Steamboat Springs The field featured seven former Olympians and more than 200 combined World Cup performances.
What once was a small-but-tough locals event took another step Saturday toward becoming one of the best cross-country ski races in the nation.
The fifth edition of the North Routt Coureur des Bois featured its largest group of competitors and perhaps its toughest.
The racers flew as far 90 kilometers across the frozen backcountry trails and set many course records.
"It was stupendous," event organizer Dan Smilkstein said.
The 180-racer field was up 30 from last year's turnout.
Daniel Weinberger, of Broomfield, won the men's 90-kilometer skate-skiing race, conquering the trail that ran from near Steamboat Lake to the Wyoming border and back in 4 hours, 44 minutes and 18.9 seconds.
Weinberger edged out Johnny Spillane, just back in town from competing on the Nordic combined World Cup circuit. Spillane finished the course in 4:46:14.7.
Sarah Konrad, of Laramie, Wyo., won the women's 90K race with a time of 5:27:02.4, well ahead of Anne Donley, of Denver, and Katie Lindquist, of Steamboat, who was third.
Nikki Kimball, of Bozeman, Mont., set a record on the 90K women's classic course, finishing in 7:06:15.5, more than an hour better than the previous record.
Scott Oberbreckling, of Boulder, also set a record, in the 90K classic race. His time of 6:10:45.1 was more than two hours better than any other racer and nearly 90 minutes better than the previous best time.
Former University of Colorado Nordic racer Lenka Palanova won the 45K women's skate race with a time of 2:50:08.5, five minutes ahead of Heidi Ward Watenabe, of Ketchum, Idaho.
Olympic biathlon hopeful Michael Brothers won the men's 45K skate race in 2:11:27.8. Eugeniy Panzhinskiy, of Laramie, was second, while Steamboat skiers Todd Lodwick and Barkley Robinson skied across together in third place.
Paula Maresh, of Littleton, won the women's 45K classic division. In the men's 45K classic race, Kryill Kretzchmar, of Steamboat, was first, ahead of fellow Steamboat skier Murray Selleck.
"We had great competition this weekend," Smilkstein said. "That says we put on a quality event. People love the adventure and the racing side of it, but it's also a lot of fun."
- To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org