Local skiers Frode Lillefjell and Kate Pearson continued the tradition of Alaskan skiers winning the 20th annual Tour of Anchorage 50km on Sunday March 4th. As part of the American Ski Marathon Series, over 2000 racers toed the start line for the Tour which is one of the toughest 50km races in the country that winds through the city of Anchorage and finishes at Kincaid Chalet.
Lillifjell, who coaches for Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center (APUNSC), skated away with a 2+ minute victory and won in convincing fashion in a time of 2:12:59. Lillifjell pushed the pace from the start and never looked back, skiing the last 20 km alone. Adam Verrier (Team Atomic) skied in to claim second place while Dylan Watts (APUNSC) was third.
In a much closer women's race, Kate Pearson (APUNSC) battled at the end of the race with Rachel Steer (Team Rossignol) to win in a time of 2:34:31. Pearson only won by 5 seconds over Steer who came on very strong in the last half of the race, closing a several minute gap that Pearson put on the rest of the women's field by the mid-race marker. Erin Hood (Alpina/Madshus) skied in to take third place honors.
In the 40km event, top honors went to high school senior Anson Moxness and former Dartmouth skier Chrissy May.
Don Haering and Shannon Donley won the 25km skate event, while Erin Phillips and Laura Norton-Cruz claimed victories in the 25km classic event.
Racers were impressed by the trail conditions after high winds and cold temperatures earlier in the week. The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage grooming crews worked long hours to mix wind blown snow and old snow to create a relatively fast and hard trail. Skiers reported a few sections of dirty snow, but noted that the trail was in excellent shape.
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