Michelle Quinton, Travis Brown and Theresa Chihuly set out for the 10-kilometer Half Tour during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Michelle Quinton, Travis Brown and Theresa Chihuly set out for the 10-kilometer Half Tour during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Skiers, bikers turn out for Seventh Annual Tour of Tsalteshi

Racers came from across the Kenai Peninsula and beyond and competed in a variety of lengths and modes of travel

Though racers who gathered at Tsalteshi Trails on Sunday came from across the Kenai Peninsula and beyond — one from as far as South America — and though they were competing in a variety of lengths and even modes of travel, great conditions and a fun race were reported by participants and victors of the Seventh Annual Tour of Tsalteshi.

The Tour, which has run since 2018, features various lengths for skiing and supports fat biking. For its second year in a row, the race offered a shorter 10-kilometer Half Tour and a 20-kilometer fat bike race in addition to the traditional 20-kilometer and 40-kilometer Single and Double Tours.

Becca Hitchcock, 33, won the 10-kilometer women’s Half Tour freestyle and was the first to finish on Sunday with a time of 37 minutes, 3.60 seconds. Denali Critchett, 32, followed around two minutes later at 39:16.50 and Theresa Chihuly, 42, rounded out the top three at 40:31.70.

Conditions had been great, “variable,” Hitchcock said.

“Icy in the open fields, then really soft back in the woods — you had to be aware the whole time,” she said.

Because the Half Tour folks started in a later heat than other skiers who were going for the 20-kilometer and the 40-kilometer races, she said they got to spend time moving through the pack — seeing and passing other skiers.

Hitchcock said she used to coach skiing, but recently hasn’t been out as much. She said the Tour of Tsalteshi is exciting as a larger scale race that is still more local and accessible than the Tour of Anchorage, which she used to participate in.

Spencer Burnfield, 38, won the men’s 10-kilometer Half Tour freestyle at 38:40.70. He was followed by Daniel Christ, 14, at 40:41.20 and Travis Brown, 36, at 42:11.10.

Andy Liebner, 40, secured the top finish in the Men’s Single Tour skate race at 57 minutes, 29.80 seconds. He was followed roughly 15 minutes later by Gideon Collver, 23, at 1 hour, 12:28.20. Kent Peterson, 52, closed out the top 3 under two minutes later at 1:13:55.60.

Mary Krusen, 39, won the Women’s Single Tour skate with a time of 1:09:23.30. She was followed by Morgan Aldridge, 42, at 1:12:48.30 and Megan Corazza, 44, at 1:15:32.30.

For the Single Tour classic, Jan Spurkland, 46, won the men’s race at 1:27:58.20. Jeremiah Lance, 18, was second at 1:30:50.10 and Steve Milliron, 60, was third at 1:37:57.40.

Patricia Berkhahn, 68, won the women’s Single Tour classic with a time of 2:19:38.00. She was followed by Julie Laker, 48, at 2:25:23.20 and Chelsea Wingard, 37, at 2:42:37.90.

Liebner, who won the Men’s 20K skate, is a 2001 graduate of Soldotna High School and has coached cross-country skiing at two Olympics. He has four NCAA All-America titles in skiing and won the American Ski Marathon series in 2009-10.

Skiing on Sunday, he said, was an opportunity to enjoy “ripping around” on familiar trails.

Conditions had been great, he said, with changing demands that led him to draw on previous experiences. Lieber described warming temperatures causing some slow down in the last few kilometers — adjusting to emulate the style of a Norwegian athlete he once trained with.

“I thought about how he skis — keeping his skis free and moving, staying on your edges — that carried me through the last three to four kilometers.”

Skiing at Tsalteshi, Liebner said, is an opportunity for him to revisit memories of youth. The Tour is a race he’s returned to compete in both of the last two years — he won the 40K in 2023. He also sponsors the event through his United States Ski Pole Company — to give back “to the community that helped enrich my skiing and passion and coaching.”

In addition to participating in the race, Liebner said that he’s helping to train an Olympic hopeful from Chile, Martin Flores — who competed in the 40-kilometer Double Tour. Flores is, he said, “the top skier in South America.”

Liebner had met Flores at the top of the final hill before the finish chute — giving him an Alaska flag to bear down the hill and past the arch as he won the 40K with a time of 2:09:53.2.

“It was perfect,” Flores, a 21-year-old from San Esteban, Chile, said of the race.

He said the first 10 kilometers had been tougher, but he spent most of the race “just enjoying it.”

Flores said he’s been living in Anchorage while he trains with Liebner, but that he hadn’t skied at Tsalteshi before Sunday’s race.

“This is my first time here at this trail, but it’s perfect,” Flores said. “I love this.”

The long-distance challenge afforded by the Double Tour is “good training,” he said, because he prefers sprinting.

JoJo Balcus, a 26-year-old from Anchorage, came in only around three minutes after Flores, finishing at 2:12:48.9. Robert McNown, 36, closed out the top three at 2:17:20.5.

Stacey Buckelew, 45, won the women’s 40-kilometer Double Tour at 2:34:48.8. She was followed by Melissa Smith, 37, at 2:58:14.7 and Kat Sorensen, 32, at 3:02:22.3.

David Seramur, 34, won the men’s 20-kilometer fat bike at 1:03:34, around 10 minutes before Tony Eskelin, 48, came in for second at 1:12:03.70. Matthew Pyhala, 49, took third with a finish at 1:24:04.60.

Rose Garner, 55, took the top spot for the women’s 20-kilometer fat bike at 1:12:49.40. She was followed only around 10 seconds later by Morgan Aldridge, 42, who crossed at 1:13:02.80. Katrina Garner, 52, closed the top three at 1:22:08.10.

For more information, visit tsalteshi.org.

Tour of Tsalteshi

Sunday at Tsalteshi Trails

Women’s 10-kilometer Half Tour freestyle — 1. Becca Hitchcock, 37 minutes, 3.60 seconds; 2. Denali Critchett, 39:16.50; 3. Theresa Chihuly, 40:31.70; 4. Michelle Quinton, 41:46.30; 5. Krista White, 44:53.10; 6. Sarah Godsey, 45:33.00; 7. Freya Bartlett, 48:16.50; 8. Katie Heikkinen, 49:02.70; 9. Frances Jurek, 50:46.70; 10. Kailey Watkins, 57:31.10; 11. Olga Hippchen, 58:23.20; 12. Margaret Gervais, 1 hour 2:19.10; 13. Meghan Gervais, 1:02:20.30; 14. Kali Saxton-Shaw, 1:18:17.10; 15. Diane Meyer, 1:28:07.50; 16. Sarah Fink, 1:28:57.90; 17. Sara Bundy, 1:30:34.50; 18. Rachel Gilliland, 1:31:48.70; 19. Rebekah Marceau, 1:32:04.80; 20. Irene Houdek, 1:36:17.60; 21. Sandi Crawford, 1:40:01.20; 22. Lauri Lingafelt, 1:44:41.90

Men’s 10-kilometer Half Tour freestyle — 1. Spencer Burnfield, 38:40.70; 2. Daniel Christ, 40:41.20; 3. Travis Brown, 42:11.10; 4. Rubis Gervais, 43:59.20; 5. Justin Hansen, 46:29.30; 6. Alaska Hippchen, 47:27.40; 7. Pete Sprague, 50:22.60; 8. Mark Jurek, 50:43.60; 9. Steve Fink, 58:09.80; 10. Tony Doyle, 1:03:05.70; 11. Ben WIshnek, 1:35:26.50

Women’s 20-kilometer Single Tour skate — 1. Mary Krusen, 1:09:23.30; 2. Morgan Aldridge, 1:12:48.30; 3. Megan Corazza, 1:15:32.30; 4. Kristin Davis, 1:15:32.30; 5. Sonora Martin, 1:23:22.30; 6. Stephanie Greer, 1:26:44.20; 7. Elizabeth Chilson, 1:31:40.10; 8. Sophie Littee, 1:33:02.60; 9. Mikayla Hamlin, 1:34:19.00; 10. Shelly Schwenn, 1:36:33.00; 11. Jessica Austin, 1:42:07.00; 12. Caitlyn Marang, 2:02:31.70; 13. Renee Veldman, 2:07:01.60; 14. Ali Marang, 2:52:01.40

Men’s 20-kilometer Single Tour skate — 1. Andy Liebner, 57:29.80; 2. Gideon Collver, 1:12:28.20; 3. Kent Peterson, 1:13:55.60; 4. Mitchell Andrew, 1:14:26.40; 5. Tony Eskelin, 1:17:06.60; 6. Daniel Shuler, 1:18:03.20; 7. Bernard Stratman, 1:19:17.70; 8. Josh Shuler, 1:21:30.00; 9. Jordan Chilson, 1:21:30.00; 10. Dan Harbison, 1:22:22.40; 11. Mark Mencel, 1:24:39.30; 12. Tom Seggerman, 1:26:01.00; 13. Patrick Lewis, 1:26:04.10; 14. Derek Mueller, 1:27:33.40; 15. Brenner Musgrave, 1:28:40.80; 16. Bill Berkhahn, 1:28:56.50; 17. Brad Mahood, 1:31:13.30; 18. Tor Dahl, 1:32:49.60; 19. Ryan Peterson, 1:34:45.80; 20. C.O. Rudstrom, 1:35:15.80; 21. Karl Kurcher, 1:35:34.10; 22. Brent Veltkamp, 1:36:33.40; 23. Steven Gist, 1:39:03.50; 24. Steve Cothran, 1:45:28.70; 25. Mark Fondren, 1:49:03.40; 26. Leif Laker, 1:49:45.20; 27. Patrick King, 1:57:29.40; 28. Jamie Nelson, 1:57:45.50; 29. Rollin McConnohie, 2:07:01.30; 30. Jonathan Wohlers, 2:07:03.70; 31. Brian Marang, 2:52:01.80

Women’s 20-kilometer Single Tour classic — 1. Patricia Berkhahn, 2:19:38.00; 2. Julie Laker, 2:25:23.20; 3. Chelsea Wingard, 2:42:37.90; 4. Cherie Taylor, 2:42:44.50; 5. Melanie Hollon, 3:20:21.70; 6. Heidi Isernhagen, 3:20:22.00

Men’s 20-kilometer Single Tour classic — 1. Jan Spurkland, 1:27:58.20; 2. Jeremiah Lance, 1:30:50.10; 3. Steve Milliron, 1:37:57.40; 4. Michael Bergholtz, 1:39:53.60; 5. Eli Sheridan, 1:53:26.40; 6. Dan Balmer, 2:01:18.40; 7. Ed Schmitt, 2:12:21.40; 8. William Morrow, 2:20:31.00; 9. Geoff Geier, 2:44:54.40

Women’s 40-kilometer Double Tour freestyle — 1. Stacey Buckelew, 2:34:48.8; 2. Melissa Smith, 2:58:14.7; 3. Kat Sorensen, 3:02:22.3; 4. Sarah Pyhala, 3:18:01.0

Men’s 40-kilometer Double Tour freestyle — 1. Martin Flores, 2:09:53.2; 2. JoJo Balcus, 2:12:48.9; 3. Robert McNown, 2:17:20.5; 4. Michael Mazzacavallo, 2:29:55.1; 5. Sean Ulman, 2:51:50.5

Women’s 20-kilometer fat bike — 1. Rose Garner, 1:12:49.40; 2. Morgan Aldridge, 1:13:02.80; 3. Katrina Garner, 1:22:08.10; 4. Rebecca Fisher, 1:30:14.80; 5. Sondra Stonecipher, 1:44:38.00

Men’s 20-kilometer fat bike — 1. David Seramur, 1:03:34.40; 2. Tony Eskelin, 1:12:03.70; 3. Matthew Pyhala, 1:24:04.60; 4. Jeffrey Hall, 1:32:19.10; 5. Dean Jacomini, 1:36:10.00; 6. Robert Toll, 1:37:35.40; 7. C.O. Rudstrom, 1:57:51.40; 8. Karl Sederholm, 1:58:37.00; 9. Ryan Peterson, 2:02:43.20; 10. Joe Martin, 2:35:03.00

Stacey Buckelew rounds a bend during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Stacey Buckelew rounds a bend during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Sarah Pyhala proceeds along a trail during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Sarah Pyhala proceeds along a trail during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tom Seggerman rounds a bend during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tom Seggerman rounds a bend during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Stephanie Greer rounds a bend during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Stephanie Greer rounds a bend during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Becca Hitchcock comes to a stop after winning the 10-kilometer Half Tour during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Becca Hitchcock comes to a stop after winning the 10-kilometer Half Tour during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Travis Brown reaches the finish chute during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Travis Brown reaches the finish chute during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Morgan Aldridge approaches the finish during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Morgan Aldridge approaches the finish during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Megan Corazza approaches the finish during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Megan Corazza approaches the finish during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Racers set out on the 20-kilometer fat bike race during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Racers set out on the 20-kilometer fat bike race during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Jeffrey Hall and Rebecca Fisher set out on the 20-kilometer fat bike race during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Jeffrey Hall and Rebecca Fisher set out on the 20-kilometer fat bike race during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Chelsea Wingard and Cherie Taylor ski together during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Chelsea Wingard and Cherie Taylor ski together during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Sean Ulman rounds a bend during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Sean Ulman rounds a bend during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Melissa Smith rounds a bend during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Melissa Smith rounds a bend during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

David Seramur rounds a bend during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

David Seramur rounds a bend during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tony Eskelin approaches the finish line of the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tony Eskelin approaches the finish line of the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Rose Garner approaches the finish line of the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Rose Garner approaches the finish line of the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Martin Flores skis into the finish to win the 40-kilometer Double Tour while carrying an Alaska flag during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Martin Flores skis into the finish to win the 40-kilometer Double Tour while carrying an Alaska flag during the Tour of Tsalteshi at Tsalteshi Trails near Soldotna, Alaska, on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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