On March 13, the skies were blue, the air was clean and the snow was fresh – Beaver Creek, Colo., couldn’t have displayed a better day to snowshoers who gathered to compete in the 2004 North American Snowshoe Championships.
“The day couldn’t be more pure,” said one eager snowshoer preparing for the 10K race. “I hope the snow isn’t too harsh near the latter portions of the track. The sun is certainly out today.”
Compared to the Beaver Creek Snowshoes Series events that took place throughout the season, this enthusiastically awaited race would bring out some of the sport’s greatest competitors. Looking back, Josiah Middaugh of Vail, Colo., and Anita Ortiz of Eagle, Colo., received top honors for the Dec. 13 10K event in the series. Danelle Ballengee of Dillon, Colo., and Josiah Middaugh of Vail placed first in their divisions at the Jan. 10 10K race. And, Bernie Boettcher of Silt, Colo., and Anita Ortiz claimed the crowns for the 10K at the Feb. 21 series.
As spectators and shoers jumped aboard the Strawberry Park Express Chairlift to be carried away to McCoy Park, a certain buzz spun throughout the resort as to the amount of snowshoers clomping through lines of skiers. Nike ACG, Atlas and others presided over the demonstration products for interested shoers at the base of the lift, and Highline Sports and Entertainment had things organized for the festivities.
Before the $5,000 cash purse was distributed to the winning athletes, the kids ran their Kids K competition. Christian Kloser and Breanna Gunnarson sprinted their way to youthful glory to take the victory in the competition.
And, shortly following the kids’ snow romp, the infamous “Dash for Cash” made Matthew Hammel and Karen Opp a tad richer for the day.
Once the races began and then later concluded, Ryan Goheen collected the win for the men’s East-West 5K quest over second-place finisher Christian Fuller. Representing the women’s side, Vicky Keleske shoed her way into the winner’s circle for the 5K event – followed closely by second runner-up, Alley Henerson.
The 10K race – the contest that would crown the year’s champions – was watched closely as competitors started their way through the track. Reaching the finish line first was Josiah Middaugh for the men’s ranks and representing the women’s division, Danelle Ballengee – both heavy favorites in the 10K.
Middaugh, a three-time 10K snowshoe champion for the season, recorded a time of 46.56 minutes to claim the championship title, seconds ahead of runner-up Greg Krause. Bernie Boettcher placed third, just over one minute off Middaugh’s winning time. Charlie Wertheim placed fourth in the series in front of fifth place rival Simon Gutierez of Taos, N.M.
Danelle Ballengee claimed the women’s 10K championship with a time of 56.13 minutes. Coming in second – almost five minutes behind Ballengee – was Lisa Goldsmith. And, Anita Ortiz finished the race in a comfortable third place.
For more information on the Beaver Creek Adventure Snowshoe Series, organized by Highline Sports and Entertainment, visit http://www.bcsnowshoe.com. Watch for Snowshoe Magazine’s coverage of the series next winter. See you in Beaver Creek!