Starting line temperatures of 10 degrees below zero greeted Saturday's biggest-ever field of over 8,850 cross-country skiers for the 38th running of the American Birkebeiner race at Hayward, Wisconsin.
There was a good representation of Wood River Valley skiers in the field for the 50-kilometer (31 miles) skate race and the 54k classic event.
Four Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Olympic Development Team racers made a big impression among 3,684 finishers in the 50k race won by Norwegian law student Tore Martin Gundersen, 26, in 1.59:57.
First place was worth $7,500.
Nicole DeYong, 28, was the fourth-fastest 50k skate woman in 2.16:26, behind the course record time of repeat Birkie queen and 2010 U.S. Olympian Caitlin Compton (2.15:26) of Minneapolis, Minn. DeYong was only 10 seconds off the podium, trailing third-place Evelyn Dong, the Boulder Ski Tour winner.
Sun Valley's Matt Kelso, 22, won the men's 18-24 class and was 10th overall in 2.00:22. Kelso was two seconds ahead of Colin Rodgers, 29, 2.00:24, who placed fourth in Men's 25-29 and 13th overall.
Reigning Boulder Ski Tour king Sylvan Ellefson of Vail, Colo. was 23rd in 2.05:29, and Ketchum's Mike Sinnott finished 34th in 2.10:17, ninth in the Men's 25-29 division.
Other Wood River men were:
269—Bruce Rogers, 52, 2.32:16 (12th 50-54). 362—Jim Santa, 50, 2.37:15 (26th 50-54). 540—Christiaan Cook, 40, 2.47:10 (59th 40-44). 1445—Eric Huus, 40, 3.20:54 (161st 40-44). 1618—Thad Farnham, 56, 3.27:11 (139th 50-59). 2188—Peter Maier, 70, 3.49:11 (2nd 70-74).
In Thursday's Elite Sprints on Hayward's Main Street, Rodgers won $100 for placing third among the men. Rodgers defeated Sinnott in the quarterfinal, lost to eventual champion Vetle Thyli of Norway in the semi and beat Ellefson for third place.
DeYong and Gelso each won one heat in their Elite Sprint categories.
There were also four Wood River skiers among the 1,518 finishers in the Classic Birkie 54k (33.5 miles) race won by Juergen Uhl of Burlington, Vt. (2.28:47) and Jennie Bender of Minneapolis, Minn. (2.50:09).
Former Ketchum resident and Sun Valley Junior Nordic skier Hilary Patzer of St. Paul, Minn. placed third among Classic Birkie women in 2.58:58. She was in 30-34 age class.
Here are WRV 54k classic results:
232—Michael Stevens, 42, 3.33:56 (27th 40-44). 499—Michael Dunham, 61, 4.17:10 (32nd 60-64). 751—Joni Cashman, 56, 4.53:33 (12th 55-59, 114th woman). 1312—Ellen Gillespie, 46, 6.42:08 (36th 45-59, 239th woman).