HAYWARD, Wis., February 25, 2006 — In a photo finish, Italian Marco Cattaneo beat teammate Roberto DeZolt by half an inch to capture the champion's title at the 33rd annual Subaru American Birkebeiner today. Cattaneo, the 2005 Birkie champion, and DeZolt both finished with a time of 2:08:56.8.
Italian Pier Luigi Costantin skied to a third-place finish in 2:09:36.
In the women's field, Italian Anna Santer claimed victory with a time of 2:24:05.9, trailed by teammates Lara Peyrot with a second place finish time of 2:24:06, and Cristina Paluselli with a third place finish time of 2:24:13.
The first American man to cross the finish line was Chad Giese of St. Paul, Minn. (Subaru Factory Team), with a seventh place time of 2:15:15. Eli Enman (Rossignol) was two seconds behind Chad in 8th place, while Nathan Schultz (Team FSx) was the third American in 9th place. Adam Swank rounded out the top ten overall.
The first American woman to cross the finish line was Brooke Baughman Hovey of Ketchum, Idaho (Rossignol), with a fourth place time of 2:31:01. Second and third Americans were Kate Whitcomb (Team FSx) and Kate Pearson (Rossignol), who finished 5th and 6th overall respectively.
Through interpreter and team coach Marco Selle, Cattaneo and DeZolt told of how they planned to cross the finish line together to share first place honors and FIS points. When Cattaneo's foot crossed the finish line half an inch ahead of DeZolt's, FIS Technical Delegate Brian Keeble ruled that Cattaneo was the victor.
“We are a little bit sad because we wanted to see them on the podium together,” Selle said.
All six Italians on the podium said conditions for the 51K race were excellent. They said they are always surprised at the width of the trail and the number of spectators along the Main Street finish line.
Newcomer Anna Santer said she knew in the final leg she was the faster of the three women. She was able to push harder in the last climb to capture first place.
In the 23 kilometer Kortelopet, Bill Bowler Jr. of Marquette, Mich., claimed victory with a time of 1:04:39.2; Santiago Ocariz of Spooner, Wisc., finished second in 1:04:48; and Dan Dehlin of Marquette Mich., finished third in 1:04:49.
In the women's division, Natasha Naryshkina of Verona, Wis., became the new Kortelopet Champ with a time of 1:12.07.2; Stephanie Howe of Marquette, Mich., finished second in 1:16.29; and Tanya Cook of Rhinelander, Wis., finished third in 1:18:49.
Earlier this morning, under blue skies and 4 degree temps (Farenheit),Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle welcomed skiers, recognized long-time Birkie volunteer Rex Schultz with a commendation, and sent 6,768 skiers from 19 foreign nations and 45 U.S states, including New Mexico, Hawaii, and Arizona, on their way for the 2006 Subaru American Birkebeiner.
Longtime Birkie skiers Jim and Tom Vanden Brook skied the 51K race dressed as the traditional Viking soldiers who rescued Baby Prince Haakon 800 years ago. The Birkebeiner soldiers became a Norwegian symbol of courage, perseverance and character in the face of adversity, and the rescue inspired the creation of the Birkebeiner Rennet in Lillehammer, Norway and the American Birkebeiner in Wisconsin.
Jim, a water quality specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and brother Tom, a reporter for USA Today, wore
birch bark leggings, traditional wool garb and helmets. They carried a sword and shield and skied on heavy wooden skis. When they got to Main Street in Hayward, they exchanged the Baby Prince Haakon doll for Edwin Trudeau, an 8-month old baby, and crossed the finish line to a chorus of cheers.
Executive Director Ned Zuelsdorff said he was very pleased with the 33rd American Birkebeiner, participation numbers and the re-enactment of the 800th anniversary of the rescue.
Birkie 2006 is sponsored by Subaru, State Bank of Drummond, Cable Chamber of Commerce, Johnson Bank, Superior Publishing and other businesses throughout the
region and country.
Source: Birkie Press Release