Ski to Sea

Ski to Sea live updates, photos and video

Follow along leg by leg
May 29, 2022 at 5:00 a.m.
|
Updated May 29, 2022 at 7:43 p.m.
Chris Queitzsch of IndustrialCU (219) shoots off from the starting line of the 2022 Ski to Sea race, which begins with a cross-country leg. Racers hand off the baton to "downhill" skiers next, then runners pound pavement down the mountain.
Chris Queitzsch of IndustrialCU (219) shoots off from the starting line of the 2022 Ski to Sea race, which begins with a cross-country leg. Racers hand off the baton to "downhill" skiers next, then runners pound pavement down the mountain. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

By CDN Staff

Mass chaos at 7:30 a.m. marks the beginning of the 49th annual Ski to Sea race on Mount Baker. The seven-leg relay race begins with a cross-country ski leg. Spectators crowd the sides of the starting line to watch the spectacle. 

Next, comes the “downhill” ski and snowboard leg, then the running, road bike, canoe and cyclocross bike legs. Strong-armed athletes finish off the race with the sea kayak leg. 

Cascadia Daily News will be on the scene today, with reporters and photographers at each hand-off zone. This story will be updated all day with photos, videos, quotes, winning statistics and relevant race information. 

Follow along from the comfort of your armchair (it is supposed to rain) or grab a beer in Fairhaven and watch in real-time as Bellingham's biggest event unfolds.

If you have your own moments to share from race day, send them to newstips@cascadiadaily.com or tag us on social media using #CDNs2s. 


LIVE UPDATES

7:43 p.m.

Nearly 300 people have finished and the Fairhaven Festival is wrapping up.

Here are some photos from the finish line: 

photo Kayaker Jeff Hilburn rings the bell for team BIRCH EQUIPMENT to win the race. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

photo Kayaker Ana Swetish of The Real Housewives of Whatcom County keeps an eye on the shore as she rows to the finish line. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

photo Denise Weeks of team We'll be fine falls into the water as she approaches the shore at the finish line. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

photo Mignon Fontenelle of team Wild Rumpus powers her outrigger to the shore at the finish line. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

photo Columbia Bank's kayakers Mike Beckman and Jeff Hegedus, right, race to the shore at the finish line in Fairhaven. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

4:49 p.m.

photo Stevie Cairns of Dingleberry Fairies finishes the race. The Dingleberry Fairies team finished the race in 9:12:08. (Photo by Meri-Jo Borzilleri)

3:51 p.m.

The Real Housewives of Whatcom County was the first competitive women's team to finish the race, with a time of 7:43:05. Just one family team has crossed the finish, Once Moore For Good Old Times, with a time of 8:23:15. One high school team, The Kids Are Alright, has finished with a time of 7:56:24. 

photo Former WWU student Stevie Cairns of Dingleberry Fairies prepares for the kayak leg at Zuanich Point Park. (Photo by Meri-Jo Borzilleri)

3:14 p.m. 

Bicyclists are still bouncing along the cyclocross route. Thirty-two teams have finished the race.

2:48 p.m.

The Bellingham Fire Department competes every year with bagpipers walking them down the finish line. Beau Whitehead completed the team's sea kayak leg. The Bellingham Firefighters came in 15th place.

“I'm happy it's over,” Whitehead said.

He plans to recover by drinking some kind of lighter beer at the festival in Fairhaven. 

photo Bagpiper Jason Sims, left, and Bellingham Firefighter's Beau Whitehead in Fairhaven after the race. (Julia Lerner/Cascadia Daily News)

2:28 p.m.

Traci Cole was the first woman to cross the finish line. Her team, Just Poké, finished in ninth place.

“It feels great to be back after two years away,” she said. Cole participated in her first Ski to Sea race in 1997. Now that she's done, Cole plans to go eat a bowl of poké. 

2:23 p.m.

Top 10 Ski to Sea finishers

FirstBIRCH EQUIPMENT5:58:48
SecondBEAVERS TREE SERVICE6:00:21
ThirdBoomer's Drive-In6:02:46
FourthC O M P A S S
6:22:02
FifthInn at Lynden6:27:51
SixthEvil Bike Co6:28:56
SeventhBoomer's Drive-In Legends6:34:23
EighthPeoples Bank6:44:01
NinthJust Poké6:51:11
10thMt. Baker Ravens6:52:14


Jaime Klein, from the fifth-place Inn at Lynden team, rang both bells as he came down the finish line to his waiting family. “The start was the hardest part for me.”

When asked if he got a good night's sleep last night, he chuckled, “Of course not.”

photo Jaime Klein of the Inn At Lynden rang both bells as he came down the finish line to his waiting family. (Julia Lerner/Cascadia Daily News)

2:06 p.m.

Some people became accidental spectators to Sunday's chaos, like the Stankeys. Harrison and Courtney Stankey brought their baby out to Fairhaven on a whim today, not realizing it was the Ski to Sea race. “We're from Seattle and we love visiting Bellingham,” Courtney said. “We're excited to see everyone coming in!”

photo Harrison and Courtney Stankey brought their baby out to Fairhaven on a whim today, not realizing it was the Ski to Sea race. (Julia Lerner/Cascadia Daily News)

1:55 p.m.

While some teams cross the finish line, others are in the canoe leg.

 

Brian Flannelly, 64, and Collin Smith, 41, canoed for the Bellingham Firefighters this year. It’s Flannelly’s 31st race with the Bellingham Fire Department, and it will be his last. It’s Smith’s 14th Ski to Sea, and his third with the fire department.

photo Brian Flannelly and Collin Smith of the Bellingham Firefighters after finishing the canoe leg of Ski to Sea. (Kyle Tubbs/Cascadia Daily News)

1:52 p.m.

C O M P A S S finishes in fourth place with a time of 6:22:02. Aaron Small ensured the team's success in the kayak leg.

Small said the headwind was the toughest part of the race. 

“I'm tired now,” Small said. “This race was a lot closer than I expected.” He plans to recover with lots of water and snacks.

photo Biker Jack Bardi throws the timing chip to his C O M P A S S teammate during the bike-to-canoe exchange in Everson. C O M P A S S finished the race in 6:22:02. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

1:40 p.m.

Each athlete is sure to be exhausted from their leg of the race, whether it's their legs or arms that are burning. 

Despite the cool and cloudy weather, Jeff McConaughy, 52, found himself dehydrated and disoriented at the end of his cyclocross leg for Peoples Bank team in the veterans division.

"This is my first race in many years. I used to race a lot."

He pushed hard on his older, custom-made all-steel bike. "I've ridden some carbon steel bikes and they're faster. But I love it."

photo Jeff McConaughy of Peoples Bank said, "The course is excellent. I had grass and mud all over the place. I love it. The rougher the better." Mud slows down road cyclists. "There's a lot of roadies in this race. I like to keep them off my back." (Photo by Meri-Jo Borzilleri)

1:37 p.m.

The gap between paddlers at the marina is shortening now as larger numbers of competitors come in groups.

1:33 p.m.

Boomer's Drive-In comes in third place. A close Ski to Sea race has its top three. Greg Redman, the team's kayaker, said for his cool down, he plans to paddle back to where he parked his car. 

“I'm pretty darn tired,” he said. “Coming back into the tide upwind was tough.”

1:28 p.m.

Cowbells are ringing as BIRCH EQUIPMENT's Jeff Hillburn crosses the finish line signaling the first-place winner of the 2022 Ski to Sea race. BEAVERS TREE SERVICE comes in a hot second place.  

“I had Jonas chasing right behind me,” he said. Jonas Ecker, the second-place finisher, was one of his fifth-grade students.

Ecker said the most difficult part of the 5-mile kayak leg was the 30-yard run to the finish line. "I'm not a runner." 

The race was special for Ecker, who got the handoff from his father. 

"He's been doing this forever and it was really special to get the handoff from him," he said. 

1:14 p.m.

Spectators wait eagerly at the finish line for their friends and family to finish the grueling race.

photo Kevin Terpstra, who has previously competed in all Ski to Sea legs, waits at the finish line to cheer on his friends. (Julia Lerner/Cascadia Daily News)

1:10 p.m.

While some racers are no doubt paddling close to the Ski to Sea finish line, others are dragging their other watercraft (canoes) out of the water to hand off the baton to their cyclocross racer.

photo Chris Cupp and Drew Smith of Peoples Bank pull up on a muddy shore in eighth place for the canoe leg. (Kyle Tubbs/Cascadia Daily News)

12:54 p.m.

Boomer's Drive-In comes in third in the cyclocross leg. There is a lighter breeze and better conditions than earlier for the first kayakers hitting the water. 

12:53 p.m.

BEAVERS TREE SERVICE crosses the finish line of the cyclocross leg, passing the baton to their kayaker.

12:49 p.m.

BIRCH EQUIPMENT takes first again in the cyclocross leg with a solid lead.

photo BIRCH EQUIPMENT's cyclocross rider Jack Shuckra crosses the line in first place before handing off the baton to kayaker Jeff Hillburn. "The course was good, really fast. There were some big mud puddles and I said screw it, just went right through them. The course is going to get way more muddy, so nice to go through first." (Photo by Meri-Jo Borzilleri)

12:47 p.m.

photo Kayakers Jeff Hilburn (BIRCH EQUIPMENT), Jonas Ecker (BEAVERS TREE SERVICE) and Greg Redman (Boomer's Drive-In) await top three cyclocross finishers. (Photo by Meri-Jo Borzilleri)

12:42 p.m.

Eric Gerstl, 54, and Mike Hammer, 59, of Boomer's Drive-In finished in second place. Since the river is so wide, teams have to be strategic, especially when two canoes are close in the race, Gerstl said. 

“He motivated me,” Hammer said, pointing to Gerstl. 

Gerstl’s been doing Ski to Sea since 1996, and called it a “tradition.” Meanwhile, Hammer is relatively new to river paddling.

“We usually try to come in first, but we did what we could on the river today.” They praised the first-place finishers, saying they’re good friends and were “on their game today.”

photo Team MasterBakers' Kim Dolezcar and Larry Braul, center, cut between two other canoes while passing on the Nooksack River. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

photo Cole Wilson and Lydia Schulz play cribbage as they wait for their team number to be called at the canoe start in Everson. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

12:35 p.m.

Glenn Bond, 49, and Bob Woodman, 59, of BIRCH EQUIPMENT came in first place during the canoe leg. The successful finish was not without a serious "grind," as the top three boats entered the race at the same time. The course was straightforward, and there were no surprises on the course for the race veteran whose team came in first in 2019.  

“Coming first is always nice,” Woodman said. “You don’t want to let your team down.” 

Bond, who has been competing in Ski to Sea for 12 years, had to keep his head up on the course to watch for debris, but he said it was overall one of the best years. Both men don't plan to do anything special to recover from the 18.5-mile canoe ride, although some cold beers may be in their future.

photo Competitors carry their canoes into the river as others wait for their turn to race during Ski to Sea on May 29 in Everson. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

12:19 p.m.

The Boatman family was at the canoe-cyclocross handoff to cheer on Brian Boatman of BEAVERS TREE SERVICE. Sandra Boatman, 66, daughter Natalie Boatman, 35, and grandson Grayson Gordon, 11,  were excited to see their husband, father and grandpa cross the finish line in third place. 

“After three years it’s about time. This has been a staple in our family for 35 years, I was on her hip for the first one,” Natalie said, pointing to her mom.


photo Family members of Brian Boatman, a canoeist on BEAVERS TREE SERVICE, watch the race at Hovander Homestead Park. From left to right, Boatman's wife, Sandra Boatman; grandson, Grayson Gordon; and daughter, Natalie Boatman. (Charlotte Alden/Cascadia Daily News)

12:11 p.m.

BIRCH EQUIPMENT is first across the canoe finish line, followed by Boomer's Drive-In. BEAVERS TREE SERVICE comes close in third. The first cyclocross racers are off. 

photo Glenn Bond, left, and Bob Woodman of BIRCH EQUIPMENT finish first in the canoe leg. BIRCH EQUIPMENT finished first overall with a time of 5:59:48. (Kyle Tubbs/Cascadia Daily News)

12:03 p.m.

The Fairhaven Festival is gearing up. Ski to Sea draws in thousands of out-of-towners, who patronize the local businesses, bars, breweries, restaurants, crafters and artists who call Bellingham home.

photo Kat Finch and her cat, Squid, walk around the Fairhaven Festival exploring. The duo goes everywhere together — Squid, who is blind, even goes hiking with Finch. (Julia Lerner/Cascadia Daily News)

11:55 a.m.

Race organizers now expect the first canoeists to come in at 12:15 p.m.

Charles Linneman, 27, is competing in the cyclocross leg for his team, the 2009 Junior Ski to Sea Runners Up (222). Mud is what makes the course fun. 

“I want the most challenging course possible,” he said. 

To prepare, he rode the course a few times, changed his tires and ate a big dinner last night.

photo Charles Linneman, 27, gets ready for the cyclocross leg at Hovander Homestead Park. Linneman is part of the 2009 Junior Ski to Sea Runners-Up team, whose members have competed together in each race since they were in the third grade. (Charlotte Alden/Cascadia Daily News)

11:53 a.m.

The kayak leg will be the long course. There are buoys marking the course but no visible balloons due to a worldwide helium shortage, race organizers said. 

"Basically, you're making a big Z," the race chairman said. 

photo The Ski to Sea kayak leg will be the long course. Current conditions are blustery and chilly. (Ron Judd/Cascadia Daily News)

11:50 a.m.

photo The Nuckolls family is excited to return to the Ski to Sea festival. Before the pandemic, they frequented the event, but the kids don't remember it. “I'm so thankful to see everybody out here,” Talia, left, said. The kids are looking forward to seeing art and eating food. (Julia Lerner/Cascadia Daily News)

11:40 a.m.

A kayak racer meeting will be held at 11:45 a.m. More information about the weather conditions and whether the course will be short or long will come soon.

11:38 a.m.

Melissa Mckeogh, 26, of Babe Train, is competing in Ski to Sea for the first time. She's filling in for the cyclocross leg last minute and feeling "really nervous." While she didn't prepare much for the race, she's excited about the atmosphere and the after-parties. 

photo Babe Train's Melissa Mckeogh, 26, waits at Hovander Homestead Park for the cyclocross leg. This is her first time participating in Ski to Sea. (Charlotte Alden/Cascadia Daily News)

11:27 a.m.

The first canoeists are expected to reach Hovander Homestead Park between 11:45 a.m. and noon.

11:25 a.m.

photo Colleen and Ian Harper are checking out the local artists and meeting with friends at the Fairhaven Festival this year. “We competed in the canoe leg in 2010. We might do it again when the kids are older.” (Julia Lerner/Cascadia Daily News)

11:21 a.m.

The wind is picking up on Bellingham Bay as kayakers prepare early for the final leg. The easiest way to tell the serious racers from the people who just want to finish? The way they carry their kayaks. The racers can lug their 20-pound kayaks around with one hand. Others are racing in plastic or thermo-molded recreational craft that are up to twice as heavy. The weight makes a big difference paddling into a headwind as is typical with the kayak leg, and will definitely be the case today.

11:20 a.m.

Spectators are already gathering in Fairhaven, ready to watch the first sea kayaker cross the finish line this afternoon. The Fairhaven Festival includes live music, a beer garden, arts and craft vendors, and lots of food.

photo Dylan Wambold and his dog, Louis, drove up from Seattle to visit the Ski to Sea race this year. “We usually come every year and wanted to see its return to action this year. We tried to get a team together, but it didn't really work out.” (Julia Lerner/Cascadia Daily News)

11:15 a.m.

Aaron Bauer, 48, and his son Alex, 16, of Safety Third (262) are looking forward to rowing past another team fast and pulling their paddles in.

Dressed as pirates, the father-son duo has Pirates of the Caribbean music ready to play.

photo From left, Aaron Bauer, 48, and son Alex, 16, of Safety Third, get ready to race in the canoe leg of Ski to Sea. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

11:08 a.m.

As canoeists head toward Hovander Homestead Park in the fifth leg, sea kayakers of the seventh leg prepare at Zuanich Point Park.

photo Neil Plume from Fresh for Everyone carries a kayak up the ramp at Zuanich Point Park. This is the route kayakers travel down with their boats after receiving the cyclocross handoff. (Ron Judd/Cascadia Daily News)

photo Sea kayaks lined up at Zuanich Point Park. (Ron Judd/Cascadia Daily News)

photo "You got your PFD, you got your whistle, you're ready to go." The language of the safety inspection zone for kayak leg. One kayaker marvels at the number of volunteers and said "this is quite the operation. I just moved to Bellingham. I've never seen anything like this before." (Ron Judd/Cascadia Daily News)

photo The fabric that holds Ski to Sea together is thousands of gnarly competitors, hundreds of volunteers and lots and lots of duct tape. (Ron Judd/Cascadia Daily News)

11:01 a.m.

photo Canoeists prepare for the fifth leg of the race, which starts at Riverside Park and ends 18.5 miles later at Hovander Homestead Park, where they will pass their batons to their kayaking teammates. (Noah Harper/Cascadia Daily News)

10:55 a.m.

Race organizers expect the first cyclocross to kayak handoff around 12:45 p.m.

photo Kayakers prep at the transition zone at Zuanich Point Park. The kayak leg of the race is 5 miles and will end in Fairhaven. (Ron Judd/Cascadia Daily News)

10:44 a.m.

Carter Kiesau of Greatest American Heroes is preparing for the canoe leg of the race, which launches from Everson. Kiesau said he is excited to get back out and race.

“The hiatus has been painful. Go fast or just look good,” he said.

photo Carter Kiesau of Greatest American Heroes is excited to get back out and race after the last two Ski to Sea races were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Noah Harper/Cascadia Daily News)

photo Bike racer Leighton Overson of Greatest American Heroes tosses the timing chip to teammate Carter Kiesau at the bike canoe exchange during the race in Everson. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

10:22 a.m.

BEAVERS TREE SERVICE's Ben Shaklee, 41, is the first biker across the finish line in Everson. That means canoes are about to hit the water. Mike Lee and Brian Boatman will man the team's boat. The top three teams' bikers were milliseconds apart, with BEAVERS TREE SERVICE making a time of 2:50:50, Boomer's Drive-In coming in at 2:50:52 and BIRCH EQUIPMENT clocking in at 2:50:54. 

Shaklee said he was surprised that his team's runner was the first off the mountain. 

“Usually, [they're] top three or five. It was a blessing and a surprise to be ahead,” he said.

Shaklee said he was excited to make such good time, setting his teammates up for success. To recover from the 41-mile two-wheel torture, Shaklee plans to ride back into Bellingham and grab a beer and some grub at Boundary Bay. Then, “get back to mountain biking.”

10:08 a.m.

Reports of bikers mere minutes from the finish line, where they will pass the baton to canoeists.

10 a.m.

Racers descend into warmer temperatures (and, reportedly, the sun peeking through in Fairhaven). Here are some scenes from the mountain's chaotic start.

photo C O M P A S S cross-country skier Cory Ellertson hands the timing chip off to downhill skier Rob Kilcup. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

photo Elizabeth Watters from The Lost Canoe climbs a hill in the cross-country ski leg. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

photo Brian Gregg from Boomer's Drive-In heads around a corner. He won the cross-country skiing leg. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

photo Brandon Lee from Team Jake and dozens of others make the more than 800-feet elevation climb up the mountain to ski down. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

9:30 a.m.

Cascadia Daily News is in Fairhaven waiting for the first racers to cross the finish line. Stop by our booth and take a picture in our front page cutout.

photo Cascadia Daily News intern Kyle Tubbs is helping our business office set up its booth in Fairhaven. Stop by for a chance to be on the front page. (Ron Judd/Cascadia Daily News)

9:01 a.m.

photo From left, Byron Andress and his father, Tim, of Family Circus (218) tape plastic on the front of their canoe to create a splash guard. (Noah Harper/Cascadia Daily News)

8:54 a.m.

Derek Thornton of BEAVERS TREE SERVICE crossed the running finish line first after an impressive feat of pounding pavement. The team's biker is off. 

photo Derek Thornton is the runner for Beaver’s Tree Service. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

8:48 a.m.

photo Greg Fosty attaches his bib as canoe racers check river conditions. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

8:36 a.m.

Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood finished the cross-country leg in 240th place for his team City Haul (249).

8:32 a.m.

8:17 a.m.

Brent Molesberry of BEAVERS TREE SERVICE comes in first in the downhill ski leg, handing the baton to their runner. The team's cross-country skier was fourth in the first leg but he caught up to the skiers ahead of him during the climb. Molesberry, 43, said he didn't use the right wax for the “sticky” conditions but made out all right during his run. 

“I did decent enough,” he said. The key to this leg, after all, is making time during the climb.

Shortly behind him was Boomers Drive-In Legends, not to be confused with Boomers Drive-In. 

7:51 a.m.

Former Olympic cross-country skier Brian Gregg of Boomer's Drive-In was first across the finish line, passing the baton on to his downhill skier teammate. The second team across was BIRCH EQUIPMENT.

“It was so much fun,” said Gregg, 37. He's been skiing with Boomers since high school. A professional skier turned financial advisor, Gregg still skis 10 hours a week to train.

Now that his part of the race is over, he’ll ski around the area with old buddies until they open the road — no recovery regimen needed for this Olympic athlete.

7:20 a.m.

photo Weather conditions are not ideal — it is cold, wet and sleeting. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

photo Cross-country skiers prepare to start the first left of the race. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

7:10 a.m.

Trevor Snodgrass, 28, is gearing up to participate in his first Ski to Sea.

A downhill skier, Snodgrass borrowed his girlfriend's stepdad's skis for the first leg. Though he said he used the wrong wax and bought the wrong poles, he doesn't think that fact will slow him down, and his goal is to not pop out of his bindings “when” — not if — he falls.

“I'm going balls to the wall,” he said. “I'm going to put it all out there.”

7:00 a.m.

photo Downhill and cross-country skiers and runners meet at 7 a.m. before the race. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

6:31 a.m.

Up at Mount Baker it is 37 degrees with low clouds and fog. Cross-country conditions are “shit” according to a race organizer — “and you can quote me on that” they said.

photo The Ski to Sea race begins today at 7:30 a.m. on Mount Baker with cross-country skiing. (Ralph Schwartz/Cascadia Daily News)

Have a news tip? Email newstips@cascadiadaily.com or Call/Text 360-922-3092

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