BY DENNIS CHASE email@example.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — BELLAIRE — Two titles, one household.
Traverse City’s John and Erica O’Hearn swept the men’s and women’s 20K cross country ski races Saturday in the 38th annual White Pine Stampede.
John O’Hearn finished in 1:00:08, about two minutes ahead of Williamsburg’s Tim Jenema (1:02:02).
O’Hearn’s wife, Erica, came in at 1:04:32. Homer’s Rebecca Davis was second (1:10:52).
The point-to-point races started at Mancelona High School and ended at Shanty Creek Resort.
“The course was in good shape,” John O’Hearn said. “It was awesome. Even the falling snow didn’t slow it down.”
O’Hearn took charge of the race after 5K.
“We were all going easy, about five or six of us through 5K,” he said. “My skis felt good so I decided to pick it up and see if I could put a little gap in there and then relax. I picked it up for three or four minutes, got a good gap, then just tried to stay strong but not overdo it.
“It was a lot of fun. I don’t lead a lot of races so I have to work on pacing myself. I’m still getting used to that. But I felt good, felt strong, felt like I had a lot left in the tank.”
Jenema, after a tough start, edged Traverse City’s Brian Beauchamp for second. Beauchamp was timed in 1:02:03.
“I stuck my pole between my skis right at the start and crashed,” Jenema said. “It took me about 3K to catch (the pack). They were rolling really smooth.
“John then made his move at about 5K, got about 10 seconds on us. Three or four of us skied together for quite awhile trying to catch him, but he kept putting 5 to 10 seconds on us all the time. He was stretching it out. He skied a strong race.”
So did Erica O’Hearn.
“I skied at a nice relaxed pace,” she said. “I went out well and had a good time coming in. Beautiful day, beautiful course.
“It’s (course) not too hilly, and today we had comfortable conditions. The light snow coming down didn’t really affect the trail at all.The crew did a great job getting it ready.”
The O’Hearns and Jenema could certainly appreciate Saturday’s conditions after competing in brutal weather last weekend at the Noquemanon Ski Marathon in Marquette. Skiers there had to contend with zero degree temperatures, 15-to-25 mile-per-hour winds, swirling snow and poor visibility. John O’Hearn finished seventh and Jenema 50th in the 50K freestyle. Erica O’Hearn placed second in the 24K freestyle.
John O’Hearn made an adjustment Saturday.
“I brought these today,” he said, pointing to his ski goggles. “Last weekend my glasses fogged so I flipped them early in the race and my eyeballs froze up. Stuff’s still a little blurry. My nose is just getting back to normal. I had some frostbite on my cheeks and nose.”
As did Jenema.
“About Tuesday, Wednesday you could start to see the skin peel off your face,” he said. “It was a brutal race. But you’re racing in the U.P. so what do you expect?”
Erica O’Hearn, meanwhile, is still trying to get over a chest cold.
“Like a lot of people,” she said.
“I took it easy this week. I’m glad I did the half (24K) last week, and the short one today, so I can do the long Vasa (50K) next week.”
John O’Hearn plans to do the 50K Vasa, too.
Wixom’s Mike Muha won the men’s 20K classic (1:26:48) while Traverse City’s Caroline Urbain took the women’s classic (1:43:28).
In the 10K that finished at Schuss Mountain, Empire’s Keefer Edwards won the men’s 10K classic (33:59) and Traverse City’s Kyla Foley the women’s 10K classic (44:03). Traverse City’s Sean Brownell (26:50) and Heidi Schwab (29:10) took the 10K freestyle races.
The 20K and 50K races finished side-by-side at Shanty Creek.
“I wanted to see how this worked out,” race director Jack McCaig said. “I’m excited about it. It adds more excitement to the finish.”