A three-inch fresh coating of dry, drifting snow greeted racers at the third Moose Tracks Snowshoe Race on Sunday, January 4, 2015. Winter wonderland conditions existed anyway with 18 inches on trails and much deeper in the woods. This 10 km race opens the new season of qualifying for the United States Snowshoe Association’s national championship just 160 miles away in Eau Claire.
Mike McPherson, Michigan, scored the win in 51:21 as fellow Great Lake State resident Kyle McGurk followed a minute-and-a-half later for the silver. The Braveheart “Mc,” Jim McDonell, Minnesota, took third in class. Moose Tracks is one of the Braveheart Snowshoe Series, one of the country’s largest.
Michigan’s Michelle McCarthy won her class and wrapped third overall as only one of three under-one-hour performances of the day, 58:55. Andrea Mueller, Athens, edged Jonnah Perkins, Black Earth, for the silver by just 25 seconds. National medalist and race director for the Phillips qualifier, Kristi Speer, won her class. Other notables included popular national medalist, Roddie Larson of Menasha qualifying for Eau Claire’s national race.
In the men’s race, national medalist Jim Graupner, Minnesota, won his class in a “10” performance: 1:10:10. Another national competitor, Dave Sykora, Green Bay, crossed 32 seconds later.
In the 5 km event, Woodruff’s Jim Fieck led all for gold with a stellar 24:49. Joe Fieweger, Boulder Junction, edged Dorchester’s Dave Rau by seven seconds for the silver win. Joanna Pace, Madison won the women’s class in 37:32, while Elicia Erickson, Phillips, and Kitty Rau, Dorchester, gave chase.
Up-and-coming national racers, Daniel Strasse, Sophie Fieck and Pheobe Fieck finished the 1 km Mini-Moose Tracks Kids Snowshoe Race, a new addition for this 2015 race.
Minocqua Winter Park rates tops in activities for outdoor winter fans. With 3,200 acres of forested winterscapes, activities for the entire family abound. In addition to snowshoeing trails—a 7 km “Snowstomper” loop plus the 4 km “Breaking Free” loop—the park offers cross-country trails, races, hill tubing with loads of conviviality. Follow Braveheart’s lead around Yukon Swamp, then along the Squirrel River, searching for those moose tracks. Stop by the new Tea House for refreshment then land at the Chalet to call it a great snow day.