College skiers school the field
Special to the Sun
The first major cross country ski race of the season took on a distinctly collegiate flair Sunday at the Sierra Nordic Duathlon event at Auburn Ski Club.
With most of the younger juniors taking a break on Sunday, it was up to the university to school the adults in one of the more unique races on the Far West Nordic schedule.
The Duathlon is a combination 10 kilometer race, where competitors start off on Classic skis, striding in the tracks for the first 5 kilometers, and then switch off to Skating skis for the remainder of the race. It is a true test of who can be considered the best all-around skier in both of Nordic’s racing disciplines, while also challenging those who have to prep both styles of skis for the day’s snow conditions.
Great weather conditions prevailed, with comfortable temperatures, excellent (but sparse of snow) trails and an enthusiastic crowd of 70 skiers enjoying the season’s opening event.
Sunday’s leaderboard was all-UNR, all of the time.
With almost the entire University of Nevada, Reno team attending, those NCAA hopefuls strode away from the rest of the pack from the get-go, with the only non-college student in the mix being Tav Streit, the former UNR Nordic racer and also the former head coach of the team.
With Jonathan Pluvinet of France leading the way, the rest of the top men stayed close together for the first two laps of diagonal striding, with the next six spots all trying to keep it close.
The Skating Leg was all Pluvinet’s, however, and he cruised to a comfortable 56-second victory over teammates Lutz Preussler (24:04) and Matt DeCarufel (24:14), finishing the race with a time of 23 minutes and 9 seconds.
Streit was the first non-college racer, coming in fifth, with Far West Head Coach Ben Grasseschi of Truckee taking eighth place and Truckee’s Rick Reynolds finishing in the ninth spot.
Not to be outdone on the women’s side, UNR’s Paige Brady from Alaska made sure it was a college sweep at the top, narrowly edging out top Far West Nordic skier Beth Reid of Palo Alto. Brady’s time of 27 minutes and 21 seconds was just a half second in front of Reid, who finished with a comfortable margin over yet another UNR athlete, Truckee’s own Kara LaPoint (28:16). Far West Junior Olympian Joanne Reid of Palo Alto easily took fourth place over Julie Young of Auburn.
The Far West Nordic schedule continues next week with one of the major events on the schedule for both Juniors and Masters alike, the Paco’s Fun Race at Auburn Ski Club. This 10K Freestyle (Skate) race is part of the Junior Olympic Qualifying series to determine the Far West Nordic team for the National Championships in Alaska in March. It’s also part of the ongoing Sierra Ski Chase and Masters Team series for adult skiers.
For complete results and schedule, go to http://www.farwestnordic.org.