Great Ski Race set for Sunday

Truckee’s Katerina Nash skis to a first-place finish at last year’s Great Ski Race.
Courtesy Troy Corliss

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The annual Great Ski Race is scheduled to take place Sunday, bringing hundreds of Nordic skiers to the Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area for the 26-kilometer competition.

The race is Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue’s main fundraising event of the season, and will take skiers on a loop through the Tahoe National Forest around Mount Watson and back to the Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area.

The Great Ski Race began in 1977 with 60 skiers to more than 1,000 racers in 2005, and followed the route Jake Starratt took to deliver mail from Tahoe City to Truckee. Last year, due to a lack of snow often impacting the course, the event was changed from a point-to-point race to a loop, but still follows portions of the old mail route.

Last year’s race brought in roughly $70,000 for Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue and attracted more than 600 Nordic skiers.

“It’s a lot easier to maintain the course than the course to Truckee,” said Co-Race Director Doug Read following last year’s change of course. “I for sure thought we’d have quite a few complaints from racers that were like ‘Gee, we’re losing the tradition of the course to Truckee.’ As a matter of fact, I never got that from anybody. They loved the new course.”

Before the change, the Great Ski Race was canceled in 2020 and 2021.

Truckee’s Katerina Nash won last year’s race and was the 2019 champion. Carson City’s Wyatt Fereday also won last year for his second consecutive Great Ski Race victory.

Conditions Sunday morning could be difficult for racers and organizers. The National Weather Service office in Reno has forecast between eight and 12 inches of snow Saturday night. Another five to nine inches of snow could fall throughout the day on Sunday.

“We are still planning to run the race Sunday and will groom as close as possible to the start to make the best course possible,” said Co-Race Director Dirk Schoonmaker. “It will certainly be challenging for the groomers but they will get it done.”

Schoonmaker said roughly 450 people have registered for Sunday’s race. He added that he believes the event would have sold out at 700 skiers if not for for storms in the forecast. Competitors should plan on arriving early as weather and weekend traffic from the area’s ski resorts could cause delays.

Racing is set to get underway Sunday at 9 a.m. Registration can be done online at a cost of $80 and is open up until the race starts. Proceeds go toward supporting Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue. Since 1976, Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue has completed more than 400 searches and found nearly 700 lost individuals.

An award ceremony is scheduled for noon with live music from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We’re looking forward to a great party whether it’s snowing or not,” added Schoonmaker.

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