Skiers prepare for the Tour of Tsalteshi race just outside of Soldotna on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Skiers prepare for the Tour of Tsalteshi race just outside of Soldotna on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Moose, midweek rain can’t stop Tour of Tsalteshi

A stubborn moose on the trail couldn’t even deter skiers at the fifth annual Tour of Tsalteshi ski race Sunday. Well, not completely.

Soldotna’s Melissa Smith, who came in first place in the women’s 40K freestyle event, said skiers one by one accumulated at the spot where the moose was blocking the trail. They ended up having to alter the course on the Wolverine trail to get around her.

“I felt like a group of 20 people would look imposing enough to get one moose to move down the trail, but we were wrong and it charged us,” Smith said. “So that was pretty close, (but) she never made contact with anybody.”

Apart from the moose mishap she said the race went smoothly, especially with the rain and warmer temperatures earlier in the week.

“Traditionally it’s either 6 inches of fresh snow on the trails or really cold,” Smith said. “We’ve had our share of inclement weather, so this one was a real treat.”

This was her second 40K victory in her fourth Tour of Tsalteshi race, and the third time she’s raced the full 40K. She finished the women’s 40K freestyle race in 2 hours, 36 minutes and 15 seconds Sunday.

Ian McCarthy, of Anchorage, came in first place for the men’s 40K race at 2:04:29.

“It was nice and fast, the grooming was awesome,” he said after he crossed the finish line Sunday. “A little bit fast and icy but they groomed it out well, so it wasn’t too sketchy.”

McCarthy skied for his high school team in Washington state, and even had the chance to compete in Fairbanks during that time. He didn’t cross-country ski in college, but has since picked it back up. This was his first Tour of Tsalteshi race.

Steve Cothran, the founder and organizer of the race, said Sunday’s event went well, despite the cancellation of the fat bike race due to weather.

“(It) seems like it went great, seems like everybody’s had a great time,” he said.

The hike in temperatures early last week made for less than ideal biking conditions on the trail. Cothran said he’s hoping to have a fat bike race next year.

“Obviously, that’s really difficult,” he said about making the call to cut biking. “(We) did what we thought was best at the time.”

Jenny Neyman, Tsalteshi’s administrative coordinator, said they still hope to have a fat bike race at a future tour.

“We’re going to try it again next year,” she said Sunday. “The concern was even though the forecast looked like it was going to get cold as it did, that there would just be so much extra moisture in the snow.”

Neyman said they didn’t want the snow to be too soft for a ride, and made the call early so bikers would still have an opportunity to race in the ski events if they wanted.

“We did not want the race to be memorable because people were pushing their bikes for 20 kilometers,” she said.

In all, there were 84 timed racers at Tsalteshi on Sunday.

Mary Krusen was the women’s 20K classic top finisher at 1:16:23. Krusen won the 20K classic in 2020, and the 40K freestyle in 2021. Emily Lints, 1:25:31, and Tamara Brabson, 1:33:08, came in second and third.

Eric Auten was first in the men’s 20K classic with a time of 1:05:40. Trevor Davis was second at 1:15:36, and Wyatt Dement was third at 1:49:20.

For the women’s 20K freestyle, Anna Engel clocked in first at 1:05:52. Kelli Boonstra, 1:08:47, and Anna Williams, 1:09:49, rounded out the top three.

Mitchell Andrew placed first in the men’s 20K freestyle in just under an hour, with a time of 0:59:15. Kyle Lints was second at 1:01:38 and Martin Schuster was third at 1:04:54.

There were four women’s 40K freestyle racers. Smith led the pack with her finish time of 2:36:15, and Amy Brodersen, 3:01:36, and Gail Norton, 3:46:59, placed second and third.

Out of the six men’s 40K freestyle racers, McCarthy finished first at 2:04:29. Chuck Dimarzio was second at 2:11:35 and Robert Mcnown was third at 2:11:43.


Women’s 20K Classic: 1. Krusen, 1:16:23; 2. Lints, 1:25:31; 3. Brabson, 1:33:08; 4. Alexandria Serventi, 1:37:23; 5. Denali Critchett, 1:37:24; 6. Abigail Elbow, 1:51:41; 7. Maddie Halloran, 2:04:35; 8. Yvonne Leutwyler, 2:08:12; 9. Martha Story, 2:26:44; 10. Larissa Arbelovsky, 2:09:21; 11. Molly Dischner, 2:10:56; 12. Sara Bundy, 2:23:20; 13. Karlie Wilhelmi, 2:36:32; 14. Cassie Sheridan, 2:41:20; 15. Jennefer Stubblefield, 2:49:35; 16. Avigail Curry, 2:57:38; 17. Ashley Curry, 2:57:38; 18. Lainey Gallenberg, 3:14:58; 19. Jerri Rouse, 3:42:20.

Men’s 20K Classic: 1. Auten, 1:05:49; 2. Davis, 1:15:36; 3. Dement, 1:49:20; 4. Dan Balmer, 1:52:19; 5. Mark Beeson, 1:55:26; 6. Jeremiah Hamilton, 1:55:34; 7. Joel Salvino, 1:56:37; 8. Ed Schmitt, 1:58:58; 9. Chris Arbelovsky, 2:11:27; 10. William Morrow, 2:15:08; 11. James Nelson, 2:15:15; 12. Shawn Bultsma, 2:16:29; 13. David Story, 2:16:41.

Women’s 20K freestyle: 1. Engel, 1:05:52; 2. Boonstra, 1:08:47; 3. Williams, 1:09:49; 4. Morgan Aldridge, 1:10:49; 5. Libby Jensen, 1:12:01; 6. Kristin Davis, 1:15:48; 7. Elizabeth Earl, 1:17:22; 8. Kathleen Sorensen, 1:18:40; 9. Annie Cravero, 1:21:17; 10. Gina Gregoire, 1:23:27; 11. Pamela Todd, 1:23:31; 12. Binget Nilsson, 1:36: 08; 13. Lisa Torstenson, 1:26:13; 14. Nicole Schmitt, 1:30:59; 15. Patty Moran, 1:31:17; 16. Heather Shank, 1:46:34.

Men’s 20K freestyle: 1. Andrew, 0:59:15; 2. Lints, 1:01:38; 3. Schuster, 1:04:54; 4. Chase Laker, 1:05:37; 5. Michael Mazzacavallo, 1:08:16; 6. Jackson Blackwell, 1:10:14; 7. Forrest Rosenbower, 1:11:23; 8. Jason Leslie, 1:11:44; 9. Kyle Dusenberry, 1:11:57; 10. John Mink, 1:11:59; 11. Jeffrey Helminiak, 1:12:12; 12. Bernard Stratman, 1:12:37; 13. Tont Eskelin, 1:12:53; 14. Justin Hansen, 1:14:01; 15. Andrew Walsh, 1:14:18; 16. Tom Seggeman, 1:14:24; 17. Johnny Kraning, 1:16:26; 18. Andrew Brabson, 1:16:40; 19. Lief Danielson, 1:22:50; 20. C.O. Rudstrom, 1:27:42; 21. Bill Berkhahn, 1:28:17; 22. Brian Healy, 1:30:58; 23. Tor Dahl, 1:34:49; 24. Ollie Dahl, 1:36:47; 25. Jason Hasegawa, 1:47:26; 26. Chris Beaudoin, 2:08:02.

Women’s 40K freestyle: 1. Smith, 2:36:15; 2. Brodersen, 3:01:36; 3. Norton, 3:46:59; 4. Naomi Brodersen, 3:48:02.

Men’s 40K freestyle: 1. McCarthy, 2:04:29; 2. Dimarzio, 2:11:35; 3. Mcnown, 2:11:43; 4. Jordan Chilson, 2:23:48; 5. Joseph Nyholm, 2:26:05; 6. Dan Miotke, 2:49:36.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at

Ian McCarthy finishes in first place for the men’s 40K freestyle race at the Tour of Tsalteshi on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Ian McCarthy finishes in first place for the men’s 40K freestyle race at the Tour of Tsalteshi on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

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