In hindsight it was probably a good thing that organizers of the Lost Lake Shuffle cut down the time limit for racers by more than half, with rain falling in the morning on Sunday, and snow in the afternoon.
Despite the tough conditions, 125 athletes braved the elements to see how many laps of the 1.8 km Lost Lake Loop they could make in a set time limit. For adults and teams of three it was 1.5 hours (down from four hours), or one hour for family and bunny/jackrabbit youth teams. Some of the youth racers also competed on the shorter Beach Loop, racking up dozens of sprinted laps.
The highlight of this year’s event was the number of kids and families that took part, said Chris Waller, who organizes the race with along with Ian Goldstone from Cross Country Connection.
“This event was designed to support our skiing youth and to see that many kids come makes it all worthwhile,” said Waller. “Their participation is thanks in large part to the coaches from Whistler Nordics who encouraged and organized the kids. This was the first year we structured the event into the kids’ Jackrabbit program and it worked. The kids love getting out and competing. Watch out for these kids in a few years, they’re going to be rockets on skis.”
Sarah Bowers, the only solo junior in the racers, completed nine laps of the full 1.8 km course in one and a half hours. More impressive is the fact that Bowers is under 10 years old.
In the men’s solo category, Derek Porter was the first racer to complete 10 laps of the course, followed by Bill Letham, Duncan Munro, and Peter Drysdale. Seven other racers completed nine laps of the course, moving as fast as the wet snow would allow.
Carolyn Dabeny was the top solo woman with nine laps to her credit. She was followed by Joni Denroche and Erin Welk, while five other racers completed eight laps.
In the Junior Teams of Three category, which went 1.5 hours, the top team was all-female with Erin Davidson, Marlin Beswetherick and Akiko Clarke on Team Queens making 12 laps of the course.
In second was Jab’s Go First, with Braden Metza, Alex Gershon and Johny Hutchison also making 12 laps.
The Three Amigos — Bobbi Douglas, Olivia Edwards and Gabbi Smith — were third with 11 laps.
In the Teams of Three Families category, racing for one hour on Lost Lake Loop, the Racing Reiths (Ian, Austin, Owen) placed first, followed by Bower Power (Katherine Boniface, Graeme Bowers), and Team MacConnachie (Nancy, Al, Lily, Callum, Caitlin).
For family teams racing the Beach Loop, Team Edwards (Mike and Max Edwards), and Fractured Fords (Sarah, Chris, Rebecca) finished 16 laps, followed by Hurry Up Holland (Kevin and Gabby Holland, and Kendra Mazi).
In the Bunnies/Jackrabbit category, racing the Beach Cut, the top team was 3 Bobcats (Ian Davidson, Sam Johnston, Sam Rainer), followed by Coyote Girls (Julia Long, Steffi Denroche, and Nicola MacDonald), and Aiden’s Army (Aiden O’Heaney, Eric Smith, and Liam McDonald).
One of the reasons that organizers decided to shorten this year’s shuffle was that athletes were complaining that they would be too wiped to take part in the Coast Cup races the following weekend.
The Whistler Nordics and Spud Valley Nordics will host back-to-back Coast Cup Races, Feb. 16-17 at Whistler Olympic Park. The team sprints open technique race is on Saturday, and there is a classic technique race on Sunday. Details are available at www.zone4.ca.
The 30 th annual Whistler Loppet is on Feb. 24 out of the Nicklaus North Golf Course clubhouse. There is a 28.7 km open race, a 17.9 km race for recreational and junior categories, and races from 2.8-10.4 km for jackrabbits, and 2.8-4.8 km for Para Nordic racers. Registration forms are available at www.whistlernordics.com.