The Race to the Cabin
The fabled Race to the Cabin returned this year. Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe Nordic, and Leigh Mallory shared duties to make the event a success! Receiving more than three feet of snow in March helped ensure that efforts made would not be futile. Snow was about as guaranteed as possible.
The Race to the Cabin has had many iterations over the years. It started as a wager by Olympian Larry Damon and has evolved since. The race is known for its extremes and its simplicity. Weather is often a factor. The journey has followed different routes, though this year’s race was on the traditional course. If you start in the meadow at the lodge and finish at the cabin, you are abiding by the spirit of the race.
While it looked like things would be ideal, the weather leading up to the race was turbulent. A warm-up and rain reduced the fresh snowpack, but the base held just fine. Temperatures cooled overnight, and the moisture from the rain drained off the well-maintained trails. Like moths to a flame, the skiers were drawn to this year’s race.
The club wax prediction was made in advance. Then the rain came. I stuck with the prediction and decided to leave it to testing the morning of the race.
Upon arriving, snow squalls had added a significant amount of new powder on the abrasive snow base. Pre-race warm-ups and testing were conducted amidst a squall with driving winds. Not the worst we have seen, but enough to make you question choosing to enter the race. (It was DOR registration only, so no investment was made.) Temps were in the low twenties and not going anywhere.
The grooming was excellent! The powder topcoat was well-preserved, and the finished product was impeccable. The icy underlayers were of no concern, and the snow skied as if it had not rained in months. It was about as perfect as it could get. The wax prediction of Star M16 covered with Guru Blue was well-liked among all testers, so it stayed. Even the wax obsessed had landed on the combination except opting for ToKo blue instead of Guru. ToKo would have more bite. Guru Blue would have a better release.
Skiers, young and not so young, gathered at the start. Cap Chenoweth (Stowe Nordic) gave the instructions and the command to go. The start was tame through the meadow, but when the lanes converged, entering the woods, it was on!
The leaders broke away early. Ben Lustgarten, Morgan Perlman, Chris Burnham, and Eli Enman set the pace. Varying ski speed was apparent early in the race on the flat double pole section, but the group stayed together. Eric Lustgarten chased close behind. Tom Thurston led the main field with Eric Darling, Bob Burnham, Chirs Bean, Tyler Magnan, Sarah Pribram, Rosalie Wilson, and me at the front of the pack.
As skiers approached Picnic Knoll, the race dynamics began to shift. Tom had put a gap between the rest of us with Ross Scatchard. Tyler was chasing, and I knew I wanted clear sailing on the climb. I moved to the front, trying to bridge to Tyler. When the climbing started, the NWVE wax recommendation really kicked in. Literally.
The skis were exceptional on the initial pitches of the climbs. Rosalie’s wax was not on par, and that was immediately apparent after a quick start. NWVE skiers were striding with confidence as others encountered some slipping.
Entering the fray from start positions back in the field, Kasie Enman and Jeremy Huckins began chipping away at the front of the pack. Kasie cruised by almost everyone in the main field on the second half of Yerrick’s Yodel and had Tom in her sights on the Cabin Trail. Tom took advantage of the lesser grade and put in a hard effort to hold her off.
At the front Ben held everyone off for the win in near record time. Morgan, Chris and Eli stayed closer together with Morgan slowly gaining. Eli had dropped back but made an effort to catch back onto the group on the steepest pitch of Yerrick’s. The move left him with nothing to counter when Chris picked up the pace on the Cabin Trail.
I caught Tyler when his pole pierced through the snow, nearly snapping and causing him to fall. Jeremy followed Kasie up the hills passing skiers but was fatigued earlier, settling for 10th place.
Eric Darling was able to overtake Tyler chasing Jeremy. Sarah did as well but stepped out of the tracks, and Tyler took the advantage. Bob Burnham and Chris Bean attacked to the final meters of the race but decided to finish in a tie after a hard-fought battle.
Jessica Bolduc gained ground early in the climb with a quick shuffle out of the tracks. JoAnn Hanowski tried to hang on, but Jessica was able to maintain a small gap. Rosalie could only watch. Acadia Enman and Astrid Longstreth skied the race together, keeping it fun. Tom Longstreth was an exhausted chaperon.
Jim Fredericks had to work hard to hold off a diverse group of skiers. Carrie Nourjian was back in her first race this season and skiing with Gigi Graves and Ann Burnham. Jim opened a slight lead with a safe margin at the finish line.
Karen Alence was happy to have her kind of course in a classic race finally. She rose to the occasion ending with a sprint against Zak Macik.
Ann Bushy celebrated her birthday by putting a race bib on and skiing to the cabin with her son Brian. Ellie Bouffard chased close behind.
King Milne was in an interesting situation. Only a few people get to admire their own memorial, but at the finish line is the King Milne Memorial Bench. Unfortunately, the place for weary racers to rest was buried in the snow. King swept off the plaque to show it truly existed.
Before returning to the yurt for awards, participants were treated to a hot beverage at the cabin. Awards went three deep in each age group, and Leigh personalized calling each winner with a memory, new or old, whether they were present or not. He even had consolation words for those who did not get called up. Skiers trickled in and out of the awards, and most returned to the trails for a day of phenomenal skiing.
Congratulations to all who participated in this great event. Thank you to all who pooled resources to host us for the annual challenge. What better place than Trapp’s to enjoy a fantastic day skiing with friends and the extended cross-country skiing family!