Forty-five racers took a chance to participate in the 48th Annual Geschmossel. The winter continued its trend of supplying last-minute snow to put the finishing touches on the trail. The Geschmossel was held on 100% natural snow, and race conditions could not have been better! The crew at Bretton Woods did an excellent job choosing and preparing a course. A shortened loop allowed for more attention to the track, and the result was a fast, fun race.
A nice crisp day with a firm powder track is my idea of ideal conditions. For the seemingly endless overcast we have experienced this season, the sun was welcome. It was not quite bluebird, as there were some thin clouds, but it may have well been. Many skiers opted to continue skiing after the awards to boost their time in the sun. The temperature remained below twenty for the race with little to no wind. Bretton Woods staff took credit for the sunny, windless day.
The course was a lollipop loop that started on Coronary Hills on the east end of the golf course. Skiers started at the entrance of the woods on Coronary but took the first right onto Crawford Pass. They encountered the first significant hills on the rolling Crawfords Pass trail, some of the nicest striding we have seen this season. At two kilometers, skiers made another right off Crawfords onto Zealand Pass, which was the beginning of the loop portion. The loop was a two-kilometer circuit comprised of Zeland Pass and Esker. The left onto Esker put skiers on the next significant climb on the course. The loop was completed three times, and skiers finished just before the junction with Crawfords Pass, making for an overall distance of 8km. There was mostly double poling, but the tracks were fast and firm. There was little false flat so the athletes' arms and shoulders did not burn up too much. Plus the tracks got faster at the race went on.
Participants arrived around 9:00 a.m. They were greeted by a nicely tracked trail parallel to the picturesque drive to the iconic Mount Washington Hotel. Participants visited with each other. Several racers were putting a bib on for the first time since 2020. It was good to see Bryce Wing (Ford Sayre), Nat Lucy (Mt. Washington), and the Gunn’s (Black Water Nordic). After some quick catchups, it was time to get to business.
Skiers were excited that conditions were much better than called for and went about testing wax. Feedback was interesting. Jessica Bolduc (NWVE), who had the club's recommendation (Guru Green), reported the wax was perfect. Cipperly (NWVE) wanted to speed it up. Tyler Magnan (NWVE) attested to getting sixth in the Craftsbury Marathon on Guru Green, and I pointed out that I won the Lake Placid Loppet on Guru Green. I guess we liked the wax. Thomas Clayton (NWVE) went with Swix 30 Blue covered with a little Start Terva Green. Cipperly ended up adding a little Rode Alaska as a shell on her skis. Amy Caldwell (Caldwell Sport) opted for Zach’s new blue wax Star Blue and wondered if she had warmed up on the right course.
Skiers put on their final layers of wax, skied to the start, and removed the extra layers of clothing over their race suits. The start was changed from a mass start to a 15-second interval, and with a couple of minutes to spare, the call for the top ten to line up was made by Fred Bailey (NENSA). The start order appeared to be the order of registration, with Lisa Doucett (CSU) leading things off. The field was dominated by Masters Skiers. However, with an early start, the eager Liam Sakakeeny (Freedom Trail Nordic U18) started in third position. He made quick work of the two in front of him and skied free and clear to the finish. I started in 6th position with cheers from John Wigglesworth (SDXC) and a photo op a few skiers back. I knew I had Nat Lucy (Mt. Washington) and Dennis Page (Nansen) not too far back, so I took it out quickly instead of my usual easing into things.
Jonathan Rodd (NWVE) chased Dennis with his brother Daniel Rodd (Bedford Ski Club) starting next. Michael Mashtare (NWVE) and Cipperly Good (NWVE) were chased by Rob Riley (Gunstock). Cipperly had a lot of soreness from a backcountry fall earlier in the week. She figured the race effort would help clear the inflammation. Tyler Magnan (NWVE) led out Amy, and Charlie Gunn (Black Water), and Jessica Bolduc (NWVE) chased. Jessica had Thomas Clayton (NWVE) and Stuart Kremzner (Toko). Jessica noted that Stuart was gliding very well on his double-pole skis. Maters regulars Michele Smith (CSU) and Karen Alence (MNC). Michele and Karen were chased by the Men’s overall Gold and Silver Cookie winners Gaelan Boyle-Wight (NWVE) and Will Meehan (SMC Alum). A few spots back, Meredith Mashtare (NWVE) suited up for the first time for NWVE with the women's podium to contend with. Kathy Maddock (Dublin), Amy Caldwell (Caldwell Sport), and Alex Jospe (SMS) made for one of the best Masters Podiums! Bill Donahue (Gunstock) and Stephen Wright (NWVE) were in the mix. Kathy appreciated pacing off Stephen as it worked so well last week at the Bogburn.
The course was well-prepared and not very technical. The double tracks made it easy for skiers to navigate around each other, and the long loop gave skiers room with long lines of sight, so there was always action going on. While I skied alone, there was always someone to catch. With each lap, the course got faster, and the skiers’ confidence grew. They knew what was ahead and how much was left. Jamie Doucett (CSU) stood atop the climb on Esker, cheering nearly everyone by name. Liam Sakakeeny (FTN) was never caught and finished 4th overall. I was not caught either, but had Dennis Page and Rob Riley closing in fast. While it took a while, Jonathan Rodd started catching some of the early starters. It was on the loop, so he was also in some lap traffic. Rob Riley quickly caught Michael Masthare, but after that, it was not until he was on the loop that he had more company. Cipperly felt her injury more than anticipated but powered through the race and was relieved to be finished. She recovered for a bit after her finish and skied back to the start and then the lodge with NWVE’s number one supporter, Wally Good. Tyler Magnan had a solid race. He was happy with the course profile for his first classic race of the season. Jessica Bolduc’s ski speed impressed Amy Gunn, who felt she must have had sandpaper bases. Amy was also impressed with how fast Alex Jospe was skiing. Thomas Clayton was mixed on whether his skis were slow or if he was still recovering from COVID. His result was good, and he was one of the many who put in some serious afternoon kilometers after the awards. Stuart Kremzner continued to be on fire this season, impressing many onlookers on the course and the results table. After catching Karen Alence, Gaelan Boyle-Wight set about reeling in the rest of the Wednesday Night Worlds regulars. He focused on Thomas, then Will Meehan. Meredith Mashtare was among some very fast company but was able to mark and work on catching Natalie Duval (Black Water). Meredith also secured the win for her age group and joined me in noting that we had the distinction of earning a gold cookie at the awards. Bill Donahue was impressed with the performance of the field and cooled down with Bryce Wing and Stephen Wright after the race. Stephen had a great race increasing the gap on several of the skiers that participated in the Bogburn.
As racers lapped through and others finished, it was fun to see the progress being made. It was also nice not to have to count more than three laps! Enthusiasm built as the race went on, and many stayed to cheer in the final athletes on the course. The anxiety of the race staff turned to elation as they saw the positive reactions of the participants. Fred Bailey added confidence and reassured that things were as good as they got. It is stressful to pull off an event like this with weather cooperation coming down to the wire. At the awards, all were jovial and in great spirits.
It was one of the more pleasant Geschmossels in memory; no bone-chilling wind cutting through you as you skied the last kilometer only to find your extra layers in a half-buried frozen heap helped a lot. Seeing so many faces stepping up to the line after a few years was exciting too! A few felt it was good to “knock the rust off,” but it looked like most had not missed a stride. Skiers departed happy to have had the opportunity to race at Bretton Woods again on a picture-perfect day.