Hundreds of snowshoe folk descended upon Olympic Valley, Calif. at the Resort at Squaw Creek to strap on their winter racing gear to compete in the Super Bowl of snowshoeing, the Fourth Annual Nike ACG United States National Snowshoe Championships.
Paying homage to the United States Snowshoe Association (USSSA) and title sponsor Nike ACG, competitive snowshoers from around the United States – and a gaggle from Canada – met for a couple days of merriment and one day of spirited competitive racing. The best of the best in snowshoeing made appearances, including a slew of veterans strong.
On Sunday March 7, the contest was afoot (or “asnowshoe” if you prefer).
The course was immense. The entire setup tested the limits of snowshoers’ expertise and stamina. The first leg was more or less that most difficult; after a starting point that caters to snowshoers’ ability to jockey for position, racers immediately climbed a hill full of switchbacks and groomed pathways. The second leg of the course tested the snowshoeing abilities of racers in unpacked powder – not an easy task after traversing up a hill.
Racers tree-bashed their way to the next section of the race that placed them on a zigzagging slope. This is where it got interesting. Competitors careened to a snow-covered golf course fairway that interjected between rows of high-dollar homes, marking this as the third leg of the heat.
The athletes then made a mad dash through a meadow to where they crossed the starting point of the race and then were redirected across groomed terrain.
The last couple segments of the chase found racers trudging through fresh unscathed powder. Finally, the last portion allowed runners to jockey for a winning position along a flat, groomed area.
Throughout the race, it was apparent it was all about location, location, location. The Squaw Creek hideaway was superbly awe-inspiring and worth every weary breath of cold Californian air. A Mecca of winter wonderment, the resort’s luxurious surroundings well supported the competitive atmosphere of the snowshoe congregate. Kudos to the USSSA for choice of venue.
“Peter Fain put in a tremendous amount of work for this race,” says Mark Elmore. “He has set a high standard. I would say about 16 states were represented in this race. It was a great turnout – best turnout for a National yet. We are looking forward to next year’s race in Alaska.”
Once the snow-dust settled, the winning shoers were crowned. A battle for squaw creek indeed…the victors stood high. Here’s a breakdown of the results:
Junior (19 years of age and under) Girls 5km: First – Mary Brown of Alaska, Second – Breanna Gunnarson of Colorado.
Junior Boys 5km: First – Nathaniel Grabman of Alaska, Second – Nicholas Wujciak of New York, Third – Terence Meehan of New York.
Top 5 Overall Women 10km: First – Nikki Kimball of New York, Second – Anita Ortiz of Colorado, Third – Helen Cospolich of Colorado, Fourth – Sarah Raitter of Oregon, Fifth – Kelli Lusk of Massachusetts.
Top 5 Overall Men 10km: First – Greg Krause of Colorado, Second – Paul Low of Massachusetts, Third – Bernie Boettcher of Colorado, Fourth – Charlie Wertheim of Colorado, Fifth – Max King of Oregon.
Open Women 10km: First – Julie Udchachon of Alaska, Second – Haley Beann of Colorado, Third – Katie Arnot of Colorado, Fourth – Karen Melliar-Smith of Colorado, Fifth – Kara Haas of Massachusetts.
Open Men 10km: First – Travis Macy of Colorado, Second – Dave Mackey of Colorado, Third – Chris Gilbert of California, Fourth – Bill Raitter of Oregon, Fifth – Peter Fain of California.
Masters Women 10km: First – Laurie Lambert of Texas, Second – Janice Morra of New York, Third – Jeanne Blatter of Colorado, Fourth – Patty Jo Struve of California, Fifth – Staci Baker of Nevada.
Masters Men 10km: First – Tom Borschel of Idaho, Second – Dan Verington of Massachusetts, Third – Wayne Cottrell of Utah, Fourth – Andy Crisconi of Colorado, Fifth – Timmy Dusick of Wisconsin.
Senior Women 10km: First – Carol Kane of Connecticut, Second – Shane Holonitch of Colorado, Third – Jo-Ann Spinelli of New York, Fourth – Chary Griffin of New York.
Senior Men 10km: First – Mark Macy of Colorado, Second – Brent Weigner of Wyoming, Third – Robert J. Creer of Utah, Fourth – Bill Hamlin of Washington, Fifth – Dave Delano of New York.
Veteran Men 10km: First – John Pelton of Vermont, Second – Dan Kiely of California, Third – Bob Durband of Minnesota.
Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s National races. For the complete serial results of the races, visit http://www.snowshoeracing.com.
The next battle in the snowshoeing war will take place in Anchorage, Alaska. The Battle of Kincaid Park – otherwise known as the Fifth Annual United States National Snowshoe Championships – will take place on March 5, 2005. The Westcoast International Inn will be the host hotel. Visit www.snowshoeracing.com for more information on the annual event.