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It is a beautiful morning in West Yellowstone, with somewhat more seasonal temperatures in the single digits – perfect for classic skiing.

It is quite a weekend in the North American ski racing world with the opening continental cup races in West, and the Kuusamo Mini-Tour in Finland, including NOrdic Combined races. Add to that a stacked field in the last pre-World cup biathlon events in featuring a stacked field. These races will determine the final selection for the US biathlon team for the World Cup opener.

ANd there is plenty of excitement with Kikkan Randall (USA) and Lenny Valjas (CAN) both cracking the finals in the classic sprint on Friday, and Randall sitting in 5th in the overall mini-tour standings.

While it has been a mixed bag overall for the North Americans, it is very exciting that every race features skiers who could stand on the podium on any given day.

The performance of the American women has been especially notable over the first week of World Cup racing, with LIz Stephen turning in two top-30s in her first two distance races, and Holly Brooks placing 17th in the Kuusamo 5k. And that doesn’t include strong performance from some of the younger skiers who are out mainly for experience at this point.

We also know that the Canadian men will turn things around.

Here in West, there is the usual festive atmosphere and great skiing. Bringing thousands of people together to celebrate skiing is pretty cool.

Likes

Kikkan Randall – She is so good and still keeps improving. Enjoy this because we are in the presence of greatness

Watching Leif Zimmermann V1 – When he is on, Leif floats up the climbs. Pretty sweet that he always gets it done in West.

Ditto for Morgan Arritola – Skis so smooth. Most of the top finishers in Friday’s skate appeared to be working less than many others. Just an illusion, but a testimonty to efficiency, and how these courses need to be raced.

Jessie Diggins leaving it all on the course – No one goes harder. Of course other skiers bring their A-game, but with Jessie you really see it.

Minnesota highschool kids volunteering at the SuperTour races – video to follow

The End of the Expo in West – A fun time, but exhausting. Glad to participate, and glad it is done. Are stickers really that cool :)

The helpful folk running the Ski Festival and SuperTour races here - they have done a great job, and gone out of their way to help us provide the best coverage we can.

An entire collegiate ski team showing up one night in the lobby of our hotel to partake of free hot chocolate

Dislikes

People who are content with the status quo in ski racing in North America – the “its just skiing” attitude is not helpful. Perspective is important, but so is pushing the envelope.

Impending departure to a land of no snow.

Slow internet - West Yellowstone has a single pipe feeding the town, and it doesn’t have much capacity. When everyone gets in from skiing, it slows to a crawl. An upgrade is supposedly in the works.