A brother and sister from Spokane broke out of the crowd of 180 racers to win the men’s and women’s titles in the 36th annual Spokane Langlauf cross-country ski race at Mount Spokane on Sunday.
Andrew Potyk, 18, was the overall winner in the classic style event, finishing the 10-kilometer course in 27:37.
Lauren Potyk, 16, skied the course in 32:59 to win the women’s division.
After a sluggish start in the climb at the front end of the race, Andrew said he found his rhythm, pulled away from the field and skied out of his comfort zone to the finish.
“It’s tough being out front alone,” he said. “You’re always thinking about them catching up rather than totally focusing on what’s ahead.
“I’d like to think I can do well pushing myself, but it’s a lot easier to ski someone down in a chase than it is to be looking over your shoulder.”
He finished 16 seconds ahead of teenagers Brett Ford and Ian McCarthy, last year’s Langlauf winner. All three skiers compete with Spokane Nordic’s Junior Racing Team. The Potyk siblings and McCarthy have qualified for the U.S. Junior Nationals in Wisconsin next month.
Lauren Potyk adopted her brother’s preferred tactic to claim her title.
“The lead skiers went out fast, so I backed off and started keying on people ahead of me and picking them off,” she said.
Only two of the skiers ahead of her were women, and one of them was Deb Bauer, 50, who’s won the women’s division 22 times since she began entering Langlauf in 1980. That’s more titles than any other skier in the race’s history.
“I was a little nervous when I made the move to go past her,” Potyk said. “She’s won so many races. I didn’t know what she would do.”
Bauer bowed to the new Langlauf queen of the day.
Potyk skied away from the women’s field, trailed by Jayne McLaughlin in 34:50 and Bauer in 37:10. McLaughlin won the women’s 40-44 age group and Bauer topped the women’s 50-54 age group.
Langlauf is the top citizens race in the region, with a special Woodies and Woollies division for skiers on wood skis. All skiers and race volunteers are eligible for the $5,000 in prizes.
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