25K freestyle men’s winner Sam Holmes (942) approaches the finish line.

ACME — Sam Holmes skis at Timber Ridge every year for the Vasa.

Now it’s his backyard.

Holmes recently moved to a house in Williamsburg right off the Vasa trail, and claimed the top spot in the men’s 25K Saturday afternoon with a time of 1:11:31.

“I started off quick off the line to make sure to get out of the pack,” Holmes said. “I led the race out for the first three or four (kilometers), then cycled back a few places. After that, we kind of hung out in a pack taking turns leading until maybe about 10 or 11K in. And then I found myself at the front.”

Holmes took an uphill straight quick, then turned around and was surprised at the gap he formed.

“I kind of hammered it hard for the next 5K, got that little bigger and bigger,” Holmes said. “From there I was just able to finish it out.”

The next three finishers crossed the finish line just over a minute later, speeding into the chutes side by side.

Kevin Tarras, 37, of Grawn finished second with a time of 1:12:41; Jacob Dean, 20, of Traverse City finished third in 1:12:44; and Lars Hallstrom, 22, of Ann Arbor finished fourth at 1:12:46.

Holmes, 26, originally from Ann Arbor, had won the classic race in the past, and Saturday was his first freestyle win. He finished second behind Alex Vanias, who won the 50K, at last year’s race.

Aside from skiing the VASA trail “every week,” Holmes enjoys splitting training time with the ones at Hickory Hills.

“Between both of those places we’ve got a lot of great skiing here,” Holmes said. “I split my time pretty evenly between both of them.”

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