Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nordic skiers lead the Backcountry packs

Sinnott, Hoffman and Arritola pull off wins

Menís 10-mile run winner Noah Hoffman, 18, of Aspen set a new course record winning his race by over a minute. Photo by Willy Cook

Have you ever wondered how Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation cross-country skiers build the high horsepower motors to compete with some of the world's best Nordic skiers?

Let's put it this way: They just don't train from November through March. They train and train all year long. Saturday's 28th annual Backcountry Run sponsored by The Elephant's Perch was a perfect example.

Sun Valley Olympic Development Program skiers Mike Sinnott, Morgan Arritola and Noah Hoffman all came away with victories. The other winner was Boise's amazing Michelle Jensen, 38. She captured her sixth women's 16.5-mile win spanning a 14-year period.

Sinnott, 23, ran away with the 16.5-mile victory by nearly four minutes in a time that was the third fastest in run annals. One of America's top Nordic skiers, Ketchum native Sinnott finished in 1 hour, 51 minutes and 21 seconds, 3:31 ahead of another SVSEF skier, 19-year-old Taylor Sundali of Ketchum.

Jensen (2.03:16) won by over 13 minutes among 33 women on the long course. It was her second-fastest 16.5-mile winning time—and the fastest on the Fox Creek trails since Boise's Cori Mooney set the course record of 1.58:47 in 2003. Jensen also led the way at the 16.5-mile distance in 1995 (2.07:52), 1996 (2.05:10), 1997 (2.05:34), 1999 (2.05:25) and 2002 (1.59:27).

Five of the top eight women in Saturday's 10-mile run came out of the SVSEF Nordic program. The winner, 22-year-old Arritola (1.04:35), was 6:27 faster than Nicole DeYong (1.11:02). The chase group also featured third-place Kitty Marcroft, 46, of Hailey (1.11:13) and skier Mali Noyes, 19 (1.11:18).

Setting the only course record Saturday was 18-year-old Aspen product Hoffman, now skiing for the SVSEF program. Second at the men's 10-mile distance last July, Hoffman (55:14) broke the nine-year-old course record of Karl Van Calcar (55:49) by 35 seconds.

Hoffman improved 2:29 compared to last year. Among other locals showing time improvements in the 260-runner field: Hannes Achhorner 8:58, Ashley Hunter 7:49, Heather Guy 6:25, Chase Caulkins 6:15, Bill McCann 6:05, Scott Phelan 4:08 and Taylor Sundali 3:36.

Visit today's Web site for a complete list of run results.

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