Two teenagers took home top honors at the 39th Spokane Langlauf cross-country ski race Sunday.
Patrick Korus, 17, finished first overall on the 10-kilometer course with a time of 31 minutes and 4 seconds. Bridget Burns, 14, was the first woman across the finish line with a time of 37 minutes and 37 seconds.
Meanwhile, it was Andrew Wallace’s first time on cross-country skis.
Ever. He was joined by his grizzled mentor, August Sivak. The race was Sivak’s third time Nordic skiing.
“I did it as a date,” Sivak said about his first time skiing. “I wouldn’t recommend it. She was cold. We’re no longer dating.”
Wallace finished the hilly course with a time of 1 hour, 19 minutes and 11 seconds. Sivak finished with a time of 1 hour, 19 minutes and 13 seconds.
And despite temperatures that hovered in the single digits, the two loved the experience.
“We were trying to figure out the best technique,” Wallace said. “I don’t think we ever figured it out.”
Cold temperatures are the arch nemesis of speed demons. Times from this year’s race, like last year’s, were slower than in years past, where conditions have been more favorable. For instance, the winning time in 2017 was 27 minutes and 18 seconds.
Cold temperatures, deep snow and wind aren’t just problems for racers.
Race director Tim Ray said the heavy snowfall and high winds of the past few days made grooming the course particularly difficult.
“We had 3-foot, 4-foot and occasionally 5-foot drifts,” he said.
Ray and groomer operator Kyle Lee started grooming the course 10:30 p.m. Saturday. He put the finishing touches on the grooved tracks at 6:45 a.m Sunday.
Amanda Tanner stood at the finish line with 10-month-old Kingston.
“Normally he rides on my husband’s back, but we decided it was too cold,” she said.
Everyone warmed up after the race in the Selkirk Lodge, where soup, coffee and thousands of dollars in prizes were distributed.
As awards were announced, attendees were asked to start thinking about next year, the 40th race. Fittingly, that race will be ’80s-themed.
For Korus and Burns, the top male and female finishers, the race is a good opportunity to prepare for the junior national qualifying race, which will be held Saturday and Sunday on Mount Spokane (see the Thursday Outdoors section for more information on that race).
“It’s a good hometown race, and I think it gives them a chance to shine,” said George Bryant, the coach of the Spokane Nordic Junior Race Team. “They really enjoy beating adults, and that includes me.”
Bryant, to his credit, finished the course in 42 minutes and 22 seconds.
But for most, the race was a good excuse to get some outdoor exercise on a day with relatively clear skies and fresh snow.
“That’s the whole idea,” Ray said. “Have a good time and celebrate winter.”
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