New year kicks off with lots of Nordic |

New year kicks off with lots of Nordic

TUNA volunteers help young racers get ready for a Wasatch series Nordic race earlier in December.

Nordic activities in the area will ring in 2006 in style with a week full of activities. The festivities begin with the second race of the Wasatch Citizens Series at White Pine Touring Center. The event will feature a 15-kilometer freestyle race, beginning at 10 a.m. The last event held on Dec. 10 welcomed hundreds of participants, including a record 200 participants in the classic 10K event. The White Pine/The Utah Nordic Alliance (TUNA) Relay fundraiser held the following Saturday also enjoyed large numbers. "We’re seeing a lot of people coming out," said TUNA president David Susong. "We’re seeing more and more interest in Nordic."

The Wasatch events are perhaps becoming more and more popular because they are open to just about anyone. There are races for young and old with ability levels ranging from novice to experts. The races are also open to spectators.

This Saturday’s race should be especially well attended, because it falls on a holiday weekend and it is just days before the 2006 U.S. Cross Country Championships at Soldier Hollow that run from Jan. 3-10. Susong expects that some of the nationally ranked skiers may participate and support the day’s festivities. The races begin at 10 a.m.

The Mountain Dell Demo Cross-Country Ski Demo Day will follow on Sunday at the Mountain Dell Golf Course from 10-3 p.m. The event is designed to give both Nordic enthusiasts and those interested in learning more about the sport the opportunity to try all of the latest gear. Representatives from major equipment companies, such as Toko, Atomic, Rossignol, Madshus, Fischer and Salomon will all be in attendance. The day will also feature free 30-minute group lessons for beginners and intermediates in both skate and classic styles. The classes will be led by experienced TUNA volunteers as well as coaches from the junior programs. Classes will start at 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Attendees will also have the opportunity to sign up to become TUNA members and buy a Mountain Dell season passes.

According to Susong, the event brought out several hundred people last year and he hopes to build on those numbers this year. Last year’s crowd was primarily comprised of people relatively new to Nordic skiing. Susong says that the Demo Day is the perfect opportunity to really get a feel for the sport.

"People are interested in what’s affordable as far as equipment and to see what’s involved as far as lessons," Susong said.

For Nordic lovers, the day is the perfect chance to try new boots, skis, poles, wax and the like, that they may be considering purchasing. The event is free to the public and free hot drinks will be available.

The weeklong U.S. national races will be the final stop for Olympic hopefuls before the games in Turin, Italy. Some of the country’s best, such as Kris Freeman of New Hampshire, who is currently leading the U.S. team in results, as well as many other top-ranked racers will be vying for a spot on the team. The U.S. Olympic Cross Country Team will be announced on Saturday, Jan. 17. The American team can take up to eight men and eight women to the Games. The event, which has been hosted by Solider Hollow three times since 2000, will include events for both able-bodied and disabled skiers. Admission is free for all of the races. The general schedule: – Tuesday, Jan. 3 Men’s 30K & Women’s 15K Freestyle*; Sit-ski men’s 10K & sit-ski women’s 5K – Thursday, Jan 5 Men’s & women’s Freestyle sprints* – Saturday, Jan. 7 Men’s 15K Classic & women’s 10K Classic*; Sit-ski men’s 5K & women’s 2.5K – Sunday, Jan. 8 – Women’s 5K & Men’s 10K Freestyle*; Sit-ski men’s 15K and women’s 10K – Tuesday, Jan. 10 Women’s 20K Pursuit (10K +10K) and Men’s 35K Pursuit (15K + 15K)* * Includes disabled standup skiers

For more information on TUNA programs, log onto

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