Cross-country skiers got a taste of spring during an annual winter citizens race at Mount Spokane on Sunday.
The 37th annual Spokane Langlauf 10-kilometer event surprised even veteran skiers with mostly excellent conditions despite a preceding week of record high temperatures, wind and rain that washed away much of the region’s snowpack.
Cruising the course was like kicking and gliding through the trees over a giant snow cone.
Ian McCarthy of Spokane was the top finisher among more than 200 entrants in a time of 32 minutes, 20 seconds.
Deb Bauer, who has more overall titles than any skier in Langlauf history, was the top woman in 36:31.
Prospects for the race looked grim on Saturday, when the Mount Spokane State Park ranger’s nordic trails conditions report suggested that skiers “bring water skis and life jackets.”
But the packed snow on the course absorbed the puddles of water and the groomer was able to resurface and set tracks for the race.
“It’s amazing how good the course is,” said Tim Ray, race director. “There’s only one spot where you might be better off on ice skates than skis.”
Race times for the classic style race were slower than normal in the granular wet snow. “You just have to have a bigger motor today,” said Nigel Davis, who encouraged skiers over the P.A. system.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.