Cross-country skiing breakdown: What's new, tips for the race, viewing advice

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 20, 2013 

2011 Ski to Sea map - downhill

JESSICA RANDKLEV — FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

THE COURSE
Year leg added to the race: 1983.
Where: Mt. Baker Ski Area.
Course length: Approximately four miles.
Approximate time to complete: About 20 minutes for top finishers and 30 to 50 minutes for everybody else.
Course description: After a blast sets a mass of 500 cross-country skiers in motion from the Ski Shop, competitors do three loops around various points of the ski area. The first goes near the top of Chair 2, while the second goes to the base of Chair 2. The final loop takes competitors beyond the Austin Pass Warming Hut before returning to the Heather Meadows Day Lodge for the first exchange.
Cross-country ski race chair: Sue Hindman.
Pre-race meeting: 7:15 a.m. at the Ski Shop.
Timing chip: The cross-country skier must remember to start with the timing chip. Cross-country skiers will ski their leg, swipe the timing chip to record their finish time and then pass the chip to the downhill skier/snowboarder.

WHAT'S NEW
You got the time?: After getting stuck in the deep freeze last year when a skier ran into the timing unit on the cross country skiing leg and a battery pack died on the timing system for the downhill leg, Ski to Sea has changed timing systems this year. Race Day Timing Solutions has been asked to provide not only a timing system at each of the race's seven fish lines, but also a backup timing system. As if that is not enough each competitor will have their picture taken with a time stamp as a backup system, and volunteers will continue writing team numbers down as they cross as a fourth backup system.

TRAVEL AND VIEWING ADVICE
Mount Baker Highway will be closed at 7:30 a.m. at Canyon Creek Road in Glacier, going east toward the mountain. Any viewers, participants or additional support vehicles that want to go to the top of the mountain must pass Canyon Creek Road before then. The road will be closed westbound at 7:30 a.m. at the Mt. Baker Ski Area Heather Meadows Day Lodge. No vehicles will be allowed to travel down the mountain before it reopens.
Best place to watch the leg: Heather Meadows Day Lodge at Mt. Baker Ski Area, where spectators can see the start of the race and the skiers make their loops around the course before handing off to the downhill skier/snowboarder.

TIPS FOR THE RACE
--The weather at Mt. Baker Ski Area is unpredictable. Bring clothing for any occasion, including sunglasses in case the sun is out and is reflecting off the snow.-
--Get to bed early the night before. The race starts at 7:45 a.m. and there is a 7:15 a.m. pre-race meeting. Experienced competitors suggest leaving Bellingham no later than 4:45 a.m.
--If you aren't one of the best skiers in the race, don't try to snatch a starting spot at the front of the pack.
--The race is a mass start, which means 500 racers will be trying to elbow their way to the front. Watch out for competitors' ski poles and be prepared to get knocked around a little, and even possibly take a spill.

TOP GUNS
Male winners
2008: Brian Gregg (Team Islagiatt) 19:00
2009: Brian Gregg (Team Islagiatt) 16:50
2010: Ivan Babikov (Boss Construction) 18:15
2011: Brian Gregg (Barron Heating) 16:26
2012: Not available due to timing failure

Female winners
2008: Dasha Gaiazova (Boundary Bay Brewery) 21:44
2009: Sarah Konrad (ThorAppliances.com) 20:25
2010: Sarah Konrad (Dr. Hogan's Heroes) 22:18
2011: Holly Brooks (Ain't No Big Deal) 18:04
2012: Not available due to timing failure

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