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The White Mountain Classic 2024

1/21/2024


The 2024 White Mountain Classic was held under bluebird conditions.  The winter came together perfectly in Jackson for this year’s event.  After a difficult start to the season, with flooding significantly impacting the Touring Center, today was a different story.  Temperatures and snowfalls cooperated perfectly with the event, with the touring center providing and exceeding a 20km race circuit.  Participants were excited to get out and experience the first installment of NENSA’s Marathon Series, as well as the One Day Club Championship, and the Northeast State Championship.


Conditions were perfect for a classic ski race.  Temps hovered in the low teens, and the sun warmed eager skiers.  The snow was cold-packed powder, and the tracks were solid.  There was a bit of abrasive ice crystals mixed in, speeding things up a bit, but nothing to affect the fresh snow conditions.  Skiers tested green and blue hard wax, and most seemed happy with their decision.  The NWVE wax recommendation of Guru Green was working, but we liked Rode World Cup B310 better and went with that.


The course was challenging in its design and the complexity of completing it.  We started in the usual loop on the Wentworth North loop and then climbed Yodel to the Eagle Mountain Fields.  Skiers proceeded onto the Competition trails and rolled through John, Henry, and the Wave.  The Wave was tracked almost all the way, making it interesting for some, especially the first time through.  Skiers returned to the Eagle Mountain Fields and zig-zagged around them.  Fortunately, this section was sheltered from the breeze, making for some fast double-poling.  Skiers then got to do the Wildcat Trail for the first time in several years.  Its gentle grades gave some nice restorative striding.  In the open sections on Wildcat, the wind filled the tracks with loose powder, so it was optimal to double-pole out of the tracks on the corduroy.  This was a short stretch and easily doable.  The course looped back onto the Wentworth fields through the Lap/Finish Area and added another quick loop to the right after crossing the bridge.  Returning to the bridge, skiers climbed to the Eagle Mountain House before descending to where they came off Yodel to do the circuit again for 21km.  There was some confusion about how the finish worked, but in the end, most completed the course sufficiently to their liking.  The approach to the finish had skiers take a cutoff, avoiding the rolling competition trails and looping through the Eagle Mountain fields a third time to complete the race.


As the start time approached, skiers put on the final touches to their skis.  Some kept warming up while others staked their start position after last year’s experience of arriving a little late.  Many were in position early.  The front line looked good with Kris Freeman, Eli Enman, Chris Burnham, Gaelen Boyle-Wight, and Eric Tremble.  The rest of the field filed in behind accordingly.  There was a lot of friendly chat among the athletes.  Scott Magnan and Andy Milne caught up for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Mary Stewart and Annivitte Rand stood together, anticipating some collaboration of the course.  Bruce Katz and David Herr were also lining up for their first race of the season.  Gina Campoli kept putting the blue to her bases until the last minute.


The start was clean from my perspective, with a little scuffle here and there, but I did not sense anyone falling.  It did not take long for the field to spread out.  The leaders shot off and never looked back.  A very small group formed chasing Kris Freeman with the others who were on the front line.  Behind that, a slightly larger chase group formed and stayed together for a significant portion of the race.  Rob Riley, Thomas Clayton, Ian Moore, and Colin Pogue skied in a good group. 


Behind that, Dennis Page watched in the no-mans-land between the groups.  His green and gold suit distinguishing him from the rest of the field.  Frank Feist would find company with Jimmy Burnham and ski almost the whole race together.  Frank did not break away until the final kilometer of double poling. 


Stephen Wright spent much of the race chasing Bill Donahue.  Bill’s technique deteriorated as he fatigued, and Stephen knew if he kept it together, he would eventually overtake Bill.  Stephen had good company with Eric Darling and Tyler Magnan for most of the first lap.  Tyler pulled a muscle starting the second lap and had to drop out.  Eric was not skiing with as much confidence as usual, and the accordion effect eventually got to him, and he fell off Stephen's pace.  David Herr worked his way up to this point but could not catch Stephen.


Nat Lucy and I watched all of this occur about thirty seconds back on the first lap, with the gap growing significantly on lap two.  Mary Stewart had a strong race and pulled Bob Burnham and Stuart Kremzner along.  Stuart had a strong double pole but would lose ground on the climbs.  Andrew Milne settled in with Annavitte Rand, Ian Blair, and Ed Momm.  Scott Magnan lost contact with the group but was very happy with his effort, as his classic skiing has not been as strong as he would like this season. 


The next big race long battle was between Jessica Bolduc and Jeff Palleiko.  Jeff was impressed with how fast Jessica’s skis were and that she was also out-kicking him on the hills.  Jeff has had strong results in the early double pole races, but the climbing with insufficient kick took a lot out of him.  Jessica was having a great day, knowing the course, and was pleased with her skis.  On the second lap, she overtook Jonathan Rodd and was surprised by the distance she made on him on the competition trails.


A little further back, John Mathieu skid with Elizabeth Ransom and Andres Torizzo.  Elizabeth’s fitness proved the best of the bunch, and she skied away on the last few turns.  Rosalie Wilson had a tough day with her skis not giving her what she wanted.  Meredith Mashtare underestimated the course after the Geschmossel experience but persevered and was happy with completing the challenge.  Jud Hartman split the Mashtare’s with a scramble to the finish.  Amy Gunn was in the mix as well.


Ann Burnham skied with marathon series regulars Bruce Katz and Mark Lena.  Ann had plenty of support from the family as she wrapped up her race.  Christopher Naimie skied on his own for much of the race.  He skied a bit with Michele Smith before slowly pulling away.  John Wigglesworth, Cipperly Good, and Lisa Doucett battled throughout the race.  Cipperly was happy to be rebounding from the Geschmossel and was skiing much more comfortably today.  Lisa expressed that she was a little off because her wax tech, Jamie Doucett, was on a photography adventure and left her to tend her skis herself.   


A majority of the field opted for the full distance and were rewarded with excellent conditions.  Some confusion with the course may have impacted the results a bit, but for the most part, people realized the error and completed the course.  A few elected to do the 14km race option.  Acadia Enman U14 was the first woman in that distance and was happy to finish the race before her father, Eli, crossed the line.  In the 7km race, Oliver Tremble (Grade 3-4) faked out his chaperone and took off to get the overall W in that distance.


It was a great day for skiing in Jackson.  Due to complications with the results, the club and state scoring are being closely reviewed.  A transplant from Massachusetts to New Hampshire may have significantly impacted the scoring in the State Championship.  In the Club Championship, NWVE, who showed up with 17 athletes, took the One Day Club Championship for both Men and Women.  There were some new contenders in the club championship looking to shake things up.  The post-race feast had generous portions, and skiers visited, recounting the race.  The Jackson Grammar School uses the event as a fundraiser and provides certificates to the winning states' athletes. They did a great job helping everyone recover comfortably before they hit the road home.  

Damian

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