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Hundreds participate in Great Ski Race

BAY KELLEY, Sierra Sun

For the first time in the 24-year history of the Great Ski Race, benefiting Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue, workers were on duty.

“Twelve different members searched for someone and still made it to the event,” Doug Reed, one of the race’s main organizers, said. “There’s a team of 10 still looking, filling in the shift. There’s never been a search the night before the race or of the race … this is a first.”

Several of the 150 or so volunteers at the event had worked all night looking for Sara Norvill, a skier who got lost this weekend at Sugar Bowl, and were bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived while helping with the massive cross country competition.

Still, it ran smoothly.

Approximately 850 racers converged on the Tahoe area from all over the United States to compete in the west’s biggest cross country ski event, a 30-kilometer race with a course that runs from Tahoe Cross Country in Tahoe City all the way to the Hilltop Lodge in Truckee.

Finish times ranged from 1:13:06, recorded by first-place finisher Patrick Weaver (who is on the US ski team with Truckee’s Marcus Nash and Justin Wadsworth) to 6:04:21, recorded by 64-year old Kenneth Hubbart.

Some of the top racers in the country showed up for the event, raising the competition level for the more “serious” skiers, but most were at the competition to simply do the race.

Racers ranged in age from one (Truckee’s Kari Sinoff who was carted on a racer’s back) to 75 years old.

The top men finishers were Weaver, Ben Husaby, a three time national champion and member of the US ski team from 1992-95, and Tav Streit, the hometown favorite living in Truckee who is presently an assistant coach for the University of Nevada, Reno.

The top finishers for the women were Bear Valley, Calif.’s Craig Tatum, who finished in 1:20:53, followed closely by Kelly Schalk of Laramie, Wyo. and Robynn Masters of Salt Lake City, Utah. Truckee’s Mary Hall was the top local finisher with a time of 1:29:47.

Sit-down skiers and snowshoers also participated in the competition.

Paraplegic mountaineer and local legend Mark Wellman led the pack of sit down skiers, finishing the course in a little less than four hours.

“The search and rescue guys do a great job,” Wellman said at the end of the race. “Those guys saved my life. I laid on a mountain for 30 hours with a broken back, so I know what it’s all about. This is a good race.”

After some deliberation, Wellman then added “and I’m gonna be a sore dude, tomorrow.”

Erik Schultz, a sit-down skier participating in his first race, came in soon after Wellman.

“This was a great experience,” he said. “The people at Tahoe Nordic went out of their way to make it good for us. I’ll definitely be doing the race next year.”

Peter Fain, a 28-year-old living in Truckee, was the first place finisher for the snowshoers. Fain finished the course in 2:24:19, narrowly missing the course record of 2:20:12 set by Tom Sobal last year.

“No sweat,” Fain joked. “Actually, it was hard as hell. The last four miles it was sucking and I was hating it.”

“I think the race is really starting to develop,” Reed said. “I think it’s finally getting the recognition.”

The TNSR will use the funds raised to buy search equipment, to train their guys and to do training at local schools.


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