Abigail Jirousek, right, skis towards a third-place finish in the women’s 10-kilometre race at the 2020 Buckwheat International Ski Classic at the Log Cabin trails in northern British Columbia in Whitehorse on March 7. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

2020 Buckwheat International Ski Classic pays tribute to founder

Whitehorse’s Knute Johnsgaard won the 50-km race

The 2020 Buckwheat International Ski Classic was March 7 near Log Cabin, B.C., with more than 200 cross-country skiers taking part.

This year’s race was dedicated to the memory of race founder Buckwheat Donahue who died in October 2019.

Competitors raced either five, 10, 25 or 50 kilometres at the event, held on the Log Cabin Ski Trails located approximately 10 km north of Fraser, B.C.

As is typical for this event, racers came from far and wide to take part. Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba, B.C. and the Yukon were all represented from Canada, as well as Washington and Alaska from the United States. Internationally, two skiers from New Zealand also participated.

All of this year’s races were classic mass-start events.

In the men’s 50-km race, Whitehorse’s Knute Johnsgaard won with a time of two hours, 45 minutes and 37.4 seconds. Colin Abbott finished a close second in two hours, 45 minutes and 46.4 seconds, and Caelan Pangman McLean was third in two hours, 51 minutes and 35.3 seconds.

Emilie Stewart-Jones of Whitehorse won the women’s 50-km race with a time of three hours, 31 minutes and 36 seconds. Jane Hollenberg was second in three hours, 46 minutes and 21.9 seconds, and Tiffani Fraser was third in four hours, 41 minutes and 26.1 seconds.

A total of 19 people finished the 50-km race.

The winner of the men’s 25-km race was Finn Morley of Juneau, Alaska, with a time of one hour, 30 minutes and 36.9 seconds. Christian Schmidt was second in one hour, 36 minutes and 36.5 seconds, and Stephen Waterreus was third in one hour, 39 minutes and 48.3 seconds.

In the women’s 25-km race, Whitehorse’s Sonjaa Schmidt won with a time of one hour, 36 minutes and 36.2 seconds. Lois Johnston finished second in two hours and 2.5 seconds, with Laura Salmon very close behind in third with a time of two hours and 3.7 seconds.

Seventy-one people finished the 25-km race.

The winner of the men’s 10-km race was Sasha Masson with a time of 31 minutes and 26 seconds, followed by Derek Deuling in second just 0.3 seconds behind Masson with a time of 31 minutes and 26.3 seconds. Third place went to Victor Thibeault with a time of 35 minutes and 42.8 seconds.

Constance Lapointe finished the women’s 10-km in first with a time of 40 minutes and 48.2 seconds. Dahlia Lapointe was second in 46 minutes and 37.7 seconds, and Abigail Jirousek was third in 46 minutes and 38 seconds.

The 10-km race was the largest of the day with a total of 100 finishers.

Rounding out the results were five-km races for youth racers.

In the boys 11-12 five-km race, Nicolas Giangrande won with a time of 25 minutes and 43.5 seconds. In second place was Fin Bradford in 27 minutes and 6.1 seconds, and in third place was Heron Land-Gillis in 27 minutes and 6.7 seconds.

Minty Bradford won the girls 11-12 five-km race with a time of 25 minutes and 42.8 seconds. Lucy Aasman was second in 40 minutes and 29 seconds, and Charlotte Billingsley was third in 40 minutes and 51.5 seconds.

Micah McConnell won the boys 10 and under five-km race with a time of 30 minutes and 51.2 seconds. Sitka Land-Gillis was second in 31 minutes and 45.9 seconds, and Johannes Benkert was third in 32 minutes and 7.9 seconds.

Lastly, Niamh Hupé won the girls 10 and under five-km race after finishing in 35 minutes and 29.2 seconds. Maria Billingsley was second in 40 minutes and 45.3 seconds, and Morel Graham was third in 48 minutes and 53.9 seconds.

After the skiing was over, the event wrapped up with an awards dinner at the Skagway Recreation Center where a handful of special awards were given out.

The John Briner Award for Most Inspirational Skier went to Carl Johansen of Terrace, B.C., for bringing two friends from New Zealand to the event along with five bottles of Donahue’s favourite hot sauce. The Des Duncan Volunteer Appreciation Award was shared by Andy Beierly and Si Dennis Jr., two long-time volunteer cooks at the pre-race breakfast. The title of Miss Buckwheat 2020 belongs to Eva Mandeville of Skagway. Amanda Mouchet of Whitehorse won the Best Costume Award.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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