Northwestel Loppet overcomes obstacles

Fates seemed to have conspired against the 2009 Northwestel Yukon Loppet this year, but there were no complaints. Taking place at Mt. McIntyre on Saturday, the event not only overlapped with the start of March break, but also

Fates seemed to have conspired against the 2009 Northwestel Yukon Loppet this year, but there were no complaints.

Taking place at Mt. McIntyre on Saturday, the event not only overlapped with the start of March break, but also with the start of the Haywood Ski Nationals in Ontario, meaning most Team Yukon members were away.

“Numbers were down this year because of March break, so we expected it,” said race chief Sue Meikle, speaking of the 140 participants. “Last year was our 25th anniversary, so it was huge.”

However, the absence of Team Yukon members opened the door for others to get on the podium.

Finishing the 20-kilometre course first with a time of 1:05:34 was Dave Brook, 44, who didn’t seem to miss chasing Team Yukon skiers.

“Certainly, when all the younger kids are not here, it makes for a different race for me because I’m always trying to catch those kids,” said Brook. “So I was on my own.”

The fastest time for the women in the 20-kilometre race was Kaelin Shea, with a time of 1:28:06.

Not all Team Yukon skiers were in Ontario for the Nationals. Finishing the 7.5-kilometre course with the best time was Team Yukon skier Trevor Bray, sliding in with a time of 31:19 in the midget boys category. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Bray, who for a section of the trail had to manoeuvre himself around some younger three-kilometre racers.

“There’s just two tracks, so each time you come to one (of the small kids) you have to go out of the track and around them,” said Bray.

Finishing 5:06 behind Bray was Eric Fekete, the only other racer in the category. For the girls, Holly Bull topped the competition with a time of 31:20.

“It was slow, there was not much glide,” said Bray of the race conditions, pointing to the chilly weather. “The new snow made it slower too.”

Regan Fuerstner, 9, was first over the finish line for both the boys and the girls in the three-kilometre classic mass start, finishing with a time of 17:14. Coming in second was Hannah Jirousek followed by Maggie Fekete.

“I fell twice,” said Fuerstner. “I was going down a hill.”

For the open boys three-kilometre race, Adam Hynes came first with a time of 20:50. Behind Hynes was Nichollis Schmidt in second and Romeo Champagne in third.

The loppet was supposed to feature a 30-kilometre race, but it was cancelled the previous night after wind and snow prevented the course from being groomed.

“Last night our Piston Bully operator was out grooming the 30-K and he got stuck,” said Sue Meikle. “We didn’t think it was safe for our operators to be out there all night grooming and we didn’t know what the conditions were going to be this morning. So last night we decided all the 30-K skiers would ski the 20-K instead.”

The Piston Bully is a grooming machine that mixes the snow and lays down tracks for skiers.

Contact Tom Patrick at

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