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Lisa Taylor named Vasa Race Director

Mon, Oct  26, 2009 - By Vasa

Traverse City, October 19, 2009 - The VASA Board has named Lisa Taylor the 2010 Race Director for the 35th Annual North American VASA Ski Races to be held February 13 on the VASA Trail in Traverse City, Michigan.  VASA Board President Pete LaPlaca announced today.

As the new race director of the North American VASA, Taylor adds to her list of coordinating area running  events including the National Cherry Festival 5K and 15K races and long-time Aid Station Coordinator for the Traverse City Track Club’s Bayshore Marathon and Half Marathon, and 10K.  Taylor sees her role as another outlet for promoting an active lifestyle in northern Michigan.  

“Being a part of the VASA allows me the opportunity to directly promote outdoor physical activity in the middle of another great Northern Michigan winter” said Taylor, who added, “With the nearly 3,000 runners of the Cherry Festival Races, the nearly 5,000 runners of the Bayshore Races, being director of VASA will offer the chance to reach an additional 800-1000 people at a time when getting out and being active is more challenging.”

Taylor replaces Bryce Dreeszen who headed up the races from 2007 through 2009.  

“It is clear that under Bryce’s direction since 2007, the continued goal of putting on another great race will be almost a “turn-key” process which has been well documented by an awesome director”, Taylor said.

VASA Board President Pete LaPlaca said; “ We are delighted to have Lisa on the Vasa team. She has a terrific background as a race organizer, coach and elite  athlete.  Lisa has limitless energy and enthusiasm and is an excellent motivator with strong interpersonal skills. We are very confident that she will build on the great success the VASA has enjoyed under Bryce Dreeszen’s leadership.”

Now in its 35th year, the VASA is held each February in the pinewoods of Traverse City, Mich. (This year's event is scheduled for February 13-14.)  The Saturday race, which features 12K, 27K and 50K loops for freestyle, and 12K and 27K for classic styles, is one of 14 U.S. events listed in the prestigious American Ski Marathon Series, where most of the nation's elite and professional ski racers compete. Sunday's 16K traditional-style race, the Gran Travers Classic, is an equally prestigious event for old-school Nordic skiers, and one of the events in the Michigan Cup classic race series.

Over the past decade, race organizers have added a wide range of other events for skiers of all shapes, ages and skill levels:  

New VASA events for 2010  include  a Grand Champion award given to the male and female skiers with the best combined time for the 50k Freestyle race and the 16km classic race. In addition, a Reserve Grand Champion award will go to the top male  and female with the best time for the 27km freestyle race and the 16km classic. Each winner will receive a pair of skis provided by the Cross Country Ski Shop in Grayling and the Cross Country Ski Headquarters in Roscommone, respectively.

Another new event for 2010 will be a Valentines Day Tour beginning at noon on Valentine’s Day, Sunday Feb. 14th. Skiers will have the opportunity to ski at their leisure with their friends or sweethearts. Music and special treats will be provided and proceeds will benefit a local charity.

The VASA is held on the TART Trails Inc. managed and groomed trail system.  Through fund-raising efforts of the 501c3 organization, the trail  winds through 60K in the dense pines and hardwoods of Michigan's Pere Marquette State Forest, just east of Traverse City. Since 2005, the start and finish lines for the various events have been at the Timber Ridge RV and Recreation Resort, whose trails connect to the main Vasa system.

In addition to the nearly 800 skiers, spectators come to watch the race and enjoy the festivities that surround it. Over the past three decades, the Vasa has become a tradition of winter life in Traverse City, and almost everyone in the community seems to participate in it one way or another.

“I’m especially grateful to be working with such a great group of “Team Chiefs” and the hundreds of local volunteers that make the event possible. Without the community support we receive, it would be  impossible to put on such a time-honored event”, said Taylor.

The festival actually begins the week before race weekend with the VASA Sprints at the Warehouse District on Feb. 7th.  Registration begins at noon on Friday, Feb. 12th followed by the  annual "Vasa Pasta" dinner, a classic pre-race meal put onas a fund-raiser  by the high school Nordic Ski team.

The races include the27 km Classic start at  8:30 am; the 27 km Freestyle start at 9:30 am; the 50 km Freestyle at 9:00 am; the 12 km Classic and Freestyle start at  9:45 am; the Jr. VASA Freestyle/Classic races,  a series of 1km and 3 km competitions for children ages 4-15at start at 12:30 pm.

"Junior Vasa skiers will be the Vasa skiers of the future," said, Pete LaPlaca. "Hopefully they'll remember the fun they had on skis in this event, and continue the sport for their entire lives. The smiles on these kid's faces are our reward."

On Sunday, the course is regroomed and turned over to traditional-style skiers. The Gran Travers Classic race, which starts at 9 a.m., features 6km and 16km loops on a tracked trail.