The best snowboard cross racers in the world — save at least one — will compete in a FIS World Cup race in Stoneham, Quebec, that will help determine rosters for the upcoming Vancouver Olympics.
One notable absence from the list of starters at the race: Seth Wescott of Farmington, the gold medalist from the 2006 Torino Games.
Before you start firing off messages to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, you ought to know this: The fact that Wescott is sitting out today’s final U.S. qualifying race is a good thing.
Ethan Austin, the communications manager at Sugarloaf, Wescott’s home mountain, said he spoke with the snowboarder on Tuesday, and heard some good news.
“The coaches told him to take the week off and skip this event, and his travel arrangements are already set for Vancouver,” Austin said.
Austin said Wescott’s status as a member of the U.S. Olympic team is unofficial, because the USSA has not yet nominated athletes, and the U.S. Olympic Committee has not approved the roster.
“It’s just a technicality,” Austin said.
Austin said Wescott had been in Carrabassett Valley, but left earlier this week and will attend — but not race — in Quebec.
“He’s really enthusiastic and he’s glad he’s able to get this time off at home to rest up and get ready,” Austin said. “He wasn’t overly thrilled with how the trip to Europe went, but he was happy with the eventual outcome.”
Wescott began his FIS World Cup season with a second-place finish in Argentina in September, but finished 56th and 17th in two races in Europe. Those races were the third and fourth of five qualifiers for the U.S. team.
Teammate Nate Holland is the only American to have won a World Cup snowboard cross race this season; With just a single race left before the Olympic team is picked, Wescott’s second-place finish puts him second on the U.S. team according to the objective criteria set up by the USSA. The U.S. may send as many as four men to Vancouver to compete in snowboard cross.
When Wescott gets to Vancouver, he won’t be the only athlete with Carrabassett Valley links competing.
Star U.S. skier Bode Miller attended Carrabassett Valley Academy, as did Wescott. And a young freestyle skier, Jeremy Cota, is making a late run at an Olympic berth as a moguls skier.
Cota is the son of the Carrabassett Valley town manager Dave Cota, and also attended CVA.
“He’s got a shot,” Austin said. “The final event before the Olympics is [today] and basically from what I understand, if he podiums at that it’s going to be hard for them to leave him off the team.”
Cota was the top American finisher, finishing seventh in the most recent World Cup competition at Deer Valley in Park City, Utah. The competition was only Cota’s second on the World Cup circuit.
“He’s technically a C-teamer, [not a member of the higher-level U.S. Ski Team’s A or B units],” Austin said. “He’s just been tearing it up, having these incredible results.”
Camper reservations set
If you’re a camper who likes spending time in some of the state’s most popular wild spots, the time to start making plans for the coming year.
I received a pair of press releases on Monday that outlined procedures for those who want to place reservations for Maine state parks, as well as for Baxter State Park, which manages its own reservation system.
Let’s start with Baxter State Park.
Officials at the park began accepting reservations on Tuesday, and campers are allowed to make a maximum of two reservations during the season, which runs from May 15 through Oct. 15. In all, 62 residents and 10 non-residents lined up at park headquarters to reserve spots, and staffers took 86 reservations.
That leaves 98 percent of the park’s summer capacity still available for campers. The park will now take reservations on its standard rolling reservation system, whereby lean-tos, tent sites and cabins will become available 120 prior to the reservation date.
For more information, go to the park’s Web site at http://www.baxterstateparkauthority.com/ or call 723-5140.
If you’re interested in reserving a spot in one of the other state parks, which are run under the management of the Maine Department of Conservation’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, there are a couple of dates to remember.
First, those looking to reserve spots at the popular Sebago Lake State Park will get a week’s head start on the process, as officials will begin booking sites at 9 a.m. on Feb. 1.
Reservations for all other state park campgrounds open at 9 a.m. on Feb. 8.
Campers looking to make reservations can do so in four ways:
— Go to www.CampWithMe.com.
— Call 800-332-1501 (in-state) or (207) 624-9950 (out of state).
— Mail reservation requests to Bureau of Parks and Lands, Attn: Reservations, 22 SHS, Augusta, 043333. Reservation requests must not be postmarked before Feb. 1.
— Drop off completed reservation forms at the Bureau of Parks and Lands office in Augusta.