Cold enough to rush at Nordic Center |

Cold enough to rush at Nordic Center

FRISCO – Subzero temperatures colored the exposed flesh of racers competing in the 34th annual Gold Rush at the Frisco Nordic Center Saturday, but it didn’t slow them down too much.

A large, statewide field scattered with racers from as far away as Australia competed in a 5-kilometer classic race, a 5K snowshoe and a 10 and 20K skate race Saturday, and high speeds were required in all of them just to stay warm.

Those competing in the 20K didn’t have much trouble with this, as the course consisted largely of steep climbs and descents.

“Basically, every hill Frisco has, we did,” said Scott Yule, who finished the race in 57 minutes and 30 seconds to take ninth place overall and first place in the 40-49-year-old age category.

“It’s just up and down, and it was really cold,” he said. “There are a lot of factory-team guys here – there’s always plenty of thoroughbreds. There’s kind of an art to it. You have to stay close enough to draft.”

Yule said drafting in skate skiing consists of staying on the heels of the leader of the pack but watching the poling to avoid getting a tip in the face. The thermometer on his skis said the snow was minus 12 degrees. On a typical February day, it would be about 18 or 19, he said.

“The snow was very cold and squeaky, and it just boiled down to horsepower more than anything,” he said.

Grand Lake’s James Reed won the 20K race in 55:12, followed by Boulder cycling guru Peter Swenson, who took second in 55:23. Fellow Boulderite Stephan White rounded out the podium in 55:25.

Aspen’s Natalie Ward was the top woman to finish in 1:01.10, and Fraser’s Karen Waeschle took first in the 40-49-year-old age category in 1:04.40.

“It was a big race, and it was very cold and very hard,” Waeschle said.

The elements were more of a shock to Front Rangers, many of whom took top spots in the shorter races.

Kraig Koski of Longmont won the 5K classic race and the 10K skate race, followed by Carl Schmitt of Rollinsville and Ben Frey of Boulder in the skate race and Aspen’s Brad Bates and Boulder’s Jason Albert in the classic race.

Few competing Saturday would be considered beginners, but some felt humbled by the competition.

“There’s no way I’m going to beat these guys anyway,” Albert said. “It was very cold, at the start of the 5K. It was 2 below zero. But anything in Colorado is challenging. The people are just good.”

Denver’s John Hite, who competed in the 10K skate race, concurred.

“The altitude and the cold is a factor,” he said. “I had warm wax on my skis, so it was super slow.”

Breckenridge local Isaac Barnes won the 5K snowshoe race in 25:10 and was followed by Dillon resident Eric Black in second and Koski in third.

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