The weather might have looked funky, and the snow might have felt soft, but the skiing was pretty darn good for the 2003 Gold/Silver/Bronze/Junior Rush races at Royal Gorge this year. Please Click on one of the following links to open the appropriate result page...
Gold Rush winner Justin Wadsworth leading the pack on the first lap.
CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH WEEKEND RECAP
Royal Gorge, March 22 and 23, 2003
Wet and Wild would be the best way to describe the 2003 edition of the California Gold Rush at Royal Gorge, the premier cross country ski race in the West. Over 300 skiers braved overnight rains and race time heavy mist to compete in one of the different race distances (50, 30, 15, or 6 kilometers). Gold Rush Weekend is one of the most important fund-raisers for the Far West Nordic Ski Education Association and Auburn Ski Club, with all the proceeds being donated to their Junior Ski Programs.
Even though the tracks were soft from the rain, the snow conditions stayed relatively fast throughout the course; while no course records were set, skiers thought that the Royal Gorge tracksetting crew did a great job for the conditions.
In the premier 50 kilometer Gold Rush event, U.S. Olympic Team member Justin Wadsworth showed that hes still the one to beat. Wadsworth reprised his 1998 Gold Rush victory with a finish line sprint win over Subaru Factory Team member Scott Loomis, who thought he had victory in hand until needing to avoid a slower racer right before the finish line. Wadsworth finished with a time of 2 hours, 7 minutes and 5 seconds, over 16 minutes faster than last years winning time, a scant 4 seconds in front of Loomis. Close behind in third place was NCAA Collegiate skier Jimmy Vika from University of New Mexico. For the women, Abigail Larson of the Subaru Factory Team was able to complete a wire-to-wire win, easily outdistancing her rivals with a winning time of 2:26:57. Giving the race an international flair, second place went to Russian skier Natasha Terechenko, with third place taken by UNM skier Martina Stursova from the Czech Republic.
While the Gold Rush gets the headlines, many racers chose one of the shorter races on this day. In the 30 kilometer Silver Rush, Far West Nordics own Phillip Violett, a junior recently returned from the Junior Olympics in Fairbanks Alaska, was able to hold off a furious charge from Australian skier Daniel Van Der Ploeg. Violett won with a time of 1:26:09, just two seconds ahead of the second place finisher. Andreas Berbu, another University of New Mexico skier, was 30 seconds behind in third place. Jenny Wissting, yet another UNM racer, took first place for the women with a time of 1:33:32. Beth Reid of Palo Alto completed her clean sweep of the 6-race Fischer Cup Series by taking second, with Muffy Roy coming in third.
This years 15K Bronze Rush once again took on a younger look. Another Far West Nordic Junior Olympic athlete, Garrett Reid of Palo Alto, won this race convincingly by over 3 minutes. Joel Ruane was second, with Truckees Owen Wright third. And in what has become a fierce rivalry in the local races, Natalie Joffe of Kentfield was able to edge out Kara LaPoint of Truckee for the womens crown, with Truckees Kari Rust in third. The 6 kilometer Junior Rush featured some of the future champions of the sport. Matt Gelso of Truckee, coming off a very successful Junior Olympics, took the boys gold medal, winning over two other Truckee middle school athletes, Spencer Wood and Alex Taylor. Bend, Oregons Zoe Roy won the girls title over Far West racers Gabrielle Joffe and Alexandra ONeil.
A huge thank you goes to Royal Gorge for donating all proceeds to the Far West Nordic and Auburn Ski Club for this event, making it one of the most successful Gold Rush fundraisers in history.