U.S. national team skiers Jessie Diggins and Simi Hamilton won Merino Muster 2018. In total, there were 288 skiers from 19 nations taking part in the New Zealand competition.
Hamilton & Diggins defend victory
Simeon Hamilton, member of the US ski team, skied in a bunch comprising US team mates Adam Martin and Kyle Bratrud and Tomoka Satou and Kaichi Naruse of Japan. In the end Hamilton was able to bring only 3 seconds between him and second Adam Martin. 3rd placed Kýle Bratrud lost 26 seconds to the winner.
In the ladies' competition, 2018 Olympic Team Sprint Champion Jessie Diggins showed strength winning by an 81 second margin over second-placed French skier Aurelie Dabudyk. It was the predicted hot fight between the sprint queen from USA & the marathon skiing champ from France. Diggins’ US team mate Alayna Sonnesyn was another five minutes down, in third.
21 km & 7 km competition were a great success
Campbell Wright the 17-years-old local skier of Wanaka was New Zealand’s top prospect going into the 21 km race, which he won in 2017. Wright has had a couple of successful seasons racing in Ontario, Canada, during his summer breaks. However, he did not defend his title as planned due to a minor injury and was keen to protect himself for upcoming Winter Games NZ races. Wright raced the 7km Straggle Muster instead, stomping home in just over 25 minutes, with Wanaka’s Leo Staufenberg 2 minutes 23 seconds behind in second place. The 7km women’s winner as Australian skier Katerina Paul.
The Straggle Muster was popular with people of all abilities. As is the tradition, many people dressed up for the occasion. Bat Woman, Xena Warrior Princess and Bat Girl were among the superheroes taking a crash course in cross country skiing around the Snow Farm.
Merino Muster Ltd director Mary Lee said the event was brilliant: "Every has been going super well, perfect. The snow is perfect, the weather perfect. I have just interviewed Jessie Diggins and she loved it,’ Lee said.
Contributed by Worldloppet, original article HERE.