The International Snowshoeing Federation (ISSF) World Snowshoe Championship held in conjunction with the epic La Ciaspolada Snowshoe race Fondo, Italy, sizzled in 2013 as Alex Baldiccini seized the championship for the host country in a sub-20 minute performance. Baldiccini covered the 5.6 km layout in 19:55, seven seconds ahead of France’s Stephane Ricard. Taking bronze 11 seconds later raced past-champion Said Boudalia of Morroco.
In the women’s field, Isabella Morlini shocked even herself crossing the boisterous finish line with the gold. Spain captured silver when Laia Trias Andreu of the mountainous town of Catalonia outlasted multi-year world champion and prerace favorite, Maria Grazia Roberti of Italy.
Snowshoe elites finished off the podium in this star-studded field, such as past champions Claudio Cassi (Italy 4th), Antonio Santi (Italy 7th), Giuliano Battocletti (Italy 10th) and Antonio Molinari (Italy 22nd). The group led early handicapping as potential medalists but the tough field yielded a slim podium indeed.
United States Snowshoe National Team member, Jared Scott (CO), nailed 16th, the best ever for an American male. Canadian Melissa Chenard took the top non-European slot in 11th place overall for the women’s class.
Joining Scott was Eric Hartmark (MN) USSSA team member and 2011 USSSA Champion. Their race, marred by a reckless competitor, is chronicled in this account from USSSA Sports Director, Mark Elmore: “Unfortunately, after moving up smartly to join the lead pack approaching the 1 km mark, while snowshoeing side-by-side, an overzealous athlete tried passing them by jumping between them. This caused Scott to fall and in so doing Hartmark fell too. Scott was able to recover and would eventually finish in 18th place, securing a podium spot and establishing the best finish ever by an American male athlete the La Ciaspolada. American athletes have been competing here since 2003. Hartmark took the worst of the fall and would fall again a few kilometers later when a snowshoe fell off. He would finish in 36th place, narrowly missing the podium.”
Other U.S. finishers included Mark Rickman (CO) in 97th and Tim Walczyk of (NY) 214th. Mary Jo Kiggins (NY) captured 45th.
A dozen countries sent athletes for these championships: Italy, France, Catalonia, Morocco, USA, Sweden, Canada, Romania, Russia, Germany, Switzerland and Finland.
The La Ciaspolada, racing its 40th version nestled among the peaks of the Italian Dolomites, reigns as the globe’s largest snowshoe racing event with nearly 5,000 in the championship race.
The 2014 ISSF World Championship sends snowshoers to Rattvik, Sweden for a February challenge. Rattvik will find more racers than residents in its beautiful southern Sweden location. Sometimes described as genuine Sweden, the area claims a perfect lifestyle, something the friendly world of snowshoeing will quickly attune.