Racers brave the 11th Annual Sisu Ski Fest in Ironwood

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IRONWOOD, Mich. (WLUC) - At the sound of the gun, racers took off Saturday to compete in this year's Sisu Ski Fest.

Temperatures were bitter outside, but racers came prepared.

"We come here every year for the snow, the event, the people and good competition,” said 30K Sisu Freestyle competitor, Adam Swank.

Traveling from Duluth, Minnesota, Adam Swank says he isn't new to the race.

"I was here originally for the first Sisu."

For a few years, Swank didn't participate, but when he returned he made a pretty big mark.

"Last year, it was a pretty tight race and I ended up being the one on top fortunately,” he explained.

Now, Swank is back for good, and ready to defend his title.

"It's always fun to come back and try to repeat and do it again. It'll be fun to see who I battle against today because like I said there's always strong field of skiers."

Last year, only 680 racers participated.

But on Saturday, race officials say a record breaking total of 750 skiers competed from 14 different states.

"This race has continued to grow for the last four years,” said Sisu Ski Fest Race Director, Jackie Powers. “I think it's because we developed a really great race course."

The weather conditions also helped the event to grow.

"We have really great race course conditions and really great snow conditions,” said Powers.

As this year's event ends, Powers thanks the more than 200 hundred volunteers who gave their time to make sure racers like Swank are pleased.

"Really just want to say thank you to everyone who volunteers their time and efforts out here,” said Swank.

Swank earned his victory for the second year in a row for the Men's 30K Sisu Freestyle.

The reigning champ is humbled, but thanks his competitors for pushing him to the next level.