Nordic ski racers, coaches and fans from around the nation have descended upon in Golden Valley for a week's worth of competition in the 2011 Junior Olympics championship meet.
"This is the first time that Wirth Park has hosted it," race co-director Mike Bono said.
Beginning on Tuesday afternoon, 380 athletes and 120 coaches from 10 teams around the nation will be in town for four days of competition that will conclude on Saturday.
"(Tuesday) was our busiest day here, as we've been running the skate sprint races," Bono said. "We're running the semifinals and finals at night, which is the first time in the history of the competition that will be done."
The remainder of championship week will be held entirely during daylight hours, with the classical boys and girls races beginning on Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. and the freestyle races running from 8 a.m.-noon before the team relays take place on Saturday morning at 8 a.m.
Bono said that last week's snowfall, while trying the patience of many Minnesotans, has made for perfect conditions on which the nation's best youth skiers to compete on.
"We were a bit concerned with the thaw we had two weeks ago, but getting dumped on a week-and-a-half ago has made it perfect here," he said. "The temperatures have been excellent as well."
For spectators wishing to take in the races, admission is free. Those wishing to take in the festivities are encouraged to park at Anderson Ice Arena on the north side of Highway 55 just west of Theodore Wirth Parkway; there are also two smaller lots located at the Wirth ski chalet off of the parkway and Plymouth Avenue.
"We are using shuttles as part of our green effort," Bono said. "Our athletes and coaches are also being shuttled in from the 'Olympic Village' at the Mariott downtown (Minneapolis)."
Spectators will find a number of well-marked zones to watch the skiers throughout the three remaining races, including a large area in the "Stadium," where the events both start and finish.
"It should be a great week," Bono said. "We're looking forward to a lot of great competition."