Towards the end of the Tour of Anchorage on Sunday, it was clear that once again a Flora was going to take the victory. But it wasn't until the last few meters of the 50K freestyle race that spectators knew which Flora it would be.
As its name implies, this race does indeed tour the city of Anchorage. It starts on the east side of town with 10 kilometers of extremely tough terrain on the Hillside trails, then flattens out as it passes through midtown on multiuse trails. Then it cruises along the coast of Cook Inlet on its way to a final few hills and the finish at Kincaid Park.
The lead pack was whittled to 10 on the early hills. From there, the pack began to fragment as the lead skiers, Erik Flora (APU Nordic Ski Center), Lars Flora (Subaru Factory Team), and Frode Lillefjell (APUNSC) glided away from the rest of the group, including last year's first and third place finishers Toby Schwoerer and Scott McArt. Rob Whitney, James Southam, and three UAA skiers were also in the group, making it a very tough 'local' field.
When the top three arrived in the stadium after 50K, it came down to a Flora vs. Flora battle. Erik made a strong move in the finish stadium to take his thrid Tour victory by three seconds.
In the women's 50K race, Team Atomic's Diane Tremblay skied away from the rest of the women early on and won in a time of 2:29:57. Kate Pearson (Rossignol) was second, and Becky Hauser (Alaska WinterStars) was third.
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