Steamboat Coureur back in force Saturday
March 30, 2013
Steamboat Springs — The first year was a low-attended, weather-damaged event, and second was a sun-splashed race filled with bright smiles and good stories.
It all has given Barkley Robinson, one of the few racers who's experienced both versions of the Steamboat Coureur, an idea what to expect going forward.
"This is going to get huge," he said Saturday shortly after wrapping up first place in the solo combination cross-country ski and snow bike division.
"I will probably need to register really early next year," he added.
The Coureur easily doubled last year's attendance, more fully filling the vision Dan Smilkstein had when he set out to try to add a Steamboat twist to the success he found in the last major cross-country skiing event he helped start, the Glide the Divide, formerly the North Routt Coureur des Bois.
Saturday's race seemed to have a lot in common with the North Routt event. Competitors traveled to compete from across the region, even the country, and they found a delicious mix of challenge and accomplishment in Routt County's snow.
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"The snow was absolutely fabulous today," said Dan Batwinas, a Granby skier who travels the state to compete in Nordic skiing events.
He guesstimated he's among the state's most regular cross-country ski racers each winter and is a repeat veteran at races like the North Routt event. He also made his second start at the Steamboat Coureur this year.
"This is as good a course as there is," he said. "It's a pure skiing course. … I felt great out there."
Charlie von Thaden, a Steamboat Springs racer now competing with the University of Colorado, was the day's fastest skier, completing the Rabbit Ears Pass 50-kilometer course in 2 hours, 9 minutes and 13 seconds, ahead of Jason Kask, of St. Paul, Minn., in 2:09:37 and Boulder's Tobias Albrigtsen in 2:11:12.
Boulder's BethAnn Chamberlain was tops in the women's division, finishing in 2:20:32. Tammy Jacques was second in 2:47:53, and Cara Piske was third in 2:50:41.
Dori McNeill was the overall winner in the 10K skiing division, and Sven Tate was tops among the men in that race. Simon Zink, meanwhile, won the 25K skate, and Karen Waeschle was first among the women.
The day was about far more than skiers, however.
Ned Overend, of Durango, was the fastest in the 50K on a snow bike, finishing in 1:53:05. Robinson won in a combination of both, 25K on skis and 25K on a bike, in 2:08:37. Sarah Konrad, of Laramie, Wyo., was the first of six women in that division finishing in 2:37:14. Aaron Tisdale was first among three racers who did the 25K on bikes.
Canden Wilkinson won the boys 5K snow unicycle race. Erik Belshaw was second. Mae Thorp won the girls division, and Annika Belshaw was second. Ann Barbier won the women's 23K unicycle race, and Sean Carey won the men's side.
Fast or slow, bike, skis or both, most racers reveled in the day marked by fast snow but high temperatures. It was exactly the kind of split between winter and spring Smilkstein hoped to strike, and it was a hit.
"It was beautiful, a little hard and grueling but beautiful," said Sharon Crawford, who now lives in Frisco but is always happy to travel to race in the county her great-grandparents helped settle.
"I'm getting old, but these are still fun to do," she said. "I've been skiing since the days of wooden skis and bamboo poles. Skiing and events like this keep me young."
Find complete results from the Steamboat Coureur here.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com