Friday, January 7, 2022

December Vakava Racing

Despite only having two Vakava on-snow practices leading up to the New Year (due to lack of natural snow, warm weather that stalled snow-making, and one crazy thunderstorm) several Vakava members raced in Skadi’s Chase, the Hoigaards Relays, and the Winter Warm Up- all at Elm Creek.

At Skadi’s Chase on December 11th, Artie Huber led the way, finishing 7th in a field of 39. Dave Christopherson finished in 19th and was the oldest male competitor by 19 years. Cheryl DuBois was the lone Vakava woman racing, skiing to 7th place among the field of 21 women with most of those topping her less than half her age! 

Dave sporting an old Vakava Racing Suit.


Cheryl, center, wearing the hot pink Vakava hat.



Dave reports about December: “A rather slow start to the new season (after not much of a racing season at all last year), with only one race so far -- Skadi's Chase. The first one always hurts; serves as a good reminder of what racing really is. A small race, soft conditions, and didn't go particularly fast, but a start nevertheless.”

Vakava had a strong showing at the Hoigaard’s Relays on December 18th where teams raced 6 x 1.3 km loops Olympic-style in a skate race. With an inch of fresh snow, conditions were exactly as I like- firm underneath but soft on top. In the most competitive Masters Men division, Andy Schakel paired with non-Vakava skier Dave Benson to take 8th among 19 teams while Artie Huber raced with his son, a senior in high school, to take 11th. 

Andy tags his partner.



Cheryl DuBois and MaryBeth Tuttle teamed up as Vakava Hot Mamas to take 4th in the Masters Women category (but unofficially won best team name) as Maria Schilling partnered with non-Vakava member Kira Stolen to take 6th. Meanwhile, Bonnie and MaryBeth’s daughters, Emma Albrect and Libby Tuttle, took 3rd place. Regarding her race, Maria says “It was so much fun to pair with Kira Stolen, who I paddle with, for a different sport!:) Lots of amazing women's teams, too.”

Maria demonstrating some good weight transfer.



In the Masters Mixed, Brock Lundberg and Bonnie Wieskopf got 2nd while the married duo of Erik Pieh and myself, Elspeth Ronnander, took 3rd (although I question result accuracy and think we actually got 4th). We were hoping to be the first married couple across the line, but the Gregg’s took that honor so we settled for not getting lapped! I went hard the first lap- really hard- and then struggled to maintain that pace for the next two legs.

Me not too far behind Bonnie.



The result times weren’t terribly accurate. The teams of Bonnie and Brock, myself and Erik, and Artie and his son all finished within about a minute of each other, adding to some fun inter-squad competition. 

Erik, Emma Albrecht, Cheryl, and Brock (blocked by a guy in front of him) at the start.


Exchange zone craziness including 3 Vakava teams.

Photo evidence of team #43 finishing first.



Finally, in the Winter Warm Up 10 km skate (4 laps of the machine-made loop) on December 26th, Andy Schakel and Brock Lundberg took 4th and 10th place respectively. Artie Huber finished an uncharacteristic 34th- “I fell twice on downhills and after that I thought about quitting but decided to just tour the race,” he says.


From left to right- Andy, Artie, and Brock competing at the Winter Warm Up


A huge THANK YOU to Elm Creek for hosting all 3 races and to Three Rivers Park District, Hoigaards, and Pioneer Midwest for sponsoring the events. Bonnie adds “I would like to thank all the race volunteers, those not profiting monetarily from their efforts. They are such an inspiration and positive influence on their community.”