The Great Ski Race canceled due to lack of snow | SierraSun.com

The Great Ski Race canceled due to lack of snow

More than 750 cross-country skiers line up to compete in the 2009 Great Ski Race. This year's race has been canceled due to lack of snow, marking the fourth time in the past decade conditions haven't allowed for race organizers to host the event.

The main fundraising event for Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue has been canceled.

The Great Ski Race has been held in the area since 1977, but this year's competition has been called off, according to Race Director Dirk Schoonmaker, due to lack of snow.

"It was a hard decision to make but there just is not enough in the forecast for the final (two) weeks before the race to allow us to pull it off," said Schoonmaker in an email to the Sun on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

The long-running event has attracted roughly 1,000 racers to the area several times during the past two decades.

"In a good year, just this race would raise $30,000," said Schoonmaker. "So, it's a pretty big hit, but fortunately the team is doing pretty well right now … we've had a lot of recent donations and we had some other fundraisers that went really well."

While the event has proven popular and successful for Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, the past 10 years have been difficult with three other instances where race organizers haven't had suitable conditions, and had to cancel the event.

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"This whole decade has been a nightmare," said Schoonmaker. "And of course last year, we had a huge storm the day of the race, so we ended up only having 300 finishers."

Though the race — which takes cross-country skiers on a 30-kilometer route from Tahoe City to Truckee — has been canceled, Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue is still planning on hosting a party at Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area in Tahoe City on Sunday, March 4, from noon to 4 p.m.

Men Wielding Fire will have food for sale, along with beer available from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. The Blues Monsters will also be cranking out live tunes.

Donations to support Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue will be accepted and appreciated.

So far this season, Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue hasn't had many calls, mostly due to the lack of snow. The team was on scene during a Feb. 7 incident where a climber fell to his death near Big Chief. And last Monday night, Schoonmaker said the team had their first real rescue of the season, when they were called upon to find a skier who ended up in terrain beyond his skill level before getting lost off the backside of Granite Chief at Squaw Valley.

"We got the call about 3 in the afternoon," said Schoonmaker. "About eight skiers went out … they took us to the top of Granite Chief, and then we traversed out about three miles out, and got his track after about a mile and a half … we ended up hiking him back out, we got out around midnight."

Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue was created in 1976 in response to the death of a boy lost off the backside of Northstar-at-Tahoe ski area during a blizzard, according to the group's website, and operates today with the goals of conducting fast, safe rescues, and educating the public on winter safety.