Mora Vasaloppet coverage
Temperatures were near zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees C) at the start of today’s Mora Vasaloppet. Race organizers chose to hold this year’s edition on the ice of Knife Lake, since natural snowfall in the upper Midwest has been virtually non-existent. To the race crew’s credit, the track that was prepared with excellentâ€”providing a nice, deep classic track and a wide, firm, smooth lane for skating.
The action started at 9:00 with the classic race, run over two laps of the 15-kilometer lake loop. Any Elvester skied to a quick lead in the men’s race, opening up an approximate two-minute gap over Kevin Brochman by the end of the first lap and cruising to an easy win. Cory Coogan won the women’s classic race.
At 10:00, the dynamite charge exploded for the start of the day’s freestyle races: three laps for the shortened marathon distance and two laps for the shortened 35-kilometer race. A pack of 15 skiers quickly formed at the front and skied away from the rest of the field. This pack stayed together for most of the race, until Scott McCart put in a bold move with half a lap to go. Chad Giese countered the attack with a strong pull into the 20 mph headwind and brought five other skiers with him to pass McCart. At the finish, Chad took his second straight win in his hometown race, out-sprinting Marc Gilbertson (2nd) and Nathan Schultz (3rd). Curiously, these were the exact same podium places from last year’s race, which was held on the same course. The weekend’s Overachiever Award would most certainly go to Nathan Schultz, who traveled to Minnesota late last night after racing in the Traverse City Vasa 50-kilometer race on Saturday. (Nathan lost to Scott Loomis in a sprint after the two broke trail in four inches of new snow for most of the race; Scott capped his weekend today with a 6th-place finish).
Nina Kemppel beat out Brooke Boughman in a furious sprin to the line to take the women’s title and avenged her 4th-place finish in last weekend’s Boulder Mountain Tour. Phil Bowen and Abby Larson won the 30 km races. Both Giese and Kemppel were presented with free trips to compete in the Swedish Vasaloppet for their wins.