The first event in the Don Sumanik Memorial Races ran Satuday at Mount McIntyre even with the warm weather challenges that were affecting the course.
Cross Country Yukon chief of competition Kyle Janzen said via email on Friday that the race times were moved up in order to finish the races before it became too warm later in the day.
The course was also altered considerably to move away from icy patches of the course as well as places lacking snow.
But with the modifications and the work of the snowmaking equipment earlier in the season, the free technique race was a go with 35 competitors.
In the open men’s division, Colin Abbott won the 6.5-km race beating David Greer by only 2.1 seconds to take the lead into the second event next Saturday.
Abbott was leading from start to finish and had the fastest lap in the race with a time of 2:46.3.
Originally from Whitehorse before moving to Ottawa, Ont. for school, Abbott represented Canada at the U-23 World Ski Championships in 2013.
In the junior/juvenile boy’s division of the same distance, Derek Deuling won the race by over a minute in a time of 14:49.2 – only 15 seconds back of Abbott’s time.
Deuling had the fastest time in each lap and will take his over a minute lead into the classic race next weekend.
Ben Puskas finished in second with Jake Draper rounding out the top three in the race, but the only junior male finisher.
The fastest times on the women’s side came in the junior/juvenile girl’s race with Amanda Thomson winning in a time of 13:33.9.
She was the top junior girl finisher with Hannah Jirousek finishing just over a minute behind, third overall in the 5.2-km race.
Sonjaa Schmidt, recently named most improved female athlete of the year by Cross Country Yukon at the Sport Yukon Awards Night, was the top juvenile girls finisher and second in the combined race behind Thomson.
Dahlia Lapointe was the other juvenile girls competitor.
On the masters women’s side with the same distance, Lucy Steele Masson won in a time of 15:14.1 followed by Lois Johnston.
In the boy’s midget race, which was a shorter distance of 3.9 kilometres raced in a loop course with three 1.3-kilometre laps, Noah Connell won in a time of 11:19.5 followed closely behind by Ross Sennett and Robin Elliot.
On the girl’s side, Kate Mason won in a time of 11:23.2, less than four seconds back of Connell, and just seven seconds behind her was Constance Lapointe.
These young racers are also now age eligible to compete at the upcoming Arctic Winter Games with the trials set for Jan. 13-14.
Cross Country Yukon president Dominic Bradford was the only finisher in the masters men’s 6.5-km race in a time of 16:01.1.
The second competition in the two-race event will be the classic technique race set for Saturday.
The Don Sumanik Memorial trophies will be awarded to the racer in each division with the best combined time from the two races.
Sumanik was a major force behind cross-country skiing in the territory and played a huge role in bringing the 1974 Canadian National Junior Cross Country Championships and subsequent national competitions to Whitehorse.
He also served as the chair of the Canadian Ski Association in 1975.
Immediately following the end of Saturday’s modified races, rain started falling on the course with temperatures above zero. Janzen said in a press release Sunday that the race organizers will continue to monitor the conditions this week and how they will affect the proposed courses.
“Unless temperatures fall, no new snow – either manufactured or natural – will emerge,” he said in the release.