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Boulder Mountain Tour Sees Near-Photo Finishes from Sun Valley Skiers
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Erik Bjornsen, a recently retired U.S. Ski Team skier from Winthrop, Wash., edges out Sun Valley’s Peter Wolter at the finish line.
   
Sunday, February 4, 2024
 

STORY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK AND TAYLOR SMITH

The length of a ski tip. That’s all that separated Mariah Bredal as she edged out Annika Landis to take first among the women in the Boulder Mountain Tour.

And that’s all that separated Sun Valley’s Peter Wolter from winning his second consecutive Boulder Mountain Tour on Saturday as he crossed the finish line an nnnth behind Erik Jorgensen with what unofficially may have been the second fastest times since the Boulder Mountain Tour took on its current 34km course.

 
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Anders Weiss had a narrow lead over Peter Wolter, who was followed by Andy Newell, as the men’s elite screamed through Frostbite Flats.
 

Three skiers who came up in the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation program, raced their way onto the medal stand during the 51st running of what is one of America’s premiere marathon ski races.

The snow north of Ketchum was sticky on Friday, thanks to two days of wet snow. But Saturday dawned with soft powdery snow under the groom at Galena Lodge and the course firmed up as it made its way 34 kilometers along the Harriman Trail to the finish line opposite SNRA headquarters.

The temperature remained a constant 31 degrees from start to finish in the hour-plus it took for elite skiers to cross the finish line.

“It was a little slower at the top, then it got faster and faster as we raced won the trail, which was really nice,” said Annika Landis, who had just won the Craftsbury Freestyle 50km Marathon in Vermont three minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.

 
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Mariah Bredal crosses the finish line just ahead of Annika Landis.
 

The first wave of men left the starting line in Senate Meadows outside Galena Lodge and tore around the course there headed for the steep Hawk Hill on the other side of the highway. By Baker Creek the frontrunners had pared to a group of eight who followed one another single file as they schussed by Cathedral Pines and headed towards Frostbite Flats.

Peter Wolter paused momentarily to accept a cup of Gatorade from a member of the Wood River Pickleball Alliance stationed at the aid station there but quickly regained his 1-2 lead with Anders Weiss there.

As the group came into the stadium, it came down to Bjorgensen and Wolter. Bjorgensen, who recently retired from the World Cup circuit had just enough juice in him to push his leading ski across the finish line edging out Wolter who just returned from racing on the World Cup Circuit in Europe this week.

Anders Weiss of Aspen, Colo., edged out the others in the group to take third.

 
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Connor Marland, who works at Galena Lodge, played “Reveille” and “Theme from Star Wars” on his trombone as skiers crossed the highway and headed towards the Harriman Trail.
 

Bjorgensen said he had to keep reminding himself not to oogle the scenery and concentrate on the race as he tried to fend Wolter off.

“This is the second time I’ve done the Boulder. I recently retired from the national team, but I’m making my own Bjorn TQ ski poles now. They’re made in Washington State instead of China like the others are, and I thought this would be a good place to showcase them,” he said.

Wolter said he was waffling on whether to ski the Boulder Mountain Tour ahead of the World up competition that begins Friday in Canmore, Alberta. But he got a bad case of FOMO.

“That’s fear of missing out,” he said.

 
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Skiers made their way across the bridge opposite Galena Lodge.
 

That said, Wolter admitted he didn’t go all out like he did last year when he left the other skiers far behind.

“I tried to stay with the pack so I could draft. I knew if I stayed with the group I could ski relatively strong while still having something left for Canada. Do I wish I’d run the type of race I raced last year? Kind of. But I did pick up some money for my second-place finish.”

Mariah Bredal and Annika Landis finished far ahead of the other elite women. Sarah Goble of Bozeman, Mont., beat out a second pack to claim third place.

Bredal and Landis have been friends since they met at Junior Nationals as young teens. And they loved the idea of pushing each other down the race course.

Bredal, who grew up in Victor and raced for the University of Utah and Montana State University before joining the SVSEF Gold Team, just returned from Craftsbury, Vt., where she finished fourth in the 25km Freestyle Mass Start. She heads to Canmore this week for her first World Cup race, along with SVSEF Gold Team teammates Peter Wolter, Sammy Smith and Bentley Walker-Broose.

She finished the Boulder Mountain Tour in fourth last year—just off the medal stand.

“I love the Boulder Mountain course because it’s mainly downhill and you can do a lot of drafting behind people,” she said. “Annika and I have been friends since I can remember. We broke away from the other women early and worked together all the way down the course. About a kilometer away from the finish line I went for it. But it could have been either one of us crossing first—Annika was that close.”

Landis, now 26, had just completed three marathons over the past two weeks—two in Craftsbury, Vt., and one in Wisconsin. That made the Boulder Mountain Tour her fourth marathon in three weekends.

Landis raced her first Boulder Mountain Tour with her father when she was 10 or 11 years old and in fifth grade.

“Then, I was just skiing to finish. Its easier now because I’m stronger, more muscled. But in another way it was much harder because I had Mariah pushing me all the way. After four marathons in three weeks, it’ll be nice to have a couple weeks off before I head to the American Birkebeiner in Wisconsin on Feb. 24.”

See race results at https://bouldermountaintour.com/

 

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