Wow the skiing is good in Minnesota right now. I hope I didn't just jinx things, but considering that we are supposed to get another 6 inches of snow today, I am feeling pretty good about the skiing for the next month (still should probably knock on wood).
On Saturday I dropped my wife Nichole off at the airport, and found that I had enough time to swing over to Theodore Wirth to jump into the St. Olaf invite. It was a 10k skate race that went twice around the 5k JO course. It is a tough course, but it skis really well. Kudos to all the work that they have put in over there. They have a really nice, championship quality course to show for it. The race had the St. Olaf and Gustavus college teams (minus a couple skiers who were at the Supertour/CCSA races in Michigan) and also some alumni from the two schools facing off for supremacy. My goal was to find the happy medium of not embarrasing myself and to try to keep up with the college kids as best I could, while at the same time not frying my legs for the next day's Nordic Spirit 25k classic race. I think I accomplished both these goals. I finished 5th, not very far from the top 3, and as the top Alumni. After the race I had a chance to chat with Mark, the St. Olaf coach (who I skied in high school with) about skiing in Northfield (where I now live, as of a week ago). It sounds like Olaf may start grooming some hillier terrain on their campus next winter (which would be great!) and I may try to jump into some skis and rollerskis with the Olaf team in the future.
Sunday's race was the Nordic Spirit 25k classic. This was the latest stop for the Minnesota Skinnyski Series, and is the reason that Vakava had 7 skiers up in Duluth on a busy weekend full of good races. I personally have always considered myself a stronger skater than classic skier, and having done this race on skate skis last year (they switched the format to classic this year), and knowing how hilly the course is, I was a bit worried. Fortunately conditions were fantastic. The tracks were deep and firm, and conditions were easy to wax for: 10 degrees = great kick with VR40. I had decided to ski on my 8 year old classic skis, and they were rockets. Fast Wax green was flying again, and I was able to stick on the lead pack for 17k because I was able to make up distance on every downhill. By the 17k mark though I was pretty fried. I had lasted longer with the leaders than I had expected, but lost contact with them after going through a feed station (and not getting a feed), and I couldn't mentally or physically make up the gap. My goal from then on was to protect the distance we had put on the rest of the field and not get caught. Once I was on my own I also focused on just skiing as smooth and relaxed as I could (on legs and arms that were giving out). About 3k from the finish I did catch a glimpse of a pursuer coming around a corner, and was able to pick up the pace to hold him off. But as I had doubled my number of races done this entire winter in one weekend, my legs were feeling it. I got back to the cities after the race just in time to pick Nichole up from the airport (I had kept myself quite busy during the ~30 hours she was gone!). Overall I felt good about my races, and I considered Sunday to be a good classic result for me considering the amount of striding. I'm one weekend closer to racing myself into shape!
Other Vakava racers were also skiing well this weekend - highlighted by Kathleen winning the women's race at Nordic Spirit!
Vakava Skiers at Nordic Spirit:
4th Nate (age group win)
12th Dave C (age group win)
1st Kathleen (age group win)
4th Angie (age group win)
5th Cheryl (age group win)
By my calculations that should net our team 595 points - just 5 shy of a perfect score, and only because Eugene and I are in the same age group (I finished 1st and he finished 2nd in the 25-29 category). At the time of this post we are still waiting to see how the team scores are stacking up 4 races into the 7 race series.