The Great Ski Race | 600-plus participate in 35th annual event
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; A little dose of nasty weather didn’t prevent more than 650 people from participating in the 35th annual Great Ski Race on Sunday.
Despite challenging racing conditions caused by a light mix of rain and snow, 667 Nordic skiers completed the 30-kilometer race from the Tahoe Cross Country Center in Tahoe City to the Cottonwood Restaurant in Truckee. A total of 790 people were registered to compete.
and#8220;It was a little soft out there,and#8221; said longtime participant Don Ahlert, who has taken part in every single Great Ski Race since its inception in 1976. and#8220;It loosened up quite a bit on the Truckee side, but once again the grooming was excellent. They always do a great job.and#8221;
Ahlert, who lived in Truckee full time from the early 1970s until 1995 and still owns a home there, said he returns every year to help support the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team and its main fundraiser.
and#8220;Well, once you get so far into it you’ve just got to keep going. And it’s also to support the Search and Rescue Team. When I lived here I was on the board of the Search and Rescue Team, and it’s just such a great organization that you’ve got to come out and support it,and#8221; said Ahlert, who finished a respectable 131st overall with a time of 2 hours and 35 minutes.
Tav Streit of Sacramento won the race with a time of 1 hour, 26 minutes and 17 seconds, while August Teague of Truckee finished runner-up exactly 1 minute behind, in 1:27:17.
Truckee’s Chelsea Holmes placed third overall and first among women with an impressive time of 1:30:13. Elias Bucher of Reno was fourth overall in 1:32:42, and Michael Collins of Carnelian Bay rounded out the top five in 1:32:53.
Professional cyclist Katerina Nash of Truckee placed sixth overall and second in the women’s field with a time of 1:33:24, and former Olympic speed skater Beth Reid of Palo Alto was 11th overall and third among women in 1:36:19. Kari Rust, who hails from Portola Valley, was the fourth women (22nd overall) while Kimball Pier of Olympic Valley was fifth (29th overall).
Like many others who carried ample speed into the finish area, Pier stayed on her feet while blazing down the final hill before crashing face-first on the soft snow.
and#8220;I just let it go from the top of the hill,and#8221; Pier said, and#8220;and I was thinking, and#8216;Just keep it together until after you cross the line,’ and then I fell really, really hard after I crossed the finish.and#8221;
But she was OK. and#8220;I’m good. I may have adjusted my neck, so now I won’t have to go to the chiropractor,and#8221; Pier said with a laugh.
Dave Johnson of Kings Beach participated in his fourth Great Ski Race on Sunday, finishing 110th overall in 1:57:46. He said he felt strong the entire race, although he definitely noticed the slower conditions compared to previous years. Perhaps that helped him stay upright as others went down in the finish chute.
and#8220;I did OK at the finish. It was the last switchback I had a few problems with,and#8221; Johnson said.
Barb Jones of Incline Village also managed to remain on her feet as she crossed the finish line in 204th place overall, and 48th among women, with a time of 2:09:55.
and#8220;It was awesome. I loved it,and#8221; said Jones, who has competed in the Great Ski Race more than a dozen times. and#8220;I felt really strong and had tons of fun.and#8221;
Last year under sunny skies, a total of 1,005 people participated in the race as Adam Swank of Duluth, Minn., took the win with a time of 1:11:30. The course record stands at 1:06:51, set by Marshall Greene in 2008.
To view a photo gallery from the event, go to http://www.sierrasun.com/greatskirace2011.
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The second round of high school Nordic racing was held Wednesday at Auburn Ski Club, and for the second straight week, a skier from North Tahoe stood atop the podium.