On the heels of the Midwest Pacesetting Trials, also held at Spirit Mountain, the Midwest Championships brought out the finest skiers of the Midwest and their skills were put to the test on Saturday as the Blue Ruin race trail is longer and more challenging than the standard NASTAR race course.
Snow conditions were good even though frozen rain pelted the kids during the morning race. As the adults prepared for their race in the afternoon the condition improved but visibility did not, the fog rolled in off Lake Superior. Racers had to inspect the course carefully as the race trail has some really fun rolls that require a precise line. The fog rolled in and out but the general consensus among the racers was that the conditions were much better than they looked and everyone was having a great time.
Racers strolled into the Bear Paw Chalet looking cold and wet but there were smiles on their faces. The Midwest Championships was more than a competition for them, it was the chance to have fun and to catch-up with friends from other mountains. Jonathan Weikert of Dresser, WI, couldn’t have been more thrilled after his race. Throwing his hands in the air and yelling “Best day ever!” Weikert, 62, had first skied NASTAR in the 70’s but hadn’t been able to race since, due to his job. Now retired and a mountain top greeter for Spirit Mountain, Weikert made his return to NASTAR at the Midwest Championships and he isn’t looking back.
After the racers where dry and warm traveling pacesetter and 4x Olympian, AJ Kitt, announced the top three finishers from each age group and division. These medalists have now automatically qualified for the Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships that will be held at Aspen/Snowmass March 20th-24th. The champions from each age group were also invited to compete in the Race of Champions on Sunday. The winners carried their handicap into the race to level the playing field so that everyone has an opportunity to win. The winners must ski faster during the Race of Champions than they did during the Midwest Championship to win the overall Midwest Championship title. Overall titles were presented to the male and females with the fastest discounted time and to the racers with the fastest raw times.
Sunday morning brought out the best of the best and colder temperatures with solid race conditions and better visibility. The course was slick and icy and competitors fought hard for a spot on the podium.
In the end Anissa Widule came out victorious as the women’s Overall Champion followed closely by Chelsi Igel and Cortney Wilk. Wilk recorded the fastest women's time to become the Raw Time Champion with Kristen Grebe and Kelsey Cater right behind her.
Jeremy Starz grabbed the lead and held on to become the men’s Overall Champion, just barley holding off Toby Reeck and Chuck Pedretti. Reeck beat out Starz to claim the top spot on the podium to take the men’s Raw Time Champion title. Starz was just .48 hundredths of a second behind and Scott Bjornson finished third.
The Team Race followed the Race of Champions and groups of friends huddled together to talk team strategy. Most teams had five or six team members but only best three would be used to score the team so the tactic most teams employed was, go for it! The competition was very close but team from Buck Hill brought home top honors followed closely by the team from Welch Village. Team Ligety Split from Spirit Mountain took third place for the host resort.
Click here for full results of the Nature Valley NASTAR Midwest Championships: http://skiracing.nastar.com/index.jsp?year=2013&pagename=resort&resortnumber=77