White Pine/TUNA Relay means a good start to the season
The Utah Nordic Alliance and White Pine Touring were able to host the annual season-opening White Pine/TUNA Relay on Saturday – it was only the third time in the past eight years that conditions have allowed the race to go on, which makes this season something special already.
Saturday’s conditions were “fantastic,” according to race director Dave Hanscom.
“I think we had a record turnout for this relay,” Hanscom said. “I don’t know what our previous record is, but there were just so many people there. We used to be lucky to get 69 people, not to mention 69 teams.”
Frequently, the race is canceled due to a lack of snow, as it was in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017.
The 3×5 relay was most recently held in 2016 on White Pine Nordic Touring’s 2.5K loop on the Park City Municipal golf course.
Conditions were good enough for relay racers to use the 5K loop.
Hanscom said he realized the week before of the race, around Dec. 1, that weather would be favorable enough to host it.
“My gosh, it’s actually going to happen this year,” he said, recalling his reaction.
Last season, the conditions were so bad organizers not only canceled the White Pine/TUNA Relay, but also the first Wasatch Citizens Series race of the season, and pushed the second back from around New Years Day until Jan. 28. The lack of snow wreaked havoc on the Nordic schedule throughout the Intermountain West – making races doubtful throughout the season, right up until the USA Biathlon nationals in April at Soldier Hollow.
“It’s just so great to have snow to ski on this time of year – any snow at all,” Hanscom said. “But this snow is just superb. It really doesn’t get any better. It was cold snow, the weather was wonderful. We couldn’t have asked for a better situation.”
The relay uses a handicap system, similar to golf, to help level the playing field so people of all ages and abilities can compete.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of strong competitors.
The winning team included Mix Broadhead, Kenyon Bethke and Millet Solene, who compete for Team Soldier Hollow.
They finished with a total time of 31 minutes, 18 seconds after their handicap.
Aidan Rasmussen, Mason Heimburger and Santiago Arrambi took second with a time of 31:28. They are also competitive junior skiers.
Ross Palomaki and Ted Palomaki came in third with a time of 33:52.
So far, TUNA is expecting to host its first Citizens Series race of the year this Saturday at White Pine Touring’s runs on the golf course.
As in every year, the first race is a classic technique race. Hanscom is hoping for close to 200 competitors with ages ranging from under 8 to over 80.
It’s an unmistakably good start for kickers and gliders this season, which is why Hanscom was reluctant to make any predictions.
“I’m not going to jinx it,” he said. “We can hope, that’s the best I can say.”
For a complete list of results, or to register for the upcoming Wasatch Citizens Series race at 10 a.m. at White Pine, go to http://www.utahnordic.com.
Registration is open day-of from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.