As If Nordic Racing Needs Help Dying

So there's really not much to report about this weekend, unless you consider record high temperatures and no snow noteworthy. It might seem relevant, given the title of this blog, but I can't bring myself to complain about the obvious, at least not without some halfway interesting facts, or something.

Instead providing any sort of narrative about my ski career, then, I'll take this time to call out NENSA (or whoever is in charge of these things) for some surprising incompetence regarding the "Tour de Rumford." Basically, the NENSA schedule has been up for several months, listing this weekends races as "Friday: 2pm prologue, Saturday, 10k individual start, Sunday, 15k Mass start," or something to that effect. Registration opened last week, and the race is next weekend. I'm not sure about the wisdom of a Friday race, but I'll withhold judgment until I see the turnout.

Then, yesterday, they drop this gem -- "Friday's event will be a 2x3x1k Team Sprint that will count for overall standings but will not be a JOQ."

Now don't get me wrong here, I think team sprints are pretty much the best event in the world. 10 or more skiers sprinting at the same time is awesome. Getting 2-3 minutes off and then going back out to try to make yourself puke is even more awesome. The fact that I'm actually kind of decent at this is very awesome. Making a team sprint race that I don't like is hard to do.

But here's my beef. You can't just freaking change events like that once registration is open! You can't convince me for one second that "prologue" could be construed as "team sprint." Ever. If the actual explanation of this is "we meant to do a team sprint all along," then put that on the freakin internet! I assumed, like anyone else who is dimly aware of the Tour de France, or bike racing in general, or this year's "Tour de Ski," that the prologue would be some kind of individual short sprinty event. So what the hell? People are registering for this, and then you completely change the event? This is like changing a time trial to a team time trial once you've been taking people's money on It's a BIG CHANGE. Not everyone just has a "team" of peers to ski with, and they shouldn't be expected to. The organizers solution to this? Pairing lone skiers together to make ad hoc teams. Because when you pay $75 for a race, you might get the funny idea that it was a serious or competitive event -- but you'd be wrong. Some guy you don't even know is going to be your teammate, and if he sucks you're going to lose a big chunk of time through no fault of your own. And if you suck, he's going to lose a bunch of time. What the hell are we trying to determine here? "Fastest overall skier who also has a fast friend?" But it's ok, because nordic skiing is a team sport!


I like the idea of cross-country stage racing. Give me bonus seconds, combined times, overall standings. I think that's all great. But the Tour de Rumford organizers screwed this one up badly, and I expect more from the "Eastern Cup." This isn't some sort of "fun race" put on by a club on a wednesday night, this is part of the biggest series in New England. A little professionalism (having your crap straight, and posted online before you start taking people's money) and common sense (if you're running an event with combined times, don't throw in random team races, since nordic skiers are not inherently on teams) would've been nice.

If I can find a fast teammate to race with, I'm still going to go, because team sprints are awesome. Even when they're completely wrong.