With 329 Americans and 472 Canadians competing in the 2011 Masters World Cup in Silver Star, British Columbia, last week, the North American stories of medals, personal victories, and just-misses are countless. Let’s just leave it at this: The US athletes earned a total of 100 individual medals, while the Canadian racers snagged 78 medals. Additionally, 12 of the US relay teams medaled: four teams won their classes, four teams were second and four teams were third. North of the border, nine Canadian relay teams medaled, with four winning the bronze, four teams taking silver and one team taking gold in their age classes.
(Article continues below the picture)
Each medal a unique story
“Please tell me that she was more than just a couple of minutes ahead of me,” said Abott Icks of the USA as she crossed the finish line for the bronze medal in the 15K classic on the final day of the championships.
Icks’s mind was so focused on squeezing the last ounces of energy out of her muscles for the last lap, she missed a turn and estimated that she skied at least a minute off course before she realized the terrain no longer looked right and backtracked to the race course. When told that she finished about five minutes behind the silver, a smile spread on Icks’s face so wide that if her ears were not in the way it would have wrapped around her entire head.
“At least it wasn’t the detour that cost me the silver,” she said.
World Masters as Norwegian Birkie Prep
While the majority of the athletes who participated in the World Masters this year live on this side of the Atlantic, a number of racers from other parts of the world also made the trip to Vernon and Silver Star, with Russia being the biggest non-American contingent with. Norway usually fields a large team to the World Masters, but this year only 16 racers competed. However, the small group helped themselves to no less than 18 medals, which is on average more than one per racer.
Gunnar Tronsmoen from Norway is one of them. The 82-year-old veteran helped himself to three gold medals out of three possible – starting with the 10K classic Sunday March 6, continuing with the 5K classic on Monday March 7, and concluding with the 15K classic last Friday.
“I had good skis and I’m healthy, so then everything else follows,” Tronsmoen said to FasterSkier after his first race. And apparently, he kept having good skis and stayed healthy, as more gold followed wherever he went.
While three races in six days would be quite an accomplishment for any racer regardless of age, the World Masters is just a part of the peaking program for Tronsmoen. His main goal of the season is the 54-kilometer Norwegian Birkebeiner on March 19, an annual habit so ingrained in the lively senior that he no longer counts how many times he has raced the Birkie. He only keeps track of the ones he wins. So far, that’s 33.
“I’m going for my 34th this year,” Tronsmoen said with a grin. “I like being one of those who determine the max time for the pin in my class.”
(Article continues below picture.)
With amazing conditions, near perfect weather, world-class grooming, and well-organized logistics and planning, the stage was set for a week of high-level competition for some of the top athletes in the world in their respective age categories.
“This was pretty much a very high-level North American championship with some Russians and other international racers included,” John Downing said jokingly. Downing is the USA National Director for the Masters World Cup, and the Director of American Cross-Country Skiers (AXCS).
The 2011 World Masters at Sovereign Lake/Silver Star also doubled as the US National Masters Championships. The 2011 US masters Team was announced, based on the race results at the World Masters. The full team will be published shortly. Stay tuned.
For complete results from all the events and more information about the 2011 World Masters, check out the 2011 Sparkling Hills Masters World Cup web site.
Next year, the Masters World Cup will move to Oberwiesenthal in Saxony, Germany. The championships are scheduled for March 1-9, 2012. More information here.
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.