Some Nordic competitors excel in the traditional classic technique races. Some are skating specialists. But the true test of the cross-country ski racer is found in the rare "duathlon" event, where a competitor will ski a lap in the classic style, switch skis and poles, and then complete another lap as a skater.
Last Sunday's Sierra Nordic Duathlon at Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center was just such an event.
With new manager Sally Jones (formerly of Auburn Ski Club) at the helm, Tahoe Donner is eager to increase their efforts at becoming one of the top racing locations in the United States, and will be one of the hosts of the premier national event on the cross-country skiing racing calendar - the 2013 Super Tour Finals and USSA National Championship Distance Races, to be held April 4-11.
New challenging and exciting courses are being designed for this event, and Sunday's duathlon featured some of the same terrain that will be used this spring.
Joanne Reid, one of the most successful college racers to come from the ranks of Far West Nordic Juniors, returned home from Colorado for the holidays to show just how fast an NCAA skier can be. Toying with her competition on the first lap of classic skiing, Reid began to pull away from the trio of junior boys vainly attempting to match her pace, and then went on to complete a blistering skate lap to win the overall race with a time of 30 minutes and 32 seconds.
In second place, returning from a two-year hiatus from Nordic skiing while concentrating on his running career, was Andrew Cobourn of Gardnerville with a time of 31:52. A fiercely-fought battle for third place ended with Branden Deeter of Truckee barely edging out Brandon Herhusky of Crystal Bay with a time of 32:34.
Incline Village racers Peter Hanson and Evan Vomund both posted top finishes as well, as Hanson came in fifth in a time of 33:12 and Vomund was seventh in 33:31.
Beth Thomas (37:04) and Julie Young (37:58) rounded out the top three women finishers. The field was also bolstered by a boisterous crew of Junior racers from Australia, training here at Tahoe Donner for their "Endless Winter" excursion from Down Under.
In the shorter Junior 2-kilometer event, Connor Ryan of Meadow Vista took first place with a time of 14:02, while Natalie Andersson of Berkeley won the girls division in 14:22.
A full set of results may be found at http://farwestnordic.org/raceresults/results20122013/td_duathlon13.html and a gallery of photos are available at http://macbethgraphics.smugmug.com/NORDIC-RACING/Nordic-Races-2013/TAHOE-DONNER-DUATHLON-2013/.
Next up on the Far West race circuit is Sunday's 20-kilometer Alpenglow Freestyle race at Tahoe Cross Country in Tahoe City. Racing then returns to Tahoe Donner XC on the Martin Luther King weekend for the ever-popular Sierra Skogsloppet on Jan. 21.