This week's new snow should slow the finishing times but the Elite field of men and women is stronger than ever for Saturday's 33rd annual Wells Fargo Boulder Mountain Ski Tour, one of the country's premier ski marathons.
Race director and three-time Boulder Tour winner Kevin Swigert of Hailey said the 32k (19.8-mile) race could produce a memorable finish shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday morning near the Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters eight miles north of Ketchum.
Swigert said, "We have a very full men's and women's Elite field. It should be extraordinarily competitive." He expects 850 skiers including an Elite field of about 100 starting at 10 a.m. Saturday from Galena Lodge's Senate Meadows.
Coach Rick Kapala's Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Olympic Development Team racers will be a factor Saturday. "We're going to bring our 'A Team,'" said Kapala.
ODT racers Morgan Arritola, Mike Sinnott and Ben True caught a break when the 2008 FIS Nordic Junior Championships and U-23 World Championships were postponed from Feb. 3-10 to Feb. 21-28 because of the lack of snow at Szczrk-Wisla, Poland.
That means 2005 Boulder Ski Tour second-place woman Arritola, Sinnott and True will race Saturday along with Elite teammates Mali Noyes, Nicole DeYong, Kate Underwood, Kate Whitcomb, Reid Pletcher, Taylor Sundali, Scott Krankkala and Colin Rodgers.
There will be new men's champion on Saturday because the 2007 winner, three-time U.S. Nordic Combined Team Olympian Bill Demong of Vermontville, N.Y., is locked in a battle, now in second on the 2008 Warsteiner FIS Nordic Combined World Cup after 15 events.
Demong won't be here, but the field of about 70 Elite Men will include 2006 Boulder Tour winner Zack Simons of Rossignol and last year's men's runner-up, former All-American Zach Violett of Fischer.
A new entrant is Fischer's Andrew Johnson, 30, the two-time Olympian and U.S. Nordic Ski Team veteran from Vermont who placed 34th in the 2006 Olympic 50k race in Italy.
Factory Team racer Evelyn Dong, 22, from Middlebury College is due to defend her title Saturday. Besides SVSEF ODT contenders, Rossignol's Kate Pearson Arduser, 28, of Dartmouth College and Alaska Pacific University is likely to challenge for the lead. She was second in last year's BMT.
Other registered Elites include Fischer's Brayton Osgood (4th last year); Abigail Larson, Carl Swenson and Nordic combined racer Alex Glueck of The Factory Team; Ian Harvey and Barry Makarewicz of Toko; Colin Mahood and Jon Engen of Rossignol; and Casey Ward of Alpina.