Off to the races
Special to the Sun
With a somewhat slow start to the racing season this winter, Nordic skiers were delighted to “ring out the old” and “ski in the new” at Auburn Ski Club’s Training Center on Sunday with the 31st running of the Snowshoe Thompson Classic Race.
And after experiencing exceptional ski conditions all week, competitors were chomping at the bit to finally enjoy racing on perfectly groomed tracks and firm, fast snow.
A group of 146 racers, the largest field for the event in this decade, headed to Donner Summit early Sunday morning to test their waxing skills and racing technique on the 10- and 5-kilometer courses.
In addition to being the second event of the Junior Olympic qualifying calendar, the Snowshoe Thompson is also the first leg of the coveted Sierra Ski Chase, Masters Team and Fischer Cup competitions. Tensions ran high before the race as skiers tested out various grip waxes to enable them to navigate the challenging course.
Junior racers lined up in front of their coaches in an effort to find just the right combination of waxes to help them qualify in their quest to represent the Far West division at this year’s Junior Olympics in Soldier Hollow, Utah, in March.
But while four of the top five men’s places went to juniors on this day, the top prize went to master skier Tav Streit of Reno. Streit’s time of 29:28 was just enough for a five-second cushion over Palo Alto’s Garrett Reid, a Colorado University racer home for the holidays, with Truckee’s Spencer Wood taking third.
Streit, a long-time local hero, coach and racer who has been studying at the University of Utah for the past few years, credited his win to returning home on a full-time basis.
“Just being back in the Sierra Nevada was enough for me to win this race,” Streit said. “It’s great to be home now and not having to travel to race here.”
Currently a member of the Subaru Factory Team, Streit is back in the Sierra finishing his physical therapy internship and trying to fit training, racing and married life into the mix.
In the women’s division, top billing went to Palo Alto’s Beth Reid with a time of 31:55 ” good enough for eighth place overall in the 10K distance. Reid is the champion of the 2006 Fischer Cup and looks to be well on her way to defending her title for 2007, as she finished more than three and a half minutes ahead of her closest competitor, Brandy Stewart, also of Palo Alto.
Laura Stern of Menlo Park took third place to make it a clean sweep for peninsula residents in the women’s division.
The 5-kilometer distance was important for the younger juniors and women’s junior divisions for qualification purposes.
Truckee’s Daniel Gelso was the clear winner for the boys, posting a time of 14 minutes and 55 seconds, building a comfortable margin over J2 teammate Russell Kennedy. Truckee juniors took the top three spots, with J3 racer Justin Ondry sneaking in for third place among the J2’s.
In the girls race, Joanne Reid followed her mother’s lead by taking the top spot in 17:07, winning handily over Truckee’s Kelsey Dion and Annika Taylor. David Hovanessian and Savannah Meng won the children’s 2-kilometer race.
Now that the snow is on the ground, the Far West Nordic schedule picks up the pace, with the 2007 inaugural Night Race series at Tahoe Donner on Wednesday, along with Paco’s Fun Race at Auburn Ski Club and the Lakes Basin 15K down in Mammoth on Sunday.
” For a full schedule, results and details, go to http://www.farwestnordic.org