A record 657 skiers flooded the Swedetown ski trails in Calumet for the 36th running of the UP Health System Great Bear Chase Ski Marathon on Saturday. Racers could choose from among seven races of various distances and techniques.
Nick Power, Minneapolis, MN and Rosie Frankowski, Anchorage ,AK took victories in the 50km skiathlon, which incorporates the two different styles of cross country skiing – the traditional classic diagonal stride technique and the freestyle or skating technique. Skiers cover 25km (about 15 miles) of each, for a total of 50km. The Great Bear Chase also includes competition in each technique at distances of 50km, 25km, and 10km
In the 50km freestyle competition, Tristan Schouten, Plymouth, WI took first place among men and Paulette Niemi, Ironwood, MI was the top woman finisher. Luke Bodewes, Hazelhurst, WI earned the top spot in the 50km classic for men, and Chandra Ziegler, Crystal Falls, MI won the women’s event.
Other winners include Nathan Koch, Merrill, WI and Joellen Torresai, Middleton, WI in the 25km freestyle, and Peter Scheller, Champlin, MN and Nicole Gilman, Manitwoish Waters, WI in the 25km classic. The 10km winners were Gavin Martell, Grand View, WI and Victoria Shreve, Ironwood, MI in the freestyle and Dalton Collins of Washburn, WI and Carley Hintz of Arbor Vitae, WI in the classic.
“Conditions were excellent and we had plenty of snow,” said race director Angela Luskin. “As they do every year, skiers said they enjoy our course, and we have the best snow conditions in the Midwest. Our groomers did a great job, and I can’t say enough about our volunteers. Without them, we would not be able to put on a race of this caliber.”
The Great Bear Chase added the skiathlon event last year, and it was an immediate success, according to Craig Hughes, a member of the organizing committee. “We are attracting some of the top skiers in the Midwest, and they love the skiathlon. It is challenging enough to ski 50km, but to do so with two different techniques and an equipment change in the middle – that just adds to the excitement. Plus, I believe this is the only marathon-length skiathlon in the U.S.”
The Great Bear Chase is also the concluding race in the CXC Ski Marathon Cup, which includes six of the biggest cross country ski events in the Midwest.
Results and photos are at www.greatbearchase.com. The 2017 Great Bear Chase will take place March 11.