Friday, November 2, 2001 - LatestNews
Race Preview: Fairbanks Continental Cup

With the first races of the year this weekend, the North American ski community has descended up on the race site in Fairbanks, Alaska. Almost all of the serious Continental Cup contenders are present, with full contingents from both the US and Canada.

The tension will run high for the 1km free technique sprints on Saturday. The wide open, hilly and relatively non-technical course will favor the fastest skiers, and not necessarily the most technically capable skiers. In a somewhat unorthodox move, the course will change between the qualifying and the elimination round, to run in almost the opposite direction.

All reports indicate that everyone is healthy, so favorites in the men's sprint competition will most likely include: US National Team skier Carl Swenson who is always quick, although his form is somewhat of a question mark after only a brief break from a long season racing mountain bikes, and Canadian Robin McKeever who is an ever present force in sprint racing. Although the course does not favor McKeever, since it is not as technical as a course like Silver Star where he usually does well, he can never be counted out in a sprint. The only notable absences in the men's race will be Canadian Donald Farley and American Justin Wadsworth, who are skipping the sprint races to focus on Sunday's race. Don't count out the large contingent of young Canadian and American skiers, that have a habit of surprising everyone and beating the favorites.

In the women's sprint, the Canadian team will certainly dominate as they usually do. Beckie Scott has to be considered the favorite, as she is rarely beaten in sprint competition at any level. If Beckie falters, a score of other Canadians including Sara Renner, Amanda Fortier and Milaine Theriault will be prepared to take the win. The only notable absence will be Jaime Fortier, who is still recovering from several months of chronic back injury and has opted to skip the early races.

Sunday's classic race was originally scheduled to be a mass start, but marginal snow conditions have forced organizers to adjust to an individual format. The men will race 3 laps of the 5km course for 15km, while the women do a 2 lap 10km race. The course is not highly challenging as far as Continental Cup courses go, but for this early in the year don't expect complaints from many of the competitors. Beckie Scott will once again lead the favorites in the women's race, but expect the rest of the Canadian team to be breathing down her neck and filling the podium. The list of favorites in the men's race is a long one, but American Justin Wadsworth and Canadian Donald Farley will likely top the results. With many skiers hoping to win the first race and give themselves the edge going into this Olympic season, expect a strong challenge once again from the younger senior skiers.

Stay tuned to skifaster.net for results immediately following the races.


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