Sunday, February 24, 2008

Westers 15km Classic

In this race I went controlled up the first hill and then hammered in to the first downhill and eventually got a gap that nobody could close up. I started skiing outside of the track more later in the race which felt faster, but might have cost me a bit of grip. Overall I was satisfied.
Full results.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Westerns 10km skate

It was a beautiful sunny day for the race. The start list looked a little funny and not at all random. The top seed was setup with highest ranking going out first. Which means I started ahead of the others and was chasing the guys with no racing licenses. It was a tough course despite there being no huge uphills. There was a lot of gradual uphill and flatter terrain, with fast, twisty downhills in between. I skied the way I wanted to technically and enjoyed the ski. Results here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Westerns Skate Sprint

The 1.1k course was all uphill and then a curvy downhill to the finish. Overall a fun course, with one tricky 180 turn on the downhill. It was clear that being first into the narrow section on the uphill was key as there wasn't many good passing opportunities in the second half of the course.

Final results.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Gatineau Loppet 2008

This loppet was formerly known as the Keskinada! I pieced together a trip and went for it. A 53km skate was on the agenda. I did this race last year, but they used a different course then, since they didn't have enough snow. I wasn't sure what to expect coming off some sickness and not much training.

I had a good start and my skis felt good. At the first real uphill I pushed the pace a bit to see what would happen. As we lapped through the stadium at 9km, Cyrus and Ivan of went to the front. On a narrow uphill section at around 12km, Ivan attacked and Cyrus blocked. I yell "GO OR MOVE" and that seemed to convince Cyrus to move off to the side and I started to chase. But I couldn't get back on Ivan so I eventually pulled off and the German, Robin and Karl Saidla pulled through. Saidla let a gap open up and I figured that was ok. As we came out on the parkway, Karl and I were about 20 seconds behind the front three (apparently Ivan missed a turn and that's how the others caught up). We tried to catch back up, but it wasn't happening and eventually Karl skied away a bit on Penguin. The next 13k or so I was a bit behind Karl and ahead of a few others. Steudler caught me and then as we caught Karl, Jeffries pulled through. Carl and Chris were setting a good pace and I could follow them. Suddenly at 35k, my legs stopped working and I couldn't ski properly. Shortly after, Karl and Will passed me and I couldn't stay with them. I was on my own heading back on the open parkway and losing lots of time. Cyrus passed me with about 5k to go and there was nothing I could do. Unfortunately, it just wasn't my day and I finished 9th.

Full results.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Easterns 30km classic

Finally a 30km race! So far the longest two races on the schedule have been 20km's, so it was nice to be tackling something longer. We were doing 4 laps of a 7.5km loop characterized by steep uphills, rolly terrain and fun descents. It was snowing when we got there but then it cleared out and started to warm up. We were testing waxes on the warmup loop but it was clearly much more skied over than the course. Since we weren't allowed on the course before the race, it was a bit of a guess as to what would work. In the end I went a bit heavy on the wax, because I was worried it was going to warm up more, and the track would glaze as it got more skied over. Also, it was my first race on my new NIS C1 Rossis, and I went for the comfort layer so as make sure I had enough. It turned out my skis were good in the track, but in between the tracks the snow, which had fallen at about 5 degrees colder, was still quite powdery, and my skis were really grabby in this snow. With the race being a mass start, the course was double tracked the whole way, so we were constantly switching tracks to stay on the best line. The worst spot though was the herring bone sections where the snow was powdery. I would try and kick off the ice at the top of these hills, but it seemed like it was a thin layer of ice that formed and it wouldn't come off. I skied fairly comfortably in the pack for 2 laps, but I needed to be careful to not let gaps open up in the gliding sections. Early in the 3rd lap, I put a priority on taking a feed, since there was still a ways to go and I knew it would be a stretch for me to stay with the leaders the whole way. I lost contact and spent the next 5k chasing Butler, while the top 4 moved out of sight. Butler seemed to crack and I reeled him in and passed him right away. Heading out on the last lap, it was clear the snow had changed. I had basically no grip so it was a lap of double pole and herring bone and making sure not to skate. It was the same for all the men, but I was hoping that my skis would speed up more than others. In the end, I was losing time on the last lap, but it's tough to pinpoint why since I was skiing all alone. Overall, a decent race, but I know I could have waxed better. On the other hand, it could be seen as a decent result on a tricky waxing day with no coach.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Easterns Sprints

This new sprint course had the biggest hill we've encountered this year, and the top part of it was quite steep. It snowed a lot the day and the night before the race, but by morning it was clear and the wind had died down. The snow that fell was mostly ice pellets that don't stick together well, and despite the best efforts of the groomers, the course was very soft on the uphills. In qualifying, I picked my new soft NIS2 Rossi's, but it seemed the soft flex didn't help because I was sinking to the bottom on the uphills anyway. My legs were fried after the first uphill, and I couldn't really put the power down on the rest of the course. I was relieved when I heard I finished 24th in Open Men, but I ended up 13.2 seconds back in 2:53.8. After they separated the juniors out, my position for the heats was #19.

I knew I had my work cut out for me since I was up against #2 Fred Touchette, #9 Ian and #12 Poirier. The other 2 guys in my heat I didn't recognize, but I knew I had been ahead of them in qualifying. Not surprisingly, Ian and Fred got the best start and I settled into 4th behind Poirier. Up the first hill we went two in each lane, but I don't think anybody moved up. At the top of the hill, you have to accelerate from almost a stop and a small gap opened in front of me. I made sure to tuck low on the dropoff known as Dirk's Dive, and I got back on. In the next whiskers section I got up side by side with Poirier, but my 1-skate wasn't working in the soft, narrow corridor. I switched to offset but that didn't help and Poirier had half step on me and moved over. I stalled, but still accelerated as hard as I could over the top of the last hill. I tuck skated the whole way down, but I didn't seem to have the glide to get back on. The first three were in a photo finish and I was close fourth, but not challenging. In hindsight I probably needed some structure for the descent. In all, I skied much better than qualifying and I felt like I had done what I could given the conditions and the smaller, quicker competition. My final position was likely 19th, but I was listed as 15th on the results.