New England's Nordic Skiing enthusiasts overwhelmed the rural town of North Pomfret for the Annual Bogburn Classic. This race has remained popular over the years by staying true to Nordics roots. While participants are treated to a new upgrade to the race each year; the race's success hinges on the flawless execution of the essentials of hosting a ski race: a well-marked course (at least consistently), someone holding a watch, accurate results, and of course, snow! This year the Bogburn was blessed with excellent snow. It seemed people knew it would be a special race and made the trip to be part of the experience.
The conditions were perfect this year with sunny skies, temps reaching the low teens and a thick coating of powder on a firm base. Bob Haydock did a great job prepping the trail rolling with the drifts and setting the best line track throughout the course. It was a lot of snow to handle, but racers were pleased with the soft track and the puffy snow to cushion any un/expected mishaps. The loop was the customary Bogburn loop winding around the woods of the Haydock property that includes everything a course should have except easy. The technical trail twists, turns, rolls and offers no place for real recovery.
Wax testing was a cinch, and the NWVE recommendation of Start Green Glider and Swix Green Extra performed well. Some that ventured into the blue were not disappointed either, though it would grab in a few spots. First timers and veterans alike all commented on how the course broke them down, and they had to let up somewhere to recollect themselves. As a brisk wind picked up at the end of the event, many entered survival mode as they trudged their way to the finish.
Due to the cold and a lack of shelter, the event organizers condensed the schedule combining races and fields. New this year, the Women raced the same distance as the Men. The interval start list was uniquely constructed and seemed to have a group of Women start, followed by their husbands, making for some contentious wife chasing. It will be interesting to study if the Bogburn can determine the strength of marriages as some couples skied amicably, sharing the trail, while others threw their spouse to the mat in competition. Actually, the start list was generally by age, youngest to oldest, females then males and all the wife chasing was just a coincidence.
Skiers mingled around the start, and soon things were underway. A clock counted down the 15-second intervals and with a friendly word of support from the starter racers were off. The Bogburn is a family affair with many names repeating throughout the results as generations of skiers share the experience. Coaches also get in on the action here, knowing this is a course where experience is a big advantage. U18 skiers from CSU, Ford Sayre, and Mansfield broke in the course leading the way for the U20's, Seniors and Masters.
John Thompson was NWVE's first racer in the order. He set out among skiers from Ford Sayre and CSU and hammered away. He quickly realized what kind of race it was going to be on the first speed check in the course, the sweeping right turn at about the half-kilometer mark. John pressed on and ended up having a good battle with CSU's Charles Donahue. Both skiers received encouragement from their teammates to think about skiing more than speed. It is easy to thrash on this course especially in these conditions, and it takes a few Bogburns to figure this out. Like most first timers, John was not to keen on returning to this race in the future, but judging by the registration numbers, the mind forgets and looks forward to returning to the challenge. This race has a lot of loyalty.
Next up for the club were three women. Jennifer Carlson, Kasie Enman, and Jessica Bolduc were in a group that also included elite skiers Elissa Bradley (Ford Sayre) and Alex Jospe (CSU). Kasie was not thrilled about the course but ended up skiing a bit with Jennifer who helped guide her along building confidence. Eventually, Kasie pulled away on some of the late climbs in the loop. Jenn had a good race, but a little difficulty with her wax grabbing the snow in a few unexpected spots. Jessica resolved to get through the course in one piece and skied conservatively. She was happy to have done the race, pleased with the effort.
Following the initial round of Masters Women were me, Eli Enman, Eric Tremble, Tyler Magnan, and Kyle Darling. CSU's Ari Ofsevit & Eli Gallaudet, Stowe Nordic's Neal Graves, and Ford Sayre's Joel Bradley were also part of this group making for some fierce racing. It did not take long for Eli to start making up ground and passing those that started ahead of him. Eli charged hard but going into the second lap he felt his heart rate spiking and knew he had to let up a bit. He took respite in skiing with Mansfield's Eli Grossman who had just started before picking it up again and racing to the win. Joel pushed Eli late in the race as they went 1-2 overall. Eric Tremble began to go through racers quickly as well. He was in a bit of his own league for a while as Eli and Joel pulled away and his chasers took a while to catch him. Those chasers were Tyler Magnan and Neal Graves. On the technical prologue section of the course, Tyler made up time on Neal and overtook him. Once Neal got onto the main loop he wore Tyler down and eventually made up the time plus some as he chased Eric. As for me, well after seeing how fast Eli, Eric, Tyler, and Neal were going I figured it best not to be too much of a hazard on the course. However, when Dublin's Kathy Maddock caught me from 3:30 back I knew I had to get it in gear. Kathy's fast turnover helped me along and ended up pulling me past CSU's Eli Gallaudet who cracked on the final climb in the race. Kyle took a similar approach as me as he has a little history with this race that he is not fond of, yet keeps coming back. He skied evenly as he steadily worked his way through the field. He eventually skied it in with Brendan Barden, a late entrant on his first lap. Brendan was toying with the idea of dropping out due to a bad ankle but was happy that he finished the race without any further acute damage. I am not sure seeking advice about what to do in this situation from the guy who has been known to break a shoulder or two and then keep skiing is advisable.
Kathy Maddock was part of the next grouping of women in the start list that included Sarah Pribram, Mansfield's Rosemary Shea-Cobb, and Dublin's Holly Macy. Sarah had good company with Rosemary and Holly as they chased down skiers. Kathy was too much to contend with as the M5 crushed it overtaking many skiers on the course and moving into 3rd overall for women. Sarah's technical skills and Wednesday Night Worlds tactics served her well in her first race of the season.
Chasing Sarah was the next group of Men, that included Eric Darling, Stephen Wright, John Witmer, and Rick Kelley, Ford Sayre's Rick Powell, Black Water Nordic's Charlie Gunn as well as CSU's heavy hitters Frank Feist, Rob Bradlee, John Sakalowsky and Andrew Milne. The racing among this group was intense as they moved as a dynamic unit. Eric and Frank would eventually break away, but on the winding course, Robert kept eyes on them. Milne faded a bit, but Rick Powell came along and reinvigorated him during those hills on the course where you can get stuck in your thoughts about the purpose of skiing the Bogburn. Andy has to be happy with his result one spot behind Charlie, and one spot ahead of me. Stephen Wright was able to stay ahead of Rick and had an impressive race winning the M6 category. John Sakalowsky pulled away from teammates Andrew and Tod Neideck and ended up skiing much of the competition between skiers. He would eventually meet his match after the race as he tried to wrestle his buff away from his beard! Do not underestimate the power of ice, water, and studly facial hair. We will see if John will shave out his chin, emulating the style of Nansen's Dennis Page. (Although he may have just waxed it!) Ford Sayre's Bryce Wing helped Rick Kelley along as they closed out the race. Rick was happy to be back and racing again and also shared some of his chocolate chip Rice Krispy treats after the race. John Witmer held his own in the race taking 4th place in the loaded M6 category behind Stephen Wright, Rick Powell, and Andrew Milne. Perry Bland continued his battle with Bob Gray on course. He was working to stay within contact of him for as long as he could. Perry was in great spirits getting their early to test wax for the team and staying after for an NWVE brownie. He also picked up a few club points by taking the W in the M8 division!
Chris Burnham was a last-minute entrant and ended up skiing through all the U16's who did one lap at the end of the start order. He battled his way through, avoiding some sticky situations as racers with shaky legs fell off the course before he caught them. He ended up 7th overall. He thought perhaps the tracks were unfairly demolished for him at first but realized that it was not a disadvantage as the course was thoroughly broken in by the start of the race. Camille Bolduc flew the club colors in an easy ski with a number on the course. She is focusing on some upcoming races and started the morning with a stressful All-State French Horn Audition. She was not feeling too great between the audition and race, but a little epic skiing can cure anything.
The Annual Bogburn Classic was another great success. It was wonderful to see so many skiers making it out for the race. It was like a big reunion. Most were friendly on the course, and it was not uncommon for anyone to hear their name from another offering encouraging support. Thanks to Jim Grossman for cheering everyone on as he toured the course as well as Jamie Doucett for taking on photography duty. A huge thanks to the Haydock's who pull this race together every year! Another Bogburn is in the books. Now it is time to Geschmossel!