Cold, soft and slow were the three words used to describe the 2011 edition of the Cote Dame Marie Ski Loppet at Hanson Hills Recreation Area on Saturday, January 22, 2011. After a week of lake effect snow, then a drop in temperature into the high single digits, the course was exceptionally slow for skiers, especially for the first lap of the 30k Michigan Cup Men's race. Several skiers described that first 15k lap as "brutal". Enough skiers had packed and transformed the snow so the second lap was faster and easier and "slightly less brutal". As Bill Kaltz put it, "The squeak got a little quieter on the second lap."
15k Michigan Cup Women trying to stay warm on the staring line. Winner Amy Powell is number 506 (All photos by Justin Andre).
In the 30k Michigan Cup Men's race, Milan Baic took his second victory of the season, finishing first in 1:30:03.9, just ahead of Jeff Koch (1:30:06.4). John Gravlin finished third in 1:37:15.8.
Amy Powell took first in the 15k Michigan Cup Women's race in 54:23.9. Second and third were Susan Vigland (55:51.0) and Tracy Hardin (58:25.8).
Denny Paul (470) leading a train through the woods
In the Junior 15k race, Grayling's C.J. Karas (48:39.0) was the top female. Ian Durand (35:53.0) bested Garrett Gabalis (37:58.3) and William Haig (48:51.0) for first.
In the Citizen's 15k Skate, Josh Sheldon had the fastest men's time (58:41.8) followed by Peter Romeo (59:27.9) and Joe Siefert (1:03:24.7). Fastest women was Erika Van Engen in 1:40:06.8, followed by Donna Frank (from Fisherville, KY!) in 2:01:51.3)
Doug Cornell leads Steve Seager down a hill
George Gambert won the overall Citizen's Classic 15k in 1:29:47.2. Thomas Grossman and Greg Mills finished second and third in 1:32:21.7 and 1:35:02.1.
There was also a kids race on Friday night on the 2km lighted trails of the Cross Country Ski Shop in Grayling. Twenty-seven kids ranging in age from 5 to 15 raced, taking anywhere from a little over 7 minutes to almost 26 minutes to complete the course.
2011 COTE DAME MARIE RESULTS
Start of the Friday night kids race at the Cross Country Ski Shop
The "Cote Dame Marie" name comes from a hill range located on the Hanson State Game Refuge/Camp Grayling Military Reservation and has WWI significance. In 1918 the German Army's last line of defense was the Hindenburg Line. The key to breaking the German line were two hills-the Cote Dame Marie and the Cote de Chatillion. The Michigan 126th Regiment found a gap in the barb wire fortifications but was pinned down by German machine gun fire. Captian Edward Strom then led seven men to find another gap. After finding a gap they attacked up a steep hill inn a single rush without loss of life. A full assault followed and the Hindenburg line was pierced.