Earlier forecasts predicting a heavy snowfall with significant snow accumulations during the race made me worry about several things. Would my stiff skis be OK, should I get some larger baskets for my poles, would it be a race or a ski-orienteering event on the Knife Lake? It ended up with a small snowfall at night with the storm coming only after the race, and I enjoyed the day.
|On the lake|
The lake loop went slow with over a dozen guys in the leading group. I pulled a bit but mostly stayed in the pack to conserve energy. Shortly after the lake the pace went up and I found myself in a group of 4. My original plan was to use the same tactics as two years ago. That is to try to break away about 5K to go. Stronger competitors, stronger headwind and my poles punching through did not allow me to do that. I moved to the front about 4K to go to be in control and stayed there until the Mora Lake. There I started the sprint but then let the two guys go ahead and break the wind. By the end of the lake I pushed harder and came first to the Bell hill and to its middle. I think it was a smart tactics up to that point, but then I got more concerned about staying ahead of the younger guy then taking a shorter path in the left turn and watching for the older guy. He passed me on the left and in the last few hundred meters I was not able to return the lead. Later I learned that it was last year’s classic Birkie champion, and I was quite satisfied with my 2nd place.
I leaved early to avoid the storm. But the roads have already become snowy and I found myself driving slowly in a large “pack” of other cars. Some drivers were apparently unsatisfied with the slow pace and “made a move”, but found themselves in the deep snow “off the course” shortly thereafter. Drive safe!