Callaghan Loppet draws a crowd 

World Cup athletes join locals at Whistler Olympic Park

The cross-country ski season is still going strong at Whistler Olympic Park, as more than 170 athletes turned out on Saturday to take part in the inaugural Callaghan Winter Sports Club Loppet. The field was a little unusual, with visiting national teams taking part in the event, and the men's open 30 km category came down to a sprint to the finish where the top five racers were separated by a tenth of a second.

In the Open Men's Skate 30 km mass start race, Swiss racer Eligius Tamborino placed first in 1:08:20, averaging 26.3 km/h on a course that included Olympic cross-country and biathlon trails, as well as a sampling of legacy trails at the Olympic Park.

Curdin Perl, Tamborino's teammate, placed second by 0.1 seconds, with U.S. Nordic combined standout Bill Demong placing third, 0.1 behind Perl. Valeriod Leccardi and Remo Fischer rounded out the top-five.

From the Callaghan Valley Training Centre, Jesse Heckrodt placed eighth in 1:13:47, with Pate Neumann 10 th in 1:14:06.

The top local was Vesa Suomalaninen, who placed 19 th out of 82 starters in 1:20:48.

In Open Women Skate 30 km Mass Start, Claudia Nystad of Germany dominated the field with a time of 1:21:45. Leslie Hall of the U.S. team was second in 1:25:27, with Barbara Turner third in 1:26:38. Amy Caldwell, the former Callaghan Valley Training Centre head coach, was fourth, and the top local skier was Joanna Harrington in fifth place in 1:35:36. Harrington was followed by Carolyn Rodger in 1:42:47, Jennifer Tabbernor in 1:43:06, and Wendy Waller in 1:45:42. There were 25 women in the category.

In the women's 30 km classic race, Maya Guttman was first in 2:45:23, followed closely by Mary Benson in 2:45:24 and Sonja Panozzo in 2:48:21.

In the Open Men's Cruisier Skate 10 km category Douglas De La Mare was first in 24:25, followed by George Urosevic in 25:03 and Matteo Abel in 26:35.

In the Women's Cruiser Classic 10 km race Marlin Beswetherick was first in 44:12, followed by Christina Saldat in 1:19:06 and Hannah Cousar in 1:19:20.

In the Women's Cruiser Skate 10 km mass start Repo Minttu-Maija was first out of 29 racers in 30:23, followed by Nicole Murdoch in 30:54 and Trish Macphail in 31:29.

In Youth Skate 10 km Mass Start, Braden Metza was first in 30:38, followed by Erik Heilig in 33:10 and Michael Mudoch in 34:19. In Youth Women it was Jennifer McTavish in front in 33:58, with Lauren Doak second in 46:07.

The loppet was the last major race for Whistler Olympic Park. The Cross Country Ski Areas Association is hosting its annual convention there from April 14 to 17, followed by the last day of public skiing on April 19. Teams may skate later, depending on the snow conditions.

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