Grit, insanity at Snow Mountain Ranch, where the toughest skied 100K |

Grit, insanity at Snow Mountain Ranch, where the toughest skied 100K

Diana Lynn Rau
For Sky-Hi News
Skiers starting the 25K skate race at the Snow Mountain Ranch Stampede last weekend. Grand County racers were among the top finishers.
Diana Lynn Rau/Courtesy Photo

The excitement of Nordic ski racing is at a height when you have the choice of a 12.5-kilometer, 25k or 50k race all within your realm of possibility in one day. If you like competition, that excitement doubles when you can do one of those lengths on classic skis and one on skate skis in the same weekend.

Such was the case at Snow Mountain Ranch, which hosted the highest-altitude marathon in the United States last weekend. If you have the endurance, the ultimate challenge is to do a skate race one day and the same distance on classic skis the next.

Some 28 hard-core athletes tackled just that over two days of racing on March 12 and 13. They all reached deep, some struggled, but they finished both races. Those who did earned their silver 50k or 100k belt buckles to prove it. Everyone who completed this feat needs to be congratulated two times over, like locals like Patrick Brower and Vince Call who did the combined 50k, and Nancy Citriglia who nailed the 100k.

The Stampede 50k course was four laps of a 12.5k loop over some of the Snow Mountain Ranch’s finest trails. The excellent grooming came courtesy of Shawn and crew Corey and Noah. Corey even skied the 25k Classic, finishing fourth in his age group.

Saturday dawned cloudy, with temps in the teens with the kids race starting things off on skate, otherwise known as freestyle, day. Marat Gilfanov edged out Kaisa Wik to win the traveling trophy bear, almost as big as he is, in one of two races that day. Then groups of 50k racers, 25k racers and tourers, and 12.5k racers took off as the sun broke through the cloud cover.

Samuel Gurarie won the 12.5k men’s race in 37 minutes, 35 seconds; Peter Valentyik and Mason Cruz-Abrams followed closely behind. Kajsa Wik led the women with a time of 49.28, with Amber Ryholm and Wren Capra in close pursuit. Locals like Ewan Gallagher, Kadin Starr, and Adrien Brower were just out of the money, while Luca and Saylor Archie (age 6) were mid-pack.

The biggest race of the day was the 25k freestyle. Jamie Mothersbaugh won the men’s race in 1:18.01, edging out Cooper Willsey and Jeff Paulson. Sadie Cotton was hot on his heels as the first women’s finisher, in 1:23.47, and Emily Pickner (photo finish!) and Revae Huyette came behind her. Locals Patrick Brower and Vince Call were second and first in their age groups.

The near-photo finish of the top three men in 50K pack was thrilling; the top three led the pack all the way. Matt Rossman, at 2:30.04, edged out Jonah Steinberg and Dan Weinberger, and all finished within 15 seconds of each other. Molly Hummel led the 50k women in 3:03.12, with Lillian Marcione and Maria Wik a few minutes behind. Local Nancy Citriglia finished third in her age class.

Sunday dawned sunny but cold for the kids’ race which Marat Gilfanov won once again. The other classic races began as temps warmed. Local Ewan Gallagher led the 12.5k men’s race finishers… Sunday 12k first place finisher Laura Fiddler was right behind with a time of 44.12 (locals Silvia Brower and Sophie McGinnis Smith on her heels). Local Marie-Ange Anderson won her age class surrounded by Luca and Saylor Archie. Local Molly Johnson was first in her age group while JoAnn Weaver was fourth in hers.

The 25k Classic was again the largest race of the day and Jamie Mothersbaugh won it in 1:27.00. He was followed by Joseph LaMonte and Jeff Paulson, who edged out the first woman finisher, Sierra Jech in 1:49.13. Erin Quinn-Hurst Hood and Amber Dagel followed her. Locals Patrick Brower and Vince Call were second in their respective classes—both completing both days of racing.

Tracks held up well for the 50K classic in a runaway win by Ryan Sederquist in 2:38.17 followed by Jesse Wilkins and Sam Troge. The first woman was Molly Hummel at 3:40.52, well ahead of Hanna Hejduk and local Nancy Citriglia. Big ups to these ladies. Like Brower and Call, all three completed 100k of racing.

Four women and 13 men won the 50k belt buckles awarded for two days of racing 25ks each. And three women and eight men won 100k belt buckles for completing two days of racing the 50k distance. Congratulations for a tremendous job well done by all, and special thanks to Cheryl Allen, Todd Lodwick, MaryAnne Degginger and groomers from SMR for organizing the races and all the volunteers.

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