High winds added to the challenge of the 21st annual Snow Mountain Ranch Stampede Winter Carnival, held Saturday, March 6th near Fraser, Colorado. A local weather station recorded winds of well over 50 mph during the race, and competitors faced conditions that ranged from sections good skiing in the trees to scoured hard pack and large windblown drifts in the exposed areas. Fortunately, temperatures in the upper 20s kept a tough race from becoming dangerous.
For the second year in a row, factory team and collegiate skiers elected to race the 42 kilometer marathon in the classic category. Eric Meyer edged out Joern Frohs in the men’s 42 km classic race with a time of 2:36:06. Kristina Strandberg, was the clear winner of the women’s 42 km classic in 2:53:47. Local skier James Reed won the 42 km freestyle event in 2:14:30, and Sarah Konrad was the winner of the 42 km freestyle race for the women in 2:31:38.
With a base elevation of 9000 feet, and over 2000 feet of total gain, the Stampede is considered a tough race on a good day. The most often heard comment around the post race barbeque was “brutal”, delivered not as a complaint, but as a source of pride for a successful accomplishment – a tribute to a very well organized race. Typical of the challenge in some places, the gentle 300 meter rise to the finish line was directly into the wind. Sprinting skiers were often blown to a complete standstill, and what should have been a 30 second sprint turned into a comical effort that seemed to take minutes. Fortunately, these sections of the course were balanced with plenty of good skiing in the trees and, of course, the occasional open sections with a welcome tailwind. Complete results for all categories can be found at <ymcarockies.com