Amanda Thompson was the fastest female during the Don Sumanik memorial race on Dec. 9. Thompson finished the 5.2 km free race in 13:33.9. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Don Sumanik Memorial Race beats bad weather

Slick course conditions make for fast times

Despite warm weather and the looming threat of rain, the Don Sumanik Memorial Race kicked off on Dec. 9 with just a slight change of plans.

Kyle Janzen, chief of competition, said organizers changed the original route twice before the start in order to ensure skiers stayed safe.

“There was a lot of downhill on that course, and those downhills were slick with ice,” said Janzen. “We were really worried about the safety of the athletes.”

The new course proved to be fast and conditions were good after grooming.

“They were very fast,” said Janzen. “The temperatures stayed at just the right place to keep it moist. It wasn’t packed down and hard or ice or anything like that.”

Luckily for racers, the new snow-making equipment meant work on building a base began in October and that over a foot of snow covered the course at race time.

“We were able to renovate it with the equipment easily, and we were able to create a course that was fast and soft at the same time,” Janzen said.

The day kicked off with an untimed fun race for 50 atom and peewee skiers on the new ski cross circuit, made possible in part by the new snowmaking equipment.

A portion of the features were built on dirt put in place before the season began, but some are created entirely from manufactured snow and therefore easy to change and adapt as the year goes on.

“It’s really a lot of fun to watch those little guys and girls go around in this place and hit air in places. It’s really a new level of skiing. We haven’t got it quite into the competition phase yet,” said Janzen.

The first of two race days in the Don Sumanik Memorial Race Saturday was all about free technique.

In the timed portion of the event, the fastest skier on the day was Colin Abbott, competing in the open men’s class, who finished the 6.5-kilometre race in 14:34.5.

Amanda Thomson was the fastest female on the day, finishing the 5.2 km course in 13:33.9. That time was good enough to put her in first place in the junior girls class.

With just 35 skiers registered for the timed races, Janzen said the numbers were down from years past, but not without reason.

Arctic Winter Games trials for biathlon were taking place at the same time, so the usual 10 to 15 biathletes weren’t racing. Neither were the 50 atoms and peewees, since they christened the new ski cross course.

“Often we have a bigger open women’s field and open men’s field. We didn’t have many there,” said Janzen. “Usually we have a bigger adult field.”

The next race is the classic technique, scheduled for Dec. 16, and the course and format of that race is still to be determined based on the weather and the snow base.

Janzen said that the rain on Dec. 9 following the race concerned organizers, but it is still unclear if enough snow survived the melt to allow for a classic technique race.

“We need a certain depth of snow to set a track, but we don’t know if we actually have that amount of snow anymore,” said Janzen.

If there isn’t enough snow to set a track, the plan is to run another free technique race.

“Pretty confident we’ll have a race, we just don’t know quite what it will look like. One good snowfall and everything changes.”

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at


Junior Girls — 5.2 km free

1. Amanda Thomson 13:33.9

2. Hannah Jirousek 14:38.7

Juvenile Girls — 5.2 km Free

1. Sonjaa Schmidt 14:08.8

2. Dahlia Lapointe 14:58.6

Junior Boys — 6.5 km free

1. Jake Draper 16:48.3

DSQ Nichollis Schmidt

DSQ Jude Slater

DNS Jamie Phillips-Freedman

Juvenile Boys — 6.5 km free

1. Derek Deuling 14:49.2

2. Ben Puskas 16:12.0

3. Romeo Champagne 17:02.6

4. Oscar Setterington 18:49.2

5. Aleix Toews 19:04.5

DSQ Victor-Emile Thibeault

DSQ Sasha Masson

DSQ Curtis Cash

Midget Boys — 3.9 km free mass start

1. Noah Connell 11:19.5

2. Ross Sennett 12:03.1

3. Robin Elliot 12:49.3

Midget Girls — 3.9 km free mass start

1. Kate Mason 11:23.2

2. Constance Lapointe 11:30.0

3. Abigail Jirousek 11:50.7

4. Sophia Giangrande 12:56.8

DNF Bella Mouchet

DNS Annie Cable

Open Men — 6.5 km free mass start

1. Colin Abbott 14:34.5

2. David Greer 14:36.6

3. Mathias Purdon 14:58.5

4. John Parry 16:56.1

Masters Men — 6.5 km free mass start

1. Dominic Bradford 16:01.1

DNS Jonathan Kerr

DNS Peter Sandiford

Masters Women — 5.2 km free mass start

1. Lucy Steele Masson 15:14.1

2. Lois Johnston 17:22.6

DNS Deb Higgins

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