Sunday, December 21, 2008

Duntroon 30km


It was a tough race today. I chose my skis based on the forecast that it would snow and I had good skis for the first lap of the race. On the first lap of 7.5k, I was losing a bit over the top of each hill, but I was able to get back on the train each time. It stopped snowing and as the course got skied over, we were skiing on colder, drier snow. My skis were not liking this, and they felt especially slow on the uphills. At about 11km I was dropped by the lead pack. I was on my own to push against the wind. I kept a decent pace, but on the 3rd lap my muscles were too tired to ski well and I started to lose a lot of time. Ellis passed me and I could not match his pace. In the last 4k, I got a bit more energy knowing I was almost done.

With the right skis, I would have had a much better race, but I'm not sure if it would have been enough for a great result. I didn't seem to have the legs to climb the steep hills, which you needed on that course. Thanks again to the Skielite waxers and David Z. for helping with feeds.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Noram skate sprints Duntroon


After a clear night, the snow was very cold, and the air temperature was about -20 when we arrived. I though my qualifier went ok, but I ended up 16th, and 16 seconds back. It was not the deepest field, as I was 5 seconds out of 15th. In my heat I had #5(Ellis), #6(Touchette), #15(Luke V.) and two others. I had a decent start but wasn't aggressive enough to get a good position and left the stadium in 4th place. I tried to move up several times on the uphill to the top of the course, but Luke kept closing the door by moving over to block me. I tried again just before the big downhill, but the snow was too slow on the outside. On the bottom corner I managed to move up into 3rd, but that was short lived. Once we hit the hill going into the finish, the other guys accelerated away from and I finished 4th. That was enough to retain my ranking of 16th on the final results.

I was expecting a little better, since I had good energy, but I didn't really have the snappiness you need to sprint fast. It sounds a bit strange, but Duntroon is fairly low in terms of elevation and you actually have to ski faster than at altitude. I did gain some confidence for the next time I make the heats. At the very least I got in a good, hard workout the day before the 30k.

Big thanks to Luc and Jonathan of Skielite for helping us with the waxing!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sovereign Lake Noram 16km Classic


Yay, finally a classic race! We raced after sunset starting at 5pm on the lit trails. They needed some more climbing to create a race course, so they added two big hills using supplementary lighting. One of the generators died just before the start, so one of the swooping downhills corners was totally dark. I made it through that section in warmup by snowplowing, but I wondered how I could carry speed through there during the race. They ended up parking two snowmobiles so that their headlights illuminated the trail, and I easily got through there during the race.

Just before my start time, I went inside to get changed into the clothes I was going to race in. I used a borrowed Casco visor since I didn't have a clear lens for my glasses and it was snowing lightly. I had turned down the offer of a good quality headlamp, thinking that it would be uncomfortable and would only help a little bit. But, in a quick decision, I grabbed my Tikka 3-LED headlamp and wore that for the race. It was useful since there were some dark sections and it also helped me see the track better. The track was not very solid, and as more skiers stumbled around in the dark it only got worse.

My first two laps of 3.9km went exactly as planned, except for the starter sending me early. My start time was 5:45:15, but the starter began his countdown at :05; 5,4,3,2,1,GO! I hesitated slightly since the clock was showing 5:45:10, but then figured I might as well go. I heard the starter say "oh, I started that guy early". He might have been thrown off slightly since the guy in front of me did not show up. Half way up the first climb, I got a split that I was the leader, which was no surprise given that I started 5 seconds early! I was still the leader at the next split station and soon I was through the traffic of early starters that were a lap ahead of me. I had started controlled, which is exactly what I wanted to do.

At 6k I got a split that I was 14 seconds off the lead and in 3rd place. But, a lap later, at 10km, I got that down to 9 seconds and I pushed a little harder up the next hill. Unfortunately, I started to tire, and it really showed in the easier parts of the course. I didn't carry my speed as well and I started losing time to the others. The last lap I had a good push up the hills, but was wobbly on the downhills and fell on a tricky corner in the last kilometer. I probably lost about 10-15 seconds, but I still managed to finish ahead of a group of guys by only a few seconds.

Overall it was my best distance race so far and showed signs of good things to come in classic races. Two minutes behind the winner in 11th place was a decent showing.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sovereign Lake Noram Classic Sprints

Qualifying results

I double poled the qualifier, as did most of the men. It was snowing lightly the whole time. I didn't feel as snappy in the race as I did in warmup and I ended up 31st Senior Man, 0.16 seconds from qualifying. This was really frustrating because we have worked a lot on double pole this year and today it didn't work out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mass Start 20km Noram at Sov. Lake


It was a beautiful sunny day here, with perfect winter conditions at minus 4 C, although the snow temperature was colder. I had bib 20, so was looking to move up off the start. As I reached the end of the starting grid, I had no room to skate so I kept double poling. Eventually, I was able to skate a bit, but I was actually further back in the field than my start position. I managed to get over to the right side of the trail where there was a bit of room, but I ended up skiing over top of the classic track for most of the first 5k lap. By the end of the lap, I was roughly in 20th.

Next up was 2 loops of 7.5k. On the second lap, I used the climbs on the way to the top of the course to establish myself in the lead pack, about 15 strong mid way through the race. At one point, I may have been as high as 6th, but guys were constantly jockeying for position and I got shuffled back again. I remained with the lead pack, which had been whittled down to just 10 after the longest climbing section on the course. On the next uphill, Alex Harvey made a move at the front and I got detached from the others. I kept pushing as hard as I could, but first 3 guys passed me and then another. One more guy followed me into the stadium and blew by going into the finish. So I still didn't have the acceleration in the last few kilometers, but overall it was a good result taking into account my tough start.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sovereign 15km Skate Noram


The day started with a big dump of snow. A couple of days ago, it didn't look like there was enough snow to set a track, so we couldn't have a classic race. They regroomed the course about one hour before the start and it was in great condition and there were no rocks to worry about. I started near the front of the fastest seed, so there was a lot of fast guys starting behind. I had a great start and got a split that I was 1 second in the lead after half a kilometer. The next split I was 8 in the lead and then 10. In the meantime, I had caught Brian Gregg for 15 seconds and we took turns leading to keep the pace high.

We worked well together, but I was slowly tiring to the point where I could no longer follow Brian, and he ended up 10 seconds ahead of me. The last couple ks were a struggle for me and I lost some time in the final uphill kilometer. Overall I ended up 16th in Open, or 14th Senior Man, 1:51 back.

The races that were supposed to be in Whistler were moved to Sovereign on Thursday and Friday, and Silver Star on Sunday. So, we will be staying in Silver Star.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Qualifier Sovereign Teck Skate Sprints-Updated

Qualifying Results and Final Results

In a day dominated by fog and wind, it was time for the first Noram race of the year. My qualifying went fairly well. The skis felt really fast and I had a bit of trouble finding my balance, but I was able to push hard. I didn't hit any rocks which is a bonus as well. It turned out I didn't qualify. I was 37th overall and 33rd in the senior men and only the top 30 advance. My time put me 10 seconds behind first, and 0.39 seconds from qualifying.