The Annual Flying Moose Classic was part two of the Maine Double Weekend. A few skiers who were treated at The John Roderick in Rumford were in for another treat at the Flying Moose in Bethel. It was a sunny morning, and the harsh wind had subsided. While the snow banks in Rumford were 4-6 feet high, in Bethel they were 6-8 feet tall. Bethel has not lost snow, and the groomers did an amazing job setting the course.
Skiers tested klister, Oslo, hard-wax, and klister-covered. You could get by on any of these options; however, the snow was abrasive. There were several corners to slide around on the course, so with durability in mind, NWVE went with a mix of blue and violet klister after a heads up from Rob Bradlee (CSU), adding our own cover with the Ski*Go Blue that served us well in Jackson. The feedback was superb on the wax, and I think it is reflected in the results too.
The course utilized the purpose-built Bethel Village Trails. It began with some gently rolling climbs on the Paradise trails, then dropped down to Mill Brook working its way to Corkscrew where things really heated up for a bit, then Back onto Mill Brook via Dick's Best Guess?, then climbed Pasture Path to Tibbetts, dropping back to Mill Brook which climbed back to the stadium. This loop was repeated for the 20km race. The trail was packed fine granular with incredible tracks. Groomers “did a FANTASTIC job” according to winner Tyler Magnan. Jeremy Nellis, claims to have “just winged it” setting the track, however, most shared Tyler’s enthusiasm for an incredible job. The grooming this weekend truly was something to behold. Both hosts laid it out for fun and FAST!
Twenty minutes before the race started, Nirmegh arrived. “How did he get here?” asked one skier. “I don’t know he just appeared.” Replied another. “What’s the wax?” Nirmegh asked with 5 minutes to go after registering. “Damian says you want Rex Blue Klister with this Ski*Go HF Blue stuff to cover, I have to line up.” Replied yet another. With one minute to spare and no testing, Nirmegh was on the line.
Racing got underway with the 20km starting at 11:00 a.m. Skiers wasted no time organizing for the race. From the line, Tyler Magnan and Eric Darling of NWVE were away. They were followed by a group led by Brad Clarke and Ian Blair (BOC), while Rob Bradlee (CSU), Nat Lucy (Unattached), Laurel Fiddler (Gould Academy) and I waited to see how things would shake out. Dhyan Nirmegh (NWVE) and Win Goodbody (Death Valley Nordic) worked their way out of the fray early on, skiing on their own for most of the race. Robert Faltus (CSU) exclaimed he got a good racing lesson from NWVE teammates Sarah Pribram and Jonathan Rodd. Just behind them, Mary Heller-Osgood (Putney) connected with Lily Horne (Freeport Ski Team). Another mentoring opportunity as the decorated Master Skier Mary showed the up-and-coming Junior Racer Lily a thing or two before skiing away from her on lap two. It is these moments that are so important to our sport. As Robert pointed out, he is still learning, and can you get a better lesson than racing 20km with Mary Heller Osgood? Nearly one-quarter of the field resided in the M8 category, and the M9’s were not far behind in attendance with Ford Sayre’s Jonathan Chaffee leading the way. Nirmegh was uncatchable in the M8's today. Ken Remsen (Unattached) skied to a solid second place in the category overtaking M7 Dykstra Eusden (Unattached) in the closing kilometers. Perry Bland (NWVE) was delighted with his race against Graham Holmes (CSU). Graham may have gotten the best of Perry at the line, but Perry was minutes up on the results page from earlier this season. Cipperly Good (NWVE) was in a good pack but dropped her competition near the end of the first lap. This was not a rare occurrence making the second lap a lonely one for many.
At the front of the field, Tyler widened his lead by skiing his second lap only 5 seconds slower than the first. Very even for a technical 10km loop. Eric Darling was surprised as he felt he maintained his pace and that Tyler picked it up. The results never lie, and Eric was more consistent with the field skiing about a minute slower the second time around. Between lap one and lap two some wind that must have been left over from Saturday picked up and strong gusts challenged racers as they skied across an exposed area before looping to the Stadium. Brad Clarke skied away from the elite pack but could not catch Tyler and Eric. The elite pack dwindled to two, Nat and Laurel, as first Ian Blair, then me, and finally Rob Bradlee lost contact and drifted back. Win and Nirmegh were in close proximity to keep us on our toes, pushing ourselves all the way to the finish. After having enough of a lesson, the student became the teacher as Robert Faltus out kicked Sarah and Jonathan on the last hill. “Skis were GREAT! Best race in years!” exclaimed Perry as returned to the waxing area to get his warm-ups. Upon gapping her competition, Cipperly was determined not to be caught. Sometimes being chased is all the motivation you need to make sure you are executing your race well. It worked for her Sunday, as she outpaced those around her by minutes on the second lap.
The Flying Moose is a real family affair with an event for everyone. In the 10km race, Jenny Wilbraham (MNC/BOC) took a decisive win for the women. The M8’s were well represented again in the 10km field with Charlie Maddaus (Unattached) taking the win, Chris Osgood (Putney) getting silver and Muzzy Barton (Cape Nordic) taking the bronze. Beth Barton (Cape Nordic) was not far behind. Amy Wilson proved the oldest ski club in the country (since 1872), Nansen, is not a one-person show as she prepared for the Nansen-Milan Winter Festival. If you liked this weekend’s racing, it might be worth checking out these events February 22nd-24th. The ArtSled Rally is sure to be a crowd pleaser. David Holmander (CSU) rounded out the 10km field completing the Double Weekend with Sarah, Eric and I.
Sometimes the best-laid plans… After watching me cling to the tail end of the EC Fields for years as "The Old Guy," Derek Wilbraham had concocted a strategy for winning the 10km Tour. He would ski with me for a lap. Unfortunately, a start delay for the tourers prevented that from happening, and the gap proved too much to make up in a single lap on Sunday's course. He ended up skiing with his wife Sharon Wilbraham happy to finish before Tyler could lap him. Next time Derek! Put a bib on; it's not so bad!
Skiers ended the Maine Race Weekend with smiles and high spirits. At the post-race lasagna feast teams blended and traded stories. The free beverage from the beer sponsor hit the spot too. Participants parted ways sharing details on their next adventures looking forward to seeing each other again. People were ready to spread the word of the abundant snow in Central Maine, and that the Chisholm and Bethel Outing Club do everything in their power plus some, to go above and beyond making sure their events are out of this world!