In Italy, the country of history, culture and art, many of the world’s best athletes toed the start for the artistic wonder of sports, snowshoeing. In North America, snowshoers who could not make the trip rejoiced when learning the news that 2017’s ninth World Snowshoe Federation Championships would race in New York.
First, the 2016 wrap-up.
The ninth version of the World Snowshoe Federation [WSSF] Championships gathered in Vezza d’Oglio, a winter oasis charming visitors with its tranquility and panoramic views, for this global gathering to determine 2016’s snowshoe champion of the cosmos. And what a celestial race unfolded.
One of the best races of the day, the Overall Women’s class, found all three medals captured in the 39th minute. Keeping the gold inside country, Italy’s Queen of Snowshoeing, Isabella Morlini, Ph.D, representing Team Baldas won the World Championship in 39:07. Catalonia’s Ragna Debats a dozen seconds later seized silver while teammate Rosa Valls bagged bronze in 39:56.
USA’s Whitney Spivey, New Mexico, nailed a top ten finish, earning seventh when she crossed at 45:21. Paul Smith’s College Chloe Mattilio battled hard for a top ten spot but missed by the narrowest of margins: a half-second. Utah’s Caroline Saouma, a USSSA National Championship competitor [along with Spivey and Mattilo], scored her WSSF finish in 1:04 , which led to the trio winning the Team Women’s bronze medal.
Morlini, winning the World Championship when Italy hosted the 2013 Worlds, successfully defended the title in Sweden’s 2014 races. Now she enjoys the trifecta of wins with this year’s victory. Her time also earned the Overall Masters Women’s gold; that means, for those keeping score, two gold medals in one year in one race. She stands high as the fastest woman global snowshoer. Those awards add to honors as a professor in areas such as statistics and pharmaceuticals. She told Podisti.Net Magazine, “I have always been a nerd; but also in sports. The two things are not contradictory. Indeed, the more you have more studies, you need to play sports to recover from mental fatigue.”
Simonet Menestrina, Italy, followed by Silvia Leal Auge, Catalonia, completed the Masters Women’s medals. Paul Smith’s Lenor Marcuson, representing Canada, secured a senior class finish.
Stéphane Ricard of France grabbed the Overall Men’s gold medal for the World Snowshoeing Championships with a searing 32:49 finish, now book-ending his 2014 world championship in Sweden. Having won silver in the 2013 Worlds, his 2016 accomplishment makes the fifth consecutive year of a top-four finish. Ricard, also an endurance trail racer, cross-country skier, mountaineer skier and marathoner, leads the globe as King of Snowshoe Racing.
Filippo Barizza, Italy, chased Ricard to the line, crossing a dozen ticks later. Spain’s Roberto Ruiz-Revuelta passed the finishing banner with a 33:16 clock, meaning the Overall Men’s podium set with these three racers in a span of just 27 seconds.
New York’s Joseph St. Cyr of Paul Smith’s College booked a 19th place finishing in 38:17. Robert Calamia and Louis Ferrone [both of Paul Smith’s] scooted in a few ticks before 40 minutes. Tyler Dezago [Paul Smith’s] finished 28th in 40:45. Nathan Burrell tallied an official finish in 43:09.
The Overall Masters Men race enjoyed a sweep by Italians with the gold earned by Claudio Cassi in 34:27. Alfredo Corsini snapped up the silver with his 35:42 followed by Daniele Fornoni’s bronze in 38 minutes flat.
Jason Bond, Wisconsin, put pressure on those ahead of him and nailed a sixth place in the Masters with a 39:29 crossing. Jason Bond made it under 40 minutes as did Robert Bolton [both Paul Smith’s] while Erik Wight for Team USA printed a 43:27. Greg Birk recorded a 56:31.
Overall Junior Men’s gold took a 24:47 to win, the time posted by Sole Margariet of Catalonia. Teammate Pujol Traserra followed in about a minute for the silver spot. Italy’s Andrea Occhi rounded out the podium in a 28:09.
New York’s Matthew Leichty, competing in the Junior Men’s class, carded a competitive 29:34.
Team results, calculated by the cumulative time of the top three finishers of a country, found the Women’s Team gold going to Catalonia, silver for Italy, while the USA Team [as noted earlier: Spivey, Matillio, Saouma] notched the bronze. Germany’s women finished fourth in the team competition.
The Men’s Team results found Italy winning the gold. Catalonia earned silver by just a 40-second cum time lower than France’s bronze. The USA Men’s Team locked in fourth place well ahead of Spain and Germany.
The course traveled 8.8 km for Senior Class competitors, 6.6 km for Juniors. Europe’s mild winter required truck loads of snow spread over the course creating a kind of white snowshoe track surrounded by natural terrain barren of snow.
Snowshoe athletes gathered from around the globe to race this year’s championship course. Racers hailed from Catalonia, Italy, Canada, Germany, France, Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Spain, India, Peru, and the USA. [All results here]
In an exciting development, the WSSF selected Saranac Lake, New York, as host for the 2017 World Snowshoe Championships, significantly marking the tenth race since the 2006 inaugural at Dachstein Glacier, Ramsau am Dachstein, Austria. The races scheduled for Saturday, February 25, 2017, celebrate the first time for these championships racing in the United States. Plan arriving on Friday to enjoy the welcoming ceremonies, handling registration details along with mixing among the camaraderie of anxious snowshoers. If possible stay the weekend so one can soak-up the full impact of this major event at the awards fest along with gathering for a meal later with new and old friends.
Known as the Adirondack’s Coolest Place, the Saranac Lake area is also the home for Paul Smith’s College, a perennial contender for USSSA National Snowshoe Championship titles. Through the “Dean of Fun,” Athletic Director Jim Tucker, snowshoeing and snowshoe racing finds its way into the vocabulary of many student athletes. More than a dozen Paul Smith’s athletes won national snowshoe championship medals under Tucker’s tutelage. He received the 2014 Cindy Brochman Snowshoe Magazine Person of the Year, which recognized his contributions to the sport.
This prime location will draw racers from North America in droves as both US and Canadian athletes find it relatively easy to get there. World athletes fly into the USA at Boston and New York Airports.
The WSSF said, “Preparations are already well underway to welcome the World’s snowshoe athletes to the Adirondacks next season.” Mark calendars now to save the dates. Watch for more race details coming for the 2017 World Snowshoe Championships.