MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Freestyle marathon skiers took to the hills of Theodore Wirth Park for the final day of the 2018 Masters World Cup, in a warm way to wind down the championship week.
With sun and temperatures upwards of 40 degrees Fahrenheit by noon, skiers had quite the slog over the 10 k, mostly manmade loop.
As Minneapolis native Kitty Earl-Torniainen, 50, described her experience in the 30-kilometer freestyle, “[The course] was nice and wide, and it was groomed well; it was just extremely challenging — lots of elevation and very slow downhills. You could rest, but you had to ski downhill.”
Earl-Torniainen, who raced in the women’s age group 5, is a member of the Loppet Elite Masters on Nordic Skis (a.k.a. LEMONS), part of Loppet Nordic Racing. Wirth is her home training grounds, so she was prepared for the ascents. She said her main goals were to stay relaxed on her skis, be efficient, have good technical skills, and rely on her strengths, which she considers hills and cardio.
“I didn’t have times or place or anything [as a goal]; it was more about use what I’ve learned training with the group that I train with,” she said.
In addition to placing seventh in Friday’s final race, Earl-Torniainen also competed in the 15 k classic (and placed seventh), the 15 k freestyle (sixth), and was an alternate for the 5 k relay.
Jean-Christian Perraud, 71, of France, had a tougher time negotiating the sticky snow for his 30 k freestyle race on Friday.
“It’s a good snow, except for certain spots,” Perraud said. “But, for me it was not very good. I was sixth, and then I have a crash … and I came, I came, I came [skied hard], and then … second crash. I think, I pretend to be sixth, but that’s my fate today.”
He achieved his goal of placing in the top 10 throughout the week, finishing eighth in the men’s age group 9 on Friday, sixth in the 15 k freestyle, and ninth place in the 7.5 k freestyle (shortened from 10 k). He raced in the younger age group 7 to help his French team place sixth in the men’s relay.
Friday’s warm weather was probably ideal for only one group of unsung heroes: the volunteers. After standing for hours each day through wind, snow, and damp, the sun was a boon for course workers.
“I have asked multiple volunteers to do anything that needed to be done, and they all jumped in willingly, cheerfully, amazingly,” said Nancy Nelson, the Loppet Foundation’s volunteer coordinator. “The whole race wouldn’t have pulled off without them.”
After a long week of timing, marshaling, daily setup and take-down, and multiple other tasks performed by the Masters World Cup volunteers, the final awards ceremony was held Friday night in downtown Minneapolis, including the closing ceremony and celebration party.
Day 6 Age Group (AG) Winners
Women’s 30 k Freestyle
- AG 1: Davya Flaharty (USA) 1:35:43.4
- AG 2: Lindsey Bengtson (USA) 1:36:10.9
- AG 3: Jennifer Santoro (USA) 1:41:54.9
- AG 4: Frances Vice (Canada) 1:37:05.0
- AG 5: Mary Beth Tuttle (USA) 1:31:33.8
- AG 6: Jan Guenther (USA) 1:33:39.7
- AG 7: Catherine Wullschleger (Switzerland) 1:41:54.0
- AG 8: Carolyn Tiernan (USA) 1:51:57.0
Women’s 15 k Freestyle
- AG 9: Kati Campbell (USA) 47:36.0
- AG 10: Eivor Lindgren (Sweden) 54:48.0
Men’s 40 k Freestyle
- AG 1: Eugenio Bianchi (Italy) 1:49:10.1
- AG 2: Joachim Gustafsson (Finland) 1:50:17.8
- AG 3: Thomas Graf (Switzerland) 1:53:39.0
- AG 4: Aleksandr Pushkarev (Russia) 1:46:03.7
- AG 5: Virgo Karu (Estonia) 1:48:36.2
- AG 6: Francesco Benetti (Italy) 1:50:36.6
Men’s 30 k Freestyle
- AG 7: Tapio Tikkanen (Finland) 1:27:30.8
- AG 8: Einar Bertrand Vikingstad (Norway) 1:26:12.0
- AG 9: Paul Graber (Switzerland) 1:36:36.7
Men’s 15 k Freestyle
- AG 10: Finn Magnar Hagen (Norway) 43:02.7
- AG 11: Josef Schoeberl (Austria) 55:41.0
About Andrea Potyondy-Smith: Andrea hails from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis (dontchya know) and has an MFA in creative writing. When she is not being an English geek, she can be found on her bike or skis, or playing in the Northwoods … typically on her bike or skis.