BELLAIRE — Susan Vigland and Alex Vanias took the same approach the last few days.
Mix a little rest with a little skiing.
After battling extreme weather conditions in last weekend’s grueling Noquemanon Ski Marathon, Vigland and Vanias had a much easier time of it Saturday in cruising to wins in the White Pine Stampede 50K freestyle. Vigland captured the women’s race in 2:28:14, Vanias the men’s race in 2:12:33.
A week ago, Vigland placed third in the Noquemanon 50K freestyle (3:55:04) while Vanias was 16th in the 50K classic (3:32:20).
“That (Noquemanon) was the hardest race I’ve ever done,” Vigland said. “The snow was so slow. My time was over an hour slower (than previous 50K times). You felt awful. That’s a long time to ski, almost four hours.
“I took it easy this week and I felt really great today. The first 25K, especially before it started snowing, was super fast and fun. It was a well-prepared course.”
Vanias took two days off during the week to recover from the Noquemanon.
“I didn’t ski much this week,” he said. “I felt fine (today), but I could tell I didn’t train enough this week. I was a little flat. No speed.”
Try telling that to the other competitors.
Vanias, who lives in Leroy, pulled away at 30K to win his second consecutive Stampede.
“Three of us (Vanias, Ryan Harris and Glenn Goodman) agreed before the race that we would ski together for 30K or so and then just do whatever,” Vanias said.
In this case, “whatever” meant pull away.
Vanias said he had the fastest skis in the field.
“Same as last year,” he said.
Trail conditions helped, too.
“Great conditions today,” he said. “Before it started snowing, the trail was packed perfectly.”
Williamsburg’s Eli Brown, the two-time defending Vasa champion, was expected to challenge Vanias.
“He texted me this morning and said he wasn’t going to make it,” Vanias said. “Back pain.”
Brown indicated Wednesday his back was bothering him after the Noquemanon.
“Hope to get better and get back in the mix for the Vasa next week,” Brown said.
Harris had his race strategy — staying with Vanias and Goodman for 30K — end early.
“That was the plan, but it didn’t turn out that way,” the Grayling resident said. “I broke a pole and a ski about 10K into the race. I was going down an icy hill, stepped out of the track and lost it. I was going too fast for conditions — just crashed right in the road.
“I got up, got a new ski, a new pole and about 3K after that I crashed again and broke another ski. It just wasn’t my day. After that I was spent. I cramped up really bad. I was just glad to finish.”
Harris was not surprised the 23-year-old Vanias led the charge.
“He looked good, looked strong,” Harris said. “He’s one of the best in the state right now. I knew he was going to come out on top. I was just trying to see how long I could stay with him.”
Roscommon’s Bob Smith finished second in 2:19:27.
“The field was small so a middle-of-the packer could come through if he just kept skiing,” Smith said. “Conditions varied, but I had fast skis and took advantage of the downhills. When it was technical and narrow, my skis were running good so I was able to marathon skate and cut some good corners and carry my speed.”
Smith skied by himself a good share of the race.
“Until I saw Glenn Goodman out in the open field (towards the end),” he said. “That was the last little shot of adrenaline I needed. It was all good. I’ve never finished second before.”
Bellaire’s Goodman came in third in 2:20:06.
Cadillac’s Kaitlyn Patterson took second in the women’s race in 2:36:40.
Vigland said she would have opted for the 20K if she was skiing the Vasa next Saturday.
“But I can’t do the Vasa because I’m going to be out of town,” she said. “Otherwise, I would have done 50 (Noquemanon), 20 here and 50 Vasa — instead of doing three 50s in a row. That’s not so smart . But since I’m going to be out of town next week, I decided to try the 50 today and see how it went.”
Vanias will be skiing the Vasa on Saturday. He was second to Brown last year.
“This was a training run for next weekend,” Vanias said.
Petoskey’s Jim Harrington won the men’s 50K classic (2:43:03) and Indianapolis’ Ingeborg Lundberg the women’s 50K classic (4:22:08).