Grand Nordic Corner: Snow Mountain Ranch race shows how much fun competition can be

Diana Lynn Rau
Grand Nordic President
The field was packed at the Snow Mountain Ranch Annual Classic race on Saturday, Jan 14, 2023.
Thomas Doerr/Winter Park Competition Center

Once again, the sun was bright and chilly day was perfect for the Snow Mountain Ranch Annual Classic race last Saturday, Jan. 14. The same course was used for the classic race that was used the week before for the skate race with loops in the Pole Creek meadow below the Legett building and then up and around Audun and Just with their hills, switchbacks and rolling traverses. The tracks were hard and fast and over 100 racers participated in the 15K and 7.5K races, while more in the 3K and family tour took advantage of the excellent grooming. The racing spirit is catching on again and many of the old-timers who have been doing the Annual Classic for years were back and triumphant! The younger racers were excited and challenging the rest of us with their energy and excellent technique — especially when they are barely taller than your shoulder. On another clear blue Colorado day, heaven had again returned to the Fraser Valley!

Parents and kids participate in the Snow Mountain Ranch Annual Classic race on Saturday, Jan 14, 2023.
Thomas Doerr/Winter Park Competition Center

Twenty young racers showed lots of energy in the 3K race, pitting 7-and-under racers against 8- to 10-year-olds and 11 to 13-year-olds on a loop in the Pole Creek Valley. Boulder’s 11-year-old Marat Gilfanov prevailed, finishing in front of second-place Saylor Archie, 10, from the Winter Park Competition Center by over 4 minutes. Keep an eye on 6-year-old William Weinberger, who finished in eighth, less than 12 minutes and 30 seconds back.

With the 60-odd competitors, the 7.5K race was a fight to the finish with Samual Gurarie (24:17) beating out Middle Park High School’s Dane Jensen by a couple ski lengths for first and second overall and Sophie Spaulding beating out Odd Bersvendsen, again by a couple of ski lengths, for third and fourth. Other Middle Park High School racers included Kadin Starr, Sylvia Brower, Adrien Brower, Sophia McGinnis-Smith, and Maia McGinnis-Smith, who had also just raced the day before, and finished in the top of the mix with excellent finishes in the top 15 overall. At age 77, Summit County’s Sharon Crawford finished in 43rd, less than 24 minutes back. The 70s age bracket still has a lot of steam!

Participants take part in the Snow Mountain Ranch Annual Classic race on Saturday, Jan 14, 2023.
Thomas Doerr/Winter Park Competition Center

Junior racer Trey Jones bested the field of 50 skiers in the 15K with a time of 43:20, and Josh Smullen and Eric Meyer just over a minute back. Middle Park High School’s Gray Barker, who had won the high school classic race the day before, was eighth overall, followed by Logan Miyauchi, a Middle Park High School graduate. The top women were Tabor Hemming (55:11), Maria Wik and Tina Gini Larder. At 74, Kenneth Potz led three others to win the 70 and older division at only 30 minutes off the pace.

The smiles were huge and the after-race camaraderie was amazing. It was quite evident people were having fun afterwards, comparing how they slid around this curve or that, how winded they were at the top of the climb, or how they outsprinted the competition to the finish. It was another day of exciting Colorado racing!

A tight field at the Snow Mountain Ranch Annual Classic race on Saturday, Jan 14, 2023.
Thomas Doerr/Winter Park Competition Center

The next race in the series is Saturday, Jan. 21, when the Devils Thumb Stagecoach Classic returns to challenge the classic skier for either a 30K race, 15K race, 15K tour or kids 3K race. Come with a friend and join the fun, races start at 9 a.m.! The series benefits the Grand Nordic Youth Scholarship fund so it is also an investment in the Nordic future of our kids.

Kids at the high school and middle school classic and skate races the day before showed just how much the younger generation is learning when enjoying Nordic Skiing. I was a course marshal at the bottom of Wilson, and then Heckman, for the races and really enjoyed how several coaches brought out the boys to cheer on the girls and girls to cheer on the boys! Such team building and sportsmanship — the spectators were encouraging even those far behind the leaders and that is an important part of why those behind improve. Support is everything, from family, from friends, and even from those you don’t know. Our kids today are looking at a world that is torn by hatred, lies and the power-hungry. They survive because they are supported and encouraged in the right direction by some of the best there is, our coaches and mentors and teachers. My hat is off to them all!

Find more information on the race series and direct links to the individual races at as well as free or low-cost kids programs in January, February, or March at Snow Mountain Ranch, schools and Recreation districts in East Grand. Kids programs are also detailed on Volunteer opportunities to help teach or even just help kids put on their skis and boots at these youth programs are also found on the Grand Nordic website. Grand County offers some of the best programs anywhere because of its volunteers. So come join the family and help out your local school. The kids are amazing!

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