TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Under some of the most challenging weather and snow conditions, eight young Nordic skiers found themselves lined up at the start of the 37th Annual Great Ski Race. A 30km cross-country ski race from Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area to the Cottonwood Inn in Truckee.
These courageous skiers, ages 9 and 10 years, have been skiing since they could walk. Taking on a 30km ski race was to some of them their greatest cross country ski challenge ever. All of them participants of the Strider Glider Cross Country Ski Program, they have been training all season skiing one or two days a week with their coaches, with some adding additional weekend kilometers on the weekends to prepare for the challenge ahead.
Proud father Adrian Tieslau said under normal weather conditions he felt confident Lola would finish, but given the weather forecast for race day, he was a only a little nervous. “Given that she skate-skied twice a week with the Strider Glider Program I was confident that she had the foundation she needed to complete the distance under any conditions.”
From a field of 610 racers, these eight young skiers were certainly not the last to come through the finish line. Ryan Herhusky, who finished in 322nd place with a time of 2:57:35, placed first in the 9-year-old boys division. This was his first time competing in the Great Ski Race. “Ryan has been begging to ski the Great Race since he was 7. I always told him he could do it when he was 9 and he held me to it! I was not fast enough to keep up with him so I had to just let him go,” said mother Stacey Herhusky. “I was nervous, especially when I saw the conditions, but he wanted to go no matter what the weather was. Waiting for him in the finish was a real nail biter, but he came in, just under three hours without any visible trauma or flesh wounds. After some warm clothes and chili he was all smiles and can’t wait to do it again. He is already teasing me to be able to try the Billy Dutton Uphill next month!” Herhusky is the mother of two young Nordic skiers. Her son Brandon will be heading off to Junior Nationals this week in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Jerry Verkler who skied in one of the adult divisions, was beaten by his 9-year-old son Koson. “I am super proud of him for his determination and I hope that next year I can keep up with him,” said Verkler.
Nina Seeman, a 10-year-old from South Lake Tahoe who makes the weekly trek to attend Strider Gliders also skied the Great Ski Race, placing 4th in the 10-year-old girls division.
Lily Murnane, who skied with her parents Kevin and Valli Murnane, the operators of Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area, said she will do the race again. “My body started to hurt at Soup Station #2 but my Mum said I needed to keep moving. The last downhill to the finish line was really hard and I was so happy when I finished. I could hear lots of people cheering for me at the finish line,” said the young Murnane.
Strider Gliders is a cross-country ski program operated by the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association. Many successful junior Nordic skiers are graduates of this superb program.
Final Results (Strider Glider Competitors)
Nikolas Burkhart (10) 3rd
Nina Seeman (10) 4th
Quinten Arington (10) 12th
Ryan Herhusky (9) 1st
Cooper Honeywell (9) 2nd
Koson Verkler (9) 3rd
Colton Murphy (9) 4th
Kili Lehmkuhl (9) 1st
Lola Tieslau (9) 2nd
Lily Murnane (9) 3rd
For information about Tahoe Cross Country and the Strider Glider program, visit www.tahoexc.org.