The Mount Washington Cup was held over the weekend in mid-winter conditions. The crew at Bretton Woods spent the week smoothing things over from the 75 mph winds on Monday and Tuesday. The trails were in excellent shape and ready for the annual contest.
Skiers eagerly prepared, looking forward to a superb course and conditions to match. They visited and warmed up before assembling near the hotel for the start. After some brief instructions and a countdown, the skiers were on course.
The trail conditions were firm packed powder. The snow speed was average with skiers remarking on how ski-able it was. After a couple of weekends with fast snow, a few were relieved that they did not have to worry about launching themselves off the course. The course was forgiving utilizing the Stumpwalk, Sebosis, Moosehorn, Beechhill, Dark Forest, and Crawford’s Pass trails. Nothing too steep or technical, but a long grind out and rolling downhill back.
The race started clean and skiers organized into different packs only seconds apart. As we climbed, it seemed like the race was spreading out, but on a U-turn at 2km, on Stumpwalk, we could see our progress. The leaders were not up by much, and the rest of the field was in hot pursuit. We were racing! The pace was fast, and the racers were hanging in. As the course continued to climb up Sebosis, quads began to burn, and things spread out a little more. At the front NWVE was well represented with Eli Enman, Jake Hollenbach, Eric Tremble, Tyler Magnan, and Eric Darling skiing with Manhattan Nordic's Tim Donahue and Mansfield's Michael Millar. This was an almost all master's affair until Cameron Brochu (Gunstock) bridged up after starting further back in the field. Just behind them, a chase group had formed around Dublin's Kathy Maddock. This group included myself, and Mansfield teammates Steve Crafts and Michael Gaughan. This group had gapped the field a bit, but as Michael fatigued after pulling for 3km, a few saw an opportunity to bridge.
London Warburton (Bow) made the initial move pulling Charlie Gunn (Blackwater), Rob Bradlee (CSU) and Justin Henderson (unattached) almost into reach. Upon sensing company, Kathy took charge and broke away from the pack. London bridged up and skied through the pack joining Kathy while the rest of us waited to see how things would shake out. Not to mention this was happening on the steeper climbs of Sebosis and legs were on fire. Sticking with the field Patrick Cafferky (NWVE), Kyle Darling (NWVE) Jon Miller, and Dhyan Nirmegh (NWVE) worked with Eli Walker (Great Glen) to stay on pace but not burn out too quickly. The courses profile shows a steady climb for 4km without much reprieve. One of the earliest victims of fatigue was Bethel's Ian Blair, who after having an aggressive start found himself drifting back in the pack. Patrick was locked in knowing what he needed to do to have a big impact for the club. As Kyle started to fade, he encouraged him to hang with the team as Nirmegh and Jon were also close for support.
With Kathy pushing the Men's pace the fight was on to fill out the rest of the Women's podium. Sarah Pribram (NWVE) and Maureen Mcauliffe (Unattached) were trading places skiing up the hill. They were slowly pulling away from FM3 racers Susan Thomson (Unattached) and Jessica Bolduc (NWVE). Sarah and Maureen were fairly even and began reeling in some of the men as they raced each other, including Mansfield's Andrew Legg. Thomas Smith (CSU), Robert Faltus (CSU), Donovan Freeman, and Brendan Barden (NWVE) were right in the mix with this group. As many found, the transition to the downhill was vital to this race. Those that had overdone the climbs were hoping for a little recovery, but the snow-speed, grade and sweeping turns of the downhills made them skate-able. Some found their legs fried, while others had a little more energy in the tank. Donavan Freeman (Mt. Washington), John Witmer (NWVE) and Trina Hosmer (Stowe Nordic) relied on their experience to remain in contact as this larger group protracted out. They picked off some junior skiers as the race closed in on the finish.
At the front of the race, Tyler and I were showing signs of a long race season as we were unable to hold our initial pace. Fortunately, we had some other teammates with fresh legs to remain in contention. Brendan Barden had some fast skis and disappeared off the front of his group as the downhills separated skiers more than the uphill’s on this Saturday. John Witmer fought his way back into his group on a couple of climbs at the end of the loop after losing a little ground on the long downhills from the top of Moosehorn. Jud Hartmann (NWVE-(pending)) had a good race skiing with Gordon Scannell (Schussverein) and Amy Gunn (Black Water) as they held off CSU's Jody Newton. Perry Bland liked the downhills but was not feeling it on the initial climbs in the race. Kathleen Legg (Mansfield) and Ann Burnham (CSU) skied together in what may have been a staging of a big family showdown at the club relay Championship next weekend. Team Legg has an early jump on registration and is looking to take the unofficial family division! Cipperly Good (NWVE) was in agreement with Perry thinking that the uphill could have been broken up a little more. She had a strong result as she closed on fellow east coaster Wendy Clark (Wending Maps + Wayfinding). David Holmander (CSU) closed out the Mt. Washington Cup skiing sweep.
As racers crossed the finish line, there were some close finishes. Starting with 1st, Jake was edged by the youth of Cameron Brochu in a miscalculation of where the finish line was. Steve Crafts got a five-second gap on me, but for some reason, Robert Bradlee opted not to go by as I burned-out on the last few rollers on the course. Nirmegh sprinted it in with Jon Miller with a great team effort by the two. Brendan Barden who has been skiing much of the season with Robert Faltus had the advantage on Saturday. John Witmer saw to it that his NWVE threads crossed the line in front of Jim Ellis, wearing the CSU colors!
The conditions made for an exciting race. The snow was not run-away fast making for a tight race with somewhat slow times. It was interesting to watch things unfold as the gaps were not much, but the effort required to make up ground was significant. Skiers enjoyed cooling down before heading in for the awards ceremony. There were many NWVE podiums including Patrick Cafferky taking the Senior Division by 7:14! This margin was so significant that he was included in the overall podium photo along with friends Eli, and Jake! At the conclusion of the ceremony, athletes were sent off to re-calibrate for the Bretton Woods Marathon to follow on Sunday.