Cross-country skiers got to push themselves on the trails this weekend during the Yukon Ski Marathon on Saturday, starting at Mount Lorne and depending on the distance ending at Mount McIntyre. Chief of race Colin Abbott says the race is a celebration of the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club.
Athletes in the 50-kilometre race and the second half of the relay ended at Mt. Mac.
The skiers competing in the 22-kilometre race and the first leg of the relay ended their day at Wolf Creek.
The Ski Marathon is in its third year after a couple of years in the making and Abbott said the race continues to grow.
“We had about 176 skiers including 20-25 teams from Juneau and one guy from Greenland,” said Abbott. “It is getting to the point where it is established and people are already planning on next year.”
The skiers were able to ski in either the classic technique or the skate technique because it makes it more relaxed, according to Abbott.
“There are lots of great loppets in the communities but they are a lot of classics and not a lot of skates,” said Abbott.
“We wanted to give people the opportunity to skate.”
With the race going from point A to point B instead of a loop back to the start, organizers bussed the athletes to the start line.
“The bus ride out is a draw for people,” said Abbott. “It offers some bonding with the other skiers as well it lessens the stress on parking.”
It was an overcast day on Saturday with temperatures reaching -17 C, however, the snow conditions out on the trails were wonderful, according to the results. The marathon gives skiers the opportunity to ski on an otherwise unused trail.
“People have a chance to ski on a trail only maintained for the race,” said Abbott. “It is the only chance to ski this trail.”
Starting with the 22-kilometre race, Jerome Bossert ran away in the senior male category skiing to a time of 1:31:18.9. Andre Gagne got second in 2:07:23.8.
The senior girls’ race was won by Sara Nielsen, 1:38:40.2, who edged out second place finisher Bryn Knight by two minutes. Third place went to Michelle Christensen in 1:42:38.0.
In the junior male 22-kilometre race two Juneau athletes took first and second. Callahan Croteau came in with a time of 1:52.44 and Leif St. Clair finished with a time of 2:30:10.
Bella Mouchet won the junior female race and finished three minutes ahead of second place finisher Maude Molgat, in a time of 1:31:41. Linnea Lentfer rounded out the top three in 2:03:43.
In the senior male 50-kilometre race, 32 skiers took to the starting line. David Greer was the fastest skier on the day leading from start to finish in a time of 2:32:40. Hot on Greer’s tail was second place finisher Dominic Bradford who got to Mt. Mac in 2:35:24. Caelan Pangman McLean finished 20 seconds behind Bradford for third.
Of the 20 entries in the senior female category, Jane Hollenberg came out on top in 3:03:31. Lucy Steele Masson came second in 3:07:10 and Maura Sullivan, 3:12:03 rounded out the top three.
In the junior male 50-kilometre race it was a photo finished between Curtis Cash and Noah Connell. First place went to Cash whose time of 3:19:44 was four seconds faster than Connell’s. Aleix Toews snagged third in with a time of 3:48:00.
It was another photo finish in the junior female race. Isla Hupe got her ski tip over the end line just before Annie Cable crossed. Hupe finished with a time of 5:14:30.4. Cable’s time was 5:14:30.7.
This was the first year the relay was held at the Ski Marathon because as Abbott said it reflects what people want.
“Relays are a big part of popular events here,” said Abbott. “Yukoners understand relays and were really interested in one. We also don’t want the race to be static, we are always looking at how to tweak it. The relay attracted a lot more people.”
The 50-kilometre open relay was won by Man Ski Episode V: Return of the Jedi or Ashwin Freyne and Abbott. Their combined time was 2:37:42. The Gotas of Anarchy team of Stephen Waterreaus and Dave Brook grabbed second with a total time of 2:37:58 and Man Ski 2: no name yet of Logan Potter and Ian Weir came third in 2:42:16.
The female open relay was won by the Will Ski For Beer Team of Vesta Mather and Jennifer MacKeigan with a combined time of 3:40:10. Haley Digel and Vanessa Scharf teamed up to form Snow Much Fun-Bourbon Nights and came second 10 minutes behind first. S&M made up of Marina Milligan and Heather Milligan came third in 4:15:25.
There was also a 10-kilometre mass start for the squad boys and girls, a race that was new to the Ski Marathon this year.
Felix Masson, Simon Connell, and Louis Mouchet took the podium spots in the boys’ race. Sophia Giangrande took the top spot in the girls’ race. Constance Lapointe and Abigail Jirousek followed.
Abbott and the rest of the organizers are already looking at how they can improve or change the race next year, including making it longer.
“People are really showing an interest in ultra distances,” said Abbott. “If the interest is there we will explore it, maybe to 80-kilometres but it will always end at Mt. Mac.”