The former Olympians won the men’s and women’s freestyle races in the Birkebeiner on Saturday, in nearly ideal conditions on the 50-kilometer course from Cable to Hayward.
They led a record field of nearly 9,300 skiers who were encouraged to “ski like Landgraf” at the start line in Cable. The message was delivered by Laurie Landgraf the widow of Dave Landgraf, who had skied in every Birkie before being killed in a bike crash in August.
Laurie Landgraf served as the honorary starter, and reminded the mass of enthusiasts to follow the spirit of her husband.
The Landgrafs’ children, Cole and Emalea, shared their father’s red founder’s bib and led the initial wave of skiers into the woods.
Fifty kilometers later, Elliott cruised up Main St. in Hayward with his first victory in the Birkie.
Elliott was second, behind Fabio Santus, in 2010.
With her victory, Brooks also buried the memory of a near-miss. She lost a photo finish to Rebecca Dussault, then collapsed at the line in 2009.
Both Brooks and Elliott have been racing this winter on the World Cup Circuit in Europe, then flew back to the states to lend their talents to a stacked field of U.S. and international skiers.