20 in ’10: USSSA PowerSox Championship Qualifying Season

As in Poltergiest, the Movie: “They’re Hereeeee.” Not aliens in our winter movie, instead bundled athletes finally racing snowshoe qualifiers throughout the  five USSSA regions, securing a slot to race the National Championship. Here’s the scoop you need:

The 2010 USSSA Nationals promise to be the biggest and the best . . . and the most historic! Just think back . . . those who raced the very first National Snowshoe Championship way back in February, 2001, Plattsburgh, NY, pre 9/11, weren’t thinking about ten years from then. All 24 of them with another 7 Juniors entered were focused on one hour or so in the future, the time to finish the 10km.

The legacy of these Championships were underway, led by Dave Dunham, Massachusetts, and the first of many Championships scored by the Queen of Snowshoe racing, Nikki Kimball.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary, the PowerSox Championship Race will be held in the snow country of Syracuse, New York, with the largest snowshoe participation in the country populating the Northeast , USA, promising the largest starting field ever. You’ve got to be there!

Oh . . . a small detail: you need to qualify in order race the Championship, a racer can’t just show up (unless a member of the National Snowshoe Team). Otherwise you will be stuck on the sidelines waving bye-bye to the pack as they flick snowdust from their churning, cleated platforms right in your face.

So to help out, here is a rundown on the new and old for year ten, my friend:

For the second year running, the 2010 season opens in 2009, December 27th to be exact, at the famous Pazzo’s Eagle-Vail Holiday. After Christmas, and a Sunday, too, this race of the Rocky Mountain Region, is close to Leadville, site of another well known event, the 100 mile Ultra Trail race. This snowshoe event could have record entrants. Go to their website and click on the downloadable Adventure Series Snowshoe Poster, annually the coolest of the year and one of the few that have such an offering.

The first 2010 Qualifier doesn’t waste any time getting underway in the New Year, barely giving the late risers on New Years Day time to shake off their egg nog — wait, wasn’t that a Christmas drink? — and gather at the Zondlo’s Ballroom on January 2 before launching out for the Rib Lake Snowshoe Adventure. One of the hot areas for snowshoeing in the country, this roly-poly course is fun, and the fun continues in the raucous ballroom afterward. This Wisconsin race is North Central’s first of the season.

The February 6 Montana State Snowshoe Championships covers some of the most interesting terrain on the calendar. Nikki Kimball races this course at the Homestake Lodge, located beneath the Continental Divide with numerous wooded trails.
Next weekend, January 9th, top talent can show up at the Swft Skedaddle Snowshoe Qualifier in Silverthorne, Colorado. The second in the young season for the Rocky Mountain Region, Racers will have one chance to snowshoe through one of the courses intriguing highlights: a long, snowy metal culvert. Over a 100 show up annually to tackle it.

Click off a third Rocky Mountain race the next day, January 10th, another Sunday opportunity, for the Rail Trail Snowshoe Stomp in Park City, Utah. With the 2008 National Championship held in Utah, this race found its pace with its historic route, lots of snow, and, at altitude, thin air.

Same day, just further down the globe in Flagstaff, Arizona, the Kahtoola Snow or No Snow Race opens the Western Regional Qualifying. A challenging course made even more fun since racing in snow in Arizona is not the typical image, the Flag Staff Nordic Center goes all out. National Team Member Laurie Lambert and author Steve Ilg are typically at this race.

January 16th ends the 20 year run of the Northwoods Snowshoe Championships in Duluth, Minnesota. In addition to the 10 km Qualifier, this even features a 1/2 marathon and one of the two marathon distances in the country. Great prizes are annually given away at the festive awards party . . . this year RD Barb Van Skike may just clean out the awards closet for this second event in the North Central calendar.

Then the next day, Sunday, the 17th, the Northeastern Region starts its year with the long running Mendon Ponds Winterfest Snowshoe Race. A part of the festival, this race is quiet with the frills but with three different events is popular with snowshoers. Plus, how can one not appreciate their website for offroad snowshoe and trail racing:
roads are poison.com.

One of the two busy four-race weekends on the USSSA calendar occurs January 23-24.

Saturday, January 23 is the Bigfoot Boogie in Traverse City, Michigan, the third North Central Regional. Attracting a big 10km group, racers annually look forward the the post race chili on the open pit at the huge Timber Land Lodge.

The January 23rd Montana State Snowshoe Championships covers some of the most interesting terrain on the calendar. Nikki Kimball races this course at the Homestake Lodge, located beneath the Continental Divide with numerous wooded trails.


Sunday hosts two events. The White river Snowshoe Race, Mt. Hood, Oregon, the second Western Regional, and site of the 2009 National Championship that was wonderfully buried in snow.

One of the most creative events is the combination of music and snowshoe racing at the Jazz Trax Snowshoe Stomp in Bear Valley, California, also a Western Regional Qualifier. RD Patty Jo Struve ends the race with the Avery Middle School Morning Jazz Band playing for the group.

New on the calendar for 2010 on January 30 is the Rumble in the Jungle race in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the North Central’s fourth event. Underway for three years, RD Paula Dusick and her group eagerly stepped up to accept the opportunity to host this race. Previously on the calendar, the Iowa race directed by the Galls had to reluctantly give in to time constraints.

Also on this day is the annual Sidehiller Snowshoe Race in Sandwich, New Hampshire, with its meandering and interesting course, only the second race for the Northeastern Regional.

Now we move on to February with its seven races to complete the Qualifying year.

Finalizing the North Central Region’s qualifying efforts for the season is the Twin Cities Snowshoe Shuffle, held in the heart of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro. Racing the course, one forgets there are two major Interstates nearby. The varies annually and moved last year to this earlier date on the calendar in order to enjoy better snow conditions. The awards ceremony at the New Brighton VFW features infectuous enthusiasm from the ESNS organization.

Then on Sunday, February 7, The Northeastern Regions’ third event is held in Smuggler’s Notch, the Northern Vermont Snowshoe Challenge. Reflecting the drive of the organizer, Zeke Zucker, this race continues to grow in popularity irrespective of the carousel of weather typical of the area.

The busiest weekend of the race calendar is February 13 – 14, with four qualifiers wrapping up three regionals’ year: two Northeastern, one each for the Rocky Mountain and the Western Region:

Camp Saratoga Snowshoe Race in tiny Wilton, New York, is always associated with Valentine’s day, even in years where the dates don’t coincide. Laura Clark wrote in her Snowshoe Magazine submission for their 2009 race, “Jeff and I equate directing a snowshoe race to planning a family reunion for a couple hundred close friends.” You can read her article at

Each year Snowshoe Magazine strives to report on each Qualifier. We often write the story but sometimes racers, like Adam Chase and Kris Borchardt, will give their account of the day. In some cases, like Camp Saratoga, the Race Directors like to submit their race- day story like Laura’s. The important thing is to get the day’s excitement and results out for all to read. Readers tell us they will look at the previous year’s reports when deciding on their snowshoe schedule. As readers of Snowshoe Magazine, you are welcome to write me (phillipgary@snowshoemag.com) and offer your take on the race, the weather, the food. I enjoy quoting snowshoe racers on their perspective. If you want to submit an article for a specific race, Qualifier or just a good ole snowshoe race, let me know.

Also on Saturday, February 13, is the Pennsylvania State Snowshoe championships in Drums, Pennsylvania. Held in the Nescopeck State Park, the two-loop course features a trip over the dam for Lake Frances.

The second new event for the 2010 schedule is the Love Me Tender Race in Frisco, Colorado. What better name for a Valentines weekend? With apologies to Elvis, the lyrics could conclude, “Love me Tender, Love me sublime, the mountains are steep, it’s a heckuva climb.” Not far from Silverthorne, the topography looks like one’s quads are going to feel like melted chocolate afterward. What more could an avid snowshoer ask for? Well, just one thing: when finishing, all should say to the volunteers, “Uh, thank you; thank you very much,” just like the King would.

John Stauffer’s infamous Auburn Snowshoe Challenge concludes the busiest race weekend of the season on Sunday, February 14. An excellent test on the Donnor Summit, well organized by the Auburn Ski Club, with every detail overseen by this long time Ambassador of the sport.

And now one of my favorite races,  Fairbanks Snowshoe Classic in Alaska. This is the Alaskan Regional, the fifth in the regional setup, and is their entry. Chad Carroll and his group have quite a snowshoe series which includes this event. Temperatures can be extreme for these hardy racers but it seems to invigorate the group.

The Qualifying season ends, and racers take a week to prepare for the year’s biggest day: the PowerSox Tenth Annual 2010 USSSA Snowshoe Championships on the weekend of March 5-7 in Syracuse, New York. This year’s Championship weekend is not to be missed!

Your thoughts on the Qualifying season? email me:

About the author

Phillip Gary Smith

Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition, including drag racing, his favorite motorsport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING: Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra-distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING: Keys" in a unique way. Currently, he has two books in the works.
Write to him at Phillip@ultrasuperior.com, or find him on Twitter or Facebook @iHarmonizing.