Screenshot 2024-03-11 at 8.32.56 PM

Winter Park, CO – 

The Snow Mountain Stampede at Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center just north of Winter Park, Colorado is one of the most iconic Nordic ski races of the western United States, dedicating one day per weekend for both Nordic cross country disciplines.  This year, Nordic racers travelled from Idaho, California, Wisconsin, and even Maryland to test their Nordic skills and endurance in the 8,673′ altitude upon world-class groomed classic and skate tracks at Snow Mountain Ranch.  With race distances spanning 3 to 50 kilometers,  racers pick the more modern evolvement of Nordic skiing known as Skating (or Freestyle if Classic tracks are set on the Skate course) on Saturday and/or the Classic (or kick-and-glide) technique on Sunday.  If racers brave both days on distances of 25k or 50k they earn a coveted Ranch Hand or Ranch Boss belt buckle respectively.   An Omnium honors the fastest skiers over both days and disciplines.

Under bulletproof blue skies and cold temperatures hovering near 12-degrees at start times over March 9 & 10, 2024 the Stampede drew over 300 racers to celebrate its 40th Anniversary.  One young Durangatang set history as she celebrated her final Nordic ski race as a Durango High School junior, Dewachen Ilg.   Racing alongside her father Steve, who has raced the Stampede at least 20 times according to the renown outdoor performance coach and book author, Dewa used the Stampede Weekend as a final good bye to her Nordic season representing Durango Nordic Club on the Junior National Qualifier (JNQ) circuit.  Dewa finished her JNQ season just 4 spots shy of qualifying for Junior Nationals in Lake Placid, NY racing at age 16 in the super deep and strong Under-18 Division.  Both father and daughter chose to compete both days in the 25k events.  They were the sole entrants from Durango, according to Webscorer.

Saturday; 25k Freestyle – Taking It Out Like It’s A 10k! 
Dewa, coming off a planned 5 days of no skiing but run training with the Durango High School Track Team as a distance runner, blasted off the start line of the long distance race. “I wanted to take it out as if it was a 10k skate race,”  the young crusher said, “because there were like 70 racers and the first pinch turn was only 800 meters from the start.”   

“Dewa has always had an advanced intuitive tactical racing mindset with just minor tweaks from me,” said her father.  “I kinda felt she blasted off too fast off the Start. Turns out?  She played the right card on fresh ski legs…I sure couldn’t hang with her pace!” 

According to Webscorer, Dewa was in 34th place at the 12.5k Lap time split…at the finish?  She was 5th Female overall and by far the first in her U18 (under 18) Age Group heading into Sunday’s Classic race which is her stronger discipline.  Her Dad finished 28th out of 56 and 5th in his 60-69 Age Group (AG).  Dad would need to hammer hard on pre-fatigued legs and lungs on Sunday to defend his AG Podium from last year.


Sunday; 25k Classic – Just Tried To Stay Ahead Of Dad!  
With on-the-road homework and a totally horribly timed Spring Forward time change (can we PLZZZ just trash the whole Time Change thing!??!) and being trashed from an elite performance the day before, Dewa pulled something that was historic at the Stampede.  She raced alongside her father and went back and forth with the 61 year-young mountain athlete to motivate her to an astonishing 2nd Place Overall Female out of 22 which would see her as the youngest ever female on the 25k Omnium Podium in the races 40 year-old history!   Dewa put up a 1:51:08 performance finishing in front of her Dad by a minute and a half.

“Dude, I knew my Dad was stronger than me in the double pole sections especially after about 90-minutes of racing,” Dewa said in her Dad’s weekly YouTube Channel interview, ” so I just kept telling myself, do you want to win over a 61 year old that skis at a pace of Junior National skiers or do you want to lose to a 61 year old man?  Fortunately, I found the strength to double pole the sections that I strided the first lap.  But?  Gotta say, my Dad waxed my skis both days perfectly, so this is NOT my podium, it’s OUR ILG FAMILY PODIUM!” 

Dewa finished in 1:51:08 second only to Sierra Jack (32) by six minutes.

Coming off a season peak performance by a 2nd Overall at the Alley Loop Classic 21k,  Dad finished 3rd AG and 13th out of 34 racers on Sunday in 1:52:30, about 30-seconds behind Dewa.


Dewa finished 2nd OA Omnium (youngest EVER in Stampede history) and Dad climbed on top of the AG podium for 3rd Place and 8th Overall over the two days and 50k of racing.  Dewa now turns to Track Distance racing for DHS,  while Dad defends an AG Series Podium with one more race (20k Freestyle) at the Grand Mesa Nordic Race Series this weekend near Grand Junction, Colorado.


see Steve Ilg YouTube Channel for actual race footage/story


Leave a Reply