Violett, Reid dominate Sierra Nordic Duathlon |

Violett, Reid dominate Sierra Nordic Duathlon

Mark Nadell
Special to the Sun
Mark Nadell/Provided to the SunJoanne Reid, 14, placed second in the Sierra Nordic Duathlon at Auburn Ski Club Saturday.

In psychological terms, a cross country skier could be diagnosed as a “conflicted” individual. First of all, to be fast you need to be a lean, mean, fighting machine. But you also need to eat. A lot. And often, because Nordic skiing is one of the more demanding sports in the calorie consumption universe, and staying warm while exercising in freezing temperatures takes fuel, and mass quantities of it.

Another conflict for cross country ski racers is that, while most would normally love nothing more than an extended forecast of warm, sunny weather, skiers are constantly scanning the National Weather Service long-range forecasts, hoping for that huge storm, with the full knowledge that it will take hours of shoveling and snow-blowing to just get out of the driveway to go enjoy all the fresh snow the storm will bring.

Finally, there’s the temperature variable. While skiers normally would like nothing more than skiing along in a single, light, racing top, waxing for conditions in that range can often be problematic. On a day of classic technique ski racing, there is nothing better for waxing than cold temperatures ” the colder, the better, usually.

And so it was for the first-ever Sierra Nordic Duathlon race at Auburn Ski Club on Saturday, as an easterly wind and single-digit temperatures led to a one-hour start delay.

A brand new, high-anticipated race on the local Nordic circuit, the Duathlon is also called a “Continuous Pursuit” race, where competitors start on Classic gear, finish a lap and ski into a “transition zone,” where they change skis and poles and continue the race without stopping. The winner is truly the best overall skier of the day, regardless of specific technique.

And there was not much doubt who was the best in the Sierra Nordic Duathlon held at Auburn Ski Club on Saturday.

Zach Violett, a 24-year-old former Far West Nordic Junior from Brownsville, Calif., is currently on the hunt for an elusive U.S. Nordic Olympic Team spot, with top-10 finishes against the highest level of competition in the country at the recent National Championships in Michigan earlier this month.

While Matthew Gelso has been getting much of the recent local press as the first Far West skier to be named to the U.S. Ski Team, it’s been Violett’s steady rising through the ranks of national skiers that has put him on the radar screen at the national level. And while Violett immediately showed his speed by skiing off to an enormous gap in the first kilometer of this 10K event, he refused to take it easy and cruise to a win.

“I just used it as a very hard training workout, imagining that I had (U.S. Ski Team’s) Kris Freeman right ahead of me,” he said.

Violett used that notion to continue through the transition into the skate portion and win by almost a three-minute margin over up-and-coming competitor August Brautigam of Truckee. Brautigam used a very fast final skate leg to propel himself to a comfortable second-place finish over Jeff Schloss, also of Truckee.

In the women’s division, Beth Reid of Palo Alto continued her dominance of the local circuit, with a blisteringly fast skate leg that was (with the transition time of switching from classic to freestyle) the third-fastest overall, good enough for seventh place on the day.

Second place in the women’s division went to Beth Reid’s daughter Joanne Reid, a 14-year-old Junior racer who showed that she can ski with the adults with success. Third place was a tough fight between race sponsor Mary Hall of Sierra Nordic cross country ski shop and Molly Zurn of Truckee. Zurn used a last-minute kick up the final hill to overtake Hall for the bronze spot on the day by a narrow two-second margin.

With many of the Juniors taking the day off after a CCNISSF Classic race at Mammoth on Friday ” as well as preparing for their all-important Junior Olympic Qualifier, the Sierra Skogsloppet at Tahoe Donner on Monday ” the Seniors and Masters were dominant this day.

For a full results list and schedule go to

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