Washington Nordic Cup and Ozbaldy: Jeff's Report

 Jeff Hashimoto does it all: organizes a full weekend of racing at Cabin Creek, coaches his junior team, and oh yes, races the 50k.  Somehow he found time to put together this awesome race report, too -- thank you, Jeff, for making it all look so easy!


It was a fantastic weekend of racing, and I've finally had a chance to catch my breath to reflect a little bit. Judging by the number of people who left items at the cabin, I wasn't the only one who wasn't firing on all cylinders after the 50k!


The Washington Nordic Cup Finals on Saturday were the culmination of a season-long series.  The Washington Nordic Cup broke all records this year, with 330 individuals participating in the series through the year, up from a previous high of 270 in 2020.  The goal of the Washington Nordic Cup is to make racing accessible to youth by making races that are low or no cost, low stress and high fun.

The Washington Nordic Cup Finals featured a King's Court Format classic sprint race. This race is hosted by the Ellensburg Ski Team in cooperation with the Kongsberger Ski Club and Momentum NW.  100 racers toed the line and raced four times. In a King's Court, there is no elimination -- skiers ski with racers of their approximate pace, moving up or down based on finish order in their heats.

The race course featured a ski through the snowmobile shed, thanks to the hard work of Jeff Clark, Frank Harris, Don Brooks and Joy Cordell (and others?). It was a challenging sprint course with some steep fast downhills. Hard wax was the call of the day, thank goodness!

U14 through U20 racers were combined, with top honors going to Plain Valley's Peter Norby and Leavenworth's Annika Peterson. U12 and U10 skiers were combined, and overall wins were taken by Plain Valley's Alex Shestakov and Momentum's Lillian Andrews. (Lillian could be seen doing bonus pullups in the cabin after the race.) Finally, Plain Valley's Caleb Stay and Leavenworth's Sadie Hamon won the U8 around the PK loop.

Washington Nordic Cup Season Winners with their green hats

Awards were presented to the top individuals in all age classifications, and season-end Washington Nordic Cup awards were awarded based on points earned through the year.  Draw prizes were donated by Madshus -- thank you!

Thanks to all the volunteers who stepped up to make this a successful event.  This event has grown significantly in the past several years, and it was a lot of work putting it on -- a real team effort.  A number of Ellensburg parents took on major roles -- thank you all so much!


Another fabulous day of skiing, with conditions about as good as could be. Brett Hanscomb said on lap 2 that the Ozbaldy downhill was in such good shape we could do it every lap today, but by lap 3 I was pretty glad we only had to do it once!

The 10k was won by Plain Valley's Jedidiah Stay (still a first year U14!) and Heather Fourie.  It is fun to peruse last year's results and see the massive improvements that many of these young skiers have made.  

In the 50k, all eyes were on Akeo Maifeld-Carucci, at least until he skied away from everyone. The former Birkie winner (2019), who had skied stride for stride with Olympian Eric Bjornsen in the Ski to the Sun last month, Akeo was a heavy favorite and he did not disappoint.  Although Akeo almost missed the start, we waited a few seconds for him to arrive, and then he promptly deserted the other racers, skiing solo to win by six minutes.  2022 winner and Kongsberger's own Michael Evans was second, narrowly besting former UNH skier Tyler Quinn-Smith.  On the women's side, Erica Fox, a Minnesota native still sporting a Midwest racing suit, won over our own Mona Deprey, who was the dominant skier in the age-adjusted category. Ashley Nichols, a 2:46 marathoner from Seattle (whom I am proud to say I gave a ski lesson to) was third.  It was a great race all around.  Even us 50s podium guys skied together for 45k, until one of them dropped anchor (yes, that was me -- that last lap was tough!)

50k Podium: Tyler Quinn-Smith, Michael Evans, Erica Fox, Ashley Nichols, Mona Deprey and Akeo Maifeld-Carucci

Excellent food was available in the stadium. Draw prizes were donated by Outdoor Research, Madshus, and Nordic Ultratune.

Kongsberger volunteers came out of the woodwork to make the race happen, which is so important in a race where volunteers are needed for many hours. Many volunteers mean we can have multiple shifts and people can actually go to the bathroom.  Thank you to everyone who helped with Ozbaldy!

Thanks to Anne Egger for timing both days, the Andrews family for heading up food, Brandon Guthrie for taking on Chief of Course, Lisa Newton for announcing humor and encouragement, Mark Larson for leading parking, Andrew Gastineau for procuring awards, and Heather Aften for being race secretary. Honestly, writing this I realize I didn't even see all you guys Sunday -- that's how busy it was.

When naming volunteers there is always the risk of leaving someone out, so a special thanks to the person who is my number one volunteer (whom I also left out in thanking volunteers at the Stampede): Carey Gazis. Carey does so much, from crunching Washington Nordic Cup scores under the pressure of a crowd of eager kids to coordinating volunteers and setting up V-boards. Thank you to all volunteers, but a special thank you to Carey!

Signing off, Jeff