Ski to Sea

Cross-county skiing leg starts off Ski to Sea with a blast

Ski to Sea competitors battle during the cross country skiing leg of the 2016 Ski to Sea Race at Mt. Baker Ski Area.
Ski to Sea competitors battle during the cross country skiing leg of the 2016 Ski to Sea Race at Mt. Baker Ski Area. The Bellingham Herald file

THE COURSE

Year leg added to the race: 1983.

Where: Mt. Baker Ski Area.

Course length: About 4 miles.

Approximate time to complete: About 20 minutes for top finishers and 30 to 50 minutes for everybody else. The average time in 2017 was 41 minutes, 30 seconds and the the first finisher completed the leg at 7:50 a.m.

Course description: After a blast sets a mass of up to 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.

Pre-race meeting: 7 a.m. at the Ski Shop.

Recommended departure time from Bellingham: 4:45 a.m.

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.

2020 XC map (2)

TRAVEL AND VIEWING ADVICE

Mount Baker Highway will be closed at 7:15 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 7:15 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.

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Cross country skiers battle at the start of the 2017 Ski to Sea at Mt. Baker Ski Area. Staff The Bellingham Herald file

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 7:30 a.m. and there is a 7 a.m. pre-race meeting. Experienced competitors suggest leaving Bellingham no later than 4:15 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 approximately 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.

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Cross country skiers battle during the 2017 Ski to Sea at Mt. Baker Ski Area. Staff The Bellingham Herald file

2017 Top Finishers

Men: Kent Murdoch (Boomer's Drive-In Veterans) 20:41

Women: Kikkan Randall (The Delicate Flowers) 27:37

Key numbers

840: Inches of snowfall this ski season reported at Mt. Baker Ski Area, as og the final day of operation on April 22.

7:15 a.m.: Time the Mount Baker Highway closes between Canyon Creek Road in Glaceier and the Mt. Baker Ski Area Lodge. The road will not open until approximately 11 a.m.

3: Loops make up the four-mile cross-country skiing leg of Ski to Sea.

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