Billy Dutton Uphill | JP Donovan builds big lead, coasts to win in annual fundraiser
SQUAW VALLEY USA, Calif. and#8212; Gravity at work on the final stretch of the Billy Dutton Uphill usually propels the top skier past any runner with hopes of capturing victory. But not this year.
Racing in running shoes on Sunday, JP Donovan of Incline Village built a sizable lead and cruised to the win without concern about a skier passing him on the final and#8212; and only and#8212; downhill grade to the finish line.
Donovan posted a winning time of 34 minutes and 39 seconds to outdistance multi-time winner Tav Streit, who, racing on skis, finished runner-up in 35:50. Streit won the race consecutively from 2005 to 2007, and again in 2009. Skiers also won the race in 2008 and 2010, using the gradual downhill at the end to their advantage.
A total of 162 people entered the 22nd annual Billy Dutton Uphill on what turned out to be an ideal morning for racing.
and#8220;It was amazing and#8212; great conditions, perfect temperature. It was a little cold to start with, but then obviously the first step you make is uphill, so you warm up real quick,and#8221; said Debbie Dutton, sister of the late Billy Dutton.
The annual race, which starts at the bottom of Mountain Run and climbs 2,000 vertical feet in 3.2 miles to High Camp, is held in honor of Billy Dutton, who helped establish Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue in 1976 and died at an early age of brain cancer. The event now serves as a major fundraiser for the Far West Junior Nordic ski team.
and#8220;It’s great that the support is so strong. He touched so many people, and his smile is still around us in spirit,and#8221; Debbie Dutton said of her brother, who used to ski up Mountain Run to stay in shape. and#8220;We’re trying to keep the spirit alive for Billy. He used to do that for training. He’d do just the opposite of what everybody else was doing. They were coming down the Mountain Run and he was going up.and#8221;
Debbie Dutton, a longtime resident of Olympic Valley, finished 76th overall and 15th among women with a time of 1:04:25. and#8220;I’m happy it’s over,and#8221; she said. and#8220;It’s tough every year.and#8221;
At the top of the leaderboard, skiers Michael Collins and Austin Meng finished third and fourth, respectively, posting times of 37:25 and 38:06, while Peter Fain (39:21) took fifth overall racing on snowshoes.
Kimball Pier was the top woman, as she placed 14th overall on skis with a time of 44:18. Also racing on skis, Celeste Leon of Truckee finished second among women and 18th overall in 47:08, and Mischel Sable was the third woman and 19th-place finisher overall in 47:08. Cassidy Cichowicz of the Sugar Bowl Academy was the top female runner, finishing 26th overall in 49:53.
While the front-runners battle it out each year for the win, however, most people participate simply to support the fundraiser or to honor Billy Dutton. Like Elijah Miller, 38, of Tahoe City, who said he returns year after year because he knew Dutton personally, and he likes to pay homage. He also enjoys the community vibe and seeing everyone have fun, he said.
and#8220;I pretty much make it a yearly thing,and#8221; said Miller, who towed his 4-year-old son Jasper up the mountain in an enclosed sled. and#8220;He (Jasper) is just about getting too heavy to take, so I figure while I still can, this is the time to do it.and#8221;
At least a couple competitors also honored Robert Frohlich, a local author who died of cancer this past October, with shirts that read and#8220;GO FROand#8221; across the front. Frohlich finished the 2010 Billy Dutton Uphill in just over 2 hours and 22 minutes.
Far West Nordic coach Jeff Schloss estimates this year’s race raised about $3,000 for the junior Nordic program. For photos from the race, go to http://www.sierrasun.com/photos or http://www.macbethgraphics.com.
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