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North American Vasa welcomes new Race Director

Fri, Nov  22, 2013 - By Pete LaPlaca

Traverse City, MI - The VASA Board has named Doug Dowdy the 2014 Race Director for the 38th Annual North American VASA Ski Races to be held February 8-9 on the VASA Trail in Traverse City, Michigan. VASA President Pete LaPlaca announced today. As the new race director of the North American VASA, Dowdy has 26 years of experience in college athletics as well as a leadership role on the M-22 Challenge.

“Being a part of the VASA allows me the opportunity to directly promote outdoor physical activity in the middle of another great Northern Michigan winter” said Dowdy. Dowdy replaces Lisa Taylor who headed up the races from 2010 through 2013. “It is clear that under Lisa’s direction since 2010, the continued goal of putting on another great race will be almost a “turn-key” process which has been well documented by an awesome director and leader”, Dowdy said.

Now in its 38th year, the VASA is held each February in the pinewoods of Traverse City, Mi. This year's event is scheduled for February 8-9. The Saturday race, which features 6K, 12K, 27K and 50K loops for freestyle, and 12K and 27K for classic styles, is one of 16 U.S. events listed in the prestigious American Ski Marathon Series, where most of the nation's elite and professional ski racers compete. Sunday's 6K & 16K traditional-style race, the Gran Travers Classic, is an equally prestigious event for old-school Nordic skiers, and one of the events in the Michigan Cup classic race series. This year, race organizers have added the King Vasa Fat Bike Race, which will allow competitors to participate in as many as three events during the weekend.

The VASA is held on the TART Trail, a managed and groomed trail system. Through fund-raising efforts of the 501(c)(3) organization, the trail winds through 60K in the dense pines and hardwoods of Michigan's Pere Marquette State Forest, just east of Traverse City. Since 2005, the start and finish lines for the various events have been at Timber Ridge RV and Recreation Resort, whose trails connect to the main Vasa system. In addition to the nearly 800 skiers, spectators come to watch the race and enjoy the festivities that surround it. Over the past three decades, the Vasa has become a tradition of winter life in Traverse City, and almost everyone in the community seems to participate in it one way or another.

“It is an honor and I am especially grateful to be chosen to work alongside a great group of “Team Chiefs” and the hundreds of local volunteers that make the event possible. Without the community support we receive, it would be impossible to stage such a time honored event,” said Dowdy.

The festival actually begins the day before the main race with registration, social time, and Fat Bike and Ski Demos. On Friday evening, there's an annual "Vasa Pasta" dinner, a classic pre-race meal presented as a fund-raiser by the high school’s Nordic Ski team. The races include the 50 km Classic start at 8:00 am; the 27 km Freestyle start at 9:06 am; the 50 km Freestyle at 9:12 am; the 12 km Classic and Freestyle start at 12 :48 am; the Jr. VASA Freestyle/Classic races, a series of 1km and 3 km competitions for children ages 4-15 start at 12:30 pm.

"Junior Vasa skiers will be the Vasa skiers of the future," said the Vasa's President Pete LaPlaca. "Hopefully they'll remember the fun they had on skis in this event, and continue the sport for their entire lives. The smiles on these kid's faces are our reward."On Sunday, the course is re-groomed and turned over to traditional-style skiers. The Gran Travers’ Classic race, which starts at 9 a.m., features 6km and 16km loops on a double tracked trail.

For information about the North American Vasa contact North American VASA, 1218 Anderson, Traverse City, MI 49686; phone #231-938-4400; Fax #231-941-5334; and by email: vasainfo@vasa.org