Imenerd Boem and Sverre Haeve are perfect examples of the
benefits already flowing from a change in status for the
Merino Muster cross-country ski race at the Snow Farm.
They flew from Norway to take part in the annual event on the
Pisa Range above Cardrona - Ms Boem racing in the 7km
''straggle muster'' and Mr Haeve in the 21km ''snow rake''.
And the way they found the event was through it having
become, earlier this year, an associate member of
Worldloppet, the federation of long distance cross-country
The couple have taken part in about 10 such events around the
world, including one in Norway with a field of 16,000.
Merino Muster race director and Snow Farm founder Mary Lee is
not sure she is ready for that many competitors, but is
expecting a rapid rise in entries from this year's 161.
''It's taking the Merino Muster to a completely new level,''
she said while farewelling the 13-strong Norwegian team,
leaving for Melbourne and their next event, the Australian
The federation was founded in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1978, and
now there are 16 such events around the world with 120,000
people taking part.
Mrs Lee said she would like to see the Merino Muster field
double in size and the event stretch to become a week-long
On Saturday, the snow was fresh, the skies were blue and the
temperatures were somewhere between warm and hot.
Winner Maciej Kreczmer of Poland, described conditions as
''very good'' after completing the 42km main race in 1hr
The winner of the women's event was Justyna Kowalczyk, also
Joanna Williamson, of Wanaka, was the only New Zealander to
finish in the top three places of the men's or women's
Those completing shorter distances included a mother pulling
along her sleeping 20-month-old son in a sled. And at the
end, everyone got a medal.