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Northwest Vermont Endurance

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Event Reports

 




By Damian Bolduc

Recipient of the Pole-itzer Prize for Excellence in Race Reporting

 






New England Club Relay Championship

Results

Team Photos


Several diverse New England Clubs traveled to Craftsbury Outdoor Center for the New England Club Relay Championships, hosted by Mansfield Nordic.  This was the inaugural race in what hopes to become a tradition for seasons to come.  As this was the first time a relay like this has been attempted locally there were a few glitches to be expected, but overall, once the racing began it was on, and a lot of fun. 


Conditions were a little better than predicted.  In talking with Craftsbury’s Keith Woodward (Groomer Extraordinaire) we learned that no rain had fallen and there was about 5 inches of new snow to work with.  Keith stated he would have liked a little rain as conditions were soft.  I should have picked up on this clue, but failed to factor it into my considerations for wax selection.  The trails were groomed impeccably and the courses were challenging.  Temps remained in the high 20’s with overcast and there was no wind.  The Classic Leg was a single loop that went out of the stadium, around Murphy’s, onto Duck Pond to Upper Bailey Hazen (Eleanor’s Trail), around Pine and then took a direct route back to the Exchange Zone from Six Corners.  The Skate Leg was two laps, out Wilbur’s onto Lemon’s to Coaches Corner, down Denis’s, up Moss’s and back onto Lemons taking the cut-off to the lower Stadium.  For the finish the Skaters Climbed Chip Hill and looped around the upper field finishing near the solar panels.  A good challenge for everyone.


With a little panic the team orders were submitted.  NWVE: You Kick, We’ll Glide – Jessica Bolduc, Camille Bolduc, Luke Shullenberger, Tyler Magnan / Race Anywhere, Anytime No Matter What – Ed Hamilton, Tim Cowan, Mike Kavanaugh, Andre’ Bolduc / The NWVE Originals (Sporting the Original NWVT LG Top).  – Cipperly Good, Perry Bland, Scott Magnan, Damian Bolduc. The race would begin with the two Classic Legs followed by the Skate Legs. Being the first year, categories were kept to a minimum, but if the event grows more may be added with the racers to fill them.  As it was, it seemed things were covered for this year, but adding a u100 division may be a good call in the future.  Teams were scored in their respective divisions and the overall Club Champion was crowned based on cumulative team scoring, so participation was key.  Teams ranged from beginner BKL to elite D1 Collegiate squads.  The creative names gave clues to the nature of the teams and that it was going to be a fun race. 


Skiers were called to the line and instructions were given.  Racers left the stadium and the race quickly sorted itself out.  Most of the elite collegiate and high school athletes opted to double pole the classic leg.  It was fairly flat, but arms burned on the final hill back into the stadium.  People also watch technique here to see how things were working. 


Ed Hamilton, Jessica Bolduc and Cipperly Good lead things off for the club.  Ed was using Rode Violet Multi, and Cipperly and Jessica had opted to take it a notch warmer with Ski-Go HF Red. This is where Keith’s wisdom should have come into play, but did not register.  Skiers made their way out of the stadium and around Murphy’s with no problems, however once they hit the woods, some had smooth sailing while others iced up.  Where things were firm from multiple passes with the groomer, everything was fine, but where it got soft was another story.  Those that had opted to go a little warmer paid with skis that ripped the tracks out.  While temps were in the Ski-Go Red range, it was too sticky for the soft tracks.  Ed enjoyed sailing past those who were icing up, but Jessica and Cipperly had to overcome some very draggy skis, that could not be slapped free.  Despite their difficulties, they still managed to ski within range of their regular competition, Peter Davis (Mansfield) and John Brodhead (Craftsbury).  Their fate was not unique as many experienced the same misfortune.  While Ford Sayre’s Adam Glueck with some UVM and UNH skiers dominated the field, Ed was right on the tail end of the Eastern Cup seasoned pack.  Putting Tim in great position.


The Second Leg skiers faired a little better after the first wave had packed the tracks in.  Tim was on a mix of the Ski-Go Red, Camille opted to stick with the club recommended Rode T-Line that was a little slick in testing and Perry went with ToKo Yellow. As skiers tagged off they all got underway moving through the field.  Tim was chasing Trina Hosmer, Camille had several skiers to overtake as well as Perry.  As they returned to the stadium Tim had a nice final sprint before handing off to Mike Kavanaugh.  Camille came in using her signature kick double pole that had claimed a few victims on the race course, keeping Joann Hanowski (Mansfield) in site. Perry picked up a few places and was closing fast on one more spot before the exchange. 


By the third leg things had spread out, but there was still good racing.  Mike, Luke and Scott began making up ground on the skate leg.  Unfortunately, Luke failed to take the lap cut-off and took the scenic route up Chip hill to the exchange zone prematurely.  He realized his mistake and doubled down to try to regain some time on the second lap.  Scott took an unscheduled feed on one down-hill as his face broke a fall. He was a little dazed, remembering that he had to spit out a mouthful of snow from the experience.  Mike remained unscathed as he posted one of the fastest splits of the day. 


The NWVE Anchor legs delivered well for their teams picking up spots all the way to the finish line.  Tyler Magnan, Andre Bolduc and Damian Bolduc.  Each team picked up at least one spot, but Tyler really threw it down picking up a few that had taken advantage of Luke’s extra excursion.  Andre’ skied in strong, while Damian impressed one arming it up Chip Hill nearly lapping a team before the finish.


While the NWVE teams were not in the hunt against those at the top of their categories we did have a lot of fun, and were surprisingly competitive with each other as well as other Masters Teams.  It was fun to watch as teams changed places, seeing who stacked things early vs. late and how all the differing strategies played out.  Some of necessity, others a secretive plot, and a few that made no sense.  In the end, it was a great day to ski and really fun format.


While things were looking like they were going to breakup as people went their separate ways, as at earlier events this season, Race Director Jim Fredericks rallied the participants for an Awards Ceremony.  He could have tooted his own horn as Mansfield Nordic fielded several strong teams as well as more than double the next club.  However, Jim played it well, acknowledging the stacked collegiate teams and the friendly rivalries that have been ongoing for generations, as well as humbling Mansfield’s advantage with a huge shout out to those who have not raced so much or even used this as their first ski race ever.  It was good to see the spirit of competition and participation celebrated together hopefully left people feeling good about what they achieved in the New England Club Relay Championship.


Damian


Bogburn
2/25/2017


The Annual Bogburn is a race like no other.  It has a rich heritage and always draws a diverse field that includes everyone from the best national contenders to those that are sticking their toe in the water (literally this year) for the first time.  Many successful skiing careers can trace their roots back to the Bogburn.  The 2017 edition of the race lived up to its reputation with a smiling appreciative field ready to participate and compete.

Besides its long run as an annual event with excellent record keeping, the things that make the Bogburn unique are what brings so much enthusiasm to the sport.  It is directed by the Haydock’s, a fixture in the Nordic scene.  Bob Haydock has been instrumental in the direction of NENSA from its inception by volunteering and providing fair, inclusive expertise.  It was his vision that we saw and experienced on Saturday with this event.  The Bogburn is held at a small homestead venue on hand cut trails that reflect stewardship of the sport, the land and the work it takes to maintain them.  It also has a cool name that defines itself in each participant in a way uniquely suited to them.  Those that took part in this year’s race are what make up the soul of Nordic skiing in New England.

The race attracted fanatics old and new.  Some had been looking forward all season to it, while others were newly freed up to compete due to the circumstances around other prominent events such as the Lake Placid Loppet and the American Birkebeiner.  Over 100 enthusiasts convened to take what the Bogurn had to offer.  A gritty race that can chop down even the mightiest competitors.  Some came to throw it down, others to prove themselves and many who just wanted to make the best of the experience.  So too were a few that use it as an excuse to stop by Worthy Burger.

The Bogburn really started earlier in the week as tropical weather threatened the rest of winter.  People were leery of the forecast and sensitized to how fragile winter can be from the last two years. Bob did his best to re-assure skiers that things were very solid and should hold up.  There was still a lot of skepticism, but people trusted, wanting to believe and a flurry of late registrations encouraged all of those involved.

The day started in a busy manner getting the BKL events organized and started.  Large local contingents of club youth set the tone for the day.  Coaches and parents scrambled to pull everything together as these were unusual conditions that challenged the lessons of the season that were hammered into these kids. Wear a hat, wear warm gloves, try to stay warm…were tested as the temps approached 60.  Everyone seemed to be having some success with warm klister, or crown skis.  It seemed a given that things were not going to be perfect, but adapting to what you have is an important aspect of the sport.  The kids skied well coming back to the stadium with stories to tell about the race, conditions and how their skis were working.  Another fun thing to do was compare how much organic matter got added into the wax job while on course.  After the BKL race many of the participants continued to play and cheer with each other showing the future of this community is off to a great start.

Julia Thurston (Mansfield) came in, pleased with her race.  She offered her input to the wax techs, Tom and I, and advice to her sister Ava (Mansfield) and Camille Bolduc.  The information was confusingly contrary, but turned out to be spot on for the day.  Some places things were great and others not so much.  People were interested to see what would happen in the older BKL race as friends Ava and Camille have had quite a run going this season.    They were near the top of the start order with Camille chasing Ava at 10 seconds.  Both looked good heading out of the stadium and anxious parents went on course to see their progress.  Unfortunately, we did not know where they went and set up in the wrong spot overlooking the pond and did not realize until a skier came by behind us.  We did turn in time to see Ava cruise down the final hill and sprint into the finish.  Camille came along shortly after, striding well.  Ava had gained on Camille and we would have to wait for results to see by how much.  Ava was happy with her skis as they were fast even if she slipped a little, Camille was happy as well as her skis were kicking well.  Both wanted no changes for the Women’s race that they would both participate in later in the day.

NWVE’s racers began arriving shortly after the BKL event.  We had good data to offer in terms of waxing and people could choose what they wanted to do.  Rex Brown OV for faster skis and light kick, which also seemed to repel organic matter a little better, or a mix of Rex Yellow OU with Guru Red with the OV for solid kick.  Lots of other klisters were working but OV was the big winner of the day in many tests, and ended up on many bases.  Most skiers started with a realistic plan to finish the race.  Though we were all here because we love to compete and that instinct can easily take over, but somehow with the just finish frame of mind, people were being fairly responsible when it came to overdoing it. 

NWVE’s Women started first.  Only Sarah Pribram and Camille Bolduc represented the club, leaving a big opening for other clubs to accumulate points.  Camille started early on in the order among some serious U16 contenders.  She looked strong as she kicked her way up the first hill.  Sarah set out late in the order chasing a strong contingent of skiers from Ford Sayre, Stowe Nordic and Mansfield.  There was also a new Masters Female skier being mentored by Amber Freeman who had a lot of guts to choose this Bogburn as her first race.  She finished and now knows that she can easily do any race.  As the women returned to the stadium it was exciting to see what had transpired on course.  Some people we have not seen too often in the results had a close race.  Kathy Maddock (Dublin), Amy Caldwell (Caldwell Sport), and Dorcas Wonsavage (Ford Sayre) all had a close race finishing within sight of each other. Sara Graves (Stowe Nordic) was also right in there.  Ava Thurston (Mansfield) picked up right where she left off in the BKL race without missing a step.  Camille had a harder time with things and finished a little disappointed that she had not pushed harder on course, but knowing not doing so was the right thing to do.  Sarah Pribram was right in the thick of it all with Rosemary Shea-Cobb and Trina Hosmer. 

There was good representation by all clubs in the Men’s race.  The conditions were changing, the women had churned up the course and it was an equal split between who thought it was favorable vs unfavorable.  The warm temps and unexpected sun were really taking their toll on some of the course, but the real concern was with a wind that had picked up significantly.  Early season ice and wind conditions had damaged the trees and organizers were worried about the potential for branches blowing down.  The Men’s field was also somewhat seeded and a stream of very strong skiers left the stadium.  Following were the Masters led by Colin Rogers (GMVS) and Eric Tremble.  Colin looked excited to be racing the Bogburn, and Eric seemed to be up for renewing an old rivalry as they stormed out of the stadium.  Following Neal Graves (Stowe Nordic) and Robert Bradlee CSU was a wave of blue.  Kyle Darling, Tom Thurston, Tyler Magnan, Tim Cowan, Eric Darling, Rick Kelley, John Witmer, Perry Bland, Mike Kavanaugh and Luke Shullenberger had a dominating presence throughout the rest of the field.  It was impressive to look down the start order and see so many teammates.  Skiers took off and got on course with varying difficulty.  For some reason, it is always tricky to start at the Bogburn.  Perhaps a combination the starters unexpected personal encouragement or sarcasm as you pole away into a dip of soft snow or that the tracks suddenly give way less than 10 meters into the race.  Whatever the cause skiers seem to start off balance.  NWVE skiers looked eager to start racing and most looked great getting going.  Kyle confident in shorts, Tom ready to tear it up, Tyler skiing smooth, Tim reminiscent of the similar conditions of the 1984 NorAms in Bend, OR, Eric D. and Rick K.  getting underway in good form, John accepting one of many stumbles to come, and Mike and Luke kicking with confidence.  The start did claim one skier, Perry Bland whose off-balance start tweaked his quad causing the disappointment of having to pull himself from the race and turn in his bib. 

As the men came through for their lap all looked to be in fairly good spirits.  The Bogburn is on a tough loop and the thought of repeating it is something to seriously consider.  One that had difficulty contemplating extending his race was Stowe’s David Hosmer.  Trina’s Masters Women Group had raced and were talking about how awesome the course was; they urged David that he had to finish his race and get his points.  His usual age group competition was not there and he had hope of winning it, and getting club points.  With reluctance, he pressed on, vowing only to finish the race.  Eric Tremble came through on the move with his aggressive racing style.  Tom Thurston was moving up, as well happy to have put CSU’s John Sakalowski behind him.  Tyler Magnan was right in there too as the competition in this group was surely helping all go hard especially when overtaking shirtless Robert Bradlee (CSU).  While standing with Dorcas, she remarked on how well Eric Darling was skiing, the best technique we had seen yet in the race.  Kyle on the other hand was not as fluid as some of the skiers like himself, Tim Cowan and Christopher Namie (Bow Nordic) were not exactly finding themselves floating over the snow.  But they pressed on, lightly making the best of what they could without breaking through the snow.  Rick had a good race going.  He did not have anyone to lock onto, but saw enough traffic as he moved up to keep him going strong.  Mike and Luke had some good back and forth moments in the race seemingly working with each other throughout the 13 kilometers. John kept the momentum going forward in the challenging conditions and his effort will certainly improve his times for the upcoming races in March.

The 2017 Bogburn was a success!  Much credit must be given to the Haydock’s and crew for pulling the race off and not using the “we want a quality event card” to cancel.  They made the effort with conditions clinging to skiable in some spots and had a great race.  Skiers from around New England should also be recognized for rallying support of the race, understanding that conditions were very challenging to host in and bringing the vibrant spirit that makes people want to be a part of this sport.  Congratulations to all.  It will be a race to remember!  The points series was close before the race started and should be even tighter now with CSU, Mansfield, Stowe Nordic, and Ford Sayre picking up points closing in on NWVE’s narrow lead if not over taking it.
 
Damian



Gatineau Loppet 2017

For the second year in a row Gatineau served as a Nordic Skier’s paradise.  The local community fully supports this event and the energy spreads far beyond the venue as a matter of National Pride.  Powdery snow was bountiful and mild temperatures made the event thoroughly enjoyable.  Everyone seemed happy with strong international camaraderie supporting all who participated, volunteered and spectated.  To be involved in an event that has all the stars aligned like this year’s edition of the Gatineau Loppet is truly an inspiring experience.

The conditions were fantastic for the weekend.  The previous weeks of snow dumpings had been well preserved by cold weather.  As the race weekend rolled in, so did warmer temperatures.  While this tested the skiers with some waxing challenges, it was overall welcome considering some of the frigid loppets of the past.  Temps ranged in the 30s to 40s Saturday and Sunday, and the sun was high and bright the whole weekend.  The snow was plentiful packed powder and expertly groomed.  The courses provided skiers with technical narrow trails to wide thoroughfares all within the picturesque Gatineau Park.

Saturday was the point to point classic race.  Anxious skiers were carted off to the start by the bus load.  It is a long ride and the thoughts of skiing back can be daunting.  A long ride like this can replace grand thoughts of a 31 mile point to point race with doubts, but the organizers and volunteers make sure that every racer feels special and that the Loppet is a world class experience. 

Skiers exited the busses finding mild temperatures and excellent snow conditions.  They went about their regular routines of waxing and testing and dialing in what they would commit to for the next few hours.  Blues and Purples were working good, as well as wide ranging Reds.  There was no question that hard wax was the way to go, however the question remained as to how warm to go with the expected rise in temperature.  Big winners were Rode Violet Multi, Toko Red, Ski*Go Violet, Ski*Go Red and of course the bullet proof Extra Blue.  The “fancier” waxes provided “reassurances” with handling the potentially transitioning snow, but the tried and true standards are just that for a reason.

With one of the biggest send offs on the Nordic Skiing circuit, waves of skiers embarked on the journey to the finish.  Doubts that brewed on the bus were vanquished as the skiers set forth into the forest skiing blissfully knowing that no matter what, it does not get any better than what they had in the moment.  There is something to be said of the course layout at the Gatineau point to point.  It begins in the middle of nowhere on a smaller trail.  Skiers are cordial and work together.  Perhaps instinctively as it is a matter of survival.  Away from modern comforts on a trail out in the wilderness with a long journey ahead.  As the course goes by, the trails widen and the senses tune to the safety devices put in place for societies security.  A bridge, or a guardrail…road signage to let you know you are not lost and on the right track.  These things engage the senses and racing becomes more aggressive and contentious.  You no longer need the security of the pack and the objective changes.  There is still a friendly and supportive demeanor, but the dependence diminishes and survival instincts trend toward survival of the fittest.

NWVE skiers Stephen Wright, Pavel Dvorak, Emanuel Betz and Cammy Richelli all participated in this Gatineau 51km Classic experience. As I watched skiers finish, the first person I knew who came in was Mansfield’s Peter Davis.  Peter was very animated as he had just completed the 27km option and felt superhuman on course.  “I had an incredible ski!  Strong kick up all the hills.” Peter’s excitement continues to carry over.  As the 51km racers began arriving it was time to get Camille ready for her race.  Stephen Wright was the first NWVE finisher of the day and reported with a similar enthusiasm as Peter.  “Just an amazing race.  I had great skis and the course is incredible.”  Conditions were starting to change as the warm temperatures and bright sun began penetrating the snow.  Pavel finished strong, close to his time last year with this years trickier conditions.  Manny finished looking as if he could just keep going, but he had something on his mind.  He too had a great experience but he was concerned for his wife Cammy.  This was her first Marathon and it is a challenging race.  Cammy was brave to choose this one as there is no bailout point along the course.  Unlike with a lap race; once you start, you pretty much have to keep going until you finish.   Cammy finished with a great result, scoring well in the top third of all women and in her competitive age group among many veterans of the race!  Chris Ziegler (VTXC) was the top American finisher on day 1 and liked the conditions so much he went out for another ski after he finished.

Feedback from all the skiers was taken and used to help prepare Camille for the 15km race that was held in the afternoon.  In the hour prior to her race the snow began to transition rapidly and skiers were scrambling to find the winning kick wax.  It boiled down to needing to make a decision between the two conditions.  Very glazed, slightly slushy tracks in the sun and powder in the shade.  We opted to go for the shade which was the second-best decision you could make, and the best option we had available to us.  People were putting on klister and almost any combination of wax you could think of.  It was apparent that many of those in this race were newer, less experienced racers.  Soon the horn sounded and the skiers were off.  I set up on top of the first hill where it became I was relieved we had made the right decision.  Camille had no problem striding the first hill where many had no kick, while others ripped the snow out of the ground.  Many were removing their skis and trying to chop the snow off them.  I offered the wax I had in my pockets to help them, but many pressed on knowing it was going to be a long race.  Any Klister was a disaster.  Camille was overtaken by the eventual winner on the next hill which was exposed to the sun.  Stephanie Graf of Switzerland was on Fischer Zero skis and it was the perfect race conditions for those.  Camille finished strong and was the second women overall.  She was not pleased that Stephanie had more than nipped her, she felt she had armed it and was determined to set the record straight on day two.

Saturday evening was very mild and we spent some time walking around Ottawa.  The city was busy with people out in droves enjoying the weather.  Many skiers were taking in the sights and replenishing their energy reserves with poutine, beaver tails, sugar pie and beer.  Saturday at the Loppet is a more structured and formal day, Sunday tends to be more relaxed and festive.  It was refreshing that on the eve of the skate day, people were getting into the spirit!

Things cooled off just enough overnight and temps came up quickly in the morning. There was as brisk wind which seemed to be helping the snow stay firm. The skate race is a long loop with no bus ride required.  The question of the day again was how warm to go?  Saturday was with kick wax and Sunday was with structure.  There was potential for a lot of snow melt, however there was still a ton of powder on the trails. 

The racers set out on once again excellent conditions.  It was not until just over an hour into the race that things started to transform and ski prep became a factor.  The field divided into packs that stayed relatively close for 30km but then as conditions changed and skiers fatigued the gaps between skiers slowly widened.  Andy Shields doubled his winning margin from the day before taking an impressive second win in the weekend.  He finished with a fast sprint and great form.  As the rest of the field came in, it became obvious that it was a grueling second half of the race.  Everyone looked like they were clinging on to whatever they had left just to make it to the finish line.  Skiers 5 meters apart did not contest each other.  It was clear that most were in pure survival mode.  Chris Ziegler (VTXC) was once again the top American, followed closely by teammate Jake Hollenbach who managed a smile when he recognized the American contingent in the stadium as he finished.  Tom Thurston was NWVE’s first finisher.  Tom looked a little battered as he made his way around the final turn into the finish.  He was followed closely by Luke Shullenberger, who was also visibly fatigued, but did not look as worse for wear as Tom on the final stretch.  Neal Graves (Stowe Nordic) who has been putting in a lot of hours training for the Birkie definitely had a tough go at the race finishing behind female runner up Carly Wynn.  Lea Davison also had some difficulty with the race and conditions having to work her way up through the field after a poor start.  The 27km event was just the right distance as many of the racers finished before the conditions changed.  Sara Graves (Stowe Nordic) won the overall female race, Sabra Davison was second a little over two minutes back.  JoAnn Hanowski and Jim Fredericks decided that even though they were not feeling well that they could not pass up the opportunity to ski at Gatineau this year.  They made the trip with the intention of touring the course which they followed through on, and seemed fairly pleased with that decision. 

The feedback from the racers after the race was interesting as I gathered data to apply to Camille’s event that was to follow again in the afternoon.  The skiers that looked relatively good and were elated by their races stated they did not add structure to their skis, while those with the appearance of having slogged it out were adamant that there could not possibly be too much structure added to the ski. I have become less inclined to hand structure skis over the years and should have listened to Keith Woodward right from the beginning when ToKo began marketing their Structure Right Tool.  “Structuring only adds a variable that can get really slow in a lot of conditions.”  I have found it has its place but is over utilized by many.  As Camille glide tested her test skis, she consistently favored the one with no structure, and the more we added the clearer her preference, which was against the Swix recommendation and the intuition of many skiers. We did a final test where we compared her race skis with a warm grind against the test skis and there was a huge winner.  Caldwell’s warm grind description is right on. (It is not a deep or aggressive grind.)  We knew Camille had good skis (formerly Helen Hollenbach's), and the rest would be up to her.  

The 10km race started abruptly with a lot of excitement.  I again positioned myself at the top of the first hill to see how things were going.  Camille was going for it as she rounded the first corner in 6th place among the hammer head men.  She was gliding well with the determination to keep all the women behind her.  As the race progressed only one skier passed her.  They encouraged her to hang in and ski with them, but it was at a point where Camille was too fatigued to respond.  At the finish, Thomas Graf took the win for men followed by 5 high school men.  In the woods, you could hear a lot of commotion as the first woman approached…Jaws dropped when she rounded the corner skiing flawlessly, riding her skis long through the slushy snow.  Camille had opened up a 90 second lead and charged ahead for the finish.  She was 8 minutes up on the first male in her age group, and 11 minutes ahead of the second-place female finisher in her group. It was an impressive win and skiing that drew a lot of attention including a TV News crew who wanted to know where this girl had come from!  It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend of skiing!

At the awards ceremony, Camille got to chat a bit with Lea and Sabra Davison, before hitting the road home.  Nothing like having an Olympian ask if she can post a little note about you as inspiration on their website to make your day!  Skiers left and made their way home exhausted and elated with the weekends efforts, thinking about the future.

Damian


Flying Moose Classic
2/4/2017


NWVE was well represented at our Favorite One Day Road Trip Race, the Flying Moose Classic.  Despite injuries and illness, NWVE still had eleven racers line up.  The Flying Moose Classic truly lives up to its name, drawing all the heartiest racers for an exhilarating event.  With the addition of a Yurt and Outhouse to the competition trail stadium, it looks as though the race has permanently relocated to the loop in the woods and gone are the days of starting at the Gould Academy Field House.  This certainly has its logistical advantages for the organizers, but may not be the most popular change among the racers.  However, it does not detract from the spirit of the event.

Most out of town racers were surprised to find the conditions a little different than expected.  The primary surface was frozen granular with a little more than a dusting of powder mixed in.  Temps held steady in the mid-teens and there was no significant wind other than the occasional light gust.  The course was the challenging and technical competition loop we have come to know over the last few years.  For many, this is the hardest race of the year.  The distance and difficulty test skiers of all abilities in many ways contributing to its popularity that keeps racers coming back.  Conquering the Flying Moose would be an amazing feat, but it is easy to improve on or work on a challenge that got you in the past.

The loop was fast.  The Chief Groomer admitted that the tracks went in hard.  Set Friday night they had plenty of time to harden by race time.  The course was solid.  Even though the wax recommendation was made for powder it still worked well, with the exception of durability.  Unfortunately, four layers of kick was not enough to last in the abrasive conditions.  It was an easy fix to add layers, but even so as racers fatigued it was difficult to make what was left on the ski kick.  Backs and shoulders burned on the last of three laps.  Those that did switch to Klister covered fared no better.

Skiers were called to the line, then called off, then called back then put on standby and then suddenly the skiers ready command was given.  The unfortunate delayed start was due to a few hiccups with registration and communication in the stadium.  Timers were on one end while the starter was on the other, and the designated announcer was nowhere to be found as another volunteer stepped in.  While focused on what the volunteers were doing he was not in tune with what the skiers were doing.  After the delay was announced many left their skis in the tracks to hold their place while they continued to warm up.  Other stayed in place stripped to their racing duds and beginning to freeze.  The ready command was given a little prematurely.  A commotion followed as skiers ran back to their equipment and clicked in.  All were ready for the Go command…barely.

The race was off and the collegiate contingent quickly took the lead with just under a dozen racers.  The chase group was composed of NWVE’s Tom Thurston and Tyler Magnan with Bethel’s Kirk Siegel right on their heels.  Gaps quickly opened up on course due to mishaps and chain reactions.  A fall here and a slowdown there caused the field to quickly come apart.  As a result of this, many expressed dissatisfaction with the first lap, but as the race opened up they could ski in their own style.  Eric Darling was further back from Tom and Tyler than usual as a result of this early on, but once he was able to move freely he began advancing.  Stephen Wright was in an interesting position for much of the race chasing a fearless U14 Duo that was racing aggressively.  Along with Brad Clarke, Stephen mixed it up with Ava Thurston (Mansfield) and Camille Bolduc for much of the race.  The course has such variability in it that the more experienced racer cannot settle into their comfort zone.  The younger racers are more agile and can adapt and respond to the heterogeneity of the course using it as a big advantage.  There is not much you can do against heartrates that can spike to 210 and recover in 15 seconds except be patient.  There was one pack of racers that stayed relatively close for most of the race.  Mark White found company skiing with CSU’s Mark Doughty.  This will be an interesting matchup to keep track of as it is not only a battle of the Marks, but the M4’s as well.  There was one pack of racers that stayed relatively close for most of the race.  This was the Trina Train. This group was filled with most of the regulars we love to compete with.  In this pack was Sarah Pribram, Rick Kelley, Jessica Bolduc and Perry Bland.  They were joined by Jamie Doucett (CSU), Chris Dorion (Central Mass) Forde Sayre’ lone racer of the day Jonathan Chaffee, Peter Davis (Mansfield), Todd Taska (Lowell), John Lazenby (ORS), Doug Armstrong (Mt. Washington), Peter Van Buren (Mansfield) and of course Trina Hosmer (Stowe Nordic) dressed in the signature Rossi Orange.  This was a race.  No matter the niceties and politeness (even Doug was rumored to be gracious, out of character with his on course relentless determination), these people were competing.  To watch as their race protracted out was fun.  Each had their strengths and advantages as well as their weaknesses and misfortune.  Whether it was Doucett out striding Chaffee, or Chaffee coming back from a hard fall, or Sarah tucking the downhills, or Perry losing his wax or Trina hitting a turn that Lazenby checked his speed on, or Doug and Jessica yielding to each other to make the most of their advantages.  The claws were out and these people were racing, and racing hard.  Brad Ketterling was caught behind a crash early in the race that left Bill Holland (ORS) a little bloodied and dazed.  He caught Cipperly Good and skied the first lap with her.  Brad was happy to be back at the Flying Moose as he is among those that thinks the course is incredible.  Cipperly was a little more conservative having a few more years of experience on this course and knowing what it can do to you. 

Spectators remained in suspense as the finishers came in.  The race was not by any means decided until the very end.  A few college racers from Bates, Colby, and Bowdoin stayed away from the rest of the field.  Tom and Tyler chased down and passed any of them that fell off the pace of the elite pack.  22km is a long way and as Tom said “technique plays a big role.  You can go hard on this course, but if you are not being efficient, you will burn out.”  Which is what happened as Tom and Tyler overtook those that used too much energy in the early stages of the race.  Tom had more kick on the final lap and held off Tyler at the finish by striding up the final hill.  Eric Darling moved up a lot in the final lap, the time he took out on his competition was more significant than the places he gained but it was impressive how he moved up overtaking David Herr and Ben Taska.  Stephen and Brad Clarke stayed in their groove, but it was not enough to catch Ava Thurston who once dropping Camille picked it up a notch.  She probably had the strongest finishing climb of the day striding where many broke form.  Stephen and Brad did get by Camille who bonked with 5km to go in the race.  Camille finished it out, happy to be done, but a little embarrassed that she had miscalculated by a lap.  Mark White lost all his wax and had to muscle it in yielding the M4 W to Mark Doughty this week.  No complaints, Mark was pleased with his effort and is already working on a strategy for next year.  Sarah Pribram tried to lead the Trina Train, but Trina would not have it this week.  Trina’s skis were kicking well and her skiing was flawless.  These were not Jessica’s conditions as she much preferred the snow last week at Craftsbury.  She did manage to suppress some late attacks by Doug Armstrong and John Lazenby.  Rick Kelley was also able to hold off Doug and John, but could not hang on to Jessica on the final climb.  Rick was happy to finally have a Points race under his belt this season.  Perry Bland liked the conditions but underestimated how much wax he needed.  He did what Perry does best, adapting to what you can do and getting the job done.  Brad was still on the move when he finished the race.  He was closing on Craftsbury’s John Brodhead, but found himself skiing alone once he went by Cipperly.  He was fine with that as if freed up the course for him.  Cipperly kept Brad within sight, but also found herself skiing alone.  Cipperly continued her upward trend on the results page which is tough to do on such a challenging day to ski!

After the race, skiers dispersed quickly.  It seemed that with the cold temps, people were eager to get into dry clothes and get to warmth.  As is tradition, NWVE overwhelmed the Sunday River Brewery to refuel before our long journey home and trade a few stories.  Most had mixed feelings on the day, they were happy to have raced, but felt maybe they had left a little out on the course somewhere.  That is what makes the Flying Moose so great!  It takes a lot out of you and leaves you thinking about what the future holds.  After filling up, NWVE started home with another great race their belt!

Damian

Craftsbury Marathon
1/28/2017





Craftsbury really worked its magic this year ordering up an abundance of fresh powder for this year’s edition of the Craftsbury Marathon.  Skiers traveling from Northwest Vermont encountered snow continuously getting deeper as they closed into the epicenter of skiing on this day.  Plowable snow in Morrisville then, snowbanks in North Wolcott and finally an overnight winter wonderland in Craftsbury!  Having to sit this one out was a bummer, but getting to spectate as all the NWVE Blue competed was very rewarding.

Conditions were something we have not seen in a long time.  Lots of fresh natural snow.  It was actually a very long night for the groomers as the fine powder on top of the soaked granular base created issues with the process of laying out a perfect course.  Experience and wisdom prevailed as a very good track was set and the course was praised by all who had the opportunity to ski it.  A light snow also fell during most of the race. 

The race was held in about as perfect classic skiing conditions as you could ask for.  Fresh lightly falling snow, not much sun, temps in the mid-twenties, great company and a track that just kept getting faster.  The course was the tried and true 12.5km loop that utilizes many of Craftsbury’s most popular trails:  The Stadium, Murphy’s, Upper Bailey Hazen, Eleanor’s, Lower Bailey Hazen and Ruthie’s.  This loop offers great skiing with nice variability and transitions.  It is also good for spectating as you can catch racers easily in different places. 

Conditions were very good, but hitting the wax was a little challenging as there was significant differences in the snow depending on where you were on the course.  While people tried to dial in for certain aspects the most effective approach was to dial it out and use something all encompassing.  Violet was the color of the day, some dared to go warmer and others covered it with blue, but it seemed that anyone planning to stride had some on.  Race winner Kris Freeman opted to double pole, which proved effective as he bested second place by 7 minutes.  People running the NWVE recommendation of VR40 mixed with Ski*Go HF Violet were pleased with excellent kick, good durability and with a little concession on speed.  The fresh snow penalized those who dipped into the silver waxes and the moisture cost those who favored blues too heavily.  Klister skiers could be observed running down the hills.

The NWVE Men entered Murphy’s field with intimidating numbers.  The blue was dispersed throughout the field and looked very impressive among the rainbow of uniforms.  The women followed soon after in their wave and comprised almost half of the top ten.  It was great to see so many off to a great start, and place counting was closely monitored as it was clear that people were in contention for a great result! 

A nice surprise was being able to beat the field to the top of Eleanor’s on Duck Pond.  It was here that the early packs could first be observed.  The top three came through together, but as they rounded the corner to go down the big hill Freeman took off never to be caught again.  They had already significantly gapped the first chase group that was hanging with Eli Enman.  Not far behind was a train that stayed together for almost 3 full laps.  Within it was Tom Thurston, Eric Tremble, and Eric Darling.  Other notable skiers were Neal Graves (Stowe Nordic), John Sakalowski (CSU), Andrew Dougherty (Alaska Winter Stars), Gordon Vermeer (CSU) and David Herr.  The next group did not have NWVE members but is worth mentioning as it has our club’s best friends, Ford Sayre’s Chris Nice, Rick Powell and Bryce Wing as well as Onion River’s Chris Bean.  NWVE was peppered throughout the main field led by Luke Shullenberger and Rick Costanza (Mansfield).  It was interesting to see how hubs of people surrounded a prominent skier.  Were they a magnet, or know how to stay in the middle of the action.   Stephen Wright, Mike Kavanaugh and Mark White were in a group with Mansfield’s Jim Fredericks and Putney’s Chris Osgood. Scott Magnan, Emanuel Betz and Kyle Darling, had to be in a fun race with Leigh Mallory, Craftsbury’s Peter Harris and Putney’s Bob Gray as they chased Ford Sayre’s Jonathan Chaffee who had an age group challenger with Jack Beecham sticking to him.  Lary Martell was a little stealthy as he held off Onion Rivers John Lazenby.  Perry Bland always had good company with him, though they found it discouraging as he hogged all the cheers.  Michael Mashtare, while under the weather, ventured to race away from Dickinson’s for the first time in a long time and managed to hold of the Ski Wiz Zach Caldwell!  Zach was actually recovering from a nightmare of a summer that involved a couple of bike crashes and a few broken bones, but the results never lie.  Mount Washington Nordic’s Doug Armstrong also chased his way up the results page skiing away from John Brodhead (Craftsbury), Tim Cowan, Bill Holland (Onion River), John Witmer and Gordon Scannell (Schussverein Ski Club).  It was good to see him work his way through the skiers as it rekindled the lessons I learned the day he taught me to race a few years ago at the Flying Moose Classic.  Brad Ketterling was psyched with the conditions and grateful he did not repeat last year’s double pole effort even if his skis did seem a little slow.  They did not really show it as he crested Wilbur’s and headed into the finish. 

The women’s race was also very exciting to watch unfold.  From the start NWVE had a good group at the front.  This held for much of the first lap and it was good to see our club working well together as well as encouraging those around them.  As Sarah Pribram mentored Kasie Enman, her advice was appreciated by others within earshot.  Liz Hollenbach encouraged Jessica Bolduc who continued on her trajectory up the results page.  Sara Graves (Stowe Nordic) was also right in this group along with Elissa Bradley (Ford Sayre) and Trina Hosmer (Stowe Nordic).  The women had a more difficult time staying together as their field was simply smaller, but more so, as they have to navigate extra traffic as they overtook the Men’s Field.  This starts before they even get out of Murphy’s Field.  By the start of the Second Lap Jessica and Sara Graves had broken away from the pack and were racing away from the field closing on some of the leaders.  Sara had faster skis, but Jessica was easily kicking and the second time over Moss’s climb was enough to drop Sara.  As she pressed on, JoAnn Hanowski (Mansfield) came into sight and Jessica closed to within 10 seconds as they turned off Ruthie’s climb.  JoAnn had faster skis and opened up a bit of a lead aware that Jessica was too close for comfort.  Kasie fell into the alone zone as her strength propelled her away, but her experience was not enough to allow her to hang on to those who skied collegiately or professionally ahead of her.  Her ski today will certainly have very positive effects going forward.  Liz was still recovering from the bad cold going around and tried to hang onto Trina, however Trina’s skis were flying and Liz lost contact, but held position during the last quarter of the race.  Sarah’s skis were not rockets today, but an interesting phenomenon happened as she climbed Wilbur’s hill before the finish.  As NWVE’s cheering squad started their Sarah Chant, another notable Sara was in view.  Everybody on the hill was cheering for Sarah or Sara and it was clear that both were appreciative, but not really distinguishing who was cheering who.  Or was it both in one and the same?  Never the less, Sarah carried on to the finish as she passed by Sara Mae Berman (CSU) who was starting her second lap.

With the excitement of the 25km race wrapping up the 50km racers had to face the real challenge of the day as they pressed on.  While the exodus of the 25km skiers usually leads to a very lonely second 25km, the conditions contributed to things staying together some.  Eli worked with Peter Hegman and was able to hold off Joel Bradley (Ford Sayre).  Eric and Tom’s large train remained fairly intact, though David Herr pulled a small group away which Tom covered.  Eric made a heroic effort to bridge back on, but the move ended up taking all he had with 10km left to go.  Tyler Magnan had an incredible race working methodically through the entire field.  His progress was very impressive and he seemed to be having a lot of fun doing it. He worked his way from the back of the pack all the way into the Ford Sayre crew! He was continuously passing, and likely a positive factor in almost everyone’s race with his smooth technique. Luke Shullenberger lost contact in the final lap as he fatigued and his back locked up thanks to last week’s impressive White Mountain Double Pole.  He finished the true to form with his history at Craftsbury; happy to be done, but hurting more than he wanted to.  Mike Kavanaugh felt the last half of the race as well.  He managed to stay focused on finishing and although exhausted looked strong on the final push to the finish.  Emanuel Betz turned a lot of heads throughout the course of his race.  Like Tyler he had a very consistent effort and skied along with many people throughout the race.  He looked focused and as though he could keep on going through the finish.  Kasie was the only NWVE woman to take on the 50km this year.  Once the 25km racers peeled off she really had no company and had to persevere on her own will aside from seeing a few skiers on the switchbacks in Murphy’s and the stadium.  This is a very difficult way to race, but Kasie stayed strong and overcame by challenging herself to keep a rhythm which also became increasingly difficult as her kick layers wore off and she was left with a slick wax binder and bridge.  Responsibility of this is under investigation between the wax techs who worked on these skis and fault will be determined by an unbiased arbitrator Dhyan Nirmegh if the proper petitions are filed in the Shaker Mountain Court of Kick and Glide.  Don’t hold your breath a final decision could be years away!

Overall it was an incredible day.  The conditions were great and almost everyone looked like they were having a great time for most of the race.  NWVE had a strong presence influencing many of the participants in this race.  Even the NWVE Brownies were a hit with many finishers looking for some calorie replenishment.  Especially the Women’s 50km Winner Emily Stitt who was grateful that Jessica happened to be standing at the finish line with them.  NWVE took home many awards and will certainly earn many points in the Club and Zak series’ with this effort.  

Let’s keep the momentum going with our favorite one day road trip to Bethel for the Flying Moose Classic next Saturday!

Damian


White Mountain Classic

1/21/2017

Results:

Photos:

The White Mountain Classic was held today under mild conditions.  The Mt. Washington Valley has been the beneficiary of some significant snow accumulations that have withstood the January thaw the western side of the Whites has experienced.  Skiers arrived to find fantastic conditions with deep snow.  The day’s festivities started early with a jovial announcer pumping everyone up with some spirited banter and inspiring tunes.


Skiers got underway with figuring out what to use for wax.  The usual waxing dilemma presented itself once again.  The stadium is at a significantly lower elevation than a majority of the course.  With a rapid warm up forecasted, athletes went about seeing how warm they could go on their wax and still have it work acceptably.  It was a tough call as the temps were in the low twenties, but the sun was out and warm air was aloft.  Recommendations were calling for red and yellow klisters, but for NWVE  that seemed a little too extreme. 


We went about testing and experimenting.  Violets, universals, and Rex Gold were determined to be the ticket.  One key step was creating a bridge of blue from the binder to the final layer.  Another popular decision was to cover with a little ToKo Yellow hard wax.  This was not necessary, but it did not hurt.  It was really good to see the team testing and bringing back their feedback.  Especially in the absence of Perry Bland, the gold standard in wax testing.  Torches blazed putting the finishing touches on the skis and people made their way to the start in an orderly fashion. 


The course was the usual we have been skiing the last few years with a couple of minor adjustments.  We started with a lap and a half around the golf course, crossed the road, climbed Yodel, crossed another road, skied a long loop that combined the competition trails as well as the Eagle Mountain trails. Skiers returned via Yodel and finished the race just prior to having to cross the road again.  Jackson prides itself on its impeccable grooming.  This year was no different and the course was expertly set.  The snow type was interesting.  It was transformed, but not granular.  Had there not been a strong potential for a warm up, I would have been comfortable racing on hard wax as there was plenty of powder in the mix.


Skiers lined up at the start in a relaxed manner.  It seemed that the weather conditions fostered a certain contentment and people were not feeling rushed or stressed due to some meteorological extreme that can raise anxiety.  Skiers chatted while instructions and a race blessing took place; then a photo op from a drone and finally the countdown to the start signal.  In that instant, the relaxed vibe turned to competition and it was on!


All of the start lanes quickly funneled into two catching some skiers off guard, but being to the advantage of others.  Jessica Bolduc was one who had a clean start and found herself on the tails of Damian Bolduc as he poled out of the stadium conservatively.  NWVE’s Eli Enman quickly established himself in the Elite Pack along with 3 Upper Valley skiers: Ford Sayre’s Joel Bradley and Keith Kantack and Dartmouth’s Peter Mamrol.  A couple of strong chase groups formed the first with Gordon Vermeer and John Sakalowsky of CSU as well as Stowe Nordic’s Neal Graves.  The next had Tom Thurston leading a hard charge along with CSU’s Frank Feist and BOC’s Kirk Siegel.  The main field filed in after but the first major challenge broke it up into groups that tended to stay together for the remainder of the race.  The climb up Yodel has a way of doing this.  Eric Darling and Luke Shullenberger were NWVE’s next skiers and found themselves without companions after Yodel.  Eric was not in position when the chase packs pulled away and Luke had opted to challenge himself by double poling the whole race!  Damian had great climbing skis and comfortably fell into a fun mix of skiers, CSU’s Andy Milne, Rob Bradlee and Alex Jospe as well as Dennis Page of Nansen, Peter Harris of Craftsbury, and Elissa Bradley skiing for Ford Sayre.  An early fall moved Mike Kavanaugh out this pack, but he was joined by CSU’s Robert Faltus for much of the race.  A large group fronted by a lot of blue suits came next.  NWVE’s Leigh Mallory, Manny Betz, Kasie Enman, Sarah Pribram, Jessica Bolduc, Kyle Darling and Liz Hollenbach showed how fun teamwork leads to great results.  Those in this pack not of NWVE commented on how motivating it was to be mixed in with the “friendly group that was still 100% competitive.”  It must have something to do with Wednesday Night Worlds!  John Witmer on the other hand found himself not among his own teammates but in a sea of CSU working together just as well.  Brad Ketterling had an easier time this week after last week’s car trouble.  He found himself racing with Onion River’s venerable Bill Holland.  These two should complement each other well as Bill has always openly shared is race experience with those newer to competing in the sport.  Cipperly Good found herself kicking well and moving up in the ranks skiing with CSU’s Jody Newton and Lisa Doucett. 


As the race unfolded the conditions played a big role.  They stayed relatively consistent which contributed to much of the field remaining intact as it was for during the first lap for the second.  Some shifts in position occurred but the protracted spreading of the field was not as much as expected.  Most stayed within their groups for much of the second lap making for great racing. However the rapid warm-up did happen and late in the race the snow changed just enough to make a difference.  Eli’s skis slowed and he found himself not quite able to hang on for the final sprint. Neal fell off the pack he was with and knew Tom was closing.  Tom has been battling a bad cold all week, but was happy to have made the decision to race.  He could not over take CSU’s Frank Feist who was on today, but did hold off the much younger Ben Taska at the line.  A pack formed around Eric Darling in the last quarter of the race and was able to win a 3 way sprint with David Herr and Portland’s George Aponte Clarke.  Luke looked strong the whole race and should call his double pole experiment a success!  Damian fell off the pace of his group as his skis slowed the second lap.  Mike Kavanaugh was able to shake Robert Faltus and overtake Brett Deyling in the final kilometers.  He was closing fast on Putney’s Chris Osgood, but could not quite bridge the gap before the finish.  On the second lap Kyle split away from the big NWVE group settling in with Sara Graves (Stowe Nordic), JoAnn Hanowski (Mansfield) and Jonathan Chaffee (Ford Sayre).  With Kyle pulling away, Leigh was left to lead the charge of the big group.  Leigh really enjoyed the race surrounded by so many NWVE skiers.  At the end he had distanced himself just enough to hold off the rest of the pack.  Manny Betz who was part of the rotation in this group throughout the race took third in one of the most exciting sprint finishes of the day.  Kasie and Sarah were right on his tails in 4th and 5th.  Jessica Yodeled conservatively and lost a few seconds on the major downhill, but maintained position.  Liz’s skis slowed on the second lap and she found herself stuck in between skiers on her own.  John Witmer was happier with this week’s effort moving up on the results against some of the competition.  Brad improved on his results as well.  After a strong first lap Cipperly’s skis became a little draggy in the later stages of the race.  Despite this she was able to stay ahead of a few of the people she raced with last week, netting another significantly improved result.


The big news of the day came at the awards ceremony.  There was a lot of excitement around the team scoring.  Many clubs fielded strong teams.  People anxiously awaited the results.   NWVE did not specifically target the race, but we knew we were in good shape.  Of course, the presence of the Berman’s gives a huge advantage to CSU, but a few noted that George Hall of Craftsbury was in attendance and hurt CSU’s odds being in the same age division as Larry.  At the awards ceremony, CSU’s Team Championship Cheerleader had to concede the title to the NWVE men who won free and clear by a 1 point margin.  This has been a long time coming for the men.  The women’s race was also a nail-biter as there was tie and things would move to the 4th skier to break it.  NWVE once again prevailed by 1 point!  Sweeping the team championship is a huge accomplishment.  People were very excited and even CSU had to congratulate us on a great race.





Geschmossel 2017

New England lucked out with another great day for skiing.  While Bretton Woods would have loved to have had the conditions of earlier in the season, they made do with what was on the ground and had an excellent race.  The Geschmossel is one of the oldest races in New England and has a loyal following.  This year’s field was like many at this race. Drawing familiar faces as well as some new ones. 

The skiers arrived early anxious to see what they would be racing on and to test wax.  NWVE quickly went about applying the magic mix that had worked the day before at Quarry Road.  Green Binder with Purple and Blue Klister mixed, favoring Blue.  Without much testing we went with it.  Trina Hosmer had done a thorough test on her skis and noted that although there was a little powder out there, no cover was needed. 

It was during this klistering that Damian demonstrated the rush application of Spray on Green Klister Binder.  Perhaps a little too rushed.  The audience of Tim, Cipperly, Tyler and Jessica were intrigued with how easy it is.  Then before Tim could ask, Damian torched the binder to “burn off the propellant.”  Perhaps a little too quickly as Cipperly exclaimed “MY SKI IS ON FIRE.”  “I was going to ask what you did with the propellant, but I see you prepared a nice Ski Flambe’” was Tim’s remark.  Tyler knew the skis would be smoke’n fast now. 

As with most ski races a sudden panic came over the participants as the start time was nigh.  We skied out to the starting area, most finding their way, others heading to the wrong area to start, but making their way to where the masses went.  When gathered where we thought we would start we were instructed that the start would be in a different area around the corning.  Most found this favorable and as it funneled in over a longer distance and the first turn was not for at least a half kilometer after the start line. 

The conditions were ice tracks all around.  They did not lift the tracker except for on the bridges.  So, tracks up the hills, around the turns and down the hills.  CSU’s Jamie Doucett who had a chance to preview the whole course joked that “the secret was to lock your skis into the tracks and hope for the best!” The course had easy rolling terrain one herring bone hill and one technical downhill with a hard right at the bottom.  It went up Sebosis then across and down Dark Forest. Temperatures rose to the mid-twenties and there was no Bretton Woods wind! There were some notable changes at Bretton Woods other than unusual stadium.  The Dark Woods had been logged, brightening up the trail with the thick canopy gone in areas.  Skiers descended through this area filled with the smell of fresh cut pine, and sawdust in the tracks. 

Skiers lined up in two waves.  The Masters Men first then everyone else.  At the Masters Men’s start, the lineup was interesting.  Kris Freeman took his position and then everyone else hesitated.  Soon the prime spaces filled in, but with one protest that Sam Evans-Brown was too young to start in this wave. Sam insisted that he had become a Master last season.  Lacking ID his word was accepted. 

Skiers started with a fast double pole section.  Kris Freeman did not hesitate to establish himself as the leader of this race.  A small group chased and then a larger group of the usual contenders formed.    Tyler Magnan, Eric Darling and Emanual Betz represented NWVE in this group that also included top skiers from Ford Sayre Chris Nice, Bryce Wing and Rick Powell.  Keeping it interesting was Bethel Outing Club’s Kirk Siegel.  A little further back Damian Bolduc and Mansfield’s Rick Costanza led a long train of skiers.  Mixed in were Stephen Wright, and Pavel Dvorack. This group chugged along together for half of the first lap.  Tim Cowan was back in action after an extended hiatus from racing. He fell in with Perry Bland, Mansfield’s Steve Messier and Craftsbury’s John Brodhead.  John Witmer kept CSU’s Clinton Krueger in site as the race unfolded.

The second wave had NWVE’s four women.  Camille Bolduc get a huge result under her belt placing 6th in the EC U16 division at Quarry Road.  She followed-up with an aggressive start.  Jessica Bolduc and Sarah Pribram let Camille go opting for a more evenly paced race.  Cipperly Good had a conservative start as well.  NWVE had one more racer that was late due to car trouble.  After a valiant effort to get to the race Brad Ketterling skied out of the stadium after a sprint from the lodge to the start.

When the course is fast, the racing is tight.  The groups mostly stayed together though some notable changes were made on the downhills.  Some was ski speed, but more of it had to do with skiing risks.  Those willing to risk more on the downhills pulled away from those who stayed well within their comfort zone.  One of the biggest factors was the turn off Dark Forest.  This became icy and surprised much of the field.  Almost everyone went down on this turn in the second lap.  The snow had sheared off the ice much earlier in the approach than expected and skiers were thrown off balance unexpectedly.  Those carrying too much speed had no hope as their skis skidded unable to bite into anything to make the corner.  Three options remained: go down, go off course or go into a tree. 

This turn was an unfortunate deciding factor in many hard fought races.  Some became tangled on the ground and a few who could see what was happening telegraphed a turn and carried their momentum through.  Those lucky few had so much speed over those who fell that they were uncatchable in the final kilometer of the race. 

As skiers returned to the Start/Finish area most were smiling with having just experienced a thrilling race.  They crossed the line in a mad sprint, leaving all they had left in a fury of double poling.  Tyler and Eric were quick to congratulate the Ford Sayre skiers on a great race.  Emanuel made a quick exit, in fact this author never saw him and is not totally convinced he was actually there.  Stephen and Pavel raced in with smiles.  The women who had started two minutes back started mixing in with the men as they had chased them down over the two laps.  Joann Hanowski of Mansfield double poled the whole thing winning by a comfortable margin.  Second was Camille who cranked out another top performance.  Camille was followed closely by Eliza Thomas of Mansfield who picked it up on the second lap.  Perry was an unfortunate victim of a fall that resulted in a muscle pull.  He limped it in and will hopefully recover quickly trying to shake it off.  Tim Cowan finished well almost plowing through all the skiers that were congregating too close to the finish line.  Sarah Pribram  and Jessica came back unscathed and ready for more skiing and racing.  Cipperly hung in for a good race against the other masters women and was up on the masters men she often competes with in the results.  John Witmer enjoyed the ski, but determined he needed to classic ski a little more to feel comfortable in conditions like today’s.  Brad made it back using the race as a way to escape the looming ordeal of what to do with his car, and how to get home. 

All and all it was a great day to enjoy some time outside skiing with great competition from around New England.  It looks like things will shape up nice for the White Mountain Classic Saturday and the season is underway.  

Damian



Gunstock Freestyle Race


1/7/2017

Men’s Results

Women’s Results


The NENSA Club/Zak Series got underway today with the Gunstock Freestyle Race.  The region was well represented with small scouting parties from many clubs checking out the new addition to the series calendar.  The field was larger than expected drawing many collegiate and high school skiers who kept the Masters in check.  It was a diverse field and it seemed most were thrilled to kick off the New Year with a BANG!


Skiers were welcomed in many ways.  Deep snow banks lined almost the whole drive to the venue. Only in the Champlain Valley was there bare ground.  The temps were chilly overnight but warmed to the desirable mid-teens.  Just right for a cold skate race.  There was ample easily accessible parking with a friendly attendant putting a smile on everyone’s face.  The race was very well organized with plenty of facilities for the participants.  Registration was a snap and the course was in great shape.  There was even a nice PA system cranking out inspiring tunes.  One skier says it was the “best ever,” but that is debatable with Peter Harris’ Bon Jovi at the Mt. Hor Hop, and John Broadhead announcing over Germany’s Heavy Metal Power House, Rammstein’s, “Du hast” at Craftsbury.  Honestly that is very hard to beat.  Perhaps if Trapp Family started the Race to the Cabin with Clutch’s, “Space Grass”, or Bretton Woods had the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band live starting the Geschmossel with “Clap your Hands” and closing the awards with “Two Bottles of Wine” you could have something to compete.


But we were here to ski, not just listen to music.  The course was “Bomber.”  A fun 4km loop with some sustained efforts leading into a more technical section.  It had one Hazen-esque downhill with a hard right at the bottom, that even when skied conservatively seemed to launch you into the next uphill.  The surface was groomed well and even had tracks set for most of it.  It seemed like bottomless frozen granular that as predicted by CSU’s Jamie Doucett “held up” for the race.  Temps were in the mid-teens, overcast and no noticeable wind.  Skiers left the stadium and began a sustained climb that took them on a long loop around Cobble Mountain.  They returned and skied a series of more technical trails looping back on each other near the center before re-entering the stadium.  Men did 3, 4km laps, Women did 2, 4km laps.


The 15 second interval was sorted alphabetically for pre-registered skiers followed by first come first serve for those who registered DOR.  This made for a heterogeneous field and some interesting racing.  However, some packs of racers did form making for exciting moments on a few of the tight turns.  The consensus seemed to be that the first lap went well, and the second lap was much harder.  Most of the Men commented on how they pulled it back together on the 3rd lap.  Damian Bolduc got things going for NWVE quickly gaining on many of the skiers that started ahead of him.  Dartmouth’s Magnus Bigelow was long gone, but Damian was able to ski along with CSU’s Larry Berman and Jackson’s Doug Armstrong early in the race.  Not long after Eric Darling left the stadium and began his quest tracking down skiers too.  Tyler Magnan and Jonathan Miller started mid field among a strong contingent of collegiate skiers.  Most would hold their own for the first lap, but as starters began mixing with lap skiers, strong packs formed carrying impressive speed.  The second lap had the most traffic as nearly everyone was on course.  Damian settled in skiing much of the third lap with junior skier Cameron Brochu and veteran skier Nat Lucy. It was great to see Nat back in action this season! Eric settled in with CSU’s Ari Ofsevit for a bit, but Ari was able to pull away and eventually put a gap on the downhills.  Tyler was able to chase the skier ahead of him for two laps until they crashed giving him the advantage.  Tyler advanced and the other skier was not able to regain the ground lost. Jonathan found some Vermont company to ski with pacing off UVM Ski Club’s Own Molind.  He also got to ski a little with Nansen Ski’s Dennis Page who always gives you a good race.  


NWVE lined up one of the largest Club contingents of women with Jessica Bolduc, Cipperly Good and Sarah Pribram.  The women’s field was not short on competition with several impressive performances.  One skier had a dominating performance skiing up from the back of the field.  It had many guessing but when she was announced as biathlon and Dartmouth standout Carly Wynn many nodded in agreement that it made sense.  Jessica started things off for NWVE and carried it through to the club’s top result, 15th place.  She skied much of the race close to Bodoin’s Lily Johnston.  Sarah Pribram set out chasing down Hadley Moreau of Bates College.  She enjoyed the flow of the course, especially the technical sections.  Cipperly Good continues to ski well.  Coming off a strong performance at the Alumni Race she carried her momentum into this week starting one spot behind Amber Freeman, Waterville.  Cipperly enjoyed the event noting the contrasts between skiing a lap fresh and then tired.   


Of course, a race would not be a race without Ford Sayre’s dedicated contingent of Cheryl Carlson, Bryce Wing, Rick Powell and Chris Nice.  Racing against this group began on the commute to the race with a skirmish on the highway leading to Gunstock.  Allegations flew over aggressive driving; however, the accused was quite certain that they were one of the most passive operators, shy of driving like a grandparent.  That settled the fabricated dispute.  On the results page, it was clear that racing was tight between the two clubs. 


CSU had the day by volume and many age group wins anchored by the Berman’s.  Stowe Nordic had the comeback of the day.  After laying low for a few seasons Neal and Sara Graves represented the Club with impressive races.  Another notable performance was Concord Nordic’s Sam Evans-Brown’s crash.  Many witnessed his example of how not to make the turn!


All were very pleased with the race and many look forward to skiing at Gunstock in the future.  Hopefully this event stays and grows on the Club Series calendar as it draws skiers to a region we do not visit often. After a cool-down and some NWVE Brownies we headed home with some stopping at Worthy Burger.  A place we missed all last season. 


Damian



2016 BFA/NWVE Alumni Citizens Race Report:
12/31/2016

The 2016 BFA/NWVE Alumni race was held on the last day of 2016 at the Dickinson Farm.  This year’s edition was well attended with fans and participants filling the parking lot.  It was a day all were thankful for as last year’s race was cancelled.  With extra anticipation, skiers arrived pleased with conditions and the weather.  It is always interesting to see who shows up for this race and this year there were a few surprises!

A light flurry greeted athletes along with a rolling breeze.  Wind direction is difficult to pin down as the current around the venue varies.  Though it was most noticeable when it gusted from the south.  Temperatures held in the high teens.  As the race instructions were being given the clouds gave way and the sun shined throughout the race.

The course was close to the traditional course at Dickinson’s with a couple of new twists to make up for snow coverage on the South Woods Loop being too thin for the race.  The course groomed up nicely with a thin layer of fresh powder on top of a frozen granular base.  The groomer did an excellent job smoothing things out and rewarded skiers with an excellent skating surface.  This loop has a little of everything so that any skier can be pleased with at least one aspect of the course while as a whole it challenges every racer.

Scott gave race instructions and soon the women’s field was underway.  The women attacked the double pole zone and by the first corner the top 3 had been established.  Alumni Savanna Crossman, BFA’s Olivia Ferraro, and NWVE’s Camille Bolduc broke away from the field.  Before half a kilometer had passed Camille made a decisive move and took the lead.  Things looked as though they were determined as the racers headed off into the woods, but as they came out of the woods a new order had been established with NWVE’s Jessica Bolduc moving into second place and was closing on Camille.  As Camille noticed the threat on the switchbacks she kicked it up a notch and began widening her lead.  Cipperly Good skied very strong and picked up a couple of spots on the first lap as well.  She settled in chasing BFA Skier Meredith Mashtare and looked to be closing in the final kilometer of the race.  The big surprises in the race were the Masters Women who raced!  Kim Adams, Michelle Bruso and Sara Heth shocked the participants with their presence.  It was Michelle’s first ski since the last Alumni Race, Kim’s first race in far too long to say, and Sara’s 1990 vintage ski boots creaked with neglect.  All were happy with the race and all were happy to see them go for it!

Having participated in this race over the years you start to notice things.  Things such as what pairs of skis show up.  There are a couple that have quite a record.  You rarely see these skis elsewhere, but they seem to be pulled out for this race.  One notable pair is Scott’s Atomic Betas.’  When these skis are out they are unbeatable.  The other is Tyler’s Fischer RCS’s.  Tyler does not particularly care for these skis, but at the Alumni Race they always deliver. 

Being early in the season, on a tough course with light machine grooming, the Alumni race is contested mostly on guts.  Those who command at the beginning rarely see it all the way through to the end, yet it is not uncommon to drop the hammer right from the start.  Brennan Shuttle set the pace early but faded quickly.  Cody Putnam took over not totally enthused to be leading at this point.  It was more of an “all right, I’ll do it if no one else will” move than an eager to take the lead pass.  Cody may have had a plan, but everyone yielded to him and so he took the field out at a fast, but controlled pace.  Much of the field was intact at the 2km mark where Tyler Magnan decided to open things up.  In a technical section off a fast downhill, Tyler’s finesse took him from 3rd to 1st in a few meters.  Cody remained in second, Rick Costanza in third and Damian in fourth.  Tyler got a gap and pulled away on some tight turns.  Once things opened up, Damian made a move from 4th place pulling Rick along.  The new pace set by Tyler ripped apart the field and skiers started to scramble on the second lap.  Cody Putnam did not have a quick response after having led for almost a full lap.  Cody Boissonault led the next train of skiers that included Scott Magnan and Mike Mashtare as Brennan continued to fall back into the field.  Scott and Mike were right in it during the first lap, but far enough back not to notice Tyler’s move until it was too late.  They both looked strong finishing the race.  Jeff Alexander was an unsuspecting first timer at this race and got his first dose of the Alumni Madness. It is hard to figure out why competitors are taking the risks they do on these trails. He got a chuckle when someone explained it by saying that he was in the middle of the Franklin County World Championship!  Perry Bland was in close pursuit of Jeff continuing his upward trend he has had all year. He moved up through the field throughout the race. Perry even stuck around for the awards and took one home!

Another chapter has been added to the Alumni Race.  This year’s race will be remembered for nearly perfect weather, thin but fast conditions, and a great time with good friends.  A few traveled to Mimmo’s for the traditional post-race feast where reminiscing had already begun and plotting out the rest of the season was discussed with high enthusiasm.
 
Damian


Gatineau 2016

 
Writing this I realize that a Gatineau Report is long overdue.  People have been telling me for years to come up here and do this race, and now that I finally have, I regret that I had not sooner!  Gone are the nightmares of freezing cold temps or icy conditions.  This year’s race welcomed NENSA Members and immediately created a bias by simply having an abundance of snow.  Not to say that Gatineau has not been a victim of this winter as well, but a 20 inch dumping a week prior followed by a little rain and more snow made for great race conditions. The locals thought its been better, but they have not chased snow to an alpine hill barely getting by on "frozen granular."  No matter who you were, conditions for this year were unbelievable. 

Day one was the Classic Day.  Temps were perfect in the low teens, there was a little wind and skies remained overcast.  Some fine snow fell periodically during the race.  The tracks were set perfectly and had that feel of firmly set sides, yet a soft cushion with a very positive kick on the bottom for striding you dream about.  No slapping, shearing or working for it, just great skiing. 

The 51km + 1000 m course was a point to point through the Gatineau Park.  The trail system has 200km 100% open.  It was nice rolling terrain with a few minimally technical sections.  They were well marked and rather fun.  Almost all the climbs were easily stride-able with one major ascent after the 30km feed station.  The course had plenty of feed and check points helping skiers feel secure in their adventure.  Upon reaching the 51km mark a bright yellow sign read “1000m TO GO.” It was a good day to go the extra kilometer.  

Some people were on covered klister, but most used hard wax with Extra Blue being the go to of the day.  Everything was working so it was a matter of what you felt would be durable and have the range of the forecasted warm-up during the race.  Ski*Go HF Blue and Violet were working very well on my skis and have become a new favorite for sure after this season. 

Skiers were bussed to the start from the finish area.  A 40 minute highway ride that left some wondering if they really had it in them to make it back.  Upon disembarking the bus, skiers found themselves in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere with a Ski Festival set up.  Music, announcing, motivating affirmations, history recollected and plain old excitement about how perfect the race was going to be this year.  Skiers went off in several waves based on experience and results.  Tom Thurston and Stephen Wright were in wave A.  Damian Bolduc and Pavel Dvorak in Wave B and Emanuel Betz was in wave C.  Races got underway in a fairly organized manner as racers knew to conserve for the challenging climb in the latter half of the race.  The fields quickly thinned out through a series of turns and gently rolling hills.  Soon skiers found themselves in small packs of similar ability.  Tom was locked into the chase pack in wave A.  Stephen was cruising along in one of the larger groups, Pavel and Manny found their niche as well.  Damian skied a few km with Pavel in the elite wave B pack but soon began his quest racing up though wave A.  As the race progressed the dynamics would change.  First were those to lose their wax.  Durability was an issue for some, but a good application of binder should have eliminated this variable for anyone. They would hang in double poling, but eventually burned out as the hills became more sustained and steeper.  The next was those that became fatigued.  Again most likely a wax issue, but a few were in over their heads.  NWVE racers easily moved up through those encountering difficulties along the way.  Once over the highest point of the course was a series of thrilling down hills.  This would be the final factor that had a major effect on race outcomes.  Around 39 km mark skiers found themselves in a 1 km tuck.  Not an easy thing to do at this point in the race, but standing up would take away hard earned seconds and potentially places.  Racers were forced to leave it to ski speed and physics to carry them through this section of course.  Once through it was a short effort to the finish.  Skiers were teased as they went by the 51km mark, the advertised distance and came upon a 1000m to go sign.  This was more than an extra kilometer, but all the more reason to dig in and hold position.  Racers finished strong, leaving everything out on the course with many exciting sprints.  Tom got edged by Eric Grimm at the line, Damian who had skied his way through most of the A wave, knowing he had 2 minutes on his challenger would not yield position in their charge to the finish.  Stephen won his sprint as well, after having stayed with a few from his group the whole race.  Pavel put in a solid effort within less than 24 hours of his return from Cancun where more than just the locals thought he was a crazy man for roller skiing.  Manny also had an outstanding result consistently moving up through the field and taking significant time off his previous mark.  Manny raced virtually side by side with fellow C wave winner Simon Hamel for the entire distance. 

The Gatineau is not just about the World Loppet.  There is something for everyone.  There was a Half Marathon as well as a 15km and 5km event.  NWVE had excellent representation in all the races.  Lida Dvorak (who did not roller ski in Cancun) held her own among the racers in 27km field.  Jessica Bolduc and Leigh Mallory were last minute entrants in the 15km and each earned an age group Gold!  It should also be mentioned that Ava Thurston took the overall Women's Podium for that race in a final sprint.  Leigh had all he could do to stay ahead of her after being overtaken on a downhill!  In the 5km Quincy Massey-Bierman would take 3rd overall and first for women leading from wire to wire.  Camille Bolduc cruised in for 4th overall, and 4th in her age group, conserving a little for the Super Sprints to follow later in the day.  Julia Thurston pulled in another Gold (age groupfor the Thurston Medal Count. 

Later in the afternoon it was off to the World Cup Sprint Course.  Camille would represent well here.  200 boys and girls competed in the Annual Chelsea Nordic Super Sprints.  Skiers had a 15 second interval start qualifying round followed by 3 rounds of Mixed Super Sprint Waves.  No eliminations but seed changes.  Camille posted the fastest female qualifying time and set the women's course record!  She executed all her sprint waves well and took Gold in her age group!  Improving the Bolduc's medal count for the day. It was a great event with each round changing features on the course including Jumping through FIRE in round 2. Of course the features would be removed by Tuesday so that the World Cup skiers could contest Camille's mark. 

Day Two of the Gatineau was the Freestyle day.  Skiers were happy not to have to rise early to catch the bus as all events were based out of the same area.  Several more skiers joined those who had raced Saturday and would make it a big day for NWVE. Starting in wave A were Eli Enman, Luke Shullenberger, Leigh, and Damian.  Tom drew a short straw and had to deliver the B treatment to the field this day.  Kasie Enman started in Wave C.  Conditions were great with the course setting up nicely, a light steady snow falling throughout the morning, and little to no wind.  The freestyle course was a little more challenging with significant climbs throughout and narrower more technical trails. It was a blast flying through the woods on trails that resembled those of the Mt. Hor Hop in between the freeway sections of Gatineau Park.   

Eli Enman would quickly find his way into the elite pack.  Luke was in a chase pack.  Damian took a more conservative approach as he was not sure what was left in the tank after the classic race.  Leigh got out to a good start, but it was Tom from wave B who threw it down.  Tom wasted no time making up ground and had the fastest split to the first check point.  By 8km he had made up the time on Damian and continued on his conquest through the field.  Unfortunately there were sections that stalled him out due to how narrow the trail was, but he pressed on catching Luke by the 20km mark.  Kasie was doing the same but had that much more traffic to get through being in the C wave. Eli would remain with the elite group for most of the race as they dropped racers that could not hang in.  One went off the front early on and was never caught. Eli eventually lost contact with a few km to go but held his position as those he was with hammered in with authority. Tom never really settled down, rallying to the finish.  Luke had an impressive race as well taking it all the way to the line with his best result of the year.  Damian dropped the group he was skiing bridged to the next before he turned off for the 27km race.  He continued overtaking people and held off 3 in the final kilometer.  Leigh was loving the conditions and took silver in his category.  Kasie eventually got to where she could ski freely moving up to 7th overall for women and first in her age group.   
While the marathoners and half marathoners recovered Jessica and Camille took on the 10km field.  A group of J2 boys organized quickly and skied away from the field.  They were followed by the Elite pack of girls, mostly J3 and J4's led by Quincy.  Camille clung on as best she could after her huge sprint day, but lost contact on a long hill.  She closed it up in the final kilometer, but the second wind was not enough to bridge all the way back on, but good enough for the overall women's bronze.   

NWVE did very well.  Eli was 7ththe first American, taking a Silver in his age group.  Tom took Gold in his, demolishing the B field, racing up to his rivals from 2 minutes back and dishing it to them in person.  Luke made the first page of results taking Bronze in his category.  Damian would move into the top 10, taking 7th in the 27km race earning a Silver in his age group.  Kasie was also lucky number 7 winning her age group from the C wave,  Leigh moved to the front of the pack he was skiing in to secure Silver in his age group.  Jessica would go for age group Gold again, and Camille had earned her Bronze (overall as well as age group). 

After our weekend of unbelievable skiing many stayed around to watch the World Cup in Gatineau and Montreal.  These races were well worth seeing and very motivating.  To watch the races, tactics, techniques and determination so closely was an amazing experience.  To mingle with other fans was equally rewarding.  Everyone was filled to the brim with a love of skiing.   
 
Damian

Flying Moose Classic 
2/13/2016 
Several NWVE Racers traveled through the Great Valentine's Day Polar Vortex of 2016 bursting free of its frigid temps landing on the other side of Mt. Washington safe from its brutal chill to race the Flying Moose Classic. 

The Flying Moose Classic was yet another amazing installment on the 2016 race season.  We have been fortunate to have so many people working very hard to pull off these races with little snow to work with, but it has been happening and we are grateful for it.  Bethel lived up to being "Maine's Most Beautiful Mountain Village."  While it has held snow better than anywhere in the northeast, it has been challenging to work with only a couple of inches of snow at a time.  Many trail improvements have aided in snow preservation and it payed off for the Flying Moose. 

A substantial amount of new snow for the 2016 season had arrived earlier in the week supplementing the firm base with just what was needed for a challenging Classic race.  Though things behind the scenes remained challenging as even though the new snow was very welcome to work with, the regular groomer was occupied with an exciting new paternal responsibility!  Fortunately for the racers, Brad Clarke (Bethel Outing Club (BOC)) stepped in and set the course with expert precision.  

Conditions were packed powder on a firm granular base.  The course was the challenging Pine Hill Competition loops.  Temps remained in the mid-teens and the wind steadily picked up throughout the day.  Intermittent clouds gave way to the much appreciated warm sun.  The venue was truly fortunate as other events braced and dealt with near zero temps and cancellations.  Several skiers agreed with Sarah Pribram that "this was one of the best Flying Moose' ever!" 

Pre-race waxing was interesting as we were sure that temps were going to be 5 -10 degrees cooler at best.  The pleasant 15 degrees took us by surprise.  Perry tested the recommended VR30, thinking it could work, but wanted a little more.  We went to VR40 and Extra Blue with success, but some still found it to be slick.  Perry's assessment that he had never heard of Extra Blue ever hurting anyone was true, but a newer wax was testing well and in the mix for NWVE.  Ski*Go HF Violet has been around for years, but not in the clubs wax bag until this weekend.  It was decided that this new approach, wax designed for snow type over temperature would be put to the test and it delivered.  Even Perry calling it a keeper. Due to the new snow and softness of the snow machine set track, conventional wax had an early release.  It worked fine, and a longer kick zone could be employed to accommodate this, but we were finding that the normal zone with the Ski*Go was very fast with solid kick. 

Racers lined up for the 11:00 AM start.  They were sent away for a 10 minute delay as the timers resolved an issue, once back, another short delay took place, but the starter took charge and skiers were off.  The race this year started on the upper loop subjecting skiers to the most challenging climbs early in the race.  This did not pan out well for several of the competitors.  A combination of colder than normal temps, steep climbs, and a lack of race fitness sent unsuspecting racers deep into the Red Zone in the first few kilometers of the 22km race.  Those who have been hitting the race circuit regularly pounced on their advantage as did those who had acclimated to the cold earlier in the week.  The start was a little chaotic as it narrowed to two lanes quickly, but for the most part with the small and courteous field there was not much issue.  Andrew Siegel (Gould Academy) led the race decisively wire to wire.  Joel Bradley (Millennium Racing) chased on his own but could not catch the Junior on his home course.  Tom Thurston, Eric Darling and Kirk Siegel (BOC) skied with several Gould and collegiate athletes in the chase pack.  Damian had been boxed at the start and was skiing comfortably a few spots back in the main field led by Brad Clarke (BOC), Rob Bradlee (CSU) and an early duel brewing between Kathy Maddock (Dublin XC) and Olivia Cuneo (SMS).  Mike Kavanaugh marked Ian Blair (BOC), while Sarah Pribram and Perry Bland hit their stride in a group of heavy hitting Masters with Jonathan Chaffee (Ford Sayre), and Mount Washington Nordic teammates Doug Armstrong and Donavan Freeman.  Jessica Bolduc found herself in familiar territory with Carrie Nourjian (VTXC) and Todd Taska (Ind.).  Cipperly Good and Brad Ketterling were also in good company skiing with Jody Newton (CSU) and Karen Alence (Mansfield) early on in the race. 

Things changed a lot making for an exciting race.  Some skiers simply blew up with the difficult start, several dropped out and many had to re-calibrate in order to finish.  NWVE held their ground for the most part.  Tom would hold his position dropping a few racers, but not quite able to hang with some of the home town favorites as Gould Academy put on a show.  Damian, patient on the initial climbs changed gears and broke free of the pack as he accelerated over the top of the hills on the first lap hoping to draw Brad Clarke (BOC) into another one on one race.  Eric suffered a bit early, but regained his form by the third lap, closing on Damian who had surged past in the first lap.  Mike and Ian Blair(BOC) skied together for much of the race but in the final kilometers Ian used the home course advantage against Mike's hesitations on the course gaining the upper hand for the finish.  Todd Taska (Ind.) worked his way through the field picking up may spots and pulling a few skiers with him as he went by.  Among them were Jonathan Chaffee and Sarah Pribram who broke free of the M8 cat-and-mouse race between Perry and Donavan Freeman (Mt. Washington).  Unbeknownst to Perry and Donavan, Doug Armstrong was quietly stalking within striking distance.  Doug eventually made his move over taking them, but Donavon was able to dig deep enough to regain his position before the finish line.  Jessica and Carrie (Snoc) had a similar thing going on as many in the race, but those with downhill confidence had the advantage today.  Cipperly and Brad had great races as well dropping Karen (Mansfield) who missed a turn, and enjoying the course and conditions.  Brad was really psyched with the course and will surely enjoy the Bogburn. 

In the 10km event Camille Bolduc and Ava Thurston (Mansfield) lined up with many Eastern Cup regulars from Colby, Bates, CSU, and Gould.  The U14's stayed together skiing through the 10km field and over taking many in the 22km.  After 6km Camille's endurance faded but Ava pressed on overtaking all but the top three men and beating out Bates College skier Samantha Pierce in a sprint for top Female in that field! 

The post race recovery was a hit at the Sunday River Brewery.  It was as if the restaurant was anticipating a large party of cold Nordic Racers and had a table ready and waiting for us next to the fire.  The service and food capped the wonderful day as we traded stories about the race and what had happened in the hours before. There was also much delight in how nice things had turned out. 

Once again the Club Series rewarded those who raced.  The conditions were the best natural we have had all season, Polar Vortex held off until after we had our recovery brews and meals.  NWVE athletes sped off into the chilly weather in anticipation of a much deserved rest day in their warm homes. 
 
Damian


Craftsbury Marathon

1/30/2016

The trend of this lean snow season continues.  Race organizers pulled off an amazing race yet again with the 35th Annual Craftsbury Marathon.  With no new snow after two recent melt downs it was incredible how the crew at Craftsbury transformed the center into Mid-Winter conditions with very little snow to work with.  The change from Thursday to Saturday seemed impossible to be real, but due to the hard work and diligence of the staff and volunteers at Craftsbury skiers were treated to the best skiing we have yet to see this season! 

Skiers arrived early to assess what they would be confronting over the next few hours.  Those who had been there earlier in the week had a different perspective than those just arriving for the first time.  Those that had seen the conditions after the rain Tuesday knew that not enough new snow had been added to soften things up.  However those who were seeing the course as it was saw packed powder.  How Craftsbury ground the course into this condition was monumental and much praise should be given to everyone who made it happen.  Even the groomers were surprised given what little they had to work with. 

The different perceptions played a role in how people approached waxing for the race.  Fortunately most arrived early to wax and found something that was working for them.  Some used pure klister, some pure hard wax and many opted for a mix.  Most everything was working in the well prepared tracks so the choice was one of preference and confidence.  The decision would have influence on what happened on course, but for the most part nothing too consequential.   

The course was the same as last year's, sending skiers out of the lower stadium around Murphy's looping through the upper stadium out to Elinor's Hill, onto Bailey Hazen and then Ruthie's Run.  The surface was packed transformed snow with very firm tracks.  The loop was challenging, but very stride-able.  Temps remained in the low twenties, with overcast skies, and little wind. 

Racing got underway with the Men's wave departing first.  A few of the usual hang-ups  occurred though it appeared most corrected themselves quickly.  By design Murphy's field organized the skiers and things settled for the long haul.  That does not mean that there was no longer any excitement as the fast conditions and familiar course led to some great racing and many exchanges throughout the day.  Many finding someone to ski with or work on all the way to the finish line!   

Eli Enman got out early and with some of the local top collegiate talent Sam Merrins (Dartmouth) and Peter Hegman (Outdoor Gear Exchange/formerly UVM).  Eric Tremble and Tom Thurston paired up for much of the race skiing with Paco Defrancis (Keurig) and Chris Bean (Onion River).  They also worked with Ethan Dreissigacker (Craftsbury) and Magnus Bigelow (Dartmouth) who both were dropped, one due to wax the other due to bonking.  Damian Bolduc started conservatively and worked his way through the field eventually overtaking a mark he has had all season at the crest of the final climb in the race.  This invigorated him to sprint hard to the finish.  His victim Neal Graves (SNOC) was suffering from extreme fatigue and finished quite hypothermic.  Eric Darling had his best Craftsbury ever, trading places with Neal, skiing some with Magnus as he dropped back and finally overtaking John Sakalowski (CSU) midway through the last lap.  Tyler Magnan made a good comeback from illness he had last week and worked with Ford Sayre's Rick Powell and Bryce Wing on the first half of the race and then picked up the David Herr train (Ind.) on the second half.  The next few NWVE racers had a great competitive pack for much of the race.  While things accordian-ed as they do in such a long race this group kept each other honest the whole race.  Adrian Owens (Craftsbury), Mike KavanaughLary Martell, Peter Harris (Craftsbury), Tristan Leggett and Daniel Voison (Onion River) were surely the heart of the field and all had excellent results from the work done together while trying to get the upper hand on the rest.  Mike and Lary would prevail. Rick Kelley was optimistic earlier in the week as the forecast looked warmer, and that he would not freeze this year.  He keyed off of CSU's Jamie Doucett (CSU) who has gotten a few big results this season. Rick came in just ahead of Manny Betz who dropped Mainer Brett Deyling up the final climb on Ruthie's. Kasie Enman did not have too much company during her race while double lapped a few 25k'ers.  In doing so she scored a top ten and won her age group.  Perry Bland returned to 50km racing this year as conditions were favorable.  Normally in Damian's no Klister camp he did advise some to use it.  Perry's steady effort as he comes back from an injury paid off as he overtook Mansfields Andy Grab as he returns to racing after a long coaching stint. Andre' Bolduc planned prepared for a long haul claiming to have packed sandwiches in his backpack.  He looked good as he set out on his last lap and pondered that 50km was an awful long way to go for a bowl of chili once he was done.  He did beat his goal finishing under his anticipated time.   

One of the nicest things of the day was having all the teammates supporting each other as they raced, especially the 25km racers after they had finished their race. Another, who saved more than a few days was Nirmegh, who helped wax, took photos and expertly cheered us all on.   Stephen Wright scored a top ten after working with Damian and Tyler on his first lap.  Leigh Mallory had a great race overtaking Ford Sayre's David Lindahl toward the end of his first lap and working his way through a tiring field with Bob Gray (Putney).  Liz Hollenbach also took advantage of superior endurance noticing that the people she was passing were quite a bit slower and began wondering if she was slowing down too.  She charged ahead determined to hold off Mary Heller Osgood (Putney) and Trina Hosmer (SNOC)  who were chasing.  Sarah Pribram was right there too, rounding out the pack with Dartmouth's Eliana Mallory.  Sarah and Liz's club rivalry looks to be shaping up for another exciting year.  Jessica Bolduc had a great race.  She started conservatively and picked it up the effort on the second lap.  The result was nearly even laps where most slowed significantly each time around the course.  Jeff Alexander had a great race with Bill Holland (Onion River Sports).  Bill is a tough competitor, but also a great skier happy to help those that could use a few pointers along the way.  Jeff's ski with Bill will certainly pay big dividends in future races.  NWVE picked up two new racers at the White Mountain Classic.  One being Manny Betz, the other John Witmer.  John debuted for the club skiing with John Lazenby (Onion River).  Kathy Kjelleren was all smiles on course as she cheered on the club members during her race.  Hannah Barden and Brad Kettering would have had a great race together had they not started 10 minutes apart.  However each were in their own race.  Hannah held off Robin Hogg (Ind.) kicking it in to the finish.  Brad was happy to finish holding his position between Mansfield's Jim Adkisson and Craftsbury's George Hall.   

While many people had ups and downs this weekend all were pleased with how good the skiing was.  It was a difficult race and wax durability was an issue, but given what they had left for snow, Craftsbury put on an incredible event.  This should certainly be a race for all to remember.  Looking ahead the club series has a break next weekend, which seems like a good thing looking at the forecast.  Hopefully the winter will rebound from yet another thaw in time for our favorite road trip to the Flying Moose Classic in Bethel 2/13. 
 
Damian


Mansfield Duathlon

1/24/2016


The Mansfield Duathlon is a growing event new to the Club Series schedule.  Formidable fields of Men and Women contested the Open Division races drawing 50 participants between the two.  While setting up for the races the sun kept everyone warm, but once on course and in the shade we were reminded that temps were still in the single digits, but warming rapidly.

The course was a 2KM loop that started in the Lower Field, crossed the Upper Field and headed out to six corners and then followed Lemon’s  back to the lower field via Wilbur’s Climb.  Most of this loop was reinforced with manmade snow and was set perfectly with deep double tracks next to a wide skate lane. The Transition Zone was a little cramped but got the job done.  The snow was cold but the mix of natural and manmade was fairly fast.

People were milling around, testing wax and visiting when the call to line up came.  “Craftsbury always starts on time.”  So we lined up, got a few instructions and the race commenced.  Genders raced separately with the Men going first.  It was quite a hustle out of the stadium, but things soon settled into their natural order.  Mansfield, Burke Mountain and NWVE were well represented in the field and each had at least one skier in the front pack.  Adam Terko (Mansfield) set the pace, pulling a small group away from the main pack.  Tom Thurston was our man up front again skiing with Adam, Christopher O’Brien (Burke), Will Solow (Mansfield) and Neal Graves (SNOC).  Damian quickly found himself in No Man’s Land after a block from former cycling teammate Andrew McCullough (Harwood) stalled him out heading onto Lemon’s.  The first leg was 3 laps (6KM) of classic technique.  The field spread quickly as the transitions of the loop sorted skiers.  It seems the easier the loop the harder the race, and people were racing hard.  Ford Sayre’s Bryce Wing led what was left of the field, but for the most part it was each man for himself early on.  Ed Hamilton, Tristan Leggett  and Rick Costanza (Mansfield) chased with Bryce, but the racing was so intense that there was not much organization or efficiency of working together.  Rick Kelley was in a small pack keeping Mansfield’s Jim Fredericks in their sights.  Jeff Alexander also got on course skiing with Mansfield’s Kort Longenbach.

After hammering for 6km with Classic technique came the exchange. This apparently played out as a comedy of errors in the Men's field. Skis went flying, boots unclipping, poles flailing all over the place. This is the price the men paid for coming into the exchange zone too hot. Not everyone had a bad exchange, but too many have some room for easy improvement.  Future racers were taking note.  One skier elected to do the boot change, not due to binding incompatibility, but skiing preference.  Another potential boot change was averted as Damian lent Jarlath (Mansfield) his NNN Classic Skis waxed and ready to go.

The exchange eliminated what was left of any packs and skiers proceeded to the skate leg.  As they left the stadium and tried to make up seconds and minutes lost in the scramble, they hit Teaching Hill, climbing to the upper field.  This is where all skiers experienced a fatigue check as an underlying burn crept into their quads.  Just a subtle sensation that lingered from the Classic portion of the race.

Adam who had led the whole race moved through the exchange easily and with a good plan.  He gapped 3 of the elite 5 and settled in behind Christopher to rest a little.  Tom chased and the rest of the field spread out.  There was a lot of enthusiasm and cheers as every club had much pride on the line with this race.  Instead of going last, the grown-ups had to display all the finer points of sportsmanship to the next generations of youth who looked on.  Oh why did we do this! As the race proceeded skiers carried on getting a second wind and finishing surprised with how hard the effort was.  Adam went on to win, Tom took 4th, Damian 8th, Ed 13th, Tristan 14th, Rick 20th, and Jeff 25th. 

Then came the real contest.  While the Men’s race had its club contenders, it was much more “citizens” than what lined up for the Women’s race.  The Dartmouth Women had an imposing presence dominating the start with green.  Not at all intimidated coming off their perfect score in the One Day Team Championship at the White Mountain Classic, 3 NWVE women lined up with them.  Jessica Bolduc, Jenn Carlson and Maja Smith were fearless as they stared down the Big Green 8.  Sensing danger the Dartmouth team fled the stadium at the gun, skiing in terror as if for their lives as the NWVE Women commenced to chase. 

Having successfully shooed away the collegiate skiers with their old school technique and finesse, they went about the race in a more civil manor.  Actually the women’s race was quite exciting to watch.  One young BKL admirer was psyched to pick up Sophie Caldwell’s sister’s hat!  Another collected a pair of cast away sunglasses from someone who surly was related to someone as equally famous.  Behind the elite pack, a couple of other exiting races shaped up.  Mansfield teammates JoAnn Hanowski and Eliza Thomas were in a close race.  JoAnn trying to put enough distance over the Classic Leg to hold Eliza off on the Skate Leg.  Jenn and Jessica found themselves in a similar contest with Rosemary Shea-Cobb (Mansfield) in the mix.  Maja worked on dropping Mansfield’s Chelsea Cary as the race spread out. 

The Women were able to change skis much quicker than the Men.  That is not to say every exchange was clean, but on average they were much more efficient.  One did have some trouble, pulling out of the zone realizing that she was on someone else’s skis, but still, the switch was quick.

As the skate leg began the Women felt the same fatigue pangs as the Men.  While most of the Men elected to Classic in Skate Boots, many of the Women chose to Skate in Classic Boots.  Jessica opted for Skate Boots as had Eliza and it was clearly an advantage once the Skate portion of the race started.  It was exciting to see how close things were as skiers began their final lap.  Eliza had closed and overtaken JoAnn.  Many were anxious to see if JoAnn would counter successfully in the final half kilometer.  Jessica had also overtaken Jenn and their race was very close as well.  Eliza continued pulling away from JoAnn, while Jessica and Jenn looked to be headed for a sprint.  Even Andy Bishop (Mansfield) noted that there seemed to be a little more behind the effort.  Jessica would hold on to the lead. Maja Smith successfully shed her competition finishing happy to have skied on such a beautiful day.

So another race is in the books.  Mansfield Nordic did an excellent job hosting and awarded some very nice prizes.  The Duathlon was full of a lot of friendly fun competition.  The 2 X 6KM format was sufficiently exhausting to skiers.  Several waves of BKL Races followed, all equally exciting.  The Duathlon certainly brought out a different energy than we have seen this season with the dynamic welcomed and enjoyed by all.

Damian

White Mountain Classic
1/23/2016 

The Marathon Season got under way as usual with the White Mountain Classic.  The enthusiasm from Monday's Geschmossel continued to grow with the event drawing 144 participants of all abilities.  Skiers arrived pleased that the race was being held and happy about the thin base.  As Tyler Magnan put it "it is comforting knowing that there is a thick layer of ice under whatever they set the tracks in."  Jackson does pride itself on very high quality grooming, always doing an amazing job even when there is little to work with.  While things had clearly solidified with a crust that looked like you could ice skate on, the trail conditions were good, and though shallow, the tracks held up and did their job. 

Temps were a little warmer than forecasted and hovered in the low to mid teens.  Wind was undetectable.  A well liked change from WMC's of the past.  The snow surface on the trail was mostly powder and the crust had been pulverized and mixed well creating a very nice but thin race surface.  It was odd to have such a soft path carved into the glazed crust and I imagined a crew of hearty volunteers out with leaf blowers wearing ice spikes rounding and redirecting the snow to the trail were the groomer set everything in place.  The surface was fast and as stated before, tracks were shallow. 

Skiers went about testing and sharing rumors of what the course was like on the higher elevations compared to around the center.  For some reason not too many fretted about the anticipated change as it seemed that it would only be an improvement to an already good thing.  Waxing was easy as it was what every skier longs for.  An Extra Blue Day!  If it was not, we made it one anyway.  So blues worked for most, only a few covered green/blue klister with blues.  Jonathan Chaffee (Ford Sayre) noted that NWVE was really mixing things up with ToKo, Start, Ski*Go, Swix, and Rode out on the table and chuckled when he heard the reply "well when you are not sponsored by anyone you get to use what's best!"  but most used Swix VR30 over Swix VR40 and were very happy. 

Skiers lined up at the start relieved to take off their warm-ups with no punishing winds.  Some instructions were given, and then the Go after a long pause.  The tracks closed in quickly but skiers made their way on course in an orderly fashion.  This marathon starts fast with a long double pole and racers approaches vary.  With Kris Freeman in attendance this year most decided to follow his lead. 

NWVE had 18 racers spread throughout the field.  Eric Tremble and Tom Thurston got into a big chase group with heavy hitters from Dartmouth, Portland Nordic and Bethel Outing.  This group stayed together until a split with Eric and the Dartmouth guys pulled away.  Tom could not bridge the gap, but ended up out skiing Onion River's Chris Bean and got a little revenge on Monday's winner John Sakalowsky (CSU).  The elite pack was quite strong this year.  Kris Freeman (Freebird), Tad Elliott (Vail) and Welly Ramsey (MWSC) stayed together for the whole race all they way down to a sprint finish. Kris had opted to double pole the whole thing which is quite impressive as there are several steep climbs in the race.  Peter Mamrol (Dartmouth) skied equally impressively as he soloed the whole race in between the elite group and the chase group.  A little further back Damian Bolduc skied with Rob Bradlee (CSU), Luke Shullenberger, and Jake Hollenbach.  The ski up yodel was enough to break this group apart never to reform again.  Rob let up to fall back and pace Elissa Bradley who also happened to be skiing with Luke.  Tyler Magnan was a little under the weather, but worked his way around the course never able to catch up Luke and Rob.  Mike Kavanaugh and Tristan Leggett started at the back of the lineup and worked their way through the field.  Tristan enjoyed the company but settled in as Mike continued to move up.  Mike eventually caught Pavel Dvorak but carried on picking up a few more spots over CSU's Robert Burnham and Hannah Smith before the finish.  Tristanfound himself among a retired NWVE's Skier's rivals.  Is it possible that decades old rivalries are hereditary?  Is it in Tristan's genes to compete Chris Osgood (Putney), Robert Faltus (CSU), James Doucett (CSU) and Jim Fredericks (Mansfield)?  Perhaps he picked up where his father,Nirmegh, left off to carry the tradition to bring their heritage to the top of the results page as he finds his form in his return to racing. This week Scott Magnan got the Doug Armstrong treatment.  Coming off a season of virtually no racing, and a back injury, Scott's ski with Doug and Bob Gray (Putney) was perhaps enough to fan the embers and kindle the fire that burns within Madman.  Sarah Pribram certainly thought so as she thought she had things under wraps until a blur of blue whizzed by her coming down Yodel and Scott was uncatchable by anyone in the final kilometer of the race. It was most likely inspired by Doug and Bob, but may have been the result of volunteer Ron Newbury who was cheering and keeping the final road crossing at the top of Yodel in excellent condition.  You may not have noticed but behind CSU's Big Man Victor Golovkin was Trina Hosmer (SNOC) and Mary Heller Osgood (Putney).  Victor is a very consistent skier and a great person to draft on the open sections of the course.  Liz Hollenbach skied strong, but was not able to latch onto the train this week.  Jessica Bolduc found herself with NWVE friendly skiers John Lazenby (Onion River), Jud Hartmann (Grafton) and Emanuel Betz (unattached).  We think Manny enjoyed the club's presence and may perhaps be swayed to join in the near future.  Brendan Barden was spent trying to catch up to the group Jessica was in when he found himself in one of the most exciting sprints of the day.  Brendan's exhaustion was clearly visible as he gave everything he had left yielding to CSU's Kevin Callahan by 0.2 seconds.  Perry Bland found himself in that excited/reluctant position of returning to racing after a little mandatory respite.  The White Mountain Classic is a great race to test the waters because the competition is so friendly, the challenge is good and the distance is not too long.  Hopefully Perry did not push too hard and is looking forward to the next race on the calendar.  Cipperly Good's Marathon Series Competition Bruce Katz (independent) was having a good day as was the man he skied with David Hosmer (Snoc).  Cipperly was quite happy with the day as well.  Last year was tough on many racers as the course scraped out and was very icy.  Losing wax was an issue, the wind and cold did not help much either.  This year things were much more skiable and the weather although chilly was pleasant.  Plus Cipperly's skis were great for the whole race as were Dave's which made them both much happier.  Brad Ketterling debuted for the club in the usual manner.  We noticed him on the registration page and he introduced himself to a few people before and after the race.  It should not be too long before he is jumping in the carpool, participating in the pre-race wax testing calamity and bringing a hot dish to Wednesday Night Worlds.  Brad was skiing with Cipperly and Craftbury's George Hall until things spread out ending up between the two.  Hannah Barden was another very happy skier.  Hannah was on her first real classic effort of the season breaking in some new skis.   

In the One Day Team Championship the NWVE Women Won with a PERFECT SCORE!  The Men tied for first, but lost due to the tie-break skier.  In an off the record statement one member of another club stated: "that skier must be fired!"  However it was me.  Eric Darling was glad it was not him this year and that he had done his job in winning his category.  So we decided to blame Jake Hollenbach (VTXC) for turning M2 earlier this season.  It still does not make sense as it would not have given us the win, but that is as far as we could think it out, and we could not blame a nicer guy.   

The overall vibe at the White Mountain Classic was similar to that of the Geschmossel.  People were pleased to be racing and understanding of the weather challenges that have made things difficult this season.  As usual the hosts did an excellent job pulling everything together for the race. Hannah's attitude really summed things up: "I did not feel too guilty about not racing hard because I felt so great just to be skiing!"  

Damian

Geschmossel, Bretton Woods, NH
1/18/2016

Bretton Woods pulled off the Geschmossel!  Skiers were excited to race, for many this was the first of the season!  Traveling to the race was a little different than in the past.  Normally as driving conditions worsen, people become frustrated about driving into the storm, but knowing the eye of the storm was right over Bretton Woods had the commuters anxious to get to the venue and ski on the fresh snow!  The harder it snowed the more optimistic the travelers got.

The difficult travel left little time to prepare for the race, but with falling snow waxing was fairly easy once we figured out and knew what was working on the skis.  Temps were once again a little warmer than predicted, but remained in the excellent  classic skiing range.  Blues and purples were working and for those that wanted a little more kick, ToKo Red covered with blue did the trick. 

Although a localized blizzard was parked over Bretton Woods, the cover was thin. This did not matter to most who were ready to throw down for their first race.  The course spared racers the steep climbs and technical down hills of Bretton Woods, but routed them along the long grinds of the venue.  The single 10.5km loop was a nice change from the gerbil loops we have had up to this point this season.  Temps were in the high teens and a steady wind blew from the east.

The normal pre-race panic took place but most skiers found their way to the line ready to go.  There was not too much negotiating for position on the starting line with NWVE taking many front row spots.  After a couple of long minutes the command to go was given and the 43rd Geschmossel began.  Eric Tremble and Tom Thurston surged out in front of the pack for NWVE.  Eric Darling, Tyler Magnan and Damian Bolduc helped form the large chase pack while honorary member Rick Costanza led the main field.  Within that was the rest of the club members Tristan Leggett, Jonathan Rodd, Sarah Pribram, Liz Hollenbach, Jen Carlson, Camillle Bolduc, Jessica Bolduc and Cipperly Good.  It was very exciting to see everybody coming out for this race and to have so many new faces as part of the team!  While Rick tested the waters of racing not affiliated with Mansfield Nordic, he was not totally alone, Jenn Carlson had made the complete conversion sporting a NWVE suit for the first time! 

The elite pack of four raced hard wire to wire. Each having the advantages on the course, but John Sakalowsky’s  (Team Romeo?/CSU) fast skis and monster double poling prevailed.  Tom held off a hard charge from Eric to take second, and Andrew Doherty fell back to 4th behind Eric.  Tyler Magnan set the pace for the chase group early in the race, however Eric Darling made a move about a third of the way through the race fracturing the group.  Tyler continued to pull, but Eric took a few racers with him.  Eric held his position to the end.  Tyler grew tired at the top of the climbs relinquishing his position temporarily, but regained spots by the finish.  Damian cruised up the climbs, but his skis were too slow to hang onto the chase group.  After pulling Ford Sayre’s Bryce Wing to the group the descent began and with a quick thank-you Bryce left Damian.  Tristan skied on Damian’s tails until Damian took advantage of an opportunity to advance.  Rick was in close pursuit as well, but being boxed and among strong contenders opted to see how things would shake out.  Rick’s skiing excelled on the second half of the race, Tristan having his first classic race in 5-6 years was content to hold position and ski on the conservative side.  Jonathan Rodd was a last minute entry and found himself among some good M6 competition.  He was very happy with how well thing went as he has struggled to get on snow and is battling a chronic injury.  Sarah Pribram, Liz Hollenbach, Jenn Carlson and Ava Thurston (Mansfield) found themselves joining a legendary pack of women.  Mary Heller Osgood (Putney), Trina Hosmer (SNOC) and Meredith Piotrow (Mount Washington).  Certainly there was no messing around with all the history within this group, and to be part of a race within a race like this is an amazing opportunity that only makes all stronger competitors.  Throw in Doug Armstrong (Mount Washington) and you can take 20 minutes off your Craftsbury Marathon time.  There is no better opportunity than to learn from these racers.  Just observing the subtle changes, the tenacity, games and patience gives a huge perspective on how to race with the best! Camille and Jessica Bolduc got to the start with only seconds to spare due to a pants mishap with Camille.  They worked their up through the field with Camille moving more easily through the pack.  Jessica settled in skiing with Christopher Naimie of Bow Nordic who was grateful for motivation on course.  Cipperly was also happy to see Jessica on course as well.  Being based in Maine has had its advantages this year as Cipperly has been able to get on snow a little more than us in the Champlain Valley.  Although a little regretful of putting on that last layer of kick wax Cipperly had a great race finishing not too far off the likes of John Brodhead (Craftsbury) and Jody Newton (CSU).  It was also a big boost to have Wally and Natalie Good out supporting their favorite team at their favorite place to ski, Bretton Woods.

After an incredibly slow start to the season skiers finally got to enjoy a great competition at the Geschmossel.  Race director Ellen Chandler did a great job making sure everything was in order for the race, picking a forgiving course, and even got on course a bit to make sure everyone had a smile and a cheer as they made their way over the final kilometer.  Our traditional post-race recovery was changed as the Station was closed!  We continued up the road to the Trading Post and had some surprisingly good and generous portions to refuel.  After a satisfying meal we had a little friendly conversation with the grateful owner, a former Ben and Jerry’s consultant who reminisced about the time he spent in our neck of the woods.
 
Damian

Eastern Cup Weekend #2  Day 2 Quarry Road Waterville, ME


1/17/2016


What a difference a year makes!  Last year at this time, the solid mid-winter conditions we had been enjoying since Thanksgiving came to an abrupt end with a significant January thaw.  This year it was the weekend of the first real significant snow.  At least in Maine.


Unfortunately I was not able to make the Eastern Cup on Saturday.  Quarry Road was the beneficiary of blizzard like conditions and picked up 6 inches of powder by some accounts.  The official tally was 4 inches, but by any means measurable snow is something to be pretty excited about.  Day two EC skiers reaped the rewards of the snowfall for the Mass Start.

I was the lone NWVE skier for this event.  Temps were a bit warmer than forecasted and there was abundant powder.  The course was basically the same as last year’s Quarry Road opener with an extra chicane to help spread the field out before hitting the trails proper. 


Upon arrival I surveyed what people were using for wax.  To my surprise people were going quite warm.   I had been figuring on Purples, but many were moving into Reds and Yellows.  Since the snow was new and quite soft and a majority of the course was on the new snow fall I was leery of going too warm as I have had the experience of ripping tracks out of the ground, which is not very fast.  I tested my recommended purple and went with it.


The mass start was surprisingly clean with only a couple of crashes.  Just when I thought I was clear and beginning my race I caught an edge on a fast downhill and spun out.  It took me a while to recover from the spill and I had lost my seeded advantage.  Upon righting myself and getting back underway I found myself in a heated masters’ battle with Bethel Outing’s Brad Clarke.  It was a great race between us as we changed positions and hammered away behind the field of EC contenders.  Unbeknownst to us George Clarke of Portland Nordic was right on our tails the entire time.  Brad had a lot of fans supporting him and the chants of BC kept me on the move.  In the final meters of the race Brad made his final push.  It was early and I had a little in the reserves to counter and I overtook him double poling to the finish.


While discouraged about giving up my position due to a crash early in the race, things went well for me.  It was a fun race and the conditions were great aside from a few rock patches that had gotten tilled to the surface at the most inopportune points of the course.


After completion of the race people cleared out quickly and moved on to their next destination.  I had a meal and a night to recover for the Geschmossel.


Damian




Race to the Cabin 

1/9/2016

The Annual Trapp Family Lodge, Race to the Cabin has a long standing tradition as THE race for bragging rights.  No matter how it is conducted, be it a challenge between friends, a highly publicized race, or an invitation only event a few things always remain the same.  The course is as it has always been, the Cabin never gets any closer, skiers of all kinds take on the challenge, and a certain prestige comes with winning the annual challenge.  Not only for the winner, but for all the friendly and not so friendly rivalries.  All be it a small field this year, all was in order for the Race to the Cabin. 

Conditions were a little warmer than predicted.  Over night lows never really dipped below freezing, thankfully the wintry mix still fell as snow.  At race time temps were in the mid thirties and there was snow lightly spitting.  People scrambled to register, pick skis and wax.  The course followed Sugar Road to Picnic Knoll up Owls Howl to the Cabin Trail finishing at the Cabin.  The trails were all packed powder with heavy snow softening and lightening up as elevation gained.  Wax decision making was difficult for some, others worked hard to dial things in and some showed up late playing roulette with what they thought would go.   

No special starter for this years race, however Ryan Kerrigan recited the mandatory Race to the Cabin Preamble as has been handed down for generations.  Then with a hesitant "go..." the race was off!  Skiers started off conservatively this year.  For some it was just the wisdom from experience, others a wax issue and a few took advantage of the quiet to measure up the competition before the storm.  Juergen Uhl was left to lead things out.  Not a surprise considering he has a NCAA title with the classic technique.  It is simply not a good idea to contest  a skier like that right at the starting line.  What was interesting was the scramble for position behind Juergen. The subtleties of Sugar Road quickly revealed who made good ski decisions and who did not.  Though most knew the snow would change and shift the dynamic of the race.  By Picnic Knoll a race order had been established, small groupings had formed and the real challenge began.  Mansfield's Adam Terko who scrambled the first kilometer to close gaps that were opening, quietly and calmly slipped into second.  Behind him a few Burke Mountain kids, then the Blue Train of NWVE Skiers began with Eric Tremble leading the way.  The field was still quite close together, but as always, it blew apart when the climbing began.  Luke Schullenberger, Eric Darling, Neil Graves (SNOC), Damian Bolduc, Rick Costanza(Mansfield), Leigh Mallory, Sarah Pribram and Liz Hollenback were all still in close proximity as the race turned onto Owls Howl.  Some had worked the flat, others rested, some kicked easily, others slipped.  Early in the climb after a relatively easy start, Damian's skis were working very well. He easily advanced in the tracks as he overtook others who had to work for their kick on the initial parts of the climb.  Tom Thurston, Eric Tremble would have to wait for powdery snow. Eric Darling, Luke, Sarah and Liz slipped the whole way while Leigh fought to keep his skis from icing.  Adam made an uncontested move on Juergen and skied away smoothly.  As the climb continued Damian pulled away but as the course turned onto the Cabin Trail, Tom and Neil had closed with Tom overtaking Damian and almost catching Eric T. just as he got a second wind.  They dropped Neil as the trail leveled off as his skis were slow.  Luke found good company skiing with Rick but eventually Rick's covered Klister gave him an advantage Luke could not surmount Leigh continued on holding off Sarah, proving that in an uphill race grippy skis beat slippyskis, but also that no wax skis are simply slower than wax skis.  Liz persevered despite struggling to get kick.  She finished close to VTXC's Carrie Nourjian who has been putting in a lot of time on snow and concentrating on seriously improving as a skier all around.    

For the second time in a week, Adam decimated the field.  He is skiing very strong which is a good sign for the Mansfield Juniors who will surely have to work to hang with the coach.  As skiers trickled into the finish most smiled in relief as the race was over, and the casual ski back to the lodge would be much less arduous than the discipline used to get them to where they were.  We were all grateful to follow in the path of a true legend and role model who for some reason thought this feat of strength would be a good way to declare his mojo. 

Damian

NWVE and Friends Challenge Race 

Dickinson Farm 1/3/2016

The 2016 racing season got underway with a little more optimism than what closed out 2015.  A few NWVE members gathered at the Dickinson Farm in St. Albans and had an informal race.  Conditions were thin, with grass poking through as well as a few visible and easily avoidable dirt clods, but otherwise things were quite good.  The continuously falling snow throughout the event kept things looking fresh.  There was persistent wind coming from the southeast that stalled the racers, but was welcome as it was probably also responsible for the lake affect snow accumulating.  The temperature was in the low thirties. 

The course was a 1.35km loop that followed the perimeter of the Big Meadow and the Back Meadow at Dickinson Farm.  This loop took full advantage of the terrain giving skiers plenty of variety to work with.  The race format basically used cyclocross rules where the leader's pace set the number of laps to be completed.  After 25 minutes of racing the leader would start their final lap and all skiers would finish on that lap.  So for those on the same lap as the leader the race was 7 laps, or just under 10km. 

NWVE racers were happy for the event showing off the full spectrum of NWVE uniforms as can be seen in the link to pictures below.  Perry Bland and Janet Frantz were the Start/Finish crew and got things going after a few brief announcements from Race Director Tyler Magnan.  Eric Tremble took the lead from the start and never looked back.  Cheered on by Liz an Oliver there was nothing anyone in the field could to do to match his effort. Cody Putnam and Brennan Shuttle latched on to Eric early on.  A talented chase group organized and patiently worked together.  Tyler Magnan, Brandon Mays, Tristan Leggett and Damian Bolduc worked their way around the course over taking Brendan quickly and Cody after two laps.  Eric Tremble was long gone when Damian made a decisive move for second place at the beginning of the fourth lap.  Feeling rather fresh after drafting Tristan up until this point he pulled away easily with a quick burst of speed. With Damian's departure the pack re-organized and Rick Costanza joined in.  Scott Magnan skied evenly and picked up Cody and the two would race to the finish.  Wally Good also made an appearance being that the race was held in Franklin County. Wally opted to classic ski and threw skiers for a loop by taking the short course here and there.  Four women raced as well.  They quickly paired off with Camille and Jessica Bolduc skiing briefly together and Mary Costanza and Cipperly Good finding company with each other for most of the race.  Camille pulled away from Jessica, but realized that if she maintained the effort she would make the cutoff and have to ski an extra lap.  She pulled up so that Eric could lap her and finished -1 lap in first place for the women.  Jessica skied well, but as the snow continued to fall on the course things gradually got slower.  Coming off a cold and the First Run Jessica slowly bogged down.  Mary and Cipperly worked together until Mary latched onto a lapping skier and pulled away on the final laps of the race.  

Post Race all enjoyed Maple Pumpkin Muffins and many competitors went home with a Pecan or Pumpkin Pie!  For a contingency event this weekend the NWVE and Friends Challenge Race had a lot of excitement.  Dickinson Farm was in good shape and should be even better for the Dual Meet later this week with the BFA's (St. Albans hosting Fairfax) squaring off on the loop broken in today.  Skiers left happy with the workout and looking forward to more racing in the weeks to come. 
 
Thank you to Shawna Poulin Shuttle for taking and sharing photos - https://www.facebook.com/Northwest-Vermont-Endurance-329615740404021/?fref=nf 

Damian


Eastern Cup Opener

12/19-12/20/2015


A few NWVE members traveled to Craftsbury this weekend for the Eastern Cup.  While only a few raced, several others cheered and volunteered.  Saturday a very strange occurrence happened for this season.  It SNOWED!!  No NWVE members raced Saturday, but a few were out there taking advantage of any seconds of snow time they could get.  This report will focus mainly on Sunday as that was when we raced.

Leading into the weekend was a continuation of the dreary ski weather we have been having.  Thursday, several members skied on surprisingly good conditions on the 500m loop.  One threw in a few intervals and to help pick lines, approaches and transitions on what would be the race course.  Others were happy to ski prior to the rain.  The rain continued on and off Thursday afternoon and through Friday.  Craftsbury scraped and salvaged every manmade snowflake they could and put together a skiable course.  It was moist and icy Saturday morning, but solid enough for EC Sprints. 

Then it snowed.  A very grabby slow snow that balled up under the foot and slowed skis way down;  especially when mixing with the moisture of the snow base.  A few skied this prior to the race start and were happy not to be racing during the day.  Any skiing improved the mixture but it continued to snow.  On another note the road crews were not prepared and travel to the race was compromised with many parking at the bottom Murphy’s Field and hiking in, delaying the start of the races. 

Craftsbury got a nice 4 inches of snow on Saturday.  This was not good for the sprints as the course’s speed continuously slowed down, but good for snow as we are getting fairly desperate for it.  After the sprints Craftsbury got to work preparing for Sunday.  Temps dropped, it continued snowing and things really turned around over night.  Sunday’s course was fast, and Craftsbury was able to open Murphy’s field for skiing.  Skiers also had good rock skiing reports from Ruthie’s, I skied Duck Pond and if you did not mind catching an occasional stone you could go most anywhere.  Craftsbury put a layer of stone down on Lemon’s (in anticipation that someday they may have a paved loop) so that was very scratchy.

The Gerbil Loop was the best it has been this season.  Fast, solid and smooth.  It remained this way throughout the day and withstood the beating of the EC with no signs of fatigue.  I got on course about mid field in the Men’s 5k.  A reluctant entrant as the shorter EC races do not bode well for me, I was quickly pleased with how things were looking.  My skies were fast and I was catching and passing people.  A rarity for me at this level of competition early in the season.  Paul Allison was the other NWVE 5km racer on the day.  His new look was a change from his clean cut norm, but once he was skiing he was unmistakable.  Paul launched himself into the race starting near the end of the field and hammered his way on to the first page of results.  On course with Paul was CSU’s M11 Larry Berman.  The contrast between these club rivals was significant, but Paul was respectful and gave Larry the space he deserved which could not be said about everyone.  Also in the mix for CSU Masters was Sarah Mae Berman who entered both races this weekend.  Sarah continues to demolish the barriers set before women as I am sure she set a new standard for female M10’s in USSA/FIS/EC Scored Sprints.  Many familiar names entered the BKL events. Ava Thurston won the 5th and 6th grade race and Julia Thurston placed well in the 3rd and 4th grade race which was also the most contentious of the day.  Camille Bolduc participated in the final race of the day.  The 7th and 8th grade girls BKL race.  She had a steady effort holding off a Lucy Glueck in a race for second.  Quincy Massey-Bierman had a dominating performance for first. 

The whole day of races was fun to watch and ski in.  Fans lined the course cheering in different ways at different points which really helped me along.  Volunteers, Leigh Mallory near the downhill, Scott Magnan on the back stretch, Peter Harris at the top of Chip Hill were among the most motivating.  They helped racers know they were doing well and helped keep them focused on form and turnover.  Camille Bolduc, Jessica Bolduc, Ed Hamilton and the Thurston’s offered great encouragement as well, keeping me on pace when thoughts of letting up a little entered my mind. 

So for a day, there was a huge Nordic ski celebration at Craftsbury where many enjoyed a brief moment of winter.  Craftsbury did not take the snow lightly and was making efforts to preserve as much of it as possible.   All who made the trip surely took advantage of the treat as much as much as they could.

Damian

Craftsbury Opener

11/29/2015

The Ski Season’s Annual Right of Passage the Craftsbury Opener took place today…or did it?  With no registration, no results, no bibs, no times and no entry fee, can it be said that this event ever happened?  Well to the hundreds that participated the answer is a resounding YES INDEED!  Clearly many joined in spirit watching the live telecast, bringing down the network and disabling the Lower Field Camera.


The race was held on a trail familiar to anyone who has been on groomed snow this season this side of the Mississippi.  It was the Crafsbury Man Made Gerbil Loop.  Racers started in the lower field, up teaching hill, around a teardrop in the upper field, then back down teaching hill around the biathlon range looping through the start and finishing at the top of teaching hill in the stadium next to the new lodge.  Yes for a 500m loop it covered a lot of ground.  Fields raced different numbers of loops in different formats.  Five NWVE racers participated.


Things started out with the Bill Koch Racers.  Five boys challenged in the first race.  A duel between Craftsbury’s Cormac Leahy and Bjorn Westervalt quickly materialized with Bjorn edging at the line for the W.  Camille got the ball rolling for NWVE in the BKL Girls race.  The big news here was that the girls would match the boys field with 5 racers.  Stella Duncan of Chelsea Nordic and Quincy Massey-Bierman (Craftsbury) would replay what had happened in the boys two lap barn burner with Stella falling victim to Quincy’s devastating final kick she has been perfecting.  Camille had the reigns on as she prepares for the Junior Olympic National Championships in a couple of weeks and cruised into third doing an “Active Recovery” from her workout yesterday.  The race for 4th was highly contested with Sarah Glueck (Ford Sayre) pulling out all the stops to secure the position.  Sarah gets a special mention because she had enough spirit to fill the whole stadium all day, cheered every race and was simply excited beyond imagination to be on skis.  She also managed to support and encourage Francesca Kitch while dropping the hammer on her during the final climb.


The Junior races had a similar feel, going 3 and 4 laps.  Many locals participated in those races as well.  The Open races had the largest fields with upwards of 50 racers in each of the Men’s and Women’s divisions.  A criterium format was used for these races.  Participants started and would complete as many laps as they could and a 2 lap warning was given when the field approached 15 minutes of skiing.  Lapped skiers were to be pulled, though it seemed self enforced more than anything. 

In the Men’s Open, UNH dominated a majority of the race.  The field skied easy for the first 3 laps while UNH assembled 4 racers at the front of the pack.   Things heated up as they let two go off the front.  They worked well together while the remaining two did an excellent job blocking on the narrow sections of trail.  The gap opened and the strategy worked, although a heroic late surge and solo effort from a Williams skier almost overcame the tactics and stole the show.  Another notable performance was Mansfield Nordic’s Adam Terko who steadily worked his way up through the field into the top ten just behind Craftsbury’s Ethan Dreissigacker.


In the Women’s Open race Emily Dreissigacker marked her return to competition with a dominating performance.  She simply skied away off the start and continued to gain on the field the entire race.  Strong races from UNH, Dartmouth Outing and Harvard pursued but were simply diminished by Emily’s commanding lead.    


In the Main Event, the mixed masters wave, a dozen or so athletes contested along with U-18 racer Adam Glueck of Ford Sayre.  Representing NWVE was Mike Kavanaugh, Tyler Magnan, Damian Bolduc and Perry Bland.  Other notable Masters were CSU’s Rob Bradlee, Mansfield’s Adam Terko doubling up and UNH Coach Cory Shwartz.  Upon the start of the race Damian’s thoughts quickly turned from “beat Rob Bradlee” to “thank God Alexandra Jospe did not line up.”  Adam and Adam quickly separated themselves from the field with Mike in close pursuit.  Tyler and Rob were leading the rest of the field which quickly disintegrated.  Damian watched hopelessly, being reminded why he has not raced on his Rossi’s in years, and that some skis are just better off staying on the rack.  Perry closed an early gap opened by Cory.  As the race played out, the Adam’s were uncatchable.  Mike held his own, but fell victim to Rob’s tenacity at the start of the final lap having nothing left to counter with.  Tyler hung on having a good result considering he had only 1k of skiing on snow prior to the start of the race.  Damian futile-ly thrashed most of the race.  Hopefully that is out of the way for the season.  Perry was not able to overtake Cory, but finished close behind in a Legendary Coaches Duel holding off a few of the others that lined up.


The day was a success.  All races were conducted well.  The competition was friendly and just as you would expect at Craftsbury.  Even though many of the elements of a ski race were missing it was an inspiring day. Sheldon Miller announced all the races showing that Craftsbury’s reach is wide enough to embrace every skier as he made a special, personal remark for each one throughout the course of their race.  Another season is underway!


Damian


Westford Turkey Trot

By Sarah Pribram and Liz Hollenbach

11/21/2015


 
A dark cloud rolled in over Westford on Saturday morning.  Although the weather was perfect for the Greatest Race in the Universe, something was amiss.  At first we thought it was just because our fearless leader wasn’t there, but it was more than that.  We discovered on the out and back section that two other mainstays of the race were absent as well - Westford Ponytail Guy and Westford Sunglasses Guy were nowhere to be seen replaced by Westford Tanktop Guy and Westford Shirtless Guy.

At 10:00 am on the dot the enthusiastic participants poured out of the warmth of the school gym to watch the kids 100yard race.  The start line was packed with kids and parents.  Competitors waiting for the start of the 3/10k cheered the next generation.  Once the kids race finished the crowd of spectators walked to line as the next race was about to begin.  It was a very social starting line as friends and teammates chatted and joked.  There were even several turkey headdresses seen  among the starters.  After a few quick announcements, the race was off.  The first 3k was entertaining as kids, families and teammates ran together and cheered for each other at the Westford Town Green turn around.

As the racers passed the Westford School again many sprinted in to finish the 3k, while others pressed on to find the hills of the 10k.  Upon finishing racers were greeted by warm food, music, the classic ceramic turkey medals and a well stocked raffle table.
 
Eric "I’m just jogging today" Darling clearly had changed his plan and was in third place at the turn around.  He ended up fourth overall and second in his age group to overall men’s winner, Binney Mitchell.  Kristen Courcelle was the second NWVE finisher and won the women’s race.  Tyler Magnan and Mike Mashtare pushed each other through most of the race with Tyler holding off his former coach.  Rick Kelly finished just ahead of training partners Liz Hollenbach and Jenn Carlson distantly followed by Sarah Pribram who was just happy to be racing again being sidelined for almost six months.  Next in were Tom Lane and then Perry Bland.  Although not listed in the results we did see Scott Magnan finish and there are rumors that his award this season will be a picture of Perry and Sarah to replace his picture of Carol since he did not participate in the roller ski time trial this year.  In the 3k Jen "soccer players race in shorts" Magnan represented NWVE  finishing neck in neck with Carrie Meuphill.  




Craftsbury Spring Fling

3/28/2015

The incredible winter continued this weekend giving ski racers one more chance to reach their Maximum Potential!  Skiers were treated to conditions not seen in some time.  The snow was fast and the times reflected that.  Craftsbury also brought back the historic Spring Fling course that seasoned racers recalled from years’ past.

The snow was fast as predicted.  The surface was tilled and set transformed snow that was allowed to fully glaze for the race.  No powder, no quick pass with the tiller to grind up the top layer, only fast on top of fast.  The temps were in the low twenties, the sun was out and the wind was apparent, but negligible.  The course was one of the more technical and difficult loops Craftsbury can put together.  Racers started in the stadium, went around Murphy’s Field, then went on the inside of Duck Pond, to Elinor’s Trail back to the center and onto Race Loop before heading out on Ruthie’s in reverse of normal and back on Sam’s Run finishing with a Climb up Bailey Hazen and looping through on Lemon’s.

The course was great and featured some fast sharp turns, as well as a steep climbs and descents.  The course and conditions certainly favored the experienced racer, which we should all have been after a winter where conditions were excellent everywhere for months.  The problem was that conditions this fast had not been raced on since the Quarry Road Opener in early December!  It was a bit of a different game, and there were a few that got chewed up by the firm surface.

The race started fairly clean considering the size and diversity of the field.  Generally, when a large field is as diverse as this weekend’s it is a recipe for destruction as differing race styles do not always complement each other well.  It seemed people knew their place and order was had as best as could be expected.  A pack of elite skiers quickly set the pace.  It included collegiate racers, Green Team members, Top BKL Junior, Senior, and Masters Athletes.  This group of about 20 would stay together for about 7kms.  They started aggressively, let up a bit, but then picked it up when the hills started getting steep.  A mid field crash with that involved 3 racers that knew better on a relatively flat section of course split the field.  Tom Thurston, Hugh Pritchard (Onion River) and Mark Gilbertson (LUHS) proved that even the most experienced racer is not immune to the occasional crash.  This was the catalyst for a big change in the front pack.  Eli Enman went off the front with four other racers, Eric Darling was behind the split getting in with a different group of 4.  The chase pack was a very competitive group working well together and was made up of Luke Shullenberger, Adrian Owens (US Ski-O/Craftsbury) Ari Ofsevit (CSU) and Cully Brown (UVM).  Watching this group pull away was Tyler Magnan and Damian Bolduc.  Mike Kavanaugh followed close behind and worked with Stephen Wright, Peter Harris (Craftsbury) and three Mansfield Nordic skiers.  In his final race, Dhyan Nirmegh got to race with fellow M7’s Keith Woodward (Craftsbury) and Charlie Gunn (Mount Washington).  50 years of racing giving them the motivation to outpace the younger contingent of Jonathan Miller and Tristan Leggett.  Even in retirement, the torch was not passed from Nirmegh to Tristan.  Perhaps this necessitates a trip to Hazen’s next season where NWVE passes the Torch.  Tristan actually started very conservatively working his way up through the field and joining Sarah Pribram and Pavel Dvorak near the end of the first lap.  Brendan Barden had a good race, skiing along with his mark Leigh Mallory.  While at the front of the field the mix of ages was causing friction, an interesting phenomenon was happening in the middle of the main pack.  The BKL, Junior, Senior and Masters racers were all getting along.  With Lary Martell at the helm driving the pace the entire time, behind a large group of the friendliest racers you will ever find were rotating through in a surprisingly organized and cordial manner.  Among them Mark Danyla (Leavitt), Rick Kelley, Perry Bland, Jessica Bolduc, Camille Bolduc, Quincy Massey-Bierman (Craftsbury/Mansfield), Ava Thurston (Mansfield), Eliza Thomas (Mansfield), Birthday Girl Trina Hosmer (SNOC), John Lazenby (ORS), Raul Siren (Maine Nordic), Jud Hartmann (Grafton) and Bill Holland (ORS) all used their own advantages to keep this group moving along at a good clip.  There are no better mentors than the masters in this group who have ushered many of us through their ranks.  While there is no shortage of competition, they have so much wisdom to pass along.  They are also not shy to take advantage when you screw up, or blow up during a race.  Offering pointers like “have a cookie at the next feed station…and maybe some milk ‘you big baby,‘” (Trina to Damian at the 2nd annual Sugarloaf Marathon) or “freestyle means freestyle you dummies” (Perry to Scott and Damian at the Ted Mean’s).  “You’d be pretty good if you knew how to ski a little” Raul to Damian at Rangeley.  “Come ski with me at Morse Farm, I can help you beat Bill Farrell” Bill Holland to Damian and he followed through.  No reports of any jabs being traded on this day, but certainly much appreciation and learning all around.  Rosemary Shea-Cobb kept the mentoring going as she guided Kristen Courcelle through the challenging conditions for a beginner ski racer.

The two fields would ski together for one lap.  The 15km skiers would finish and head out to cheer on their companions doing the 30km at one of the many course intersections.  As they finished, Stephen and Peter Harris would hold off the main field.  Sarah’s sprint would give Tristan the boost he needed as he looped through for the second half of his race.  Tristan would go on to ski a negative split!  Sensing the finish Leigh skied away from the big pack with Robert Primeau (MSTF).  Jessica used her experience and out kicked the three BKL racers.  The BKL racers would all have to recover from separate self inflicted falls in the final kilometers, most likely due to getting a little sloppy as fatigue set in.  They all finished at nearly 10 second intervals, Jessica, Quincy, Camille, Ava, Eliza, and Trina respectively.  The men continued on for the 30km.  Rosemary brought Kristen though Coaches Corner before leaving her on her own for the final 500m.
Even though much distance separated the skiers, the snow was so fast that the time differential was not as much as it seemed.  Skiers spread out, but could tick off 100m really fast.  As the Elite pack was taking their final feed of the race, Sean Doherty (Mount Washington) attacked. He gapped the remaining 3 and was soon out of sight.  Bike racer Sam Evans-Brown was not impressed, noting the opportunistic move to Eli in appropriate terms not fit for print.  Eric Darling would pick up Lowell native Ben Taska and the two would ski it in, Ben using his descending skills to his advantage.  Luke Shullenberger’s group of four disintegrated on the climbs on the second lap.  Damian was able to overtake Adrian on the final climb up Bailey Hazen, but could not catch Luke and Ari before the finish.  Tyler held off a hard push from Mike and the Mansfield crew.  Nirmegh hung with Charlie and Keith long enough to hold off Jonathan Miller and Tristan as they overtook Bethel Outings Brad Clarke in one of the closest sprints of the day.  Pavel cruised in shortly after with a clear expression of exhaustion.  Bailey Hazen after 28km can do that to you.  Brendan Barden would have nothing to do with Alan Cote (Mansfield) going by him at the line after 30km.  Brendan used better technique to harness greater power to hold his position.  Lary continued to pull the train closing in and overtaking a few on the second lap.  Rick Kelly hung in as well moving up through the pack with Lary.  After a string of defeats, Jud got by Perry and Bill Holland in this one.  The snow surface favoring the “transformed” snow specialist from Grafton.

The Spring Fling lived up to its reputation as the final challenge of the season.  Conditions were fast and times were impressive.  The course was not forgiving and mentality had as much to do with results as anything.  Some skied as if to ski another day, and others as though they had nothing to lose.  Not everyone made it to the finish.  Unfortunately there were a lot of bruises and a few broken skis, poles, and bones on the day, but not every race can be held on a forgiving cushion of fresh powder.  I hope all recover quickly and are not disillusioned with the sport.  Even the best fell hard in this race.  For those still intact with their equipment there is plenty of skiing left this season.

The post race cook out was excellent with a few new items to go with the hot dogs.  Beer provided by Leigh was much appreciated.  Stories were traded and skiing plans were made.  The Fool’s Race at Trapp Family Lodge is to take place with details coming soon.  What a way to finish out this winter!

Damian


Sugarloaf Marathon


3/21/2015

Results


NWVE loaded the Racemobiles and traveled to spend the night in Rangeley before skiing the Sugarloaf Marathon.  The long winter’s effects showed on the cars and the athletes as they lumbered across Vermont, New Hampshire and into Maine.  At least in one car the consequence of a bent rim from a pothole on a previous journey sounded through the wagon loud and clear with an incessant thudding where the rubber met the road.  Stories were traded but eventually we all just wanted the ride to be over.  The aches and pains of an enduring season coming through with each pothole and heave reminding us that despite midwinter conditions nearly everywhere, respite from a long season is due.


Upon the lead vehicle’s arrival at our destination it was unpacked, dinner started and a lively game of Boggle ensued.  Rules expanded and rounds were added as the competitive bunch justified and lobbied for points.  The Chase vehicle arrived.  Soon we ate and abruptly zoned out and went to bed.


An early start time meant an early morning and with the sun rising we were on the road again for the final leg of the journey to the race.  Things were fairly quiet as racers contemplated the conditions and how they were feeling about the day.  Once at Sugarloaf the laggard reservations of another race turned to excitement as the enthusiasm of the Colby Ski Team was contagious and we were once again among the company of all our friends from around New England.  It was going to be another good day.

The conditions were sunny, warm, and no wind.  “What more could you ask for” exclaimed more than one racer.  The course was the same 10km loop we have done the last few years.  The soft powdery surface slowed the few technical turns just enough to make it so you did not have to brace yourself anywhere on the course.  The whole loop was in excellent shape with deep snow groomed and set perfectly.


Racers lined up in a relaxed manner and soon the 50km race was off.  As is the tradition, the Colby Seniors race while the rest of the team volunteers.  The Colby men took off at the start, leading out the field to the 1km mark before stepping off to the side and letting the entire field through.  Damian Bolduc and Eric Darling had good starts.  Racing was clean through the relatively narrow start and first technical turns.  The snow was very forgiving.  Dhyan Nirmegh and Mike Kavanaugh were also in good position skiing in a good mix of Master skiers and the Elite Women.  About 5km into the race, Eric went off the front of the field chasing the lead pack.  Damian stayed back and let a few collegiate skiers pull him.  Nirmegh and Mike worked together.  By the end of the first lap the field was closing on Eric, and he barely made the cutoff of starting the second lap ahead of the 25km start.  The front of the 50km field came through just after the gun went off for the half marathon.  Skiing through the 25km races went fairly well and the group closed and joined Eric about 3km into the second lap.  Mike and Nirmegh had connected with the Elite women Lucy LeGarrec (Unattached), Hannah Miller (Bowdoin) and Maddy Pfeifer (UNH).  Nat Lucy (Mt. Washington) who was in his first race of the season drove the pace of this group utilizing his tremendous gliding ability.  They too would ski through the 25km field relatively easily.  The NWVE Women all opted for the shorter distance and were quickly off to their races.  Sarah would lead for the club as she has all season.  She skied solidly in the mostly senior-aged top ten.  Kristen Courcelle and Camille Bolduc raced their first lap together while Cipperly skied comfortably in a pack of M1 and M2 Men.  As the fields mixed the dynamics changed a little.  Eric found new company to work with while Damian was dropped from the pack after a few gaps were opened due to traffic and Patrick McElravey (Middlebury) breaking a pole.   Nat Lucy (Mt Washington) skied away from the pack he was in, Mike and Nirmegh remained patient knowing it was better to race with the group than to try to go solo.  Sarah pressed on skiing with Dennis Page (Windblown), Kristen shook off Camille and Cipperly maintained her position.  Eventually Jody Newton (CSU) would catch Camille.  This motivated Camille and she pushed the last 5km of the race to hold off Jody and overtaking Steve Mitchell in the process.  Eric skied the final lap in with David Herr.  Kirk Siegel (Bethel Outing) worked his way up to Damian and the two cranked it up for the final lap.  As the Elite women started attacking each other in final kilometers of the race, Nirmegh went with a move by Hannah Miller dropping Mike and Maddy.  At the finish David pulled away from Eric on the final climbs, Damian would do the same to Kirk after some very aggressive racing in the final 10km of the Marathon that included Kirk giving Damian the smack down when he tried to pull the “I am going to make you blow up” move on the steepest climb in the race.  Nirmegh continued to advance while Mike bonked a little.


After the race everyone was very pleased.  The course skied so well with the perfect combination of fun and resistance that gives the athlete a good sense of achievement without thrashing on course, or their bodies.  So much so, that Nat finished yelling Superb Race to the organizers!  It was a lot of fun being able to dig in, knowing the conditions would be kind to you. 


At the awards ceremony it was interesting to see who was mingling.  Everyone was happy, but also a little sad as for many this was the last race of the season.  More than one conversation talked of how the mind wants to keep going seeing all the great snow still out there, but the body is saying it is time to ease up and rest a little. Sarah took the Bronze overall in the 25km and NWVE took many age group wins.  Kristen, Nirmegh, Eric, and Camille all brought home a mug.  Damian, Eric, Mike and Nirmegh also took home a Custom Swix Hat Challenger Award for completing the Marathon Series. NENSA Executive Director Zach Stegeman and former NENSA Executive Director Pat Cote thanked the club for being so active on the race circuits.


In the early car, on the ride home there was much reminiscing.  We stopped for Ice Cream Cones and chocolate milk in Farmington at the Gifford’s Ice Cream stand.  People of all sorts were celebrating the change of seasons and we fit right in.  We get one more chance to celebrate the season at the Craftsbury Spring Fling next weekend.  I hope to see everyone at this Annual Rite of Spring!


Damian


Trapp Lager Marathon


3/14/2015


Results

Photos by Lauren Stagnitti


The Trapp Family Lager Marathon was held today.  Racers were relieved upon arrival to see a thin overcast, and no looming rain, or snow clouds.  The wax recommendation of the day was VR 55 with a Hard Wax Binder.  It was nice this was recommended because it could be ruled out immediately without bothering to test it.  Aside from this glitch, the race was superb.  Trapp Family Resort put together all the fixings for an event worthy of their reputation for luxury and skiing the way it should be.


Conditions were better than expected.  The weather variable that worried skiers all week turned out not to be a factor.  It was warm, temperature around 30 rising to 35, but this was the best case scenario participants could ask for.  The trail was tilled and set nicely with double tracks the whole loop.  The snow was a fine granular.  Most opted to go for Klister but that was not the only good option.  Crown skis were working great, as was Start Grip Tape.  Due to the lack of fresh snow, Zero Skis were not.  Some covered their Klister to prevent icing, but the tracks were firm enough that it was not necessary.  The course combined the old race course with the new and featured about 1000’ of climbing per lap.  Making it the hilliest race we have seen this season.


Johannes von Trapp got the race started with a gunshot.  The avid sportsman eager for any opportunity to pull the trigger on one of his show piece firearms.  The race was off fairly clean, but there was a little pile-up on the first turn.  It does take a little experience to have confidence on this banked turn, but once you have that, you can really rip it.  VTXC dominated the elite pack, but skiers Eli Enman and Nathan Moreau (Bates) were able to infiltrate and add a little color to the sea of white VTXC uniforms.  The main pack followed closely behind led by Eric Darling, Stephen Wright, Dhyan Nirmegh, Tyler Magnan and Damian Bolduc.  Also in the mix was Denis Page (Windblown), Robyn Anderson and Ross Satchard (SNOC).  This group raced fairly well together until the big uphill on the course sorted things out.  NWVE went off the front carrying their momentum until 8km when another hill broke things apart.  In the next group Mike Kavanaugh, Sarah Pribram and Perry Bland picked up the pieces that fell off the front of the pack.  This group was interesting as they were fairly evenly matched but Perry was on Crown Skis, Sarah used Klister and Mike was on some old Grip Tape.  It was nice to have options and see that they were competitive with each other without breaking out the Power Grip!  Though that surely would have been good too if applied correctly. Tom Lane and Jeff Alexander opted to wait until mid-March to do their first race of the season.  Fortunately they got a good day and got a little taste of what this season has been all about.   It is never too late to start racing, (or do your second of the season (NWVE President Magnan)).   As the race continued things spread out.  The top two in the 25km, Eli and Nathan took it all the way in for the 25km.  Eli would get the W by a few seconds.  Nirmegh had a good race and was closing on Eric and Damian as he charged for the finish.  He wanted to distance himself from Stephen, and in doing so saw Chris Rogers fading.  In last 2km Nirmegh chased Chris down and edged him at the finish.  Stephen did not quite have the carrot to chase, but held position, winning his age group.  He also helped motivate Sarah along with Mike in her overall victory in the Women’s 25km.  Sarah would put nearly 10 minutes on the next female finisher in the 25km.  A feat that took 50km winner Chris Ziegler (VTXC) 4 laps to do over teammate Ryan Kerrigan.  Tyler Magnan faded a bit due to recovering from a couple of weeks under the weather.  He enjoyed the challenge of the course and pondered where he would have been in the field had he not fallen ill.  Mike’s grip tape brought him home with steady performance.  His wax was also as clean and unblemished as when he started and easily has two seasons left in it.  Perry held off Jud Hartmann (Grafton) who opted to wax with the team.  Many were relieved Perry had the advantage as we did not want to give too many of the clubs secrets Jud.  Perry was cool with it, stating it makes the club look good.  Jeff Alexander raced it in chasing Bernie Gardner (HFL Nordic) and out pacing Terry Solomon (LiveScape).   As the 50km racers bid “so long, farewell, auf wierdersehen, goodbye” to the 25km racers, things got lonely.  Eric got a second wind just as Damian’s wax began to falter.  Eric pulled away after the two had worked together for nearly two laps.  Damian had all he could do to keep distance on Andrew Tripp who was about 200m back.   Tom skied along strong mixing it up with Sam von Trapp.  As the 50km continued it sucked the life out of many of the racers.  Damian and Andrew were among those that suffered a lot.  Dan Voison (Onion River) noted that the first 5km on the (Coca-Cola Course) made the 7.5km Morton’s Maze seem easy.  Certainly the 4th time up the extended climb would have anyone believing that.  Eric would overtake one racer on the 4th lap moving him up to 5th place overall.  Damian held position in 7th and maintained the gap on Andrew.  Tom brought it home, excited that he completed the course and was still looking good at the finish. 


Post race festivities included a meal of Brats and Kraut, a band and a Trapp Lager for all of age who worked up a thirst.  Ski Demos were available, though not too many 50km racers took advantage.  Most just quietly put their skis away happy to part with them for the day.  NWVE had set up a tailgate wax party prior to the race and one of the biggest challenges of the day was to walk down the snow bank to sit on the guardrail where the 25km racers were dining on the meal provided.  Once sitting side by side there was a clear difference in appearance and spirits of those who did the full vs. the half.  While the half marathon racers joked and moved about, the full racers just kind of sat there spacing out trying to lift their heads and limbs to eat.  Even after an hour of recovering people were still making fun of a row of 50km racers who were sitting side by side drinking their beers in the lodge. 


The race culminated with a very nice awards ceremony where the top three male and female competitors in each race were recognized.  Winners taking home das Boot beer glass filled with a liter of Lager! It was nice sharing the podium sweep with the hosts.  VTXC swept the 50km podium, NWVE swept the 25km podium sharing the wealth/beer.  This event brought together all the things we love about skiing - tough course, excellent conditions, great competition, beer, food, someone holding a watch and keeping track of places and prizes.  It was also part of a NENSA Series.  In its inaugural year, organizers got a lot right and this race should see plenty of growth in the future as it has raised the bar.


Damian



Race to the Clouds

Sunday, March 1, 2015


In 1899, a steam car invented by the Stanley Brothers was driven from Massachusetts to the base of Mt. Washington in a five day trip.  Freelan Stanley and his wife Flora continued to drive the car to the summit in a little over two and half hours over the mountain road, formally only traveled by horses pulling carriages. An average horse ride at that time took six hours.  The owner of the Stanley company wanted to show the country, that motoring in a locomobile could be viable.


115 years later I awoke at 5:00 AM, and in a little over two and half hours later I drove across Vermont into New Hampshire at 50-60 mph, and was at the base of Mt. Washington at Great Glen to sign up for the Ski to the Clouds race. 


A 10km race, 4km at the center on rolling terrain, and a 6km uphill grind on the Mt. Washington toll road, to the treeline, and the finishline.


It was -11 below 0 in Vermont when I left. And -11 below in Lancaster.  But when I arrived at Great Glen, it was up to 4 degrees, and the sun was shining brightly. Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Adams dazzled in their white coats, majestically before the center.  Two days before, I opted out of the Rangeley race, as I had worked all week cutting wood, and splitting it by hand, and I had felt physically spent.  I didn’t want to race at Rangeley, I was wasted.  But by Saturday evening, my legs felt good and I wanted to race somewhere. I called Lake Placid to see if I could get into the Loppet – no luck, and they wanted a $125 to boot.  So I happened to look into the Vermont Sports magazine and saw Great Glen’s Race to the Clouds race listed.  I was going.


Jake Hollenbach had given me a pair of his skis.  They were fast and I was full of confidence. 


But to tell the truth, I had no real idea of what lay ahead. Chris Osgood and his wife Mary Heller Osgood were there along with multiple time winner Justin Freeman.  I felt a tremendous calmness at the start.  I bolted out of the start area, Chris Osgood followed me.  The 4k of twisted up and down at the center went well.  I skied evenly, not getting carried away, but still at a good clip.  I had to rein it in trying not to go too fast, I wanted something left for the uphill. Over the years Chris Osgood and I have had some great races against each other, and today he was beside me at the base of the toll road.  I honestly had no idea what the road was like, but I was soon to find out that it was as steep and steeper than the toll road on Mt. Mansfield. Up ahead were the leaders, strung out, but I could see them all.  Reality sunk in when I was passed by 4-5 guys that were grinding away, and then another 3 went by.  I settled in, pumping my arms, stepping to the left, and then switched to the right. I kept alternating, all the way up the first 500 yards.  In the first 500 yards also told me my legs were okay, and that my legs felt strong.  20 strokes to the right.  20 to the left. 


I talked to myself, “Stand up! Glide! Pump arms forward!”


Corner after corner, we turned.  One mile marker.  Two mile marker. Still I felt good. Slowly, even though everybody had passed me, I started reeling them back in.  I would make up 20 yards in two miles on one guy, and passed him. I gunned for the coach from Gould Academy.  Every corner I gained a yard or two on him.  Then at the two and half mile mark, I was behind him, stride by stride.  He finally relented, stepped aside, and encouraged me to keep going. I passed another skier, and there was one more I could see.  The race seem to go on forever, corner after corner.  I could see the tree line up ahead, but it seemed far away. Slowly his 40 yard lead evaporated.


“Hang on Nirmegh,” I said, “Stay even.”


About 700 yards from the finish he pulled to the side and jumped in behind me.  Then I heard a sound behind me that was unfamiliar, coming quickly, it startled me, so I looked behind.  It was the winning snowshoer coming on fast.  I acknowledged him and he smiled with encouragement. 


I had to say, “I really can’t believe it.”


As he bounded by on snowshoes, bouncing across the snow, and disappeared around a corner, he made me feel like I was standing still. They had even started five minutes behind us. I looked behind once more and saw no snowshoers.  I saw photographers.  Where was the ending? Two more corners and another person beside the trail told me to go – 150 meters left.  It looked like the finish was a half mile away.  I had just put 15 yards on the young man and reached for everything I had. Now I was on the verge of redlining. But I pulled and pulled and pumped my arms, evening attempting to V2 which was a mistake.  Like a dying quail, I went nowhere.  

Stick to the V1.”

 I passed the line and stopped. 

I heard, “Nirmegh, you did awesome.”

I looked to see Eli Walker, former Burlingtonian, former Ski Rack worker standing there with a clipboard. 

“You still have it.”

“Barely” I said, turning around to see Chris Osgood finish behind me, greeting me with his hand up in the air.


Eli and I laughed at the thought of meeting each other on the side of Mt. Washington. We talked briefly and I skied up to the Mt. Washington snowcat to get some refreshments.  I was drenched in sweat.  Since I had arrived late to registration, I had no warm clothes at the snowcat.  It didn’t matter. I was elated and warmed by the sun.  Last week I had run the Derby down Mt. Mansfield twice.  The trip down Mt. Washington was worth all the pain of the race. Chris Osgood and I headed down together.  He took off like a downhill racer and I vadelled all the way down the toll road. I remember looking down at my skis and watching them turn and then looking onto the woods to see the trees whiz by. I felt as if my body was still and everything was whirling around on the periphery.  I greeted all the snowshoers and they all had smiles on their faces.  My skis carried me through the cyclone and I felt as I was standing still.


My time had been a little over an hour to go 4 miles. If I had gone another 4 miles in an hour I would have beaten the Stanley Steamer to the top.


Dhyan Nirmegh 


Bretton Woods Marathon


The 7th Bretton Woods Marathon was held on Saturday.  For the first time, this race was included in the Zak and Club Series.  As Eli Enman also noted, it fell right in the sweet spot where Junior/Senior skiers are peaked for championships, but the weekend is open.  The race drew its largest field ever.  The quirky race, infamous for dramatic changes in condition surely won a lot of new fans as this year’s conditions were uncharacteristically consistent.

The forecast was as accurate as usual for this season.  The predicted warmer temps simply could not push the stubborn cold out.  Skiers were pleased that temperatures remained in the teens and did budge much during the race.  The tracks were firm and it looked to be shaping up to be a day like we had at the Geschmossel.  A moderately westerly wind was trying to deliver warmer air with the help of some radiant heat of a bright sun.  

People went about preparing with ease.  Most everyone was using a blue wax, but the Ottawa team must have thought they were in the tropics opting to go to purple.  Participants could layer clothing comfortably without having to think about what they would shed if it got too warm. Of course there was the obligatory last (oh $h!+) layer of wax that needs to be applied in a panic just before the start of any marathon.  Just when you thought the day was going to be full of easy answers, a question strolled in with skier that had to walk from overflow parking. Like an outlaw walking into a saloon; everyone turned and looked, pretending not to stare, even the MC Amy Gunn was silenced the same way the piano player always stops in that Classic Western scene.  Yes, for a moment we were all awestruck and then everything went back to normal except with a burning question on everyone’s mind.

We all lined up with the usual start shenanigans.  People off to the side as well as between the tracks.  Jim Fredericks (Mansfield) took the front row after an injury kept him from racing all season.  To his credit he does start fast and it is better to have your competition have to chase to catch you than to have to work hard to catch up.  After some announcements and sponsor plugs the race was off!  NWVE got on course clean considering the way this race starts.  Hotel guests watched from the veranda as skiers raced a sweeping mile long loop with 12 lanes rapidly funneling into two before heading out onto the course proper.

Further into the race there were some big pile ups.  The antsy youth were racing aggressively, and the course threw a few curves that skiers took each other out on, leaving the carnage of broken skis and poles that sent some limping back to the stadium.  Experienced racer Eli Enman knew the appropriate distance to maintain and was able to avoid the tangled crashes.  In the chase pack, the ratio of Masters to Youth was in the favor of the Masters more cordial style of racing.  There were still mishaps, but not to the magnitude of the elite pack.  Eric Darling was at the front of this pack skiing along with Chris Nice and Rick Powell (Ford Sayre) as well as Ryan Kerrigan of VTXC who double poled the whole thing, and Torin Laliberte’ (St. Michael’s).  Then a gap to the bulk of the main field headed up by Andy Milne (CSU), Damian Bolduc and Robyn Anderson (VTXC).  Ski speed dictated who would lead on the flat sections, but once the climbing started, kick had the overall advantage.  Not too far behind James Donegan, Mike Kavanaugh, Dhyan Nirmegh, Pavel Dvorak, Sarah Pribram were giving CSU’s Jamie Doucett, Jim and JoAnn (Mansfield) and Jonathan Chaffee (Ford Sayre) a good run.  This group stayed within sight of each other keeping the motivation high and turning out impressive finishes for those that peeled off at the half as well as those who went the distance.  Only seconds separated Wednesday Night World’s rivals Kyle Darling and Rick Kelley. The two raced to the finish leaving teammate Perry Bland to ski the second lap alone.  Brendan Barden had a two day feud with Ottowa’s Chelsea Nordic skiers.

At the finish of the 25km race Rick Powell (Ford Sayre) let a gap open on Chris Nice (Ford Sayre), making Eric D. chase.  The strategy worked giving Chris enough room to take the Masters’ win for the day and the overall in the Zak Cup.  Eric bested Powell by 6 seconds at the line.  James skied away from his group and put over a minute on the next competitor in the final kilometers.  Jim and JoAnn (Mansfield) raced back and forth with Nirmegh before starting their final kick.  Sarah Pribram was gunning Jonathan Chaffee (Ford Sayre), but could not keep the pace.  It did help her hold off a challenge from Olivia Cuneo (GMVS).  Rick Kelley had the advantage as the last 3km flattened out after some nice down hills.  He held off Kyle who was saving little for Sunday’s race.  Things continued to spread out in the second lap of the full marathon.  Eli found himself in a group of four that included VTXC’s Juergen Uhl and two collegiate racers.  Eli’s skis were a little slower and his muscles burned up as he held off Jurgen finishing 16th in the most competitive Marathon Field we have had this season.  Damian would ski with David Herr about a minute ahead of him for the whole second lap.  It was a good thing, as Joe Holland (Putney) had joined Andy Milne (CSU) in the chase and were closing.  Mike Kavanaugh came from behind and passed Jamie Doucett (CSU) on the downhill section of the race and closed the gap overtaking Nirmegh as well.  Jamie saw Nirmegh was vulnerable and zeroed in on him.  He was seeing stars as he closed in, but Nirmegh caught a glimpse of him coming in and edged Jamie in one of the most exciting sprints of the day.  Pavel left his fight out on the course having little left for marathon sprint finishes, finishing alone. Perry Bland put a stamp on his competition as they faced him for the first time in a distance classic race.  Jud Hartmann (Grafton) was impressed as Perry unleashed his trademark long strides over the course.  Brendan Barden ate heavy Friday night, but light Saturday morning was wishing he had listened to the advice at breakfast with 6km to go.  He brought it home a little cooked and conceded several places he had gained on the climbs of the second lap.

At the Awards Ceremony many NWVE skiers were called up taking top spots in their age groups.  The full Marathoners were clearly exhausted from the day’s work.  Things wrapped up and a few club members took a cool down walk exploring the historic Mt. Washington Hotel.

It would not be until later during the Re/Pre-covery meal at Johnson’s Motel Resort would the question of the day be answered.  The skier in question had opted to spend the night there and group had gathered for an intervention.  Just as we were about to address the pink elephant in the room, Nirmegh broached the subject. He knew what was on every one’s mind. He opened with “I suppose you have all been wondering why I have not shaved.” Kristen quietly slid the Nirmegh Facial Grooming Habits Chart that she had been gluing cotton balls to since Wednesday Night Worlds back into her pocket… waiting to see where this would go. Hannah stopped knitting the cowl she was preparing to hide the hideous 3 days of growth on his face.  The rest swallowed slowly… stunned.  “Well I was called to do a photo shoot that required Mountain Men”, Nirmegh stated as he launched into a story about how a photographer had contacted him to take part in a product/brand campaign.  Relieved that there was an explanation, Damian quickly phoned Nirmegh’s skiing MD, Chris Nice and told him the news.  Chris promptly phoned in a prescription of 2 Bic Razors STAT to the Hinesburg Kinney Pharmacy and told Nirmegh to follow up with him at the Trapp Lager Marathon.    
 

Mount Washington Weekend Part 2

Mount Washington Cup


As word that the big mystery had been solved, Day 2 of the Mt. Washington Weekend got underway as a celebration of an incredible season with more incredible skiing.  Racers registered and warmed-up, many exchanging tales from the day before.  Warm up was essential for the marathoners to get the aches and pains of the previous day out.  The course would be a challenging loop that rolled into a sustained climb, then returned to the stadium via a thrill ride down the Tunnel Trail. 

Conditions were packed powder.  The snow was a little slow and had not glazed as some had hoped.  Fresh smooth corduroy followed a little chop in the stadium.  It was sunny and the temps were rising.  No real wind was a factor today.

The race had to be delayed due to the timer not getting to the start on time.  We waited about 10 minutes as the person manned with the stopwatch made his way from the hotel parking lot.  No big deal… racers were fairly casual as they knew something fun was about to happen.  Though the race director was not pleased that this was holding things up after months of planning.  Soon enough the start instructions were given, the countdown and the command.  Skiers were off in a mad dash out of the stadium.  Eric Tremble looked good breaking away with the leaders.  Eric Darling was right there too as was Damian Bolduc and Tristan Leggett.  Damian quickly felt his legs seizing up and had to let up to regain his composure.  The race was a blast as NWVE fielded a significant portion of the field which stayed relatively close together.  Mike Kavanaugh and Jonathan Miller join up with Tristan for much of the race.  In the next pack Ed Hamilton, Steve Crafts (INCOB/Mansfield) and Amy Katz (Bates) would motivate Sarah Pribram to dismiss any reservations.  Sarah had to be the first Masters Female to win the Zak Overall.  Dhyan Nirmegh was locked in with a couple of M5s from Mt. Washington and CSU.  Brennan Shuttle was also having a good race despite the “hill that just kept going and going.”  Kyle Darling cruised on the first half of the course knowing he had an advantage on the second if he could make it over the top of the hill with a little left in the tank.  Brendan Barden returned for day two with triple vision of the Chelsea Masters surrounding him.  Perry Bland was back in action capitalizing on his good race on Saturday.  Not too far behind a skiing conversion was taking place with Kristen Courcelle participating in her first club race.  Cipperly Good was guiding Martin Courcelle through his first club race as well.  Holly Yandow and Becca Rudden made their annual journey to the Mt. Washington Cup, enjoying the great course and atmosphere.  Hannah Barden joined them after a recreational ski the day before that explored the trails on the other side of Rt. 302. 

It seemed right that the Mt. Washington Cup was once again the final race in the Zak and Club Series.  NWVE has had great team racing at this event and this year was no different as we closed in on 1000 NENSA points.  It certainly was a celebration NWVE style with fun fast racing.  Eric Tremble would take 7th overall feeling good about his race.  Eric Darling played cat and mouse with Forrest Hamilton (GMVS) however Forrest’s sprinting ability proved too much for Eric D.  Damian struggled with putting away Charlie Gunn (Mt. Washington) but some encouragement from Helen Smith on the back side of Coronary Hill gave him the motivation to carry through to the end.  Mike Kavanaugh and Jonathan Miller would go down to the wire with Eastern Cup standout Colin Pogue (Ford Sayre) between them.  James Donegan and Tristan Leggett were right there too.  Tristan labored up the hills, but crushed the downs.  Ed Hamilton successfully delivered Sarah Pribram to the Zak Overall win while holding off a hard charge from Steve Crafts.  Nirmegh used everything he had to hang with Steve Pietrow (Mt. Washington) and Brett Rutledge (CSU) but could not get the advantage at the finish.  Brennan Shuttle was elated and should be with his finish right behind Jim Fredericks (Mansfield).  Kyle Darling’s strategy worked as planned as he passed over 10 people in the final 4km.  Cody Putnam (St. Michael’s) started 20 minutes back due to a 90 mile navigation error by his driver.  His bad luck continued on the course with his pole strap shredding off.  He one poled it in and was given a calculated result.  Brendan Barden got one of the 3 Chelsea Masters after a fall cost him the few seconds he had over them on the downhill.  Cheryl Carlson (Ford Sayre) yielded to Donavan Freeman (Mt. Washington) in their final sprint.  Perry Bland riding high on the previous day’s performance and all the club company dished it to Jud Hartmann for the second day in a row in a very different discipline.  Kristen Courcelle overcame her nerves and had a great result.  Proposing to Martin that they do Sugarloaf as he completed the Cup.  Cipperly had a great race contemplating Sugarloaf as well.  Hannah Barden looked smooth and in control as she passed and gained on Thaddeus Marks (Mt. Washington) in the final km on his home course.

After the race, the club broke into different cool down groups and enjoyed some fun skiing. The Club Championship will remain with us after another exciting season. At the awards NWVE took home many age group prizes and the weekend grand prize drawing went to Damian!  Post race refueling took place at Fabyan’s before the journey back to Searsport and Vermont.  Congratulations to all for another great Points Series.  There is still a lot of fun racing left with two races remaining in the Marathon Series as well as the Spring Fling and couple of new local races to be added to the calendar.
 
Damian



Rangeley Lakes Loppet

2/28/2015

Results


NWVE had another good year at the Rangeley Lakes Loppet.  Many club members made the trip over to Maine for the Annual Marathon/Half Marathon Event.  Rangeley’s proximity on the ski season timeline puts it in a place where any number of factors can influence snow conditions.  This combined with the course and length of the race can make it a really fun race, however we all remember years where the elements turned the event into a grueling battle against nature.  This year things were on the fun side!


The race was delayed an hour, as has been the tradition looking at past race reports.  The reason was due to the cold weather we have been having all season.  Racers’ feelings were mixed on the call, some wanted to get going, others’ thought waiting an hour to let things warm-up would be worth it.  By start time, temps rose to about 11 degrees and did not move much from there during the race.  The sun was out and there was moderate wind.  Nothing that would blow the snow around, but detectable by racers on course.  The snow was mostly packed powder, but did have a little ice tilled in.  The surface was firm and had a couple of glazed tracks where a snow machines skis had passed delivering supplies to the aid stations.  The left side of the trail was also tracked for the Burt Kettle Classic.

Racers registered and went about their pre-race routines.  Not much warming up for this one.  CSU’s Jody Newton discovered she packed her bag someplace between Mars and Nirmegh-Land realizing she brought only her classic boots for the skate race. Other than that there seemed to be little commotion.  The Burt Kettle was started signaling the Loppet field to get into action.  Andy Milne and Frank Feist were eating German Pfeffernüsse cookies.  In retrospect, looking at the results, the cookie offered should have been taken.  While the majority of racers were getting ready, Vermont locals Callie Douglas, Erin Mallory and Bill Holland (ORS)competed in the Classic Race.  Bill and Erin had a close race with only a few seconds separating them at the finish.

The Marathon start was quite relaxed.  Skiers took their time lining up and the start had to be delayed three minutes, due to people getting to check in a little late.  It was more of a situation where nobody got there early and so there was a bit of a bottle neck getting into the stadium.  Once in the tracks people were surprised with how fast their skis felt.  Not that they were fast, but better than anticipated.  The field was a little smaller than usual.  There were some competing races that drew a few of the collegiate racers from the event.  This helped make for a clean start with no pile-ups.  Once on course the leaders quickly sped away and vanished.  A large chase group formed and stayed together until around the 10km mark where it split into smaller groups.  The main field followed.  Eric Darling and Damian Bolduc broke away from the field with the chase group.  By 3km Damian could no longer hold the pace and dropped off the back of the pack waving CSU’s Andy Milne through.  Eric pressed on and would continue with the group until it completely fell apart after one lap.  Mike Kavanaugh and Jonathan Miller had a good race going at the front of the main field.  Sarah Pribram also hung in for one lap.  Not far behind was Dorrie Martell, and Jessica Bolduc.  Jonathan Rodd skied with his son Eli for a lap before kicking it up a notch for the second.  Michael Hakim and Camille Bolduc were a little too close for Jon’s comfort, and Emily Miller followed suit in her first Marathon.

Once the race had sorted itself out, the skiing was very nice.  The trail was groomed beautifully and was holding up very well.  Some skiers found themselves admiring the classic tracks thinking that classic conditions were very appealing.  Sarah Pribram raced against her lifelong rival Carrie McCusker (Maine Nordic) with a Bear on her mind.  The thought of winning the coveted chainsaw carved trophy pushed her in to the 25km victory.  Jessica Bolduc found herself chasing John Lazenby (ORS) and Raul Siren (Maine Nordic).  Raul always has a good race at Rangeley and pushed hard in the final kilometers to stay close to John.  John and Raul battled it out, with John edging Raul by only 4 seconds separating them at the finish.  Jessica followed just a bit later.  Camille finished her race with an impressive effort, winning her division and finishing in the top 10 women overall.  She was quite elated and enthusiastically cheered in the 50km racers as they finished.   Looping through the lap area, Eric felt maybe he took the first lap a little too fast.  Fortunately the beginning of the loop offers a nice bit of downhill that provided just the respite needed.  Damian made the best of an off day with back issues chasing Taylor Pearlman (Colby).  Mike and Jonathan M.  skied away from a few CSU skiers widening their lead on the main field.  After successfully pacing Eli, Jonathan R. cranked it up and began skiing through the field.  He worked his way up to Dorrie Martell, but could not catch her before the finish.  Dorrie was in her first 50km event and was quite pleased with the course.  She also turned in quite a result taking second overall for women in the 50km competition.  Michael Hakim posted a good result in his first marathon as well skiing in with Susan Thompson of Mount Washington.  Emily Miller (who carried the torch for Cipperly against her bearded rival) was very happy to meet her goal of finishing and was clearly psyched to learn she took second in her age group!

It was another successful year at Rangeley.  Racers looked good and happy post race with the NWVE Women taking some overall podiums as well as the rest taking many age group awards!  Congratulations to Dorrie, Sarah and Jessica on their top performances.  Congratulations are also in order for Dorrie, Michael and Emily for completing their first ski marathon!  Everyone should be very pleased with their races.  Conditions were such that you had to work to meet your goal and will surely make you stronger in the races to come.  I hope to see everyone as the season wraps up in March!

Damian


Bode Miller and the Stowe Derby

By: Dyhan Nirmegh

2/23/2015

The day after the Stowe Derby I was again back in Stowe, not because I had a lot of energy and wanted to ski, but because I partied at the Derby ski party a little too long the day before, and when I went over to get my ski bag, boots and money at the high school, it was locked up.  My gear was somewhere in the lobby.  I peered in the window and saw that everything was cleaned up, but saw no bags or boots.  In the toe of my boot I had put my money, which amounted to a hundred dollars or so.  So I would be back in the morning.  I arrived there at 8:30 Monday morning and the head janitor greeted me and graciously took me to the boots and gear. The money was intact.  I decided to ski at Trapps since I was in town. It was winter again. After the mild day at the Derby, the Trapps parking lot was bitter and cold. I got out and wondered exactly where I was going to ski. I bundled up with neck warmers, down vest, and elected to stay low on the mountain.  There would be no cabin run today.

I pondered yesterday’s race, and the logistics involved even to make it to the mountain, and then to get to two starts.  It seemed like a fast paced silent film. I first arrived at the Stowe School twenty minutes late to meet my Derby-Meister partner.  The driving was slow and treacherous with five inches of snow on the road.  The one thing that did excite me, was the fact, for the first time in a long time it was twenty degrees, and it seemed almost warm. Rick Kline, who was going to be my Derby-Meister ride back up the mountain after the skate race, was standing in the parking lot, perturbed that I was late. He was standing there sporting his number, dressed to race, and motioned me to get going.  We needed to drop off the gear in cars, and ride the bus to the mountain, and get to the lift on time.  

“Nirmegh, hurry!” he yelled.

“No, this way! The side door! Sign the waiver! Numbers over here Nirmegh!”  

Pen, papers, bibs, smiles and gestures were coming at me at like ping pong balls after Mister Moose, the character in Captain Kangaroo.  Then as sometimes happens, I disappeared in Nirmegh-land, and hit a block on getting dressed.  Clothes were everywhere, indecision ruled.  Rick looked at me in a bemused look of an impatient father and said “I know you want to suck in the experience of your last Derby race, but you got to shake a leg.” We drove my truck to the finish area behind the church, and I jumped in his BMW with my skis. “You got everything now?” Rick asked.  

“I hope so,” I said. “Look Rick, I know a shortcut to the school, but even so, we should go directly to the mountain anyway.” Like the Dukes of Hazard, he revved up the Bimmer, spun out of the parking space and we headed out.  

“Where’s the road?” he asked.  

“Right down here somewhere, turn here!” I said.  The Bimmer did a 90 degree turn.  

“You sure?” he asked.

“No.”  

“What?”

“Not really, this road should go through, I think this is it, Oh maybe it’s not….”

“Nirmegh, this doesn’t look good.”  

“Oh god, the cemetery.” The road ended, and huge piles of snow and rows of gravestones. “Sorry Rick, just don’t get stuck.”

“I’m not going to stuck with the Bimmer.”  Again, likes the Duke of Hazard, he jammed it into reverse, backed into the snowbank and spun the car around, like a Rally race car driver, peppering the stones, in a cloud of dust and snow.  Somehow we made it to the mountain parking lot, and I felt as I already done one leg of the Derby as my adrenaline was pumping from holding onto the dash of the car.  

“Rick, if I leave before you do, after the skate race, be easy on the truck.”  

“Relax man.”

Getting up the lift, I could see there was a significant amount of new snow.  The downhill would be tricky.  My start number was 14. I had no time to dally.  Mike Kavanaugh, my teammate, was beside me.  Tom Thurston was right behind me.  Last year, Maria Von Trapp was with me.  This year, it was who?

New mantra – “Bode Miller Time!”  This was a downhill race, my last Derby before retirement.  This was the first year that the starters did not allow anyone to ski the first two turns in practice. Nobody knew what it was like.  It was roped off.  Bode Miller was going to be my guide.  I had seen his eyes before, the eyes of a hunter looking down the course, visualizing the prey out ahead, seeing the finish line, and all the terrain between, the way not many do.  I needed the same vision, craziness, and strength to get down the mountain twice.  I held every corner, and channeled Bode’s abandonment and I didn’t worry about a thing.  My skis pitched over a void once or twice, but I calmly pulled them in and kept rocking.  

Now I was sitting in the Harvest Market, the day after.  Having a cup of coffee, eating a croissant, and talking to the young worker behind the counter about Idaho, and satisfied with my 10k at Trapps. In walked a man, a woman and a child. I immediately laughed.  Was it Bode?  It sure looked like him.  I watched him. Sorrell boots, unlaced.  A knit hat pulled down over his ears and forehead.  A dapper suede warm jacket, and a dark puffy scarf, loosely hung around his neck.  A formidable presence in his loose outfit.  Après ski.  He looked for food as if he was in a ski race. There was the same assuredness, the same focus I had seen before. And moving easily around the café taking tender care of his family.  

I said to the young worker, “Take a look. That looks like Bode Miller.”  

He looked and turned and said, “It does, but Bode has got a bad injury. He got it a couple weeks ago. He’d be on crutches. He was sliced on the back of his leg by his ski when he fell on it, and the cut went deep into his muscle. It can’t be him.” He went to help a customer.

The man got a chair for his wife and kid, sat them down, and then easily browsed around the store, looking for pastries. Edging around the counter, walking my way, when he was a few feet from me, I started laughing. Our eyes met. I smiled, and he smiled.

I said, “You know, you look like Bode Miller.”  

He smiled wider, “Yeah, I do?”

I said, “Yeah, you do.”

His eyes sparkled and he laughed.  “Thanks. That’s a good thing.”

He nodded his head, and with another twinkly smile, he walked towards his family.  I was watched him a few minutes, and I left with my coffee, went out on the stairs outside.  It was snowing lightly.  I looked towards the mountain, always mysterious, full of magic, and skiable. I laughed again. Such are the gifts that a Derby brings.


Dhyan Nirmegh


Geschmossel

2/22/2015

Results


A common theme this season has been amazing skiing, despite frigid temperatures.  Today we had the total package as Mt. Washington hosted the postponed Geschmossel!  Our hosts put together an outstanding racing experience from the S’more kit in the registration bag to the post race tubing pass.  The conditions were also truly exceptional!  NWVE arrived with plenty of time to go about their business of registering, testing wax and warming up.


The day started out good.  There was about 5 inches of overnight powder on the ground and the forecasted warm up had been adjusted to stay below freezing.  It was thin overcast and little if any wind.  ToKo Red was the go to wax for the day.  It was within range and would continue to work if it warmed up.  It worked in and out of the tracks and was not slow or grabby.  All the things you can ask for in a wax. 


Rick and Damian had discussed the course at the Park and Ride noting it was 2/3rds up and 1/3rd down.  It started out with 1KM of double pole around the stadium and across the golf course.  It then took an upward roll on Willey’s Way, climbed up the Tunnel to the Clinton Trails where the course “leveled off”  and rolled up and over the highest elevation of the day, before descending down Beech Hill and Dark Forest and finishing with another long double pole along Esker back to the stadium.  It was a little shorter than 15km, but an awesome classic skiing loop.  The snow was just right providing excellent tracks, (the whole loop double tracked by the way) yet just enough cushion to soften the ride and let you know that this was skiing at its best.  Everything seemed perfect from the grooming to the temp, to the views and the company.


NWVE had a good contingent make the trip despite it being Derby Weekend.  It looks like we had excellent representation at both races so we were very active this weekend.  The race got underway with fairly little commotion.  Cipperly Good noted how it seemed oddly quieter than normal. UNH was using the race to determine their carnival team so they led out quite aggressively.  The top masters were in close pursuit with Chris Nice (Ford Sayre), Eric Darling and Damian Bolduc forming a little chase group.  Then the main field was also right there with Kirk Siegel (Bethel), Charlie Gunn (Mt. Washington) and Bryce Wing (Ford Sayre) setting the pace.  With all the early climbing the groups broke into a steady stream of smiling racers knowing this was a day to be enjoyed.  There were not many tight groups nor huge gaps, but everyone racing at their own pace with someone to chase or ski away from.  Jonathan Rodd had a good race against Jonathan Chaffee (Ford Sayre) having the advantage at the finish.  Not far behind was Rick Kelley having a similar race with Ron Newbury (Mt. Washington).  Sarah Pribram skied away from the self sponsored Paul Wassezieher (Team Paul), earning top master’s women’s position of the day.  Perry Bland was loving the conditions, skiing by Meredith Piotrow and Tiffany Teaford (West River) as he worked his way through the field.  Jessica Bolduc moved up early, passing Cheryl Carlson and Amy Gunn in the early climbs.  However she was enjoying the skiing on top so much she let Cheryl catch up briefly and let Amy Gunn pass her. She was unable to pass Amy Gunn before the finish, even though Amy took the tumble of her life, doing a 360 toss on one of the trickier downhill turns.  Last minute registrant Camille Bolduc was noted smiling the whole way by Super Fans Wallace and Natalie Good, and Kristen Courcelle (self proclaimed NWVE team manager).  Camille also got the nod from David Hosmer (SNOC) as he exclaimed she was skiing great as they staged their finishes with about a kilometer to go.  Cipperly Good was also on form chasing Larry Berman (CSU) and George Hall (Craftsbury) while skiing away from two Moultonboro Academy skiers. 


All skiers were beaming at the finish.  It is hard to recall a race where everything came together so well.  It was the perfect way to capitalize on the half day “warm wave” we experienced.  Even the sun greeted skiers as they emerged from the Dark Forest!  Post race everyone talked about how great the skiing and competition was.  NWVE was on the right side of many close finishes and celebrated with a much deserved recovery brew and burger at Fabian’s after toasting S’mores and taking a tube run.


Damian


Silver Fox Trot 
2/14/2015


Once a year the Club Series visits the Eastern Cup Series.  The reason for this is not to punish the Club Racers, but more to enrich the skiing experience for all participants.  Part of the influence is to bring the Club Series to the EC Series so that coaches who commit much of their time to the EC Series can participate in a Club event.  The other is to draw the New England talent out of the woodwork to see where they stand.  The blending of the fields keeps the New England heritage intact with the future.  The Eastern Cup Series is NENSA’s premier series and as always, just starting an EC race is a Victory!

This year we had a special treat.  Heavy lobbying from the Hanover area brought the Silver Fox Trot back to its former glory.  A few lean snow years and lack of sponsorship caused the race to dwindle a bit.  While the Bill Koch portion has remained strong and growing, the Oak Hill Race had waned recently until this year.  A huge effort was made by our friends in the Upper Valley to bring this race back, and boy did they deliver!  Organizing began over a year ago, major trail improvements were made over the summer with heavy equipment, volunteers were recruited continuously, all the small details were worked out and it all came down to a another chilly nail biter.  Fortunately all the work paid off, the wind held off and the race went off exceptionally well!  Thanks to Dennis Donahue for having the vision and convincing the Upper Valley Community to support a major race at Oak Hill again.  Thanks to all the volunteers who contributed and Ford Sayre Club for bearing the brunt of this work!  I know that people were very nervous about how the race went.  From my perspective it was the best Silver Fox Trot I have ever been in!

NWVE traveled in the familiar cold and lightly snowing conditions we have been experiencing in the second half of this winter.  We arrived to friendly registration staff who were helpful in helping us go about the business of racing.  While the temperature was low, it was not too bad with relatively little wind and a lot of excitement.  The race course was the Oak Hill 5km Pond Loop.  This is a very challenging loop with steep climbs and little recovery on the first half, followed by a sustained climb and the end a technical corkscrew downhill.  The surface was firm packed powder of the very squeaky variety.  Over the course of the day a few of the steep climbs got churned up as to be expected, but the course held up very well especially on the sharp turns where volunteers kept everything in order. 

A small contingent of Citizens racers took the bait of series racing and participated.  Normally only a handful come out to race the Eastern Cup but this weekend a few more joined in.  The Women’s 5k was scheduled first and not before long, all were on course with the 15 second interval start.  CSU’s Kathy Maddock skied from the back of the field to 4th place overall.  Amy Caldwell of Putney put a bib on and made the first page of results as well.  Sarah led things for NWVE.  She thought she was having a terrible race but started to notice that no one was passing her.  It occurred to her that at least everyone else was feeling slow too.  Carrie Nourjian of VTXC had a good result edging a Mansfield Junior by a second.  Ford Sayre’s Cheryl Carlson was also up on the results page on her home course.  Jody Newton was out getting it done for CSU, as was Maine Nordic’s Mary Lou Lowrie.  Cipperly Good and Hannah Barden skied the whole race in contact with one another going 1, 2 for M2’s gaining valuable Zak and Club Points.  Despite the setbacks of illness and race cancellations Cipperly has moved up quite a bit in the Zak Overall this year.  She was also happy that it was not her tracks that went off course over a dam and into a 60' ravine on one of the technical turns. It seems that if Hannah is racing it is surely a difficult course as she posts results in races the likes of this and the Bogburn!  Congratulations to the NWVE Women on cranking it up for a 5km dominated by youth specializing in this event!

At high noon (and 15 seconds) the Men’s race started.  Everything was on time and running smoothly.  Conditions at a race often favor a certain type of athlete.  Last week’s Flying Moose was clearly one for skiers with excellent technique.  This week’s conditions did not really single out any specific type of skier, as the course, snow speed and distance opened the spectrum up to a lot of skiers.  Ryan Kelly’s (New Hampshire Multi Sport) and Brayton Osgood’s top twenty results were impressive being powerful, technical hammer head skiers.  Tim Donahue (Manhattan) also had a good result stating that “you really had to watch your effort on this course, you could not just hammer and glide like it seems you should” as he expressed the difficulty of finding a good rhythm during the race.  Tom Thurston took top honors for the club as well as the M5’s and I believe sealed his victory in the Zak Cup Overall.  Tom was impressed with the loop, thinking that it was a very good course.  We have not heard from our friends across the lake in a while but Michael Wynn was out showing that Peru Nordic is alive and well.  Damian Bolduc who has logged many kilometers at Oak Hill this winter in the dark showed he knew his stuff by posting a negative split on the memorized course.  He had someone to work with the whole time unlike his solo races at Craftsbury and Flying Moose.   Rick Powell (Ford Sayre) and Eric Darling had a close race.  Eric was tempted to pull up after one lap, but got a second wind racing onward to a strong result.  Shams Helminski represented Putney with a top 100 finish adding to the embers of a storied club that could come roaring back quickly.  Shams led a pack that was the heart of the Masters’ field.  Within this group were CSU’s Frank Feist, and Robert Bradlee, Ford Sayre’s Bryce Wing, David Cahill of Strafford Nordic Club, Dublin Schools Brad Bates, and NWVE’s Jon Miller and Mike Kavanaugh.  Prior to the race Mike felt that no Skate Race could be as hard as a Classic Race, after he admitted “that was pretty hard.”  Jon was still going strong on the group cool down lap that others had to bail on.  Ed Hamilton was feeling good, but knew it was going to be a tough race with how his skis felt.  He held off Dyhan Nirmegh who has been on a tear lately.  Nirmegh was happy about winning his age group and paying homage to Oak Hill one more time.  James Willsey of Sleepy Hollow had a good race against CSU’s Brett Rutledge.  Donavon Freeman (Mt. Washington) has been riding the family wave of great results this season.  The Freeman family patriarch showing Brendan Barden how it is done.  Despite being only weekend warriors, both Brendan and Hannah have been having great seasons.  Perry Bland had to concede the M8 win to Donavon, but felt comfortable with the lead NWVE has over Mt. Washington in the club series.  Jody Dean of CSU rounded out the Masters’ category for the day.

Another big thanks to all for the work put into bringing this race back as a huge success! Racing at Oak Hill is something you will never forget.  It is an honor and a privilege.  Hopefully the event was satisfying for the hosts as well and the race will continue with as much vitality in the future.

All of the Club Racers worked up a big appetite.  We quenched our thirst and hunger with a much anticipated visit to Worthy Burger.  The staff did not seem quite as confused with what a Silver Fox Trot was as compared to a Bogburn.  I wonder what they mean in the minds of an outsider trying to get through a long line of orders?  Some kind of dance for seniors and a smoldering marsh fire?  But they were happy to accommodate us and impressed with the volume our club can put down.  It was certainly a meal well deserved after a hard race.  

Damian

 


Flying Moose Classic
 2/7/2015
 
NWVE sent a few carloads of skiers to the Flying Moose Classic early Saturday morning.  Skiers awoke to a few inches of fresh overnight powder that made for slower than expected travel.  Regardless all arrived, threw on their wax and started on time!  Just getting there caused anxiety with slick roads and drivers clearly not in tune with our mission to get to the race.

Conditions in Bethel were spectacular.  As expected there was an abundance of snow.  Bethel has survived with plenty of ski-able snow since Thanksgiving.  It seems to be positioned just on the edge of all the weather systems we have had making for a very favorable Nordic Winter.  It has not been perfect, but consistently good all season.  This has trickled down to the team level with Bethel Outing having an outstanding season along with Gould Academy.

The course was similar to last year, starting at the field house, doing 800m on the track then heading out to the Gould Academy Competition trails.  It seemed to meander a little more than in the past, adding an extra turn here and there that normally we do not ski.  Welcome changes by most.  The surface was soft packed powder on top of soft packed powder on top of old packed powder on top of an ice base from December.  Big baskets were an advantage as race baskets tended to break through, never finding a firm surface to grip.  The temperature stayed in the low teens, the sun was out and wind was not a factor.  The course was technical and difficult.  Perhaps the most challenging we will see all season.  The deep snow was forgiving, but needed to be skied on for success.  The plant and kick technique that has worked on the concrete tracks we have seen this season did not work, but if you delicately set your ski and skied onto it, things went well.

With some brief instructions skiers were given the countdown and started.  NWVE was lined up at the front and took command early in the race.  A close call nearly had VTXC’s Jake Hollenbach taking down Tom Thurston on one of the initial turns.  An elite pack broke away early and included Tom, Tyler Magnan, Damian Bolduc, Jake Hollenback, Kirk Siegel, Ian Blair, and a couple Portland High School kids.  They cranked out the first couple of kilometers changing positions and keeping the pace high with aggressive racing.  As we crested the first major hill and got to the competition loop breathing was labored and the cards had been shown.  Well, one had another in his hand.  As we got to the main part of the course, Tom looked back to see the carnage in his wake winked with a half smile, and fired up his Jet Pack.  It was the last we would see of him as he skied away from the already exhausted elite field.  The pack splintered apart and Tom took command early and remained untouchable.

Meanwhile, Bethel’s Brad Clarke chugged through, bridging from the main field to join Kirk who was skiing with Tyler.  Mark White, Mike Kavanaugh were at the front of the field skiing hard with a few in view to chase.  As the race played out, Dhyan Nirmegh had hot skis and skied up through the field with Portland Nordic’s Elissa Bradley.  He would overtake Mansfield’s Mark White who had nothing to counter as Nirmegh had the magic wax of the day, along with the proper skill.  Lary Martell was also on the move, picking up Ian Blair who had fallen off the pace earlier in the race.  Lary was back in form over last year.  Some working and recreating out west gave him good preparation for the days conditions.  Rick Kelley had a good race with Mt. Washington’s Donovan Freeman.  They were back and forth but Freeman was able to outlast Rick and take a lead on the final climb.  Sarah Pribram, Jonathan Rodd and Perry Bland were all hovering around a skier that was requested to remain un-named.  No matter the off course persona, this skier is a tough, trash-talking competitor in the time between the gun and the finish.  Sarah felt the lingering effects of last weekend’s Craftsbury Marathon early on during the race.  She was not alone as fatigued arms presented to many of the racers early on.  Jonathan latched onto Sarah and was happy to finish the tough race.  Perry was happy with his race and skis.  He started slow and worked his way through the field eventually picking up Brennan Shuttle and offering his expertise to the young skier.  Brennan simply was not prepared to comprehend the difficulty of the day.  Brennan was warned but lacked the experience gained Saturday on course.  He was happy to be finishing and has a new appreciation for Club Racing.  While beautiful conditions, it was challenging and tiring and pacing was important.  Something provided by trusted mentor Perry… to a point.  Jessica Bolduc continued her season’s long competition against VTXC’s Carried Nourjian.  Unfortunately as the end was coming into sight on the last lap Jessica fell aggravating an old shoulder injury.  Jessica skied in with Gordan Scannell of Schussverein.  While most people were amazed by the snow and the spiritual experience the race was, there was one curmudgeon who either woke on the wrong side of the bed, or put on their grumpy pants for Saturday’s Race.  This racer declared that they were going straight to the car as they crested the final climb.  The spouse of the aforementioned unmentionable skier was spotted doing just that as they took off their skis and stomped across the parking lot to car.  Not everyone was having a fun day, but Camille Bolduc was.  She started conservatively and worked her way through the 10km field.  She targeted those wearing the 10km bibs and reeled them in.  She was very happy saying it was a perfect day, winning the Junior division.  Joanie Kavanaugh and Cipperly Good held off the club’s competition from the CSU masters’ men contingent.  Joanie wished the race was only two laps, but finished all three anticipating delivery on the bribe offered to compete for the club.  Cipperly has been on the rebound after a month with the flu.  Her training has also suffered from the snowmobile decline.  She now has to snowshoe and pack her own trails to ski on the following day!

Tom skied away from everyone winning by four and a half minutes.  Jake Hollenbach would take second with Kirk and Tyler close behind.  It was a Thurston kind of day.  Ava Thurston, skiing for Mansfield, won the 3km BKL, out pacing the field of boys and girls by a slightly smaller margin of 3 seconds.
It was a great showing by NWVE in Maine on Saturday.  There were a few hiccups, but for the most part the club enjoyed some great skiing in great conditions.  All were satisfied as most enjoyed a recovery drink and burger at the Sunday River Brewery.  Service was much improved over last year.  The tales traded were tall and jolly.  So what was the magic wax of the day?  Simple, old fashioned Swix Extra Blue out kicked everything else by far. 

Damian

Craftsbury Marathon 2015

1/31/2015

It was another great day of skiing Saturday in Craftsbury.  The crew and volunteers did an amazing job preparing the race course and hosting the event.  Despite frigid temps hovering around zero skiers and volunteers enthusiastically made the event one to remember.  Certainly everyone was using any excuse to keep moving and I am sure many got a solid nights rest after participating in the race, or doing hours of the volunteer shuffle for warmth.

The anticipated warming trend arrived with the skiers in the early morning hours.  Perhaps a degree or two and wind holding off, turned out to be the razor thin margin needed to avoid cancellation of the race.  It was a very close call but the Race Delegate gave the organizers the green light and the event was held as planned.

The main chatter of the day was the temperature.  Mild January weather plunged into the negatives overnight and barely rebounded by start time.  The sun was shining providing a little solar warmth, but temps remained at zero.  The race course was modified to provide as much shelter as possible protecting racers from wind.  The track was set perfectly and was primarily packed powder.  Kick was not a problem with Green, Mint or VR30.

The course took racers from the lower stadium to the upper field around Murphy’s Field, back to Race Loop via Round-a-Lot, and Round-a-Bit, out Elinor’s, then Bailey Hazen to Ruthie’s, back to Race Loop and finishing up Wilbur’s climb before heading back into the stadium.  Two cut-offs were utilized; one eliminating a herring bone section on Bailey Hazen and the other bypassing Screamin’ Mimi.  The consensus was that these were very humane considerations.

Racers got underway with a few broken poles and crashes as to be expected in a mass start like this.  Waves of Men, Women, High School and Tour-ers departed the stadium like clockwork making it an all inclusive event.  Mixing the distances within waves seems to be an advantage as the Half Marathon participants help pull the full Marathoners.  As the race progresses it gets busy the second lap, but is very lonely by the final, unfortunately where a little company is most needed.  This tests the fortitude of individuals as they press onward to the finish isolated from what is ahead and behind them.

NWVE athletes looked to have mostly good starts.  A crash on the narrow trail to Murphy’s field split the pack with Eric Tremble, Tom Thurston, Damian Bolduc, and twenty others gapping the main body of the field early in the race.  Ski speed would soon define smaller groups as the race got underway.  While none felt they had fast skis, it certainly played a role on the challenging course.  Eric Darling and James Donegan paired up with Luke Schullenberger close behind.  Mike Kavanaugh was also in a good group with a few 25km racers.  Brendan Barden back from the West Coast assembled his equipment registered day of and took 22 minutes off last year’s time.  Amazing what a little kick and do for you!  Tyler Magnan was among these racers as well doing the 50km but was pulled and opted out of the 4th lap due to frostbite.

The 25km race was more closely contested.  Many of the racers paced the 50km field.  Several also opted to do the reduced distance due to the temperatures.  A sign of their wisdom.  Stephen Wright was the first NWVE finisher in the 25km.  He was happy with place in the race and thought the conditions were amazing.  Next in for the club were our Masters’ Nationals M7 Racers.  Dyhan Nirmegh was hoping for a good Nationals this year and was pleased to pick up a spot moving into third place for M7 behind Chris Nice and Keith Woodward.  Leigh Mallory was truly torn between doing the 50 and the 25 despite the National Race for M7 being the half.  The weather swayed him into the shorter option and he had an excellent top 20 result skiing with a great group including Tom Strasser, Donovan Freeman, as well as teammates Rick Kelly and Allen Mead.  Leigh also picked up a place in the Masters overall moving into 4th.  Rick and Allen were happy with their races.  The dynamics helped them turn in some good results keeping them on for the whole race.  They each took 2nd in their respective categories.  Following in the steps of Leigh, Perry Bland also opted for the shorter race.  By doing so Perry got another Masters’ National Podium for NWVE placing second in the M8 division.  He had good company during the race with Ford Sayre racers Jonathan Chaffee and David Loney.  Kyle Darling like many in the club moved up a notch on the results page over last weekend at Jackson.  Although a much longer effort he preferred the more gradual stride-able climbs over last week’s scrambles earning second place in his age group!

Most of the NWVE women had a good start.  Sarah Pribram, Jessica Bolduc, and Liz Hollenbach were cruising by when Kasie Enman realized she was in the wrong place.  Kasie had to ski from the lodge to the start and chase.  Sarah was out with the elite pack while Jessica and Liz started a little more conservatively.  Liz was worried about how much the race would hurt due not training so much, but felt the good kick would only help.  Jessica was impressed with the people she overtook on her way to claiming first in her division.  GMVS standout Olivia Cuneo among them.  Though she was only doing it as a training ski, it counts!  Sarah and Kasie would continue on in the 50km.

For all racers after the excitement of the first 25km the race took a turn for the lonely.  While truly pristine classic skiing, you had to work.  For many, the final two laps, you had to work alone drawing only from within, as fatigue set in.  Racers also had to contest with the cold.  Occasionally being pulled to have their faces warmed, or ordered to cover it up.  This broke apart some packs, but was the responsible and safe thing to do.  Tom Thurston cranked it up on the final lap advancing many spots to take 12th overall.  This effort moved him up in the Masters’ Championships, perhaps to the Silver Medal behind Brayton Osgood.  Eric T. got pulled for frost bite treatment costing him valuable time, but still earning second in his division and moving up in the Masters’ Overall as well.  Damian had a diverse race chasing for a lap, skiing in a nice group for a lap and then bringing it home solo for two.  He was happy with his Nationals and at least held position from Thursday if not moving up a spot or two.  Eric Darling had a different race.  Skiing with good company for three laps and then skiing though several spent racers on the last lap.  He yielded a spot from Thursday but may still have remained in the top 10.  James, Mike, Luke and Brendan were truly exhausted by the end of the race.  Mike sporting a ferocious beard-sicle was popular with the camera phone paparazzi after the race.  Luke did not have too much to say fit for publishing.  Hopefully in retrospect he feels a little better about the effort.  James was satisfied with the effort despite seriously questioning taking the fourth lap.  For the women Sarah went on to win her age group and stay on the podium for Nationals.  Kasie rebounded nicely also winning her age group earning another Nationals age group podium for the club!

While it was beautiful skiing, you had to work for it.  It was the perfect balance making for a very rewarding experience.  Craftsbury did an excellent job monitoring the field keeping cold skiers out of trouble.  The staff on the course was outstanding and probably had the harder job making sure we all had fun.  The club did very well.  It will be interesting to see how all the results shake out for Nationals, Zak and Club as they get compiled.  NWVE certainly stepped it up with many moving up the results page.  A testament to our heartiness on a day that required dedication and a hard effort.


Damian

US Masters' National Championship

Craftsbury Outdoor Center 1/29/2015

10K Freestyle

Results

NWVE had a huge showing in Day 1 of the US Masters’ National Championship garnering the attention of the race organizers as well every other club competing.  Skiing was as good as it gets and racers took full advantage.  Craftsbury Outdoor Center went above and beyond rolling out the red carpet and treating the international field of 150 competitors to an experience fit for skiing royalty!

Conditions were perfect.  Temps had warmed into the mid twenties and the track was prepared to be firm and fast.  There was a slight overcast and a mild breeze barely detectable on a few spots on the course.  The course was a demanding single loop that challenged racers start to finish keeping them right at threshold while tempting them to go into the red.  It followed Craftsbury’s Race Loop but at the bottom of Kirby’s Downhill took skiers out Ruthie’s Run, back to Race Loop, up Screamin’ Mimi to coaches corner and finished it out on Lemon’s.  “The entire course had to be skied” exclaimed Mansfield/Rossignol’s JoAnn Hanowski after the race.

The race started in age based waves.  With a ringing of the bell racers were off.  Racing was intense.  Skiers quickly paired off into smaller groups that would find themselves digging deep to stay united.  Screamin’ Mimi, as intended by design was the deciding factor the final blow to these groups and sorted the finish order.  Who would give up position after surmounting that hill.  There is still plenty of course left, but racing is reduced to focus management as athletes are running on less than fumes by that point.

Eli Enman took the lead for good on the climb edging Manhattan’s Sproule Love for the overall win.  Brayton Osgood of Putney was able to gap Eric Tremble and Simon Premoze (Mill Valley, CA) on a big power section of Ruthie’s.  Eric and Simon would finish almost side by side with Eric ahead by a tenth of a second.  Eric Darling bore the brunt of Brayton’s move and lost contact with the group skiing solo unable to bridge back on.  Damian Bolduc and Luke Shullenberger were shelled off the front pack at around the 2km mark.  They continued to work together until midway through the race when Damian surged attempting to catch Eric D. after a long pull by Luke.  Kevin Duniho made his debut racing for the club finding good company with Daniel Voisin (ORS) and Mark Isselhardt (Craftsbury).  Kevin dropped them on the final climb opening a nice lead before the finish.

Wave two had almost 3 times as many skiers as wave one.  Tom Thurston would break away early and ski with Manhattan’s Tim Donahue.  They stayed together for most of the race with Tim getting the advantage on that crucial spot, Screamin’ Mimi.  These two caught and overtook several racers from wave one.  Mike Kavanaugh had a great result skiing in one of the largest packs to stay together with Bradford Bates (Dublin), Roger Prevot and Chris Bean (ORS).  These guys have all been posting some impressive results all season.  Rick Kelley found himself between two packs of M6 racers, but not alone.  He had the second closest sprint of the day against David Birrell.  The M6 division was probably the most tightly contested of the day with the top three separated by only 9 seconds.  Ford Sayre’s Rick Powell edged Mansfield’s Rick Costanza by 2 seconds and CSU’s Rob Bradlee was right within striking distance.

There was no shortage of contention in wave three.  Dhyan Nirmegh and Leigh Mallory had their work cut out for them with Chris Nice (Ford Sayre), Charlie Gunn (Mount Washington) and Keith Woodward (Craftsbury).  Oddly both Dhyan and Leigh were on skis not prepared by themselves.  The competition did not end with the M7’s.  The M8’s skied with a vengeance after the bruising issued by Doug Armstrong last weekend at Jackson.  Donavan Freeman, Jud Hartmann and John Lazenby all outpaced Doug considerably.

In the women’s wave Sarah Pribram was the lone NWVE racer.  She and JoAnn quickly caught some of the Men’s wave turning Kirby’s Downhill into an obstacle course.  The calamity of these men left one observer shouting that “this is Masters’ Nationals, not a lollipop race!” as they were tripping over each other at Coaches Corner.  Sarah and JoAnn skied through it all with grace.  On the final climb Sarah held a narrow lead and knew if she could hold it over the top she could hang on to the finish.  She did taking Second overall for the Women!

Other notable finishes were Jon Chaffee of Ford Sayre taking the M9 division by close to 3 minutes.  Not to be out done, CSU’s Sara Mae Berman won the Women’s M10 by about 5:30.  But settle down, the day’s most definitive Champion was Bob Gray demolishing the Men’s M10 by a mere 9 minutes and change.  Age Graded his time would have given him a 25:16…

Post race we were treated with a nice awards ceremony and light fare.  NWVE got many mentions with age group placing and Eli taking the Men’s overall.  Sarah was second overall for Women.  Our top ten overall tally for the day was 6!  Masters’ Nationals continues on Saturday at the Craftsbury Marathon.  Top Three in each category will be awarded for the Marathon and the top 3 for each category for races combined will be named to the Masters’ National Team!  NWVE looks very strong heading into the main event!

Congratulations to all who participated!

Damian

White Mountain Classic

 

1/24/2015

 

Results


White Mountain Classic
NWVE had another excellent showing at the White Mountain Classic.  Since the first edition of this race, NWVE has always had very strong performances in Jackson.  This year’s race was pulled off in challenging conditions and the crew at Jackson did an excellent job preparing the course.  Teams stacked their rosters for the one day Club Championship and a close race went down to the wire drawing deep into the clubs’ talent.
After an easy drive over, conditions were rather mild at the venue.  Cloudy skies, light wind and temps in the low twenties made for fairly pleasant waxing.  Unfortunately we were applying Klister, but things were going smoothly.  The course was the same as we have done the last few years, doing only two loops on the Eagle Mountain Trails instead of three.  This shortened the course to about 21km, but with a busy week ahead, most were fine with the adjustment.  The tracks were fast with granular over ice.  The course also held up well to the skiers and was very skiable.
People tested many combinations of wax, from straight hard wax to straight Klister.  Some went with a Klister covered, but most settled on Blue or Purple Klister to race on.  No one complained of their wax after the race so things must have been working well. The forecasted rapid warm up did not happen and temps stayed quite stable during the race.
NWVE seemed not to have any problems lining up.  It was nice not to have to wear your warm-ups to the start nor have worry about them blowing away!  The starter gave some brief instructions and racers got into starting position.  He announced one minute to go and suddenly there was a big sigh as everyone returned to at ease position.  “30 to go…,10” everyone back in position and a clean start on go.  The start of this race is always a shock with the long double pole, about a mile if you think about it.  Skiers quickly organized into smaller competitive packs and the race was on!
The top three broke away early in the race.  Eli Enman joined Senior Men, Keith Kantack of Jackson, and Chris Ziegler of VTXC in the elite pack.  Meanwhile the field behind them blew apart relatively quickly.  Small packs formed early and held their members relatively well throughout the race.  Eric Tremble and Tom Thurston were on the wrong end of a split that took place up the first climb.  Frank Feist CSU pulled away with Spencer Knickerbocker (VTXC), and Caleb Lucy (Jackson) built just enough of a lead early in the race to prevent contact from the group following.  Eric and Tom were the strongest skiers in the next pack that would eventually peel off Chris Bean (ORS) and Kirk Siegel (Bethel Outing Club) on the second lap.  Eric Darling made a smart move about a mile into the race latching onto CSU’s John Sakalowski and Bethel Outing’s Brad Clarke.  Damian quickly regretted holding back opting to ski with CSU’s Robert Bradlee, Alex Jospe and Bethel Outing’s Ian Blair.  Ed Hamilton was also chasing alone just off the back of this group.  Luke Schullenberger found himself alone most of the race.  A bit further back one of the largest packs in the race was filled with NWVE and CSU.  Dhyan Nirmegh, Pavel Dvorak and Jonathan Rodd were in a tough race with CSU’s Greg Werner and James Doucett.  This pack had ORS’s Daniel Voisin running scared as this crew kept the heat on with aggressive racing.  Mike Kavanaugh was receiving the Jonathan Chaffee treatment as he worked his way up through the field.  Jonathan can really latch on to someone and once he does it is nearly impossible to shake him.  Sarah Pribram was also in this mix skiing with CSU’s Robert Faltus much of the race.  Kyle Darling (M3) found himself in the midst of a contentious M8 race with Doug Armstrong (Mt. Washington), John Lazenby (ORS), Jud Hartman (Grafton) and Perry Bland.  All great people off the course, but vicious competitors during the race.  It is being in a pack like this that makes you realize you are in the middle of something bigger than yourself, that has been going on longer than you have been alive.  Jessica Bolduc had another close race with VTXC’s Carrie Nourjian.  These two were close in the results at the Bogburn.  Maya Smith made the trip over and found company with David Hosmer (SNOC) for much of the race.  Cipperly Good was happy that a race was finally going off and that she had recovered enough from the flu to participate.  Let’s hope her bad luck streak with race cancellations and illness is over!
As the race unfolded many of the groupings stayed together.  Eli applied the slow burn to other two in the elite pack wearing them down and cruising in for the overall win with a comfortable margin.  Eric and Tom raced each other to the line unable to rein in Frank Feist.  Post race, Frank stated that the 13.1 mile 30KM was his favorite race distance.  Eric Darling was reeling in his competition but pushed it a little too hard coming down the Yodel and crashed knocking his low back out of alignment.  Damian who had David Herr in his rear-view mirror held him off skiing it in with Dennis Page of Windblown.  Ed Hamilton and Luke Schullenberger finished out the day between packs skiing through those that could not hold the pace, but unable to catch those locked in.  Dan Voisin scrambled across the finish line with the NWVE crew of Nirmegh, Jonathan and Pavel closing in fast.  Mike Kavanaugh was finally able to put a few seconds between him and Jonathan Chaffee on the flats before the finish.  Sarah moved up as these two pulled through but could not hang on all the way to the finish.  Doug Armstrong pulled away from Kyle and the M8’s in the last quarter of the race showing he is back in form, as tactical as ever and can put on a show on the home course.  Kyle was happy with his finish time as it was much improved over last year’s.   Perry was a little miffed about being 4th place for his category, but was glad that if he did not win, that Doug did.  Jessica and  Carrie raced all the way to the line.  Jessica picked up a few valuable seconds by overtaking a skier more timid than her coming down Yodel and avoiding a crash.  Maja was closing on Dave Hosmer at the end, but ran out of course before she could catch him.  Cipperly finished satisfied that she had not been lapped by certain people, happy that there was someone to crack open a Powerade for her, and glad to be done.  
NWVE had some very strong results and much improvement from last year’s race on the same course.  It was certainly a fun race and should set things up nicely for next weekend at Craftsbury.  At the awards ceremony the highly anticipated results were announced.  
"The One-Day Club Championship was decided by a razor-thin margin," said James Drew, a competitor and member of the 1-Day Club Championship scoring committee. "The Cambridge Sports Union Men placed 4 men first in their age category to win, but that "Perfect Four" only barely nosed out North West Vermont Endurance. Two smaller clubs, Bethel Outing of Maine and Onion River of Vermont, each sent a carefully selected four men and wound up in an unbreakable tie for third. On the women's side, CSU completed a sweep by again edging NWVE, but their competition was so close it was decided by tiebreaker, which itself depended on a difference of a single age-place!"
Reflecting on what happened on Saturday it is clear CSU was on a mission.  It seemed that in spite of huge numbers there was a stronger motivation to do well.  There was a presence that gave them the edge, to win the final sprints and to finish as if their pride/hide depended on it.  Looking into the history of the club, the championship and what was at stake, all conclusions lead to one couple.  Larry and Sara Mae Berman.  Their long history with CSU demands the utmost respect in itself.  They wanted this Championship to return to Boston, and perhaps more as the CSU machine has been fielding impressive results and numbers.  The motivation of the members is twofold. Not only because the Berman’s want it, but because they are out there doing their part to get it done.  Certainly Larry and Sara Mae could have been doing what most other M10s and M11s do, and the icy conditions were certainly a risk for anyone, compounded for those their age.  But the Berman’s were there, doing what needed to be done, and cracking the whip on any CSU member that thought they might slack off a bit.  Imagine the consequences of not winning the Club One Day Championship because of your performance after the Berman’s had done their part! Sara toiling away for over 3 hours, while others had packed up and left knowing “if you stop, you don’t win.”  CSU is beatable, but in order to do this each club must find their inner Berman and use it!
Congratulations to CSU and all the clubs for the outstanding race on Saturday!

Damian


Bogburn 
1/10/2015
Results: BKL
         Men

It was good to have the gang back together again.  Not just NWVE, but all of the hearty NENSA enthusiasts that come out for the annual Bogburn.  The crew was up from Ford Sayre, Cheryl Carlson strong after having to take most of last season off.  Mansfield Nordic sent down a few more racers than usual. The collegiate and high school contingent were out in full force.  Plus we must be thankful to CSU for hosting their race in our state!
 
This year’s Bogburn lived up to the tradition we have come to know over the years.  It is a special race early in the season to test our abilities with a technical course and grueling hills.  It is an event that comes as an acquired taste.  It has a good showing, but it seems those with fewer Bogburns under their belt do not appreciate it as much as those with many.  It is not so much an age thing either.  The youngsters that started as lolipoppers and have worked their way through the age groups cannot wait for the race.  But the first timers of any age do not really come away from the Bogburn with a great feeling.   It is truly a tough race and I have always said that just finishing the Bogburn will take 10 minutes off your Craftsbury Marathon time.  The skills renewed and the shock to the system acquired from competing in this race carry you further than those of any other race.
 
Camille and I arrived early for the Bill Koch races.  We pulled into lots filled by a record numbers of young racers.  The first words uttered to me were “it’s ice marbles out there, you have to Klister."  While it was not out of the question, Klister is generally off the table for me on a cold day with even a trace of powder.  The 3 inches that had fallen the day before were more than sufficient to stay away from the stuff.  The BKL races were only 2.5km and those with stick binder were not converted.   Camille tested her skis and was happy.  I waxed up a few other kids’ skis and then went out for a lap.  Blue wax was working as expected for me.  Some of the kids did come back with shiny bases.  A testament to why you should prepare your bases.  Parents and coaches worked together to get them all out on time with good skis.  They came back happy to be done, anxious for awards and ready to go someplace warmer. 
 
Camille looked great skiing with good kick and form.  Though she was frozen and had a mishap out of site on the course with another skier.  She skied hard and was ready for some shelter at the finish.  She was not too pleased with her effort.   Ava and Julia Thurston were also certain they had so-so races.  It was unusual conditions and difficult to feel like you had your feet under you.  The tracks were basically obliterated and the course surface was inconsistent.  Making the transitions for younger skiers was difficult.  All fared well. Ava won her division, Camille was third.  Julia was on the young end of the spectrum for her division, but happy that Mansfield teammate Esther Cuneo took top honors.

For the adult races the course was the usual minus the initial kilometer with the hairpin turn.  Feelings were mixed on the omission, but conditions were thin and organizers decided to leave it out for this year.  The temps remained in the low teens, it was sunny and a light wind kept a chill on in the open areas.  The course surface was mostly packed powder and ice cookies with some windblown areas, as well as icy areas, and everything in between.   Any shade of blue wax was working.  Some opted to cover blue klister, others not.  It was interesting to see people coming in and out and hearing the wax reports. They were often tied to their feelings about the course. The thing that was difficult was that approaching the stadium from the course was more exposed and icy, so nothing really worked there.  So those with the attitude that nothing was going to work everywhere seemed happy and optimistic, others were discouraged.  Jenn Carlson was notably happy not to have to re-wax her skis, liking the NWVE call for green binder and VR30.  It was simple and worked.  A lot of people went with it, some jumped to VR40 and others tinkered more, but basically ended up with the same stuff.  One of the strangest occurrences was when Tom Thurston took his klister off, and Perry Bland put klister on!  A reversal of what we have seen many times in the past. 
 
Racing got underway and NWVE had athletes throughout the start order. Sarah Pribram and Jenn Carlson were back to back in the start order making a notable match-up. The two remained in visual contact for much of the race with only a minute separating them at the finish.  Jessica Bolduc was the next NWVE starter followed closely by Camille Bolduc, stepping up for her second race of the day.  Jessica did not attack the course, but skied well and was pleasantly surprised with her result.  She actually experienced what we enjoy at the Bogburn for once!  Camille was a bit apprehensive about the whole day, but some encouraging words from a Dartmouth skier at the start helped psyche her up for the race.  Camille opted to go easy, perhaps a smart thing to do to get acquainted with the course for future Bogburns.  She was also interested to see CSU’s Sara Mae Berman whom we had studied a bit in The Boston Marathon book.  Camille thought she was very nice!  Hannah Barden had fun with the race as well and was psyched with making the podium for her age group and earning the club some points, as well as holding off Camille.  Unfortunately Cipperly Good was not able to compete due to having come down with the flu.  Other notable Masters were CSU’s Alex Jospe who recently became an M1 so watch for her in the Zak overall competition now.  Mansfield JoAnn Hanowski and Rosemary Shea-Cobb were also enthusiastic racers, not to mention Ford Sayre’s Cheryl Carlson who did tremendous work mobilizing and supporting Nordic skiers in the Upper Valley while out for the season last year with a broken hand.  As stated above it was great to see everyone out having a great time at a great event.
 
NWVE had a large group of Men come out for yet another Bogburn.  It seemed the start order was dominated by our ranks in the first twenty-five starters.  There were 7 of us starting within 3 minutes of each other setting the stage for some good battles.  Mike Kavanaugh and Jon Miller had Brendan Barden to chase.  Mike was able to overtake him from 30 seconds back while Jon stalked him all the way to the finish line.  Brendan barely held Jon off.  This was Jon’s first Classic Race ever.  Hopefully he still feels good about skiing after this and having his first EC experience earlier in the season.  It should be all downhill after surviving these two races.  Andre Bolduc was coming off a huge victory in the sibling rivalry division with Damian Bolduc after the upset at the Alumni Race.  Although today’s delta was on the order of 13 minutes in favor of Damian (1 minute/km), Alumni Race Bragging rights are guaranteed for at least a year.  Damian was also in another good Club Grudge Match with Eric Darling and Ed Hamilton.  These three have swapped places over the years at the Bogburn and all started and finished within a minute of each other.  Eric quickly seized the lead, psyching out Damian while Ed closed in. Damian kept Eric within range and held off the pass from Ed by skiing a much cleaner second lap.  In the results Eric took the Bogburn among the three this year with Ed in second and Damian a close third. Tyler Magnan, who was also in this grouping in the results, had a later start.  He was impressed with how quickly Onion River’s Chris Bean caught him.  Tyler likes the Bogburn because “just when you are feeling pretty good about yourself blowing by some much lower numbers, someone (like NWVE’s top finisher Tom Thurston) blows by you to remind you of your place in the scheme of things.”  Tom had an excellent race going against Ford Sayre’s Chris Nice, Chris Bean and CSU’s Frank Feist.  This should set up an interesting White Mountain Classic in a couple of weeks with the mass start.  Rick Kelley and Dhyan Nirmegh had a close race start to finish as well.  Nirmegh had difficulty rounding the last corner for the second race in a row.  He was sprinting in and hit an icy patch losing his balance just before the finish. He got up, finished and brushed it off.  He was also able to hold off Ford Sayre’s Jonathan Chaffee.  Rick experienced what most of us felt during the race.  He was a little too cautious on the corners and did not trust the berms much.   He tried taking the inside thinking they looked a little soft, but ended up sliding to the outside on some of the tricky turns.  Mansfield’s Mark White and Rick Costanza were also mixed in with this group.  At the finish Mark and gained substantially on Perry Bland, but Perry caught a glimpse of him in the final kilometer of the course and committed to holding his position to the end. Perry should be happy with his race he is now an M8 and in a sweet spot where he does not have to compete with Chris Nice or Jonathan Chaffee in his division.  He held off Donavan Freeman and Don Haggerty for the M8 win while coming off a stubborn cold.

After the race, a much deserved stop at Worthy Burger refueled the team as well as a few of our friends from Mansfield, SNOC and ORS.  While dining an announcement was made that the results were in.  NWVE had 8 age group winners!   A free round of High Fives was on the house for the feat!  The staff did not know what the Bogburn is, but clearly it was something to enjoy and celebrate at Worthy Burger.  Our results should move us into a narrow lead over CSU in the Club Series. Another big turnout at the Geschmossel should widen our lead before CSU’s favorite race, the White Mountain Classic.

Damian

Thanks Sarah for some of the photos!
BFA Alumni Citizens Race
1/3/2015

I was once taught to imagine what you are looking for and then you will see it.  Such was the sprint course for today's BFA Alumni Race. It seemed as though there was only one meadow in Franklin County blanketed in white.  Just a small wedge tucked on a north facing hillside protected by maples and larger hills around. Strong overnight winds blew away much of the new accumulations that made the course. Several volunteers scraped what snow was left and shored up the base that remained after the wind sweeping and the race was on.


The course was two laps. Scott put so many twists and turns into the course to make even the “master of mazes” John Morton envious. It is the Alumni Race and there is an agenda to win. The surface was a thin base of frozen granular and a light dusting of powder that froze to it.  Grass poked through, but looked worse than it was. Shovelers did their best to keep things covered for the sprints.


An even number of men and women competed.  Three waves of six of each gender contested the preliminaries. The top two advanced to the A finals, middle two to the B, and the final two to the C finals. The winners of the B and C final advanced to the next respective final. There was a good contingent of NWVE athletes present to volunteer and race.


For the women Kathy Kjelleren, Savannah Crossman, Rachael Shepardson-Rudden, Camille Bolduc and Jessica Bolduc got things started.  Savannah cruised easily to the A final from her wave.  Rachael faced challenges from the start with boot issues (despite a personal Duct Tape consultation from Dhyan Nirmegh) and a crash at the start.  Jessica, Camille and Kathy went 1,2 and 3 in their wave respectively.


Things were very competitive on the men’s side in the preliminaries.  Thomas Clayton (UVM Nordic Club) squeaked out a narrow win over St. Michael’s skier Cody Putnam.  Scott Magnan had a fairly easy pass to the A Final.  Brennan Shuttle was a distant second holding off some high school skiers and went on to the A Final as well.  Nirmegh was in a tight race and lost a position on the final turn putting him in the B Final.  Perry was in the most contentious wave advancing to the C final.  Tyler Magnan won the final preliminary heat with André Bolduc and Damian Bolduc taking 3 and 4 and moving to the B Final.  Mike Mashtare also advanced to the B Final.  To say the least, things were very exciting setting up some good grudge matches, sibling rivalries and risky racing.


No NWVE Women were in the C Final. Perry was in a league of his own in the Men’s C Final.  He used his technique and experience to his advantage and took the win against a much younger field advancing to the B Final. 


In the Women’s B Final Kathy, and Rachael broke out and raced each other to see who could win and advance to the women’s A Final.  Rachael had the edge after further Duct Tape reinforcements on her boots. She also needed redemption after such a poor qualifier and being an assistant coach.


The Men’s B Final was almost pure NWVE.  Perry joined André, Damian, Nirmegh, Mike, and a lone BFA skier for a race that was sure to be a scramble.  Nirmegh and Damian took it out hard.  Damian took an initial lead by mostly double poling up the first hill.  He went too wide on an icy turn at the top of the course and Nirmegh snuck inside for the lead.  André patiently stalked with Mike staying in contact. It was anybody’s race.  Damian kept the pressure on Nirmegh. At the bottom of the course Nirmegh caught an edge going down for the second time of the day on the inside of the u-turn.  Damian cruised into first and André and Mike got around the crash as well.  Nirmegh rebounded and closed again.  At the top of the course it looked like Damian had the race.  Things were not over.  André gained on the final downhill and executed a perfect final turn wowing the crowd near the finish.  Damian heard the chatter, but it was too late, André’s momentum carried him through, winning the B Final, putting another tally in the win column against Damian and advancing to the A final. 


The A Final’s were decided. Savannah, Jessica, Camille and Rachael represented NWVE in the Women’s A Final along with Maria Magnan and Holly Yandow of BFA.  Savannah took an early lead, while Camille got completely boxed out at the start.  Jessica advanced through the field to second place on the first climb but wiped out on the turn at the top of the hill losing 3 places.  Rachael skied on the tails of the BFA girls she coaches.  Jessica recovered and blocked a pass attempt by Camille.  On the second lap the top three spread out and Savannah skied in to a solid win.  Jessica closed and was able to retake Rachael at the top of the course holding on for 4th place.   


The Men’s A Final was the last race of the day.  The line-up looked interesting.  As usual it was an interesting mix of Alumni joined by one citizen dressed in their respective uniforms.  Scott Tyler and Brennan in NWVE, Thomas in UVM, Cody in Saint Michael’s, André in Clarkson/NWVE/EABC and a lone BFA skier.  The race was started by The Boss, Mike Cain.  Scott charged out of the gate exhibiting that he owned this course.  Thomas was in close pursuit.  Cody and Tyler got a little mixed up and André was clearly gassed by his route to the A Final.  Brennan was outmatched and exclaimed he was not enjoying the experience.  Scott was in charge until he showed a sign of weakness on the second lap climb.  He broke form and went into a V1.  Thomas pushed Scott outside on the turn at the top of the hill and powered ahead on the top of the course.  Tyler had made up ground and was contesting the winners by this point as well.  Tyler tried to make an inside move at the top of the course but Scott countered with a block.  Thomas took a lesson from André on the final turn, carrying his momentum through and winning the A Final.  Scott held off Tyler with another block.  Tyler took 3rd, Cody was a few seconds back coasting into 4th.


It was an exciting Alumni Race with a great turnout.  Scott made great use of the limited snow, having practiced on it all week and hosting a race on the razor thin conditions.  All were pleased that they attended and the race had something for everyone!  Catamounts took both the Men’s and Women’s overall in a race that has been trending toward the SLU Saints in the past.


Damian

Frost Mountain Eastern Cup
12/20-12/21/2014
Day 1:
The story really starts the day before day one.  Friday was course preview day and many were anxious to see what was in store for the weekend.  At 3 PM the course opened for preview and skiers and coaches took to the tracks to see what wax was working and what condition the course was in.  Friday, any wax was working, and the course was sketchy.  I felt by the time I would get to the course on Saturday it would be a 2013 Romance Half Marathon experience.  Coverage was not as thin, but things seemed a little rough and there was not much time to improve them before the big race.
Saturday rolled around and 1-2 inches of new snow had fallen at Rikert.  The groomers had worked hard and the course was greatly improved.  It was certainly a pleasant surprise.  It was a beautiful day to ski and people got right to work testing wax.  With the sun and volume of skiers it is never too early to figure out what to race on.  Some wait, but then they scramble and seem to miss the wax because they ask someone who tested 90 minutes earlier and are not going to race anyway.  My approach on a day like this is to see what the warmest thing I can get away with is right away and go with that.  One of the interesting things about Saturday was that just about anything in the purple/red range was working.  One of the most interesting test results compared VR50 to KR50 and the result was that they could not tell the difference!  Some were putting on a thick layer of Klister and covering, others straight Klister and some straight hard wax.  A thin layer of spray on Klister binder and then ToKo Red did the trick for me. 
The race was a 15 second interval start 5km for women and 10km for men.  People were happy that they were racing on a continuous 5km loop in December, a thing not done in some time.  The course was very challenging with 3 long unrelenting climbs and thrilling descents.  It was challenging with very little double pole, plenty of technical turns and no recovery.  It was all skiable, but a few spots had you clenching your teeth and hoping your skis would ride the berm.
NWVE had an excellent showing.  Kicking things off was a first time racer.  Embracing the champion’s code “Go Big or Go Home”  Dee Barbic chose this eastern cup to be her first race.  While her overall placing was something many in this club are familiar with at an Eastern Cup (including myself), she won her division!  She was happy she got through it and now knows what one of the hardest races there is, feels like.   On the Men’s side of things three accepted Leigh Mallory’s added incentive:  “I'll have a cold six pack ready for the first 5 in line after the race.”  Damian Bolduc and Allen Mead were up for the challenge.  Damian drew a mid-field start position while Leigh and Allen were at the tail end of the start order.  The course held up very well and skiers were happy they raced.  More than a few rivalries took an interesting twist.  Cody Putnam racing for St. Michael’s had an impressive result moving considerably up the results page over last year, and bettering Damian by almost a minute.  Damian got a little payback on Bradford Bates who edged him at Quarry Road.  Leigh took advantage of a wrong turn by Rick Costanza (Mansfield) putting 2.2 seconds on him.  An intra-club rivalry between Allen and Len Amblo has begun with 9 seconds separating the two.  Both back from a racing hiatus, we hope to see more of you both as the season progresses!
Leigh did not have the six pack, but was buying recovery brews at the Waybury Inn for those interested.  For many this was the first time skiing in tracks this season, and most were pleased with the effort.
Day 2:
On Sunday a new batch of NWVE skiers joined Damian for day two of the Eastern Cup. The course was the same, but distances increased 5km.  The sun gave way to clouds and light snow fell throughout the day.  The course was still holding up, but the previous days beating was evident, the falling snow helped.  It also slowed things down a bit.  Starts were a little confusing as the day started out.  The BKL event was on tap first.  Wave starts for Lollipop racers followed by two year age categories got the day started.  It will not be long before this generation of skiers will be contesting the main event and it appears the sport is getting stronger and stronger.  Big results came from Craftsbury, Ford Sayre, Mansfield, Frost Mountain and Sleepy Hollow.  The 1km loop had hills and a hairpin turn.  Camille Bolduc was wearing the NWVE threads and came through in 3rdafter a difficult race, completing a Mansfield Nordic sweep of the podium with Quincy Massey-Bierman and Ava Thurston.  Esther Cuneo was a close 4th
No NWVE women raced day two, but several men did.  The Master’s Wave seemed to be a bit of an afterthought, but a few takers were happy for the option.  Unfortunately a little anxiety on how it would play out caused the Masters to just go for it from last place.  The bottlenecks lasted well past the 3km mark and easily cost each Master relegated to the end of the field a minute.    That aside it did make for good racing.  The start also made me feel better about how hosting a mass start race at Sleepy Hollow in a week.  Eli Enman led out the NWVE men.  In his first ski race for the club, Eli placed very well in the deep field. He was close to top 20 at the finish holding his place in the stacked field on his Alma Mater course.  Tom Thurston had a very good race as well.  He found his skis were running well especially as he “Bobsledded” the down hills. Damian was discouraged having given up his NENSA points for the Master’s Wave that was not.  He could have started in the top 100, but instead had a 5km warm-up for the first lap.  The outcome was not really all that different from what it would have been but chase was difficult.  Jon Miller also raced his first race for NWVE and his first Eastern Cup this weekend.  He raced well and was surprised by the strength of the field and by how well he did.  The first lap felt like intervals, but he settled into his zone as things unfolded.  Three laps on this course against today’s field was exhausting.  All racers were ready for rest and should sleep well tonight.  
Special thanks to Scott Magnan, Mike Mashtare and the whole BFA team as well as other NWVE members and ski shop owners for cheering us on during the race.  Having so much support all over the place helped keep us going.  The continuous feedback helped me along whether it looked like it or not.
The first ever Frost Mountain Eastern Cup was a success!  The organizers did a good job pulling together the challenging event.  Those who participated know the work they have cut out for them in the coming season.  The sport was alive and well this weekend.  The course tested the athletes early in the season like no other.  Hopefully the predicted rain event does not spoil the early start we have enjoyed this year.  Happy Holidays!
 
Damian

Quarry Road Opener 

12/7/2014


Five NWVE members traveled to Waterville, Maine to kick off the NENSA Points Series. The further east we traveled the higher the expectations grew.  The mostly rain event turned out to be mostly snow! At least most of the way.  Actually it was treacherous driving and a wiser person would have heeded the warnings by staying on the couch, but NWVE was not founded out of this type of cautious wisdom.  No, it was more about where is the next race?  It seems appropriate that it was the founding 5 that reunited in Maine.  Those that can remember the races under the Christmas lights at Boothelette's, or when the team was called Franklin County Nordic, or when the biggest race in New England was held at Ole's, across the road from the runway.  Yes it was Scott, Damian, Cipperly, Jessica, and Perry that represented the club at the Inaugural Quarry Road Opener. 

It was an interesting week leading up to the Opener.  Large swings in temperature had race director Pat Cote biting his nails all week.  Maine has much more of a snow base than VT right now, especially in the Bethel/Flying Moose area.  Waterville saw more rain, but had a solid base.  A little too solid.  The snow and rain on Saturday improved things a lot and made the snow skiable. 

The race course started in a wind exposed stadium. Temperatures were in the mid-twenties and dropping thanks to a strong North wind.  This was blowing through the stadium such that people’s warm-ups would become airborne floating around the center until someone would catch them and relocate them to a more sheltered area on the South side of the timing shack.  A special thanks is in order for the hearty volunteers braved these conditions starting and timing the race.

Once racers started they set out up a hill on the trail simply known as the competition loop.  This was a nice and rolling loop.  All skiable except for the final downhill for those that were not big risk takers.  The trail was varying degrees of loose granular on top of a fairly solid ice base.  The real story on the course was the spectrum of granular surface around the 3.3km loop.  We started on some nicely tilled granular, and transitioned to some very solid granular, then loose and blown granular, a section that was like skiing on a rumble strip, and the least technical downhill was the most difficult as you started at the top on glare ice which transitioned to death cookies, then went to blue ice with tracks frozen solid going in all directions, then coming up the other side of the dip, the reverse.  It was humbling to have to use so much caution to maintain the slimmest of control on a hill you normally would not think about. Once you made your way out of the rut you looped around to another, but with a nice surface before heading into the wind before the Start/Lap/Finish area.

On the course preview it seemed that the race would be impossibly difficult.  But once up to speed it flowed nicely with the exception of a couple of spots that required a little more finesse.  Some had it, most of NWVE did not.  The women went first this week.  Both Cipperly and Jessica were fine with being toward the end of the running order in the mostly collegiate field.  They looked good skiing in their first race of the season.  Both came out of the fast and tricky conditions unscathed.  Actually all of the women looked quite balanced and composed on the course considering the conditions.  Cipperly was happy as this was her home race!  Only one hour to this venue at her alma mater Colby! 

The Men did not look so refined.  Well some did, but not the masters.  While we maintained vertical, we pushed our limits and had more than a few close calls in unexpected areas.  Scott went out early in the race.  Knowing he would be passed a lot by the college men he turned his race into intervals.  He attempted to stay with anyone who passed him for 10 seconds.  Some he had success with but others were impossible to latch on too for even only 3 seconds.  Damian and Perry started in the middle of the field.  They too found themselves getting passed early on in the race.  They were not sure the rematch with UNH was really called for after the whooping they took a week earlier at Craftsbury, but they were happy to play the game to see if they could improve.  They maintained and that was good enough for this week. 

Joining NWVE were a few other club racers from around New England.  Most notably CSU’s David Holmander, who gave the race his stamp of approval.  David was pleased to be the last person on the first page!  David was also psyched not to be the last person in the results.  Bryce Wing twisted teammate David Loney’s arm into doing the race and representing Ford Sayre.  They too were wary about racing at first, but seemed satisfied with the accomplishment.  One down and the rest of the season to go.  A couple of Bethel Outing Club members were also off to a great start this season.  It seems they have been skiing on good snow for weeks and we know their trails are plenty technical.  Brad Clarke had no trouble handling the NWVE contingent, but that may change as the season progresses.

After the race the masters were gathered together and honored for their efforts on the course, and for going the extra mile just for making the trip.  Those that placed got first dibs on prizes.  A spread that included Chocolate Pops, Homemade Energy Bars and small batch Chevre Cheese.  Nothing beats winning cheese, except winning two cheeses! After the race the team contemplated on where to get our recovery drinks.  President Scott Magnan made an uncharacteristic Executive Order that we would refuel at the Mainely Brews Pub and that Cipperly would lead us there.  Time will tell if Fox News or Stephen Colbert will run the action.  While there, we enjoyed some good food and contemplated the Team possibilities for the Resolution Relays.  I hope you are ready!
 
Damian


2014 Craftsbury Opener


There was an enthusiastic crowd at the Craftsbury Opener this morning.  The field was heavily weighted with the college crowd, but a few masters shook the dust off their skis to test what was under the hood at the annual rite of the ski season.  The carpool arrived early and got to make first tracks on the race loop!

The course started in the Upper Field and proceeded down the hill into the Lower Field, then to coaches corner and looping back to the lower field via Lemon’s Haunt counterclockwise.  We proceeded up the hill to Upper Field and for a little added elevation summited the snow pile known as Mt. Lucas, before looping back to the start.  We did 6 laps of this making the race just over 8km.  Temps started in the upper 20’s and rose throughout the day.  There was a strong southerly wind, and a smoky wood stove chimney at the mechanics shop that seemed like it was burning tires while skiing up the hill to the Lower Field during the race.   The loop was challenging with many extended climbs, and rather short recoveries.  Good transitions were key.

The race was HF Fluoro Free, but that did not seem to slow people down much.  The Men had fairly fast conditions as the trail remained mostly man-made frozen granular.  By the time the Women started it was transitioning and becoming sticky.  The best were the first tracks early in the morning.  But when all was said and done the course held up well and people were very happy to have completed a race in November.

The racing began with high energy.  The BKL field set out with a mass start and completed 1 loop.  The usual Craftsbury kids were not able to pull away from the field and a young VTXC Junior drove a wedge in the Craftsbury top 3 by taking second in the race!  The real surprise was the proximity of the Mansfield Nordic girls to the leaders.  Esther Cuneo showcased her sprint genes while Ava Thurston’s patience and technique were on display.  Contrasting strategies that put the pair right on the tails of the winners and well within the top 10 overall.  Lollypopper’s were included in the BKL race with  Niko Cuneo taking the top honor in the youngest of age categories.  Taylor and Kate Carlson were among the smallest starters, but held their own in the big kid’s race finishing with some of the biggest applause of the day in the stadium!

The Men’s race went off next.  UNH, Harvard and Williams dominated the first page of results, but there were a few Masters that made their way onto it.  Justin Freeman started fairly back in the running order but flew by most in the field on his way to an 8th place finish.  From the sidelined Keith Woodward chastised Damian Bolduc for letting an “older” skier go by him.  Unaware of it being Justin, he thought he must be having a terrible race because whoever that was, was going to totally demolish him.  Tom Thurston was NWVE’s top placing athlete and second overall Master.  He skied strong intimidating many as he steadily closed that gap on them each of the six laps.  Gregory Shea (Therapeutic Solutions) had a great start to the season placing between Tom and US Ski-O’s Adrian Owens.  Greg and Adrian are always contenders at Craftsbury.  Mansfield’s Rick Costanza and Mark White had a close race with Rick sneaking by with 4 seconds to spare.  Both should be happy as they edged CSU’s Rob Bradlee who has been conducting  a club Junior’s Camp all weekend.  Brad Carlson also got into the spirit of things by putting a bib on.  Many were happy to see him back in action before having to leave for some birthday parties. Leigh Mallory, who had spent the weekend working at the Stratton Mountain Swap, crisscrossed the state to get to the opener.  He skied well with quite the cheering section pushing him on.  Andre’ Bolduc was NWVE’s first registrant and first finisher.  Sporting some 1980’s Karhu’s with Zebra bases he skied off the start like a lion was chasing him.  Upon finishing and seeing who was still coming in he removed himself from the results and took another lap. Perry Bland counted the laps right.  He looked quite strong on the course almost lapping his M8 competition.

The Women’s race was dominated by the collegiate athletes as well, but again a few Senior and Master’s racers placed well.  Kathy Maddock of CSU finished 10th.  Teammate Alex Jospe rounded out the top twenty.  Trina Hosmer and Carol Van Dyke held things down for Stowe Nordic.  It was during the Women’s race that the NWVE Men returned the favor of our most vocal supporter, Penny Rand, and cheered on the UNH team especially Annavitte Rand.

After the Women’s race wrapped up we got another look at the future with the Junior’s race.  Mostly contested by older BKL racers the 5k races were and exciting way to finish the morning before heading to the dining hall for a proper recovery meal.  Quincy Massey-Bierman (Mansfield/Craftsbury) was perhaps the youngest starter in this field, but raced hard finishing in 6th place and within a minute of the winner.  Older sister Marika entered her first race since breaking her pelvis during Cross Country Running Season.  She was happy, but tired due to not having much endurance while healing.  Annemarie Martell (Essex) had a solid result making the transition from an outstanding running season to skiing.  The boys only had 5 entries but there was no shortage of talent with Craftsbury BKL skiers Griffin Wright and Finn Sweet taking second and third.

Unwinding racers reviewed the race in the dining hall.  They discussed the off season, number of days on snow, and of course what wax they used.  All seemed happy about their races and could not believe the November we have had.  It is certainly nice to kick off the season like this and hope that it is a sign of more to come.  Congratulations to all who participated.  The Opener has certainly set the bar for more great events!

Damian

Westford Turkey Trot 2014


Things change, even in the best race in the universe.  Yes, this was a year of change at the Westford Turkey Trot.  Racers used to things being a certain way due to decades of participating seemed ready for change, embracing them all.

First up was online registration! Yup, Westford has joined the 21st century with online registration.  But the digital conversion did not stop there.  There was also "electronic timing." Skeptical volunteers keyed bib numbers into a computer and times and results were automatically compiled.  Racers were assured that traditional hand timing would be used as a backup.  

These two leaps forward would seem to be all one could take, but they did not end there.  The course was modified.  Some changes were for the better, some for safety, and some for credibility. The start was moved to the road.  A welcome change as the traditional start had runners making a 90 degree right 20m into the race.  The new start eliminated that initial turn making a much clearer start and a cleaner line.  The change was welcome across the field from the young two miler first timer rabbits on up through the 20+ year veterans of the race. 

There were two other changes on the course.  They were not as popular, but necessary I suppose.  The first was a change at the Westford Green.  This has been an area that has challenged race organizers from inception of the race.  I can remember running the pavement on 128, then they moved us to the grass around the Green. But this year we simply did an out and back on the dirt road next to the Green.  

We have done this in the past, but this year gave the sense it was permanent.  I know that running around the Green has presented challenges, taking on highway traffic, uneven surface on the grass, soaking you feet on a soggy year... But I always enjoy a loop around the Town Green in any race.  It is a parade lap where racers can show their spirit and colorful garb.  They can show off their sponsorship to the masses that come out to see what is going on and cheer their home town favorite.  It is the moment in the race where everyone feels they can take a victory lap!  Out and back just is not the same.

The other change was the finish.  Traditionally racers come hurtling down the final hill in the race, bang a right and are done.  Due to the other changes on the route, the finish was pushed back to behind the school.  This change had mixed reviews.  Racers normally counting on a short sprint after the hill had to haul almost all the way to the door of the school.  (Odd thought, but who put the door back there anyway?)  This made the race an actual 10k, but the real benefit was that it put you much closer to the crown jewel of the Westford Turkey Trot - the prize table.

Many things were the same.  The kids 100m had a large competitive field.  One young racer wearing number 1 took off and never looked back.  He maintained his pace despite being overdressed for the cold and won the race, ski pants, boots and all.  Then it was to the start of the distance races.  As usual, unintelligible pre-race instructions were given to the field, and then the starter fired his pistol. 

The race started in its usual manner with the young runners using all they have in the first 100m.  It is interesting to witness their wave dissipate down the road.  Longevity of their lead, correlating to their race experience.  I wondered if they measure their goal by sprinting further than they did last year.  I suppose we all do that in a way.

As the youth faded the race leaders took over.  Paul Allison, Binney Mitchell and Andrey Chmykh broke away easily from the field.  Paul slowly extended his lead to take the overall by 50 seconds.  Others settled into their pace and race.  The Westford Starts Too Slow Guy began his annual tradition of stalking the leaders and seeing how far through the field he can get before the finish.

Our perennial favorites, the Westford Ponytail Guy and the Westford Sunglasses Guy were back in action.  Westford Ponytail Guy was seen setting up the PA system in the gym prior to the race.  He said he had to work and could not race again this year.  However I believe he uses magic to make himself invisible and races anyway.  Westford Sunglasses Guy had perfect sunglasses conditions with overcast and a strong North wind.  He found himself entangled in a battle with Dhyan Nirmegh early in the race.   

Rick Kelley started more conservatively but soon made his way up through the field.  He finished still looking fresh among pack of masters that included Ken Schatz, Nirmegh, and Pascal Cheng.  The Shuttle bros. were also mixed in with group.  Hopefully we will see Zach and Brennan again before the Mount Washington Cup. 

In a rivalry that has quietly been brewing the last few years fell in favor of Scott Magnan in 2014.  Scott, who has been described as being in better shape than he deserves to be, edged Jessica Bolduc by a 25 second margin.  Jessica was able to muster a kick over the extended finish zone was able to secure the age group win earning a coveted medal.

Perry Bland and Tom Lane charged around the course hometown proud.  Both looked good running into the finish.  While they say that participating is a mandatory way of paying their town dues, they look forward to participating in the event and seeing how they measure up to past performances.  That is one of the things that makes this race so special.  The ability to peruse the past results on poster board decorating the school gym.  Comparing how you feel to how you felt and gauging what you need to do to get to where you want to be.

Another Westford Turkey Trot has entered the history books, and another ski season has begun.  Congratulations to all who participated in this year’s race.  There were many outstanding performances and podiums.  Looking forward to seeing everyone very soon on snow!
 
Damian

Second Annual 1 Mile Uphill Roller Ski Time Trial

11/1/2014

Link to Results

Link to Photos

 

NWVE Hosted the Second Annual 1 Mile Uphill Roller Ski Time Trial Saturday November 1, 2014.  The expanded event was a huge success!  Building on last year’s Double Pole Time Trial we added two more Time Trials.  The No Pole Time Trial and Freestyle Time Trial were well received and will be a permanent addition to the event.  Skiers could ski any combination of races with most choosing all!

 

The Course is a Certified Mile on the UVM Bike Path that steadily climbs 100 feet of vertical to the finish.  The incline provides just the right amount of resistance to challenge racers as they make their way back to Gutterson Field House.  We were fortunate with the weather as the gloomy forecast held off and Mother Nature graced us with the best part of the weekend.  Skiers were treated with excellent conditions with a light (but strengthening) North Wind, temps in the low 40’s and partially sunny skies.


It was an exciting morning.  The UVM Athletic Complex was a bustling hub of activity, hosting the High School Field Hockey Championships, a Basket Ball Tournament, an Ice Hockey Camp, soccer practice, XC Running Practice, a 5km race to be held later in the day and of course, a Mile Uphill Roller Ski Time Trial.  I mention this because it really brought a lot of energy to the venue.  It was very exciting with crowds cheering, anthems playing and new chapters being written in long standing rivalries.  It also brought a certain curiosity with people checking out everything else that was going on.  I doubt that many had ever seen a roller ski race before, and our field could not have been a better representation of the great Nordic Skiing Community we have in New England!  I mean does it get any better than Carol Van Dyke with her constant smile and enthusiasm for the sport wearing bib number 1?

 

We had skiers of all ages from BKL to Grand Masters lay down all they had on course.  They raced themselves, their clubs, for the win and for the record.  It is always fun to hear the banter around the results page and today was no different.  Certainly bragging rights were on the line with several Intra Club competitions going on.  Most notably was the one between the Intramural Nordic Gentlemen’s Club of Burlington teammates Jarlath O’Neil Dunne and Steve Crafts.  Steve seemingly having the advantage of the chase knew exactly how many seconds apart they were anywhere on the course.  


One thing that did not fall was Forrest Hamilton’s record set last year.  His double pole mark of 4:45 held its own not only in the double pole category, but solidly against a strong field of skaters.  However Emma Barnes was able to overtake the 2013 mark at 8:20 set by Liz Hollenbach with a 7:15 in the Double Pole Race.


 

No one was dressed to the nines in Bogburn Apparel but Eric Darling did make an attempt sporting some baggy board shorts in a familiar orange on yellow color scheme.  Dhyan Nirmegh opted out of using compatible boots and bindings going with NNN boots somehow clipped into SNS bindings with the tried and true problem solver, duct tape securing it all together.  He may be on to something as he got faster and faster with each race.  James Donegan won the overall Bragging Rights category by besting Eli Enman in two of the three races.  However it was Torin Laliberte of St. Michaels College taking the overall in two of the three races.  Jonathan Rodd should be happy he opted in on the double pole TT as he was able to edge Nirmegh in that race, but even after passing on the No Pole TT Jonathan did not have enough in the freestyle to hold Nirmegh off with with two TTs under his belt.  Jonathan still gave Nirmegh a lift back to his truck after the event.  The Magnan brothers got their roller skis out for the first time this season.  Scotts back took a beating during the first two races but he came around in the third.  Tyler decided to sit out the No Pole to preserve himself for the Freestyle race and the rest of the weekend.  Those breaking in the season today are sure to be sore.


This event would not have been a success without a community effort.  Behind the scenes NENSA, University of Vermont, Ethan Allen Biathlon Club, Green Mountain Athletic Association, Skirack, and St. Michael’s Ski Team helped with preparations for the race.  A very special thanks to all the NWVE volunteers who kept things running smoothly and safe.   Adding two more events to the day was a big change.  Things worked out about as good as they could thanks to the flexibility, forethought, decision making and dedication of all club members.  People really enjoyed participating, were impressed with the attention to detail and organization of the event.  I greatly appreciate all who pitched in were they saw a need.  Even the littlest bit helps make a big impression.  St. Michael’s Coach Molly Peters said that our event was “the perfect thing for her team to start the season.”


Thank you,  I could not be happier about how today went!


Damian