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Sun Valley Skiers Make Mark at Masters World Cup, Snow or No
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Sunday, March 26, 2023
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTOS COURTESY OF MUFFY RITZ

The snow was thin—so thin that Sun Valley’s Nordic racers might have run their races in tennis shoes instead of on skis.

But those taking part in the 2023 Masters World Cup held March 19-24 in Seefield, Austria, persevered.

Both Muffy Ritz and Kelly Allison won the relay events in their age groups. And at 97 Charley French also took a first, just over a month after he raced in the 15K Half Boulder part of the Boulder Mountain Tour named in his honor.

Allison, 57 years old, also took first in her age class in a 7K skate, second in 15K skate and second in a 20K skate shortened to 10K due to the lack of snow.

Ritz, at 62, finished third in her age class in a 7K skate, third in a 15K skate and third in the 20K skate that was shortened to 10K.

Richard Feldman finished 7th in the 20K classic, 11th in the 30K skate and 11th in the 30K classic. His relay team won a bronze medal in the Men 05 category.

Eight Sun Valley-area residents attend World Masters this year. In addition to Ritz, Allison, French and Feldman, the others were Carol Stevens, Ann Scales, Tom Pomeroy and Roger Squires.

Of course, they weren’t there simply to race. They were there to soak up the Austrian ambiance, partake of Europe’s exquisite cappuccinos and knock down a few knockwursts.

Those who compete in Masters World Cups do it not just for fun but as motivation to get out there during winter and charge up hills as hard as they can. Those who take part in them regularly see old friends from past Masters events and get to ski on courses in destinations they’ve never been to before.

Seefeld, for instance, is an old farming village, now a major tourist resort of 3,312 people northwest of Innsbruck district of Tyrol. It’s been a pilgrimage site since the 14th century and was a venue for several Winter Olympic Games. It is also the home village of world champion alpine skier Anton Seelos, who invented the parallel turn.

Additionally, it is an important center for cross-country skiing, having hosted Nordic events at the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics, as well as numerous World Championships.

Sun Valley Olympian Betsy Youngman said she and her husband Bob declined to attend this year’s Masters for fear conditions would be like they are—a white strip in a field of dirt. But they’re gearing up for next year when the races move north to Finland and will be held earlier—during February.

The 2024 Masters World Cup will be held Feb. 11-16 in Vuokatti, Finland, which is surrounded by snowy forests in the Arctic Lakeland and features plenty of warm saunas along with ice swimming. If true to Finnish form, there’ll be plenty of pickles and pickle juice, along with pikeperch, bear burger, lingonberry pies and tar bread for the Youngmans and others.

“I miss the excitement of racing and all the fun of international travel,” Youngman said.

 

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