NWVE wrapped up the 2018-2019 NENSA Zak & Citizen's Series in a big way at the Craftsbury Spring Fling and the New England Club Relay Championship. After a long season with no race cancellations, the club is still going strong and enjoying the extraordinary conditions we were blessed with this year. Mid-winter conditions in March are always a treat, and now we can get some really fun skiing in under a warm sun.
Skiers arrived and registered with the Spring Fling mindset of this is a fun race, on a fun course and we are not taking it too seriously, but we are going to leave it all out on the trail. As we warmed up in the twenty-degree temps, people felt it was hot out. The sun was high and bright. Perfect conditions for the race!
The surface was well prepared packed powder. The corduroy was crumbly as there was not much transitioned snow or moisture to cause it to glaze or freeze together. The snow was not overly fast, but you could get moving on it. The course was the traditional Spring Fling figure-8 that starts in the Lower Field, goes around Murphy’s, this year we took Inner Duck Pond to Upper Bailey Hazen, got on the North Race Loop going down Kirby’s where there was a speed trap set up, climbed John’s Jaunt and Hoyt’s Wall before heading out on the rolling Ruthie’s and Sam’s Run. Skiers returned to the Lower Field for the Lap/Finish via the challenging climb up Lower Bailey Hazen, up Moss’s and then Lemon’s to Wilbur’s before dropping into the stadium. As stated, a fun course that has it all!
With the 10-minute warning, skiers lined up and got ready to go. There were a few adjustments in the self-seeding, but a cooperative field listened to the race instructions anticipating the command to start. We got underway with a flurry of double-poling. Unfortunately, this start was not as clean as the others we have had this season. As skiers climbed teaching hill, there was some commotion on the inside around midfield. As skiers looped around Murphy's, small gaps opened and were filled as people sorted out their paces. Very aggressive skiing by a Hopkinton High Schooler was called out by several seasoned racers including myself, Frank Feist, and Rob Bradlee as he veered and careened his way through the ranks. There was a lot of excitement, and while he was in control, he expended a lot of energy unnecessarily, and his aggressive tactics during the race hurt him more than helped. He continuously attacked some very steady and experienced skiers throughout the race who more or less considered him an annoyance. You can make things happen in a 5k through the process of elimination, but not so much in the 30k, especially against experienced skiers that will not back down.
The train chugged along as things sorted out until the long downhill on Kirby’s, followed by the steep climbs on John’s Jaunt and Hoyt’s Wall. In this sequence of extremes, it is hard to make up any lost ground. Raleigh Goessling (CRGP), Sam Evan-Brown (Concord Nordic) and Grahm Houtsma (Bates) established themselves as the elite pack. A little further back MNC’s Liam John was hanging in with Eli Enman (NWVE), Tucker Jefferson (Harvard) and Gerrit Garberich (Unattached). Behind this group, the main field started cruising at a steady rate. Ethan Dreissigacker (Craftsbury), Joel Bradley (Ford Sayre), Neal Graves (Stowe Nordic) and Chris Burnham (NWVE) drove the pace. Charles Martell (MNC) had a great race going keeping company with CSU’s John Sakalowsky. Hallie Grossman (CGRP) was impressive as she worked her way out of a difficult start. She pulled a few men that tried to stay with her including Ben Taska (Unattached) and David Herr (Unattached). Her younger brother Eli Grossman (MNC) made a valiant attempt to ski with her too, but it was a no go as she steadily outpaced him. A somewhat organized pack centered around Elissa Bradley (Ford Sayre) that included Tyler Magnan (NWVE), Dennis Page (Nansen), Adrian Owen (US Ski-O), John Thompson (NWVE) and me. We all stuck together for a lap before things started to spread out for various reasons. There was then a bit of a gap to a few of the top 15km Masters. CSU teammates Robert Burnham, and Rob Bradlee joined with Hugh Pritchard (Onion River). These three helped Mark Pitts (Holderness) and Mark Isselehardt (Craftsbury) for a lap before breaking off for the finish. The next pack had some heavy hitters in it with Jim Fredericks (MNC), Jon Miller (NWVE), Tristen Leggett (NWVE), Patrick Cafferky (NWVE), Kasie Enman (NWVE) and Wyatt Teaford (SMS). This was an interesting pack as there was an age inversion throughout the race as the younger skiers set the pace early, but the older skiers arrived at the finish first.
Dhyan Nirmegh (NWVE) had to have been happy with his ski outpacing Keith Woodward (Craftsbury) and Daniel Voisin (Onion River) as he tracked down Chris Bean (Onion River). Nirmegh overtook Chris on the second lap and never looked back. Meanwhile, as Chris faded, he came into view of Brendan Barden (NWVE), Sara Pribram (NWVE), and Nicholas Pederson (Onion River). This pack was more dysfunctional than others with a wide disparity between the skiers. However, the tenacity and candor of these racers kept them together as they raced the 30km.
Jessica Bolduc (NWVE) found her skis running well as the race went on. She moved up through the field and was closing on the 15km Women’s winner, Rebecca Feist (Bates) at the finish. Jessica skied in to take second in that field! John McGill (Onion River) and Craig Pepin (MNC) were relieved when Jess pulled off for the finish after zipping by as they were dreading trying to match her pace. A little further back John Witmer (NWVE) skied with Heather Voisin (Onion River). These two were the carrot that Marathon Series Challengers Jud Hartmann (NWVE) and Bruce Katz (Unattached) chased. Jud and Bruce would go on to battle each other on the second lap with Bruce having the advantage this week. Jud was extremely thankful for the NWVE Brownie at the end of the race as he had bonked a little in the final kilometers. Hannah Barden (NWVE) and Perry Bland (NWVE) kept tabs on each other for lap one. Perry was saving a little for the Relay Championship while Hannah was enjoying yet another week of incredible skiing. On the second lap, Hannah pressed on by herself. Ellie Bouffard had a lonely race being the only skier opting to use the classic technique. With no tracks, and the rest of the field hammering with the skate technique Ellie was in a world of her own.
As skiers finished, there was much enthusiasm about how the race went. Most were appreciative of the weather and conditions as well as another season of great competition with friends from all over the region. Some made quick exits while others stayed for hours soaking up the day. A festive awards ceremony was held, and the BKL race was a hit with some specially prepared trails that included a few fun features. Many were looking forward to returning for the New England Club Relay Championship on the second day of the weekend.