The conditions were this: 25 degrees, 25-mph wind with gusts to 50, wind chill 11 degrees — just another day for the Hood River Valley Nordic team.

Saturday, Feb. 8 was the home team’s turn to host a league race for 139 skiers. The weather conditions were just the same as last year: Typical for Mount Hood in February. Parents, volunteers, Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic center employees and skiers were there early to set up fencing, a PA system, a 10-lane mass start, and an 80-foot long mat which racers needed to change from one set of skis to the other mid race.

“It was totally wild trying to set the race up in the high wind,” said Coach Joe Kelly, “but the team rallied to pull it off.”

At one point, the 80-foot mat, though partially weighted down with two-by-fours, lifted off the ground and rolled itself into a tangled ball. A 15-foot-high finish line banner was stripped off its fiberglass pole and flew across the meadow. Kelly said volunteers were unfazed as they retrieved the banner and re-attached it to its pole. Course setters Kenny Bresnihan and Jeff Castelberry needed to drag a tree that had fallen on the course out of the way to clear the trail.

Luckily, the wind settled down a bit as race time approached.

The boys started first in a mass start that included 65 skiers from Bend, Summit, Redmond and St. Mary’s Academy in Portland. Anton Micek of Bend won the race. Top finishers for the HRV boys were Sean Arpag, Ethan Fowler, Sean Counihan and Aiden Cantrell. The girls’ race followed, with 74 skiers skiing the 2.5 K classic sprint and switching their gear mid-race for a 2.5K skate.  Annie McCloughlin of Bend won this event and was so fast, she would have been in fourth place overall if she had been in the boys’ race. Hood River skiers were led by Emma Kelly, Sophie Kaden, Lyric Emmons and closely followed by Celia Acosta and Lucy Hennesey.

Sponsors Jay Sherrerd, Attorney at Law, and Mt. Hood Meadows hosted the race.

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