Last weekend over 500 citizen racers competed around New England in four different events. Two of the events the 350.org Race for the Snow and the Geschmossel were a part of the 2020 Zak and Club Cup. Ford Sayre also hosted the Silver Fox Trot at Rikert (write up in preceding Breaking News post) and Craftsbury hosted an informal Team Sprint. All the events attracted nearly or over 100 competitors and the Silver Fox topped out with over 200! One thing all the events had in common was a great community vibe – while there is certainly Olympic talent in every race there are also new faces and learning experiences taking place. NENSA is thrilled to see the concept of Popular Racing taking hold and we look forward to the meat of the season coming right up!
Speaking of NENSA racers, our masters, seniors and Club Cup skiers are filling the ranking lists and stirring up friendly competition. Over 150 skiers are listed on our rankings pages representing 40+ clubs. With so many races to chose from the competition will be close all winter. If you have never been a member, you can “Get Skiing” and join for your first year of racing or renew your old membership – lots of folks are doing it!
This weekend we have two Zak / Club events on the calendar – with a mass start freestyle race at the conclusion of the Lost Nation Cup in Craftsbury Saturday and the Freeman Frost White Mountain Marathon Sunday. Both events are likely to draw nice fields -pick your challenge: freestyle, classic or ironperson (do ’em both)! Don’t forget there is another fun option too – including an adult field – down at Mountain Top for their 15th annual Paintball Biathlon Race!
Now sit back and read a nice recap from the Geschmossel – cold snow, kick wax and clear skis – something we can all get used to…
It was a fantastic day to be skiing, and the NENSA Popular Race Series is taking off. It is great to see so many people jumping into the races, whether for the first time or for the first time in a while. The Geschmossel field was double what it was last year!
“Oh, what a difference a week can make! After last weekend’s no holds barred Bogburn bash held in balmy weather on a deteriorating course, the NENSA Series Racing returned with the more refined Geschmossel. There was a huge turnout for the 47th Annual Geschmossel held in what many considered perfect classic conditions. While the meaning of Geschmossel, according to Frank Feist (CSU), is far from refinement, it is what we have come to expect when Mount Washington Nordic is our host.
Upon our early arrival, it seemed we were late. Even though we beat our arrival time by 10 minutes and rolled into the parking lot at 9:20, a majority of the racers were already hustling around getting things in place for the race. It is around this time of the season that excitement in the series takes hold. The Geschmossel sometimes serves as a bit of a reprieve from die-hard racing, as mostly Masters gather for a race that is a little different for the folks that have to go back to work on Tuesday, but this year that would not be the case. NWVE took an early lead in the club series, and CSU is sure to have smashed that to pieces with their home Race For Snow, on Sunday, and other clubs are seizing on getting their members out in force. The series is shaping up, and the plotline is a little different this year.
We set about testing our wax options — lots of greens to choose from as well as a couple of blues. The packed cold powder and forgiving course made waxing a matter of subjectivity depending on how “toothy” you wanted your wax. We found ToKo Mint, and Rode Green to be the speediest, with Guru Green offering a little more kick but still quite fast. VR30 and VR40 delivered very positive kick as well, but going that warm was not necessary. Rode Alaska was chosen to offer a speed shell over the wax of choice, though it was not tested before the start, and probably improved speed in theory only. Sometimes that is all it takes anyway.
The race was held on a closed course this year, which involved doing laps. We started on the driving range behind the Nordic Center and after a hairpin turn and dramatic reduction in lanes headed out Perimeter. The loop we did twice was up Sebosis and down Dark Forest. There was a lot of double poling, and most of the inclines were of a gentle grade. The snow was fresh-packed powder, and the course had great coverage thanks to a foot of new snow over the weekend. It was amazing skiing and hard to believe that less than a week before, there were 0 kilometers open at this venue. Due to the course being closed, the NWVE Fan Club was re-routed the long way around, which was a beautiful ski but was such a long way that they missed most of the field. NWVE brought along a photographer for this one too, but they slept through the race.
With ten minutes to go, racers gathered and reluctantly stripped to their race suits in the cold and windy conditions. The temperature hovered around 10-degrees for the race. We picked our spots on the start and reminisced about races past. Race Director Veronica Fernandez gave some quick instructions, NENSA’s Executive Director Amie Smith, used her magic watch to provide us with a minute, then a 30-second warning, and before we knew it we were on course!
Considering the size of the field and the tight corner, racing got underway with a clean start. After looping around the driving-range, racers started to spread out down the long flat stretch of Perimeter to the loop. It is flat starts like these that often remind many that they should be working on double poling in the offseason, though the thought of it is never appealing. I comforted myself with thinking that all the canoeing I do counts as many people went by me. The race leaders quickly established themselves. Sam Evans-Brown (Concord) went out aggressively, Chris Burnham (NWVE), Adam Terko (MNC), and Tyler Magnan (NWVE) tried to match the pace as best they could. A chase group was close behind and included Eric Tremble (NWVE), Eric Darling (NWVE), Nate Laber (MNC) John Sakalowsky (CSU).
Dennis Page (Nansen) and Michael Millar (MNC) were too far back in the field to make the breaks and took the helm of the main field. As the gentle climbing began, a few changes in the order took place; the most significant was Chris Burnham taking advantage of his aggressive kick to drop Adam Terko, who opted to try the double pole thing on this course. As the field took shape, small gaps opened up, and smaller packs formed.
On a fast course, gaps are hard to close, and it is typical for the race field to spread out with 3-4 second breaks appearing insurmountable. Bryce Wing (Ford Sayre) valiantly tried to keep pace with Eli Gallaudet (CSU), Ari Ofsevit (CSU), and Rob Bradlee (Wide Meadow). Drafting Bryce was Kathy Maddock (Dublin), Stephen Wright (NWVE), and me hanging on with all I had after the start but happy to be able to stride a little. Andy Milne (CSU) and Ed Hamilton (NWVE) raced stride for stride as they have since their BKL days pulling a long train with the likes of Charlie Gunn (Black Water), Nat Lucy (Unattached), Alex Jospe (SMS/CSU) and Peter Harris (Craftsbury). With Kathy near the very front of the field, a contingent of many of the top women formed around Alex. Sara Falconer (MNC) Erin Waters (Concord), JoAnn Hanowski (MNC), and Grace Castonguay (Kennett) were a great representation of the deep talent in the women’s field. NWVE’s Kyle Darling and Sarah Pribram were keeping pace with Jim Fredericks (MNC) as Robert Faltus (CSU) stalked carefully behind. NWVE’s Liz Hollenbach and Jonathan Rodd also paired up racing with Bethel Outing’s Ian Blair.
A little further back was the Trina Train. The effect returned yet again as racers surrounded Stowe Nordic’s, Trina Hosmer. This time it had the familiar faces of Jessica Bolduc (NWVE), John Lazenby (Onion River), Jonathan Chaffee (Ford Sayre), as well as a rare weekend race appearance by Steve Messier (Unattached). Do not underestimate the tactics of the phenomenon that often surrounds Trina in a race. She knows what is going on (people do not want to get “Trina’d,”) and has a reputation to maintain. While you may get think you can get an advantage, she is tenacious, and we are merely the fodder that fuels her quest for the grander goal of Nordic World Masters Gold. Oblivious to the cutthroat racing tactics at play within this pack, as it is Trina holding her own against everyone else, Executive Director Amie was enthusiastically bestowing personalized accolades just as Jessica was dropping the F-Bomb not realizing it was Trina squeezing her off course in the lap area. “Finishing races is important, but racing is more important” (Dale Earnhardt). Perry Bland (NWVE) had a lot of friendlier company skiing with Melissa Manning (NWVE) and John Witmer (NWVE) as well as Christopher Naimie (Bow Nordic) and Gordan Scannell (Schussverein). They picked up the remnants of the Trina Train aftermath and invited them to ski in a friendlier pack.
Cipperly Good (NWVE) joined us for this one and found herself racing with some of the large contingent of women that MNC brought to the race. Cipperly skied with Renate Adamowicz (MNC), Ellie Bouffard (MNC), Karen Allence (MNC), and the much humbler David Hosmer (Stowe Nordic). Though he has been known to brag about the number of Nordic Masters Medals won between him and Trina. Cipperly was slightly disappointed that she had quite a bit left in the tank upon finishing but was happy with the excellent conditions and connected with her parents to extend her ski after the race. Sara Mae and Larry Berman (CSU) returned to the club series action exclaiming great satisfaction with the wonderful conditions as they cruised to victories in their respective categories.
As the race played out, the action got more exciting during the final kilometers. Sam Evans-Brown was uncatchable. Chris Burnham’s move on Adam Terko was effective, but on the home stretch, Adam was closing quickly. Nate Labor broke from the chase group with Theodore Mollano (Hopkinton) and challenged Tyler Magnan, though Tyler held them off at the line. Eric T. and Eric D. found themselves in a sprint with Eric T. taking it by a second, thankful he put the Rode Alaska speed shell on his skis just before the start. I put a gap on Stephen and Kathy, having some fast skis, and a little more pop on the steep uphill. It was enough to hold them off as they closed on the final stretch. Bryce faded after his aggressive start, and Nat Lucy broke though the pack to overtake him. Ed dropped Andy going with the break that Nat made along with Charlie Gunn. Alex held off a few Senior Women, and JoAnn stayed right on their tails. Kyle powered away from Sarah, trying to close on Jim, who held his advantage to the finish. Liz was able to overtake Jonathan, though Jonathan was breaking in a new pair of poles to replace the one broken at the Bogburn. Even though things got testy between Trina and Jessica on course, they were cordial at the finish with Jessica offering some of her signature ginger molasses cookies. Jessica rebounded from the deep powder and overtook Trina on the gradual climbs up Sebosis never looking back. Perry raced conservatively but was pleased with his result. Melissa, John, and Chris were also quite happy as they enjoyed the ideal classic skiing conditions. Cipperly was happy with the day, and plotting for not only next weekend, but next year too.
A brief awards ceremony was held quickly after the race for the overall winners, and the rest of the field enjoyed eating medallion sugar cookies and drinking warm beverages. Spirits were high with many smiles for those who had just Geschmosseled Bretton Woods style. Many headed back out to ski more of the picturesque trails while others made their way home. It was a fantastic day to be skiing, and the NENSA Popular Race Series is taking off. It is great to see so many people jumping into the races, whether for the first time or for the first time in a while. The Geschmossel field was double what it was last year!”
Damian Bolduc is a prize winning sports writer from the Northwest Vermont Endurance and the Chair of the NENSA Masters Committee – read more from Damian by clicking the link above.