‘It couldn’t have been better’: Great Ski Race raises $70k for Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue
With roughly 400 searches completed in its more than 40-year history, Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue has become a vital tool for law enforcement agencies in finding lost people in the backcountry.
On Wednesday, the volunteer organization held its main fundraiser of the year, attracting more than 600 Nordic skiers for the Great Ski Race while raising more than $70,000.
“It couldn’t have been better,” said Race Director Doug Read. “We had good weather reports and we had enough snow. In the last eight years, we’ve had nothing but difficulties with snow and the lack thereof, rainy days, bad weather reports.”
This year’s event featured a new course that took competitors 26 kilometers from the Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area and around Mount Watson before returning to the finish line at Tahoe Cross-Country. Previous Great Ski Races followed a course from Tahoe City to Truckee. After several events were canceled due to snow conditions, the course was changed this year. The Great Ski Race was last held in 2019.
“It’s a lot easier to maintain the course than the course to Truckee,” said Read. “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.”
After not hosting an event in three years, Read said there were questions about turnout for the event, which in 2005 attracted more than 1,100 racers.
Those concerns began to be alleviated last week when roughly 50 skiers showed up during a grooming session on the new course. Read said skiers that day were impressed with the course and word quickly began spreading, swelling registration numbers.
“I think word got out to the racing community that there’s this new course and it’s great,” said Read.
Friday night before the race brought fresh snow, and the following night teams from Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area and Northstar began grooming the course, making use of fresh snow to create what Read called a “special track” for Sunday’s race.
Additionally, Read said this year’s race was made possible by the help from Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours, which also operates in the area.
Read said plans are to continue using the route for future Great Ski Races.
TRUCKEE LOCAL DEFENDS TITLE
The change in course didn’t hinder Carson City’s Wyatt Fereday’s bid to defend his Great Ski Race title as he claimed his second straight win with a time of 1 hour, 14 minutes, 38 seconds. Fereday has won three of the last four Great Ski Races.
From there, local skiers took over, posting eight of the fastest 10 times. Truckee’s Matt Nistler finished in second place with a time of 1:16:19. Truckee’s Tav Streit was third with a time of 1:18:12, and was followed closely by another Truckee skier, Marcus Nash, who registered a time of 1:18:12. Olympic Valley cycling legend Levi Leipheimer was fifth with a time of 1:18:19.
On the women’s side, Truckee’s Katerina Nash defended her 2019 title, posting a time of 1:23:24 to take first place. Nash also took first place in 2016 and 2013.
Other top locals included Sarah Beaulieu, who finished with a time of 1:28:54 to take fourth place, and Tahoe City’s Clare Walton in fifth place with a time of 1:29:36.
‘DOUBLE THE AMOUNT’
This year’s Great Ski Race was a massive fundraising success, according to Read, who said the $75,000 raised was “double the amount normally raised.”
Funds raised will go toward purchasing new equipment for the volunteer team at Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue.
Money raised also goes toward the organization’s educational programs. Each year, volunteers spend time to teach survival classes to fourth graders at schools across the Truckee-Tahoe area.
For more information or to donate to Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue, visit http://www.tahoenordicsar.org.
Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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