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Silver Fox Trot

The Silver Fox Trot made a triumphant return to Oak Hill after a long absence. A new snowmaking system allowed Ford Sayre to showcase their great hosting skills on home turf. Five NWVE members made the trip to Hanover, most of whom hadn't been there in nearly 20 years. 

The stadium at Oak Hill remains the same, but the race course has dramatically changed. Instead of plunging down the hill into a hard right turn, the course starts by heading up the hill, followed by a nearly 180-degree uphill turn about 250 meters into the course. After this, the course heads down the hill into the old starting area. It then loops back up towards the ski jump before rolling back down towards the bottom, ending with a big climb back into the stadium. 

Discussions in the warm-up centered around the dramatic changes. There was major excavation work done to re-build the trail network around the stadium area, but at least one feature remained. The steepness of the hills at Oak Hill was still a defining feature of the course. The snow was icy and fast, and the downhills were screaming. The steep climbs and rolling, twisty terrain meant the race would be fast and painful. 

The open men started the day, with the open women starting one minute behind. The race announcer noted that we were the first ever to race on the new course. With a climb and a sharp turn immediately after the start, many expected the field to stack up, but a wide trail and a relatively small race field made for a clean start. 

The race field was filled with a lot of locals from Ford Sayre and the Dartmouth Outing Club. M1 Andrew Nadler took the overall win for the host club, with four other skiers within 25 seconds of him. Sam Evans Brown took 2nd, and St. Mike's Alum Will Meehan was third. Eric Darling was the top NWVE skier of the day, using a strong 2nd lap to climb up to 10th overall. Tyler Magnan rode some fast skis to a 14th-place finish. He was on Eric's heels near the end of the 1st lap, but Eric put a minute on him before the finish, most of it on the climb into the stadium. Being accustomed to classic races, Steve Wright didn't particularly enjoy the chaos of a mass start skate race and found himself in a tight group in the heart of the masters field. Charlie Gunn, Jim Stock, Steve Wright, Nat Lucy, and Rick Powell all finished within 6 seconds of each other, in that order. I didn't see the sprint, but I'm sure Nat had gritted teeth coming down the finish stretch. Scott Magnan lost a lot of ground on the uphills, noting he hasn't really had the opportunity to train on any steep climbs this year. Finishing just off the back of Steve's group, he was happy to put in a hard effort. 

In the women's field, Sarah Pribram made a return to Zak Cup racing and spoiled the Ford Sayre double by beating out Rosalie Wilson for the overall win. Sarah's biggest challenge was navigating through the back of the men's field on the fast downhills, but executed it well. She may be racing a limited schedule this season, but she's still a force to be reckoned with.

The day provided some fantastic skating conditions, fun racing, and even some rare sun. It is fantastic to see new life brought into the Oak Hill venue, and we're all looking forward to future events there. 

Tyler Magnan


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