Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Dustin Cook

LONG WAY TO GO – A group of skiers race across the Annie Lake Golf Course during the 50-km race.

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Photo by Dustin Cook

Jane Hollenberg skis out of the trees during the Yukon Ski Marathon Satur day. Hollenberg won the 50-km women’s race.

Ski marathon separated by less than two seconds

It was a 50-kilometre race that spanned over two hours for the fastest skiers,

By Dustin Cook on March 12, 2018

It was a 50-kilometre race that spanned over two hours for the fastest skiers, but that didn’t stop it from being a tight and exciting Yukon Ski Marathon from beginning to end.

With 68 skiers competing in the long-distance race Saturday, Whitehorse skier Colin Abbott came out on top but only two seconds ahead of Matthias Purdon. Abbott, also the chief of competition for the event, finished in a time of 2:22:41 to win the second annual race.

The long-distance race is different than the many other ski races during the season, Abbott said, as it is a unique point-to-point course from Mount Lorne to Mount McIntyre.

“People like the fact that it’s on trails they don’t normally get to ski. It’s a course that you would never have a reason to ski other than this,” Abbott said ahead of his first-place finish. “We make a point of doing a really good job preparing the trail and I think that draws people in. They know that they’re getting a good quality event.”

The race, organized by the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club, is a chance for local skiers to have a different racing experience.

“We started it mostly to try to have a different style of race than already exists in Whitehorse. There’s no other races that are point-to-point,” he said.

In the 50-km race, Ian Weir rounded out the podium in third place finishing over 11 minutes back of the tight race for first between Abbott and Purdon.

On the women’s side, Jane Hollenberg was the top finisher in the mass start race in a time of 3:01:13/ In another tight finish, Lucy Steele Masson came in second less than a minute behind.

Sara Nielsen took third place just under 13 minutes back of the two leaders.

There was also a 30-km race for younger competitors and those who wanted their first experience of a long-distance race.

The shorter race started at Mary Lake before following the same trail to the Mount McIntyre finish line.

Although shorter, the race was more spread out at the top of the podium with Olivier Roy-Jauvin winning in a time of 1:42:00, over nine minutes ahead of the closest finisher.

Sixteen-year-old Jude Slater came in second place, just eight seconds ahead of Bryn Knight who placed third overall and first in the women’s race.

Justine Scheck and Jan Downing came in second and third place on the women’s side.

In the 30-km junior division, 12-year-old Simon Connell won the eight-competitor boy’s race in a time of 2:03:34. In a recurring theme for the event, the girl’s race saw another tight finish – so close it was a dead heat tie for first place. Constance Lapointe and Maude Molgat tied for first.

With 117 total finishers in both races, Abbott said the numbers have dropped from the inaugural race which had about 150 competitors, but part of that is because this year the Yukon ski team is away at the national championships in Thunder Bay, Ont.

With the ski nationals starting Saturday, the Yukon squad has already been on the podium led by Olympian Knute Johnsgaard. Johnsgaard teamed up with Hannah Deuling to take the bronze medal in the open mixed gender team sprint race.

In the team sprint, Amanda Thomson and Hannah Jirousek finished just off the podium in fourth spot in the girl’s race.

The second race of the competition was the classic race Sunday in which Derek Deuling took the silver medal in the juvenile male 5-km race. Knute Johnsgaard again finished on the podium with the bronze in the 10-km senior men’s classic race.

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