|Round of applause for another memorable Stowe Derby|
By: Pascale Savard
Stowe was all bells, whistles and cheers this past Sunday for the 66th running of the Stowe Derby. Apart from a little traffic congestion along the Mountain Road, Stowe's legendary downhill cross country ski race went with very few glitches and attracted 793 skiers, a new record attendance in recent years.
Perfect weather and temperatures in the high 20s provided near ideal conditions for the race. The course, hard and fast a week ago was unfortunately fully transformed after Stowe received over 12" of cold dry snow on Friday. Despite the combined efforts of groomers from Stowe Mountain Resort, Trapps and the Nordic Barn, the trail remained soft and quickly churned despite the multiple snow groomings. As usual, large crowds of cheerful alpine skiers gathered in favorite spectator spots along the Auto Toll Road to cheer Derby-ites doing their best to escape inevitable crashes and spectacular face plants. Indeed, soft snow resulted in abundant crashes, broken skis, poles, scattered hats, goggles and other pieces of clothing abandoned on course. But on Stowe Derby days, everything goes, and... it is what it is!
After getting off Mt. Mansfield and heading into the woodsy trails of Stowe Mountain Resort and Trapp Family, skiers got a little reprieve and time to figure out that waxless skis were not the best of choices for this year's snow conditions. Thankfully, although the kick was non-existent for many, the classic tracks sets on the Stowe Rec Path were in good shape all the way to town as were the many road crossing generously tended by none other than Stowe's Rotarians.
The race ended at the end of the Stowe Rec Path, being the Community Church where families reunited and multiple pictures were taken. What an amazing race, complete with unbelievable performances, camaraderie, team spirit and family reunions. This year's 66th edition was a definite crowd pleaser, generating plenty of memorable Stowe Derby stories for years to come.
Forty eight skiers took on the ultimate challenge and raced in the Derby Meister, a category combining both the skate and the classic races for a total of 40km, and twice down the mountain and into town. Because of slower snow conditions than usual, a few Meisters unfortunately were late for their classic start time, but for most, it was business as usual and incredible results were posted. Stowe's Robyn Anderson, 23, captured the Meister's woman title for the second year in a row, posting the fastest time in both the skate (56.12) and classic races (1:03.01). Second and third place went to two other celebrated Stowe athletes, Sarah VanDyke, 24 (2:18.51) and Carrie Nourjian, 58 (2:21.10).
Eli Enman, 33 of Huntington, VT matched the titles by winning the skate race in 48:42 and the classic race in 54:52, good enough for a first in the Meister (1:43.10). Close second was Ryan Kerrigan, 25, of Moretown, VT (1:44.17) and third Jake Hollenbach, 30, of Winooski, VT (1:47.40).
Memorable and impressive results were posted by Stowe's Hannah Miller, 16 who skied her first Derby from the back of the pack to clock a 1:06.13 in the Classic race, enough for second place in the woman's division and 20th overall. Keith Woodward, 60, of Stowe posted a 55.22 (22) in the Skate and 1:03.09 (14) in the Classic and was 11th Male Derby Meister. Congratulations to Classic racers ages 70 and over Dave Cassidy (1:32), Averill Laundon (1:41) and Peter Kos (2:09). In the skate ages 70 and over, Bob Gray (1:08), Dave Boucher (1:15) and Andrew Harvey, also the oldest Derby skier at age 79 (2:04). The Derby will have an official division for males ages 70 and over next year.
The EverBank Team Challenge was once again very well attended. Two Quebec teams and their Vermont female racer captured the title in the skate race divisions. Trapps Classic Saps and Team Everbank walked away with top spots in Classic. Derby Meister Team award went to Trapp's Meisters.
Heather Staple and Brian Lavoie celebrated a very special day at the start of the Derby race. “We had a wonderful day a top Stowe. Our friends joined us as we exchanged wedding vows before the race overlooking the beautiful view of the mountain. After completing the race unscathed and somewhat bruised we exchanged rings at the finish line. Our friends had a hard time coming down the mountain but what's a wedding without one good story. I'm certain that we'll be back to celebrate our anniversary for years to come".
Stowe Derby organizers and the Mt. Mansfield Ski Club wish to thank all the skiers for bringing their energy, skills, entertaining crashes and incredible athletic performances. Sincere heartfelt thanks to all volunteers and staff who helped run this event. Among the many, starter extraordinaire Kristen Raftery Bowen, on-site coordinators Gail Lebaron and Susie Connerty, chief of course Tom Sequist, Precision Sports Timing, timer Hank Elitzer, Army general Al Thorndike, registration experts Kitty Coppock, Dot Hayden, Karen Fahey and the many other helping hands. Thanks to Nordic Barn, Stowe Mountain Resort and Trapps groomers and to Stowe Rotary, Stowe Police, and Mt. Mansfield Ski patrols for your time and expertise!
Finally, thanks to our valued sponsors and supporters: Stowe Mountain Resort, Concept2, SWIX, EverBank, PAR Springer-Miller, MVP Health Care, Mansfield Orthopaedics, Darn Tough, Salomon, Rossignol, Clif bars, Hammer Nutrition, MadHouse Munchies, Vermont Peanut Butter, Powershift, Nordic Barn, Rusty Nail, Sam Adams and the Stowe Reporter.
Note: Jericho biathlon instructor Jessie Downs' Salomon skis and Excel poles went missing at the Stowe High School while he was showering after the race. Please return the gear to Mt. Mansfield Ski Club. Any lost and found can also be picked up at the MMSC Clubhouse, (802) 253 7704 X 21.