Iowa Winter Games—Skiing moved to Vernon Springs


Vernon Springs - Due to a lack of snow in Dubuque, the Iowa Winter Games featuring cross country skiing was moved to Vernon Springs on this Saturday, Jan. 28. Yes, the same weekend as Snowfest.
Although trail groomer Mark Johnson has known it might be a possibility for two weeks, he didn’t find out the race would be in the Cresco area until Monday, Jan. 23! 
The trails at Prairie’s Edge Nature Center at Vernon Springs are a natural alternate location. “A lot of racers come up here to train, and the race commissioners are two of those people. They were up here a couple weeks ago and asked if it stayed this way, if we’d host the races.” The answer was a resounding, “Yes!”
In preparation he and his wife Brenda had to determine two routes for the morning and afternoon races.
The 10 a.m. event is an eight kilometer classical race, where participants use the diagonal stride. 
At 2 p.m. is the freestyle 10K race, where any technique can be used, although skate-skiing is the most common form.
Besides coming up with a route, Johnsons were asked to groom the trails and mark the course. This includes widening the course in places. In addition, the nature center will be used for registration and changing area.
Mark and Brenda Steffen-Johnson are familiar with the Iowa Games. They participated in them in the 1990s “Brenda was the overall women’s winner two years in a row,” he proudly stated.
This new snow is certainly a positive for the races, and Mark added, “We were fortunate to have three inches of base. That makes a big difference . . . having that frozen layer under this big snow.”
The grooming equipment used on the local trails is the same brand used in the last two Olympics! “If we only had old snow, we can tear that up and make something of it,” he explained.
Mark has no idea how many people to expect. It could be a couple dozen or 50. It was a late change in venue. Also, some skiers haven’t been training, due to little snow.
Anyone wishing to volunteer to make the race go smoothly should visit Prairie’s Edge Nature Center at least one-half hour before the start of each race.
Mark is excited to see the Iowa Games come to Cresco. “It’s a good thing for our community.”

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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