Beck, Smith start strong in IRS Series

July 2, 1999 - Park City, UT

The world's premier stage race got underway this weekend, attracting international teams and the world's best athletes on wheels. If you think we are talking about that petty little bike race in France, you have no idea about the fierce competition going on here in Utah. The inaugural International Rollerski Series (IRS) Event took place today, after weeks of anticipation and big talk by the competitors. The turnout was respectable for the first event, with eight racers competing. In order to make the competition fair, Chief of Race Torbjorn Karlsen ensured that every one raced on the same skis (Sponsor Plug: ProSki C2 Combi) by providing demo pairs to those unfortunate enough to ski on inferior skis. Debate ensued however when it appeared that Erik Stange has suspiciously fast skis (repeated glide tests were inconclusive). The course was very short (2+ Ks) and flat , but any thoughts of easing into the competition went out the window when the gun went off. (OK there was no gun, but had there been, Gerald Robinson, a biathlete, might have been able to improve his spot in the standings.) Anyway, the men started first - one at a time at ten second intervals. Scott Loomis went first and set the pace for the rest of us to match. Scott is world-renowned for his rollerskiing prowess, having dominated local races for the past few years. He was followed out of the gate by, in order, Erik Stange, Eric Teitze, Gerald Robinson, Cory Smith, and Addison Whitworth. Scott quickly pulled away from the pack , distancing himself from his nearest competitor by 30 seconds. But as the race approached the finish, Cory Smith had passed the three people who started in front of him and appeared to be even with Loomis. Sensing that he could pull off the upset, Smith put on a final kick to edge Loomis by a mere two seconds (6:30 to 6:32). (Editor's Note: The author, while trying to provide unbiased race coverage, is basically saying that he kicked ass today.) Loomis, obviously distraught after the race, said that knowing that race organizers were unable to come up with (Sponsor Plug) Toll House Chipwiches for the winner had zapped his motivation. Suspiciously, it was Smith who had gone looking for the Chipwiches before the race. When asked whether this was part of his strategy all along, Smith smiled slyly and said, "No Comment." Addison Whitworth, who has been somewhat of an enigma on the xc circuit in recent years, came in with a strong 3rd place showing (7:00) to prove that he is on his way back to the top. Eric Teitze was the only junior male entered, but he proved he could ski with the big boys by posting a time of 7:24. Gerald Robinson, who had been talking smack all week, proved that he is pretty fast for an old man by winning the Masters category.

In the women's race it was a mono e mono duel between two of the top juniors in the west. Megan Beck started 10 seconds behind Whitney Thompson and managed to just about catch her by the finish. At the finish, Whitney signaled that she is ready for revenge by writing this race off due to a killer swimming workout the day before. We will watch this rivalry with great interest. And since they were the only two women in the race, they both have a huge headstart on the overall title.

It was a great kickoff to the series and things will only be getting better. For the next race (for schedule go to the IRS Homepage) we expect to have skiers from the University of Utah, as well as former and (possibly) future Olympians. Stay tuned. And, oh yeah, you might want to follow that French Bike tour or whatever it is in the meantime.

1 Cory Smith 24 Nordic Equipment 6:30 30
2 Scott Loomis 27 Nordic Equipment 6:32 25
3 Addison Whitworth 24 Rossignol 7:00 21
4 Erik Stange 26 Nordic Equipment 7:04 18
5 Eric Teitze 18 Park City Junior Team 7:24 16
6 Gerald Robinson 30+ Nordic Equipment/YOKO 7:37 15
1 Megan Beck 16 Park City Junior Team 9:24 30
2 Whitney Thompson 16 Park City Junior Team 9:37 25