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Craftsbury Opener


This will be my first race report from observing the event via a live feed from a snow-cam! The 2017-18 season got underway over Thanksgiving weekend with the Craftsbury Opener. Craftsbury has opened and maintained a Man-made snow loop for about two weeks now, and Strava users have burned a hot spot into the Upper and Lower Stadium visible from Mars.

Racing got underway on a Blue-Bird day as scheduled at 10:30. Skiers left the start at 30-second intervals. The course was the Craftsbury Gerbil Loop a Cause Awareness Ribbon shaped kilometer + a little for good measure that features Chip Hill, Teaching Hill, and some flat sweeping turns. Something the course does not feature is recovery! Temps were in the mid-thirties to low forties, and wind did not appear to be much of a factor.

NWVE fielded a few good men to take on a field of racers primarily composed of those who cannot recall life without Spongebob Squarepants. Patrick Cafferky led things off for NWVE early in the running order. He was followed closely by Mansfield's Jim Fredericks. Jim would keep Patrick in his sights for the whole race but not close enough to overtake him. Patrick got a boost from teammates as he closed on the finish line when a pack of all NWVE racers almost took a full lap together. Chris Burnham was the next NWVE skier out of the gate. Chris is a recent Colby College graduate and has joined NWVE this season. Welcome, Chris!!! He got down to business quickly but found the fatigue of an eager start to the season catch up with him. Regardless he was happy to get the first race under his belt and is looking forward joining us on our adventures this season. Tom Thurston started around mid-field and stayed snappy for the whole race. While most other racers started with a quick tempo, by the midpoint of the race they appeared laggard as they climbed. Not Tom, his turnover up the hills propelled him away from those who wound down as the race progressed. Eli Enman was the last to start for the club. Eli's technique distinguished him from another orange-clad silver-haired racer on the live feed. Though Eli and Jim did race half a lap together. Eli skied through the field and finished as the top Master in 13th place. Other notable Masters were CSU’s Rob Bradlee and Mansfield’s Andy Bishop who had a tight race wire to wire. Stowe Nordics Neal Graves also toed the line, picking up on Tom a lap or two into the race, but could not match Tom’s climbing on the day.

On the Women's side, only three Masters raced and no NWVE. Mansfield’s Jo Ann Hanowski held her own in the youthful field. She reinstated duel with club-mate Ava Thurston, closing the gap to within fractions of a second. Stowe Nordic's Carrie Nourjian continued her trajectory up the results page showing the work in the offseason is paying off. Stowe Nordic had another Masters racer in Jean Kissner who kicked off her season in the Opener. Does this foreshadow a threat to NWVE's Team Championship Crown at White Mountain? There is much to look forward to as the season gets underway.

Clearly, with the inversion of the start positions to the results positions, the course must have gotten faster as the race went on…? Leave it to Craftsbury to figure out how to do that! It was fun watching all the action unfold from Van Cortlandt Park, NYC. Congratulations to all who participated, the season is off to a great start!


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