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Enter Enchanted Forest: DION Snowshoes USSSA Qualifier

New Mexico enters the Qualifying calendar for the 2011 Dion Snowshoes USSSA National Championships with this enthralling race, the Low 02 Snowshoe Challenge in the Enchanted Forest. In legend, an enchanted forest is where strange things can occur with strange people — hey, that’s snowshoe racing, just never thought of it that way. Now, check out the results .

From New Mexico’s famed Enchanted Forest, offering kilometers and kilometers of deep snow trails, comes this cool national qualifier where adventure abounds and discoveries surprise. In fable land, Snow White appears magically in the Enchanted Forest as one discovers she’s really Laurie Lambert, USSSA Regional Qualifiers Coordinator.

She waved her magic wand as Leadville’s Mark Burgess captured the Low 02 Snowshoe Challenge championship by a wide margin, the only competitor covering the 10 km distance under an hour with his 55:21. Racing against USSSA four-time national champion, Josiah Middaugh in the Pedal Power Adventure Series up high in the Rockies Tennessee Pass, Mark is preparing himself for the challenge for the top at the 2011 championship race. He also cross trains long Loppet treks.

Sean Cunniff closer to home in Sante Fe was next with his 1:03, chased by two-time USSSA National Team member, Cheryl Paulson, overall female winner and third overall with a stout 1:04.

Who will ever forget Cheryl Paulson in one of the most exciting finishes ever in Championship snowshoe racing at the 2010 Syracuse Nationals. Here was how I saw it:

“Will there ever be a more thrilling Senior Women’s race and finish than that between Amber Cullen-Ferreira and Cheryl Paulson? Coming out of the woods and into view, heading down the long thick-with-snow hill toward the finishing climb, neck and neck, with Cheryl leading, a possible win in sight, youthful Amber pressing — the exciting conclusion promised drama. Many spectators rushed down to glimpse over the peak of the hill’s first up, to watch them race it, and in doing so nearly blocked the racing lane leading to the finish. The expert-race speaker system worked its magic; the crowds parted as if Moses himself was announcing — close, it was Mark Elmore, USSSA Sports Director — and here they came.

Cheryl, capturing a National Team membership at the 2009 Mt. Hood Championships, raced the first qualifier of the new season, a tough one, Pazzo’s Pedal Power Holiday 10 km, to a second place. Amber, qualifying at the famous Sidehiller Snowshoe Race in Sandwich, NH, won the women’s class. Cheryl, snowshoeing’s supermom and racing for Atlas versus Acidotic’s star, Amber, just back from a top ten finish at the Rock and Roll Mardi Gras marathon. Young versus not as young going at it as women snowshoe racing warriors.”

So supermom Cheryl is laying down the gauntlet, giving notice to the 2011 Cable Wisconsin Dion Snowshoes USSSA National Championships: “I’m back . . . .”

Ceal Muldoon Walker, from that Mecca of snow, Cocoa Beach, Florida, was the second female finisher, followed by Shirley Van Slooten’s terrific third overall in the class as the most senior of any of the 10 km finishers this day.

Other notable finishes include third male overall, David Lockhart of El Prado, and Cindy Cain, Centennial, Colorado.

The Citizen’s 5 km featured Art Herily, Santa Fe, with a 47:15 time, followed by Michele Russell of Austin, Texas.

Will Ritterhouse, Red River, qualified for the national championships with his 1:11 5 km finish.

The Enchanted Forest lays trails over 500 acres in the Carson National Forest, with treks through aspen, old growth forests, and those ubiquitous meadows adding softness to the whole layout. The views are fabulous, including Touch Me Not Peak — “Yes, dear” —
Baldy Peak, and the Latir Wilderness among others. The Forest Service says, “Enchanted Forest has the best of all worlds” like cross-country and snowshoe trails, backcountry wilderness of single-track snowshoe trails and “wildlife such as deer, elk, snowshoe hare, three species of squirrel, and many many bird species.”

In addition to sending 13 qualifiers for the national championships, we know from the Enchanted Forest where to find Snow White — snowshoers can continue to search for the seven dwarfs.

More info: http://www.enchantedforestxc.com/

Photo courtesy of the enchanted forest

2011 Dion Snowshoes USSSA National Snowshoe Championships www.snowshoeracing.com

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About 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 motor sport. 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. Twitter: @iHarmonizing