Nearly 100 cross-country skiers took on one of three distances in the historic California Gold Rush race at Royal Gorge on Sunday.
Because of low snowpack, the race was held on a 6-kilometer loop, with options of two, four and six laps — called the Bronze Rush, Silver Rush and Gold Rush. The race originally was slated for 15K, 30K and 45K.
The event, which began in the 1980s as a premier stop on the U.S. cross-country ski racing circuit, returned to Royal Gorge for the first time since 2011.
Sunny skis and warm weather greeted the participants in its return.
Racers in the men’s 20-29 age group swept the top three spots in the Gold Rush, as Patrick Johnson took the win with a time of 1:32:53 and was followed by Franz Bernstein in 1:33:20 and Wyatt Fereday in 1:33:25. Peter Holmes (1:38:34) and Dylan Syben (1:42:01), both racing in the 16-19 age group, finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
They were trailed by Matthew Sanford, Gustavo Johnson, Martin Benes, Aaron Deeter and Peter Hanson rounding out the top 10.
Caitlin Curran and Kara LaPoint, both in the 20-29 group, finished first and second among women and 11th and 12th overall with times of 1:50:20 and 1:50:22, respectively. Kari Gates (2:24:55) was third among women and 21st overall, Helen Pelster (2:30:49) was fourth among woman and Janelle Webb (2:39:01) fifth.
In the Silver Rush, Michael Collins claimed the victory with a time of 1:15:58, while Ed Sweet finished second in 1:16:11 and Beth Thomas was third overall and the first woman in 1:20:04.
Mark Johnson (1:20:30) was fourth and Paul Laudenschlager (1:21:10) fifth, followed by Seth Dow, Scott Fairman, Mitch Dion, Michael Shwe and Erick Studenicka.
Keri Hamby recorded a second-place finish among the women’s field and was 11th overall with a time of 1:25:49, while Sofia Sanchez was the third woman and 12th overall in 1:30:21. Sandy Holbrook-James and Kelly Habibi were the fourth and fifth female finishers, respectively.
In the Bronze Rush, Tim Donahue took the win with a time of 31:50 and was followed by Skyler Mullings in 32:08 and Brandon Herhusky in 33:49. JC Schoonmaker was fourth in 33:52 and Miles Rosen fifth in 35:31.
Lizzie Larkins led the women’s field and placed sixth overall in 35:33. Molly Zurn was the second female racer and seventh overall in 38:41, and Camille Syben was third (eighth overall) in 41:11. Blair Romer (42:32) was ninth overall and Chloe Gorman (42:34) was 10th (fourth woman).
Click here for a photo gallery from the race.
No Tahoe Rim Tour
The Tahoe Rim Tour has been canceled due to the lack of snow. The event is expected to return next year.
While the Rim Tour could not be held, Far West Nordic is looking for volunteers to help put on its final fundraiser of the season, the Billy Dutton Uphill race at Squaw Valley, on April 13.
Help is needed with everything from race registration to timing to helping with the post-race party, raffle and silent auction. Those interested may contact Stacey Herhusky at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out a volunteer form at www.farwestnordic.org.