Gillis top American skier in Vasaloppet
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Staff report
Aug 3, 2021
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Staff report:
Anders Gillis was a last-second replacement in the world's largest cross country ski race, but that didn't stop the former West Valley skier from a great performance.
A strong finish in a shorter race, combined with a friend withdrawing from the 90-kilometer Vasaloppet classic race in Sweden, allowed Gillis to grab bib No. 1223 in a field of almost 15,000 skiers. He ended up being the top American in the race, finishing 183rd overall in a time of 5 hours, 2 minutes and 55 seconds. Gillis was 25 minutes behind the overall winner and more than 32 minutes ahead of the next American, Brandon Cooper, who finished in 5:34.42.
Earlier in the week Gillis competed in the short 45K skate Vasaloppet and finished fourth in the younger men's race. When former West Valley exchange student Erik Olsson withdrew from the longer race due to a bout with the flu, race officials agreed to allow Gillis to ski in Olsson's place.
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The 2006 classic Vasaloppet was heralded as one of the toughest races in years due to slow snow conditions.
Gillis is a 2005 graduate of West Valley and redshirted this year for the University of Alaska Fairbanks ski team. He is spending the semester as a ski school in Sweden, where he is coached by Jan Ottosson, a five-time Olympian and five-time champion of the Vasaloppet.