Often times the start of Ski to Sea can be a bit of a chaotic experience as up to 400 racers sprint for a natural choke point from the self-seeded start. It is important to be realistic about your abilities and seed yourself appropriately so that you are competing against people of similar abilities. Keep in mind that there are many more hours of racing left to go in the day and it’s not worth taking risks that endanger yourself or others just to gain a position or two. Also, keep in mind that if you jump the starting gun, you are eligible for a five minute time penalty. If you break a rule once underway, you risk disqualifying your entire team. No skating is allowed for approximately the first 100 yards. The cross-country skier (make sure you have your timing chip) will ski from a starting line next to the ski shop up the Seven Hills Valley to near the top of Chair 2, then down Home Run to the start area. The course then diagonals up and over to the mid station of Chair 1, down the Valley of No Return which runs parallel to Chair 2, around the base of Chair 2 and back to the starting area near the ski shop. The cross-country skier then continues back up the Seven Hills Valley until reaching Home Run where the skier goes straight across Home Run and continues south across Home Run and beyond the Austin Pass Warming Hut before making a clockwise loop and returning to the Day Lodge area via the valley that runs east of the Ski Patrol Hut. The cross-country skier then continues to the hand-off area beyond the original start area behind the rear of the ski shop, where he/she will swipe the chip to create a finish time and then pass the chip to the downhill skier. This course has largely remained the same for the past 15 years. The final course will be discussed at the skiers’ pre-race meeting at 7:00 AM on Race Day.
The cross-country course is groomed on Mondays and Thursdays for the two weeks leading up to the race. The course is groomed for skating with no track setting. Racers are welcome to pre-run at any time, but the course will not be marked until the Saturday prior to the race and there is no guarantee that the course will be groomed or skiable prior to the actual race. Check our Facebook page for the latest updates. Participants may not cut the course and should follow proper race etiquette throughout their leg (yield to faster skiers, don’t interfere with or endanger another participant). Racers violating these basic rules will bring time penalties or possible disqualification to their entire team.
There will be more than one gate on the course where there is a crossing with other cross-country skiers or downhill skiers/snowboarders; you may be asked to stop and wait for other racers. Please listen for directions given by race officials and volunteers at these crossings to ensure the safety of all racers. You must comply with course officials at these gates or risk disqualification of your team.
When you cross the finish line, you must be in a position for the timekeepers to see your team number on your bib. The course is subject to change at any time due to snow conditions.
The terrain on this course is considered intermediate to advanced level. You should only commit to this leg if you have experience on cross-country skis. The course is mostly hills so you need to have the skill to efficiently go up hills and to be able to control your speed going down hills.
Be prepared to be up at the mountain for a few hours. You will need to leave Bellingham by 5:00 am as the road is closed to downhill travel until approximately 11 AM. It can take a couple of hours for all the cars to get down so make sure you have enough warm, dry clothes to be comfortable after racing. Food is not available for purchase up at the mountain, so make sure you have enough food and water for the entire morning. Parking is in the upper lot of the ski area so be prepared for a short walk to the race start.
Be prepared for any kind of weather; it could be sunny and warm or it could be cold with rain, sleet or snow. The weather can change quickly so take extra clothing no matter what the weather forecast predicts. Even on warm days, it is best to avoid wearing shorts and short sleeves unless you want to experience the snow version of road rash in the event of a fall.
There will be a meeting at 7:00am on Race Day at the ski shop for all cross-country and downhill skiers. The meeting will give the latest updates of the race courses. It is important that all cross-country skiers ATTEND this meeting.
Race Timing Chips will consist of the chip on a wristband, and must be passed onto the next racer at each leg exchange area according to the rules. It is imperative that the Cross Country Skier does not forget to bring the timing chip with him/her to the race. Wear the chip on your wrist, aim your timing chip at the bulls-eye, and ski in the middle of the two red finish line tents to create a finish/start time, then pass the chip to the downhill skier.
A designated team representative must pick up the team’s race packet prior to the race. The packet includes the team timing chip, racing bibs and T-shirts. The designated team representative must distribute items to team members. There will be no extra racing bibs at the exchange areas. Be sure the team representative gives YOU the timing chip before race day as you will be the first team member to carry the chip.
Competitive Division and Recreational Divisions: Only cross-country equipment is to be used in the event. Either skating or classic equipment is recommended for competitive skiers, touring equipment for recreational skiers. Telemark skis are allowed but not recommended. I-Pods, MP3, Walkman or similar music/audio systems are not allowed to be used by the racers while competing.
The Mt. Baker Highway (542) will be closed from 7:15 AM to 11 AM between Canyon Creek Road in Glacier and Mt. Baker Lodge. Any viewers, participants or additional support vehicles who want to go to the top of the mountain must pass Canyon Creek Road prior to 7:15 AM. Road Racers who are riding their bikes up to the DOT Exchange (Run to Road Bike Exchange) will be allowed to pass Canyon Creek Road after 7:15 AM.
It is recommended that both of the Skiers, the Runner, and the Road Biker carpool to the mountain. The Road Biker will be dropped off at the Salmon Ridge Sno-Park, ½ mile past the Shuksan DOT snow shed (there will be volunteers directing traffic). The Skiers and the Runner then proceed up HWY 542 to the main parking lot at Heather Meadows. After the Runner has completed his/her course, and HWY 542 has been swept, vehicles will be allowed to depart from the ski area parking lot. The Runner will be picked up at the runner/bike exchange area by the Skiers on their return. This will reduce the number of vehicles on the road and at the road bike exchange parking area. Racers should leave Bellingham by 5:00 AM to ensure they make it to the ski area for the 7:00 AM Pre-Race Meeting.
After sufficient time has elapsed from the release of the last runner, a Sweep Van will proceed down the mountain followed by the Washington State Patrol. All cars on the mountain can follow behind the State Patrol. Cars parked in Salmon Ridge Sno-Park will be released after the State Patrol has passed. Runners still on the course will be picked up by the Sweep Van and taken to the DOT shed/Race Exchange site.
Infraction of the rules by one team member may disqualify the entire team.
If you want to volunteer for the Cross Country Ski Leg of the race, please fill out our Volunteer Form.