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Royal Gorge Ski-O

Date: (Sun.) Feb. 6, 2005
Location: Soda Springs, CA
Event Director: - 650.793.8764
Course Setter: Matthias Kohler
Type: Ski-O; White, Yellow, Orange, Green, and Red courses

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Event Write-Up

By Tony Pinkham

We had great weather and one of the best turnouts for our second ski-O event of the year at Royal Gorge Cross Country. The skies were mostly cloudy which made for mostly cool, fast conditions, especially early in the day. For turnout, we nearly equaled the tremendous turnout of the previous event, and for the first time we had two events in one season with over 50 competitors (excellent for ski-O events).

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Matthias Kohler had 320 km of groomed track to choose from for designing five courses, and he produced some of the best courses I've seen for each level of ski orienteering. The beginner courses, White and Yellow, were very adventuresome yet well suited for beginners. The intermediate course (Orange) was longer and more adventuresome than usual, with some interesting route choices. The advanced courses (Green and Blue) featured legs with multiple complex routes to choose from, each of which was very different, yet difficult to differentiate from the others.

This event had a special rule, which is mandated by the resort--we could not go off the approved trails during the competition. This meant that we could use all of the groomed trails plus five approved bushwack trails that were marked on the map and on site. Nearly everyone followed this rule, but a couple of people were not aware of it despite its mentioning in the event notes. Be sure to read the event notes when registering--it can prevent a disqualification. This rule is also in effect at our next event at Bear Valley.

On the White course, Elizabeth Henley was the only single entrant to do a White course this year. If she does one more White course uncontested at Bear Valley, she could become the undisputed champion for the White course this year.

The Yellow course had 15 people competing, some in groups and others alone. For the men, Joe Maffei skied a second course (after doing the Orange course) and placed first (the courses were not similar, so each result qualifies). For the women, Jackie Wong placed first, just as she did at Burton Creek. Another woman, Amy Loebl, was in hot pursuit of first place (she had the top splits for three of her first six controls), but she had a tragic fall on a slippery spot by a control--she dislocated her shoulder and broke her arm. Fortunately, I understand she had a cell phone and was able to call for help. Last I heard, her excruciating pain was eased with morphene while being treated in a Truckee hospital emergency room.

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On the Orange course, Chelsea Gorkiewicz and Blake Heckendorn finished easily ahead of their competitors. Chelsea finished in 58 minutes, nearly 25 minutes ahead of the other competitors. Blake, a repeat first-place finisher for men, was nearly 20 minutes ahead of his competitors. Next year he might do the Green course.

On the Green course, the father of BAOC ski-orienteering, Mike Poulsen, returned from the frozen but snowless Oregon to place first for men on the 15 km course. For the women (and men), Carol Schick-Lyda (2004 CA Ski-O champion) had the best time on the same course. Yelena Krasnov (2002 CA Ski-O Champion) was within two minutes of Carol's impressive time.

On the Red course, the Sarnquist family clearly reigned among some of the toughest competitors that we've ever seen on our long courses. Clea Sarnquist finished the 19.8 km, 410 m climb course in 89:17, and ahead of the 2002 and 2003 CA Ski-O Champion, Brenda Giese. Bret Sarnquist finished the same course in an incredible 61:15 ahead of the 2004 CA Ski-O Champion, Chuck Lyda. For both the women and men, the number of long-course competitors has definitely increased, which has made for some very impressive racing this year.

With the conclusion of this event, 18 people are now qualified for the 2004 Sierra Ski-O Championships. Nearly every category has at least one qualifier, but all categories are still open to new competitors. All it takes is to complete two courses, which you can do at our next event, the two-day season finale ski-O at Bear Valley on February 26 and 27. See you there.

Many thanks for all the help we got that enabled this event to run so smoothly. Matthias Kohler produced some tremendous courses and helped with nearly every aspect of the event, especially starts and finishes. Bob Baylor (2003 CA ski-O champion) and Dan Greene stepped in to help Matthias. Bob Cooley printed all the maps, each one nicely scaled with a nicely positioned legend. Alan Houser stepped forward to volunteer his services as the beginner clinic instructor to a number of newcomers. Trinka Gillis managed most of the E-punch operations and resolved some previously unencountered technical difficulties. Mike Poulsen stepped in at numerous times at registration, E-punch, and control pickup to help out (it was great to have him back with us). Yelena Krasnov, Bjrn Widerstrom, Carol Schick-Lyda, and Chuck Lyda each picked up all the controls in record time so we could wrap up the event earlier than expected. Dan Greene provided radios that greatly eased the management of registration, starts, and E-punch, each of which was located separately. He also arranged for housing a few blocks from Royal Gorge for Matthias, Michael Poulsen, myself, and others. Chuck Spalding was also helpful making sure that all the pertinent event information was listed in the Web page.

Special thanks also go to John Slober, the owner of Royal Gorge, and his manager, Jane Dalaney, for making available the largest cross country resort in North America for this event as well as various other resources (including a great start banner and the Royal Gorge staff). As always, they were very helpful by publicizing our event in their standard trail-map brochure used by all their patrons, and they even advertised the event in their parking lot on the weekend of the event.


  Pl  Name                          Time

White Course, Female    (3.5 km, 25 m, 9)

   1  Elizabeth Henley             1:17:44

Yellow Course, Female   (7.0 km, 100 m, 9)

   1  Jackie Wong                  1:26:52
   2  Sarah & Lauren Owens         1:32:44
   3  Helene Gordon                1:58:10

      Amy Loebl                      DNF

Yellow Course, Male     (7.0 km, 100 m, 9)

   1  Joe Maffei                   1:12:03
   2  Thiel, Marwood, Struben      1:25:37
   3  Shaw, Snyderman, Cushing     1:57:15
   4  Alan Houser                  1:57:28
   5  Stuart & Fred Loebl          2:07:19

      Peter Shaw, Manny Barra        DNF
      Rob Loebl                      DNF

Orange Course, Female   (10.3 km, 130 m, 10)

   1  Chelsea Gorkiewicz             58:14
   2  Claire Warner                1:24:29
   3  Lisa Reinke                  1:25:55
   4  Marina Keating               2:30:35

Orange Course, Male     (10.3 km, 130 m, 10)

   1  Blake Heckendorn               48:18
   2  Dan Dwyer                    1:08:57
   3  Brian Peterson               1:22:18
   4  Frank Sarnquist              1:24:25
   5  Stefan Reinke                1:24:46
   6  Carlo Alesandrini            1:44:53
   7  Janell & Grant Glouser       1:48:40

      Joe Maffei                     DSQ
      Dave Best                      DNF
      Brendan Dreaper                DNF

Green Course, Female    (15.0 km, 250 m, 8)

   1  Carol Schick-Lyda            1:11:25
   2  Yelena Krasnov               1:13:39

      Michele Gregory                DNF

Green Course, Male      (15.0 km, 250 m, 8)

   1  Mike Poulsen                 1:26:59
   2  Bjorn Widerstrom             1:44:11
   3  Pete Olsten                  1:57:54
   4  Dan Greene                   2:12:07
   5  Peter Graube                 2:54:44

Red Course, Female      (19.8 km, 410 m, 12)

   1  Clea Sarnquist               1:29:17
   2  Brenda Giese                 2:00:43
   3  Trinka Gillis                2:40:12

Red Course, Male        (19.8 km, 410 m, 12)

   1  Bret Sarnquist               1:01:15
   2  Chuck Lyda                   1:08:42
   3  Dan Stoll-Hadayia            1:23:30
   4  Mikkel Conradi               1:24:24
   5  Jan Tore Nygard              1:26:02
   6  Greg Walker                  1:28:10
   7  Kent Ohlund                  1:30:55
   8  Bob Baylor                   1:33:13

      Martin Kunz                    DSQ


Course statistics are length (km), climb (m), controls
DNF = Did not finish (missed one or more controls)
DSQ = Disqualified