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

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