SWIX Boulder Mountain Ski Tour race director Kevin Swigert is keeping a close eye on the Weather Underground Web site to see if Wednesday’s predicted snow materializes and lends some depth to the low-snow Boulder course.
“Anything will help. The snow cover is very thin right now, especially right at the finish line,” said Swigert Monday.
“I was sweating it a couple of weeks ago. But we’ve been blessed with cold nighttime temperatures. People have put a great deal of effort into the course preparations. I think we’re really going to have a fast, fantastic race on Saturday.”
Monday, Swigert had counted nearly 700 registered skiers for the 32.5-kilometer Full Boulder and another 100 for the fifth-year, non-competitive Half Boulder 15k (9.3-mile) race scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 1 in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area north of Ketchum.
He said, “Numbers are down a little, but I expect close to 800 skiers including the Half Boulder.”
Among the Elite Men who have signed up are 2013 and 2011 Boulder Tour king Sylvan Ellefson, 27, of Vail, Colo. and Ketchum’s Mike Sinnott, 28, the 2008 Boulder winner who was fourth behind Ellefson (1.09:08) last year. Last year’s runner-up Mark Iverson of Anchorage, Ak. is also due back.
Miles Havlick and Colin Rodgers of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation should be among the leading men. They’ll be joined on the women’s side by Chelsea Holmes and Rose Kemp, SVSEF Gold Teamers.
Organizers have made only a slight change to the course to ensure adequate safety and enjoyment for all—and maximize the available terrain in a low-snow winter.
The traditional 32-kilometer course will remain essentially the same except for the start where the road crossing has been altered. The race will begin as usual at 10 a.m. Saturday with 25 lanes in Senate Meadows at the Galena Lodge Ski Trails 23 miles north of Ketchum.
Skiers will do a loop around the Senate Meadows area then cross State Highway 75 at the bottom of the meadow at the chain-up area just to the south of Galena Lodge. Racers will proceed to the upper Harriman Trail where they will remain until they end at the Sawtooth National Recreation Headquarters eight miles north of Ketchum.
Top racers will arrive at the SNRA shortly after 11 a.m.
“We’ll cross the road just below Galena Lodge and use the upper 1.5k section of Harriman Trail. It will be pretty crowded there, when they make the crossing,” said Swigert. “The course will definitely be a little longer because of these changes. But we made the most out of a miserable situation.
“Still, I think we get a little spoiled around here because of the outstanding trail setting and trails that we always have.”
The gently rolling course and has an elevation drop of 1,100 feet over its 20-mile length.
The 39th annual Boulder Mountain Tour is an open skate race, however, there is a single track at the side of the course for those who prefer classic technique. The start area has tracks set for the first 100 meters. There is no skating in the tracked area.
The 15k non-competitive Half-BoulderTour course will begin at Baker Creek on Saturday, Feb. 1 about 11:30 a.m. and remain exactly the same as last year. After a very short start area heading north, the race will turn south and merge with the BMT course finishing near the SNRA headquarters.
Free course inspection is allowed on Friday, Jan. 31 until 4 p.m., at which time the race course will be closed. Use of the trail before Friday and any time after the race will require a North Valley Trails trail fee.
Prize money offered for Nordic Festival
Organizers of the 2014 Sun Valley Nordic Festival announced Jan. 5 that $8,050 in prize money is available for top skiers in two major events of the fifth annual, 10-day festival.
Susie Quesnel, writing in a press release for the Sun Valley Nordic Festival, said, “The prize money package is made possible by a generous donation by the Sawtooth Club, a longtime supporter of the SWIX Boulder Mountain Ski Tour and Sun Valley Nordic Festival.
“Money will be awarded to the top 10 male and female finishers of the SWIX Boulder Mountain Tour in the following increments—$1,000 for first place, $700 for second place, $500 for third place,” and down to $50 for 10th place. In addition, $400 will be awarded for Boulder Mountain Tour preems.
Registrations are accepted through the final deadline of Jan. 30 for the Boulder Mountain Ski Tour. Adult entry fees are $110, while those 17-and-younger are charged $45. Sign-ups are accepted until the field has reached 800 paid entrants.
Also offered is the Half Boulder 15k race for $65 per person or $33 for 17-and-under, through Jan. 30. A special incentive combo race for a parent and child under age 10 costs $70.
Last Feb. 2, there were 669 finishers at the 32k Boulder Ski Tour distance led by Ellefson in 1.09:08 and Lauren Fritz, 24, of Anchorage, Ak. in 1.18:57.
Visit bouldermountaintour.com or check the entire Nordic Festival schedule at nordictownusa.com.
Boulder Ski Tour race specifics
This year’s awards ceremony/raffle is Saturday from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Limelight Room of Sun Valley Inn.
Boulder participants should attend the Tour Expo on Friday, Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Wood River YMCA along Warm Springs Rd. They also can inspect the course Friday—no trail fee required through 4 p.m. on Friday, only.
Swigert encouraged racers and spectators to take advantage of the Galena Lodge buses leaving Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum starting at 7 a.m. Saturday and continuing through 9 a.m.
Shuttle buses will run from Hemingway School to the Baker Creek start of the Boulder Half from 9:30-11 a.m. for racers and spectators. Buses will go from Hemingway to the SNRA finish between 9-11 a.m.
No public parking is allowed for the race at Galena Lodge and there is also very limited parking in the SNRA finish area—mostly in the Barlow Road area which is a decent hike south of the finish line. Shuttle buses at Barlow Road are due to run continuously from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
On Sunday, Feb. 2, the SWIX Boulder Mountain Tour Demo will be held at Sun Valley Nordic starting at 10 a.m.