Cross country ski competition took on four very distinct looks this season, any and all based on sliding over a snowy course on feather-light skis connected only at the toe.
The four division are:- Traditional cross country races that involve a sliding and gliding of the skis in a running or walking motion.
- The recently introduced freestyle that involves some traditional skiing, but more directed at a skating motion.
- Telemark races that are similar to alpine slalom and GS races, only here racers must negotiate each turn using an age-old skiing style.
- And, ski archery, which is a adaptation of the biathlon.
A schedule of events is printed on this page.
Traditional cross country skiing suffered a setback this year when it was decided not to open Jeremy Ranch, once considered Utah's showcase of nordic skiing. Races scheduled there, including the Utah Winter Games and the NCAA championships in late February, had to be relocated. No new site has been named yet for the NCAA finals.
The regular cross country events pick up with a 3 x 5 relay (three skiers each skiing five kilometers) on Jan. 19 at the White Pine Touring Center on the Park City Golf Course. One leg of the relay must be classical, the other two may be freestyle.
Telemark racing will start with a dual giant slalom at Alta on Sunday. Under racing rules, skiers must make telemark turns around each gate or be penalized.
The telemark was one of the earliest turning maneuvers practiced. In making the turn, the inside ski slides back so that the tip of the ski is near the outside boot, the knees are bent and the heel of the trailing boot is up off the ski.
Other requirement are the boots, bindings and skis must all be commercially available.
Under ski archer rules, skiers race from one target to the next and at each target shoot five arrows. For each hit they get credit and for each miss they must ski a penalty lap and then proceed to the next target. In a biathlon, instead of shooting arrows skiers shoot .22 caliber rifles.
All of these races are open to the public. Each race is broken down into classes according to age and ability.
One of the more popular events is the FHP Wasatch Citizens Series. The reason is the large number of age and ability classes open to skiers. There are three more races left in the series.