A great race
The sky was blue and the temperature optimal Sunday for the 1,028 participants who crossed the finish line at the 29th annual Great Ski Race.
A major fund-raiser of the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team, the Great Ski Race follows a historical 30-kilometer course (18 miles) through the mountains from Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area in Tahoe City to Cottonwoods Restaurant in Truckee.
Patrick Weaver of Bend, Ore. was the first to cross the finish line, in 1:07:00, followed by Justin Easter of Montana (1:07:07) and Marshal Greene of Oregon (1:07:55).
Tim Hill of Truckee placed highest among all Californians with an 11th place finish in 1:09:36. Dave Bailey was the next best participant from Truckee with his 25th place finish in 1:13:19.
Rick Reynolds, a Truckee resident who races for Rossignol and has taken part in the Great Ski Race about 10 different times, finished in 1:13:32, good enough for 26th place. Reynolds, 47, was third in his age group.
“It’s tough [to win],” Reynolds said. “It’s such a popular race now, the big guns are coming out. Yesterday was my fastest time, and I wasn’t even in the top 20.”
Reynolds, who has lived in Truckee since 1983, was brought up as an alpine skier – he coached Daron Rahlves when the U.S. Ski Team member was 13-17 years old. Now, Reynolds just sticks to cross country skiing.
Reynolds said the event used to be a local race, but because it has become “by far the best one in the country,” that’s no longer the case.
Besides the reputation of the race, California’s famous warm weather helps draw cross country enthusiasts, as well. And the weather was hard to beat Sunday.
“There have been equals,” Reynolds said of the nice day, “but that was as good as it gets.”
Reynolds said he also enjoys the social atmosphere.
“It’s neat that the party is right after the event,” he said. “The [Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team] really does a fantastic job. They put a first-class race on.”
Other Truckee residents who placed in the top 50 were: Tor Brown (33rd place in 1:14:07), Jeff Schloss (35th in 1:14:43), Scott Hill (38th in 1:15:19), Ben Grassechi (41st in 1:15:50), and Elyah Gordon (49th in 1:17:23).
Another 14 racers from truckee were in the top 100, including Mark Nadell, who said he was disappointed with his 54th place finish in 1:18:31.
“The engine was slow,” Nadell said. “What can I say?”
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While America’s top alpine racer, Mikaela Shiffrin, raced to a pair of second-place finishes at last weekend’s World Cup slalom event in Levi, Finland, things wouldn’t go as well for a trio of Tahoe skiers.