Gold Rush competitors ski through challenging conditions
DONNER SUMMIT ” A weekend storm that dumped more than a foot of snow overnight Saturday and into Sunday delayed the start and slightly changed the course of the annual California Gold Rush.
The races at Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort started at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, and instead of a two-lap, 21-kilometer loop, Gold Rush competitors skied three laps of a 15k loop. The Gold Rush is normally 46 kilometers.
Silver Rush competitors skied two laps (30K) and Bronze Rush participants skied a 9k.
The only thing more challenging than trying to skate ski through the soft, fresh snow was the visibility, or lack thereof.
Out of an elite field of racers, Adam Swank, 33, of Duluth, Minn., won the Gold Rush with a time of 2:28.49.
The Minnesota skier said the conditions were the toughest he’d ever seen at the race. There were sections where it was coming down so hard, he was trying to skate through “boot-high” snow.
“It was like an expedition out there,” Swank said. “There were times when you couldn’t see the trail in front of you.”
Swank took the early lead around the 7K mark and managed to hold his lead the entire race. His best finish prior to Sunday was second in 2007.
Nikolai Anikin, also from Duluth, trailed Swank by 2 minutes, finishing with a time of 2:30.36.
Ian Case of Truckee, the top local finisher, hung on for third with a time of 2:34.17.
On the women’s side, Katerina Vinogradova of Auburn won with a time of 2:45.22.
Behind Vinogradova were Sarah Max of Bend, Ore., with a time of 2:51.03 and Lenka Palanova of Boulder, Colo., in 2:56.00.
Swank had nothing but praise for the race organizers and groomers who dealt with the challenging conditions.
“They did a good job,” Swank said as he enjoyed the post-race food. “The free beer and chili (for racers) will keep you coming back.”
Besides the racing, Swank said he enjoys coming to the Sierra to train in the 60-degree spring weather.
“I love coming out here,” he said.
It was all about girl power In the shorter races.
Joanne Reid, 16, of Palo Alto was the first-place female (second overall) with a time of 32:50.5 in the Bronze Rush. Behind Reid was Janelle Webb with a time of 40:18.0 and Nancy Rosenblum with a time of 40:29.7.
Truckee junior Justin Ondry took first place among male racers, finishing with a time of 31:58.3. He was followed by Alex Kopytko (38:02.8) and Bill Aaron (39:40.5), also from Truckee.
The top two finishers in the Silver Rush were Beth Reid (Joanne’s mother) of Palo Alto with a time of 1:47.46, followed by Cathy Howard of Truckee with a time of 1:57.48.
Kari Rust placed third among female racers with a time of 2:04.09.
Adam Wright of Truckee won the men’s race with a time of 2:00.58, and was followed by Glenn Jobe with a time of 2:01:21 and Scott Fairman with a time of 2:01.30.
The California Gold Rush is a fundraiser for the Far West Junior Ski Programs. For complete results go to farwestnordic.org.