A weather forecast for below zero temperatures on Friday, February 1, has caused the Cook County Invite Nordic Ski Meet to be moved to 11 AM, Saturday, February 2, on the 2.5 km course at Pincushion Mountain just north of Grand Marais..
Originally scheduled for Friday, predictions of frigid weather caused the one-day postponement. Cook County Viking Nordic Coach Mark Summers said in an interview on WTIP's DayBreak Thursday morning that 4 below zero is the cutoff temperature for Nordic meets. He said that forecasters said temperatures could very well be below that cutoff at the original 10 AM, Friday race start time.
The Cook County Invite is scheduled to involve 10 teams including the Vikings, with each team bringing from 40 to 50 skiers from junior high through high school varsity. Summers said that the meet is a tune-up for skiers in their preparation for the Section 7 meet which will be held next week. He said the only team in the Section that might not attend is Grand Rapids, but that was not certain.
The Invite involves both Freestyle (skate-ski) and Classic techniques. The opening round is the Freestyle with the second, or Pursuit, round being Classic in style. The high school boys' and girls' varsities are scheduled to start the Freestyle competition at 11 AM, Saturday. The junior varsity will follow immediately with the junior high Classic race next on the schedule. The varsity boys and girls Pursuit starts at 2 PM.
Summers said that Section 7 is "arguably the best (Nordic) section in the state." He noted that Duluth East and Ely are perennial Section 7 powerhouses.
"Every school in the section has a well-establish program with talented kids," he said.
Summers called the 2.5 km Pincushion course "unique" with a hilly terrain that will provide a challenging warm-up for next week's Section 7 meet at Biwabik's Giants Ridge.
He said the Cook County Invite is spectator-friendly with the course designed to bring the skiers past the spectators during the race. Spectators will have to park on the shoulders of the Gunflint Trail near the entrance to Pincushion Drive. All of the Pincushion parking lot will be needed for buses bringing the competitors.