A Call for Moderation
I definitely like a challenge with skiing and running and I willingly do tough courses and races. However, we've gone a bit over the top with classic racing here. Maybe it's time to consider a little moderation (and variety!!!) in course design.
Back when we first moved here in 2004 the classic courses varied somewhat, but generally rolling terrain on Relay and Tower Loops with bigger climbs on White Bear and Tower Direct. The tougher course was the "Three Hills" loop, of Blue Loop, Tower Direct, White Bear, and Competition. Those were not easy, but since those days the race courses have only got progressively more difficult.
This year they've more or less gone to the same course over and over again: Relay Start (not the whole loop anymore) for 700 m, then up South Tower, a 150 foot climb over a little over a quarter mile, down White Bear Access and right back up the extended hill (100 foot climb over about 250 or 300 meters), down half of Warm Up, and right back up the hill into the stadium; then you do it all over again.
Here's the course profile.
This course with 350 meters of total climb over 10K is well within the FIS limits that range between 250 and 420 meters (see page 38: http://www.fis-ski.com/data/document/icr-cross-country-2012.pdf). That's all well and good, but what is a little off this year (and last) is that basically most of the local (including high school races) less than 15K are classic mass start events, using this course.
Tour de Ski Fairbanks (7.5K, derivative, but it included all the same hills)
Town Race 3 (tomorrow)
Besh Cup 5
High School Regional Championships
Now I can see the advantage of having the young athletes vying for Junior Nationals to learn this course and to race it, but does every race have to be basically the same? I'd prefer to have tomorrow's race (which is dubbed a Citizen's Race) to be on the traditional rolling course that includes all of Relay Loop, Tower Loop (or maybe Tower Direct, which is the same height--actually a little higher from the stadium--as South Tower but not nearly as difficult) and White Bear.
What's more. Why is it every single year the high school Regional Championship 10K here a classic race? Hello? Does anyone believe in alternating with freestyle? Apparently not.
Once again, this demonstrates the need to break out of having the same people (or one person) make all the decisions when it comes to racing. We need some diversification of ideas and opportunities in Fairbanks.