An enthusiastic field ventured to Bretton Woods for day two of the New Hampshire Nordic Weekend to participate in the Annual Geschmossel. Skiers were relieved that the call to postpone the race had been made last weekend negating the need for doubling up their wind briefs in the windy sub-zero conditions. The timing with the White Mountain Classic also made the weekend an excellent primer for next weekend’s Brodhead Challenge in Craftsbury.
Even with the postponement, there was still some extreme weather to contend with at the race. The rain earlier in the week had changed things at Bretton Woods, though not to the degree that we saw in Jackson. The snow was semi-transformed with a little powder in the mix. Sunday morning had some strong wind gusts and blowing snow accumulated in the exposed tracks. The shelter of the woods protected the course and skiers from the windy elements, making for some prime skiing conditions.
The course was a single lap utilizing some of Bretton Wood’s finest trails. While the wind was a bit extreme in the start area, once skiers got onto Willey's Way they were protected, and the racing really got going. The course climbed to the B&M trail then crossed to Dark Forest on Porcupine. The course was routed back on the Perimeter adding a little variety to the end of the course before it looped back to the start area. The course received many positive reviews from the racers.
The conditions during the race were in the low 20’s with overcast. There was the aforementioned Bretton Woods wind with blowing snow in the start area, but the woods were tranquil aside from the line of racers hauling on the fast semi-transformed snow. The tracks were perfectly set. NWVE’s Wax Recommendation was the ticket for the second day in a row. It is reassuring when one of the top five skiers tries out the test skis for 30 seconds, says "YEAH it's all there," strips their skis and throws on the recommended Rode Violet Multigrade for the day.
Skiers huddled on a side trail near the start as they waited for the call. They shed their warm-ups and took the line at the five-minute warning. After some quick instructions, the start command was given, and the race was on! The field was a nice mix of senior, masters as well as a few Junior racers from SMS. The initial speed was fast, in part to get a good position for the race, because the young racers set a commanding pace, as well as to simply get to the shelter of the woods. Within a couple hundred meters, the elite pack had a small gap on the rest of the field. Tyler Deangelis (Unattached), Seth Downs (Anchorage, AK), Neal Graves (Stowe Nordic), Darren Piotrow (Sunapee), Tyler Magnan (NWVE), and Chris Burnham (NWVE) broke away as the U14 SMS skiers Wyatt Teaford, Chip Freeman and Fin Bailey had to check their ambition against the "old guys." It will not be more than a season that these three will be able to sustain the pace they set at the start, but it was not quite going to happen at the Geschmossel this year. They settled in and a small chase group formed including Brad Clarke (Bethel Outing), Eric Darling (NWVE), and Wyatt. The main field assembled behind these two groups. Skiers that had done the White Mountain Classic noted some fatigue with the initial effort. However, once finding their groove climbing Willey's Way, they re-calibrated and began making moves. Brad Clarke was driving the pace in the chase group, but they were still within reach of the main field, so I decided to try to bridge with Fin. Bryce Wing (Ford Sayre) attempted to latch on but had just made a heroic effort to catch up and did not have the energy available to do it again. I did make contact with the group but lost it immediately on a series of twisty downhills. After Fin cracked, I was on my own for a while. Stephen Wright broke away from the field as well, and for the second day in a row, Stephen and I skied solo for much of the race. With Stephen and I hanging off the front of the pack, Bryce lead the charge to reel us in. Ed Hamilton (NWVE), Brett Deyling (Unattached), and teammates Stuart Kremzner and Charlie Gunn (Black Water Nordic) all worked together closing the gap. The top Women Jessica Marion (Unattached), and Hannah Smith (CSU) skied together and overtook Ian Blair (Bethel Outing) and Fin who was still recomposing himself from an aggressive start and attack. Sara Graves (Stowe Nordic) and Sara Pribram led the next pack putting a large gap on the rest of the field. Tim Cowan was in the next group that included Master’s skiers, Gordan Scannel (Schussverein), Trina Hosmer (Stowe Nordic), Christopher Naimie (Bow) and Jonathan Chaffee (Ford Sayre) on the climbs early in the course, but broke away on the downhills as once he got going, he was feeling good, and there was not much people could do to keep up with him. A little further back Perry was in an affable contest with Amy Gunn (Black Water Nordic), Ellen Chandler (Ford Sayre), Paul Curley (American Lung Association), and Raul Siren (Unattached). Perhaps outwardly affable but when Raul slipped away, Perry decided not to let it be that easy. He skied hard down the hills on the second half of the course bringing a group with him and on the last climb on Perimeter, he overtook Raul and made it to the finish line ahead of him. John Witmer found himself in a league of his own for much of the race skiing alone without a racer within a minute of him. He was happier with his skis on day two, as in day one they slipped a little in sections where the course got chewed up. At the front of the field, Tyler let a gap open up around midway through the race. There was no catching back on as those that stayed in the group had a nice paceline going down the hills. Chris Burnham also got popped off a little later, and Tyler caught and passed him. Brad Clarke and Eric Darling stayed together throughout the race with Brad taking the sprint at the end. Stephen flew by me on Dark Forest, and I drafted him the rest of the way in as best I could. On Perimeter we caught a glimpse of Bryce killing it to catch us, but the gap was too much to make up with only a kilometer of course left. Ed Hamilton did his part maintaining space giving us a small advantage on the main field. Jessica Marion was able to put a couple of skiers between her and Hannah Smith opening a slight lead for the overall win in the Women's race. Sara Graves shook off some competition in the final kilometers of the race taking advantage of the downhills and bounding away on the final climbs. Sarah Pribram hung onto Ford Sayre’s Jeremy Griffiths to put 75 seconds on the rest of the field.. Gordon Scannell, Jonathan Chaffee, Trina Hosmer, and Donavon Freeman showed the racing spirit in wildest sprint finish of the day determining the M8 and M9 winners of the day in the heart of the main field. Susan Thompson (Unattached), Amy Gunn, and Ellen Chandler also had a close finish with Susan edging Amy at the line.
As skiers returned to the center, they smiled after a great contest. The course held up very well and had just the right combination of difficulty and ski-ability. It challenged you as much as you wanted but did not leave you completely exhausted. Perfect for setting up the next big weekend. The staff at Bretton Woods put out a nice spread of cheese, crackers, cookies, and beverages for all to enjoy and a brief award ceremony was held to recognize the top three Women and Men. People congregated exchanging stories, skiing a little more, and catching up on what's happened and what's next. Thank you to Bretton Woods for hosting another Geschmossel and making the right call last weekend. Skiers were treated with some premium skiing sure to set the stage for next weekend.