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The Flying Moose Classic

The Flying Moose Classic

2/11/2024

Results: 25km, 12.5km 


The 33rd Annual Flying Moose Classic was held on the scenic Inland Woods Trails in Bethel, Maine.  The event has become a NENSA Winter Events Calendar staple with its small-town feel and friendly competition.  The snow was plentiful in Bethel, and the weather provided optimal conditions for what was forecasted.


The drive to Bethel was uneventful, with clear roads.  Temperature swings were noted as we cruised over highlands and through river valleys.  We mainly saw low thirties, good news for the race, and some warm spots up to forty.  A strong northwest wind was noted in a few spots once we arrived at the venue. 


We arrived early to find parking nearly full.  The BKL races preceded the Open Races, but the parking lots appeared to be filled with Master Skiers eager to dial in their skis for the day.  It was noted who had organic matter and what they were testing on their skis.    The ample snow in Bethel is all-natural, but due to a snow drought the last couple of weeks, it was anticipated to be a bit dirty in the woods with tree debris. 


The snow was quite good.  There was a base that was over a foot deep.  The surface was a crust of transformed snow, having been rained on and gone through several melting and freezing cycles.  Underneath was softer, semi-transformed snow.  Most of the track had clean snow, but there were a few icy water bars, messy trees, and a couple of dirt spots.  All were easily avoidable.  The tracks were expertly set and held relatively well.


The wax consensus was Universal as there were many conditions on the course.  The NWVE recommendation was Swix KN44, which was a good performer in testing.  We ultimately went with a Guru Extreme 39 Hard cushion, with KN44 over the top.  Skiers were very pleased with this option as it worked everywhere and was not draggy during the race.  Some people used Skin Skis, Zeros, or opted to double pole.


The course was the loop we have raced the last few seasons, minus a short part of the Paradise Trail.  The course is relatively flat. Skiers started on Millbrook to Moose; they turned onto Uncorked and climbed to the top of Grovers Grind. The payoff for the effort was a steady descent down Grovers Grind. At the bottom of Grover’s was a sharp left onto I95. Skiers did an out and back on I95, allowing cheering and getting some support from much of the field. Once done with the 4-km stint on I95, skiers returned to the stadium via Millbrook.


Racing got underway with a clean start.  Skiers sorted themselves out on the initial climbs toward the Paradise loop.  By the time we hit Uncorked, things had settled in.  The snow condition was a bit variable, with the sun warming the crust.  There were firm areas and soft areas depending on the shade.  It was apparent that some skis worked better than others in the different conditions.


Brian Beyerbach (Wolfpack) was in it to win it.  He set an unmatchable pace wire to wire.  Devon Wong (Colby) cruised to an easy victory in the half-distance skiing with Caden Cote (Quarry Road) for his first lap.  Gaelan Boyle-Wight (NWVE) raced in good position with a group of Colby skiers for the first lap before settling in with Jacob Volz (Gould) for the second lap.  Chris Burnham opted to use Zero skis.  They worked better in the softer snow.  He worked with Rob Riley (GNA) for much of the race, but with good skis up the sun-exposed final climb, Chris easily pulled away.    Dennis Page (Nansen) continued his trend of being alone for the majority of the race, as was Eric Darling (NWVE).  Eric had raced the Skiathlon at Sleepy Hollow on Saturday and did not need to change his wax.  Eric did note that his skis stayed cleaner in Bethel.  Jimmy Burnham (CSU) had good company with Kirk Siegel (BOC).  Kirk is tough to shake on his home course, but Jimmy found a way, eventually. 


Tyler Magnan (NWVE) thought that perhaps double poling the race would preserve an injured leg.  Unfortunately, the snow conditions were not conducive to double-poling the whole race.  Everyone with pole baskets smaller than dinner plates struggled with pole planting and the crusty top giving way to a soft underlayer of snow.  This was especially pronounced for the double polers.  As the race progressed, finding the firm snow for a solid pole plant became more difficult.  Brook Hodgeman (NWVE) did not have his wax tech, Scott Magnan (NWVE), this weekend.  Brook regretted his wax decision, but decided to live with what he picked and toughed out the race with poor kick over the course.  After Brook had committed to the second lap, he found himself moving up in the field and was able to hold off Ingrid Thyr (Pathletics Factory Team).


On the out-and-back section of the course, a person kept cheering on the field. He was recognizable, but we had not seen him in a citizen’s race in a while. The Bates pants gave it away, even though he had joined the Wolfpack. It was Eli Grossman smiling the whole way!  Robert Burnham (EMXC) had done some extensive wax testing but opted to go with a Zero ski.  It paid off on the second lap as the snow slowed.  His longtime rival Wes Denering (CSU) picked a Skin ski.  Wes raced patiently but could not repeat keeping the heat on Robert as he did in the Craftsbury Marathon.  Stuart Kremzner (Toko) worked his strength, joining overall winner Brian Beyerbach and Tyler Magnan with double-poling the race.  Stuart felt it a lot on lap two. 


Brad Clarke (BOC) returned to racing after a multi-year stint off the circuit.  Brad was joined by teammate Ian Blair (BOC) on the home course and found his groove after a lap.  Brad dropped Ian and focused on getting by Wes before the finish line.  I went back and forth with Joe Holland (Putney).  We had differently matched skis, with mine being a great hard-track ski and Joe’s gliding better in the soft snow.  I thought I put Joe away, but my extra cautiousness on Grover’s opened a window of oportunity for Joe.  He caught and drafted me, waiting for the sunny section of the course, and skied away—a well-executed plan by the veteran racer.


Jessica Bolduc (NWVE) had an exciting race.  She spent most of the race working with John Mathieu (Maine Nordic).  They would be joined by Michael Melnikov (Freedom Trail Nordic) for a bit.  Mark Battie (Brunswick) also mixed in for a bit.  Jessica was working on holding off Mary Heller Osgood (Putney) and Elizabeth Ransom (GNA).  Mary has been training for the Birkie and her efforts shined in the second lap as she pulled away from the group.  Dhyan Nirmegh (NWVE) put the flannel in the race. He was also part of the group consistently skiing along.  He held off Gordan Scannell (SDXC), Chris Osgood (Putney), and Bruce Katz (Unattached) to take the M9 category.  John was happy with the striding grades on the course, having not raced in Bethel in over twenty years.  Nirmegh was also pleased with his effort, especially with doing the double this weekend. 


Bruce Katz has been having a great season.  He has been moving up the results page along with Michele Smith (CSU).  Both skiers looked great racing in a group that included Chris Osgood, Wyatt Williams (Thornton Academy), Doug Collins (Nonstop Nordic), David Freedman (Mt. Wash.), Elizabeth Ransom and Lauren Wardwell (Unattached).  A diverse group like this makes the Flying Moose one of my favorite events.  Skiers of all ages and stages in the sport skiing together to get to the finish line.  The shared experience certainly enhances everyone's sense of accomplishment. 


I do not know if you have noticed, but NENSA’s most eligible club points racer has settled down.  That is right, after years of fending off enticing woos like: used wind briefs (MNC), a ham and cheese sandwich (NWVE), all-you-can-eat leftover marathon veggie chili (Craftsbury), expired seasons’ passes (Stowe Nordic), not to mention out living countless other clubs, Todd Taska has joined NWVE!  Todd fits in perfectly.  Today, his ski boot fell apart during the race.  Rather than give up, Todd ran to his car, duct taped the sole back on his boot mid-race, and had a much more satisfying second lap.  Remind you of anyone?


Cipperly Good (NWVE) was coming off the win at the Caribou Bog.  She showed up with her ski bases clean and had her “snazzy” new hat on.  She went with the club recommendation untested as the race was getting underway.  Cipperly had one of her best races in a long time, enjoying the course and racing with Martin Grohman (Unattached) and Lisa Doucett.  Cipperly also wondered what on earth Todd was doing during the race, unaware of the boot mechanical. 


So, it was another fun race!  How could it not be with a name like the Flying Moose!?  The organizers did a great job hosting and supporting the participants.  The feed table at the finish had delicious sun-warmed tollhouse cookies that were a hit with the exhausted racers.  They also had a deep raffle prize table and even suggested picking up something special for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day!  Skiers enjoyed the sun, snow, and spring conditions on yet another perfect day to ski! 


Damian

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