It was really nice conditions on Saturday with some firm, moist snow that Geoff groomed out to perfection. We were able to V-2 many sections where it's not normally possible. The course was also probably the best course layout, with more sections of recovery and good cruising, rather than nothing but a series of slogging hills one-after-the-other. The course was pretty simple and configured like a "butterfly," with the middle part (Powder Puff) being the only repeat on each lap. The first "lobe," or A-Loop, is simply out Powder Puff to Little John, Abracadabra, back on NW Passage to intersect with PP, where we turned right, and repeated PP. For the second lobe, or B-Loop, we turned left at Sherwood Forest and went up to March Hare. We skied March Hare all the way back into the base, which was awesome skiing. The hardest parts of the course were the hills on NW Passage, and the big Sherwood Forest hill to the high point on March Hare. The recovery on March Hare was critical because that is all fast V-2 skiing.
This course had everything. The other courses in the past were a bit too "slow."
It was below freezing all night and snowed a tiny bit on Saturday morning, but warmed up and got moist as the weather moved in during the race. I felt the moisture rising in the snow during the race, but it was just beautiful skiing the entire time.
The weather moved in all through the day on Saturday, and it actually rained! It rained a very cold, steady drizzly rain all afternoon, then it turned to snow late and by night-fall, it was all snow and blowing. It was really snowing hard for a while, but it was heavy and wet and didn't seem to amount to much. Pajarito actually received more.
Sunday morning dawned warm and wet, but the precip fell as wet snow. That made for interesting wax conditions. The main problem was that it didn't snow enough and there was a wet, icy layer just under the new sticky, wet stuff.
I thought my special "Zero" skis (special kick zone that is simply roughed up into "hairies" and no kick wax) would be the right call because kick waxes and klisters are always difficult in these conditions. I scraped and brushed them, went out to test them and they were great, but only in the un-tracked areas. In the track, they were worthless. The new snow was mashed into the ice, so it was more an icy track than anything. So, with only 20 minutes to go, I ran back to get my regular ol' classic skis, but I had to scrape and brush them too, AND apply whatever klister/hardwax concoction would be necessary.
I was very concerned with icing up in the new sticky snow, so I was conservative and used a special "new wet snow" klister and went out to try it out. It worked well where there was predominately new snow, but again worthless on the icy track. I was almost out of time, so I got a little crazy and put on a KR-40 klister in hopes that it would split the difference between getting kick on ice, and not icing in the new sticky snow. I tried it, and it was still WAY to slick on the icy track, but was now a little too sticky on the new snow. That was a dilemma.
I have been in this situation before and have done a lot of research and have acquired a lot of waxes for these very difficult conditions. I just happened to have a special hard wax from Rex that is for wet conditions on ice. Although they were calling us to the line, I had to do something, so I pulled out my wax kit one more time (while I had a crowd of people asking me every little detail of what I doing and why....), and got to applying. The problem was that my waxes had been sitting outside and were all cold. This new wax was not going on without a fight and I only managed to glop on about 3 or 4 "wads" and did my best to smooth it out. It was not very pretty, but I did have about a 4" long messy application that I hoped would work. I had to just deal with it.
The race started and I got out in front right away to avoid any messes. The wax worked just enough on most of the hills, but I had to be very careful about my technique and not over-kick or be sloppy about my foot placement or down-pressuring, or else I paid the price by slipping. Slipping is not good because it shoots your heart rate up instantly, and usually causes a whole bunch more slipping before you can get your feet back under you.
Anyway, the race was fun, with that interesting new snow that Geoff Goins did a good job grooming, and the new course layout. I did see that a couple of folks missed the crucial turn at the three-way, Sven Wiik-Sherwood Forest-Little John intersection. That is a bummer and we'll do what we can to make sure that everyone understands that layout next year.
Sanna Sevanto skied well both days to win the overalls for the women, and was a top contender for the overall as well. Kudos to her. John Bernardin skied a great freestyle race to take second on Saturday.
It was a fun weekend of racing! We'll get some photos up on the SWNSC Picasa site soon.
|Heading out Powder Puff during the classic race. Note the new wet, warm snow|