By Inge Scheve
Ivan Babikov (CAN) won the opening leg of the Ski 2 Sea relay at Mount Baker, Wash., Sunday morning. Babikov, who earned a fifth place at the 2010 Olympics in Whistler, helped the Boss Construction Open team to the overall win, beating Barron Heating Open by 5 minutes and 19 seconds over the 90-mile course from Mount Baker to Fairhaven. Babikov’s team finished in 5:47:55.
“I didn’t know much about the course before the race. The other guys in the field were strong too. The uphills were harder than I expected,” said the rookie, who polished off the 4-mile course in 18 minutes and 15 seconds.
“It was different than other races because you do it for the team. I’ll be back to race this again later,” Babikov said.
“It was kind of challenging, and I didn’t expect it to be this hard,” said Babikov with a grin, explaining that this was definitely his kind of terrain. “There were huge uphills and even after that long uphill there were more. It was a World Cup kind of race and a World Cup kind of race course,” he said.
And the field was definitely deep for a local event. While Brian Gregg was second (18:39) in the XC race, Barron Heating, with Torin Koos on the cross-country leg, was second overall. The three-time Olympian and recent graduate of the US Ski Team did not have a good day on the snow. “I blew up. I was right with Gregg and Babikov to the flats in the back, but from there it was all over. I was basically double-poling to the finish,” Koos explains, adding that his skis were as good as any. Koos was sixth in the XC race, clocking in at 19:56.
With the typical Ski 2 Sea slushy course, overnight temperatures not even dropping below freezing and more than 500 teams churning up the snow, ski flex and the right combination of wax and structure is crucial to success. Babikov said his skis were good, he but couldn’t offer the inquisitive reporter much insight to the magic mix. “I have no idea what was on them. Our wax tech Joel did the skis before I left and they were good.”
Eric Bjornsen (USA) was third (19:21), Martin Rosvall (SWE) fourth (19:27) and Dan Roycroft (CAN) fifth (19:44).
In the women’s open division, Sarah Konrad (USA) beat Dasha Gaiazova (CAN) by 7 seconds, finishing in 22:18. Gaiazova’s team, Boundary Bay Brewing Company, won the Women’s Open division for the 11th consecutive year.
The relay consists of seven legs, opening with XC, followed by a 2.5-mile downhill loop, 8-mile downhill running, 38.5-mile road biking, 18-mile canoeing, 14-mile mountain biking and concluding with 5 miles of sea kayaking. For complete results and more information, visit www.skitosea.com.
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.