Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sugarloaf Inferno Race Report

When I went to bed Saturday night, I was pretty fatigued from a classic 50k, but I figured that shouldn't be too much of a surprise. I set the alarm for another stupid-early time and lay down, falling instantly asleep.

When I woke up, I was still in the same position I lay down in, but I had apparently aged 50 years overnight. Either that or my spine had been stolen by elves while I slept -- in either case, my hip flexors, groin and lower back hurt more than I can ever remember. These muscles are integral to pretty much anything beyond sitting down, and definitely a big part of "skating" (but apparently not enough to be trained by it...), so I was in for a rough day at the Inferno.

With several days of above-freezing temps and below-freezing nights, the conditions were going to be loose granular, which is to say "fast as hell." Given that the race starts out going straight down an intermediate alpine trail, the name of the game was going to be risk management, since the penalty for crashing could easily be a lot worse than lost pride. Luckily I honed my risk management skills that morning in the ultimate no-crash-zone, "driving to the race." After two hours of wondering if my car would get back on the ground in time for the next corner (it's frost heave season on Rt 142), I got to 'da Loaf and got ready to throw down.

The much-ballyhooed Colby nordic team didn't show up, probably because they had to catch up on their post-season drinking, which meant my task -- win a ski race for the first time in two years -- was a bit easier. Still though, Kyle from Saint Lawrence was there, and I nearly broke my leg last year, so it wasn't exactly a done deal.

The Inferno is the only noridc race you can legitimately use the word "headwall" to describe the course with. According to my Garmin I went from 0 to 42 mph in just over ten seconds, which is basically as fast as my car accelerated when fully loaded. The difference is, when my car hits 42, I don't go "HOLY SHIT" and throw my arms out, then again my car doesn't go over headwalls either, so maybe this whole comparison is kind of stupid.

Anyway, 42 in the Inferno is a lot scarier than 45 at Stowe because you don't have a runout, you've got to get it back down to a manageable velocity in time to make the first right hand turn, conveniently located on the second headwall and barely 25 seconds into the race.

After that, it's just a question of harnessing the fear-based adrenaline into stepping what you can, sliding what you can't, and sprinting when it's not downhill, for 9 more minutes down to the finish line. This time I was rocking the forward-facing boot cam, so you can experience the Inferno for yourself, albeit with about 2 minutes of uphill edited out:

Sugarloaf Inferno Boot Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.

I never know what to say when I do well at things. I didn't crash and I went wicked hard, aided by seeing Alex ahead of me for the last minute or two. I wanted it really bad but couldn't overtake her at the line (she started 60 seconds ahead), but anyway, I pulled off a 17 second victory over Kyle from Saint Lawrence and took home the WINNAH'S PIE.

It was a great way to end the season. I think more ski areas should hold event specifically tailored to my strengths, it would be... uh... good for the sport, yeah, that's it.


Cary 3/17/2009 9:11 PM  

Yes, in fact, there was so much "off season" drinking (what cornell would call "binge" drinking) that in 4 years at Colby I never once even raced at the Inferno! hahaha.
Congrats on your first 09 W. I hope there will be many more to come (but not at my expense).

matt 3/17/2009 10:30 PM  

what, no flop?

matt 3/17/2009 10:30 PM  

what, no flop?

Luke S 3/17/2009 10:37 PM  

Cary, as you can probably see by the date, Doghead happened to be on Saturday. I rest my case.

Christopher Tassava 3/17/2009 10:40 PM  

Incredible video. A crash, if the camera survived, would be sweet, but being on the winner's boot is pretty cool, too. Not to go too meta, but do you have a picture of the boot cam? I'm dying to know how the hell you keep it affixed to the boot.

Aaron 3/18/2009 9:40 AM  

Don't see your name on the pre-reg list for the Sugarloaf Marathon. What gives? Also, what type of BS is this college racers category where they go off in their own wave 15 minutes before everyone else and pay 15 dollars less? If there was any chance I was going to do this race it just went out the window because of that.

Colin R 3/18/2009 10:26 AM  

No picture of the boot cam. What was I thinking?!

Aaron: no sugarloaf because I got to go ride out west for 9 days instead. God life is hard.

gewilli 3/18/2009 4:37 PM  

nice job there Colin - if you didn't flop you weren't going hard enough, but that is TOTALLY acceptable if you win!

*two thumbs up*

G-ride 3/19/2009 7:55 AM  

wow, they still have great snow pack.

Colin R 3/19/2009 9:23 AM  

Jerry: I love how every comment you leave here in March is about snow depth. Usually it's something like "wow there's no snow on the cape?!?! we have 15 feet in VT," so I like how you're diversifying your repertoire.

Mom 3/23/2009 5:58 PM  

Hard for a mom to watch and I know the course. Congrats to my crazy son. Stay alive.

obie119 3/24/2009 1:04 PM  

Hey, I assume you were behind the nice down vest and jacket in the warming hut at the Balsams? Thanks! I was cold and wanted to feed the jays :)
-tinsel-loving crosser

Mom 3/24/2009 1:59 PM  

No, that was Mom. You're welcome.

Mom 3/24/2009 1:59 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mom 3/24/2009 1:59 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
obie119 3/25/2009 2:50 PM  

Thanks, "Mom"!

Anonymous 3/04/2013 9:32 PM  

Several years ago there might have been a lot of Colby post-season drinking, but the reason why Colby didn't go to the 09 inferno was to organize for the upcoming sugarloaf ski marathon. They're a great group of kids. I know that they're planning on doing the inferno this year. It's great to see a bootcam of the race- very cool! Nice post!

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