Cassidy leads Haines, sets mark at Buckwheat
At a pace of nearly nine miles per hour over a 31-mile course, Liam Cassidy led a field of eight Haines participants in the 25th annual Buckwheat Ski Classic at Log Cabin, B.C. Saturday.
Canadians took home all the top awards at the competition, where 325 skiers finished races at distances ranging from 5K to 50K.
Cassidy, 37, coaches the Haines High School cross-country team. His time of 3:37:48 lopped nearly a half hour off his previous best time in the 50K Nordic race. “It was a really fast track.” Temperatures below freezing and consistent snow made for ideal conditions and easy waxing, he said.
Cassidy’s time was probably the best ever for a Haines finisher, said Chip Lende, a 22-year Buckwheat veteran who for years raced the 50K. Lende, who led Haines skiers in the 25K event this year, said his best time in the longer event was around 3:45.
Cassidy grew up skiing in Vermont but got serious about the sport a dozen years ago when he became ski coach at a high school in Maine. “I learned it out of necessity.”
Cassidy said he’s been cross-country or backcountry skiing every day since returning to Haines about a month ago.
By at least a decade, Cassidy was the youngest Haines participant in this year’s race. He said he’d like to see more younger skiers from town, but said that’s unlikely until there’s a consistently-groomed track here. “It’s just not the preferred winter sport. I can accept that.”
John Parry of Whitehorse, Y.T. won the 50K in 2:39:54.
Lende led Haines racers in the 25K with a time of 1:55:43, followed by Thom Ely (2:09:57), Bill Holton (2:34:52) and Tom Morphet (4:32:02). Jane Pascoe (2:09:56) and Sue Libenson (2:11:28) also raced in the 25K.
Fabian Brook of Whitehorse won the men’s 25K in 1:21:49. Kendra Murray of Whitehorse was the women’s 25K winner in 1:31:42.
Deb Marshall of Haines competed in the 10K race and finished with a time of 1:06:07.Lucy Steek-Masson of Whitehorse won.