Ski to Sea changes for 2014

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 23, 2014 

Ski to Sea parking Everson

THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

WHAT'S NEW IN 2014

It's all about time: Racers will now be better educated to have their timing chip exposed and hit a bulls-eye as they cross the finish line to their leg to increase the chances they get an accurate time reading. Three backup systems also will be used at each finish line.

Under the big top: Timing systems will now be located under new red tents, keeping systems dry and helping funnel racers down to one or two at a time to help increase timing chips register properly.

Stay off the grass: Parking will no longer be allowed on the grass at the Road bike/Canoe exchange point at Riverside Park in Everson, because rains and heavy traffic caused damage last year. Local dairy farmer Hans Wolfisberg will allow cars to park free on his field.

Straightening it out: The finish line of the road biking leg has been moved 400 feet west of its usual location to move it away from a tight, narrow right hand turn before the handoff to canoers.

Getting an early start: While early release will not be used on the skiing legs, a new communication system and cutoff times will allow slower teams to get on the course faster, alleviating a choke point at Squalicum Harbor and getting teams off the race course earlier.

Crash and burn: Even though timing should be more accurate than ever, Ski to Sea is doing away with the Top Gun awards, which were given to the fastest man and fastest woman in each leg. The race committee felt the award took away from the team philosophy it tries to foster.

It's the women's turn: Ski to Sea has given eight universal airline tickets to the overall winning team in recent years. Usually that means a group of eight men from Barron Heating get the award. To make things more fair, Ski to Sea will be giving the tickets to the top women's team this year. Hello Boundary Bay Women's Team - 15 straight years the Women's Open champion.

Knocked off the mountain: The mountain biking leg always seems to be missing something - a mountain, or even a big hill. With 40 percent of the leg's course on pavement, the leg will now be known as the cross-country biking leg.

Course correction: The newly named cross-country biking leg also will head north to a new cyclocross course in a field between Hovander Park and the boat launch that should be good for spectators, rather than head south as in past years. The new course will not add any distance but will keep the bikes from crossing a road used by cars exiting from Hovander.

Drop off your boat and stay awhile: A high tide will allow the race to move its finish line a little north in Marine Park, allowing organizers to store kayaks at the north end of the park. That should increase boat capacity to 200 or 300 and prevent volunteers from asking kayakers to move their boats and instead encourage them to stay and enjoy the festivities.

Target audience: Ski to Sea will have more food- and race-oriented vendors at its finish line festival.

How 'bout a cool drink?: Zip2Water stations will be available at all race legs except the running/road bike exchange at the DOT snow shed, where there is no potable water. Racers need to bring their own water bottles to fill up at the Zip2Water stations, and there will be water bottles available for runners only at the DOT shed. Free food will also be available for racers at the end of the running, road biking, canoe and cross-country biking legs.

Closing time: The Beer Garden at Marine Park will now be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. - expanding drinking time for one hour.

Spend the night: The Baker Lodge will be open the night before the race this year, providing 63 beds. Conditions may be meager, but it beats sleeping in the snow for car-free teams.

Taking the bus: There will be no shuttle from Boundary Bay Brewery to Fairhaven this year, but WTA will still be running it's usual routes from WWU to Fairhaven.

Reach David Rasbach at 360-715-2286 or david.rasbach@bellinghamherald.com .

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