FORT KENT, Maine — The 2010 Nordic ski race season wraps up this week in northern Maine with the USSA National Cross Country Marathon and the USSA Super Tour Finals.
With top U.S., Canadian and Japanese clubs confirming, the field for the 2010 U.S. Super Tour Finals looks to be the strongest ever assembled outside of World Cup and Olympic competition in North America.
Spread over four days, the events take advantage of trails and conditions at the 10th Mountain Lodge in Fort Kent and the Four Seasons Lodge in Madawaska.
The events kick off at 9 a.m. Wednesday with the women’s 30-kilometer and men’s 50K cross country ski marathon at the 10th Mountain Lodge.
It is the first time it has been held in northern Maine.
Dozens of Olympians, Junior Olympians, U.S. and North American champions and competitors have remained in northern Maine following events in Presque Isle and Fort Kent over the past weeks to participate in the upcoming races.
For folks at the Maine Winter Sports Center, the events are about more than pure athletics.
“The Marathon Championships and SuperTour Finals are an important part of the economic mission of the MWSC, especially in a tough year for the snowmobiling industry in northern Maine,” said Andy Shepard, president of Maine Winter Sports. “Between the U.S. Biathlon Championships and this week’s events, it is filling hotels and restaurants for two weeks at a time when these businesses need it the most.”
On Friday, the 2010 Super Tour begins three days of world-class competition with a $16,000 purse up for grabs.
According to race organizers, registrations have been pouring in for the event, with U.S. headliners Kikkan Randall (eighth place 2010 Olympic Winter Games sprint, sixth 2010 Olympics team sprint), Andy Newell, Torin Koos, Kris Freeman, Caitlin Compton (30th place 2010 Olympic 10K, sixth 2010 Olympic team sprint) and the rest of the U.S. National and 2010 Olympic Teams slated to compete.
Additionally, Ivan Babikov (fifth, 2010 Olympic pursuit) and Stephan Kuhn (10th-place qualifier 2010 Olympic sprint), of the Canadian National Team have confirmed their intention to race at the event.
Unlike previous years, the 2010 Super Tour is designed as a “tour de ski” format with racers competing over three days at two venues for times, standings and cash prizes.
“Fort Kent has a long tradition of hosting world-class events (and) I am very excited for the people of Madawaska to get their chance to shine as well,” Shepard said. “The Four Seasons Lodge and trail network are so impressive, not just because of the quality of each, but because they were developed entirely by the community.”
Races begin Friday at 3:30 p.m. with a mass start classic race at Four Seasons Lodge.
A classic sprint is on tap for Saturday in Madawaska with racers taking off on the 1.3K course starting at 2:20 p.m.
Racing wraps up Sunday at 10 a.m. with a freestyle pursuit hill climb in Fort Kent up the Lonesome Pine Ski Hill’s 28-percent grade to the 10th Mountain Lodge.
Complete scheduling information is available at www.supertourfinals2010.com.