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Hanson Hills Team Time Trial: great trail, cold temps, pickled herring

Fri, Jan  8, 2016 - By Mike Muha

It may have been a little on the cold side, but it didn't keep almost a 100 skiers from racing and eating at the Hanson Hills Team Time Trial. in Grayling on Saturday, January 7, 2017. The low key event was really a social event + training + a little competition. Relays teams of three skiers raced loops on the Hanson Hills Recreation Area cross country ski trails. The team with the most laps after six hours of skiing wins.

The race started at 10am with a mass start. Relay teams used all sorts of strategies:

  • Trade off to a new skier each loop
  • Each skier does two or more loops before trading off.
  • Each skier skis for a set time before trading off
  • Some combination of above.

It sort of depended on your goals: going for a win or high place, use the event for distance training, just go our and have fun. On my relay team (Rogue Nation), both Charles Moore and Frank Nizio wanted to do a steady two-hour ski, and it was after 2:00pm before I actually started racing! (I spent the first two-and-a-half hours skiing with other racers, helping with their technique. Needless to say, my race leg was slow, particularly since I also stuffed myself on pot luck food...)

Start of the Hanson Hills Team Time Trial

At least two skiers had never cross country skied before racing in this event! Team Nordic SkiRacer's Rylee Robinson pulled along cross country running teammates Katie Osika and Kate Petsch to Hanson Hills to (1) learn to ski and (2) race on her relay team, Girls Stridin' 'N Glidin'. As Robinson skied the first leg, I gave Osika and Petsch a quick lesson in classic skiing, including climbing and descending. Fit runners, natural athletes, and competitive, they were ready to go for their legs of the relay.

That took a lot of guts on a day when the temperature was in the single digits, AND they had never skied before. Kupos, Katie and Kate!

The course was in excellent condition, with deep firm tracks for the classic skiers and a firm skate lane with a soft cover for the skaters. The track was actually faster than the skate lane, and a number of skaters jumped in the track on downhills.

Every two hours, the course would be shortened. Strategy: Have strong skiers ski the early legs and slow skiers the shorter legs? Could I time my leg so that I'd get to the turn off on the shorter course just as the course markers were moved.

Did I say "pot-luck"? There was a ton of food, the highlight being Randy Bladel's pickled herring: "This is great herring. This will make you a great skier". (The herring actually WAS pretty good. Everyone should try it next year if Randy brings it back.)

Besides the herring, there were crock-pots galore (spicy venison chili was one of my favorites), smoked fish, salads, cheese crackers - Director Justin Andre had to round up a dozen long extension cords to spread the crock-pot electrical load to multiple circuits.

You probably want to know who won

Hanson Hills/Cross Country Ski Shop's "The HH 'Girls" of Ann Wagar, Tracy Hardin, and Brenda Carlson Brown powered through 18 laps to take the women's title.

Two teams tied with 20 laps for the co-ed title: team "Good on Kerr" featuring Glenn Goodman, Cliff OnThank, and Kathleen Kerr; and "Booty & the Beasts" featuring Grand Rapids Nordic Ski Team's Don Camp, Jordyn Ross, and Stephen Smigiel.

Vasa Ski Club's John O'Hearn, Ben Lannin, and Sam Holmes skied the most laps of any team (21) and took the men's title.


NumRelay Team NameMember 1Member 2Member 3MI Cup TeamTotal Laps
19 THE HH 'GIRLS' Ann Wagar Tracy Hardin Brenda Carlson Brown HH/CCSS 18
4 CYCLING CISTERS Amelia Wilks Daryl Allison Busch Anna Cairins Vasa 10
25 LAST MINUTE Sandy Nowak Nicole Owens Amy Mahaffy N/A 8
21 S.R.B. FOXES Carole Merwin Leigh Whetstone Jean Murray XC SKI HQ 5
31 GIRLS STRIDIN' 'N GLIDIN' Rylee Robinson Katie Osika Kate Petsch Nordic Ski Racer 5


NumRelay Team NameMember 1Member 2Member 3MI Cup TeamTotal Laps
5 GOOD ON KERR Glenn Goodman Cliff OnThank Kathleen Kerr Vasa 20
14 BOOTY & THE BEASTS Don Camp Jordyn Ross Stephen Smigiel GRNST 20
3 HOG WILD RACING #1 Mike Davis Rebecca Davis Bruce Barton HH/CCSS 18
24 TOO HOTT Larry Kanaby Mariah Frye Colie Ryan Harris XC SKI HQ 18
12 BEAT THE COLD Cheryl Darnton Mike Temkin Bill Ivan XC SKI HQ 17
6 LIVIN THE DREAM Jill Seager Christine Seager Steve Seager HH/CCSS 16
16 JEB Juli Bladel Bob Triebold Ernie Brumbaugh GRNST 15
30 R3 Ryan Robinson Ryan Robinson Michelle Robinson Nordic Ski Racer 10
33 SOONER THAN LATER Devon Thielfoldt Frank Ryanalski Linda Weeks XC SKI HQ 10
28 BEAR RABBITS Renee Curtis Walt Johnson N/A N/A 7
7 NOUVEAU WABBITS Deb Godmer Rex Blair Julie Johanningsmeier Nordic Ski Racer 6
32 3 LAME DUCKS Spencer Ruffner Julie Hewlett Garrett Ruffner Nordic Ski Racer 4



NumRelay Team NameMember 1Member 2Member 3MI Cup TeamTotal Laps
13 RACEDINGO John O'Hearn Ben Lannin Sam Holmes Vasa 21
9 OLD MEN IN LYCRA Jim Beebe Randy Bladel Greg Worshop GRNST 19
11 YINZERS Jason Zimmerman Jon Kruper Alan Houga XC SKI HQ 19
23 ONLY 1 WORKING John Gravlin Bob Smith Jim Anderson HH/CCSS 19
2 W.O.R.S.T. 1 Scott Przystas Mark Salik Shannon Mitchell GRNST 18
8 3-HUPS Tim McClure Rodger Moak Fred Mills HH/CCSS 17
18 BUTT KICKERS Jukka Pietila Mike Seaman Rob Cool GRNST 17
20 CHILLY WILLIES John Hubbard Theo VonWallmenich Scott Baker XC SKI HQ 17
10 SENIOR MOMENTS Michael Bourassa Robin Luce Cris Jones HH/CCSS 16
15 OLD DOGS Steve Smigiel Dan Nolan Peter Johnson GRNST 16
17 SUPER TURTLES Steve Witt Adam Steuer Bill Mahaffy XC SKI HQ 12
29 TEAM WHITE BEARD Tom Wernette Mark Smith Larry Hebert XC SKI HQ 12
22 TEAM 22 Arne Ulbrich Jon Hunter Ron Baker XC SKI HQ 11
26 ROGUE NATION Charles Moore Frank Nizio Mike Muha Nordic Ski Racer 11
1 REBEL FORCE William Kaltz Tony Percha Doug Cornell Nordic Ski Racer 9
27 TEAM KILLROY Sean Brabant Kyle Stonehouse Danny Medina N/A 3