BY DENNIS CHASE
TRAVERSE CITY — For Andrew Nadler, it was quite a finish.
For Amy Powell, it was quite a sendoff.
Nadler, an 18-year-old high school senior from Chicago, surged with four kilometers to go Saturday to claim the Vasa 27K men's freestyle cross country ski race at Timber Ridge Resort. His time: 1 hour, 20 minutes and 35 seconds.
Powell, the defending 50K women's champion, tuned up for her upcoming trip to Italy for the masters world championships by capturing the 27K. Her time: 1:35:09.
For Nadler, it was his second Vasa victory. He won the 27K in 2011, too.
Nadler, Williamsburg's Milan Baic and Holland's Brad White broke from the pack early in the men's race. The three skiers stayed together until the teen made his move with 4K to go.
"I surged and was able to drop them," Nadler said. "I wanted to go hard and get a gap right away. I knew if I got a gap that I should be able to hold it. I thought I could go hard for 4K."
Nadler's time was nearly five minutes faster than two years ago.
"That was a good move he put on with 4K left," Baic said. "He's a young guy. He played it smart the whole way. I wanted to go out and ski aggressively today — and I did that. I probably led the first 20K of the race. I knew there were going to be two guys I would have to contend with at the finish. That's the way it worked out, too. He (Nadler) kicked in strong to the finish. He was definitely fresh — fresher than I was. I didn't have the finishing kick the last 4K to track him down."
Baic edged White for second, 1:21:01 to 1:21:02.
"It felt good," Baic said. "It was a gorgeous day. This is going to go down in the books if not the best (Vasa), then one of the top two or three."
Baic, like Powell, is heading to Italy this week for the world championships.
"That's why I wanted to be aggressive today because it's going to be aggressive all week in Italy," he said.
Powell skied aggressively, too.
"It was hard," she said. "It was an all-out sprint. The 50 is way easier."
It was an all-out sprint because Powell was trying to chase down several male skiers in front of her.
"There were a few guys ahead of me I targeted," she said, laughing. "I got all but one or two.
"I was just trying to push it, have fun. It felt good."
Powell, a Lake Ann resident, was third in a 50K freestyle two weeks ago in Marquette. She won the White Pine 40K at Shanty Creek last weekend.
"It's so nice to be home," she said. "Everybody knows everybody here.
"We had great snow today. It was so well groomed. But it was cold and that was hard on my lungs."
Powell said she has no expectations for Italy.
"There are a lot of strong women over there, ex-Olympians," she said. "It won't be like Milan. Milan is so good he can bring hardware home. I'm just going for the experience."
Traverse City's Erica O'Hearn and Kelley Peterson were second and third, respectively, in 1:40:46 and 1:48:04.
O'Hearn, 29, is Milan's daughter. She's back skiing competitively this winter after a long break. She started in the first wave with Powell.
"She took right off," O'Hearn said of Powell. "I knew if I tried to stay with her I would burn out. I tried to be a little bit smarter, let her go and ski my race, my pace. It worked out well."