HOUGHTON, Michigan — A traveler transiting through Chicago O’Hare earlier this week would have noticed something unusual as they approached Gate E10, featuring nonstop service to Houghton County Memorial Airport in Calumet, Michigan.
The typical flow of overweight Americans in athleisure wear gave way to more athletic archetypes in shell pants and team jackets. Suddenly, everyone was wearing an N95 mask. Branded beanies replaced baseball caps as the headwear of choice, and every other backpack was emblazoned with the Patagonia logo. For a weary reporter entering his sixteenth hour of travel from Anchorage, it felt like a sign that he was finally getting close to his destination.
All of which is to say, the American cross-country ski community has converged on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for 2023 U.S. Nationals, which kick off tomorrow. The snow is deep, the trails are good, the temperatures are moderate, the parking lots are full of team vans and wax trailers. There are over 400 athletes present for this week’s races, with a not small number of coaches, parents, and support staff adding to that number and making it impossible to rent a car in town this week.
This reporter will be live on site for all of the races; my deep and sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to the GoFundMe to help me get here. (Link is still open if you’d like to help underwrite the trip to Whistler in three weeks for World Juniors…) We’ll have in-depth reporting on all four races; articles should all be up within the day of each race, barring catastrophic logistical meltdown, although keep in mind that it takes a non-zero amount of time to find athletes after they finish and recover and do the podium ceremony, interview athletes, drive from the venue back home to the Airbnb, transcribe quotes, and start writing.
For family and friends who would like real-time updates on the races in advance of the articles and athlete thoughts:
- Start lists, live results, and formal results will all be available here
- The free livestream will be available here. The livestream page currently says that it starts “at 10 a.m.,” but today’s email update from race organizers states, “Streaming begins just before the first start Monday at 9:30 a.m.”
- Precise race-day logistical details (e.g., when is each sprint heat) may be found here.
Here are details for all four races this week. The venue is in the Eastern time zone.
|date||race||time (AK)||time (EST)|
|Monday, January 2||W 10km interval start skate||article|
|M 10km interval start skate||article|
|Weds., January 4||M classic sprint||article|
|W classic sprint||article|
|Friday, January 6||M 20km mass start classic||article|
|W 20km mass start classic||article|
|Saturday, January 7||W skate sprint qual||5:30 a.m.||9:30 a.m.|
|M skate sprint qual||6:05 a.m.||10:05 a.m.|
|open/senior heats start||7 a.m.||11 a.m.|
|open/senior finals||8:30 a.m.||12:30 p.m.|
|junior heats start||9:10 a.m.||1:10 p.m.|
|junior finals||10:40 a.m.||2:40 p.m.|
Strictly speaking, the first three races are national championship races; Saturday’s skate sprint is not, being rather “just” a SuperTour. The skate sprint national championship will be held as part of Spring Series in late March. In practice, expect all high-level/pro athletes to contest all four races. Some juniors may not compete in Saturday’s SuperTour, so overall field size for that day should be slightly smaller than for the first three days.
— Gavin Kentch
Would you like to read more articles like this? Would you like to help cover the site’s expenses to send Gavin on in-person reporting trips to both Houghton and Whistler for U.S. Nationals and World Juniors? Find out more about our GoFundMe (terms and conditions: we’re donating anything in excess of actual expenses back to NNF), and consider donating, here. You may have noticed that there are not, currently, any ads up on this site; your support truly makes a huge difference to the financial viability of this startup website. Thank you for your consideration.