The Conway Daily Sun
April 23, 2012

Kovac, of Boston, climbs up the left gully in Tuckerman Ravine in the last leg of the Tuckerman Inferno pentathlon Saturday. Kovac finished all five events in 4:08:53.10 besting the local Steve Piotrow, of Jackson, by under 2 minutes. (JAMIE GEMMITI PHOTO)

MOUNT WASHINGTON — “Climb Ev'ry Mountain” was a hit song in 1965's musical film about the von Trapp family, “The Sound of Music,” and it certainly was a perfect theme song for grandson Sam von Trapp's winning team in the 2012 Friends of Tuckerman Pentathlon Inferno April 21.
Captained by von Trapp, a 39-year-old executive vice president of the Trapp Family Lodge of Stowe, Vt., the five-member VTXT-Trapp Family Lodge team won the demanding five-part race with a total time of 3 hours, 32 minutes and 01.70 seconds.

The race — along with the Wildcat Wildfire Pentathlon held on a similarly-formatted but somewhat easier course an hour later — is presented annually by the non-profit Friends of Tuckerman Ravine organization as a fund-raiser to help the U.S. Forest Service's snow ranger program and to preserve and protect the traditional back country uses of Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington's eastern flank.

“This means a lot to us,” said von Trapp, who is grandson of the late Maria von Trapp of “Sound of Music” fame. “I skied it last year, and I really loved it. So, I went home, and along with our competitive kayaker, Robert Flanagan, who at 60 continues to amazes us, we assembled a team comprised of some of our cross-country ski coaches at the Trapp Lodge.”

The team won three of the event's five classes, with Flanagan putting in the fastest kayak run on the low-watered, “bony” Saco from Attitash's Thorne Pond to Glen Ellis Campground in 42.09.89. Trapp's Jake Hollenback had the fastest cycling leg from Glen Ellis Campground to the Appalachian Mountain Club's Pinkham Notch Camp with a time of 48:25.57. Trapp's Ryan Kerrigan, 26, had the fastest hike from Pinkham to the base of Left Gully in 39:50.87.
Trapp's Robyn Anderson was fifth in 1:00:11.22 in the first leg, an 8.3-mile run from Story Land up over Glen Ledge to Attitash's Thorne Pond. Von Trapp was third in the final ski leg with a hike time of 21:24.14 and a GS ski time down the 30-gate course in 58.81 seconds.
The ski leg was won by Jason Small of the 26th-placed Angry Pirates with a climb of 19:01.56, and a ski time of 50.35 seconds.

The fastest running time for the 8.3-mile course was 48:59.37, put in by Alex White of the top dynamic duo team of Tucksanity.

Left Gully start
Von Trapp said he was surprised by how fast Kerrigan, the team's hiker, was in getting to the bottom of Left Gully.

“I cost us two minutes putting my ski boots on and getting onto my skis because Ryan [Kerrigan] was so fast in getting there that I was surprised by how fast he got there to the transition and tapped me. I was just glad I didn't blow it for our team,” said von Trapp, who said he was proud to have won the team title of the demanding race.

“It's such a special event. Mount Washington is unlike any mountain in the Northeast. It reminds me of the terrain I saw when I taught skiing in the Andes. To come and win here against all of these great athletes is a real honor for us and Vermont,” said von Trapp.
Stormy weather had been forecast for the day, but other than fog which shrouded the lower part of the ski course early in the day on Left Gully set by chief of course Peter Theriault and Sheldon Perry, the weather held off until after the awards party at Wildcat Mountain's base lodge.
As awards master of ceremonies Roy Prescott quipped, “I'm happy to report that [executive director] Al Risch's weather good luck has been passed down to his son, [new Friends of Tuckerman Ravine president] Jake Risch!”

Overall results
Twenty-six teams and 27 solo TuckerMen competed in the five-part event, along with four women solo entrants, a four-team all-women's class, and a five-team dynamic duo category.
Placing second in the team class was Team Axa, captained by Jen's Friends founding board member David Veale of Chester, with  time of 3:40:41.75. The team was second last year.

Placing third was RoKBuSH with a time of 4:02:41.78.

Top local team was Cooper, Cargill and Chant of North Conway with a time of 4:48:49.79, good for 23rd place. The team was comprised of Becky Oleson, Andy Brown, Aaron Wood, Dennis Morgan and Chris Meier.

Kovac, Michaelsen win Tucker solo titles
Winning the solo TuckerMan class was James Kovac, a  doctoral candidate and teacher at Harvard University. He won with a total time of 4:08:53.10 (51:50.94 in the run, 57:11.44; 58:44.92 for the bike, 13:12:12.7 for the hike and 2:39.48 for the GS). Placing second was Steve Piotrow of Jackson, with a total time of 4:10:12.80 (57:21.40 for run, 50:03.32 for the kayak, 56:51.94 bike, 13:15:43.3 hike, 3:37.64 ski). Third was Josh Flanagan in 4:22:14.60.
“I actually dunked my kayak 15 minutes into the paddling leg. I had to pull out, empty out the water, and get back in. I played catch up the rest of the way,” said Kovac, an endurance athlete.
In the solo TuckerWoman class, Dartmouth PhD. engineering and MD student Kelly Michaelsen was first in the four-women field in 5:11:58.71. Joanne Grogan was second in 5:39:56.69.

"I was glad that the river was so low — I'd rather push myself along the bottom anytime than have to fight a strong current,” said Michaelsen, a tri-athlete who said the Inferno was her first pentathlon.

In the all-women team class, Marie Bouchard's Wild Things of North Conway repeated as winners with a time of 4:24:47.52. The team is comprised of Liz Stockinger, Kelsey Allen, Meredith Piotrow, Fabienne Pattison and Suzie Carrier. “The snow in Left Gully was nice and soft,” said Carrier, the team's skier.

Placing second for the second year in a row with a time of 4:38:10.51 was the Valley Girls team of North Conway, consisting of Cathy Livingston, Lynn Lyman and Carrie McLane with newcomers Laura McLane and Sandra Iacozili.
In the dynamic duo category, tops was Tucksanity (Alex White and John McCarthy) in 3:57:29.84, followed by last year's winners, Waters Acquity (4:08:16.45) and a local team, the Red Jersey Cyclery (Mike Malkin and Carl Iacozili) in 4:45:48.12.

Wildfire results

In the three-team Wildcat Wildfire Pentathlon, the West County Old Stars of Buckland, Mass., was tops in 3:15:26.56; followed by Ski Dads Ski Club (Eskimos) of Pelham in 3:36:35.73 and Waters Patrol of Sharon, Mass., in 5:12:38.11.
Valerie Rothen of Conway was top WildWoman in 4:47:36.00, while Neil McDermott was top WildMan in 3:30:25.48. 
Top dynamic duo was Team Mocean in 3:44:23, followed by Waters XEVO in 4:16:36.28, and Wickford Wild Women in 5:32:14.83. Waters Patrol won the all-women class in 5:12:38.11.

For more results, visit or visit www.friendsoftukermanorg.

• • •
RACE NOTES: The New Hampshire National Guard helped with road crossings throughout the lower legs of Saturday's race as a training exercise...Course setters Peter Theriault, Sheldon Perry, Friends of Tuckerman Ravine president Jake Risch and Josh Lemon were amazed at how the fog lifted race morning. “We had set a high platform start and a lower start. When we first got there, we could only see four gates — but then the fog lifted, and we went from the top,” said Theriault...Snow cover was low in the ravine, but there was enough on Left Gully. Crowds were low among the non-racing crowd, due to the low snowfall, lack of snow on the Sherburne Trail and unusually early spring...The rain that was predicted for the day Saturday arrived that night, as rain thundered down at Widlcat following the awards ceremony...Friends of Tuckerman Ravine president Jake Risch (367-4417) said he and head U.S. Snow Ranger Chris Joosen have outlined some potential projects with which the organization can assist the budget-strapped U.S. Forest Service, including constructing a small roof structure over the new avalanche slat boards built by Friends of Tuckerman to protect them and extend their life span; and replacing the 50-year-old flooring in the snow rangers quarters at Hermit Lake. The member-supported Friends of Tuckerman Ravine ( also has more work weekends scheduled for the summer and fall.

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