Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More from Aims' Secret Spot

Who is Still Skiing Locally?

Aims is still skiing, anyone else?  Here is his secret little spot in Stow:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

EHS Photos

 Corey in the 5km skate race
 Zoe - 5k skate
 Chris - 5k skate
 Julia - 5k skate
 Blake - Sprint race
 Hamish - 1st leg of relay
 Nadja - 2nd leg of relay
Eli stalking his prey in the relay

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eastern High School Championships

The Massachusetts team and CSU skiers soared to new heights this weekend at the Eastern High School Championships, held up in Rumford, Maine.  Rumford actually had snow, which is more than could be said for US Nationals, held in the same location back in January and with lots of March sunshine and some good klister waxing, if I do say so myself, Massachusetts came home in second place!!  Graham Taylor, team leader and the man who started EHS back in the mid 1980s, said it was the best Mass finish since 1991. 

The weekend started on Friday with a skate race on a one loop course.  It was 65F when I arrived in Rumford earlier in the day and while probably not that warm by the time the  races were held at 3 and 4pm, nevertheless the courses were very soft and mushy and not easy to skate on.  The Mass team didn't fair too well in the opening race, finishing 4th on the day, but several CSUers still had some excellent performances with Chris Burnham in 9th, Eli Hoenig in 10th, Tommy Rummel 20 and Neil Garrison 21 on the boy's side and Corey Stock in 3rd place, Olivia Meyerson in 9th, Nadja Kern 13 and Zoe Snow 24.  That night the waxing crew went to work to rewax and reflouro multitudes of skate skis and to get the relay classic skis ready.  Sleep?  Who needs it!

Saturday morning dawned with light snow falling on a rock hard track.  Rob and I were happy we weren't klister waxing for the sprint, which was a skate race this year.  Things softened up a bit by the time the race started.  The sprint course was not too hard, with a long flat section, one big hill and then downhill and flat to the finish.  The J2 course last weekend at Gunstock is a much harder sprint course.  Hamish McEwen roared back from a subpar performance on Friday to snag first place in the sprint by over 1 second, followed by Eli in 3rd, Tommy in 10th, Neil in 15th, Chris Burnham in 24th and Rion O'Grady in 29th.  In fact, the Mass boys did so well that they were 1st in the sprint race!!  On the girl's side the race went almost as well with Corey Stock taking a commanding win by almost 6 seconds!!   Zoe Snow finished 8th, Olivia Meyerson 11th, Nadja Kern 22nd and Hannah Smith 34th. 

After a few hours to rest midday while the wax team dialed in the kick wax for the relay in the ever sunnier conditions the relay teams were ready to rock.  On the first classic leg was Hamish McEwen who's job was to get out and establish a position near the front.  We were all a bit worried as Maine's Tom Rabone took off and gapped the field quite handily by 50 seconds.  Was the goal of winning for the 4th year gone on leg one?  It sure looked that way.  Hamish handed off to Olivia Meyerson in a group with 2 Vermont girls and behind Maine's big lead.  Olivia hung tough as the Vermont girls pulled.  Slowly the gap to the Maine girl in first was cut down and by the end of the leg Olivia and the Vermont girls were about 8 seconds back  Eli now took over and stalked the Vermont skier after they dumped Maine, who just couldn't hang with the tough pace.  The gap closed and as they came down the hill to the stadium it was clear that Eli was going to have a shot at handing off in first.  We couldn't see the exchange from the wax area but moments later Corey Stock came charging under the bridge with what was already an insurmountable lead!  Corey then proceeded to lengthen the lead for the rest of the leg and for the 4th year in a row the Mass team come home in first, with a decisive 53 second lead over Vermont.  While the battle at the front was exciting, Mass teams 2, 3 and 4 were also battling well and with the best relay results I can remember finished in 4th, 6th and 16th.  In fact, Mass's first 3 teams were home before any other state's 2nd team finished.  Quite a show indeed!

In the evening everyone headed off to the banquet, which seemed more of a snack.  Rob and I stopped at Sam's on the way back to wax skis to get a sandwich.  We hoped that the kids gots seconds because if they didn't they were going to be hungry.  

Sunday dawned with a bright sky and cold temps that promised to rise rapidly.  As Rob and I started fiddling with klister combos with additional wax testing by Jim Stock, Liz Kantack, and Bob Burnham, we were informed that the start would be delayed by 1 hour since the groomer had broken down.  This would allow the temps to creep up by the time the girl's race would start to dangerously slushy territory.  An additional 15 minute delay for the boys caused more consternation as we had started applying our klister stew of Viola., Multiviola and Silver to the boys skis.  It better work!  Well, not to worry.  As the race started and the boys rocketed down the first fast downhill, it was obvious that Eli's skis were FAST and he climbed the first hill just fine.  This would be fun to watch.  The boys disappeared from sight and when they reappeared Eli was stalking Tom Rabone once again.  As they came down the final hill Eli's skis seemed fast again and it would come down to a double pole battle.  Now, if you've ever seen Eli double pole you'd know who to put your money on and sure enough, Eli gained a 0.7 sec victory by the line.  Following Eli were a number of other excellent CSU performances including Hamish McEwen in 9th, Rion in 14th, Neil in 21st, Chris Burnham in 24th, Ian Meyer in 27th and Chris Koziel in 39th.

By the time the girls race started I was a bit nervous that the same wax job might be too slick for the rapidly warming track.   However, watching Corey Stock motor up the first hill alleviated my worries.  Corey skied with Heidi Halvorsen and Mary Kate Cirelli, both of Vermont.  Corey's plan was to push over the top of High School Hill on lap two and see if she could drop the Vermonters.  The plan worked well and Corey completely dropped both competitors and had a clear lead all the way to the line.  CSU now had both top podium spots for the day!!  Several other CSUers skied well with Ms. Consistency, Olivia Meyerson coming home 9th, Nadja Kern in 11th, Zoe Snow in 13th, Hannah Smith in 21st, Olivia Cannon in 36th and Rebecca Smith 41st. 

The classic race put Team Massachusetts decisively into 2nd place and gave both Eli and Corey the all-around top spot on the podium with Olivia 5th, Zoe 10th and Nadja 11th for girls and Neil 14th, Chris 15th and Hamish 18th.

An excellent weekend of ski racing to close out the season, for sure!

Knock, knock, knocking on Vermont's door.........

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

J2 Photos

Here are a few photos from the J2 Championships last weekend:
 John in the relay
 Sean leading leg 3 of the relay
 Rebecca at start of sprint

Sunday, March 13, 2011

J2 Recap

Today at J2s was the relay.  I didn't think we had a chance at a podium today given the depth of the other New England teams, but I'm happy to say the Mass team had other plans in store and team #1 got on the podium in 2nd!  Boys skied the scramble classic leg and Alex White, from Mt. Greylock HS got off to an excellent start, coming up the big hill in second followed closely by teammate Sean Houston.   Maine was in first and a NH team was in the mix.  Alex tagged off to Rebecca Smith and Sean tagged Josie Marshall from Lenox.  Rebecca and Josie charged the big hill hard, putting the Maine girl in trouble and at the top of the hill, where it flattened out Rebecca really put the hurt on Maine and forged a sizable lead with Josie maintaining contact not far behind. Rebecca tagged Sean Skahen in 1st and Josie tagged Max LaChance for the 1st skate leg.  Sean, as he had all weekend, looked like a warrier on a mission as he kept NH and Maine boys at bay, finally tagging Charlotte Cole.  Max also skied an excellent leg, tagging off to Julia Schiantarelli.  Charlotte, however, was now being hunted by Shannon Nadeau of NH, winner of the skate sprint and 2nd in the classic race and Tara Humphries of Maine, winner of the 5km skate race.  Charlotte, who skied very consistently all weekend held off the hard charging NH team on lap one, but finally ran into a problem on lap two when both she and Shannon were passing a slower team (the skate legs were 2 laps of the sprint course) and Shannon was able to gap Charlotte just enough to keep the lead when Charlotte got caught behind the girl's big snowplow on a corner.  Charlotte charged hard all the way to the finish to take the silver while Maine was left in arrears taking the bronze.  Julia skied strongly on the 2nd team to bring them home in 5th before the onslaught of Vermont teams.  The first two Mass teams finished before any other state's first two teams, so an excellent result and better than we've done in years to my knowledge.  I was very happy with how well the everyone skied on the relay and to have two Mass teams leading the race for much of the race was an unexpected and exciting pleasure! 

The J2 festival started on Friday afternoon with the 5km skate races, which fortunately didn't start until after the rains finished.  The weather was not great, foggy and wet.  A number of skiers seemed to have trouble with the heavy, wet snow and there were a number of crashes, so not the best day for Team Massachusetts.  Notable performances were Sean Skahen's excellent 7th place, Max LaChance's 10th, Charlotte Cole's 9th, Olivia Cannon's 14th and Julia Schiantarelli's 22nd.

Saturday morning was the 5km classic race.  The course had iced up overnight and so it took a while to soften up enough to feel confident we had the right wax selected.  We went with Toko Orange with some silver on top under the foot.  In the boys race Alex White set the tone, banging out a nice 4th place.  Alex was followed by Sean in 13th, Max LaChance in 16th and Rafi Razzaque in 37th.  Nick Reitman fell on the final corner coming in to the stadium, but bounced up to take it home with one pole in 49th.  Rounding out the CSU contingent were John McDaniel 57, Jacob Meyerson 72 and Max Godbey 88. On the girls side this was the race Rebecca Smith had been waiting for since last year's J2 festival and she went out to take control.   In a very close race, Rebecca finished in 3rd, 1 second behind 2nd and only 4 seconds off the winner.  Rebecca's big smile lit up the Mass wax area after that effort!  Charlotte, again skiing very strongly, finished a solid 10th followed by Julia in 20th and Olivia in 22nd, Clara Cousins in 48th, Rosie Cob in 66th, Meg Yoder 76, Kaela Cote-Stemmerman 87 and Emily Ryan 90.

After a magnificent lunch table at the tent organized by Sara Cobb and provided by all the parents to fuel the troops came the skate sprint race.  By now the course had gotten very soft and the corn snow very deep.  This would be a slog of a sprint on a tough, twisty turny course with one big, tricky downhill corner that would claim several victims.  In the boys race once again Sean Skahen blasted around the course to claim an excellent 8th place, followed by Max 14, Rafi 36, Nick 40, Jacob 60, John 81 and Max G in 83rd.

As for the girls, Charlotte led the charge, this time in 9th with Rebecca close behind in 11, Julia 23, Clara 43, Olivia 46, Rosie 71, Emily 78, Kaela 82 and Meg 88.

CSU was definitely a force to reckon with at J2s, both on the course and socially!  All the skiers seemed to have a great time, pick themselves up from less than perfect races or falls, cheering each other on heartily and I suspect recruiting some new members.  All in all another great J2 festival!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

J2s - Day 2

CSU had some excellent results at today's J2 festival.  Here are a couple photos:

Rebecca getting after it in the classic race with her game face on at J2s where she nailed down a 3rd place podium finish in fine style!!

Sean, having a super weekend, beasting his way to an excellent 8th place finish in the sprint

Friday, March 11, 2011

Foggy and Wet at J2s

Here is what it looked like at J2s today in the fog and misty.  Fortunately the rain had stopped before the races.   Charlotte on her way to a good finish in 9th place.

JO recap from Rob, distance classic race

Here's the report on yesteray's races:

Eli Hoenig is a dramatic skier. He fought his way up into the lead pack intoday’s race. Then, around the 11 K mark (of 15K total) he seized the lead. He had to relinquish it, but he let the other J1 boys know that Eli was in town and they should look out for him. The battle was furious to the finish and Eli hung tough for 7th place, earning All-American status (top ten). He looked horrible at the finish line with blood all over his face (did I mention drama?). He had a generous nose-bleed going and his skin was ashen. Then he commenced puking up his breakfast mixed with plenty of blood. I had to make the call that ski coaches hate to make, “Hey Peter, your son is at the finish puking up blood. Could you drop by and have a look at him?”

Turned out that he had been swallowing the blood from the nose-bleed and that had made him sick to his stomach. After a few rounds of regurgitation and a little time he was back to his old self and ready to eat and drink again. Whew.

Besides this excitement, it was another dominating day for Team New England. I feel like the other divisions forgot to send half their kids. We estimate that we scored about twice as many points as the second place team today. Yow! CSU skiers contributed many of those points.

Overnight we received about 1 inch of new snow and it snowed very lightly almost all day. With the first race starting at 8 AM, I was on the road at 6 AM with the rest of the wax crew to test kick wax. I skied around on various different waxes and different “zero” waxless skis along with Tim Caldwell. After much testing we decided that the Zeroes were the way to go. Our Head Waxer, Justin Beckwith (GMVS)) had created a Master Plan for sharing the 30 pairs of Zeroes between our 55 athletes. (Parents, if your child is serious about making and competing at JO’s, then you need to add a pair of Zeroes to your ski budget. Ouch.)

The opening race was for J2 boys. Hamish McEwen, skiing for the very first time on his specially prepared (by Zach Caldwell) Zeroes, took a commanding lead early the race and never looked back. Another National Championship! Our J2 rookies, Chris Koziel and Ian Moore had solid races finishing 27th and 31st respectively.

For J2 girls Cate Brams had her sleeves rolled up and was looking for a podium finish. When Alaskan star Marion Woods broke the race open only Heidi Halvorsen of New England could stay with her. Cate made a valiant effort to chase them down, but in the process used so much energy that she didn’t have much left for the end of the race and so fell back to 5th. A top 5 finish makes her eligible to be named to the NENSA elite team and top 10 gets her All-American status. Zoe Snow was one of two skiers that we couldn’t find a pair of Zeroes for. The waxers tried making “hairies” by roughing up the kick zone with sandpaper, but that didn’t provide enough kick. So, it was back to wax for her. Although the wax worked, I don’t think it was as good as the Zeroes. Zoe still managed an excellent 27th place and as usual a big smile at the finish. (Edit: see the photo from yesterday of Zoe's war wound!)

J1 girls did the 5K loop twice which gave us plenty of chances to watch them ski by. There was a big pack for a long time after the mass start. That gave Olivia Meyerson a chance to move up from the very back where she had to start due to her lack of USSA points. On the other hand Hannah Smith got tangled up in the crowd a couple of times and took some falls. Corey Stock meanwhile was patiently cruising along in the top 5 and biding her time. She and Heather Mooney (from SMS) wisely let a Rocky Mountain girl take the lead and they followed along. At about the 7K make Corey made her planned move on a big uphill and quickly opened up a 50-meter gap on her pursuers. They never came close to her again and she powered in for another National Championship. Corey is back on top! Olivia had hung in with the pack and skied strong to snag 20th place which scored a point for New England (and for CSU in the club competition). Hannah had some breathing problems but hung tough for 66th place.

In the OJ races our CSU veterans really showed their stuff. When Chris Stock went by at the 5K mark I knew he was going to have a great race as he was skiing very smoothly in about 10th place. He moved up steadily and finished 3rd for his first JO podium. Bravo Chris. For the ladies Olga Golovkina demonstrated her superb classic skiing with a 7th place finish and All-American status. Hilary Rich, another skier making a comeback from injury, double-poled furiously through the stadium to pull herself up to 10th place.

If you study the results you’ll notice that New England skiers are really dominating the races here. We had 8 OJ boys in the top 10 and 7 OJ girls in the top 10. It really shows just how hard it is to make JO’s in New England.


Thursday, March 10, 2011


This just in - Zoe got in a serious scuffle in a ten-person pile-up in the mass start classic race at JOs, and has a wound to prove it! She's still smiling at the finish, though. Photo credit Jim Stock.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

JO Victory!!

Corey Stock brings home gold iu the J1 girls classic race

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Birkie Report 2011 – The Cheese Froze Alone

Now that Sue beat me to the punch, here's my version of Birkie 2011, and yes it's long also!

Our February vacation has become a ski pilgrimage the last 6 years as we pack up and head out “West” to Wisconsin to see family and ski the American Birkebeiner 50K. The journey to and preparation for the race usually harbor more challenges than actually skiing 50K and this year was no exception. The 5 of us traveled light as usual, maxing out

3 bags at 49.99 lbs and a ski bag with 7 sets of skis/poles plus snow pants/boots… also just under 50 lbs, plus the obligatory hefty carry on per person, plus a random extra bag with chow. After making to Cheeseland, wedging into a 5 passenger SUV (Kyler was well protected with an I-beam of ski/poles overhead), driving the 90 minutes to my parents in Middleton, we were relieved to get the first leg of the trip done.

The protests at the Capital in Madison, just 15 minutes away, maxed out at 70,000 the same day and dominated the news. Democracy is great and all, but what about the weather?! The skiing locally was almost nil, with rain in the forecast maybe, maybe not mixing with snow. Aaargh!

We enjoyed our time with my parents with plenty of eating, visiting with friends, indoor mini golfing, brunching with more family, visiting the UW physics museum, more eating, plus a crust run, crust ski and finally a ski on actual powder after the final change to snow. The week was already half gone and it was time to head North to the Muskie capitol of the world, Hayward Wisconsin.

After 5+ hours of “quality time” sandwiched in the back seat our kids were on the verge of mutiny, but luckily the vacation billboards for Hayward were in sight. Unfortunately, the word from Sue’s parents at the rental house wasn’t good. They didn’t make it to the house and were stuck mid-way on the luge run/driveway. (This information was not passed along to the peanut gallery) Luckily, they were rescued by a sand laden driveway dude, so they were able to settle in and we arrived with less drama. The rambling ranch on Teal lake would ultimately be home to 13 of us and 2 medium sized dogs, but we got to take it easy in the first night with only our family and Sue’s parents.

The calm was broken early next morning when Sue and I got out for a pre-Barnebirkie (kids races) ski. The snow was excellent, we spotted deer on the drive to the trail and were buzzed by a low flying bald eagle on the drive back. It was hard to limit the skiing, but today was a tight schedule and 50K or racing was on the horizon. We transitioned quickly into Hayward to join the mayhem that is the Barnebirkie, 1,000 plus kids on skis, plus parents, plus grand parents all heading to the same field for one mass start. 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3 JAILBREAK! The announcer can’t get to zero before the Bjorn wannabes break off the line. The course includes a 90 degree left followed by a 3 skier wide road crossing 100 meters from the start, so I can’t really blame them.

Our kids escaped any serious breakage and injury, with only one pole to the forehead for Kyler which barely left a mark and no blood. The sunny, mid-20 F conditions only fostered a festive atmosphere. You know you’re in Wisconsin when Dad is sporting a mullet, camouflage and a Miller Lite tall boy, while cheering on their young racer. Livin the high life!

Next on the agenda was our traditional post-Barnie brunch surrounded by trophy bass, walleye and 10 point bucks. Then off to the expo, which was relocated to the middle school with Telemark Lodge on the ropes, hopefully temporarily. Finally, we return to the cabin to relax and herald the arrival of Sue’s sister’s family with the last car rolling in around 11:00. Good night and one more day before the Birkie.

Friday before the race breaks cold and breezy, -12F, damn! It looks like another freeze your parts off race for tomorrow, with a bit of added fresh windblown snow to temper the speed. We go for a nippy am ski where Sue ends up testing and buying a pair of skis I scoped out on the net. The trail is FIRM, but not as slow as expected, which is the one encouraging tidbit for tomorrow. Then it’s lunch, waxing, beer, more waxing, Iowa whiskey, final waxing and then dinner, chocolate wine, a birthday cake for our daughter Lucy, logistics planning and bed. Jees what happened to our pre-race down day!

Race morning breaks way too early after a fitful sleep anxious about the wicked cold conditions awaiting us. The temp sits at around -12F again, damn! I focus on stuffing in calories and coffee in time to do the 45 min drive, 15 min bus ride, 10 min icy walk to the starting zone in Cable. After a “warm up” ski, I end up donning the CSU vest as an extra layer, slam a GU and head to the corrals. After running the gauntlet of 2 corral opening sprints, picture ~800 men sprinting 50 meters in their ski boots holding high their skis and especially poles.

I finally line up in the 2nd row ready for the gun. At some point the announcer garbled something about -10 and a legal start temp, but lets just say it was beeping cold with a light but steady headwind in the fields. Finally, a shivering wave 1 is sent off towards Hayward.

Doh! Have these dingle heads ever done a mass start before? After maybe 5 double poles twinkle toes face plants right in front of me.

Meanwhile in the middle of the pack more mayhem as butter fingers lost his pole and is single poling BACKWARDS to retrieve it! I veer completely off the groomed trail around TT, which luckily is solid crust with some fluff snow on top. A bit more festivity as glamour boy is skiing backwards on the course into oncoming traffic to fetch his fallen sunglasses sparkling in the middle of the trail.

We hit the first climbs on the power line hills and it is deafening. I don’t mean people yelling, since everyone is in huff and puff breathing mode. I mean the squeaky, chalky snow being stomped on by hundreds of expensive, skinny blackboards. It was actually very loud skiing up steep hills with squeaky snow being assaulted all around. The good news was my hands were coming back to life, which was also the bad news as they quickly went from numb to tingly to a million pins and needles. Ayah! The other good news is that my skis are running faster than most on the cold snow. The only part of me that is still cold are my kneecaps of all things, so what do I do on a wimpy uphill trying to weave through slower traffic? Take my only slow mo face plant and punch both knees into the crust for good measure. Double Ayah! Ayah!

I sink into a nice rhythm of staying with groups on the uphills and picking of places on each downhill hitting 10K in ~31 minutes, mostly uphill. The second 10K falls in just under 31 min just working on skiing well and staying warm. The next 10K is hit in around 30 min, mostly downhill, but still skiing within myself and grabbing all feeds offered. I’m still rolling and manage to just barely get my final GU out of it’s wrapper, which now has almost solidified in the cold. I stick it to the roof of my mouth like a wad of saltwater taffy and suck it down as it melts. 40K comes in just over 31 min, consistent, but now the fatigue is settling in. Bitch hill arrives at 42K, but where the heck are the bitches? No cross dressing?, no mardi gras beads?, no bitch hill pinning? It’s like Christmas without Santa, Noah without an ark. It just ain’t right. The sans-bitch hill must have irked me enough to gun it home, since my last 10K was sub-30 min. I ended up racing home with a U23 kid skiing for the new moon ski shop and followed his moon bum across the last lake kilometers and up main street to the finish in 2:32:59. Birkie number 16 in the bank.

I quickly congratulate him for out sprinting me easily, followed by a volunteer taking one look at his white sploched face, “You have frostbite!” Back to reality. After a quick reunion with Sue’s parents and my kids I duck into the changing tent. The changing tent, which is definitely NOT the warming tent was a mixture of men with their hands on their, ears, face, eyes and yes, down below the belt. Amid the sighs and groans I vaguely hear the classic “I should have worn wind briefs!!” lament followed by another less common reply “ My balls are so big my never gets cold!” I leave the tent befuddled, but finally wrapped in dry clothes.

We wait for Sue and some of her family to finish, more shivery hugs, then it’s time to grab some chow and head out while the kids are still speaking to us. After a less than hearty lunch of soup, snickers, Gatorade and a slushy Leiney we all trek up to the traditional snowmobile bar Play-Mor for monster bionic burgers and baskets of fries.

I think only Sue’s brother in law Leif had a sub-par race after a swollen knee forced him to train classical all winter. Plus, he even skied the Birkie with his classic poles, oops! On the trip home we traveled with the Providence basketball team with one very big, very tall dude proudly wearing the classic wedge o cheese head home.

A classic footnote to another Birkie adventure.

Terry McNatt

Brrrrrkie 2011

Our annual adventure to Cheeseland began on February 19th this year. We spent our pre-race taper week in Madison buying condiments (not for our skis!) from the National Mustard Museum, observing the democratic process in action at the state’s capital (the labor bill protests), sharpening our poling skills at an indoor mini-golf course and taking a few lessons in physics(tangents, downhill speed , windspeed etc) at the UW physics museum. Of course, we managed to cheeseload at multiple locations in Madtown.

After all this fun and a few dicey, icy skis (in nearly sans snow southern WI) we settled in for the drive. We elected to rent a “standard” SUV for 5 people, 7 pairs of skis, several large suitcases, 2 boxes of bagels, a case of beer, several containers of mustard and other fun sundries. Our 7 year old nearly got a case of wryneck on the trip since the ski bag had to rest on his head for the duration.

We survived with a McDonalds stop, snacks from Grandma McNatt, ½ a movie on the laptop before the computer battery ran out and a few punches and words between the children. The adventure had just begun! I called my mother to tell her we were about 45 minutes from Hayward and her voice belied concern. Another icy driveway, the car stuck and an older, small rental house(it sounded large enough-the Birch Bark LODGE!!) had her worried. By the time our crew arrived, the sander had made the driveway passible and the house was actually doable(for 7 people-what about 13 family members and 2 dogs!)

We had a mellow night and an icy ski on the lake with Carson. On Thursday was the main event-the Barnebirkie. Imagine 1100 children, mass start, quick left hand turn, multiple race distances, cookies and hot chocolate, 4x as many adults watching and cheering and you can just picture the scene! What a blast! Lucy and Carson completed 5k and didn’t flatten any little kids. Kyler finished the 3k with a sprint.

Following lunch, we made our way to the sterile, brightly lit expo in the gymnasium of the local middle school. Gone was the Telemark Lodge experience with the famous cozy fireplace and historic decorations and framed photos of past-Birkie winners. The lodge is in foreclosure and it’s future uncertain, so the charmless gymnasium had to do.

The rest of the family slowly began to arrive-first, my sister Marcia and her husband, Leif Carlson and their dog Freya. Then at about 11:30 PM, my nieces, Anika and Maureen and Maureen’s boyfriend, Peter and their dog, Theya. And yes, I have not embellished the names! These people were meant to ski! The final member of the group, Lars Carlson arrived from college on Friday night at 8:00 PM, in time for the pre-race family planning debacle!(and pre-race banter/finish time speculation) How did you train this year? Hula Hooping(my nephew)

Friday, brought colder temps, a nice ski at OO, and Terry and Leif with the mega-wax session. The eating and drinking began in earnest with birthday cake, good Iowa whiskey and plenty of snackeroos(courtesy Grandma Keeney-my mother). Pre-race meeting with this group is always a source of intense discussion. Multiple race start times make it complicated. This was Peter’s first bibbed, chipped timed athletic event ever so he was in Classic wave 7, skiing 54K having clicked into skis for the first time in his life earlier this winter! We agreed to drive 2 vehicles to the start in Cable, make the late wave starters try to stay warm in the sub-zero temps and have the finish line support (my parents and our 3 kids) drive their own vehicle to Hayward.

Race morning always comes too early and this was no exception. Darkness and “was that really –20 on the thermometer!” Cars started, skis in, poles in, bibs and chips on and we’re ready to go!! Pre-race Birkie songs serenaded us on the hour-long drive. New songs are “composed” each year with 2011 featuring the sleeper “Sleep tight, frostbite on my window tonight”! No lie, go to and listen for yourself. Not only is it too mellow but frostbite on a window –is not even possible. These people spend too much time in REALLY cold weather. Read on for more frostbite stories….

Leif seems to have bad fortune and this year was no exception- last year he forgot his mashed potato feed bottle, but this year was more devastating-he had his classic poles!! Too late, already in the bus and no time for a trip back. Everyone seemed calm except it was SUPER cold! My fingers were already numb on the walk to the start. Somebody forgot the heaters in the “warming” tents! Toes were unhappy also. Then, came the news-we are at a legal temp- 10 degrees below zero, we will start the race on time! One thermometer I saw at the start was clearly south of that. I was happy to start however, as at least skiing you might start to warm up. I had a very relaxed pre-race experience, except 2 or 3 times thinking I had misplaced my skis! This is a very possible occurrence as we heard over the loud speaker several times “would someone please return a pair of Solomon skis and poles to the start line!”

A final Starbuck’s double-shot slug, gulps of weak Heed and I was ready to go. Not much drama in the early K’s. Just don’t break a pole or lose a basket(my nephew had to swim back against the school of skiers to retrieve his). I was so happy to see the hills at Power Line(3k) so I could finally warm up. I was skiing along, keeping an eye on orange man and grey man and keeping up on all the downhills, anxious to begin pushing the climbs. My race strategy was to wait until the “B”-b_tch hill at 42K and then push to the finish. Looks like the “B” hill men in drag were also protesting, as there was no one there-no drums, no dressed-up men, no pins, no hoopla! I didn’t even know it was “B” hill. I was second-guessing myself and thinking the hill came later, and I should continue to conserve. By 45K and the open field, big downhill to the lake, I knew we had passed it and I should really hit it. At about 10k to go, I had caught up to a girl in a black cat suit, so we continued out cat and mouse racing. She clearly wanted to lead across the snowy, headwind lake so I tucked in behind, tried to pass a few times but she pushed on. At 1k to go, I made my leap forward and cranked down Main Street to the end. That was so much fun! Black Cat and I congratulated each other on a nice race and then I realized just how cold I was. Mittens frozen to my grips, frost all over my eyebrows and hair. I found the family, congratulated Terry on a great finish(2:32.59) and began the slow and painful process of changing clothes in the “warming tent” Imagine taking off cold, wet clothes and putting on colder but sort of dry clothes! 7 degrees at the finish-2nd coldest Birike ever. Inside the Celebration tent, the temp was not much warmer. A fan blew what felt like cold air! I pulled out my annual post-race full size 3 Musketeer bar and almost broke a tooth trying to eat it. Terry’s post-race beer was slush-now that is cold! Whiskey would have been a better choice. We checked our race results and Terry was 262 and I finished 104 woman in 3:03. Next year-top 100 goal for me and Terry –top 200 men?

The rest of the family raced in-Leif in 3:07 with the combo classic poles/ skate skis(new style), Lars(college freshman and first full-length Birkie in 3:15 and Marcia and Maureen had some quality mother-daughter bonding for 3:31! Now, the rest of the crew waited for our Rookie Birkie Classic skier to finish. He was all smiles and goo-frozen beard in 5:16 and signing up for next year already(the Birkie-easy, this family is the real challenge) College Freshman Anika opted for the Korteloppet(a challenging 23k ski) and picked up multiple pins and beads along the way, but declined the offer of Yagermeister on the lake until she is of legal age!(at least that is what she told us)

A final family meal at the Play-mor snowmobile bar in “middle of nowhere” WI- full of burgers, beers and stories. My sister came home with a frostbit ear but otherwise we all survived. A few stories of hypothermia reminded us that it was a tough day for some. Frostbit eyeballs-is that possible?

The next day we had another marathon- 6 hour drive to Milwaukee and a delayed flight home, but we can’t wait until next year! Sign me up ASAP!

Sue McNatt

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rangeley Marathon

This weekend I drove up to Rangeley for the marathon with Lisa since she was doing the 25 km and I figured I could take photos.  As usual, distance to a race was no object to the CSU Masters faithful.  In addition to Lisa were Scott Lundquist, Larry Elswit, Ken Walker, Victor Golovkin, Andy Milne, Dan Rabinkin, Doug Janson, Alex Jospe, Joe Brenner, Michael Melnikov, Irina Melnikova and perhaps some others I have missed. 

The snow conditions were kind of weird.  It had snowed a bit overnight and was very windy, even in the woods, so the snow was kind of slow until it got skied in.  Andy was not happy with his slow skis, whereas Lisa, back in the pack on skied in snow, was happy with her skis.  On lap two the snow started glazing in the center of the track, making it a bit squirrelly, especially on some of the corners.  I was out there on Lap 1 taking pictures and it seemed like I knew 25% of the field as they skied by.  The usual contingent of Dartmouth and Colby skiers were there with a few Bates kids sprinkled in among other colleges.  In the end, most people were pretty happy with their races with the exception of Andy, who was held back by slow skis.  Best showing of the day was by Damian Bolduc from VT, who had hurt one of his hands and so did the 25km with only one pole! 

Results are HERE


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

CSU Goes to the Dogs

What is left after 4 years of skiing on the awesome CSU team, then skiing at Dartmouth for another 4 years?  You go to the dogs......
Matt Truehart, CSU and Dartmouth alum as Disco Dog at last week's BKSL festival.  Matt led the lollipoppers around their course, cheered on the kids and I suspect had a good time giving back to a sport he has learned and excelled in.