Record 740 Skiers in 2018 Great Bear Chase

A record 740 skiers enjoyed a perfect day for cross country skiing Saturday for the 38th annual UP Health System Great Bear Chase Ski Marathon at the Swedetown Trails on Saturday. Temperatures in the mid-20s and a solid base created fast condition for the 50 kilometer, 25 kilometer, and 10 kilometer races.

Former Michigan Tech skier Deedra Irwin (Pulaski, Wisconsin) and past U.S. Ski Team member Tad Elliott (Durango, Colorado) took victories in the 50km skiathlon, which incorporates the two different styles of cross country skiing – 25 kilometers using the traditional classic diagonal stride technique and then 25 kilometers of the freestyle or skating technique.

The Great Bear Chase also includes competition in each technique at distances of 50km, 25km, and 10km.

“About 80 percent of our participants come from outside of our immediate area, which means almost 600 skiers and their families are renting hotel rooms, eating at restaurants, and supporting our local economy,” said organizing committee member Dean Woodbeck. “Cross country skiing is a silent sport, but has a large impact for local businesses not only on Bear Chase weekend but throughout the winter.”

Some 200 volunteers are needed to plan the event, set up the course and start and finish areas, provide several aid stations for skiers, and prepare a huge pasty luncheon at Calumet High School for racers.

“Conditions were excellent, with moderate temperatures, no wind, and a great snow base,” said race director Angela Luskin. “As they do every year, skiers said they enjoy our course, and we have the best snow conditions in the Midwest. Our groomers did a great job, and I can’t say enough about our volunteers. Without them, we would not be able to put on a race of this caliber.”

The Great Bear Chase is also the concluding race in the CXC Ski Marathon Cup, which includes six of the biggest cross country ski events in the Midwest.

Results and photos are at www.greatbearchase.com. The 2019 Great Bear Chase will take place March 9.