ready for big race
Biggest field, 1,047, poles off
By JEFF CORDES
Express Sports Editor
Twenty states and five foreign
countries are represented in the 2004 Wells Fargo Boulder Mountain Ski
Tour set for Saturday, Feb. 7 starting from Galena Lodge north of
Baughman. Express photo by Willy Cook
Race director Kevin Swigert said
that an all-time record 1,047 cross-country skiers have registered for
tomorrow’s race from Senate Creek near Galena Lodge to the Sawtooth
National Recreation Area headquarters eight miles north of Ketchum.
"That’s the most we’ve ever had,"
said Swigert. Last year there were 1,016 starters and 925 finishers in
the American Ski Marathon Series race.
Racing conditions are always a big
question with the Boulder, and this week’s intermittent snow showers are
on everybody’s minds. It’s unlikely that the course will be as lightning
fast as last February, when many records were set.
Swigert said, "Last year was
extraordinary. It was as fast as it gets. With a little new snow each
day this week, it could very well become a wax race, with varying
conditions from start to finish."
The 29th annual 32-kilometer
(19.8-mile) distance race is set to start at 10 a.m. Saturday. Leading
the way are Elite classes featuring 62 men and 58 women. Skiers are
grouped according to waves. There are eight waves with about 150 skiers
in each wave.
Fastest skiers will arrive at the
SNRA finish line about 11:15 a.m. Saturday. And there are some fast
skiers. "We could see a group of 10 to 12 men at the finish," said
Atomic’s Justin Wadsworth, the
2001-02 Boulder Tour king, will return along with 2003 Boulder Tour
champion Eric Meyer, 25, of the Subaru Team. Two other Subaru
contenders, Scott Loomis and Nathan Schultz, are also entered. So are
speedy Ketchum locals Jon Engen and Peter Webb.
Minnesota racer Meyer (1.06:27),
second-place Loomis, third-place Schultz along with Webb and Engen, in
fifth and sixth places, were all in the seven-racer lead group last
February on the quick track.
Returning to defend her Boulder
Tour women’s title is Rossignol Factory Team racer Brooke Baughman, 31,
of Ketchum. Other top women are Suzanne King (Atomic), reigning national
champion Rebecca Dussault (Subaru) and Katrin Smigun (Subaru).
"It’s an incredibly strong women’s
field," said Swigert.
Baughman (1.12:36) and King were
stride for stride at thee women’s finish last year.
Helping out with the Boulder Tour
is a committed group of 300 volunteers, Swigert said. Interestingly,
about 300 of the 1,047 entries have never skied a race of this length
before, he added. And about 400 skiers are from south central Idaho.
In all, the 2004 Boulder Tour
events will cover three days. Here is the schedule:
Friday, Feb. 6:
The Wells Fargo Festival Tent will
be set up in the parking lot across from Ketchum’s Giacobbi Square from
9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
There, racers will pick up their
bibs and BMT duffel bags. Fifteen vendors will operate in the tent.
Waxing tips will be offered throughout the day.
Saturday, Feb. 7:
Shuttle buses to Galena Lodge from
the Ketchum Park & Ride will run from 7 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Skiers in the
first four waves should take the earlier buses. Spectators can ride some
of the later buses if they wish.
Traffic headed north to Stanley
can still get through, but no private cars will be allowed at Galena
Lodge, Swigert added.
After the race, buses back to
Ketchum will leave the SNRA starting about 12 noon.
The post-race awards party will be
held at River Run Lodge from 6-7:15 p.m. There will be complimentary
snacks and a no-host bar available to all Boulder Tour entrants. Master
of ceremonies will be Bob Rosso. Muffy Ritz will help give out the
"Emphasis will be on the quality
and quantity of the prizes," said Swigert.
Highlight of the ceremony will be
the presentation of a large number of raffle prizes. Dress warmly,
because the ceremony will be held outside in the River Run commons.
Because of increased costs and the
lack of a suitable venue, organizers will no longer offer a banquet
Results will be posted on the
event’s Web site,
bouldermountaintour.com, shortly after the end of Saturday’s race.
Sunday, Feb. 8:
As part of today’s Wells Fargo Ski
Festival at Galena Lodge, free cross-country ski demos and free clinics
will be available starting at 10 a.m. Bring kids 12-and-under to the
children’s cross-country adventure course. It opens at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
The festival ends at 2 p.m. with
prize drawings for ski equipment and souvenirs. You must be present to
New this year is a special Sunday
run of the free North Valley/Galena Express from two stops—Warm Springs
Park & Ride in Ketchum at 10:15 a.m. and the SNRA headquarters at 10:25
a.m. The return trip begins at 2:30 p.m. from Galena.