Sunday, January 25, 2004

Lake Louise to Banff Loppet

The course follows the Bow River and Bow Valley Parkway from the Chateau Lake Louise to Central Park in downtown Banff. My leg, Leg 1, started at 8 am, which was right at daybreak. The forecast called for the temperature to drop overnight, and a heavy snowfall was expected. As it turned out, the cold came through a bit later in the day, but there was plenty of fresh snow. The first part of the track was gradual downhill and was covered in about 6 inches of slightly wet snow. Luke McGurk and I shared the track breaking duties for the entire field. I could hear skiers behind me in casual conversation and I thought they should try taking the lead.
At 3 k, I looked back and saw the entire field still with the lead train, including the soloists, who ski the whole 70km distance themselves. Since most of the course is not normally groomed, there was no base for the track, which was set not long before the start. It suffices to say that these were the softest conditions I had ever encountered. It was very difficult to get any grip, as you pushed down on the ski it just sank. I also did not bother to change my race baskets, which would punch through on almost every pole, to powder baskets. I even managed to break a tip! My technique was useless, with no power coming from neither my upper body nor my lower body; I was essentially thrashing my way down the trail. After a badly timed hesitation at a junction, I ended up second, just behind Niclas Christoffersson. They said the leg was 17 km, but it took almost 1:25. My team comprised of Milaine Theriault, Joel Jaques, Sarah Daitch, Sarah Robinson and Cathy Jaques and we won the event, despite my epic struggle. Great work team!

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Finally a race at Orford!

After 3 very cold days and 2 cancelled races, finally a chance to race in a 15km mass start loppet. There would be a Noram Canada Cup in the afternoon, but I would have had to change my travel plans in order to make it. It was finally warmer, but they still had to delay the start 1 hour. The pace was slow off the start because of the cold and fresh snow in the track. At about half way Ivan made a decisive attack and left the rest of us to fight for second place. I led up most of the climbing, hoping to gap Shane and Matt, the other guys with me, but it seemed they came back easily on the downhill sections. Then Shane made a move right when I started to struggle, and got a 5 second gap that he never relinquished. I fought with Matt the whole way in, it took a big effort to stay ahead of him and his rocket skis.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

US Nationals 10k #2 (not a pursuit!)

I thought today was a pursuit, and was looking forward to having lots of guys within a few seconds to do battle with. Apparently it was always individual start, so I'm not sure where I got the pursuit idea from. I was feeling pretty tired, but optomistic of my chances to post a good result in skate. I had a good opening split, top-15 with start number 54. We clearly had rocket skis. I knew Swenson had lapped in 11:17, so when I lapped just after 78 started, I knew I was less than a minute back. Unfortunately, I faded off and lost more than minute on the second lap, losing about 20 places in the progress to finish 51st. Needed a little more snap in the legs!

Monday, January 05, 2004

US Nationals 10k

One of my favourite races, the 10km classic. I had a good start number 7, meaning the track shouldn't be too demolished on my first lap. I almost crashed on the first big downhill, it was much more chopped up than I expected. I seemed to be climbing fairly well, although Vincent seemed to be coming up from 30 seconds back. I lapped just behind #34, then he dissappeared and Ivan #35 caught me and lost me over the top and down the first big downhill. Near the end of the lap I was caught by #36 David Chamberlain, who I followed up High School Hill, and stayed within a few meters of until the stadium. A decent result, 42nd, it is so tight that every little mistake costs you a place. Skis may have been a bit slow due to klister layer being too thick for the skis.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

US Nationals: Tough day

Happy New Year to all! I am currently in Maine, staying in a small town called Andover. The event is US Nationals and started today with a 30km classic. The races are hosted by the Chisolm Ski Club, at Black Mountain, just outside of Rumford, ME. Nobody knew what to expect except adversity, with the forecast calling for snow, turning to freezing rain and then turning to rain. That's exactly what we got, and the timing couldn't have been much worse. We changed from hard wax to klister close to the start, and I ended up having marginal grip the first two 7.5km laps dwindling to no grip on the last lap. It was very humbling to run outside of the track on some very gradual uphills, at times I would just double pole to try and keep the speed up a bit. At any rate I hope I haven't overdone it; from what I heard most of the guys in my situation did not finish, most likely to save themselves for the races next week. I was feeling pretty good, so it was disappointing to not be able to leave it out on the track.