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