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Houghton set to host stellar cross-country nationals

The nation's best cross-country skiers are set to converge Jan. 3-7 on Houghton for the U.S. Cross Country Championships, hosted by the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center.
HOUGHTON, Mich. — The nation's best cross-country skiers are set to converge Jan. 3-7 on Houghton for the U.S. Cross Country Championships, hosted by the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center.
    More than 400 skiers are expected to compete including regional development teams, collegiate programs and top World Cup racers Kris Freeman plus star sprinters Andy Newell and Kikkan Randall from the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team.
    Results will help determine the roster for the Feb. 22-March 4 World Nordic Championships in Sapporo, Japan, and the Junior World Championships set for Jan. 29-Feb. 4 in Tarvisio, Italy.
    "Houghton is extremely well-organized, and following up on the great job they did in organizing the Junior Olympics last winter, we expect this championship to meet a very high standard," said Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner. "The championships are the culmination of the first half of the season, and based on the performances in Houghton, we will be sending roughly 50 U.S. competitors into international competition over the course of the next two months."
    Action kicks off Jan. 3 with classic technique races of 10 kilometers for men and 5 km for women. Freestyle races Jan. 4 are a 15 km for men and a 10 km for women, followed by a classic sprint Jan. 6 and — for the first time at nationals — a team freestyle sprint Jan. 7 to close the championships, which also double as part of the $130,000 USSA Cross Country SuperTour.
    "With the experience our volunteers and organizers gained at the Junior Olympics, I'm confident we will be just as successful with this event." said Mike Abbott, chair of the organizing committee.
    The Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center was designed to be spectator friendly. Many viewing locations are an easy walk, on a groomed trail, from the stadium. Most of the sprint course can be seen from the stadium. The large stadium, including bleachers, allows easy viewing of the start and finish areas. Plus three Web cams will fans to log into www.seniornationals.org and track starts and finishes.
    Other improvements for the championships are the Boss Snowplow Nordic Wax Center, added for the Junior Olympics with a generous donation from Boss Snowplow, based in Iron Mountain, Michigan. The center includes 10 separate team wax rooms and a community wax room and changing area.

2007 U.S. Cross Country Championships Schedule:
Monday, Jan. 1 — Training
Tuesday, Jan. 2 — Training
Wednesday, Jan. 3 — 10 km classic men, 5 km classic women
Thursday, Jan. 4 — 15 km freestyle men, 10 km freestyle women
Friday, Jan. 5 —Training
Saturday, Jan. 6 — Classic sprint
Sunday, Jan. 7 — Team freestyle sprint

For complete details on the 2007 U.S. Cross Country Championships and a look at the Web cams, log on to www.seniornationals.org.

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