Gothic Mountain Tour Racers

“It was a wild day”

by Than Acuff

   The stars aligned for the biggest field of racers ever for CB Nordic’s 17th Annual Gothic Mountain Tour presented by Black Diamond on Sunday, February 19. Not only was there a copious amount of snow in the mountains and a stable snowpack, but CB Nordic had gained permission from the county to groom the Slate River Road for a more pleasant final stretch to the finish line. Gone were the miles of snowmobile whup-de-doos, replaced by a beautifully groomed track thanks to the CB Nordic cat crew.

“Everybody raved about the Slate River Road being groomed,” says CB Nordic events director Becky Nation.

Unfortunately, a moose did not cooperate, but CB Nordic and the slew of race officials and volunteers hustled and, in the end, all turned out well.

The Gothic Mountain Tour is gaining popularity every year both as a challenge for some skiers and a test piece for others planning on competing in CB Nordic’s premier event, the Grand Traverse. The race class course is 23.5 miles long with 5,130 feet of climbing and starts at 6 a.m. from behind the Crested Butte Community School before heading up the ski resort, up a portion of Snodgrass and then out the Gothic corridor before climbing over the top of the Washington Gulch drainage and down to the Slate River valley floor, finishing at the CB Nordic Magic Meadows yurt.

The rec class course starts at the Snodgrass trailhead at 8 a.m. and heads out the Gothic corridor to join the race class course for 17.85 miles and 2,379 feet of climbing with the same finish line.

This year though, thanks to a moose, the finish line had to be moved at the last minute. As a CB Nordic volunteer was putting out flags to mark the final stretch to the finish line at the yurt, she ran into a moose that was not interested in having anyone come through its territory.

“Our volunteer had to jump into a tree to get away from the moose,” says Nation. 

Nation received a call at 8:30 a.m. alerting her to the current situation and, in the heat of the moment, made a clutch call to move the final stretch to the finish line. Typically, racers cross Gunsight Bridge and get on Mike’s Mile trail for the homestretch. But with a moose roosting about, “We just decided to move the course to the Slate River trailhead so people could finish and made a makeshift tailgate finish line,” says Nation. “We had to get signs out and start directing people to the Slate River trailhead.”

It turned out that as they were busy shuffling beer, prizes, signs and everything else from the yurt to the new finish line, the first racer, Logan Greydanus, came into the yurt skiing the entire length of the race class course in a time of three hours and 27 minutes for the overall title. 

“That blew my mind,” says Nation. “We thought we had at least another half hour to get everything moved.”

Lynn Froetscher won the women’s race in a time of 4:54:41. Both were handed a custom bedazzled pint glass for their win.

The team kept moving gear while eight or nine racers still finished at the yurt but by 10 a.m. everyone was on course to the new finish for cold beer from Irwin Brewing Company and Curation Beverage Company and homemade cookies from the Gray Hares.

In addition, while temperatures were relatively mild at both start lines, racers did encounter alpine weather as they reached the high point of the course.

“There was lots of wind and maybe three to four inches of new snow, but it didn’t accumulate because of the wind,” says CBSAR team member and liaison to the race Ben Breslauer. “I’d say winds were sustained 20 miles per hour where I was stationed at the Top of the World, gusting into the 30s, it was windy. Temps were in the high teens though, so it was better than in past years.”

Of the 200 skiers that started, Nation says 183 finished, a typical rate of attrition for the event. Reasons run the gamut as to why, but two racers went completely off course skiing down Washington Gulch while another suffered an ankle injury and had to be transported out.

“It was a wild day,” says Nation. “Thanks to all of the field teams.”

Nation and the CB Nordic team now turn their attention to the mother of all races, the Montane Grand Traverse, with the race sold out and 250 teams of two set to head into the midnight air on April 1.

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