It was a bad day for cross country skiers in Michigan: The warm weather pretty much closed all the trails and the SISU Ski Fest race in Ironwood was cancelled. But one ski trail, Buck's Run at Huron Meadows Metropark in Brighton, MI, and one race, the REI Frosty Freestyle, was open to all comers.
By making dense snow with it's snow gun in the weeks leading up the race and packing it in place on the trail, the course survived a week of warm weather and a night of heavy rain. Snow over the course was 4-12" deep, except for the trail leading from Buck's Run back to the ski lodge and finish area where it was a little thinner. And the snow was firm, not slushy or fluffy. In fact, for the kids race, it was a bit icy even though the temperature had been in the 40's and 50's for the past 24 hours. The course loosened for the 5k and 12k racers.
The Frosty Kids Race
Twenty-seven kids ages 4-11 raced one or two laps around a 400 meter track set on the REI Frosty Freestyle race course. Many kids kept right on going around after they finished because they were having so much fun! Frosty the Snowman also raced, leading the kids out. It was a tough race, with several of the kids beating Frosty to the finish line.
Frosty the Snowman getting ready to lead the kids out at the SELCRA Frosty Kids cross country ski race, presented by Green Oak Village Place Mall. (Photo: Mike Muha)
The kids race started in the woods rather than the designated start line because the woods had a little softer snow at 9:30am, while the main start/finish areas were still icy.
Spectators were aplenty, and pictures and videos were taken everywhere along the course.
The 5K race started at 10:30am, an hour after the beginning of the kids race. Each racer had to complete four loops of the course. The top three skiers, all skaters, were initially disqualified when a race official thought they couldn't possibly have skied that fast and must have missed a lap. Nope, these young women between the ages of 14 and 19 were simply rocket ships during the race!
Sarah Goble of East Lansing was the top women and top skier overall in the 5K, finishing in 12:41. Ellen Wiitalla from Ann Arbor was second, just four seconds back, in 12:45. Just 15 seconds behind her was Oliva Cook from Ohio Nordic near Cleveland.
Sarah Goble crosses the finish line in the 5k Frosty Freestyle in first place.
The top male in the 5k, also a skater, was Sarah Goble's younger brother, Reid Goble, winning in 12:46. This is not too surprising given their parents, John and Tracy Goble, have been racing for years. In second place was Garrett Ruffner of Tecumseh in 16:09, followed by Ohio skier Will Schneider just a few seconds back in 16:15.
In the Classic division, Amy Kostrzewa from Northville was the fastest women, winning in 22:17. Howell's Julie Johanningsmeier was second in 24:49, followed by Yuliya Reusze of Brighton in 25:30.
In the Men's classic division, Aaron Croff's 20:13 time took first place. Doug Johanningsmeier of Howell was second in 24:33, just holding off Ypsilanti's Hal Wolfe who finished in 24:44.
The original 15K race, scored for Michigan Cup points, was shorted to 12K, or 10 laps around the course. The race was shortened because race officials - with good reason - thought racers would have a hard enough time counting to 10 while in oxygen debt.
And of course, errors happened, including the top racers skiing an 11th lap by accident! Even skiing the extra lap, the top few racers still lapped everyone on the course.
Ryan Harris (Hanson Hills/Cross Country Ski Shop) won the 12k in 30:14, followed by Dan Yankus (Team Priority Health/Team NordicSkiRacer), who fell twice in the race and still managed to finish just a few seconds behind in 30:33. Ken Dawson (Team NordicSkiRacer) was officially third in 31:03, ahead of several other skiers who raced an extra lap so finished later.
The top pack of racers who did an extra lap were Ryam Harris, Dan Yankus, Alison Crocker, Alex Vanais, Steve Smigiel Jr., and Jon Morgan. Ken Dawosn was the first skier to get the laps right.
Dan Yankus on his way to a second place finish. (Photo: Scott Hoffner)
What was mainly on the minds of the top male skiers was, "Who's that women on our tails?" Alison Crocker, stayed with the top men and was the fastest female in 31:34, even after skiing an extra lap, dethroning three-time Frosty Freestyle champion Cheryl Darnton of Ann Arbor and beating the vast majority of the men. Darnton finished second in 33:34, followed by Kaitlyn Patterson (Cross Country Ski Headquarters) in 34:43. (College student Patterson was also the lucky winner of the most expensive door prize, a pair of rollerskis from RollerskiShop.com).
Rhodes Scholar Alison Crocker skied at Dartmouth and raced for the US at Junior Worlds, U-23s, and the World Cup, and is now a member of the Team USA Orienteering. (see a nice profile on the Team USA site and also her FIS skiing biography). She's now doing a post-doc at the University of Michigan. Welcome the Michigan Cup skiing Alison!
In the Classic divisions, Zbigniew Zlobicki was the fastest male in 34:53. Adam Danes of Northville was second in e48:30, followed by Anthony Heap in 50:12.
For the women, Katharine Atto was first in 1:09:35, ahead of Brigid Kahn who finished in 1:09:36.