Report From Rossland, BC

FasterSkierDecember 17, 2002

Some of the soggier memories of ski racing in New England flooded
my mind this weekend at the Continental cup races being held in Rossland,
BC. New England ski racers are brought up in an atmosphere of rain, slush,
red klister, and back up race sites, so I felt right at home this weekend
racing in a cool slushy drizzle. I’ve been on the road for almost
two months now and I believe this weekend’s weather in Rossland was
New England’s way of beckoning me home for the holidays. My apologies
to the fine people of Rossland, if my presence at their races spoiled their
luck with Mother Nature.
Fortunately, the unusually warm weather in Rossland this weekend did not
keep a determined group of volunteers from hosting a great event. The races
had to be moved from Black Jack Ski Area to the Paulsen ski trails that
are at a slightly higher elevation. Tents, outhouses, PA systems, generators,
grooming equipment, shovels, and volunteers converged on the Paulsen trail
system. Oh yes! There will be racing!
Saturdays races were a 30km freestyle for the men and a 15k Freestyle for
the women. The 30km race would cover four tough 7.5km laps. Each lap consisting
of a kilometer of flat terrain, a monster kilometer climb, a couple kilometers
of moderate V2 climbing followed by a long downhill section back into the
The race was a battle. The first two laps went quite smoothly. An old pair
of skis I had waxed were running well, a good thing because slow skis could
have left a racer minutes behind after just once down the decent. I was
climbing well, and my legs were putting in a solid effort on the grinding
V2 section. But 30km’s is long enough for one to experience many different
"racing mood" swings. By the third lap the puddles in my boots
were squishing and sloshing, and my racing suit was completely soaked. I
was instantly conducting a mid race experiment on the effects of trying
to ice your legs not after the race, but during the race. By the bottom
of the downhill my quadriceps had cramped from the cold and for a few seconds
I could have been auditioning for a part in "Stilt Boy’s Winter
Adventure". Luckily I regained blood flow to my legs and continued
to slog through the final lap to the finish. It was certainly an event that
makes all involved a bit heartier.
Sunday’s classic races were held as the rainstorm began to clear.
North America’s best did not fail to turn in impressive races, but
it seemed pretty clear that everyone was ready to head home for the holidays
after a tough few weeks of racing.
At the moment I am in Bend, Oregon for a couple of days trying to consume
as much Mexican food as possible before catching a flight home to New Hampshire
on Wednesday. I can’t wait to get back to all that early New England
snow that I’ve heard about and I’m getting psyched for the New
Years Eve races that will be held in Presque Isle, Maine. I have full confidence
that the Maine Winter Sports Center will put on a truly "big time"
event. Easterners! Northern Maine is not so far away. I saw westerners drive
10+ hours this weekend to do one ski race. I expect to see you all in Presque
Isle. You won’t be disappointed. And soon after this the US Nationals
will take place in Rumford, ME. All the big stars from last years US Olympic
team will be in attendance and, trust me, they are ready to do battle. So
bring your flags, bring your cowbells, and head to Maine. US cross-country
skiing is exciting stuff when we all decide to show up. Happy Holidays,
see you soon.


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