Woodstock Sweetheart Race:
Skiers gathered for classic racing at the Woodstock Inn & Resort Nordic Center. Klister was a common theme to the day, as well as warm temps and brilliant sunshine. Each age group race began with a mass start. The Lollipop skiers kicked off the morning’s races, followed by boys then girls for grades 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8. The young skiers made their way around short loops near the stadium. Up through grades 3-4 was a single lap race, while the 5-6 graders did two laps and the 7-8 graders doing 3 laps. The course was super spectator friendly with roughly 3/4 of it visible from the start. Most of the spectators lined the start, then ran up the bank to watch as the skiers approached the largest climb on the course. When not cheering on their friends, many of the younger skiers could be seen hitting the jumps just past the start. The youth skiers were very excited to race, most were at the start at least 10min early ready to go. A few were so eager that they helped setup the finish whiskers and flags!
The nice weather continued into the afternoon, but accompanied by some strong breezes as colder weather began to return. The adults race was also a mass start, with a short prologue around the youth course, before winding through the rolling woods trails on a three loop 15km course. The warm temps made from some interesting waxing decisions. Some skiers commented that “they had really fast skis on the downhills,” or that they “regretted the last minute panic layer of wax.” They all agreed that the sun had made any snow out on the gold course or the stadium very slow. In the end most were happy they raced and had the chance to be outside in the beautiful spring-like weather! Prizes on the day included custom thermoses and cups with the Woodstock Nordic Runners club logo. Very delicious treats were donated by the Woodstock Farmer’s Market.
The winter weather rollercoaster kicked in Saturday night with temps diving back into the single digits. The cold temps turned yesterday’s soft snow into boilerplate ice. Sleepy Hollow’s crew and their trusty PistenBully were up to the task — spending extra hours crushing the surface to create a speedy but edgeable track. And if the dual technique format of the the Mansfield Skiathlon wasn’t enough, master terrain builder, Eli Enman sent the entire field through their “Kids Fun Park,” which has some strict rules — it’s for everyone — and despite the firm conditions all competitors successfully navigated the series of three whoops with alacrity. Some of the competitors even had the wherewithal to lighten up and enjoy some air.
The day started with a “What the Heck, I’ll Try It” category. None other than Bob Gray, our fabled M11 master skier and two-time Olympian toed the line solo, reminding us of the beauty of our lifelong sport and the inspiration one can find at a Popular race on any given day.
The full version of the Mansfield Skiathlon is a continuous pursuit with skiers sending six kilometers on classic skis before changing into skate gear for another six. Skiers set up their skate gear before the race in self assigned boxes. Sleepy staged a beautiful mini stadium with v-boards — creating a fun version of an event often only seen major championships.
Twenty four men and nine women contested the adult event. Each race began with a slight downhill mass start — making for excitement from the start. The fields separated nicely, giving skiers lots of room to navigate the fast snow and enjoy some high speed racing.
The afternoon was filled with Bill Koch races — like the adults they followed the pursuit format and enjoyed the terrain features. Over seventy youth skiers, from Lollipop to eight grade pushed themselves on the fast course. It’s particularly interesting to watch skiers navigate the terrain whoops under the fatigue of a race effort — it’s something like the demands of shooting in biathlon.
Link to results and more photos on the Mansfield Nordic Club website.
Link to some video footage of the Mansfield Skiathlon. (third slide)
The Mansfield Nordic Club and their robust volunteer base put on a fantastic event and its clear why so many skiers not only develop amazing ski skills in Northern Vermont, but also a love for cross country skiing. If you haven’t visited Sleepy Hollow or done a Skiathlon — make that a priority for the 2023 winter!