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Boulder Mountain Tour-The Boot Stomping Way
 
           
 
Sunday, February 5, 2017
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Bob Rosso did something Saturday he’s never done in all his years of announcing the Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour.

He invited a hundred-plus spectators at the finish line to go out onto the race course and stomp it down minutes before the leading racers arrived.

Adults and children alike got into the spirit of it, doing the Boulder Stomp with glee until someone noticed the racers had made the turn into the stadium.

People scurried to get out of the way as Silas Talbot narrowly edged out Brian Gregg to capture a slog of a race one hour, 33 minutes and 42 seconds after racers left Galena Lodge.

“It was awesome to see such a big crowd cheering us on,” said Ta;bot, an Anchorage native who now lives in Bozeman, Mont. “And thanks to them, the finish line was the most packed part of the race course!”

Racers like Mary Rose—the hometown gal who took third after the race’s female winner Caitlin Gregg, who won the BMT for the second year in a row—watched the weather reports leading up to the race with a little bit of apprehension as the National Weather Service predicted what some described as a “snowpocalypse” with  stiff headwinds.

But this year’s 34-kilometer race from Galena Lodge to SNRA headquarters was never in doubt, even though a Boulder Mountain Tour race was cancelled two years ago by heavy wet snow.

“We were absolutely not going to cancel,” said Kelly Allison, who co-chaired the race with her husband Glenn.  “We saw this coming down the pike so everybody from groomers to security started preparing for it. Still, as a former racer, I was never so happy as to hear the bullhorn go off at the start line signaling the race was on.”

Just getting to the starting line deserved a couple medals in and of itself. Volunteers who arose early to shovel a foot of relatively heavy snow out of their driveways were cheered by a few twinkling stars in the sky. But moments later it began dumping.

The highway leading into Ketchum was bumpy. Many of the streets leading to the staging ground at Hemingway Elementary School were one car width wide as the streets department tried to shovel snow and haul it away.

Even the parking lot had a foot of unplowed snow in it.

North of town, it was snowing like a banshee as snow piled up an inch at a time. Nils Ribi, who was in charge of setting up the banners at the starting line, stopped south of the Billy’s Bridge ski area to see whether he could go further after a snowplow got stuck, leaving only one lane of the highway plowed.

But a car coming from the other way assured him he could get through and he continued, finding the road well plowed from Prairie Creek to Galena Lodge, where workers were digging out from a foot of powder that had fallen overnight.

Blaine County Recreation District Jim Keating was pretty relaxed the night before the race as he stopped by a party to welcome Company of Fools’ new associate artistic director Ilana Becker.

Keating had stationed four snow groomers along the Harriman Trail earlier that day and each was told to go back and forth grooming the snow in their section from 11 a.m. Friday until race time.

“The reason we cancelled the race two years ago was because there was rain mixed with snow, and it made driving conditions unsafe,” he said. “This time the rain line’s supposed to be at Bellevue or Shoshone.”

Despite the best grooming efforts, an inch of fluff had piled up at Prairie Creek by the time the first wave of racers went through. Brian Caitlin said he encountered as much as 10 inches of snow on part of the course.

 “I needed windshield wipers just to stay on course,” said Josh Korn of Ogden, whose grin belied the sense of adventure and accomplishment he felt at finishing 11th. “It was so hard to stay upright because it was like mashed potatoes out there.”

Race officials debated setting the start time back to allow the storm to pass but decided that a higher risk of avalanche danger would come with a later start time. They did station bail-out buses at the refreshment-aid stations along the way for those who became exhausted skiing in the continually deepening  snow.

Brian Gregg was among a pack of nine skiers that broke away from the rest of the elite skiers by the time they reached Prairie Creek.

They whittled the pack down to four by the time they reached Cathedral Pines one hour and six minutes into the race—about the time racers have crossed the finish line in other races.

The foursome took turns breaking trail.

“It was really hard breaking trail. The lead guy really saved the rest of us,” said Talbot.

Brian Gregg led the last four kilometers only to have Talbot slip in front of him at the finish.

“We tried to get rid of Silas a few times,” he said. “But he’s a strong skate skier. The race was a lot of fun, though. It was an adventure out there, pushing all that snow.”

While disappointed he didn’t get to occupy the top step on the podium, Gregg was happy he could share it with his wife, Caitlyn Gregg, whom he could see charging down the course at one point while he was racing. The two have pushed one another over the years, as Team Gregg.

“It’s kind of fun sharing the podium because it doesn’t happen all the time,” he said..

The two will take their winnings from the Boulder Mountain Tour to finance Caitlin’s trip to Finland where she will race in the 30K in the World Championships on March 4.

“We love coming here to ski and to race in the Boulder,” Gregg said. “It’s such a beautiful area and such a strong skiing community. We love the fact that you have such a robust Nordic culture with everything thing from little kids all way up to the Gold Team so the young kids get to see the success of the older skiers. You have over 200kids in your Nordic program!”

The Tour’s 800-plus racers included Paul, Trisha, Anna and Emily Cassell from Salt Lake City. Anna skied it as a 12-year-old so Emily couldn’t not do it.

“I’ve heard it’s downhill most of the way,” she said, hopefully.

Hailey’s Carol Monteverde skied her first Boulder Mountain Tour before anyone skate skied.

“We skied with friends and enjoyed a picnic along the way,” she recalled of the first race she did. “But I hit the wall at 4K. That’s why I joined the Vamps. I realized you need to train if you want to do something like this.”

Rogan Brown and Cole Morgan of Ketchum finished fourth and fifth overall. Some racers reportedly took five hours but persevered to the finish.

The “snowpocalypse,” as some called it, didn’t faze Rose.

“Ketchum’s gotten so much snow this year, it made sense that the Boulder Mountain Tour would be run in a snowstorm,” she said.

Still, Rose is looking forward to returning to the Harriman Trail—on a sunny day.

“It’s my favorite trail—it has some downhill, some challenging hills. And on a sunny day, you get gorgeous views.”

THE WINNERS:

1st Silas Talbot, Bozeman, Mont. 1:33:42

2nd Brian Gregg, Minneapolis, Minn. 1:33:43

3rd Sawyer Kesselheim, Bozeman, Mont. 1:33:51

1st Caitlin Gregg, Minneapolis, Minn. 1:40:19

2nd Erika Flowers, Belgrade, Mont. 1:41:23

3rd Mary Rose, Sun Valley, Idaho 1:42:46

TOP LOCAL RACERS:

Rogan Brown, Ketchum 1:33:58;Cole Morgan, Ketchum 1:35:34;Mary Rose, Ketchum 1:42:46; Bill Nurge, Ketchum, 1:43:27, (22nd overall, first in male 50-54); John Reuter, Ketchum, 1:45:56 (29th, third in 30-34)

Deedra Irwin, Ketchum 1:47:07 (34th, first in females 18-24); Jon Engen, Ketchum, 1:47:56 (36th, third in males 55-59); Sam Young, Ketchumj, 1:47:58 (37th); Annie Pokorny, Ketchum 1:48:19 (39th, third in females 18-24); Kris Thoreson, Sun Valley 1:51:00 (48th); Alex Turzian, Sun Valley 1:51:10 (50th, third in 25-29) Elizabeth Youngman, 1:51:30 (52nd, first in 55-59)

Kristen Monahan 1:51:31 (53rd); Whit Albright 1:52:11 54th; Jim Santa, 1:55:01 (73third) Tom DeHart 1:56:00.

OTHER TOPS IN AGE CATEGORIES: Liv Jensen, second in 45-49; Del Pletcher, first in 70-74; Deb Cornwell, second in 55-59; Laura Theis, second in 30-34; Muffy Ritz, second in 55-59; Patrick Simpson, second in 65-69; Kim Nalen, first in 60-64; Fisher Gardner, first in 13 and under; Mathias Radl-Jones, third in 13 and under;Carol Monteverde, second in her age group.

DEMO DAYS TODAY

Manufacturers will strut out their new skis, poles and boots at Demo Days held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today—Sunday, Feb. 5—at the Sun Valley Nordic Center. A special discounted trail pass of $10 is available to those without season passes, the Sun Valley Nordic Festival’s $49 nine-day pass or Boulder Mountain Tour racers who claimed their four-day Boulder Mountain Tour pass.

Free introductory clinics for skate and classic skiers will be held at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.



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