I lined up next to fellow 2005 Gustavus grad Jon Miller, and former U of MN skier Andy Brown. Andy had beat me in the Vasaloppet 35k last year, and Jon always skis tough, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. In the field: Matt Liebsch (We heard before hand that he would be taking it out hard to get in a good workout before US Nationals, so we knew the race was for second place), but also former CXC skier Doug Debold, a resurgent Fred Kueffer, the always strong Even Pengelly, and a host of other good skiers including a few college guys home on break.
The course starts on a short, flat loop around a prairie before you head into the woods for two 10k laps. This race always bottle-necks very quickly, so it is important to get out fast into a good position. I got myself off the line in 5th or 6th place, and as predicted Matt jumped to the lead quite early and was soon out of sight.
|Early in the race|
|Coming through the lap with Andy (6) and Jon (70)|
Jon, Andy, and I shared the lead for the next 10k, trading off every couple minutes. Each of us took an equal time leading, and it was a lot of fun skiing with two skiers I know well. From our time trading off it was apparent to me that Andy was probably the strongest skier of our group, and when he went to the front at about 14k and pushed the pace up the biggest hill on the course Jon fell back and it was just Andy and I.
I took my turn at the front and kept the pace a bit higher - I didn't want to have to fight off Jon again. When I moved over to let Andy lead he put in a surge again and I couldn't match him. All I could do was watch him slowly pull ahead. I told myself at that point to stay relaxed and ski my race. There was still a bit of racing to go and I didn't want to blow up and get caught by Jon.
|Bringing it home|
This was the first race of the newly renamed Cities Cup. There is supposed to be a team competition, so I am sure Vakava will put our name in the running.
39th Dave C (age group win)