The North American ski marathon season is underway, with two well-known events taking place last weekend, and another two coming up this weekend. Last weekend it was the Pepsi Challenge in Biwabik, Minnesota and the Great Nordeen in Bend, Oregon. This weekend it is the Subaru Noquemanon in Michigan and the Craftsbury Marathon in Vermont.
At the Pepsi Challenge, Nathan Shultz and Irene Eder overcame soft snow conditions to win by over a minute each. Schultz was followed by Adam Swank and Tobias Schwoerer. Irene Eder was followed by Diane Tremblay and Jan Guenther.
The race took place right after last week's blizzard moved through the midwest, making for a very slow day on the course. In an article for SkiPost ( www.skipost.com ), Shultz wrote:
The gun went off and after what seemed like an eternity, we slogged past the 1km sign. I thought to myself, “Great, only 47km to go.” I was already just hoping that I would be able to finish, let alone be able to “race”. … As we headed into the final hilly section at 35km, two hours of grinding through soft snow had softened all of us up and it was obvious that nobody was feeling very chipper…It was probably pretty comical to watch this feeble, slow-motion battle. … I never looked back because I knew that even if someone was coming up behind me, I was incapable of doing anything about it. Luckily for me, everyone else was more exhausted than I was and I staggered to the finish alone.
The Great Nordeen, in Bend, Oregon bills itself as the fastest marathon in the country because it is mostly downhill. And that certainly was the case this year, as the top three skiers all finished in under an hour. Justin Wadsworth was a minute and a half clear of his Atomic teammate Patrick Weaver to take the win. Colin Mahood was third. In the women's race, Suzanne King was a winner by two minutes over Molly Grove. Muffy Roy was third.
SUBARU NOQUEMANON (from press release)
The Noque will take place this Saturday from Ishpeming to Marquette, Michigan. For Team Rossi, three time Noque winner Mike Myers is back along with two time winners JoAnn Hanowski and John Bauer and one time winnter, Diane Holliday Welsh. Other team members include Jamie Misner and Kim Rudd, (2nd place finisher in 2004). For the Subaru Factory Team, one time winner Abigail Larson will be back as well as 2nd place 2004 finisher, Eric Meyer. Other potential 2005 winners include Ivan Babikov, Grand Champin 2005 U.S. Nationals; Nathan Schultz Pepsi Challenge 2004 and Boulder Mountain Tour 2003 winner; Kristina Strandberg, Champion of Craftsbury Classic and Snow Mountain Stampede; and Tera Sheahan, 4th at 2005 American U.S. Nationals 15K Pursuit. Team Atomic is sending Matt Weier, 2nd place finisher in 2003.
The trails look to be in great shape for the race. “We're relieved that the snow fell fast and furious in the beginning of December. That allowed the Noquemanon Trail Network's (NTN) groomers to get out on the trail early and begin packing and grooming,” says Jon Mommaerts, Race Director. “In several recent years, we've been scrambling for snow-hauling it in by the bucket loads when we needed it. However, this year looks very good for us. It's back to a normal winter. With the NTN now owning two large groomers plus their snowmobiles, tidd techs and rollers, we have gotten a head start on trail conditioning.”
“A winter like this helps the ski community a lot.Skiers get excited to get out on their skis at the holiday season and when they can't, it affects the whole season. This year, they've been able to get out nearly a month before the holidays,” offers Carol Fulsher, Race Marketing Director. “With more skiing under their feet, we expect our numbers to climb a bit.”
Registration for all the races can be received up until 10 pm on Friday, January 28. Registrations can be found on line at www.noquemanon.com or by calling 1-888-578-6489.
CRAFTSBURY MARATHON (from press release)
Following the latest blast of arctic weather, the forecast looks promising for the 24th annual Banknorth Craftsbury Ski Marathon, coming up Saturday, January 29th. Over 1000 skiers, aged 7 to 75, will flock to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom for this premiere sporting event, hosted by the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. The classical-style, point-to-point Marathon traverses rolling hills and open fields from Greensboro to Craftsbury Common. The event offers both racing and touring divisions, so while families enjoy the 25-kilometer scenic tour, the nation’s top racers battle it out over a grueling 50-km. For those with less endurance or enthusiasm, there is also a 25-km race option.
The Marathon is part of the prestigious American Ski Marathon Series and the New England Marathon Series, and draws elite skiers from all over the country. The Subaru Factory Team seeks to prove its supremacy over Team Atomic and Team Rossignol, but former Olympians Pat Weaver and Marc Gilbertson will prove tough competition in the men’s race. And don’t forget Craftsbury’s own Nick Trautz, a soft-spoken local hero who’s been steadily climbing the rankings this year. In the women’s field, look for Caitlin Compton to dominate the hilly course. Master technician Dorcas Wonsavage will be leading the pack as well.
Recreational skiers, parents, and kids join in the fun for the 5th annual Ski Tour, stopping at gourmet food stations sponsored by local inns to rest, warm up, and re-fuel. The Highland Lodge, the Lake View Inn, the Craftsbury Inn, and the Inn on the Common will all cook up tasty treats ranging from hot cider and cookies to homemade rolls and split-pea soup. The touring skiers are not timed; instead, they experience the challenge of a long ski tour, the pristine beauty of the trails, with their hidden valleys and stunning vistas, and the thrill of participating in this traditional New England event.
Afterwards, both racers and touring skiers alike share the post-race banquet high on Craftsbury Common. This year, the prize table and raffle drawing are loaded with nearly $15,000 worth of merchandise and cash prizes donated by the Marathon’s many sponsors. The hard work of 150 volunteers and the dedicated staff at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center makes this big day possible. With press coverage expected from all over Vermont-as well as mild temperatures in the low 20s-be sure not to miss the 2005 Banknorth Craftsbury Marathon. http://craftsbury.com/ski/marathon.php