Excellent early-season ski conditions are expected for this weekend’s CXC Cup opener Dec. 15-16 on the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center trails at Houghton, Mich. A field of over 400 skiers from CXC clubs across the Midwest is expected to compete in the events which will serve as super qualifiers for the 2019 U.S. Ski & Snowboard Junior National Championships. The opening races will include CXC Youth Cup, CXC Junior Cup and Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA) races.
The event opens Saturday with classic interval start racing, wrapping up Sunday with freestyle interval starts. The opener is part of a five-stop series – four weekends for Midwest and four for Great Lakes Divisions. Junior athletes will use the series to qualify for the March 10-16 Junior Nationals in Anchorage.
“This is the first serious test of the season for most of the racers,” said CXC Sport Development Director Joe Haggenmiller. “By no means is it a make or break event, but everybody wants to see where they are at after many months of dryland training. Those who perform well on the weekend should come out of the races with confidence their training has been good. At the same time, those who are a little flat can take solace in the fact the season is long and there is a lot more racing to do where they can come into the form they are hoping to show they have earned through hard training.”
The Houghton races continue a long tradition of Central Region racing kicking off in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan dating back to the 1960s with the trip to Copper Country a right of passage for cross country skiers for decades. One of the early organizers was local businessman Leonard Oikarinen, known as ‘Mister Ski.’ Oikarinen operated a TV repair business and cross country ski shop in Calumet. He passed on his passion to the Larson and Tervo families of neary Chassell. Jim Tervo has become on of the Central Region’s most beloved cross country officials, making sure racers have a great experience in Copper Country.
The objective of the CXC Junior Cup events is to encourage young athletes in the U16, U18, and U20 age divisions to enjoy cross country skiing and develop their skills, whether they are new to the sport High School skiers, aspiring junior skier who hope to compete at the top national and international levels, or are somewhere in between.