White Pine Stampede Conditions: A Big Smile on Everyone's Face!
Confounding expectations of freezing cold weather and sandpaper-like frost snow on the trail - if there was snow at all, the race started under a windless and sunny skies with temperatures in the high single digits. The trail was immaculately groomed to a firm consistency, nice hard tracks were set, and the course was surprisingly fast, with the winner of the 20Km Freestyle finishing in about 47 minutes.
A pack of skiers finishing the 20km Freestyle event (Photo by Mike Muha)
The general consensus was "What a great course!"
As you probably know, the weeks leading up to the White Pine Stampede were mostly snowless. The vast majority of the snow only fell on the course in the week leading up to the race. The lack of snow led race organizers to eliminate the 20km and 50km races in favor of a single 10km race. Later in the week as snow fell, they added the 20km event back in to the mix.
The start area is just out the back door of the Mancelona High School gym, where a race breakfast was in full bore. The 9 km section of course leading to Schuss Mountain was freshly groomed with an inch or two of light fresh lake effect snow on top. Early classic skiers packed the tracks for later skiers.
Start of the 10km event. Skiers wearing wearing black & gold are from Traverse City Central HS; those in black, green & gold are from Traverse City West Senior High (Photo by Kim Ciesla)
At Schuss, the course split into a 1km trail to the finish line (for 10km finishers) and a 4.5 km loop that 20km racers did first before heading to the finish line. The course at Schuss was freshly groomed just before race, packing all the fresh snow, including in the tracks. The tracks seemed to be as fast or faster then the skate area of the trail.
Hannah Ciesla, fastest female in the 10km and Junior Champion. Hannah had the 6th fastest time overall of all competitors in the event. (Photo by Kim Ciesla)
And the Winners are...
In an exciting finish, Steve Kuhl (Team NordicSkiRacer.com) held off Traverse Nordic's Milan Baic by 1 second to take the victory. Hugh Pritchard (also of Team NordicSkiRacer.com) was only 1 second behind Milan!
Overall 20K Winners:
Overall 10K Winners: