Nordic racing: Paco’s Fun Race | SierraSun.com

Nordic racing: Paco’s Fun Race

Emma Garrard
Sierra Sun

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunMatt Gelso skis up a hill during the Paco's Fun Race at Auburn Ski Club on Sunday. Gelso, a 2006 Truckee High grad and member of the University of Colorado Ski Team, won the 10K race with a time of 28:11.1.

Just one week after the first significant winter storm, cross-country skiers strapped on their boots, poles and skis for the annual Paco’s Fun Race, a 3-, 6-, and 10-kilometer individual-start skate ski race at Auburn Ski Club on Saturday.

For most, it was the first race of the season; for others, it was the first time on skis.

“It was the first time on skis for a lot of people,” said Sally Jones, Nordic program director at Auburn Ski Club. “We got snow just in time for the race, but the conditions were great.”

The stormy weather ” which began as rain but turned to snow by the time the first skier left the starting gate ” created poor visibility on the trails at the ski center next to the Boreal Mountain Resort. The unexpected warmer temperatures made the snow faster than anticipated but also caused racers to use a wax, which was too cold for the conditions.

“It caught a lot of people by surprise,” Jones said.

Along with the citizen racers skiing for the first time were a handful of college and junior racers as well as elite skiers tuning up for U.S. Nationals in Anchorage, Alaska, in early January.

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Among the elite athletes was Truckee’s Matt Gelso, a member of the U.S. development ski team who was home for the holidays. Gelso, who also races for the University of Colorado, won the 10K race with a time of 28:11.1. He was followed by local junior skier Alex Taylor with a time of 29:09.7 and University of Nevada skier Jonathan Pluvinet with a time of 29:12.6.

Russell Kennedy finished seconds behind in the junior division with a time of 31:15.5, followed by Austin Meng in 34:25.

The event marked the first time this season the juniors could race on the 2009 Junior Olympic course. Junior Olympics, the national championship for junior skiers, will be held at Auburn Ski Club the first weekend in March. It was also an opportunity to remember what ski racing “feels like” after a long summer and fall of dryland training, said Auburn Ski Club coach Jeff Schloss.

“You forget how much racing hurts,” Schloss said.

Beth Reid of Palo Alto took first in the women’s 10K with a time of 32:39.4 and was followed by her daughter and Far West skier Joanne Reid with a time of 34:20.6. Former University of Nevada skier and Truckee local Kara LaPoint finished third in 35:33.4.

In the junior division, Bernie Nelson placed second behind Reid with a time of 36:59.2, followed by Sophie Aaron with a time of 39:50.8.