Grand Mesa Nordic Council hosted the NRL race on December 8 & 9, 2012 on top of Grand Mesa. The races were originally scheduled for Breckenridge at the Gold Run Nordic Center with Summit Nordic Ski Club putting on the races. Breckenridge had no snow and Joe Howdyshell, head coach for SNSC, put out a plea for any club who could take over the race. The Grand Mesa Nordic Council under the leadership of their president Annie Deprey Murphy volunteered to take on the races. They had three days in which to get organized for the races with 140 competitors. SNSC collected all the entries and turned them over to GMNC organizing committee.
Annie Murphy said GMNC had experience organizing and conducting citizen races and they were willing to take on a bigger event if they could have a few questions answered. The club energized their membership and with their Herculean efforts they put on a very successful NRL races. Everyone connected to the GMNC organizing committee projected a can-do attitude that was very refreshing to work with. They had some challenges with their sno-cat still in Grand Junction. But they had three snowmobiles with adequate attachments for grooming that were driven by experience operators under the supervision of Chief of Course, Winslow Robertson . It snowed eight inches Saturday night and the race had to be delayed one hour on Sunday. It was also very cold during the classic race on Sunday. The TD, Robert Myers, was heard to say that with the wind chill it was the coldest event he has ever worked. RMN Executive Director, Mike Elliott, said he did not warm up until the following Tuesday.
The ski stadium was a little less than a kilometer from the parking lot, warming hut, and bathrooms. Annie Murphy was busy carrying hot coffee to the numerous volunteers and timing crew in the stadium on Saturday and hot chocolate on Sunday. Best hot chocolate I have ever tasted was heard by the cold but very capable volunteers.
Skiers were feeling the effects of skiing at 10,800 feet and breathing cold air. However, most skiers and coaches were happy to actually be skiing and racing on snow rather than training on roller skis.
There were some outstanding results produced and the highlights are listed below.
The “Iron Maiden” for these races has to be J5 female skier Katy Jane Hardenbergh from Vail. She won both races at last year’s December NRL in Steamboat Springs and she won her class on the first day of racing at Grand Mesa. On the second day of racing, the temperature was dropping and the wind chill was rising as the day progressed. The J5 female class was scheduled to race on Sunday at 12:45pm. Skiers in earlier classes were withdrawing from the event because of the adverse conditions. But Miss Hardenbergh was out watching her older brother and sister race and skiing around with a smile. When the time arrived for her race, she was the only competitor. She was asked, since you are the only competitor and you are declared the winner, do you want to ski he course? The race officials were extremely cold and anticipated that they might be able to get into a warm car shortly. However, without hesitation Miss Hardenbergh said yes she wants to ski the course so she can compare her time to the J5 males. With excellent classic technique she skied the course that contained less than ten spectators, skiers, and volunteers while maintaining her bright smile. Her performance and smile warmed up everyone still at the finish.
Skiers who won their class both days are as follows:
Eliska Hajkova CU SRF
Rune Malo Oedegaard CU SRM
Rachel Hampton DNSC OJF
Cara Piske SSWSC J1F
Cully Brown SSCV J1M
Charlie Greenberg DNSC J2M
Tyler Terranova SSWSC J3M
Jaden Carlson BNJRT J4F
Ian Hardenbergh SSCV J4M
Katy Jane Hardenbergh SSCV J5F
Wiley Corra DNSC J5M
Complete Results for both days can be found at www.fourcornerstiming.com. Click on results on the home page.