Loppet worth the wait

Nina Armstrong, of Lake Placid, leads Lucy Hochschartner out of the tunnel during the Loppet’s 50-kilometer classic race Saturday at Mount Van Hoevenberg. Armstrong finished second overall with a time of 3:27:30.5, while Hochschartner was third in 3:27:31. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

LAKE PLACID — If there’s a lesson to be learned from Saturday’s Lake Placid Loppet, it’s that good things come to those who wait.

The Loppet was postponed back in February when unseasonably warm weather and rain forced the race to be moved back. Then last week, winter storm Stella dumped 3-and-a-half feet of snow on the area.

More than 250 people participated in a variety of races on the Mount Van Hoevenberg trails. From the 3-kilometer fun race up to a 50K, two-lap race, everyone seemed pleased with the plentiful snow and bluebird conditions.

The action got underway at 9 a.m. with the 50K classic skiing division, followed 15 minutes later by the 25K classic. The race course was 25K, so participants in the longer race did two laps.

Chris Burnham of Stowe, Vermont won the 50K classic with a scorching time of 2 hours, 46 minutes and 39 seconds. Burnham bested locals Nina Armstrong (3:27:30.5) and Lucy Hochshartner (3:27:31) for the top spot.

From right, Matthew Cook, Tyler Magnan and Jan Wellford race in the 50-kilometer freestyle race Saturday during the Loppet at Mount Van Hoevenberg. Cook, of Saranac Lake, finished 14th in 3:16:13.4, Magnan, of St. Albans, Vermont was fourth in 2:51:18.6 and Wellford, of Keene placed sixth in 2:56:31.6. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

“I always thought I’ve wanted to race the loop, and the weekend worked out so I got out here,” Burnham said. “Course conditions were amazing, it couldn’t have been better.

“I really like the trails out on Porter Mountain quite a bit. I really like nice steep, hilly classic and there was a lot of that out there.

“I was kind of on my own. I wasn’t planning to go off the front, but once I realized I was skiing alone I just kept doing that. I kind of had in the plan to kick it up around 30K, so I did that and made the second lap nice and hard.”

Another Burnham captured the top spot in the 25K classic race. Jimmy Burnham, who hails from Carlisle, Massachusetts, finished his lap in 1:30:22.6. Ed Hamilton (1:33:34.6) and Peter Davis (1:42:37.8), both from Vermont, rounded out the top three.

In the 25K free ski race, Jake Brown, a Minnesota biathlete who is currently living and training at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, won the division with a time of 1:06:37.4. David Johston (1:15:50.9) of Vermont and Lake Placid’s Elizabeth Izzo (1:19:27.7) took the second and third slots.

Nancie Battaglia, of Lake Placid, skis into the sunshine during the mass start of the 25K classic ski race Saturday at Mount Van Hoevenberg. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

“This is my first year doing biathlon,” Brown said. “I was skiing around on the trails yesterday (but) had no idea the Loppet was going on. It looked like a race was happening so I asked about it and got the chance to hop in the 25K, so that’s what brought me here.

“The longest race we race in biathlon is 20-kilometers, so this is long. I think skiing, especially at this distance, it’s so much about keeping the momentum going and it is really is in biathlon too. You can kind of break it up into pieces in biathlon, and skiing I think it’s more about being fluid, keeping the momentum the whole time and focusing on being steady and smooth and never letting up.”

Lake Placid eighth-grader Van Ledger also completed the 25K free in eighth place with a solid time of 1:23:45.6, and said he was happy with how he did in the grueling race.

“It was definitely pretty hard pacing yourself because you don’t want to go hard and burn out, but it was definitely really fun,” Ledger said. “I unfortunately didn’t prepare as much I should have. I felt good, (but) I left just enough to push through.”

The 50K free skiing race was won by Duncan Douglas of Peru with a time of 2:33:51.1. Brian Chrzan (2:48:25) of Clifton Park was second and Emily Stitt (2:50:05.8) from Jericho, Vermont was third.

Wilmington resident Kevin Prickett, of Wilmington, skis in the 25-kilometer classic race Saturday at Mount Van Hoevenberg. He finished fifth in 1:46:42. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

Mary Schlimmer from Cortland won the 12.5K free race with a time of 24:58.8, while Maureen Oleary-Squires earned the top spot in the 12.5K classic, finishing in 1:07:34.4. Gary McLain captured the number one spot in the 6.25K classic with a time of 33:41.9 and Joseph Wilson of Keene, who skied for Lake Placid High School this year, finished first in the 6.25K free ski with a time of 17:09.7.

Eight-year-old Caleb Turner won the 3K race with a time off 17:13.6, and was followed across the finish line by 10-year-old Henry Gibson (36:50) and 5-year-old Heath Turner (37:00.4) in second and third, respectively.

For full results, go to www.whiteface.com/files/public/Loppet_Results/2017_Loppet_allclasses.pdf.

Saranac Lake High School nordic ski coach Keith Kogut is all smiles during Saturday’s 50K Loppet classic race. He finished seventh in 3:48:31. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

Eliza Thomas double poles while heading toward the biathlon area of the 25-kilometer classic Loppet race Saturday. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)