class facilities and Michigan Tech as a whole."
The championship spans a week and consists of four different days of competition. The four events are classic distance, freestyle distance, classic sprint and freestyle sprint.
"We have a great group of people working hard to make this event happen," said athletic director Suzanne Sanregret.
"It's not just the ski team staff or the athletic department but a full community effort.
"This is a great event and opportunity for us to show off our community, University, and facilities on a national scale."