Gitchi Gami Games Bring Back Heritage Of Sport
The CXC Cup returns to action Jan. 19-20 heading to the fabled trails around Telemark near Cable, Wis. that once hosted the origins of the FIS World Cup tour. The weekend of competition will offer everything from entry level racing to qualifiers for U.S. Junior Championships – all classic technique.
The event is organized by the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation along with Central Cross Country Skiing. It’s designed to encourage young athletes from U8 to U23 age divisions to enjoy cross country skiing and develop their skills, whether they are new to the sport high school skiers, aspiring junior skiers who hope to compete at the top national and international levels, or are somewhere in between. Events mix Olympic-style competition with elements of learning and fun for all levels – from beginner racers to those with International experience.
The CXC Junior Cup and CXC Youth Cup opened in December with races in Houghton, Mich. and Madison, Wis. The third stop on the tour with the Gitchi Gami Games will feature classic sprint racing on Saturday and a classic mass start format on Sunday.
The Gitchi Gami Games had their origins in 1977 when legendary cross country ski innovator and pioneer Tony Wise started an elite-level international race that in 1978 became the first-ever International Ski Federation World Cup race. The women’s competition was won by Allison Owen-Spencer, who was America’s first World Cup winner and only victor until Kikkan Randall won a World Cup in 2007.
Many of the races will use some of the original trails that were designed by coach Marty Hall in the mid-70s when classic skiing was the only technique.
The term Gitchi Gami also honors the heritage of the region’s native Ojibwa or Chippewa people. Wise, who was a consummate promoter, often celebrated the history of the Northwoods region in naming events and places. Gitchi Gami is a term in the Ojibwa language that means big water and was used by the natives to describe the nearby Lake Superior, part of the Great Lakes chain.
“The Gitchi Gami Games are an important part of our sport’s heritage,” said American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation President Ben Popp. “The Birkie is proud to carry on that heritage and to serve as a Super JNQ qualifier this year with the Games.”
The races will serve as important qualifiers for CXC Skiing as athletes vie for berths to compete at the U.S. Junior Championships, which will be held in Anchorage March 11-16.
“The Gitchi Gami Games are important both as a fun event for newcomers to the sport, as well as a critical qualifier for junior ski racers,” said CXC Sport Development Director Joe Haggenmiller. “We’ve had great racing so far this season at the December CXC Cups, and also some very strong performances from our CXC junior athletes at the recent U.S. Championships in Vermont.”
Registration for the Jan. 19-20 Gitchi Gami Games races is open until midnight on Tuesday, January 15. Interested athletes and parents can register online.
Friday, January 18, 2019
10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. – Waxing area open
12:00 – 6:00 p.m. – Course open for inspection
5:30 p.m. – Coaches meeting and bib distribution, Cable Community Center
Saturday, January 19, 2019
8:45 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Classic sprint competitions (see detailed schedule for start times)
Sunday, January 20, 2019
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Classic mass start competitions (see detailed schedule for start times)