With youth away, masters play at Snowshoe Thompson race
More than 100 racers enjoyed the fresh powder for the classic raceBy Mark NadellSpecial to the SunAfter a week of snowfall in epic proportions, it was only fitting that the Snowshoe Thompson Classic at Auburn Ski Club on Sunday was held in perfect conditions for a diagonal striding competition. Even with the forecast of more snowfall, and an even worse threat of major traffic snarl-ups getting up to Donner Summit, more than 100 racers enjoyed the fresh powder on the challenging ASC Training Center course.Not only is the Snowshoe Thompson race one of the premier events on the local citizen racing calendar, but it was also the first race in the critical Junior Olympic qualifying series to determine the Far West Nordic team for the upcoming national competition at Auburn Ski Club this March.
And with many of the top skiers from the previous week’s race either back to college or traveling to Utah for the U.S. Nationals, the field was wide open for junior, senior and masters competitors alike.While Paco’s Fun Race in December had 23 out of the top 30 competitors under the age of 25, the Snowshoe Thompson event found only 12 of the youngsters in the top 30. Tim Hill (26:49) of Truckee was clearly in a class of his own on the day, winning the overall competition with a comfortable margin of almost a minute over his closest competitor, Nick Grimmer (27:46), of Soda Springs and Australia. Master 3 competitor (40-44 years old) Terry Daley of Portola was a distant third with a time of 28:59.The 10 kilometer race was originally designed to run on the same course as the upcoming Junior Olympics, but with the threat of additional heavy snow it was shortened slightly to eliminate areas with drifting snow problems. Even with the “easier” course, however, it was a still an extremely demanding race in the fresh powder conditions. “In some ways it was easier, but some ways the course was harder because there was no recovery,” said Hill. “But it was nice to ski on good, cold snow for a classic race.”Women’s events
The women’s event featured a duel between a couple of veterans who have come back to Nordic racing to dominate the local events. Once again, former NCAA Nordic Champion Beth Reid of Palo Alto took top honors for the ladies with a time of 29:45. But close on her heels was Judy Rabinowitz of Marin (30:19), a former champion of the American Birkiebeiner – the premier ski race in the United States. Finishing a distant third was former Truckee High racer Betsy Van Blarigan (33:59).Junior racersThe top juniors on the day, vying for the coveted Junior Olympic team spots, raced either a 10 kilometer or 5 kilometer distance. In the 10K, Nick Bozzio of Tahoe City was the fastest finisher with a time of 29 minutes, edging out Tyler Wright of Truckee (29:18) and Danny Rodrigues of Nevada City (29:23). The girls and younger (J2) boys raced the 5K, and for the second week in a row it was Alex Taylor of Truckee posting the top young junior time in 14:03. Daniel Gelso, a 13-year-old racer from Truckee, showed off his potential by taking second place in 14:12, just two seconds ahead of Carl Reid of Palo Alto (14:14). Gabrielle Joffe of Kentfield was the fastest junior girl on the day, easily besting her competition with a time of 16:13. Less than half a second separated second from third place, with Sophie Leonard of Mammoth Lakes (16:54.3) making a surprisingly strong showing over Truckee’s Bernie Nelson (16:54.7). And not to be left behind by her older brother, Annika Taylor of Truckee dusted the field in the short (1K) younger kid’s race preceding the main event.
Coming upThe Far West Nordic race schedule continues locally next week with the 20 kilometer Alpenglow Freestyle Race at Tahoe Cross Country in Tahoe City. For the nightowls, Tahoe Donner begins its four-race Night Series Wednesday, Jan. 5 with a classic 5K event under the lights at 6 pm. For more information on the Far West Nordic race schedule and cross country skiing in California/Nevada, go to http://www.farwestnordic.org. To find out more about the 2005 Junior Olympics at Auburn Ski Club, visit http://www.juniorolympics2005.org, or call the club at 426-3313.Mark Nadell is the Far West Nordic administrator.