You know it's March when I'm doing well in ski races.
The really good skiers are away at championship events. The pretty good skiers are burned out from training since August. And the mediocre skiers... I'm leading the pack, baby.
Saturday was the Sugarloaf Downhill Inferno, a race uniquely suited to my talents. Starting from the top of the Whiffletree quad and descending 1200 feet in 5 or 6k, it's not a race for the faint of heart of slow reflexes. And endurance is not a factor in any way... thankfully.
The race starts down an intermediate downhill trail on the alpine mountain, then hooks right onto a green trail with some trees on it, across another green trail (with a pretty big lip on the crossover), then down behind the condos, then a hairpin right turn onto the nordic trails, then another 8 minutes of sprinting and tucking generally downhill to the outdoor center.
Unfortunately, I pretty much killed it. There are no mishaps worth mentioning here, I just let it rip and hung on without crashing for the descent off the alpine mountain, and there's just not enough skiing after that for anyone with better fitness to close the gap. Linnea did me one better by letting it rip and wrecking twice, allegedly because her skis have two sidecuts.
So I won it by 25 seconds, not too bad in an 11 minute race. There were only 29 entrants, and no college kids, so it's not exactly the big time.
Sunday was a 12k duathlon at Great Glen Trails, so I did actually do some work in that one. Another small turnout, I think only 30 people, but there were 3 D1 guys and the Utah coach (after NCAAs this week) present so another win was looking unlikely.
The classic leg started out pretty slowly, the lead group still had around 8 or 9 people in it 2k in when the major climbs started. My universal klister was ridiculously good so the whole classic leg I went pretty easy and tried to ski smoothly -- by now I've accepted that I'm just not very fast and I'm done going into the red at the start of a race and wanting to die for the next 30 minutes.
Eventually the 3 D1 guys dropped the rest of us posers and everyone strung out climbing. The Utah coach was having kick problems so he dropped back, leaving me with several high school guys in my general vicinity. I came into the changeover in 5th place with 6th place right on my tail. 4th place was in sight, and the top 3 were long gone.
I had a pretty good change, after watching a million world cup duathlons I have the general motions right, so that's worth a lot over people who haven't done duathlons before. They guy behind me lost probably 10 seconds on the change and I never saw him again.
2k of skating had me caught up to the guy in 4th, so I was thinking this was a nice place to hang out until the end, but then the Utah coach closed up on us pretty quickly. Unlike me he wasn't feeling lazy so he just skied right past us and up the trail. Since I'm a giant wuss I didn't even try to follow him, I just sat behind the high school kid I was following.
A bit later though, he got sick of me sitting on him so he pulled aside and made me lead. It wasn't really the best plan on his part, because he did it going into the biggest k or so of climbing on the course, so he didn't really get much draft and I kind of pulled away. Near the top I was pulling ground back on the Utah coach and actually feeling alright in a distance race -- yeah, that only took the entire season -- so I was able to push harder up the last climb and close the gap completely.
The second I caught him he let me past, and then we skied the rest of the way together. His skis were as good as mine and it was mostly gradual downhill on the way in so there was no getting rid of him. I was happy to keep it together and not ski too hard, I figured that starting the sprint from the front on the uphill finish was probably the place to be.
Sure enough, on the gradual climb back to the finish he started the sprint, but I went all Petter Northug and opened up a big enough gap he gave up and I got to coast in.
So yeah, I can sort of ski now, which means it's probably time to start getting my butt kicked on a bike.
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