The Annual Mansfield Skiathlon took place this morning at Sleepy Hollow. Yesterday’s spring-like weather turned overnight as temperatures did-the-dipsy-do about 50 degrees. Skiers awoke to the frozen remains of the first half of the weekend’s melting. Everything was solid, and we were back to the frigid racing we have experienced for most of the events this year.
Conditions were cold, but a bright sun took the edge off things. Wax predictions for the weekend swung from one end of the spectrum to the other—reds and yellows to blues and greens. I set out testing Swix Ice Klister and an old tube of Swix green from Jessica’s high school days (another one that’s been in the wax box for decades). I liked the Ice Klister and made the call. Others went for ToKo Blue, Rex Blue, and Rode Blue. They all seemed to be working marginally, and none were grabby.
The conditions were solid. The crew at Sleepy Hollow did their best to till the frozen surface and set a crumbling track. Skiers found the best grip out of the track, and most elected not to use them at all. I had some success in the tracks for about a third of the loop.
The course started in Molly’s Meadow and went straight up Potato Farmer to Bear Claw. Skiers turned onto Ridge Road for a thrilling descent and back to the meadow. They skied around the stadium through the Fun Park (3 rollers) and made their way to the Lap/Exchange zone. The finish was a hard left out of the Fun Park.
The race quickly got underway with a nearly clean start. One racer went for the track out of the meadow and launched himself into the rough, failing to make the corner. Many skiers attacked the course, while others were not so confident about the icy conditions. Eli Enman (NWVE), Chris Burnham (NWVE), and Thomas Clayton (NWVE) established themselves in the lead at a quick pace. In his first race of the season, Eric Tremble (NWVE) was right there too. He was joined by Nate Labor (MNC), Eric Darling (NWVE), and Morgan Perlman (MNC). The race was action-packed, and Eli, Chris, and Thomas were able to distinguish themselves from the rest of the field. Eric Darling gave chase with Nate but dropped the rest of the chase pack and skiing alone between the two groups. Some more cautious skiers were sizing up what they could salvage from the race a bit further back. Michael Millar (MNC) was the guy to chase as Karl Goetze (unattached), Patrick Cafferky (NWVE), Dunbar Oehmig (MNC), and I traded places for the Classic portion of the race. Another group formed around Christopher Naimie (Bow) a little further back. Chris was up for the challenge of four attacking MNC skiers, including Jim Adkisson, Matt Thomson, Jeremy Ravenelle, and Andrew Crawford.
As skiers approached the exchange, the start of the women’s race played a factor. Some of the leaders were more clear of the commotion than others. The chase group was most affected, weaving through more skiers, and their pack did not regroup well. The third pack was positioned such that the start of the women’s race was not an issue; however, the order of skiers did not change much after the exchange. In the women’s field, Sara Falconer (MNC) was able to get a gap on the field. An exciting race between Molly Peters (Sleepy Hollow) and Sarah Pribram (NWVE) unfolded. The two long-time friends have been having an exciting season, but it seemed Molly was very determined to maintain the edge on Sarah today. Kasie Enman (NWVE) was looking for more kick moments before the start and seemed to have gotten some winning the M3 age group with a solid time. Rosalie Wilson (Ford Sayre) had a mishap accidentally exiting the course. She went into the woods but came out with only minor scratches on her skis. She was happy that a tree did not stop her and got back into the race. Liz Hollenbach (NWVE) and Jessica Bolduc (NWVE) had trouble kicking in the dicey conditions. After the ski switch, Liz picked up the pace. Jessica admitted that maybe she was watching too many Olympic Nordic Events in the early hours of the morning over the last week.
The fatigue of the event set in as skiers prepared for the finish. Eli was able to break away from Chris by utilizing lapped skiers on a tricky part of the course as a block. Thomas was happy to hang with the leaders late into the race. Once out of the scramble, Eric Darling glided to fourth place overall. Racing never let up in the middle of the field as confidence on the course grew. People quickened their pace and took slightly more risk on course. The result panned out for some, though there was one hard crash that left a skier in rough shape and unable to finish. I am happy to report that he has rebounded well and credits the hand-delivered NWVE Brownie for his speedy recovery.
Sara Falconer skied to victory by a narrow margin in the Women’s Race. The battle between Molly and Sarah Pribram went almost to the wire. Molly surged late in the race through her namesake meadow and was uncatchable. Sarah was happy for a third-place finish and a great competition at a great venue.
While the day had its challenges, skiers were happy with the event and to test their Skiathlon skills. Most did not venture off the race loop for their cool-downs. Things seemed to transition quickly for the BKL races to follow, but there was a spirited awards ceremony where many prizes were handed out. The Sleepy Hollow and Mansfield Nordic crew did a great job pulling off the race!