The White Pine Stampede had the snow it's craved for the last four years, with great coverage over the entire course. Conditions softened as more racers skied over the course. After very cold and slow conditions the last two weekends, racers were really happy with fast skiing and temperatures in the high 20's.
An elite pack of three racers broke away from the peloton early in the 40k White Pine Stampede. Milan Baic and Eli Brown, both of Williamsburg, and Jeff Koch from Traverse City skied together for the first 18-19 kilometers. As they neared the halfway point, Baic pushed the pace up the hills. Koch was able to match the pace, but Brown was forced to drop off the back.
(All photos by Lydia Cadena and Cody Surles)
Baic and Koch skied together the rest of the way to the finish. Confident he was climbing a little better then Koch, Baic led the way, beating Koch up the final hill to the finish. Just feet from the finishing line, Koch put in a final push to catch Baic but stumbled and crashed instead. Milan won in 1:44:35, with Jeff picking himself up and sheepishly crossing the finish line in 1:44:46. Eli Brown, skiing alone for the entire second half of the race, finished third in 1:50:44.
Jeff Koch "That didn't quite go as planned"
Cassidy Edwards from Cedar was the top women skier, finishing first in 2:10:26. Jen Tiles of Spring Lake took second in 2:11:02. Susan Vigland was third in 2:14:47.
In the 40k Classic, Tracy Hardin easily won in 2:39:55 and, in fact, was 9th overall among all women racers - skaters and classic skiers combined. Carole Mueller-Brumbaugh was second in 3:22:47, followed by Kathy Garvin in 3:32:16.
Sean Kelly of Southbend, Indiana took first in the 40k Classic Men's race, winning in 2:31:54. Jim Anderson came in second in 2:41:28. Dave De Back was third with a time of 2:45:05.
Amy Powell from Lake Ann skied away from the competition to take first in the 20k Freestyle in 57:22. In fact, she was so fast that she finished 6th overall among all men and women racing the 20k. Bridget Carefoot and Karen Gerlando, both of Traverse City, finished 2nd and 3rd in 1:06:31 and 1:07:59.
Amy Powell gets the victory in the 20k.
In another close finish, Williamsburg's Ross Williams battled Jim Harrington of Petoskey, taking first place by 1 second, 53:58 to 53:59. Scott Diment of Williamsburg was third in 56:19.
Ross Williams (1002) battles Jim Harrington for the 20k win
In the classic division, Emily Flynn had an easy victory with a time of 1:15:12. Marnie Sutter finished second in 1:31:03, followed by Amanda DeGraeve in 1:33:16.
Kip Knight was the top classic man, winning in 1:09:38. Rick Jaissle and Jim Mowry followed in 1:12:26 and 1:13:35.
Traverse City's Lauren Pflughoeft was the fastest female in 31:09. A couple minutes behind and just a second apart were Sarah Goble from Harbor Springs and Brady Brennan of East Jordan with times of 33:18 and 33:19.
Evan Cover was the fastest skier in the 10k, finishing in 25:16. Andrew Burning was second in 26:42, with Josh Lance taking third in 27:35.
Emily Steffke, Hannah Steffke, and Julie Alton were the top three female classic skiers, finishing in 43:42, 48:36, and 50:51. For the men, Sam Steffke was first in 43:56, followed by Alex Ottimer (44:03) and Scott Smith (44:48).