What to do before Christmas? Race snowshoes, of course, at the opening of the 2011 USSSA Snowshoe Qualifying season, December 18 at the Snowshoe Social and Race Series, Truckee – Tahoe, California. Get rid of stress, have fun, rejoice in the beauty of deep snow at the Northstar Resort. Sounds genteel enough; that is until you look at the course layout.
This three race series over three months has the requisite 10 km race along with a 5 km and a race for the youngest of snowshoers. The middle race, though, is an exciting half-marathon traipse around the Tahoe Mountain rim. You haven’t lived until you have done distance on snowshoes . . . for fun and big prizes.
Dolores Bergmann won the women’s distance with her 1:19 finish, more than two minutes quicker than Marianne Chandler, taking the overall silver. Sarah McMahan edged Sian Turner for third in the 10 km.
J. P. Donovan and Ross McMahan battled for the win with the eight-second edge going to JP at 1:03:24. In this tough field, Atlas Snowshoe Team member, Peter Fain captured third. Atlas snowshoe rentals, including performance snowshoes, are provided at this series.
Additionally, Fain is the one to blame for the course pain and your loss of octane as he designed the insane layout. In a few words, the racecourse is like this: climb, climb, and climb this balloon loop some more so you can hobble back down to the start on burning pillars once called racing legs (see map).
Starting at the Snowshoe Center (also known as the Cross-Country and Telemark Center, incidentally, at this ski resort), a racer climbs the snowshoe trail, connecting to the White Fir trail to tour part of Russ’ Revenge, finally earning the right to begin the loop back to the finish after circling the Upper Meadow. Pass by the Caboose Hut, a car I know only so well in the snowshoe racing train, to finally get blessed downhill relief before going up and down on skyscraper (i.e. big) roller coaster hills and finally the long downhill shot into the finish.
For the 5 km distance, Todd Corley won gold with a 49:14, just a handful of seconds ahead of Al Maestas who led Christopher Gong by three seconds, the difference between second and third. That was an exciting trio to watch finish this snowshoe race.
Melinda Gong, in the tightest finish of the day, won by a tick of the clock over Shannon Livingston with a 1:05:26. Sarah Haughton captured third and just edged David Haughton over the line after their battle on the snow.
Young Damian Bergmann showed the family’s snowshoe genes, as he was the top finisher in the kids’ kilo.
After the legs return, the resort offers much more than skiing, too.
Take out those blades, go out, and ice skate a salchow with a few camels, too. Try the Biathlon, you see it on television, seems easy enough, right? Take the family on a geocaching afternoon or my favorite, the APEX bungy trampoline (open year round, photo). Yes, you have to take off the snowshoes first for that one . . . .
Late note: How good is this? The February 18 Snowshoe Tour, a weekly event by the resort, was canceled because of too much snow. Where was Snowshoe Thompson when we needed him covering these mountains 125 years ago?
Visit Northstar Resort: www.northstarattahoe.com
United States Snowshoe Association National Qualifiers:
www.snowshoeracing.com home of the Dion Snowshoes National Snowshoe Championships, March 11-14, 2011, Lakewoods Resort, Cable, Wisconsin