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Snow and ice conditions hold up for Prince George Iceman

Last-minute efforts to prepare outdoor venues allow 37th annual event to happen without a hitch

Despite a scarcity of snow and very little ice, the 37th annual Prince George Iceman went off without a hitch Sunday.

An unusually warm and dry winter forced organizers of the multisport endurance race to make contingency plans in case the two outdoor venues – the ski trails at Otway Nordic Centre and the skating rink at the Exhibition Park ice oval – weren’t available.

Thankfully for the 382 competitors who entered, that wasn’t an issue.

Closure of most of the ski trails at Otway resulted in a course change for the cross-country ski segment that started the race and it was shortened from the usual eight kilometres down to six kilometres. The 116 skiers did six laps on a one km loop and despite the congestion of a mass start all that traffic on the trails resulted in no major catastrophes.   

“It went very smoothly and it gave us some ideas of creating a new route that’s shorter so the spectators and teams can see the skiers more,” said Iceman chair Julie Ubdegrove

“The whole event went well. The oval got skated out pretty good because there were so many skaters on it but it was awesome. There were so many spectators watching and cheering on. The whole day was pretty epic. A week before we thought it would be a run-run-swim. It was good we got to keep the ski and the skate.”

From Otway, the race turned into a running event for the 10 km jaunt to Exhibition Park, where skaters completed a five km course that led into a five km run. Iceman ended at the Aquatic Centre for the 800-metre swim segment.

After the ice oval melted down to bare dirt last month, it was touch and go whether volunteer ice crews could build the ice thick enough to withstand all those blades but they did it. If not for artificial snow the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club invested in years ago, there would not have been enough snow to host the race.

The weather Sunday was pretty much ideal, with no snow and mild temperatures that hovered near the freezing mark.

“It was just a great year overall and we’re hoping this builds some momentum so next year we can have an even bigger Iceman,” said Ubdegrove.

Alex Nemethy of Vanderhoof captured the Iceman overall male solo title, completing the course in 1:49:03.6, followed by Josiah Wilkinson (1:57:23.6) and James Sader (1:58:14.3).

Lindsay Van der Meer was the fastest female soloist. Competing in the female masters category, Van der Meer stopped the clock in 2:09:40.7.

Sarah Newton, the grand masters category winner, was third overall in 2:28:12.8.

Sara Champagne won the solo open women's category in 2:22:27.3, followed by Cianna Pawluk (2:34:51). Shelly Martland (2:38:03.5) was the masters solo winner..

There were 35 soloists in the race.

Barry Nakahara won the masters male title (2:01:45.0), while Richard Harrison topped the male veterans list (2:29:35.9).

Seventy-two adult teams and 13 junior teams competed in the relay.

Freeze My Body Into the Ice Oval (Cam McNamara and Elizabeth Hirsch) got to the finish quicker than any other team, while winning the open mixed title in 1:41:16.5).

Moms Snow Everything (Lynda Foreman, Amy Rowe, Kristy Maclean) posted the quickest female relay time (2:05:37.8) while winning the masters team title.

Slinky Slinksters (Christy Blackburne, Jill Sader, Erin Sketchley) won the open female relay category (2:06:48.2).

ZATOG (John Bowes, Zach Matyas, Josh Van der Meer, Bryce Gladdish, Johnny Enemark) set the winning pace (1:43:27.8) in the male open relay.

Ice Force (Wanda Nemethy, Brian Nemethy, Terry Lazaruk, Jason Mclean) won mixed grand masters relay (2:05:33.2), while Duchess Park Snazzy Staff (Ali Cadell, Miriam Green, Will Cadell, Gillian Russell) topped the mixed open relay list (2:08:26.2).

Junior (16-and-under) relay winners were:

Male – Ice Boys (Caleb McIntosh, Gareth Seabrook, Graham Pearce, Callum Seabrook, Nikita Yakhymchuk, Magnus Roy) – 1:47:32.8.

Female – Chicks With Kicks (Mika Hara, Kiah Thiessen-Clark, Brenna McCleary, Madalyn Lazurak, Isabel Simoes, Lyric Kessler) – 1:46:02.7.

Mixed – Duchess Park Golden Warriors (Sullivamn Nelson, Mac-Donald Osuji, Eli Carlson, Ava Rivard, George Trosky, Emmett Simpson) – 1:44:44.0.