I believe I did the first World Masters Race back in the 1980’s when it was held in Cable Wisconsin. The week concluded with the marathon as part of the Birkie Race. My highlight of World Masters back then was our relay team called Michigan Magic. We beat out the Finnish A Team and finished in 11th place. Needless to say, the World Masters has come a long way from those days and this year’s venue in McCall, Idaho is symbolic of the international passion our sport has embraced. The World Masters is staged like a World Cup event and the organization is something to behold.
A fellow employee I work with, who is from Idaho, told me that McCall is so beautiful you should buy a one-way ticket. He is absolutely right, one look at our condo location (see pictures) and you can get an idea of how beautiful this area is. The race course is at Ponderosa State Park which is a little peninsula that jets out into Payette Lake and is surrounded by incredible snow capped mountains. There is so much snow in McCall that the snow plow drifts tower several feet high.
I heard several different opinions of the race course so I will give a combination of mine and several others. The course follows many of the park roads; it is very wide and similar to the Birkie course. The topography is similar to Hanson Hills and is best suited for those who glide well. A strong skier could easily V2 the entire course.
Prior to the first day of the race, the weather reports were ranging from rain to snow. Overnight we received 5 inches of beautiful wet snow and the landscape was absolutely incredible; a typical Rockwell painting scene. The wax conditions were very difficult for the Mens 30 Classic event; the wax of the day was overwhelmingly agreed to as Hairies.
The Russians who had over 100 entries in the World Masters seemed to dominate every age class. Stephen Smiegel seemed to have one of the best Michigan Cup race finishes. Steve placed 12th in a very competitive age class. Randal Bladel, Dell Todd, Tim Triebold, and Lorraine Lund, were some of the other skiers that did the classic race.
The competition is incredible at the worlds. With over 600 Europeans and 600 Americans this is not an event you want to come to if you don’t like to be humbled. On the other hand, to be part of an international experience such as this, in a small western town that has a total of 2000 residents, is a spectacular event. The participants, volunteers and spectators have doubled the size of this small, quaint town. The World Masters is definitely something you want to add to your bucket list.