Let's just do the results first this time before we tell the "real story"! Winners of the 20k and 50k races - awesome job and congratulations!:
50K Freestyle - Women
|Erin Lipp||Team NordicSkiRacer||3:04:05|
|Elizabeth Callison||U of Michigan Nordic||3:18:18|
50K Freestyle - Men
|Lars Hallstrom||U of Michigan Nordic||2:39:12|
|Spencer Eusden||Far West Nordic||2:41:09|
|Kyle Hanson||Team NordicSkiRacer||2:49:57|
50K Classic - Women
50K Classic - Men
|Ryan Harris||Hanson Hills / Cross Country Ski Shop||3:21:41|
|Allen Sorgenfrei||Team NordicSkiRacer||3:30:32|
|Theo von Wallmenich||XCHQ||4:33:52|
20K Freestyle - Women
|Mary-Kay Aufrance||Ishpeming Ski Club||1:21:27|
|Jordyn Ross||Grand Rapids Nordic Ski Team||1:28:03|
20K Freestyle - Men
|Jacob Dean||U of Michigan Nordic||1:03:32|
20K Classic - Women
|Carole Mueller-Brumbaugh||Grand Rapids Nordic Ski Team||1:55:09|
20K Classic - Men
10K Freestyle - Women
|Arielle Jean||Traverse City High School Nordic||31:53|
|Ashley Chmielewski||Roscommon Junior Nordic||31:55|
|Gwendolyn Urbain||Traverse City High School Nordic||33:40|
10K Freestyle - Men
|Joseph Thuente||Traverse City High School Nordic||28:01|
|William Haapala||Traverse City High School Nordic||28:44|
|Benjamin Thelen||Traverse City High School Nordic||29:28|
10K Classic - Women
10K Classic - Men
This year's White Pine had the best snow conditions in recent memory! As has been the norm for races this season, temperatures were around freezing, the skate lane was firm and controllable, and the tracks looked great until narrower points of the trail where they were taken out by the skaters. The course had a skate lane with classic tracks to the left and right. I think one of the tracks could have been eliminated after a few k's as the classic skiers spread out, and certainly after the first 10k. You can see from the 20km picture above that both tracks were put to good use earlier in the race!
The trail was widened significantly, letting Shanty Creek use the big groomer over most of the trail system. It was very noticeable - and appreciated!
Aid stations were well-stocked with both water and Hammer Nutrition's HEED.. Alas, I stopped about 14k into the 20k for a HEED, decided to have as second one, and Tony Percha took the opportunity to sneak pass me while I was busy drinking. I spent the rest of the race trying to chase him down, unsuccessfully...
The beginning of the 50k and 20k were pretty snow-free...but a snow storm erupted during the race! No real wind (thank goodness), but it snowed fast and hard, with measurable accumulation on the course. It didn't really slow things down too much.
The only real problem on the course was "chairlift corner" at Schuss, about 10km into the race. You first climb partway up a downhill ski slope, hang a right around some trees, then descend a steep downhill to a chairlift. You have to turn sharply to the left, at speed, to get around the chairlift and through a relatively narrow opening. And the opening is blind: you can't see around the chairlift fencing before you're in the slot...and finding someone down on the snow in front of you.
The White Pine has been forced in the last several years because property owners adjacent to the trail have refused to allow the course through the subdivision.
There were plenty of comments about the turn on Facebook:
I passed one person halfway down as they picked themselves up from a fall, did a fast turn around the chairlift, and found a downed skier next to the fence on the right. Fortunately, my downhill skill are better than average and I got around with no issues.
The White Pine is noticeable for the climbs, and most of those climbs are after the first 10km. In fact, the first 10km is really fun with some long downhills. But the 20km course featured around 1,300 feet of vertical - almost all in the last 10km, and the 50km course was nearly double that: 2,500 feet of vertical. And the 20km and 50km races finish on a moderately steep uphill! It's challenging to keep from going over the redline on some of those climbs.
Overall, the White Pine was great this year, with an awesome post-race party. I'm looking forward to next year's event!