It took a week of hard work, but the folks at the Cross Country Ski Headquarters hauled snow over a 2 kilometer section of trail to make sure there were great conditions for the 2018 Michigan Cup Relays held this past Sunday. The "John Deer Trail" (sections of the Rolling Hills and Trapper's Cabin trails) has excellent skating conditions and classic tracks. Racers in the three-leg relays each skied 2 laps on the loop for a total of 4km per skier. The trail was fairly flat (doublepole classic time!) except for a longish steep climb up the Rolling Hills trail where the doublepolers in the classic leg (first leg of the relay) had a bit of a struggle.
Legs two and three were freestyle, and most people skated. The course held up nicely for the entire race (and I can attest to that as I skied the third leg for our team).
There are three gender categories for relay teams - Men, Women and Coed. Coed teams required at least one women and one man. There are two age groups for relay teams, determined by the total age of all three participants on the relay team: 164 & under, and 165 & over, for a total of six relay divisions.
A copy of the complete results is here: 2018 Michigan Cup Relays Overall Results (PDF)
Pictures from the race, mostly the first leg, but a few of the second leg, are here: 2018 Michigan Cup Relays photos
And of course, here's some video near the end of the first lap of the classic leg, some fast turns around the corner for the second lap, and some tag zone fun:
The overall winner of the Relays was the Team NordicSkiRacer team "Bucks Naked", consisting of Yvon Dufour, Doug Cornell, and Allen Sorgenfrei. Bucks Naked held off Vasa Ski Team's "Master Blastera" (Ken Dawson, Clif Onthank, and Glenn Goodman) by 4 seconds, 38:28 to 38:32. Both teams were able to hold off a group of juniors from the Vasa Ski Team: "No Klister Zone" (Ted Roe, Jack Myers, and Noah Robibshek) who took third in 39:34. These three teams were the only teams to break 40 minutes.
Bucks Naked and Master Blaster were the top two teams in the Men's 165 and over category. In third place was "Ridge Runners", Cross County Ski Headquarters' Mike Temkin, Jon Kruper, and Al Hough (43:15). [Note to Al: good job passing me and beating my team, "Running Bucks", for third!]
No Klister Zone was first in the Men's 164 and younger category, followed by "Fluoroholics Anonymous" (Vasa Ski Club: Curt Peterson, Bryce Dreeszen, and James Hart) in 40:35 and Team NordicSkiRacer's "Young Bucks" (William Kaltz, Charles Moore, and Guillaume Girard). [Fluoroholics Anonymous has weekly meetings if you are similarly afflicted...]
Only two teams were in the Women's 165 and over category. "Kikkan Butt & Diggin Gold", Vasa's Jennifer, Brown Melinda Mitchell, and Gussie Peterson, was first in 52:11. Second was "A Fine Whine", Cross Country Ski Headquarters' Lynne Frye, Carole Merwin, and Chris Fowler in 1:18:49.
The Women's 164 and younger category also consisted of only two teams. "Team MKK" (Vasa's Marnie Sutter, Katie Armstrong, and Kelly Guswiler) was first in 1:12:50, followed by "Fun in the Sun" (the Headquarters' Gwenn Stevenson, Leigh Whetstone, and Carol Schadd) in 1:19:57.
As race host Mariah Frye Colie commented during the awards ceremony, "There were only two women teams in each category. Hint, hint, hint for next year everyone..."
"Darn Kanolies" (the Headquarters' Larry Kanaby, Cheryl Darnton, and Mariah Frye Colie) won the Coed 164 and under category in 41:05. "Late as Usual" (Hanson/Cross Country Ski Shop's Ann Wagar, Robert Smith, and Bruce Daman) was second in 42:58, with the Vasa family trio "Vasa Team Thuente" (Joe Thuente, Bridget Thuente, and Dan Thuente) third in 44:02.
The final category, Coed 165 and over, was won by Hanson/Cross Country Ski Shop's "Without A Paddle" (Robin F Luce, Brenda Carlson Brown, and Joseph Brown) in 41:57. Second was "GRNST #1" (Grand Rapids Nordic Ski Team's Jukka Pietila, Ellie Johnson, and Greg Worsnop) in 43:14, followed by Vasa's "Tres Tortugas" (Bill Danly, Deb Westphal, and Gary Faria) in 49:28.
You may have noticed that the Team NordicSkiRacer Teams all had "Buck" in their name: Bucks Naked, Running Bucks, Young Bucks, Buckeroos. This was in honor of the man-made snow trail, Buck's Run at Huron Meadows Metropark. The Cross Country Ski Headquarters took some of the best practices from Huron Meadows' Buck's Run, bought the same snow hauler, and used it to move snow on to the race course, creating a great skiing experience for the race, particularly given the challenges with late-season natural snow. Thanks Huron Meadows and Buck's Run!