By Jess Philip- MBSEF Nordic Coach
The 4th annual Desert Orthopedics Great Nordeen Ski Race, held at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon on Saturday January 21st was challenging to participants and successful for organizers. This unique 36km race allowed 225 Nordic racers to compete on a point-to-point trail not normally accessible for skiing. Excellent grooming was provided by Moon Country Snowmobiles and access to the area was provided by a special permit from the Deschutes National Forest.
Nordeen racers began their journey at the base of Mt. Bachelor and wound their way through forests of pine, ponderosa, snow and sunshine. There was significantly more snow this year as compared to last year, when low snow levels forced the 42km skiers to compete on the 30km Short Nord course. This year the Short Nord, 30km, was eliminated and all competitors skied 36km.
After weeks of seemingly non-stop snow, the skies cleared up on race day, gracing skiers with crisp cold air and pristine trail conditions. Winner and Subaru Factory Team member Patrick Weaver was prepared for the long gradual climbs that, one by one, forced his competitors to drop off his lead. He won in 1:36:52, followed by MBSEF junior racer Charlie Smith in 1:39:56. John King came in third, eight seconds behind Smith in 1:40:04. Weaver feels the Nordeen is a fun race, and says â€œmore people should do it; it’s a great opportunity to enjoy some other trails, to ski with good grooming and race point to point.â€
In the women’s field Suzanne King also won with a comfortable lead, finishing in 1:51:37, fast enough for fifteenth overall. She was followed by Monique Merrill in 1:53:56 and XC Oregon’s Kiersten Lippman in 1:56:08. King said that it’s â€œalways a treat to have such a nice race here in town, we’re very lucky. All the elements came together to allow for skiing through beautiful country with tons of snow.â€ She said that in comparison to the race last year, â€œthis year was more work, the snow was slower and so racing required more energy.â€
Unlike King and Weaver, seventeen year-old Carson Miller had a unique combination of motivating factors. As the race drew to an end, Miller became aware that several of the â€œold guysâ€ (his term) were catching him. These were the parents of his MBSEF teammates and Miller was dismayed as the more experienced racers gained on him, beat him to the finish by over 30 seconds. And as if racing the â€œold guysâ€ wasn’t enough to keep a racer occupied- Miller was also distracted by the women’s field. He was determined to catch the women (after all, chasing girls is a typical pastime for teenagers). In the end though, the top three women eluded young Miller. Perhaps once he’s older he’ll have an improved strategy for running away from the old guys while catching the women
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