TRAVERSE CITY — Evan Rieth went for the gusto in his first cross country ski race.
The 17-year-old junior at Three Oaks River Valley High School entered the Vasa 50K Saturday and finished in 3:24:28.
“I can’t ever remember any teen taking on the 50,” Vasa president Pete LaPlaca said.
“For my first race, I’m happy,” he said. “I think I went out a little fast. I got caught up in all the excitement.
“But I felt pretty good after the 25K mark. I found a rhythm, got a good groove, got my engine going. I was able to keep that through 44K, then I started fading. Other than that, it was a blast.”
Rieth runs cross country and track in high school, and he likes to downhill ski. He started skate skiing two years ago.
His family owns a 60-acre farm and Rieth and his dad — a cross country skier — groom a two-and-a-half mile track.
“We made our groomer with plywood and old tubing that we pull behind our snowmobile,” he said. “It sounds pretty elementary, but we do whatever we can to get it done.”
Last weekend, Rieth skied 130 kilometers.
“Down in southwest Michigan our winters are usually hit and miss,” he said. “This year we’ve been pretty lucky. We’ve had a lot of snow. I like to ski as much as I can, as often as I can. That’s what I did last weekend. The bottom line: I was just having a lot of fun out there.”
Rieth said there are not too many cross country skiers in his area.
“A lot of people don’t even know what skate skiing is,” he said. “When they think of cross country skiing they think of plodding around on no wax skis. It’s not quite the same.”