Competition often finds scenarios where youth is pitted against experience. Arguments can be made for either side as to which side will be more victorious in athletics.
At Saturday's Besh Cup freestyle 1-kilometer sprints at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School, these competing sides met a stalemate as veteran skier Kate Pearson won the women's J1-OJ-SR-Master's race and Soldotna senior Daniel Harro came from behind to win the men's final.
The Besh Cup is used to choose which of Alaska's junior skiers will compete in the Junior Olympics. However, seniors with an itch for competition also compete in the series.
"The guys that I was racing were ultrastiff," Harro said of his competition in the final race that included Adam Verrier, a 1994 Olympian, and Frederik Haug, of Anchorage's Alaska Winter Stars. "It's no easy task racing these guys."
The final race included the four fastest racers of the day, who earned their places by finishing in the top 24 of an initial time trial, then finishing first or second in subsequent heats that followed.
Soldotna's David Hernandez leans across the finish line in the J1/OJ/Sr/Master quarterfinals to advance in the semis as Anders Gillis ends his day a split second later.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Within the first 150 meters of the final, as he was heading into the curves at the beginning of the course, Harro found himself behind Verrier and Haug, and holding off Mark Strabel, a seasoned skier from the Matanuska-Susitna valleys.
About midway through the race, Harro was still holding his position 3 meters behind Haug going up the incline of Collin's Climb. At the top of the hill, he began to make his move and closed in on Haug.
"It was all strategy," Harro said following the race. "I kind of drafted off of him."
On the traverse, coming down the hill, Harro continued to skate as the racers ahead of him leaned into a tuck position. He squeezed past Haug on wobbly skis and came just behind Verrier. Coming off the hill, Haug tumbled as he tried to turn the corner and regain ground on Harro.
The final 100 meters saw Harro close the gap between himself and Verrier, eventually overcoming the older opponent within 5 meters of the finish line.
Kenai's Andy Banas is missing a ski pole basket as he skies to the finish of the J1/OJ/Sr/Master quarterfinals.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
"It helped that I was racing on home court," an exhausted Harro said after the race.
This was his second come-from-behind win, however, as he overtook two more competitors in the same fashion during the quarterfinals earlier in the day.
"I do a tuck-skate," he said about his strategy. "And when I come around that (final) corner, it gives me a little more speed."
Soldotna cross-country ski coach Dan Harbison said Harro's skill had developed to a point where the senior was able to make quick and wise decisions in the heat of a race.
"He has matured enough in his racing to strategize and alter his technique during the race," Harbison said. "I'm happy how his technique has developed. He's really found his own this season."
Skyview's Stephanie Lambe races in the J1/OJ/Sr/Master quarterfinals Saturday.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Harbison pointed out that one of the bonuses for him on the day came from Soldotna skier Dave Hernandez -- finishing eighth overall -- who gave an outstanding performance in the quarterfinals.
"It was a surprise that he was able to hang on," Harbison said. "That heat was really a fast heat."
Hernandez was positioned a few meters behind Harro in the quarterfinals, and made his move to the front at the top of the traverse, soon after Harro did. Hernandez overcame the racers ahead of him soon after reaching the bottom of the hill and turning onto the final stretch.
"When I hit the top of that hill, I was in fifth place," Hernandez said. "I knew they weren't going to be going too fast and I went into a skate-tuck to the bottom. Then I just tried to catch Daniel."
The fourth Besh Cup of the season will be held today at 11 a.m. at Tsalteshi Trails. It will be a longer freestyle race.
Besh Cup Freestyle Sprint
1. Kate Pearson; 2. Kasandra Rice; 3. Paige Brady; 4. Mandy Brassfield; 5. Sally Johnson; 6. Kelli Boonstra; 7. Caroline Livett; 8. Sarah Quimby; 9. Amanda Vincent-Lang; 10. Rachel Mathis; 11. Jenna Farleigh; 12. Stephanie Lambe; 13. Rachel Goldstein; 14. Katrina Hewitt; 15. Grethe Denkewalter; 16. Lana Mathis; 17. Emma Lohr; 18. Aleta Phelps; 19. Krynn Finstad; 20. Justin Calvin; 21. Brita Mjos; 22. Lela Wiley; 23. Kelsi Evans; 24. Stacy Edwards; 25. Lindsey Viltrakis; 26. Krista Rader; 27. Ashley Helmers; 28. Laura Johnson; 29. Liz Turner; 30. Katie Turner; 31. Tamra Kornfield; 32. Terra Rentz; 33. Virginia Parrish; 34. Nikki Holmes; 35. Jenny Smola; 36. Bridget Heimerl; 37. Caley O'Connor; 38. Jenny DiGrappa; 39. Jessica Holden; 40. Raina Holden; 41. Whitney MacFadyen; 42. Jan Tomsen; 43. Suzanne Swartz; 44. Kristin Gearry; 45. Alice Knapp; 46. Jaylee Krier; 47. Sheylyn Lindfors; 48. Melissa Ostermick; 49. Heidi Keller; 50. Candice Agstadt; 51. Allison Babcock.
1. Daniel Harro; 2. Adam Verrier; 3. Mark Strabel; 4. Fredrik Haug; 5. Daniel Clark; 6. Cory Smith; 7. Bart Dengel; 8. David Hernandez; 9. Anders Gillis; 10. John Angst; 11. Paul Schauer; 12. Donovan Walsh; 13. Ryan Holtan; 14. Mike Hinckley; 15. Loren Schmidt; 16. Josh Cohen; 17. Ira Edwards; 18. Andy Banas; 19. Galen Britton; 20. Mark Harro; 21. Ryan McClure; 22. Zeke Braham; 23. Danel Buckley; 24. Harry Crawford; 25. Ross Wise; 26. William Brooks; 27. Sam Beck; 28. Pete Alexson; 29. Ben Stolpman; 30. Peter Morris; 31. Zak Melms; 32. Karl Hanneman; 33. Jordan Engel; 34. Josh Carstrom; 35. Darin Markwardt; 36. Colin Fay; 37. Nathaniel Grabman; 38. David Ford; 39. John Murphy; 40. Mathew Medlock; 41. James Kase; 42. Jens Klaar; 43. Gareth Bosch; 44. Kerry Klauder; 45; Nicholai Smith; 46. Alex Hundertmark; 47. Jesse Cherry; 48. David Stutzer; 49. Alan Gnad; 50. Brandon Moffett; 51. Jim Singleton; 52. Gunnar Knapp; 53. Tiger Demers; 54. Jay Butler; 55. Michael Gaudin.
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