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3 Northern Michigan University Wildcat skiers win at Great Bear Chase in Calumet

Maurus Grond

CALUMET — Three Northern Michigan University nordic skiers were winners at the 41st annual Great Bear Chase cross country ski race on Saturday.

Maurus Grond, an NMU sophomore from Davos Monstein, Switzerland, won the men’s 50-kilometer skiathlon title on the Swedetown Trails in Calumet, according to an email from event organizers. His time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 0.9 of a second was just over four minutes ahead of runner-up Skylar Patten, another collegiate skier from Michigan Tech.

The skiathlon has become the event’s signature race, combining 25K of traditional classic diagonal stride technique and 25K of freestyle or skating technique. The Great Bear Chase also includes races for each technique at distances of 10K, 25K and 50K.

The coronavirus pandemic reduced the field to 550 this year after a record 866 took to the trails in 2020, with skiers this year starting in groups of 25 to conform to distancing guidelines. Temperatures that started in the mid-20s quickly climbed into the 40s during the race with winds gusting to 30 mph. Earlier in the week, rain and warmth reduced the snow pack, but lower temperatures Thursday and Friday allowed groomers to work their magic for race day.

“Skiers reported very fast conditions early in the day, but things slowed down as the temperature climbed throughout the morning,” said race director Angela Luskin, health and fitness manager at event sponsor UP Health System-Portage. “We’re grateful we could hold a safe in-person event, and we saw a lot of smiles during our drive-up registration process.”

Pauline Forren

Another Wildcats sophomore, Pauline Forren of Snillfjord, Norway, won the women’s 50K classic race in 3:05:30.8, more than 50 minutes ahead of the rest of the field, while a Northern freshman, Pearl Harvey, won the women’s 25K freestyle in 1:12:07.6, more than four minutes ahead of another NMU skier, freshman Merle Richter.

Former U.S. Olympian Caitlin Gregg of Minneapolis won the women’s 50K skiathlon in 2:27:53.8, a more than nine-minute victory, while NMU junior skier Savanna Fassio was fourth in 2:41:12.8, NMU junior skier Katerina Hyncicova was sixth in 2:47:01.5 and former NMU skier Julie Ensrud seventh in 2:50:44.1.

Following Grond and Patten in the men’s 50K skiathlon, NMU senior skier Daniel Streinz was third in 2:12:41.9, while two NMU sophomore skiers were seventh and eighth — Kristoffer Karsrud in 2:14:41.8 and Matt Bourne in 2:17:37.1, respectively.

Other winners were MTU skier Tres Green and Anna Engel of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, for men’s and women’s titles, respectively in the 50K freestyle, and MTU’s Adam Witkowski in the men’s 50K classic.

Zaine Braaten, 15, of Moorhead, Minnesota, won the men’s 25K freestyle, while two more high schoolers, Victoria Myers of Wausau, Wisconsin, and Mike Fraley of Houghton, won the 25K classic.

Copper Country Ski Tigers members swept the 10K crowns — Sage Resh Chimner and Cyrus Hamlin of Houghton won the freestyle races, while Ingrid Seagren and Birk Seagren of Hancock took the classics.

More than a hundred volunteers helped run the event, setting up the course and providing drive-up registration before and drive-up pasty meals after.

More information about the Great Bear Chase is available at www.greatbearchase.com.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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