Friday, March 9, 2018

The Birkie - Perfect Conditions Are So Nice

Having opted for the Gatineau in 2016 and with the cancelation of the Birkie last year, it was time for Lisa and I to go back to the Birkie to preserve our Wave placements.  As we continued to lose snow at home and have summer-time temperatures I got more excited seeing that the forecast for Wisconsin looked cold and snowy.  I got a bit concerned when Toko put out their first wax recommendation on Tuesday indicating that a klister base would be needed, which necessitated prepping my klister skis as well.  Turns out I needn’t have bothered.  Flying in to Minneapolis on Thursday it was nice to see that snow was covering everything.  Things were looking up!  After collecting our stuff and finding a rental car into which we could stuff the giant wheelie ski bag I’d borrowed from Rob, we headed off to get in a nice hour ski at Theodore Wirth Park in the City.  There was a nice layer of ice with just enough powder on top for decent classic skiing, while Lisa skated.  Then on to our hotel in Stillwater.  We headed into town for dinner and had our first Its a Small World event of the weekend as we bumped into Joe Miller and family in the restaurant, Katie preparing for her 1st Birkie (Katie’s story can be found HERE).  Joe organizes the J2 team for Mass.  During dinner snow started to fall in earnest, with 5” predicted.  Conditions were improving fast for skiing and getting bad for driving so we were happy we were staying nearby.  

In the morning I gave the plows time to clean things up before we started up the road for Hayward to pick up bibs and keep a tight hold on our wallets at the expo.  We arrived in Hayward, grabbed our bibs and talked waxing with Ian at Toko (now on their 3rd iteration wax report), kept our bank account intact and went looking for a place to ski.  The OO trailhead, where the Korteloppet starts now, was still closed so on to Birkie Ridge.  We fired the explosive bolts on ski and clothing bags and got ready to ski in 6” of fresh, ungroomed powder.  Not so good for wax testing.  On the trail I met at least 6 people I knew from work, from Craftsbury Masters Camp, Bob Burnham’s friend from Dartmouth, etc.  Crazy!  Not wanting to trash ourselves we skied an easy hour up toward the Birkie trail and back down and then on to Ashland for the night.  
Lisa tests the 6" of fresh powder at Birkie Ridge

Bus to the start
Up before the crack of dawn, slam down as many calories as possible quickly and on the road as the sky lightens in a beautiful purple, orange hue as we dodge hay bales that have randomly fallen off a truck.  A couple miles later we come across said truck with a loaded trailer jackknifed and on its side.  The driver waves us on, first obstacle cleared.  We park in the Como lot, board a bus in short order and arrive at the new Birkie start area with over an hour to race time.  The temperatures are about 10 degrees colder than predicted so its about 2F.  Skis are waxed pretty warm as its supposed to warm up to the 30s.  A little wax testing confirms I need to cover my warm Rode waxes with some Toko Blue to speed things up.  But I’ve got monster kick and the blue helps speed the skis up a lot.  A snack, last minute clothing adjustments in the completely packed indoor space, kiss Lisa and wish her a good race (she starts in Wave 3, about 30 min. later), a last short warmup ski, toss my bag on the truck and its off to the start corral to freeze for a couple minutes before the start of Wave I.  Announcements, the National Anthem, more announcements, let’s go!  The elite waves finally go off and we run for the front, skis in hand.  I slot myself into the 4th row, mount up and 5 min. later we are off!  The new start area is well protected from wind but now instead of a nice, relaxed flat couple kms we head immediately up hill, narrowing to 6 tracks for a while and then 3.  I have to be careful about going too hard as I feel a bit winded, then into some rollers and out onto the power line where I start to recover.  Rolling up and down the power line hills, my kick is excellent and I don’t seem to be giving away speed to anyone.  I settle in, climb past the cacophony of drummers and chanters cheering in our ears and back into the blessed silence of the woods on the classic-only trail, only our breathing and a soft swoosh from the skis on the new powder snow.  A good group forms up, but with one annoying kid who can run uphill faster than many of us, but then he never tucks on the downhills and I run up the backs of his skis.  So annoying!  Besides No Tuck there is another young kid, Monster, who has just about the worst technique ever but again, he runs uphill pretty fast and I can’t shake him.  About 10 km in I’m feeling pretty good and start to enjoy the truly spectacular conditions as we roll along heading for the high point of the course around 13 km or so.  The snow is great, my skis are working well, the sun is out, the woods are sparkling with new powder, it's no longer 2 degrees and the soft snow in the trees occasionally spills down into the woods with a puff of wind, little falling glitter sparkles.  It is a good day for a ski race!  

Wave 1 Classic start - I'm up there on the left somewhere (Jim Netz photo)

Skiing through the OO road crossing at nearly half way (Skinnyski Photo)
I chase Monster all the way to the high point of the course and on one hill the old coach in me just can’t help himself and I surgest Monster stand up on the uphills or he’ll break his back and take a shorter quicker double pole.  He thanks me, I think, and on the long, fast descent off the top of the course I seem to finally drop Monster and No-Tuck for good.  The long downhill provides a much need rest which brings us to what i think is the nicest section of the Birkie course with lots of rolling terrain with nice downhills, allowing a good rhythm of climbing, tucking down and then as far up the next hill as possible.  Occasionally there are glimpses of the skaters over on their course and I hear somewhere along here the hoots and hollers of the snowmobilers watching the skaters negotiate Snowmobile Corner.  They don’t bother with the classic skiers I guess.  We fall into the steady rhythm of climbing and tucking and knock off a couple of feeds, which are pandemonium with classic skiers entering on the left, skaters on the right and everyone yelling for water or feed, or GUs, missing their drink, slowing down, stepping on your skis.  It’s nuts!  But the volunteers are awesome and get us what we need.  I keep an eagle eye out to not get a GU package stuck to my wax, then back in the tracks as the courses again diverge.  There is no road less traveled in these snowy woods.  A while later I hear a lot of commotion ahead and suddenly we are at the OO road crossing, almost half-way.  I’m feeling pretty good and hear Pat Garrison yelling encouragement.  A km further some guy had fallen and was struggling with something and sure enough, he was removing a GU package from his wax.  A couple k’s later the two courses join with 2 classic tracks on the left and the very wide skate lane on the right.  Since the Korteloppet was run from OO to the finish the day before and this section got a second groom, it was solid and fast and fun!  I now fell in with a bunch of guys as we went back and forth.  And, wouldn’t you know it, Monster was back and looking just as awful but still scampering up the hills.  A couple of us discussed that for a bit, noting how technique was the only saving grace on some days for us old farts.  I was starting to feel some fatigue and wanted to see those kilometer markers ticking down as fast as possible,  pleased when they finally got down in the teens.  Somewhere in here a former Dartmouth skier caught up and we chatted a bit and he asked about Bob Burnham and moved on and I noted a remarkable resemblance in skiing styles.

I started looking for the last of the big hills, the first with the boisterous crowd and the shot ski, then Bitch Hill, which I trudged up, but better than many, my wax still giving buckets of kick.  Some guy was telling horrible jokes.  Topping the hill I enjoyed the nice long, fast ride down, hitting my highest speed of the day.  Through the last feed, which I completely missed as the trail split around some trees and I was on the wrong side and on to the last two climbs, sneaky little bastards that Terry McNatt reminded me of last week, long and gradual and if you were fresh would not be too difficult, but toasted at 50 km they are just plain draining and at the top of the second two skaters discussed just how hard it was.  I reached for my unused water bottle since I’d missed the feed and it was frozen, fumbled it and it now resides in Wisconsin.  Darn, it was a good one too.  I should have grabbed one of my emergency Gu’s here, but didn’t.  Now the long and fast downhills to the Lake, eager to get this thing done.  At a little wooden bridge I caught up to Monster again looking rather wobbly and taking the left turn off the bridge he toppled  over, completely cooked at last and I made the pass, for good this time.  Popping down onto the lake there was a good track and - wait for it - a tailwind!!  My increasingly hazy vision narrowed and I double-poled on, no one really to chase in sight on the interminable crossing.  Finally, up onto the shore, a left turn toward town, Max Garrison cheering me on as I tried unsteadily to stride, up and over the International Bridge and down onto Main St.  Don’t fall here in front of the crowds!  And finally the finish line.  Chocolate milk never tasted so good.  My third Birkie was in the books on a glorious day for skiing. 

Main St, Hayward

Lisa at the finish

Lisa not looking too weary after 50k

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

James Kitch, JNs Sprint National Champion!

Sprint Heats for MU18

Updated on 3/7/2018 at 3:05:19 PM
Class: MU18 -  1.4 km Final A Heat Number: 36    
Rnk Bib Name              Affiliation        Time 
  1  11 KITCH, James      NE Cambridge Spo 2:47.2 
  2   3 OGDEN, Ben        NE Stratton Moun 2:47.3 
  3   4 SCHOONMAKER, Jame FW Auburn Ski Cl 2:47.9 
  4  10 WITKOWSKI, Adam   NE Stratton Moun 2:48.9 
  5   5 SONNESYN, Anders  MW Wayzata Nordi 2:49.0 
  6  13 BURT, Gregory     NE Green Mountai 2:53.5 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Bill Koch Festival

The Bill Koch Festival was at Weston this year, and there were a lot of CSU skiers helping out. Countless hours were spent by the volunteers to pull off a fabulous weekend of skiing, racing, sledding, snowball fights, ski orienteering, tandem skiing, face painting, and parades. The weather helped, by snowing on Saturday night to give everything a wintry look, and then warming up nicely with the sun on Sunday.

Below are an assortments of my photos from the day. Thanks for helping, everyone!

Alex applying the magic touch

Ben and Alex created a massive snowman. It didn't take long for the EMBK 5th/6th grade boys to level that thing.

Course marshals take themselves seriously

Ben with the klister application

Who gave these guys radios?

Devin waxing skis

I think I like the monkey suit better without the radio and bib. 

Future generations!

Hannah laying down a smooth klister job

Heiner's tutu was spectacular

Jackson inspecting finished work

Is your wax working? If not, put it to work, darnit!

Supposedly Lucas and Ben were going to also dress as kick wax, but I heard Linden used up all the arts and crafts supplies. 

"I think the whole thing is the kick zone"

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Bretton Woods Marathon or We Should Have Raced on Friday

Bretton Woods received a good dumping of snow last week, picking up over a foot of beautiful new snow since Sarah and I skied up there last weekend.  We arrived in time to get in an hour of skiing finishing up as the sun was setting in the nicest conditions of the year at about 20F with bomber kick, snow in the trees and no wind.  I tested some wax combos, but knowing the temps would warm up all morning before the race it was probably going to be useless information.  

Sarah testing the start tracks 

Sarah and I headed for Highland lodge and dinner with Jim Ellis and through the evening the rest of the CSU entourage arrived with Tom Smith barely making it in time for dinner, Robert Faltus missing dinner and Clinton Kreuger missing lights out in our shared quarters.  A respectable nights sleep and it was time for an early breakfast and getting ready.  4” of light new snow had fallen and it was still in the 20s.  We were  all hoping it stayed colder than the forecast.  
Willey's Way

Some races are just meant to test you physically and mentally.  This would be one of them.  The temps warmed all morning to 28 when we arrived.  With much wax testing there were numerous discussions with the rest of the CSU contingent including John Sakolowsky, Andy Milne, Jody Newton, Gray Holmes, Jim Ellis, Christine Pasterczyk, Michael Melnikov and of course Larry and Sara Mae Berman.  My wax bench got lots of use!  Lots of waxes were working but we all strategized about future conditions.  Fortunately, the race was allowing ski switching so all of us with waxless skis doing the full marathon placed them next to the lap track.  I settled on some Rode T-Line covered with Ski Go purple.  Swix 45 and 55 were good, Toko Red covering some yellow was good too.  The snow wasn’t transforming…….yet.  

Start Line (Joe Miller photo)
Sarah finishing (Joe Miller photo)

With the race scheduled in Feb. this year that ruled out college kids and so it was a smaller affair.  The gun went off and I had perhaps the most relaxed mass start race of my life after lining up on the front row in the wide start area.  We settled in on the parade lap around the golf course and off into the woods.  I was moving pretty well but getting slowly gapped in front and getting a gap on those behind.  1km in and it was getting lonely!  Up onto B&M and the turn onto Tunnel and I could still see Andy but by Willey’s Way I was alone on the twists and turns.  Delightful skiing though, great kick and I settled down for the long haul, alone.  The snow was soft so the fast corners were a bit more challenging than they should have been and then the long gradual haul up Sebosis and Porcupine to the top of the course.  Kick was still solid as I went by the yurt and the feed and made the turn toward Clinton, kicking and gliding confidently and made the turn onto Clinton and, WTF, no kick!  And I mean NO KICK.  In 5 feet, one corner, gone, zilch, nada, vamoosed, disappeared.  My skis were now as slick as ice.  Well, this was sort of expected but not that fast!  Some light rain hit my face and I suddenly felt a surprisingly warm breeze.  Temperature inversion!  The famed BW temperature gradient in reverse.  The only saving grace was that everyone was in the same boat, so getting on with it, instead of focusing on a smooth stride it was focusing on double poling and herringbone.  It’s remarkably hard to herringbone with no kick whatsoever!  And now with the wet snow the skis were sloowwww.  Slow skis and no kick, the combo from hell. (I’ve had dreams about that). Skis were trying to slide on the herringbone, which is of course a no-no.  Snow was soft.  It was getting a bit tiring.  I got passed by a younger guy with a UNH uni on and tried to hang with him.  We turned onto Crawford Hollow and I’d forgotten how many hills we had to climb to get out of there.  The Hollow of Death!  Stay smooth, don’t spazz, save your arms.  I started to think about switching skis to my zeros.  Would it be worth it?  I knew they would not be too great on the first climb, but way better on the upper parts of the course.  They might be faster too.  My wax was starting to really drag in the wet snow and I almost fell down getting out of the glazed tracks on Beech Hill.  Through Dark Forest and the last feed just before the herringbone by the road and as suddenly as it was gone it was back!  Kick! I ran more confidently up the hill and then I was lapping through the two Stowe guys who’d gapped me were changing skis and I made the decision to switch.  Making a smooth transition I headed off, one Stowe guy still messing with klister or something and one ahead who hopped in the track and promptly face-planted.  Must be klister.  My skis were SO much faster I didn’t care that much that I’d struggle a bit with kick.  I was humming along as we headed into the woods for the first climb.  I was banking on the transition zone having moved down in elevation and with every stride uphill my kick was improving.  Stowe guy was gapping me.  Up on Willey’s Way and I was suddenly moving much faster on the downhills.  The corners were now all bermed up and tricky.  At the bottom of the big downhill I got into the now heavier soft snow and had a magnificent wipe-out.  My poles were intact, I recovered my glasses and finished up the downhill.  I lost a couple places on Sebosis to the klister boys and another guy, but at the turn onto Clinton it was clear my skis were much faster and I regained one spot.  I was back to kicking and gliding.  Save the arms, use the legs.  Back to the Hollow of Death and this time I could jog the herringbones and slowly I moved up on the remaining Stowe guy.  I focussed on him and finally was able to stride on by in the biathlon range as he was clearly done.  My triceps almost seized on the last hill and the finish appeared just in time.  Whew! My shoulders, lats, triceps and everything else above the waist were seizing up, so happy to be done.  

This was one of those tests you hope not to have to take, but I’d survived it.  In fact, in kind of a sick way, I’d enjoyed it.  CSU had passed the test with flying colors, garnering many age group podiums.  John was tops for CSU in 4th place, behind former CSU Jr. Chris Burnham who crushed the field with his win.  Andy was 6th, myself in 10th.  Robert hung in a few minutes after me in 18th and ironman Tom Smith, with no skis to switch to, soldiered through on one pair in 20th with Michael following Tom in in 21st.  Christine too soldiered on with one pair of skis proving just how tough she is, finishing 31st and Roger Wilson was 34th  Those who skied the half were, I think, pleased with their wise choice.  Sarah skied her first half marathon finishing first in her age group.  Jim came in 16th, Gray 22nd, Clinton 26th and Jody was 2nd in her age group finishing in 30th overall.  Larry and Sara Mae nailed down the M11 and F11 age groups to round out the large CSU contingent.

Results can be found HERE.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Craftsbury 2018

John Sakalowsky's excellent Craftsbury story can be found HERE

Lisa and I arrived at Craftsbury late Friday afternoon in time to go out and get some skiing and wax testing in as the sun was setting on a beautiful, cloudless Vermont day.  I was a little nervous about the conditions after seeing the brilliant, blinding sheen on the snow further south from last week’s rain.  But at Craftsbury there was some fresh powder covering up the sheen and the grooming looked fabulous, like you might be able to go straight hardwax, but knowing better than to go down that road.  I had prepped some test skis at home with klister and tried those out covered with a couple different choices of hard wax and settled on Start Wide Universal klister with one of the Rode T-Line waxes on top.  Good solid kick in the frozen granular.   After skiing I took advantage of the quiet waxroom and applied klister binder and the klister so I wouldn’t have to do that in the morning and headed off to the Albany Village Inn where Kate takes good care of the CSU crowd every year and in my case for the past 15 years!  A good CSU dinner and some pre-race chit chat and then it was time to get some sleep.
The red barn and nice tracks...and my finger

Not a bad view while wax testing
In the morning, too early as always, greeted by a beautiful sunrise, we all headed over.  I was feeling much more relaxed this year about the waxing compared to last year.  Maybe, just maybe, I should have been more nervous about it.  However, on arrival I went out on my test skis and my kick was still solid even though some tracks went down to the ice underneath.  I put on my layers of hard wax over the klister, tested several times in different places and was feeling satisfied.  

Sunrise at the Albany Village Inn - Time to ski!
For once in my life I had a good start and going around Murphy’s Field I was right where I wanted to be, just a bit behind Bob Burnham, Rick Powell, Robert Faltus, etc.  My skis felt good and fast and I had no problem with the first uphills.  This allowed me to get relaxed and work my way in to the race.  I was in it for the long haul of 3 laps so chasing hard at the beginning made little sense, especially with many only going 2 laps.  Plenty of time for that later.  Ollie Buress, race director (and former CSU Jr. and Harvard and Craftsbury Green racer) was kind to us and cut out the two big hills at the start of the race loop for which I was grateful and before long we were sliding around the giant slalom turns of Elinor’s Hill and headed up Sam’s.  I slipped a bit on Sam’s and my kick was not as solid as it should be in places and I was getting passed by a few people.  Hmmmm, was this to be a repeat of the last 2 years?  The tracks were glazing up in places and that is where I was struggling and consequently using my arms more than I’d like.  I had a bad feeling…..Slip sliding awayyyyy.  But the top of the hill came, with a good feed and onto the new loop, chasing and eventually passing Jim Stock.  I recovered somewhat here and had a blast on the curvy, twisty downhills in the sugar snow.  Really fun!  Jim Stock blew by me on the inside of one corner and I realized I needed to ski a bit more aggressively on the dowhills where my skis were really fast.  Through the feed at the end of the loop I tried one of the gummy things and 200 yards later - patooooee -had to spit it out - it had the consistency of a lacrosse ball!  The rest of lap one was uneventful and I recovered pretty well  and going through the center, grabbed fluids and a GU to fuel up, and on to lap two.  Lap 2 started well, trading places with some guy who was skiing very nicely.  I finally passed him for good, or so I thought, as we came to Elinor’s Hill, on which I was much smoother this time down, and out onto Sam’s for the long climb.  I didn’t go far before I realized I really was struggling to get good kick on the glazy sections and the guy I  thought I’d dropped returned the favor and dropped me quite emphatically, having much better kick.  Did I underwax my klister skis again or just blow the call?  Regardless, I now had to break the course down into parts and focus on one at a time.  The debates in my head started - should I grab the emergency wax from my coat when I lap through and lose some time or just go for it on lap 3?  On an icy corner coming out of the new section I slid across into the berm and fell on my butt.  “Well, that was graceful” said a woman who had practically skied into the woods.  Shortly after I caught up to Sue LaChance and exchanged greetings as we blew through the feed.  On with the chase, again I recovered pretty well on the long series of downhills.  Wait, who was I chasing?  No one, apparently.  It was getting kind of lonely out there.   On the climb back to the center I lapped Larry Berman and caught up to Jody Newton as we cheered each other on.I was now torching my arms up the hills and the decision was made - grab my kick wax from my strategically placed jacket and hastily apply some kick at the bottom of Sam’s.  I could get through the first part of lap 3 easily enough and I’d probably lose it again on Elinor’s hill if I waxed up before.  I futzed around getting the wax and stuffing it down my pants and off I went at ever-diminishing speed.  2 lappers were gone from the course and now I really was alone.  At the bottom of Sam’s a hasty wax job after having trouble fishing the wax out of my pants, it having migrated a bit further south than planned, and I was on my way.  OMG, solid kick!  What a difference!  I kind of enjoyed my 3rd trip up the hill as a result!  Somewhere Joe Holland skied by me on the new loop and I had the pleasure of chasing Joe down the twisty downhills, his cornering virtuosity on display and then he was gone and I schlepped my way to the finish line.  Not a horrible race, certainly not a great race, but I was way behind where I was planning to be.  My GPS indicated that I lost a total of about 2.5 min. with my rewax process, but it was worth it and I was happy I hadn’t bonked.  A bit more kick would have been nice, but it was good skiing, a nice course and enough snow.  
Lots of CSUers as usual at the race with lots of good results. Results are available HERE

Monday, January 22, 2018

World Masters

Meanwhile, at World Masters being held at Theodore Wirth in Minneapolis, Alex has claimed a couple firsts, Rob a 10th and a 3rd and Kathy a couple firsts in their age groups.  Hopefully they will report later.

Alex looking pretty happy, but then she just won! (Fasterskier photo)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Handsome and Beautiful CSU Skiers Take on the White Mt. Classic

For the second week NE suffered a big warmup which ate up snow, but at least there was a brief snowfall early in the week which gave Jackson a few inches to work with.  They maintained plenty of snow cover so the big question became how warm would it get on race day and when and what klister would be needed.  Based on my looking at the weather about 100 times during the week I waxed up skis at home before heading to Jackson
Dawn over good tracks

The morning dawned at about 22F.  I rushed out with the test skis and quickly decided that Start Wide Universal covered with Rode T Line would work well.  My major concern each year is getting up Yodel without blowing a gasket early in the race.  The course was back to a longer course by adding in loops in the fields before we headed up the race loop as well as adding in the Henry loop, so the course was reportedly 26km, much better than last year’s 18 km. 

Just before the race started with temperature shot up, I removed my hat and the winds started gusting.  Weird weather!  The start went smoothly as we looped the golf course as I followed Robert Faltus around just a bit behind Bob Burnham who was behind Andy Milne with Frank Feist and John Sakolowski leading out the large CSU contingent.  I was happy to cross the road and start up Yodel with Andy and Bob just a bit in front of me, although they slowly gapped me as we crested the hill.  Behind me, Clinton was going full double pole again, this week on much harder hills.  I will be signing Clinton up for some canoe racing next summer!  Robert was just behind me as we labored up Yodel.  On the left turn heading toward the road crossing I passed Bob who was dusting himself off from an uncharacteristic fall.  Out in the fields, the wind was picking up, rendering the tracks useless and skiing into the wind was like skiing up hill while going the other way was so fast it was like going downhill.  Bob and I even tucked in several places.  Heading up the first section of the Wave was as always a rude awakening and I struggled a bit but once we got back into the woods it was better.  However, with the wind we now had large pine cones littering the track, some branches here and there so it was hop in the track, hop out of the track, try to flip pine cones out of the way with your skis without running over them, etc.  Lots of one-footed skiing, picking one foot up, then the other.  Interesting!  Adding in Henry added some good climbing to the course and some twisty downhills.  Back in the fields the wind gusts were getting ridiculous and it was good to get back in the woods in Alice’s Alley, but back in the fields Bob and I managed to draft off a skiing high school kid and he stayed in front so we kept following.  The wind gusts were so strong we were barely moving going into the wind and were flying going the other way.  Just before heading up the Wave again, someone ahead of us took a big, inexplicable dive.  As I crested the first big hill to head down the dip I figured out why….it was now warm and wet enough that I’d iced up a bit.  No problem kicking it free though.  We left the kid we drafted off of for dead as we headed up the hill but we in turn got totally schooled by Ava Thurston, an 8th grader skiing for Mansfield Nordic who had smartly drafted us in the fields and then scampered up the hills and dropped us like a stone! She finished 2nd for women.  Lap two of the wave went better than round one with better kick as I chased Bob.  I tried to stay close on the downhills as he gapped me a bit, but once back in the fields was able to slowly catch back up.  Now the winds were probably gusting to 30 or 40mph.  We tucked in a few places going downwind and struggled going upwind.  I nearly got knocked down on the top of the one hill in the fields as I turned the corner.  Ridiculous!  I finally got by Bob as we headed up to the Eagle Mt. House, trying to get a lead before the big downhill on Yodel where I knew Bob would ski faster.  The focus narrowed to the finish line as we crossed the road in muddy slush and down to the first herringbone hill where Bob pulled up. “Here we go!” he said and proceeded to kick my butt up the hill, having taken lessons from    Norway's Johnny Kaebo, effectively putting our race away right there.  I chased but he gained time on the downhill and I didn’t have anywhere near enough time on the golf course to catch him.  Further up, John Sako led the big CSU contingent, coming in 13th with Frank Feist 15th, Jimmy Burnham 19th, Ari Ofsevit 24th and Andy Milne 31st.  On the women’s side Ann Burnham was first CSUer and winner of her age group, followed by Christine Pasterczyk, Amie Smith, Lisa Doucett, Sarah Gates (1st F4), Jody Newton and Sara Mae.
Jody, Christine, Amie, Ann, Sarah and Lisa take home the club championship!  Absent - Sara Mae

This race serves as the one day club championship and as usual the scoring was going to be close between CSU and NWVT.  In the men’s race it came down to the first tie-breaker and NWVT took top honors.  I noticed they’ve locked down the younger age groups and we seem to have locked down the older ones.  Need to round up some younger skiers!  Also, they stole Chris Burnham from us (well, Chris does now live and work up in NWVT territory).   On the women’s side CSU pulled out its secret weapon, founder Sara Mae Berman, who made the difference after the scoring came down to 2 tie breakers to give CSU the top spot!  Well done!

It was another beautiful day to race, even if the weather was a bit extreme, the course was good and lots of CSUers made the trip to enjoy the racing and comraderie.

Full results are HERE

Here are some really nice photos from the Jackson Facebook page.  Thanks Jackson!

Jamie and Bob



Sara Mae


CSU going downwind (to the right) and upwind (to the left)



Jamie, Bob and Steve



Frank and Jim

Geschmossel 2018

After a week of warmup and heavy rains that destroyed the snow in the Boston area it appeared that Bretton Woods had survived with sufficient cover to hold their race.  Lisa and I headed up on Sunday in time to get in a ski to check things out.  BW had already modified the planned course due to the icy conditions and lost cover.  Heading across the golf course in the cold and wind, which had returned, we skied on a sheet of boilerplate and heading up B&M there was ½ inch of new snow over, you got it, boilerplate and nice big ice patches.  It was pretty grim, but the coverage was at least pretty good.  I started down Abenaki Way and turned around due to the ice.  Hopefully BW would be able to pull off a grooming miracle for the second year in a row.

Monday dawned at 2F, but sunny and no wind.  It was going to be a beautiful day, although it was a bit weird that the top of Mt. Washington was naked rock and little snow.  Heading over from Highland Lodge nice and early I started working on the skis, using klister binder and blue klister covered with blue stick.  It was warming up nicely and tested the skis, happy to find that indeed, BW had groomed things up very nicely, covering up the ice, grinding up ice and setting a couple tracks, shallow in places, but totally skiable.  Well done!  It was going to be fast!

CSU arrived in force along with Northwest Vt, Ford Sayer and other New England clubs.  Toeing the starting line for CSU were John Sakolowski, Rob Bradlee, Kathy Maddock, Robert Faltus, Clinton Kreiger, Tom Smith, Lisa Doucett, Sarah Doucett, Jody Newton, Gray Holmes, Steve Moreau and Roger Wilson.  (Hope I didn’t miss anyone.)  The start went well with few entanglements and off we went!  I started a bit too far back and a gap was opening ahead of a couple people in my track, so I hopped out of the track to the outside and DP’d by several people before settling into the gap comfortably behind Robert and Clinton on his first foray into double poling the entire race.  Turns out that wasn’t a bad idea as it was very fast and there was very little striding but Clinton found how tiring it can be!  I strided a bit just to get the legs moving and stay a bit warmer, but it was mostly DP and kick DP all the way up.  I was moving pretty well, chasing some high school kids and was joined by Ian Blair from Bethel, trading places as we chased the kids. Near the top, in the one place where striding was the way to go it was like I’d forgotten how and flailed about a bit, then back to DP toward the downhills on Sebosis.  Up ahead John was having a good race in the top group with Kathy and Rob a bit further back while close behind were Robert and Clinton. The ride down Sebosis was interesting with some icy spots, a bump with dirt after which I spazzed and fell down on a flatter stretch. Stupid!  The fast ride down continued on Dark Forest to the last hill by the road where I’d almost caught up to the kids and 2 guys who’d passed me when I fell.  My skis were rocking!  The finish was a dead flat km to the finish and my skis were so fast I caught up to everybody, the last one a high schooler and I just knew he’d be able to shoot his foot at the line and I would have probably torn my hamstring if I’d tried, so got nipped at the line.  I’d had a blast in my first non-Weston race of the year.  CSU had a great day and a good showing with John in 10th, Rob in 18th, Kathy 21st, Steve 26th, Jamie 31st, Robert 37th, Clinton 39th, Tom 52nd, Gray 60th, Sarah 62nd in her first non-Weston race since high school, Roger 70th, Jody 80th and Lisa 85th.  Lots of age group first places with Sarah, Kathy and John all first! 

A full lap of warm down with NWVT then commenced for many of us as our big pack slowly yakked our way around the course again.  An excellent day of racing!  Many thanks to Bretton Woods for pulling off a race in marginal conditions.

Full results can be found at:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

CSU takes on the Gunstock Winter Thaw

A good crew of CSU juniors and masters showed up to the Gunstock Winter Thaw race this Sunday. The name was meaningless, because it was -3F when we arrived, and warmed up to about zero for race time and well into the double digits after the race. Conditions were beautiful, though there was definitely some debris on the trails from the recent storm.

For the juniors, we had a big crew. Dante, Lucas, Ben, Linden, Flora, Jordan, Eva, Francesca, Madeline, Graham, Henry, Alex, and Devon were all racing. For some, this was the longest race they'd ever done - kudos! Alex Burt had a good day, getting to stand on the overall podium despite finishing fifth (I like that math). I think everyone enjoyed the experience, at least in the "type 2 fun" sort of way.

For the masters, we had a bunch of age group winners: Bob Burnham, Frank Feist, John Sakalowsky all won their age classes. In the M5 category, we swept the top four spots, and that includes Andy Milne who brought his classic skis to a skate race. Cameron Cogburn and Ari Ofsevit took second and third in M1, and we had good representation across all the age groups - good training for the White Mountain Classic coming up!

We had fewer women in the race, but took a DXC/CSU sweep of the overall podium, with Kathy Maddock winning the race, Alex Jospe in second, and Lily Bates in third. Chris Pasterczyk took second in the M5 category, and Cat Johnstone missed her start with equipment problems, but still managed 5th in the category!

Women's results:

Men's results:
Andy striding the hill

Women's podium

Beautiful day!

Men's podium

Dante cruising