Sprinting into Surprise Stadium | SierraSun.com

Sprinting into Surprise Stadium

Mark Nadell/Provided to the SunNordic skiers compete in last year's Truckee Sprints at the school's Surprise Stadium. This year's race will be held on Friday.

Imagine, if you will, a short-track, 1-kilometer skate race with curves, corners, uphills, one very steep downhill and a sprint to the finish.

Then visualize the competitors on skate skis, combine it with head-to-head ” even elbow-to-elbow ” competition, with racers vying for inside position as they fly around the sharpest corners.

Add in cheering spectators in the bleacher stands at the local football stadium, and you are getting some semblance of an image of what’s coming Friday at Truckee High School’s Surprise Stadium.

Based on the highly successful sprint formats currently used throughout the world, where complete downtown areas are turned into winding courses lined with thousands of spectators, the Truckee Sprints will offer the local crowd a great opportunity to watch high school and middle school athletes competing in one of the most exciting disciplines of cross country ski racing.

The competition begins with the preliminary “time-trial” portion of the race, where skiers race against the clock in an effort to make it to the next stage of racing. The top 32 racers from each division (high school boys/girls, middle school boys/girls) then advance to the “heats” portion of the competition.

After all the prelims are completed, groups of skiers then race against each other, much like a track meet, eight abreast, in an effort to move through to the final competition. The final race is then held, and the champion is crowned for this event.

With Truckee High’s Russell Kennedy leading a strong varsity boys field against Miles Heapes’ and Tom McElravey’s North Tahoe team ” along with fellow Junior Olympics veterans Bryce Tiernan of Bishop and Mammoth’s Matthew Picken ” the racing should be fast and furious on Friday.

Even more competitive is the varsity girls field, with Truckee’s Bernie Nelson leading a strong team of racers against Dayna Stimson of Mammoth and the rest of the field. Add in some exciting middle school competition, and you won’t want to miss this year’s edition of the Truckee Sprints, back at Surprise Stadium after a brief interlude of global warming in 2007.

Middle school races begin at 1 p.m. and high school races at 3 p.m. Heats follow immediately after each race. For more information on watching or volunteering for this event, contact the Far West Nordic office at info@farwestnordic.org.

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