Echo-to-Kirkwood race changes course |

Echo-to-Kirkwood race changes course

Jeff Munson

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune file/ More than 300 cross country skiers and snowshoers leave the starting line for the Echo-to-Kirkwood Race and Tour last year.The threat of avalanches has forced Saturday's race to begin and end at Kirkwood Mountain Resort.

Regardless of the weather and last-minute changes to the course, it still promises to be one of the best views of the Sierra on skis or snowshoes.

The 33rd annual Echo-to-Kirkwood Race and Tour will go on Saturday but because of the threat of avalanches along the Sierra crests and high winds expected Saturday, the race will begin and end at the Kirkwood Cross Country Center.

The course will remain about 13 miles long, the same as the original course, and will go from top to bottom along Kirkwood’s trail system, including Coyote Pass, reaching elevations of 9,000 feet.

The race will remain a Sierra classic, a long, high-altitude course that requires skiers and snowshoers to have good endurance and sophisticated skills, said Debbi Waldear, director of Kirkwood Cross Country and Snowshoe Center and also an eight-time World Masters Champion and winner of the Great American Ski Chase.

While participants should be in good shape for the race, it is by all means considered a safe route with plenty of hills and rolling terrain. Some 60 patrollers will be on the course, with three rest areas along the way so skiers and snowshoers can fuel up on food or rehydrate.

“It is a great way to ski in a safe environment,” Waldear said.

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Most people finish the course, which can take from 11Ú2 to 6 hours. Only about 10 percent of the racers in the past have considered the event a competitive race. Most participants do it for the fun, exercise and scenery, she said. Following the race, participants will be greeted with food for their hunger pangs, music for their souls, awards and lots of camaraderie.

The race is organized by the El Dorado Nordic Ski Patrol, a self-governed volunteer unit affiliated with the U.S. Forest Service, incorporated as a non-profit organization, and dedicated to providing public service and education associated with winter recreation.

If you go

What: 33rd annual Echo-to-Kirkwood Race and Tour

When: Saturday, race time 10 a.m.

Where: Sign up and check in at Kirkwood Cross Country Center.

Categories: There will be 12 age categories for the event, six each for men and women. They include: 19 and younger; 20 to 29; 30 to 39; 40 to 49; 50 to 59; and 60 and older. Winners usually finish the race in less than 2 hours. Those skiing or snowshoeing the race as a tour should be prepared to ski 4-6 hours.

Cost: $50, includes race entry T-shirt, food and refreshments

Awards: Recognition will be awarded for the top three men and women, both skiers and snowshoers and also for the top three skiers in each age category.

What to bring: Temperatures are expected to be in the teens and 20s, so participants are encouraged to bring extra clothing, including a windbreaker shell and an extra pair of gloves.