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Youth is served in Spirit of the Rivers Loppet

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In the battle for gold in the longest classic technique race of the day in the open male class, youth trumped experience Saturday at the Stride & Glide Spirit of the Rivers Loppet.

Fourteen-year-old Damian Georgyev, one of the top performers this season in the junior boys category on the B.C. Cup cross-country circuit, left 51-year-old John Hagen eating his snow dust at Otway Nordic Centre.

Georgyev completed the 30-kilometre course in two hours one minute 11 seconds, nearly eight minutes quicker than Hagen (2:08:58), who won a sprint for the finish to cross the line just one second ahead of third-place Patrick Turner.

The margin of victory in the 30 km free technique race was much tighter. Kris Yip, one of the city’s top road bike racers, showed he also knows the quick way to the finish line on a ski trail, Yip won the skate race in 1:48:01, 33 seconds ahead of Tom Skinner and 56 second in front of third-place Chris Pendray, the 2018 Iceman multisport endurance race solo male champion.

Kajsa Heyes, who claimed the 2018 Iceman solo women’s title two weeks ago, was all alone at the finish of the women’s 30 km free race, finishing in 1:55:42, nearly 10 minutes in front of Sarah Champagne (2:5:37) and Maizie Bernard (2:39:55), the second- and third-place finishers. Heidi Evensen was in a class of her own, winning the women’s 30 km classic race in 3:21:39.

On a near-perfect morning for ski racing, with a start temperature of -8 C and fresh snow on the trails, 212 skiers entered the loppet. Racers had their choice of 30 km, 15 km, 7.5 km or 2.5 km courses and could use either ski technique. 

In the 15 km open female classic event, Lyndsey Van der Meer (1:21:10) won by two minutes over Cheryl Moors (1:23:22) and Benita Kayton (1:28:39), while in the 15 km female open free technique race, Shar Balogh finished in less than an hour (57:38) to edge Lynda Foreman (1:06:41) and Ivy Strother (1:11:01). Stephen Rader captured the 15 km male classic all ages title in 1:19:02, while Jim Van Bakel clocked 57:09 to win the 15 male open free event over Ben Pelto (58:30) and Jonathan Taylor (1:05:33).

The 7.5 km category winners were - Male 13-and-under: free Liam Williamson (29:09); Female 13-and-under free: Mya Blackburn (34:36); Male recreational free: Peter Witso (29:34); Female recreational: Kristin Erickson (39:40); Male 17-and-under free: Nolan McLeary (56:18); Female 17-and-under free: Gabby Hoehn (1:23:59).

The 2.5 km race winners were - Bunny on skis: Breanna McCleary (15:22); Male 10-and-under free: Torrin Foster (12:16); Female 10-and-under-free: Jenna Foreman (16:30); Skier with bunny: Brian Hillhouse (14:42); Skier pulling pulk or chariot: Hadleigh and Rhys Thompson (21:33).