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Snowfest offers unique sporting events

CHARLES LEVINSON, Sierra Sun

Between coronations, pancake breakfasts and apres-ski activities, Snowfest also offers plenty to sports fans: the drama of native athletes, out-of-town ringers and Tahoe yahoos dueling it out in mediums withheld from the spotlight the rest of the year.

While the major networks are turning their lenses towards the Ford Downhill and the 25th Great Race, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat will be felt equally among the lesser known gamesmen and women of the area.

Cribbage Challenge

Cribbage players and fans alike are staying up nights in anticipation of Wednesday’s Cribbage Challenge at Steamers. Two-time world Cribbage Champion and Truckee local Greg Schleusner returns to defend his Snowfest crown.

Schleusner, despite an impressive Cribbage resume, was nearly upset last year by local milkman Jim Stohlgren. Stohlgren, whose Cribbage rap sheet is primarily limited to nightly games with his wife, took Schleusner late into the night a year ago. The game went so late it had to be continued the following evening. Stohlgren lost the best of five heartbreaker in the final game.

He insists he is not seeking to avenge his loss this year and says he has others in mind for the Cribbage chopping block.

“As long as I beat my wife that’s all I care about,” he said.

Emily DeHuff is a long time Cribbage fan and was in attendance at last year’s tournament.

“Schleusner is one of the great masters of all time and to think that this local can come in and almost beat him,” she said. “On a given day anybody can beat anybody. Cribbage is a happening thing.”

Tug-of-War

That is not the only rivalry destined to come to a head during the Snowfest festivities. The Rotarians and the Kiwanis are once again at each other’s throats, this year looking to prove their virility in a Tug-of-War following Saturday’s parade.

Though provoked by Snowfest organizer Bill Jensen, the Kiwanis needed little arm-twisting to challenge the Rotarians to a match of muscles.

“The Rotarians are, shall we say, a bit more mature,” Kiwanis member David Antonucci said. “But we’ll gladly offer free chiropractic services to any Rotarian participating.”

The vitriolic rhetoric has continued to heat up all week. Rotarian Bill Parson fired back at Antonucci.

“Antonucci once said that when you turn 50 you become a Rotarian … ask Antonucci how old he is,” Parson said.

The Kiwanis characterize their struggle against the Rotarians as a greater class struggle, akin to 17th century merchant uprisings against the landed aristocracy.

“They own the town and we run the town,” Antonucci said.

Despite the mounting tensions between the two organizations, all insist that the rivalry is friendly.

“The Rotarians have been a sort of role model for the Kiwanis,” Antonucci added. “Sort of like your grandparents are role models.”

Polar Bear Swim

Stories of the obscure continues in the Snowfest sporting world with the annual Polar Bear swim at Garwoods Saturday.

After a two-year maternity leave from the sport, cold water stroker Julie Tester returns this year to recapture her crown.

“She could have swam last year,” supportive husband Dan Tester said. “She watched the race and she could have smoked the entire field.”

Five times Tester has won the 175-yard dash through 42-degree water. Even with her two year leave of absence, the Vegas odds-makers have her as the 2-1 favorite. All that could change should Truckee’s Nancy Rose show up Saturday. Rose has bested Tester twice in the Polar Bear swim and Tester says she will be nervous should Rose show up Saturday morning.


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