In a couple hours, the UAA Ski Team will board an Alaska Airlines jet and fly to Fairbanks for their first three races of the year, the Goldstream Sports Tour de Ski. The schedule of events includes a short "prologue" race on Friday evening; 2km for women / 3km for men. Saturday morning is a classic individual start race, and Sunday is a pursuit skate race.
Fairbanks is a cold place during the winter. Located among rolling hills in the center of Alaska, the temperature is normally quite cold, and can sometimes be extremely cold. They tend to get very little wind when high-pressure systems sit over central Alaska, so the cold air settles down into the low spots and the tops of the hills remain far warmer than the valleys below. The town of Fairbanks is in the Chena River valley while the Birch Hill nordic ski trails are located several hundred feet above town on Birch Hill. It is often 20 degrees warmer at Birch Hill than it is in downtown Fairbanks!
This weekend, cold weather is predicted, and this cold weather is likely to impact the races. The International Ski Federation (FIS) has a rule that FIS-sanctioned races are not allowed at temperatures colder than -20C. According to the weather forecast, temperatures on Friday evening should be somewhere in the range of -20C. On Saturday and Sunday, the temperature is predicted to be significantly colder than -20C. This means that there is a good possibility that the prologue race will be able to be held on Friday evening, but the chances are pretty slim that Saturday's and Sunday's races will be able to be held under FIS rules. If it is colder than -20C but warmer than -25C, the ski club plans to hold the races anyway, but no FIS points will be scored.
Whether the UAA Ski Team gets to race three races, one race, or no races, the trip should at least be a good opportunity to get lots of kilometers of skiing on excellent snow conditions. Fairbanks has plenty of snow. We have been training on thin snow and no tracks for the past couple of weeks. This weekend should provide a good "training camp" environment, regardless of whether our skiers are able to race any races or not.
You can follow the events on the web at:
You can follow the weather at Birch Hill Ski Area and see the stadium webcam at:
Check back for more updates here. I'm not going to Fairbanks, but I'll post whatever news I hear...
(PS. You get "extra credit" if you know where I got the title for this blog post)