Rossland hosts NorAm this weekend

The NorAm Sprint Series is this weekend in Rossland and will include more than 180 top skiers.

The NorAm Sprint Series is this weekend and it looks to be shaping up to be a busy race.

Chief of competition Ian Sibbald said there are between 180 and 190 skiers registered for this weekend’s races.

On Saturday they will be having the free-technique sprint race, which will have interval starts. Sunday’s race is a mass start distance race, which is also free-technique.

Saturday will start with a qualifier at 9 a.m. where the top 30 in each category will go on to heats where they race against each other to get a spot in the semi-finals and then the finals.

There will be five quarter-finals, two semi-finals and one final race for each category. There will be 32 heats including all the categories. Each race is 1.6 km for the men and 1.4 km for the women.

“They are going to run continuously every three minutes from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. roughly,” he said.

There is also an individual start race for the younger categories around 2 p.m. Saturday, which will likely run for an hour.

Sunday’s mass start distance race starts at 10 a.m. for the men and 11 a.m. for women.

“That’s a mass start, so they’ll all be lined up in a big pack and all go on a gun,” he       said.

“That’s pretty exciting to watch.”

The distance race is 15 km for the men and 10 km for the women.

The racers tend to compete in both events.

“Some people are better in one than the other,” he said.

“So the winner in one may not be the winner in the other, but most people will still compete.”

He said that this year’s courses are slightly tougher than last year, which should make for some interesting races.

Sibbald said NorAm is similar to the Continental Circuit Race, and is one level down from the World Cup.

“So the top North American skiers are here those that aren’t racing in the World Cup,” Sibbald said.

“So that gives you an idea of the level.”

He added that there are other categories as well and the registration is up from last   year.

There are also a few local Rosslanders competing, including Rebecca Reid, who transit trains in Canmore; Jeffrey Richards, who trains in Whistler.

“Then there are quite a few of our junior racers competing as well and who have been very successful at that level of racing as well,” he said.

Sibbald was also amazed this year by the level of support the event has received from local businesses.