The 35rd Annual  Snow Mountain Stampede is one of the highest Nordic Marathons in the country and  the only opportunity for Nordic racers to ski 50K of skate style one day and 50k of Classic the next.  Most people think a marathon is more than enough but can you imagine skiing back to back marathons! Snow Mtn Ranch has a great title for this incredible accomplishment – Ranch Boss – and each finisher of both 50K races received a beautiful 100K belt buckle.  Those who finished both 25k races – Ranch Hand – got a 50K belt buckle.

In the extreme snow conditions we had leading up the weekend, skiing a 50K Skate race on Saturday was a huge undertaking.  Snow storms almost every day dumped feet of fresh powder right up until midnight Friday night. Racers expected a soft slow course but staff at Snow Mtn Ranch groomed the 25K loop over and over packing it in.  It was Shawn Otterson, SMR groomer extraordinaire, who stayed out all night looping the course at least three or four more times that really made the difference. The perfect snow base, the mid-20’s temps, and partly cloudy skies with little wind made for an incredible day of ski racing.   Snow conditions, temperatures, and partly sunny skies repeated for Sunday’s Classic events and racers who did both races, both days really earned their buckles.

Saturday the weather was relatively warm and the sky a bit overcast for the free 2K Kids loop in front of the Nordic Center.  The 50K racers started down in the Pole Creek Valley, looping up Heckman, across Swenson, charging up Gaskill, looping Upper Young to Eagle Valley and screaming down Blue Ridge.  The course looped back to the side of the Nordic Center and back out to circle Keenan, Cranmer and Lynch before lapping in front of the Nordic Center. With the new snow despite the heroic packing efforts, it was still tough conditions and relatively slow going.

Next day dawned cold and crisp for the Classic races starting again with the free kids 2K race. Head groomer Shawn had been out again much of the night packing in the new snow and creating the best classic tracks many of the racers had ever seen. The sun was out, the wind was almost still, and the tracks held up well.  A perfect day for Classic racing! Times were good and racers were feeling great!

The wonderful conditions made an epic weekend than many will never forget – especially the handful of people who skied both the 50K or 100K.  Sure gives me a new appreciation for the term Ironman.

Locals did well and the kids stole the show – Adrien Brower won both the Freestyle and Classic Kids 2K races and took home both award stuffed Bears. Even a three year-old finished the Classic event and was cheered on by the crowd!  Erik Lynch walked away with the 10K Freestyle in 35.09 with locals Wil Cleveland and Guy Granger IV from Granby not far behind.  First for the women was Sylvia Brower from EGMS at 50.45 with Sierra Jameson only a few places behind. Tyler Scholl blew away the competition in the 25K Freestyle crossing the line in 1:24:20 with MPHS assistant coach Dave Cleveland coming in at 1:40:22. First woman was Lillian Marcione finishing in 1:41:41 with locals Marie Ange Anderson, Cyrille Duperret, Vince Call, and Astrid Lampey finishing father back in the pack. The 50K men’s race was won by Daniel Weinberger  in 2:49:04 with first woman Ellie Hands crossing the line in 3:18:35. Nancy Citriglia, Dave Boelter, and JP Lande finished farther back in the pack.

In Sunday’s 10K Classic, Guy Granger IV took the Men’s division in 45.06.  Lydia Tanner led the women finishing in 51:37 while Marie Ange Anderson was third.  Tyler Scholl from MPHS again took the 25K with Sebastian Brower in third place while Erin Quinn-Hurst Hood Way finished first for the women in 1:47:45 with locals Vince Call and Astrid Lampey finishing their ranch Hand buckle. Way out in front for the 50K, Dan Weinberger from Boulder finished in a good 3:09:47 wit first woman Molly Hummel over the line in 3:59:28.  Most 50K finisher were earning their Ranch Boss buckle.

Congratulations to all finishers and thanks to all volunteers!  These races would not have been possible with the dedication of Bill Pierce and his crew at Snow Mtn Ranch with a special shout out to Anne Ellefson, race organizer.  It takes a team of both staff and volunteers many hours of coordination and planning to make it all work. Great job to all of you!!! A very worthwhile event!