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Brown and Powell take Nordic Fest Season Opener

Sun, Oct  23, 2011 - By Mike Muha

A hard frost overnight guaranteed excellent conditions for the Nordic Ski Fest Season Opener sprint race at Brick Wheels in Traverse City on Saturday, October 22, 2011. The cold solidified the 55 trailers of snow cut from an ice rink by a Zamboni and dumped on the race course over the previous seven days. The course was well insulated from the ground by straw and salt was used to further harden the course. The course stayed firm during the entire race, especially from staff efforts to pack the snow with shovels and immediately repair divots.

This was the first ski race of the season in the United States.

Amy Powell on the downhill at the Nordic Fest Season Operner cross country ski race

Amy Powell tucks down the hill at the Nordic Fest Season Opener

Forty-five degrees and bright sun shone down on racers. Each racers did a two lap time trial on the course. The top two in each 10-wide age group had an additional three lap showdown, where one racer started on either side of the course and raced to catch the other. Whoever was further ahead at the end of the three laps or who caught the other racer won.

Finally, there was also a ski-off between the top two women and the top two men, racing as many laps as necessary until one racer caught the other.

The narrow 100 meter course was tricky. There were tight fast corners, undulations, and, if you weren't centered in the lane, grass just off the edge ready to catch a ski tip. The course featured a short steep climb and a short steep decline.

Plenty of falls and amazing recoveries kept spectators entertained.

VASA Ski Club skiers Amy Powell (31.18) and Susan Vigland (33.64) had the top women's times. In the final face-off to the finish, the two women were evenly matched until Vigland decided enough was enough. She climbed the hill, quickly turned around and skied back down at a shocked Powell, who looked up just in time to see a bullet headed her way. Collision avoided, Powell won the day.

Skiing early in the day, Mike Muha held the fastest time until the last skier and home-court skier, Eli Brown, crushed it.

Mike Muha and Eli Brown race for the championship title at the Nordic Fest Season Opener

Mike Muha (foreground) and Eli Brown were evenly matched on the first lap of the ski-off.

In the men's ski-off, Muha and Brown were evenly matched for the first couple laps until Muha caught an edge coming out of a corner and went down. Up instantly, he nevertheless lost his rhythm and was caught by Brown within the next two laps.

Hot dogs, beer, chili, a ski swap and lots more post race skiing was had by all after the race.

Results, Nordic Ski Fest
Saturday, October 22, 2011, Brick Wheels, Traverse City, MI

1 Eli Brown 25.49 VASA
2 Mike Muha 29.78 NSR
3 Chris Weingartz 30.18 SS
4 Ian Durand 30.22 VASA
5 Andrew Bruning 30.27 VASA
6 Kip Knight 30.99 VASA
7 Glenn Goodman 31.05 CCSS
8 Amy Powell 31.18 VASA
9 Andy Rockwood 31.86 VASA
10 Larry Kanaby 32.13 XCSHQ
11 Than Dykstra 32.13 VASA
12 Scott Howard 32.26 VASA
13 Randy Smith 32.62 VASA
14 John Britton 33.25 CCSS
15 Curt Peterson 33.53 VASA
16 Susan Vigland 33.64 VASA
17 Ian Smith 33.81
18 Dell Todd 34.19 GRNST
19 Cassidy Edwards 34.19 VASA
20 Robin Luce 35.33 CCSS
21 Devon Thiefoldt 35.45 XCSHQ
22 Bill Kaltz 35.85 NSR
23 Duane Amato 36.39 VASA
24 Steve Smeigel 36.62 GRNST
25 John Pflughoeft 36.91 VASA
26 Caterina Gulledge 37.01 XCSHQ
27 Laura Webb 37.90 VASA
28 Ernie Brumbaugh 38.42 GRNST
29 Gussie Peterson 38.46 VASA
30 Randy Woods 38.46 VASA
31 Rick Kraai 38.57 GRNST
32 Pete Skellenger 39.86
33 Jim Woodburne 40.16 VASA
34 Ryan Durand 40.47 VASA
35 Brian Reicks 41.71 XCSHQ
36 Nick Amato 41.75 VASA
37 Dan Nolan 41.83 GRNST
38 Hap Wright 42.62
39 Stephanie Dow 45.38 VASA
40 Lauren Pflughoeft 45.98 VASA
41 Frank Rynalski 46.03 XCSHQ
42 Tom Sutter 46.16 VASA
43 Katie Todd 48.62 GRNST
44 Gary Faria 48.76 NSR
45 John O'Hearn 49.61 VASA
46 Spencer Todd 57.08 GRNST
47 Linda McGuinness 70.61 VASA
48 Griffin 107.42
49 Landen Knight* 39.61 VASA