Vakava Team Photo

Vakava Team Photo
Vakava Racers at the Mora Last Chance Race

Monday, February 12, 2018

Mora Vasaloppet 2018

My previous posts from the Mora Vasaloppet have always noted that every year I have signed up for the classic race (as opposed to the skate race) the Mora Vasaloppet has not been held on its traditional, now called “Legacy” course. And this year was no different. It’s almost as if I’m single handedly cursing the vasaloppet and when they see my early registration, they preemptively decide to use the new Mora course.

Owing to the Little Snow Gun That Could, the Mora Vasaloppet now touts 17 km of piston-bully groomed man-made snow. While it’s traditional and always fun to do a point-to-point course, I do appreciate having excellent snow conditions. The logistics of point-to-point races are also quite laborious and even for us racers it is nice to start and finish at the same location. Not having to take a bus ride to the start also means we can sleep in later.

Each year the man-made loop at Mora gets longer and this year they made some additions. I studied the map quite a bit before the race. For the classic we were doing 3 loops with an out and back segment across Mora Lake.

This year at the start there appeared to be some suspiciously fast looking women. Perhaps I was a bit too pretentious when I lined my skis up in the second row- but if I’m going to get after it I have to be aggressive. The race started and all the guys in front of me were leaving me in the dust. I found the fast women (I love the Mora Vasaloppet for many reasons, one of which is the easily-identifiable yellow bibs for women) and tried to tuck in behind them but they (Josie and eventual winner Brandy Stewart) were just too fast. I was already behind by the time we got to the lake and could not catch them- or any of the men in front of me.

My bro (on the left in the tracks in the Flying Fungi suit) off to his characteristically fast start. I need him to teach me how to go so fast! Photo: Bruce Adelsman

Soon after we got into the woods another fast woman came by me. She led a group of guys and try as I could, I just couldn’t go with them. I felt good the whole first lap but couldn’t go any faster and gradually a handful of men passed me. Hence, I wasn’t feeling great about myself but that all changed when I started my second lap and the passing/lapping began. While the downside to a multi-lap course is the traffic, this is also the upside as it keeps the race from being lonely and can really boost self-confidence. I can happily say I got through the entire race without tracking anyone or causing anyone to fall over which makes me feel successful! I figure if Matt doesn’t track people then why should I? I also always worry that tracking slower skiers is more likely to result in them falling over and then me falling over so it’s just easier to go around. I also try to cheer for people as I’m passing them.

Finally making my move on the classic skier behind me and passing this skater in the shorter race. Photo: Bruce Adelsman

As the distance passed by I kept trying to push the double poling despite the progressively increasing tiredness in my back and triceps. I was also motivated by the thought of any fast women coming up behind me. While the consensus amongst the fast guys was to just double pole, all us women used kick wax. After hearing a couple stories of where the double pole only went wrong, I’m further inclined to think we really are the smarter sex:) I enjoyed every possible hill where I could stride, kick-double-pole, or herring-bone run to give my back a break. And I could really attack every herring-bone climb because when double poling I’m never redlining so I had energy for these short hills. While I don’t necessarily agree with the course being “hilly” as noted in the race tagline, it most definitely is “curvy.” I tried to work on skating around corners, but only did so on the few corners where the classic track had been pulled up; otherwise I would have felt like I was cheating.

Getting passed by my teammate Alex who got 4th in the 52 km race. Otherwise I passed and/or lapped all the other skiers in this photo by creator extraordinaire

In the last couple laps I was able to pass up a couple guys. Unfortunately one was my bro who was in his self-proclaimed “toast lane” but he was racing much faster than last year which is always good to see. I had been exchanging places with one guy and he was leading up Bell Tower Hill but once we hit the streets I decided I needed to try and beat him. As we rounded the last corner onto Main Street, he got stuck in a small burn and fell down and so I was able to beat him.

The guy who fell is behind me as I approached the finish. Photo: Bruce Adelsman

I can’t say I was ever bored out there and got to watch the men’s 52 km race unfold:) After my first lap, the only skiers to pass me out on course were the top 4 men in the 52 km race, and they passed me on each of my laps which enabled me to get and give more cheers! Thanks also to Josh who provided some great cheer support.

It was great to see an albeit small but competitive women’s field in the classic race. I ended up 4th woman and was 12 minutes back.

I still managed to win my age class and got to share the podium with my friend Allie and her smiley daughter. Photo: Chris Broderson

Given that I love double poling, the Mora Vasaloppet is my favorite course! I also love the community atmosphere, the main street finish, the blueberry soup, seeing all my skier friends, and the kranskulas. And the course keeps getting better every year. I do really miss the butter-and-cheese sandwiches from bygone years and might rally to bring them back!

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