The Utah Nordic Alliance hosts TUNA Relay on Saturday |

The Utah Nordic Alliance hosts TUNA Relay on Saturday

Relay will take place for first time in four years

Jesse Reid tags his teammate Drew Palmer-Leger after completing his leg of the 2012 TUNA Relay, the last time The Utah Nordic Alliance was able to put on the event.
Photo courtesy of Gary Fladmoe

For the last three years, The Utah Nordic Alliance (TUNA) has been unable to put on its season-opening event in the TUNA Relay due to lack of appropriate conditions.

Thanks to decent snowfall in the last couple of weeks, not to mention the snow that is forecasted in the coming days, the event will make its anticipated return this season

On Saturday, Dec. 10, TUNA will host the relay race that takes place on the five-kilometer loop at the White Pine Nordic Center. While it’s labeled a race, the event is more social than competitive, providing a good time for all who have been awaiting the Nordic ski season.

“It’s just a fun way to get warmed up and get everybody together,” said Dave Hanscom, Wasatch Citizens Series Director at TUNA. “We haven’t seen another since last year, a lot of people anyway. It’s a fun race. … Tracks are good. Everything is set to go.”

Relay teams are made up of three skiers, where one races a lap of classic skiing and the other two use the freestyle technique. The race is open to men and women of all ages, and in an event like this one, anyone who enters has the opportunity to win.

Like golf, TUNA uses a handicap system that applies to each skier, whether they are male or female, old or young.

“In the case of this race, the handicap is a percentage of the winning time,” Hanscom said. “The percentage is always the percentage of the fastest skier, so it’s geared to the conditions. Some days you can ski around the track a heck of a lot faster than others, with new snow or blowing snow versus a real icy day when the track is really fast. We use the fastest time of the day for each individual race.”

This handicap will be factored into each person’s finishing time, providing an environment where truly no one has an idea who has won the race until everyone finishes.

“The fastest skiers will finish first, but you never know who won the race until all the times are plugged into the computer and the calculations are run,” Hanscom said. “Just because a team finishes first doesn’t mean they’ll be even close to first .That makes it fun, too. Everybody is kind of on pins and needles if they are thinking they might’ve won something.”

Speaking of winning, there will be prizes available to the top finishers, thanks to the folks over at White Pine and TUNA. Each will provide some little gifts like hats or ski wax. The way it works is the top finishing relay team — after the handicaps have been factored into the results — will get to pick from the table of prizes first, while the next-best finishing relay will choose second. This will continue until the prizes are gone.

Hanscom said the TUNA relay, which originated back in 1984, is a great, fun way to kick off the Nordic ski season without the pressures of having to win: It’s social. It’s fun. And best of all, it’s actually happening.

“This will be great relief for everybody,” Hanscom said. “It’s not just a relief that we’re going to be able to hold the race, but it’s a relief that we got some snow by the first of December. It’s been awhile since that’s been the case.”

The first leg of the relay race is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. from the White Pine Nordic Center.

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