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BEAVER MOUNTAIN - While Mother Nature is pushing toward the spring finish line, skiers ranging from young children to 60-somethings enjoyed the last leg of winter at a cross country race in the Bear River Range in northern Utah on Saturday.
Named for the Norse God of skiing, the annual Ullr Chase Nordic Ski Race - featuring 1K, 5K and 40K events - was held at the base of Beaver Mountain, where the bright sun chased away the chill of a cold breeze.
This race provides a chance to match skill to skill as contestants chase Ullr in his northward retreat, said Utah State University campus recreation director Kevin Kobe.
The abilities of the skiers were almost as varied as the ages of participants in the annual event sponsored in part by a nonprofit group, Common Ground, which enables people with disabilities to participate in outdoor recreation alongside their peers.
Saturday's 5K race was the latest in a long line of outdoor adventures for Mike Jarrett, a Common Ground client who pedaled 100 miles in a bicycle event last summer and added skate-skiing to his list of skills Saturday.
I just love being outdoors, seeing nature and the creations in it, said Jarrett, who has also enjoyed sledding and snowshoeing outings with Common Ground this winter.
Susan Buffler, programs manager for Common Ground, said Jarrett is enthusiastic about all of the athletic activities.
He is a volunteer extraordinaire. He loves to get out and play, Buffler said.
Jarrett was not alone on the new groomed ski trail located just below the Beaver Mountain Ski Area in the Cache National Forest.
Nearly 80 racers skied a cumulative total of more than 2,000 kilometers in the three races.
The event was jointly hosted by Utah State University Campus Recreation and Nordic United, a lately formed group of cross-country fans looking for a permanent terrain to call home, according to Tunde Zsido.
Zsido, who is a Nordic board member and a resident of Logan, glided across the snow on skate-skis, a popular alternative to cross country skis.
Although the devices are more difficult to maneuver because they are longer and skinnier than their cousins, 11-year-old Ryan Kobe did all right on her first run ever on skate skis - winning first place in the 1K race Saturday.
It's cool because they're so fast, Kobe said. It's a lot like roller-blading.