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Burton Creek (Tahoe XC) Ski-O

Date: (Sun.) Jan. 22, 2006
Location: Tahoe City, CA
Event Director: - 650.793.8764
Course Setter: Matthias Kohler
Type: Ski-O

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Event Write-Up

By Tony Pinkham

We could not have asked for better weather or skiing conditions for the 2006 Burton Creek-Tahoe XC ski-orienteering event. The snow was just two or three days old, the temperature was at freezing, and the sun was out all day. We also had great attendance (a near record number of orienteers for this venue) and five terrific courses designed by Matthias Kohler.

This event offered a new mix of courses which we will be using for the events in the 2006 Sierra Ski-Orienteering Championships. The overly simplistic White course was dropped because there had been little interest in it in past years. In its place, we renamed the old Wellow course as "White" and provided an easy 5-km tour around the main competition area using simple navigation and directional choices at trail junctions. For intermediate skiers, we provided the Orange course, which provided simple route selections on intermediate trails. For three levels of advanced skiers, we provided the Green, Red, and Blue courses, each offering complex (multiple) route choices and definite physical challenges that included long distances and steep hills (especially on the Red and Blue courses).

Tahoe XC grooms the 65 kilometers of ski trails that we used for this event. With this trail network known by some competitors, it was necessary to change the routing decisions everyone would make by adding 14 new secondary trails. Using snowshoes and skis, we created a record 1.5 Km of these trails in key places so skiers had to make new routing decisions not normally made at this ski resort. We also had to carefully mark these trails so ski-orienteers could differentiate these mapped trails from the many other snowshoe trails made by other people at the resort. Fortunately, this resort allows people to "bushwack" their own trails, so participants were able to use our customed trails or make their own as needed. The optimal routes, though, were always on the groomed (primary) or secondary trails.

We planned for 15 people on each course, and that was nearly what we got. The Orange, Green, Red, and Blue courses nearly evenly divided the participants among them with 10-13 people doing each course. If we ran out of maps, we were ready to print more copies using the E-punch computer and printer (fortunately we didn't have to depend on this, because the printer had some unexpected problems). After talking to numerous finishers, I found that all seemed to have enjoyed their courses and the many routing decisions they had to figure out. The three beginners on the White course also had fun, and were excited about trying other courses at future events.

For the first time, we were honored by having the manager of the host resort (Tahoe XC), Kevin Murnane, compete on our longest course. He finished with an impressive 4th place in his first orienteering event, and was quite excited about the possibilities of promoting this sport at his resort. In addition to welcoming us to create our own trails, he suggested that we offer orienteering clinics the day before future events, and jointly advertise our events as a recommended activity for the season pass holders for his resort. He (and many other new ski orienteers at the event) was looking forward to playing with RouteGadget to compare his performance with that of others at the event.

For the White course, Lauren Knight, finished her first ski-O course with a first placing. I believe it was her first day of skiing, and it looks like we'll see her and the other two participants on the course at future events.

For the Orange course, Elliot Delaye returned to ski-O after a one-year absence to finish first. David Marwood and David Best finished behind him in 2nd and 3rd places. Sonja Struben finished first for women (fourth overall), with Jackie Wong behind her by just a couple of minutes.

For the Green course, Blake Heckendorn easily finished first on his first advanced course, 14 minutes ahead of his competition — he previously competed on and dominated the Orange course and has been named as a member of the US Ski-O team for the junior class. Dan Dwyer, in his second year of ski orienteering, easily took second place, twelve minutes ahead of his competition. For the women, Patty Jo Struve finished first on snowshoes — she used this event (which was open to snowshoers) to practice for her snowshoe races, and had a lot of fun with the choices open to her.

For the Red course, Kent Ohlund easily dominated the course by finishing 25 minutes ahead of second place finisher, Bob Baylor, who in turn finished 20 minutes ahead of the next finisher and 7 other entries. Clea Sarnquist finished first for women despite adding 15-20 minutes for missing the "go" (last) control. She discovered this after finishing her course and coming down the hill to download her times. She ended up going back up the hill to punch in and refinish the race in first place for women. If you think Clea was fast here, wait until you see her on her home trails at Royal Gorge, where she easily dominated last year.

For the Blue course, Bret Sarnquist beat Mikkel Conradi and Greg Walker (LAOC) by 4:24 and 7:12, respectively. Like his sister, Bret will be the competitor to watch at Royal Gorge, where he easily won the long course in 2005. He has been named to the male-open class for the US ski-O team. For the women, Julie Raymond (named to the female-open class of the US Ski-O team) finished first, with Brenda Giese (named to the female-masters class of the US Ski-O team) finishing second. Julie and Brenda were both competing in the new "Amazon" class created for women competing on the longest course (USOF has the F-21+ class competing on the Red course).

Events like this need a lot more than wonderfully groomed trails in beautiful woods to be successful. Matthias Kohler designed the courses, hung nearly all the controls, worked the starts and finishes throughout the event, and then cleaned up the controls and a lot of pin flags from the central competition area. Trinka Gillis got the E-punch operation going and resolved various E-punch issues when they arose. William "Bill" Straka filled in for me at E-punch, and Bjorn Widerstrom was on hand for E-punch questions and help. Neil Hunt saved the day when the E-punch computer suddenly shut down and needed to be revived. Like a hero, he also went out to fetch the furthest controls, redoing the long climb to control 80 (though not going up the Nosebleed trail) that he did on the blue course. Julie Raymond, Mikkel Conradi, and Greg Walker cleaned up the remaining controls. Bill Straka also jumped in to offer a beginner clinic when one was needed, and Barbara Straka helped cleanup at the end of the day. Bob Cooley did wonders with preparing and printing the maps before the event, like nearly every event. Kevin Murnane and the Tahoe XC staff were always very helpful and supportive of our event team and skiers in ways that leave me loving this resort.

Our next event at this venue will most probably be the 2007 US Ski-O Short Course Championship on February 4, 2007. We'll have the same trail network, plus a new groomed trail, and lots of secondary trails to open up all sorts of new routing possibilities. Like the event this year, we expect to have a lot of fun at this place in 2007. We'll see you there for what looks like the first US ski-O championship and ski-O A meet done by BAOC.


Burton Creek (Tahoe XC) Ski-O

Tahoe City, CA
Sunday, January 22, 2006

  Pl  Name(s)                             Time

White Course    (5.9 km, 70 m, 7 controls)

   1  Lauren Knight                       57:13
   2  Deborah Cowder, Tracy Miller      1:11:56

Orange Course   (7.2 km, 110 m, 8 controls)

   1  Elliott Delaye                    1:05:38
   2  David Marwood                     1:14:48
   3  David Best                        1:22:35
   4  Sonja Struben                     1:28:28
   5  Jackie Wong                       1:31:25
   6  Joanne Thiel, Cecile Kermel       1:50:21
   7  Alan Houser, Helene Gordon        1:55:10
   8  Barbara Straka                    1:58:57
   9  Nancy Lindeman                    2:28:53
  10  Harold Lischner                   4:09:31

Green Course    (10.3 km, 110 m, 11 controls)

   1  Blake Heckendorn                    53:31
   2  Dan Dwyer                         1:07:20
   3  David Burge                       1:19:14
   4  Bob Cooley                        1:40:18
   5  Patty Jo Struve                   1:40:25
   6  Doug Gary                         1:43:54
   7  Anne Barrington, Sandra Rosas     1:53:13
   8  William Straka                    2:01:02
   9  Alan Hobbs                        2:20:43

Red Course      (11.8 km, 195 m, 11 controls)

   1  Kent Ohlund                       1:20:43
   2  Bob Baylor                        1:45:47
   3  Clea Sarnquist                    2:07:14
   4  Bjorn Widerstrom                  2:17:19
   5  Trinka Gillis                     2:39:19
   6  Kevin Riddell, Robin Rovell       2:39:37

      Stefan Suter                        MSP
      Randy Franklin, Joel Bruhn          MSP
      Matt & Dan Holman                   OVT

Blue Course     (19.6 km, 230 m, 11 controls)

   1  Bret Sarnquist                    1:26:11
   2  Mikkel Conradi                    1:30:35
   3  Greg Walker (LAOC)                1:33:23
   4  Kevin Murnane (Tahoe XC)          1:42:06
   5  Neil Hunt                         1:42:54
   6  Thorsten Graeve                   1:56:17
   7  Julie Raymond                     1:58:04
   8  Attila Nagy                       2:14:12
   9  Brenda Giese                      2:26:58

      Adrian Tieslau                      MSP


MSP = Mispunched (one or more controls wrong)
OVT = Overtime (finished after course-closing time)