Gregg Defends Title at 41st U.P. Health System Great Bear Chase

Former Olympian Caitlin Gregg defended her 50km skiathlon title, while Swiss native and Northern Michigan University skier Maurus Grond took the men’s title at the 41st annual U.P. Health System Great Bear Chase cross country ski race. A pandemic-limited 550 skiers took to the Swedetown trails on Saturday, March 13, in Calumet, Michigan. Complete results are at

In an anything but normal year, organizers limited the total field to 550, after hosting a record 866 skiers last year. Skiers started in groups of 25 to conform to distancing guidelines. Temperatures started in the mid-20s and quickly climbed into the 40s during the race. Skiers also faced strong winds, gusting to 30 mph. Heavy rains and warm temperatures in the week leading up to the race caused concerns (not to mention reduced snow levels), but temperatures dropped on Thursday and Friday and the groomers worked their magic the day before the race began.

“Skiers reported very fast conditions early in the day, but things slowed down as the temperature climbed throughout the morning,” said race director Angela Luskin, Health and Fitness Manager at UP Health System Portage. “We’re grateful we could hold a safe in-person event, and we saw a lot of smiles during our drive-up registration process.”

The skiathlon has become the event’s signature race. The skiathlon incorporates the two different styles of cross country skiing – 25 kilometers using the traditional classic diagonal stride technique and then 25 kilometers of the freestyle or skating technique. The Great Bear Chase also includes competition in each technique at distances of 50km, 25km, and 10km.
The 50km freestyle titles were claimed by Michigan Tech skier Tres Green and Rhinelander’s Anna Engel. Northern Michigan University skier Pauline Forren won the women’s 50km classic race with Michigan Tech’s Adam Witkowski winning on the men’s side.

In the 25km races, 15-year-old Zaine Braaten of Moorhead, MN, won the men’s freestyle title and NMU skier Pearl Harvey took the women’s race. High schoolers Victoria Myers (Wausau, WI) and Mike Fraley (Houghton, MI) won the 25km classic titles.

In the 10 km distance, all of the freestyle and classic titles went to Copper Country Ski Tigers. Sage Resh Chimner and Cyrus Hamlin, both of Houghton, won the freestyle races, while Ingrid and Birk Seagran, both of Hancock, won the classic titles.
More than 100 volunteers help with the event, setting up the course and start and finish areas, and this year providing drive-up registration before the race and drive-up pasty meals afterwards.

“We are grateful to the CLK school staff for their help in planning the drive-up processes and accommodating the changes we had to make this year,” said Race Director Luskin. “Everyone hopes we will be back to normal for the 2022 Great Bear Chase.” 

Great Bear Chase Ski Marathon