Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

AND THEY’RE OFF – Marc-Andre Gillis leads the Grey Mountain Lions Don Sumanik Pee- Wee Boys 0.7-km Free Mass Start Saturday.

Skiers compete in Don Sumanik Memorial Races

The Grey Mountain Lions Don Sumanik Memorial Races took place on Saturday and Sunday at Mount McIntyre.

By John Tonin on December 5, 2018

The Grey Mountain Lions Don Sumanik Memorial Races took place on Saturday and Sunday at Mount McIntyre.

Special Olympic, community skiers, and skiers of all ages were encouraged to participate. There were races for everyone starting at age four. Distances varied from 700 metres for the youngest category in free technique and up to 10-kilometres for the Masters category in classic technique.

Chief of Race, Scott Puskas, said the conditions for the races were prime.

“The main thing to take away is the quality of the course,” said Puskas.

“If you look around town there really isn’t snow anywhere, but yet we can still host these events and host them at a high quality.

“The Don Sumanik’s are a really important race for Cross Country Yukon because they set the stage for the older kids, for the selection criteria for all their travelling races. To have a course that is competitive and good enough they can use their good skis such that it is a true test of the athletes and not their skis is really important.”

On Saturday the skate free technique long course used no tracks, and it was all done on natural snow.

“That’s credit to the Whitehorse Ski Club to be able to provide that type of course,” said Puskas. “The feedback from the athletes doing the long course on Saturday, the fact that we have fresh snow when you look in the woods and see no snow, that’s good for the groomers.”

The selection criteria for Nationals is based on how the athletes do at the Don Sumanik’s, as well as the Yukon Championships, making the races highly competitive.

“For a lot of the racers they need to be ready to put in their best effort on that weekend,” said Puskas. “Your juveniles and up, they’re not just looking at what their placing is, but they also get a whole points rating after the fact and that dictates whether they make the travelling team or not.”

Overall, Puskas says that the level of competition was very high.

“The level of skiing is tremendous right now,” said Puskas. “I think the program is really strong in certain categories.”

In the juvenile races on Saturday, Curtis Cash won the 6.6-kilometre free race, completing the race it in a time of 22:25.3.

Maude Molgat won the juvenile girls 6.6-kilometre race with a time of 27:19.2

Derek Dueling won the junior race, of the same distance, crossing the finish with a time of 19:11.6.

Sonjaa Schmidt took the junior girls race in 24:43.6.

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