15 year-old Luke Jager handily won the junior race, which turns around mid-mountain, in 27:39. Here he descends The Cliffs, the final portion of the descent before the road race to the finish line.
Certain of his victory at the bottom of the descent, Boy Wonder hams it up for the crowd.
Riana Boonstra, a former classmate of Allie Ostrander at Kenai Central High School in the nearby town of Kenai, ran away with the girls title in 32:38.
Mount Marathon is renown for attracting enormous crowds of spectators that line the race course.
Local superstar Allie Ostrander works her way down the hill in second place. It was 18 year-old Ostrander’s first year in the senior category after claiming the overall win in the junior category in 2014.
Winner Emelie Forsberg’s descent is already the stuff of modern legend, having descended in 11:32, only 2 seconds slower than 2nd place men’s finisher Rickey Gates that same day and blowing away the old women’s record. She came by so fast, in fact, that I was standing there with my hands in my pockets and my camera not ready. Though I can’t prove it, I can confirm the shocking speed of her descent, and can also confirm the rumors that she smiled all the way past. Pictured here is Allie Ostrander.
5th-place finisher Denali Foldager-Strabel dashes past. Foldager-Strabel married defending men’s champion and APU ski coach Eric Strabel only the week before.
Former US Ski Team member Aubrey Smith runs to a 6th place finish.
APU Skiing Elite Team member Lauren Fritz runs into 22nd place.
In spite of the presence of international superstars, the hometown crowd remained loyal to its own. Here a fan shows her support for Anchorage favorite Jim Shine.
Midway up the 1,000-meter climb, the men’s field climbs past, with Salomon’s Rickey Gates in the lead, followed by Spanish superstar Kilian Jornet, while Jim Shine represents for Alaska.
I could hardly claim to be an impartial observer of the race, as my good friend Nick Elson chased the front runners in a close fourth. Nick is from Squamish, BC, and entered largely at my suggestion. He keeps a low profile and was almost entirely unknown to the crowd except for the few that follow the esoteric sport of Skimo racing, at which Nick excels. I enjoyed overhearing other spectators saying “wait, who is that guy??”
Favored to win, Kilian Jornet delivered a remarkable performance, turning it on on the downhill to dust the rest of the competition.
Rickey Gates chased close behind, finishing second.
Jim Shine stormed by in third.
The newly-married Eric Strabel, the previous record holder, is legendary as a ferocious descender. The staggering speed of the ascent was too much for him to make up, however, and he finished in fourth.
Nick Elson was back and forth with Strabel, including briefly passing him in a fiery descent off the very top of the mountain. His legs quickly turned to “jello,” however, and he had to dial it back for the remainder of the descent. Nick held on for 5th, however, the 2nd-ranked rookie, behind Jornet.
Racers descend a steep section of scree low in the course, known as The Gut.
9th place finisher, and last year’s runner up, Matias Saari literally runs to the awards banquet while eating potato chips.
Allie Ostrander, left, receives her first award in the senior division. To the right are Christy Marvin, Najeeby Quinn, and Denali Foldager-Strabel.
Ostrander receives a standing ovation from the crowd for her record-breaking performance.
Ever gracious, the Alaskan crowd stayed on its feet for the new queen of the mountain, Emelie Forsberg, who broke the 25 year-old record set by Nancy Pease by nearly three minutes.
The men’s podium, left to right – Kilian Jornet, Rickey Gates, Jim Shine, Eric Strabel, and Nick Elson. I apologize for the quality of these photos – sometimes I forget to keep an eye on what my camera is up to.
Winning the hearts of Alaskans on the Fourth of July, Kilian Jornet does a keg stand while his girlfriend, Emelie Forsberg, operates the tap. I can confirm that Jornet is fun in addition to being fast.
Apparently there is a Catalan (the region in Spain that Jornet comes from) tradition that if one passes you a drink and you receive it with your right hand, you have to chug it. I’ll leave this person, who was not such a hapless victim, unnamed, but he has been profiled in FasterSkier. Also, he’s drinking out of the victor’s chalice – another tradition, though this one more local. As the increasingly-rowdy party moved to the bar, there was a well-attended streak to a another house about a block away. I opted to be a gentleman and not take any pictures, a regret that I will take to my grave.
Patrick Stinson, Nick Elson and Rickey Gates on the summit of Bear Mountain during the traditional “hangover hike” the following morning. Some earned this title more than others.
The African Attachment, the Team Salomon camera crew, came along as well. Here they set up some shots.
Nick Elson, Christie Haupert and Brian Harder jog back down to Seward.