Area’s top Nordic racers return for annual Snowshoe Thompson Classic

Peter Holmes leaves the start of the Snowshoe Thompson Classic on Sunday. Holmes quickly moved to the front of the pack on his way to winning the 10-kilometer race.
Justin Scacco /

Snowshoe Thompson Classic Results

Men’s 10K

Peter Holmes – 32:34.1

JC Schoonmaker – 33:17.8

Cooper Anderson – 35:05.0

Phoenix Sanchez – 36:59.7

Cooper Honeywell – 37:27.4

Women’s 5K

Annika Taylor – 18:38.0

Quinn Lehmkuhl – 18:40.9

Lily Murnane – 18:57.2

Hayden McJunkin – 19:39.2

Alani Powell – 19:45.5

Many of the region’s top Nordic athletes returned to the area for the holidays, allowing them to take part in the first races of the season at Auburn Ski Club.

Far West Nordic’s Tahoe Mountain Holiday Sprints kicked off the Nordic season in the area, bringing several dozen skiers to Auburn Ski Club on Saturday to compete on the 1-kilometer course.

“We recognize what a special community the Nordic community is and just this community up here at Auburn Ski Club,” said Olympian Annika Taylor, who grew up in Truckee. “People are really committed, we’ve got volunteers out there standing in the middle of a snowstorm, but they’re still out there cheering for us. It means so much … some of these volunteers have been volunteering for 20, 25 years consistently.

“We feel a duty to pay it back to them and to come back and share our race points that we’ve built up from our international travel.”

The race is one of the oldest Nordic events in the Western U.S. and is named after legendary figure John “Snowshoe” Thompson, who delivered mail on skis over the Sierra Nevada for two decades in the 19th century.

Taylor, who raced for Great Britain in the 2018 Winter Olympics, returned to the area for the holidays after spending time training in Norway. She competed in both the sprints and Snowshoe Thompson Classic, capturing first-place finishes at both events.

On Saturday, Taylor finished with a time of 3:10.0 on the 1K sprint course to claim the win.

“That’s kind of my forte,” she said on the event. “It was good and my form still felt good for that. It was just good to blow the cobwebs out before we race a little bit more in a couple of weeks.”

Racing continued the following day with the annual Snowshoe Thompson Classic. The race is one of the oldest Nordic events in the Western U.S. and is named after legendary figure John “Snowshoe” Thompson, who delivered mail on skis over the Sierra Nevada for two decades in the 19th century. Sunday’s event lived up to its moniker as a storm and high winds rolled through Donner Summit, burying tracks along 5-kilometer route.

“Half an hour before (the race) it started snowing,” said Taylor. “All of the tracks filled in. It’s really tricky waxing for that kind of condition. You want enough grip because it’s a really hilly course, but you want enough glide also so you have fast skis, so it was kind of finding that balance today.”

Taylor went on to post a time of 18:38.0 on the 5K course to win the women’s division at the Snowshoe Thompson Classic.

North Tahoe alumna Quinn Lehmkuhl took second in the Snowshoe Thompson Classic with a time of 18:40.9. Lehmkuhl, who races for the University of Colorado Boulder, was third in the holiday sprints with a time of 3:23.9.

Sugar Bowl’s Sofia Sanchez took second in the holiday sprints, finishing in 3:22.0. North Tahoe’s Lily Murnane took third place in the Snowshoe Thompson Classic with a time of 18:57.2. She was also fifth in the holiday sprints with a time of 3:25.8.

Other top finishes at the Snowshoe Thompson Classic included Hayden McJunkin (19:39.2) in fourth place and Alani Powell (19:45.5.) in fifth place.

Holmes, Schoonmaker claim wins

North Tahoe High School alumnus James Clinton Schoonmaker captured first place in the men’s division of the holiday sprints. The University of Alaska Anchorage sophomore and member of the Auburn Ski Club finished with a time of 2 minutes, 33.9 seconds. Last season, Schoonmaker took 26th in classic and 38th in freestyle at the NCAA championships.

Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy’s Bjorn Halvorsen was second with a time of 2:41.1. Tahoe City’s Julien Bordes was third, finishing with a time of 2:41.3.

Racing continued the following day at Auburn Ski Club with the annual Snowshoe Thompson Classic.

Peter Holmes, who grew up skiing at Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area, raced to a first-place finish, outdueling a deep field of skiers across two 5-kilometer laps.

“It was really deep,” said Holmes on the conditions during Sunday’s race. “There wasn’t a ton of striding it was a lot of running and herringbone just because it was so deep and the tracks were blown out.”

Holmes pulled ahead pulled ahead around the midway point of the first lap, and then didn’t look back, claiming victory with a time of 32:34.1.

Holmes skis for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, and competes primarily on the SuperTour. He was at Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area last week for a fundraiser to help offset the costs of competing.

“A lot of people learned a lot about cross-country skiing, especially at my level.,” said Holmes. “I’m looking to ski World Cup more, ski world championships, and then the Olympics in a couple of years.”

Holmes said he successfully reached his goal of raising $2,500 and had enough left over to donate roughly $300 to the Kevin Murnane Student Scholarship, which is awarded to North Tahoe High School graduating seniors who have participated in Nordic ski programs at Tahoe Cross-Country, Auburn Ski Club, Far West, North Tahoe Middle and/or North Tahoe High School.

Holmes said he’ll be competing next moth at the US Cross-Country Championships. “Depending how I ski there I’ll either go to Europe and ski World Cup or I’ll stay domestic and go to the East Coast, and then the Midwest for some SuperTours,” said Holmes.

Schoonmaker was second in the Snowshoe Thompson Classic with a time of 33:17.8, followed by a trio of skiers from North Tahoe. Cooper Anderson (35:05.0) was third, Phoenix Sanchez (36:59.7) was fourth, and Cooper Honeywell (37:27.4) was fifth.

Youth Racing

The weekend’s competitions also brought out several youngsters to race in youth divisions.

Keira Scott posted the fastest sprint time of any boy or girl, finishing the 1-kilometer course with a time of 2:30.0. Lila Creasy was second overall with a time of 2:30.4. Creasy was also third in the following day’s 3K race, finishing in 13:07.2. Elsa Voegele was third overall on Saturday with a time of 2:53.1. She then went on to win the 3K race on Sunday, finishing with a time of 12:46.6. Soren Purvance-Rassuchine won Saturday’s U6 0.5K spring with a time of 2:26.7.

In the 3K Snowshoe Thompson Classic, Griffin Tuscano was first in the boys’ division and second overall, finishing with a time of 12:59.6.

The Snowshoe Thompson Classic also featured a boys’ 5K race. Local skier Matt Seline took first place with a time of 18:15.5. Matthew Deluna (19:34.5) was second, followed by Cabot Godoy (20:42.0) in third place.

Citizen’s Race

The Snowshoe Thompson Classic finished the day with the Citizen’s 5- and 10-kilometer races.

Sarah Dominick took the in in the 5K race, posting a time of 25:29. Wyatt Fereday won the 10K event with a time of 35:20.

After taking second in the holiday sprints, Sugar Bowl’s Sanchez posted the fastest time of any women on the 10K course, finishing in 35:31.

The Far West Nordic season will resume Jan. 12 with a trio of events. The Lakes Basin 15K will be held at Mammoth Lakes, the Old Skool Klassic Race will be at Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area, and Paco’s Freestyle Race will be held at Auburn Ski Club.

For more information and full results, visit

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

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