The Bridger Ski Foundation hosted 200+ cross country skiers from the Intermountain West during races held at Sunset Hills last weekend.
Competition from Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Utah was intense, but Bozeman skiers dominated much of the racing in Bozeman. While local skiers from BSF, Crosscut, and Montana Endurance Academy (MEA) donned their club uniforms, they all wore the same hat. The hats, explained BSF Nordic Program Director Andrew Morehouse, were “to honor the memory of our teammate, Soren Hartnett, who passed away this summer. Soren was a connector in the ski community, with ties to MEA, BSF, and Crosscut. It was truly special to see athletes from throughout this community come together to ski for Soren.”
Saturday’s distance races started with a 9K Para Sit-Ski race. Paralympic Gold Medalists Oksana Masters, who skies for Crosscut MountainSports Center, took the win, followed by Crosscut’s Kendall Gretsch and Brazil’s Aline Dos Santos Rocha.
The Bridger Ski Foundation women notched three wins in the distance races. BSF’s Natalie Nicholas won the 5.5K race in 19:03, while U14skier Ally Wheeler won the 3K, and Erika Flowers was the overall winner of the women’s 11K. Crosscut’s Scott Lacy who bested the entire field in the 11K in 29:57, with BSF’s Finn O’Connell in second (30:04) and Sun Valley’s Elijah Weenig in third.
On Sunday, skiers tackled one all-out sprint, with a 1.5K lap. Erika Flowers proved to be the fastest woman on the course for the second day in a row, winning the overall in 3:09. Her BSF Pro Teammate Lauren Jortberg was one second behind in second. Sun Valley’s Annika Landis finished third.
In the men’s sprints, Logan Diekmann powered through the rolling course in a time of 2:42, besting Crosscut’s Scott Lacy (2:44) and Sun Valley’s Elijah Weenig. Max Kluck, a U18 skier with BSF, impressed with his 2:46 performance, which put him fourth overall for the day, and first in his age group.
BSF's junior teams had some excellent performances in the age group categories as well.
The COVID management plan for the event had racers starting individually, every 30 seconds, in order to give competitors plenty of space on the race course. Spectators were limited, and everyone in attendance was required to wear face masks at the venue, with the exception of athletes competing on the course.
With close to 50 BSF athletes competing, and more than 100 volunteers helping out, Morehouse said, “The event was a huge success for our team and community and speaks to the depth and passion for this sport in Bozeman. It was awesome to see such a large group of competitors and to see how well all of our athletes supported each other."
With a dearth of natural snow, the Bridger Ski Foundation was able to pull off these races thanks to a new snowmaking system that was installed last fall. A huge thanks to title sponsor Yellowstone Track Systems, silver sponsor First Security Bank, and lodging sponsor The Lark. And a major round of applause to our 100+ volunteers, the race committee who spent months planning this event, and to all the participants, coaches, and families who helped us keep this a safe event for our all. Even in a pandemic, even with face masks, your smiles and attitude were shining through.