Event Archive 2014 - 2015
2014 - 2015
Second Annual 1 Mile Uphill Roller Ski Time Trial 2014
November 1, 2014
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!
Craftsbury Spring Fling 2015
March 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!
Sugarloaf Marathon 2015
March 21, 2015
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!
Trapp Lager Marathon 2015
March 14, 2015
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.
Race to the Clouds 2015
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.
Bretton Woods Marathon 2015
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 Cup 2015
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.
Rangely Lakes Loppet 2015
February 28, 2015
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!
Bode Miller and the Stowe Derby 2015
February 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.
“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.”
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.
February 22, 2015
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.
Silver Fox Trot
February 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.
Flying Moose Classic 2015
February 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.
Craftsbury Marathon 2015
January 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.
US Masters' National Championship 2015
January 29, 2015
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!
White Mountain Classic
January 24, 2015
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!
January 10, 2015
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.
Thanks Sarah for some of the photos!
BFA Akumni Citizens Race 2015
January 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.
Frost Mountain Eastern Cup 2014
December 20, 2014
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.
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!
Quarry Road Opener 2014
December 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!
Craftsbury Opener 2014
November 28, 2014
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!
Westford Turkey Trot 2014
November 20, 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!