Event Archive 2016 -2017
Craftsbury Spring Fling 2017
March 26, 2017
What a day for a ski race! The final installment of the NENSA Zak and Club Series was held today under bluebird skies on very nice fresh snow. It seems almost unbelievable what Craftsbury has ordered up for us to race on this year between the EC Opener, the Marathon and this weekend. You could not imagine a better way to cap off the season!
As racers traveled to the event they became a little worrisome as the temperatures dipped much further than anticipated. -4 was seen, as well as many -3’s by those coming in from all directions. Even as we exited the cars, the temps were hovering around 0, but the sun was so warm you could not tell and things started heating up quickly. People registered and went about their pre-race routines looking forward to what was shaping up to be an excellent ski. It is hard to know what the temperature was as the race started, but it was warming up fast and was pushing 40 by the time we had the car packed and were heading home.
The race loop was the Traditional Spring Fling Loop that utilized most of the outdoor center’s core trails. It is a challenging loop with some technical components as well as sustained climbs and a few steep climbs. It also has a sustained steep climb near the end of the loop as skiers take nearly a straight shot from the center’s lowest elevation at the Black River to its highest in the stadium. This climb has claimed many racers, and this year was no different. The snow was nice powder and the cool overnight temps caused most of the track to firm up. There were a few minor soft spots, but overall conditions were very skiable. In fact, many expressed it was the best skiing of the season, and the best Spring Fling ever. These statements cannot be confirmed, but it was something to behold.
The large field lined up with racers of all abilities seeding themselves in the stadium. It was interesting to see where people put themselves and some lines looked better than others. People kind of grouped themselves together in the packs they would end up racing with. At the end of the long season many are weary of all out racing, making for more of a social atmosphere. This all changed for the most part once the go command was given, but people were relaxed and courteous. Especially if you were wearing a sling.
With several collegiate teams in full force, the pace of the elite pack was very fast. A few master’s skiers mixed in with the train, but found themselves suffering to hang on. Among them were NWVE’s Eli Enman, and Tom Thurston as well as Mansfield’s Adam Turko and GMVS Coach Colin Rodgers. This group hammered, dropping those that could not hang on. Off the tail end of the Elite group was a small chase group that included Ben Taska and Neal Graves (Stowe Nordic). A little further back among the Elite women were NWVE’s Luke Shullenberger and Tyler Magnan. Skiing between groups was Mike Kavanaugh. The next pack had many NWVE racers including Jonathan Miller, Scott Magnan, Kasie Enman, Camille Bolduc, Jessica Bolduc, and Patrick Cafferky. This was a big group that had many of our favorite skiers from other clubs such as Steve Messier and Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne (Mansfield), Todd Taska, and CSU’s Robert Faltus. In the next pack was Rick Kelley, Brendan Barden along with Alan Cote and Jud Hartmann. Following closely were Perry Bland, Tim Cowan, Andre’ Bolduc, Brad Ketterling and Damian Bolduc. Finally, giving the field a 30 minute handicap was Cipperly Good who was counting on a 10:00am start. Cipperly insisted she receive her bib and set out on her own behind the field determined to get a result with points!
The Spring Fling is a long race on a challenging loop and it did not take too long for the field to break up. The elite pack shed a few members and those that clung to it longer dropped harder when they could not hold the pace on the sustained efforts. Tom fell victim to this and was soon overtaken by Luke and Tyler. Tom’s muscles gave into cramps and he had to pull up at the half way mark. Eli hung in with the lead group as they looped through the lap zone. Mike held his own in a pack of much younger racers skiing with Nansen’s Dennis Page who always skis a good race. Jonathan Miller was in a group with Bethel’s Brad Clarke driving the pace. Camille was in a friendly race with Ava Thurston (Mansfield). Camille was trying some new skis and felt they were good, however a misplaced pole plant took her down and Ava took advantage edging Camille by 3 seconds. Kasie began gaining positions as the field opened up. She used her fitness to hammer on the climbs, opening gaps that people could not close as she steadily pulled away. Jessica had a great race skiing with Todd Taska and Pat Cafferky. Jessica would eventually overtake Scott on the final climb back to the center. Scott was playing a little cat and mouse with Kasie and Jessica, but was not climbing as well today and had to concede a few spots. Rick Kelley and Brendan’s pack stayed together for the most part, though they did drop Christopher Namie (Bow Nordic) and Paul Carlson (Ford Sayre).
One of the more interesting duels in Nordic skiing ever witnessed was that of Tim Cowan and Sarah Glueck(Ford Sayer). The towering M7 found himself in the clutches of the 5th grader on some of the early climbs, but would use his slight momentum advantage to gain on the downhills. Sarah would not give up and with rapid turnover, repeatedly retook Tim on the next climb. Eventually on one of the steeper climbs Tim’s lumbering long strides held off Sarah, but she was not finished with him yet. On the next downhill she put herself into an aggressive skate tuck and opened it up. Unfortunately, she expended too much energy on this move and Tim pulled away as Sarah eased off the pace to recollect herself. How these two connected could only have happened at the Spring Fling. It was like a Jack Russel Terrier pestering a Mastiff. Tim should be wary of a rematch as the Glueck trajectory is impressive and Sarah will come back next season as eager as ever to ski!
Up the trail as all this was going on was Perry Bland skiing through a lot of the people who did not know how to gauge themselves with Jody Newton (CSU) matching him stride for stride. Damian was on the move after having to concede positions until the field opened up and he felt he could move though the skiers freely without too much risk of falling. Brad worked with Andre who was disguised as the invisible man. Although giving the entire field a 30-minute head start Cipperly began passing those who fell off the back of the field.
As always, when skiers split off to finish the 15km race the 30km becomes very lonely. Eli’s group held together until an aggressive move by Colin Rodgers pulled a few skiers away. Eli stayed within the remainder pack yielding to Mansfield’s Adam Terko for 11th overall. Luke and Tyler ended up finishing close together with Luke having the advantage at the end. Jonathan fell off the driving pace set by Brad Clarke (BOC) but hung in to finish the race strong. Patrick was on the move closing fast on Mansfield’s Steve Messier. Rick stayed with his group along with strong skiers Jamie Willsey (Sleepy Hollow), Alan Cote and Jud Hartmann. Brendan fell off that group, but found motivation when he saw Damian swinging one pole in his rearview mirror. Brendan devised a strategy of thinking ARMS, ARMS, ARMS to keep his advantage over Damian. It worked and preserved his legs countering Damian’s thoughts that Brendan’s legs would surely crack on the final climb. Brad Ketterling suffered up the last climb, but had some motivation with Veteran Marathoner Bruce Katz going by, but also Sprint Cyclist Christopher Naimie (Bow Nordic) in an even deeper crisis coming back to him. In the end, he was happy to finish and to have enjoyed such a great day to ski.
After the race, people mingled on the deck with their recovery drinks in anticipation of the post-race feed that was grilling. All kinds of stories were exchanged about the race and season, such as Sam Evans-Brown’s (Loppet Off) induction to the Master’s Category at the start of the Geschmossel where Chris Nice ordered him to hand over his ID, or Tim’s recounting of the showdown with one of the Ford Sayre skiers. Perry delivered on his word for personally providing refreshments to those who participated, and NWVE was feeling fairly good about their performance for the day and in the points series finale. Many members were called up with 1st place category awards. With temps comfortable, great company, and a gracious host, people enjoyed the afternoon lingering around a little extra to soak it all in.
New England Club Relay Championship 2017
March 25, 2017
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.
February 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.
Gatineau Loppet 2017
February 18, 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.
Flying Moose Classic 2017
February 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!
Craftsbury Marathon 2017
January 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!
White Mountain Classic 2017
January 21, 2017
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.
January 15, 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.
Gunstock Freestyle Race 2017
January 7, 2017
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.
BFA Alumni Citizens Race 2016
December 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.