Tahoe Donner XC reveals new racing format
Special to the Sun
There’s a new game in town in the cross-country ski racing world, and Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area unveiled it Sunday on a perfect day of competition weather.
Most Nordic races follow pretty much the same formula: Line up in a big group at the start line, the starter says “Go!” and everyone is off in the same direction, over the same course, through the trees and over the hills, following the flagging and returning to the start/finish line.
Some races — such as the Great Ski Race and the Tahoe Rim Tour — add a little variety into the game by starting at one area and finishing at another. But in every event, racers follow the same trails over the same course.
Tahoe Donner Cross Country (TDXC) decided to throw a new twist on the traditional racing scene with their Tahoe Donner Challenge — a point-to-point-to-point course where each racer could choose his or her own route, staying only on the trails of the cross-country center (no cutting corners), with multiple strategies of where to climb first, descend next and finish at the TDXC Center.
Competitors were required to hit three checkpoints along the way — the Drifter Hut, the top of Hawk’s Peak, and the Euer Valley Cookhouse — in any order they chose.
Race strategies were discussed at length in the days before the event, and even up until the start gun went off. Immediately, racers went in different directions, all confident that their route was going to be the fastest.
In the end, it was Tav Streit who managed the fastest time over the trails and back to the finish tent, just breaking an hour with a time of 59 minutes and 16 seconds.
Joined in the under-hour club less than 30 seconds back, and taking a different route, was Ed Sweet with a time of 59:41. Third place went to a racer following a completely separate path — heading first down to Euer Valley before making one long climb to the high points of TDXC — was Dan Warren with a time of 1:00:32.
The women’s division featured a remarkable tie between two competitors taking two different routes: Samantha Shields and Mischel Twining both finished with a time of 1 hour, 13 minutes and 8 seconds.
In third place was Lisa Holan three minutes back with a time of 1:16:16.
In the Junior division, Ian Smith had the fastest time in 1:17:18, followed by a group of Juniors from the Tahoe XC ski club, including Lola Tieslau with a time of 1:51:47.
Jack Wilson, at 79, was the oldest finisher, while Louise Wholey — coming in fourth overall among women — was the oldest female competitor at 74.
Whether they were a serious racer or someone just looking for a great tour, with incredible vistas and rocket-fast downhills, every skier came back to lunch at TDXC with a huge smile, promising to return next year for the second installment of this new and exciting format.