FAIRBANKS — The 17th Flint Hills Resources Alaska Town Race Series opens Saturday with the Fairbanks Youth Sports Nordic ski races at Birch Hill Recreation Area.

The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks hosts the four-race series which provides a competitive forum for skiers of all ages beginning with pre-schoolers on the Jim Whisenhant Ski trails at Birch Hill

“For 17 years in a row the tremendous support of our local business community has made it possible for young people to race for free in this series,” Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks President Pat Reinhard said in a press release.

Flint Hills is the overall sponsor of the series, while each race also has an individual sponsor.

“Our club would like to thank Flint Hills Resources for continuing to be the primary sponsor of this series,” Reinhard said. “They and Fairbanks Youth Sports, Kendall Subaru of Fairbanks, and the Woolly Rhino continue to come back year after year to make this series possible.”

The goal of the series is to provide a high quality race experience in a low-pressure atmosphere. More than 60 Town Series races have been held during the past 16 seasons.

“This is a race series for everyone from little kids just starting to ski to senior citizens who still like to get out for some exercise and put a number on,” NSCF competition events program director John Estle said in the release. “For some skiers these races lay the foundation of experience for great results in Junior Olympics, Nordic National Championships or even the Olympics; for others they are simply a great opportunity for a healthy outdoor activity in winter.”

Racing begins at 11 a.m. Saturday with the kindergarten-first-second graders, followed by the third and fourth graders, the fifth and sixth graders and the seventh and eighth graders. Each class will have separate mass starts for boys and girls.

The High school and adult events will feature mass starts as well. There will be a 5-kilometer race for women starting at noon and a 7.5K race for men at 12:45 p.m.

The first race in the series has become a major early-season event for high school teams from around the state. Local skiers from Lathrop, West Valley, Eielson and North Pole are expedited to compete along with skiers from Colony and Palmer.

There is no entry fee for students from Kindergarten through high school. School students should be entered through their school club or team. The entry fee for adults is $10 for members of the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, and $15 for non-members.

Race entries close at 5 p.m. today. There will be no race day entries.

For more information on the Flint Hills Resources Alaska Town Race Series call the NSCF race program at 347-1061, email sportalaska@gci.net, or go to www.nscfairbanks.org.

The remaining races are:

• Dec. 1, 2012 — Fairbanks Youth Sports Sprint, free technique,

• Jan. 12, 2013 — Woolly Rhino Open, Interval start free technique for all classes.

• Jan, 26, 2013 — Kendall Auto of Fairbanks SUBARU Trophy, mass start classic technique for all classes.