Lake Placid was the setting for two days of cutting edge rollerski racing this past weekend, as the Adirondack Rollerski Mini Tour rolled into town. This is an innovative two day race format featuring three separate events: a 3km Freestyle Prologue, 1.5km Cross Country Cross (XCX) Sprint, and the 5 mile uphill Climb to the Castle.
The events came together through collaboration between the New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA), New York Sports Education Foundation (NYSEF) and Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA). The first two events took place on Saturday morning on the closed rollerski loop at the Olympic Jumping Complex. Results from Saturday’s races were used to seed the racers for Climb to the Castle in a pursuit style start.
Lake Placid Doubleday:
The 3km prologue was a fast paced affair, with top skiers coming from far and wide. Racers hailing from the US, Canada, Latvia, and Poland toed the line and tried to take home the top spot in the two loop race on the rolling hills of the track. After a short break and a chance to inspect the features of the XCX race, competition began again.
Cross country cross is a sprint format race with the addition of agility features such as bumps, rollers, and slalom turns. The course on Saturday was set up with ramps made by NENSA’s own Justin Beckwith and was laid out so that athletes could choose to tackle the feature, or take an alternate line. XCX is a fast and exciting style of racing that rewards overall athletic ability as well as pure speed.
Climb to the Castle:
Sunday morning dawned cold and windy, and the forecast for the summit of Whiteface Mountain was in the low 40s. Climb to the Castle starts at the bottom of the Whiteface toll road before winding its way up 5 grueling miles to the summit. The average grade for the course is 8%, and the climbing does not let up until you’ve reached the top. The start list was seeded by the results of Saturday’s races, with anyone not competing in both days starting in a mass start “bus” wave at the end of the pursuit start. The 100 starters included top US and Canadian junior skiers, as well as members of U.S. Biathlon, Craftsbury Green Racing Project, and three-time U.S. National Champion Kyle Bratrud of SMS T2.
From top left: Glenn Edwards (Team Hardwood) leads out the Bus at Climb to the Castle. Climb to the Castle and new course record holder, Kyle Bratrud (SMS T2), Climb to the Castle Women’s Podium: Z. Williams – 1st, Lucy Hochschartner (St. Lawrence) – 2nd, Nina Armstrong (NYSEF) – 3rd. Master skier Christian Otto charging out of the start.
Athletes were treated to gorgeous long range views of the Adirondacks and Green Mountains as they competed, and were helped along the way by an aid station sponsored by High Peaks Cyclery at Mile 3. As the athletes came around the final turn into the finishing stretch they were met with a cold headwind, and one final push to the finish. After warming up with dry clothes, skiers and spectators stayed at the top to watch the final finishers from the masters touring division, and for a ceremony featuring Climb to the Castle awards, as well as overall awards from both days of racing. A moment of silence was observed at the awards of both events to honor Tom Kendall, who was scheduled to time the event.
Climb to the Castle Masters Women’s Podium: Kathy Maddock (Dublin XC) – 1st, S. Kealy – 2nd, Kathy Schwenk – 3rd. “Experienced” Master’s Men Podium: Mike Millar (Mansfield) – 1st, C. Otto – 2nd, Rick Costanza (Mansfield) – 3rd.
There were many impressive performances, and it was inspiring to see so many of our neighbors in Canada joining us for the two days of racing.