Two big cross-country ski championships are headed to Anchorage in 2018 and 2019 — one that could provide a sneak peek at the 2018 U.S. Olympic team and another that could offer an early look at the Olympic contenders of the future.
The U.S. National Championships and Olympic Trials will be held at Kincaid Park in 2018, said Joey Caterinichio, a Nordic Ski Club board member.
A year later, she said, the Junior National Championships will bring 400 or more of the country's best teenage skiers to town.
The stakes at the 2018 championships are likely to include spots on the American team that will compete in that year's Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Chances are good that several skiers will have already qualified for the Olympic team by the time racing begins in Anchorage. But in recent Olympic years, a handful of team berths have been up for grabs at the national championships, which during Olympic years are typically held a few weeks before the Olympics.
In 2010 — the last time the Olympic Trials came to Kincaid Park — Anchorage's Holly Brooks skied her way onto the Olympic team, launching a world-class career that included two Olympics and a historic World Cup relay victory.
"It'll be a good thing for all our APU crew to have it on our home course," said 2014 Olympian Sadie Bjornsen, a member of Alaska Pacific University's nordic program. "Hopefully the Alaskans will have a good showing."
Anchorage was awarded the 2018 championships while Caterinichio was the Nordic director for the U.S. Skiing and Snowboarding Association, a post she resigned last year.
The last two national championships have been held in Michigan, and this season's meet will be held in Utah. "It was time" for the races to return to Anchorage, Caterinichio said.
"We like to move the championships around the country," she said.
Kincaid hosted back-to-back senior national championships in 2009 and 2010. Hosting the senior nationals and junior nationals in consecutive years will be an even greater task for the Nordic Ski Club, Caterinichio said.
"The junior nationals are definitely bigger, with 400 kids in all," she said.
The last time the junior nationals came to Kincaid Park was 2008. Among the champions was Jessie Diggins of Minnesota, who went to star on the American women's national team along with Brooks and Anchorage skiers Kikkan Randall and Sadie Bjornsen.