LAKE PLACID - Saranac Lake's Annelies Cook had some trouble getting to Saturday's Lake Placid Loppet, but she had no problems once she arrived.
The U.S. biathlete said her car was rear-ended on the way to the race, forcing her to fall behind schedule. She arrived just five minutes before the 25-kilometer classic race.
But that didn't seem to matter. Once on the snow, Cook sped to a time of 1 hour, 29 minutes and 51 seconds to take first place in one of the eight races held at Mount Van Hoevenberg.
Saranac Lake’s Annelies Cook took first in the women’s 25k classic race.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
"I was like, 'Oh, if I don't make it to the classic race, maybe they'll let me race, and I can do the skate race instead,'" Cook said. "So I wasn't that stressed about it. Luckily, it wasn't a big deal."
This was actually Cook's first time racing in the Lake Placid Loppet, although she is very familiar with Mount Van Hoevenberg, having trained there for years.
"It's a really hard course," she said. "If you look at the profile, my brother was joking about it looking like an EKG. It's straight up, straight down. It was fun, though. I felt good. I got a little fatigued because I don't do classic races very often."
Cook is currently in the midst of her first World Cup season on the U.S. Women's Biathlon team, where she is holding down the fourth spot. The top three biathletes were in Maine this past weekend for competitions. Looking to do something different, she entered the Loppet as a classic skier. Biathletes skate ski.
But she wasn't the only biathlete at the Loppet. One of her male teammates, Olympian Wynn Roberts, who lives at the Olympic Training Complex, was also at the race. He actually helped out Cook by waxing her skis before the race. He then went out and took first place in the men's 25k skate race, finishing in 1:11:24.
"It's the first time I've been in this state this time of the winter," Roberts said. "I thought it would be great to do, and it was a ton of fun."
One of Roberts' competitors was Matt Cook of Saranac Lake, who is Annelies' brother. Matt Cook finished in 1:17:09, good for second overall and for first in the 30- to 34-year-old category.
"I skied with (Roberts) for a little, but you could tell pretty quickly that he has a much bigger engine," Matt Cook said. "I knew right away it wasn't worth trying to ski with him. (I) just let him go."
Other male winners included Vermont's Tyler Samler, who won the 25k classic in 1:23:59; Robert Douglas of Honeoye Falls won the 50k skate race in 2:26:43; and Quebec's Phil Shaw won the 50k classic in 2:55:13.
Shaw was actually coming off a Loppet race last weekend in Italy with 7,000 competitors. Despite pulling off the win, he felt worn out because he was overzealous training recently.
"I was tired because I actually trained too much this week," Shaw said. "With the snowstorm Wednesday, I couldn't help myself."
Female winners included Ithaca's Lisa Gerstenberger, who won the 50k Classic in 4:48:03; Alexandra Jospe of Massachusetts beat Rochester's Jessica Synder by two seconds in the women's 50k skate with a time of 3:02:21; and Honeoye Falls' Kim Douglas won the 25k skate race in 1:31:05.
There were plenty of locals who did well in these races, including many winners.
In the men's 25k classic, Saranac Lake's Evan Greenberg won the 13- to 17-year-old category with a time of 1:25:18 and Lake Placid's Jeff Erenstone won the 30 to 34 age group in 1:34:52.
In the women's 25k classic, Lake Placid's Hannah Runyon won the 13 to 17 age group in 2:26:43; Saranac Lake's Amanda Zullo won the 30 to 34 age group in 1:49:23; Lake Placid's Rosanne Vandorn won the 35 to 39 age group in 1:50:46.5; Lake Placid's Janet Findlay won the 55 to 59 age group in 1:49:12; and Jay's Joan Turkek won the 65 to 59 age group in 3:26:58.
In the women's 25k skate race, Amelia McDonnell of Paul Smiths won the 13 to 17 age group in 2:06:45 and Lake Placid's Mel Frazier won among 30 to 34 year olds in 1:58:24.
In the men's 50k classic, Lake Placid's Brian Delaney won in 3:40:55. Delaney's High Peaks Cyclery was one of the main sponsors of the event.
In the men's 50k skate, Jay's Frank Krueger won the 65 to 69 age group in 4:14:04.
Overall, there was a strong representation of locals in the race, many who were just happy to compete.
Several of them were from North Country School in Lake Placid, which was represented by a number of students and staff.
Lake Placid's John Doan, a staff member, was one of them. Doan kicked off the weekend by peforming with the musical band Big Slyde at the Dewey Mountain Ski Jam in Saranac Lake. He followed that performance by competing in the 25k classic race, finishing in 2:47:43.
"(The music) got me loosened up," Doan said Saturday. "Tonight, we're playing at Northwoods Inn, so it's a perfect weekend. Music and skiing."