Anchorage: Frigid temperatures forced organizers of the U.S. Cross Country Championship sprint race to cancel the event Saturday.

Race organizers hoped to hold the sprint races on Sunday, if the cold snap that has gripped much of Alaska for the past week loosens its grip a bit.

Forecasters, however, said the bitterly cold weather was expected to continue.

After several delays in which race organizers kept an eye on the temperature, the race at Kincaid Park was canceled mid-afternoon. Organizers watched as the mercury rose from 13 degrees below zero to about 6 below zero.

In the end, it wasn't enough, said race spokesman John Quinley. The cutoff for running the race is 4 degrees below zero.

Quinley said the event has been rescheduled for Sunday with an 11:30 a.m. start.

Quinley also said the athletes were disappointed, but the temperature was still too cold and the sun was starting to go down.

"They were disappointed," Quinley said. "They were primed and ready to ski."

Over 400 skiers are competing in the U.S. Cross Country Championship, now scheduled to be held from Sunday through Thursday. Anchorage's Kikkan Randall, the best cross country skier in the nation, is competing, as well as many of the country's top college skiers.

Quinley said if Sunday also is too cold, it is possible to run the different events from Monday through Thursday with no rest days.

Katie Ronsse, 23, a graduate of the University of Denver, is living in Anchorage and training at Alaska Pacific University, where Randall trains. She said when the skiers arrived at Kincaid Park on Saturday morning the temperature was 15 degrees below zero.

"It did warm up after the sun came out. It looked hopeful but it wasn't quite warm enough," she said.

Tyson Flaharty, 23, of Fairbanks, said he's used to training in much colder weather.

"I don't really mind the cold," he said. "It doesn't seem like it is that cold and the race would have been fun."

Temperatures in Fairbanks were 40 below on Saturday afternoon. Forecasters said it would dip to 50 below over the weekend.