The last year has been crazy with Covid19 fears, restrictions, and losses. People have been couped up at home, unable to go to work even if their work stayed open. Schools learned to cope with kids and teachers forced to work from home and sometimes in-person classes. Creative people worked in person in small groups, with masks and social distancing, and some have created new businesses from old.
Tourism and many local businesses suffered and people feared virus transmission thru gatherings of people they did not know. But local people embraced the Grand County outdoors as their playground and the Nordic community blossomed. We made adjustments to the normal way we operated but it was easy to spread out people in thousands of acres – and Nordic was a family activity or small group activity!
Nordic has been able to keep our family and friend groups and traditions alive through the worst of the pandemic just by the very nature of Nordic. After the highest spikes in local Covid issues passed and medical personnel started getting a handle on precautions and treatments as vaccines became available, the Nordic world has even been able to hold Treks and races – spread out of course but still challenges. People find a way to continue traditions.
The longest running tradition in Grand County Nordic circles is the Snow Mountain Ranch Stampede started in 1984 by Jim and Nancy Young. Last year was to be the 37th Annual Stampede but it was cancelled due to Covid19 closing the Nordic Center and the entire YMCA prior to the race. Since Covid19 is still a concern, 2021 organizers enforced masks and social distancing around the Nordic Center and small group starts for both the Freestyle and Classic days. The free kids 2km Freestyle race Saturday at 9am was the largest group ever with over 40 kids from age 3-15 participating. Grand Nordic gives a large stuffed bear to the race winner on both freestyle and classic days – Saturday local Kadin Starr skated to out-sprint the huge field. On Sunday Denverite Lucas Wik outskied a much smaller classic field to claim the second huge bear and then went on moments later to take second in the 10km Mens Classic.
Several years ago, the Stampede became a two-day race weekend. It was the only opportunity in the country to ski back-to-back marathons – 50km or more each day. That is over 31 miles each day! Skiers who finished both days received a special Ranch Boss buckle to celebrate their achievement. This year top ranking female Ranch Boss skier was Hana Hejduk and top-ranking male Ranch Boss skier was Ryan Sederquist. Also completing both 50km races were female Jitka O’Farrell and males Eric Meyer, Chris Marcione, Ryan Berry, Tom Saele, Dave Bijur, Greg Molenaar, and Odd Bersvendsen.
And what a difference a day makes! Saturday was moderately warm and sunny with a beautiful packed trail, perfect for Freestyle skiing. The grooming was impeccable… Saturday Freestyle 50km top male finishers were Dan Weinberger, Eric Meyer, and Ryan Sederquist while top women finishers were Jill Sorrensen, followed by Lillian Marcione and Hana Hejduk. Then the much-heralded snowstorm moved in Saturday evening laying down overnight many inches of heavy snow that still was blown in the wind! The Classic skiers had their work cut out for them. Sunday Classic 50km top male skiers were Ryan Sederquist, followed by Chris Marcione, and Eric Meyer. Top female finishers were Hana Hejduk followed by Jitka O’Farrell. Hats off to everyone who finished that day – that was a huge feat in itself.
Skiers also completed in the 25km race each day to earn the Ranch Hand Buckle. Top women Ranch Hand was Maria Wik as well as Helen Carlsen, Marie-Ange Anderson, Kiki Silver, Kristin Brousseau, and Sharon Crawford. Top male Ranch Hand was Jamie Mothersbaugh followed by Michael West, James Urbonas, Peter Girard, and Mark Moll. Saturday Freestyle 25km top male finishers were Jamie Mothersbaugh followed by Michael West and James Urbonas while top female finishers were Maria Wik, Kiki Silver, and Marie-Ange Anderson. Sunday Classic 25km male top finishers were Michael West followed by Jamie Mothersbaugh, and Patrick Brower while top finishers for females were Maria Wil, Helen Carlsen, and Traci Macnamara McCoy.
The 10km Freestyle male race Saturday was led by Peter Valentyik, Matthew Mosca, and Lucas Wik and female race by Zoe Silver, Kajsa Wil, and Nora Quatrachi. Both races were finished by Lucas Wik, Colby West, Cyrille Duperret, Zoe Silver, Kajsa Wik, Nora Quatrachi, Anne Gallager West, Riley Silver and JoAnn Weaver.
Congratulations to all finishers…