Burton Creek Ski-O

Tahoe City
Jan. 11, 2003

by Thorsten Graeve, meet director

Forty-one participants came out to enjoy a great day of ski orienteering at Burton Creek State Park -- about twice as many as I had dared hope for, given that rain and slush were making the drive up Interstate 80 a five-hour ordeal for the two days preceding the event. However, Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, and another inch of snow along with a good freeze during the night before left the ski trails in prime condition for skiing.

Despite all the preparations, the event had started out with a hint of panic in the air. I had been overly optimistic in how long it would take us to hang controls. Hey, if people can ski the blue course in under two hours, how much longer can it take to hang a few controls along the way -- especially if there's two of you to split the work? Reality started to prove me wrong soon enough. While it's easy enough to hang a control on "dry land", it's an entirely different proposition to try to wrap a three-foot cord around a tree, thread an E-punch control and bag onto it, and tie it all together with a tie wrap, all while standing on a slippery surface with six-foot boards strapped to your feet and five-foot poles dangling from your wrists. The first control took ten minutes...hmm, times 33 that means five-and-a-half hours, plus skiing time. Oops. We improved our efficiency as we went on, but as darkness descended we still had nearly half the controls to go! Well, nothing left to do but turn in. Skiing back to the parking lot in the moonlight was actually quite exciting.

Saturday morning we started out early to hang the rest of the bags. Registration opened on time, and by ten o'clock the first skiers were ready to start. Tony radioed in that he had three controls to go, so I figured might as well get going. By the time he called in to say "OK, I just hung the last bag, go ahead and start people now" we already had ten skiers on the courses, so everyone at the start had a good chuckle. Luckily nobody had caught up to him, and the rest of the event went smoothly.

Providing navigational challenge on a ski-O course is often difficult, since trail networks usually consist of a number of loops with few route choice options. To add variety I decided to put in a number of "bushwhack" trails, which are mapped shortcuts between groomed trails. These are usually good for striding, but can be difficult to negotiate on skating skis. Tahoe Cross Country also allows us to go off-trail, which means that skiers are free to create their own shortcuts. Both of these options provided for some interesting navigational twists.

The green course started out with a 3.5-km long leg that took skiers clear across from one side of the map to the other. Right out of the start there were about three different trail choices, so people taking off on this course were often seen stopping dead in their tracks about ten meters past the start in order to figure out the trail options. The blue course went on a shorter loop first, and then returned to the start to follow the green course the rest of the way. This meant that skiers on green and blue often crossed paths, and sometimes even ended up racing each other like Dan Stoll-Hadayia and Francois Leonard who were skiing neck-to- neck for the last six controls, with a photo-finish at the end. Perhaps this was the extra incentive Francois needed to defeat Anna Brunzell by a mere 11 seconds for overall first place on green?

It turns out Anna had probably "given" those 11 seconds to Francois (and a number of other competitors) by taking advantage of the off-trail policy: two controls on green and blue were located within 150m of each other, with a 15m vertical drop between them. The nearest trail connections were a 400m detour with a short bushwhack segment, or a 1km all-groomed loop. She decided to take the straight off-trail line between the controls, and was promptly followed by Francois (about 20 minutes later) and a number of other skiers who noticed her tracks in the snow. A new twist to the "no following" rule?

The other close races of the day were between Kent Ohlund and Dan Stoll-Hadayia on the blue course, and between Doug Bass and Mark & Bev Buswell on yellow. Although their paths never crossed, Kent managed to defeat Dan by only 4 seconds to take first place! Dan claims he lost the race because the string on his map holder (i.e., sheet protector) came undone, and he had to stop to retie it. Maybe it's time to invest in an official ski orienteering map holder. The narrowest victory margin, however, was on the yellow course, where Doug, skiing his second (of three) courses, claimed first place by only three seconds! The complete results for all courses are listed below.

Ski-Os are small events, but nevertheless a lot of work goes into making it all happen. Thanks foremost to "Assistant MD" Tony Pinkham for providing lots of guidance, reviewing the courses, hanging bags and cutting trails, and running the E-punch software during the event. "MD Spouse" Olivia handled registration, Nancy Lindeman did Beginner's Clinics, Bob Cooley printed the maps, and a whole bunch of on-the-spot volunteers went out to pick up controls in the afternoon (Anna Brunzell, Brenda Giese, Rick and Dayle Lavine, Eric Ramberg and Dan Stoll-Hadayia). Thanks also to Kevin and Vali at Tahoe XC for accomodating our event and keeping all the trails groomed in perfect shape. And thanks to everyone who came and participated to enjoy this fine day of ski orienteering!

Below are the complete results. Also be sure to check out the e-punch splits for the advanced courses.


  Pl  Name                      Club   Time    Comment

White Course - Males  (2.800 km, 8 controls)

   1  Doug Bass                 SDO     23:32  3rd course
   2  Antanas, Balys & Milda    BAOC  1:10:22
   3  Teguh Subiantoso & 1:35:42
        Adam Redfield

Yellow Course - Females  (3.975 km, 7 controls)

   1  Anne Greenwood & co.              51:36

Yellow Course - Males  (3.975 km, 7 controls)

   1  Doug Bass                 SDO     47:24  2nd course
   2  Mark & Bev Buswell                47:27
   3  Doug Greenwood & co.              50:50

Orange Course - Females  (6.075 km, 9 controls)

   1  Marie-Josee Parayre & 1:03:47
        Sheila Eldred
   2  Rebecca Redfield                2:06:00
   3  Nancy Lindeman            BAOC  2:09:23

Orange Course - Males  (6.075 km, 9 controls)

   1  Blake Heckendorn          BAOC    52:58
   2  Elliott Delaye            BAOC  1:06:48
   3  Doug Bass                 SDO   1:10:16
   4  Manfred Kopisch           BAOC  1:22:51
   5  Jack Acton                BAOC  2:08:45

      Byron Hann                BAOC    MSP

Green Course - Females  (10.725 km, 12 controls)

   1  Anna Brunzell             BAOC  1:32:01
   2  Dayle Lavine              ROC   2:15:53

Green Course - Males  (10.725 km, 12 controls)

   1  Francois Leonard          BAOC  1:31:50
   2  Eric Ramberg              BAOC  1:38:34
   3  Sean Coady                BAOC  1:40:20
   4  Bob Baylor                BAOC  1:53:30  Lost E-punch stick
   5  Jay Hann                  BAOC  2:20:40
   6  Jack Bowers               BAOC  2:37:46
   7  Bob Cooley                BAOC  3:04:15

Blue Course - Females  (14.650 km, 17 controls)

   1  Brenda Giese              BAOC  2:35:08

Blue Course - Males  (14.650 km, 17 controls)

   1  Kent Ohlund               BAOC  1:53:47
   2  Dan Stoll-Hadayia         BAOC  1:53:51
   3  Vadim Masalkov            BAOC  2:08:45
   4  Andrejus Masalkovas       BAOC  2:46:43
   5  Rick Lavine               ROC   2:56:47


MSP = Mispunched