Steamboat skiers TJ Thrasher, right, and Barkley Robinson charge toward the finish line of Saturday’s 50-kilometer cross-country ski race on Rabbit Ears Pass. The event, the Steamboat Coureur, drew about 40 racers after it had to be abruptly bumped up a week thanks to warm spring weather.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat skiers TJ Thrasher, right, and Barkley Robinson charge toward the finish line of Saturday’s 50-kilometer cross-country ski race on Rabbit Ears Pass. The event, the Steamboat Coureur, drew about 40 racers after it had to be abruptly bumped up a week thanks to warm spring weather.

Date change, slashed field doesn't dampen Steamboat Coureur

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— In the sense that it was supposed to be a major cross-country ski competition, a grueling challenge with an international field filled with acclaimed skiers, the Steamboat Coureur was not what it was supposed to be.

An unprecedented hot steak through March — on the heels of one of the driest winter seasons in Steamboat Springs memory — forced organizers to push the inaugural Rabbit Ears Pass race up a week in the face of quickly deteriorating snow. That, in turn, slashed the field by more than half.

It was supposed to be a great day of spring skiing on forest backcountry trails, as well as an exhilarating workout and a demanding test, and the Steamboat Coureur lived up to its billing.

“It was awesome. It was a beautiful day,” Steamboat Springs skier Scott Myller said.

Although organizers had hoped the race would draw hundreds, the event kicked off early Saturday morning with 40 racers and few of the high-profile names expected to participate. It wasn’t a morning lacking enthusiasm, though, as those who did participate — mostly locals with a few adventurers and regional standouts sprinkled in — soaked up a sunny day on a beautiful course.

None did it faster than University of Denver skier Trygve Markset, a sophomore from Oslo, Norway, who registered a pair of top-25 finishes in last month’s NCAA championships. The DU skiers made up the most skilled contingent at the event, and a pair of Pioneers took the top two spots on the men’s 50-kilometer podium. Markset’s teammate Andrew Dougherty was second. Matt Huntze was third. Markset hung with the pack for the first of two large loops, then he left them in the dust as he cruised away for a comfortable victory.

He finished first, in at 2 hours, 2 minutes and 53 seconds. Dougherty was second, and Huntze was third.

“It was beautiful, really unique,” Markset said. “It was really fast in the beginning and a little slower through the woods.

“I just love skiing in the spring. It’s so sunny and warm, and today the conditions were fast. It was great.”

Katie Gill, also a DU skier, won the women’s 25-kilometer event, but elsewhere, locals fared well.

Tammy Jacques claimed victory in the women’s 50-kilometer race by a huge margin, finishing in 2:16:05. She hung with the lead pack of men for a while, then with Steamboat’s Brian Tate before falling off that pace in the final kilometers. She easily was the swiftest in the women’s field. Craig skier Emily Keiss was second, more than 30 minutes back, and Jennifer Kerr was third.

“It was really fun. With what little snow they have in Steamboat, the groomers did a really great job,” Jacques said. “It wasn’t just a double loop. We went all over the place and into new places where people hadn’t skied before.”

Myller won the men’s 25-kilometer race in 1:10:28, ahead of second-place Frank Smith, of Clark, and Jakub Stefka, from Cheyenne, Wyo., in third. Steamboat skiers Emily Lovett, second, and Ann Mudgett rounded out the women’s 25-kilometer podium.

Saturday’s race was only the first part of the event, which resumes Sunday with bicycle races on the slushy Rabbit Ears snow. Snow bike and snow unicycle races are set for Sunday, and many of the Saturday racers plan to return to knock off the 50/50. The 50-kilometer and 17-kilometer bike races start at 8:30 a.m. at the course, which is laid out next to and maintained by Steamboat Snowmobile Tours on the east end of the pass.

Steamboat Coureur results

Rabbit Ears Pass

Steamboat Springs

Saturday

Boys 10K Skate

Name, Age, Town, Time

Mac Thorp, 10, Steamboat, 0:49:43.3

Girls 10K Skate

Name, Age, Town, Time

Annika Belshaw, 9, Steamboat, 0:50:01.2

Boys 25K Skate

Name, Age, Town, Time

Erik Belshaw, 7, Steamboat, 2:31:09.5

Mens 10K Skate

Name, Age, Town, Time

Steve Thorp, 54, Steamboat, 0:50:03.8

Womens 10K Skate

Name, Age, Town, Time

Cathy Johnson, 44, Steamboat, 0:50:02.8

Mens 25K Skate

Name, Age, Town, Time

Scott Myller, 45, Steamboat, 1:10:28.5

Frank Smith, 48, Clark, 1:13:18.9

Jakub Stefka, 41, Cheyenne, 1:16:00.6

Clay Lovett, 55, Steamboat, 1:19:25.1

Gil Barbier, 68, Steamboat, 1:19:37.8

Dick Curtis, 66, Steamboat, 1:31:30.7

James Dudley, 65, Steamboat, 1:31:32.1

Tyler Bradley, 46, Belle Plaine, MN, 1:32:46.0

Allen Belshaw, 44, Steamboat, 2:31:10.4

Womens 25K Skate

Name, Age, Town, Time

Katie Gill, 20, Denver, 1:12:35.7

Emily Lovett, 46, Steamboat, 1:16:11.7

Ann Mudgett, 46, Steamboat, 1:17:39.5

Marianne Osteen, 52, Steamboat, 1:19:46.1

Johanna Hall, 56, Steamboat, 1:42:55.9

Kris Anderson, 43, Steamboat, 1:43:25.8

Mens 50K Skate

Name, Age, Town, Time

Trygve Markset, 21, Denver, 2:02:53.9

Andrew Dougherty, 21, Denver, 2:07:29.6

Matt Huntze, 27, Denver, 2:07:32.3

TJ Thrasher, 34, Steamboat, 2:11:42.4

Barkley Robinson, 38, Steamboat, 2:11:43.2

Brian Tate, 50, Steamboat, 2:15:27.9

Jim Howe, 48, Granby, 2:19:24.0

Evgeniy Panzhinskiy, 25, Laramie, 2:21:13.9

Nelson Carmichael, 46, Steamboat, 2:30:17.7

Harald Niedl, 37, Steamboat, 2:35:23.9

Neil Humphrey, 63, Steamboat, 2:46:18.6

Daniel Batwinas, 54, Leadville, 2:55:02.8

Walter Magill, 42, Steamboat, 3:05:39.2

Alan Keeffe, 53, Steamboat, 3:19:26.8

Stan Wagon, 60, Silverthorne, 3:21:00.9

Jason McDonald, 35, Aurora, 3:25:23.5

Paul Sachs, 50, Steamboat, 4:25:09.6

Womens 50K Skate

Name, Age, Town, Time

Tammy Jacques, 45, Steamboat, 2:16:05.7

Emily Keiss, 23, Craig, 2:52:47.0

Jen Kerr, 41, Steamboat, 3:44:23.7

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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