Report On US National Masters in Anchorage
Per K. Johnsen, South Colby, Washington
In the face of nearly impossible odds the organizers of the National Masters Championships were able to pull off the event, without eliminating any of the races. They were tireless and always upbeat about the weather situation that nobody had control over. We ended up skiing at different places, different distances, and in snow conditions that none of us had expected when we signed up.
The first race, the 10/20K Classic was held at Glen Alps, in Arctic conditions. The women’s race was held first and the organizers soon realized that the upper areas of the trail were being obliterated by 50 mph winds. The trail went up a treeless valley where the winds naturally funnel and intensify. Like the canaries in the mine, the women demonstrated that the upper reaches of the valley were not useable. After the women’s race, the organizers realized that there would be no hope of even finding the 20K trail further up the valley, and they shortened the distance to 14k and changed the course to a 3.5k road that we went up and down twice. That made for a race where we got to see all the other participants several times. We also got to fight the headwind twice and enjoy the strong tailwind twice. The temperatures were around freezing and because of the wind the snow was fine and consisted of tiny pellets. Solda Fluor gave great glide. For kick I used a thin binder, with a little Swix Blue kilster, with Swix 70 and a thin layer of Swix 50 on top for the blowing snow. That unusual combination worked perfectly.
TBS members did very well. Chris Ransom and I took first in the M5 and M6 categories, and Dave Bong was third in the M6 class. Actually that was the result in all the individual races in the meet. Chris and I had three firsts and Dave had three thirds.
The skate race, two days later, was held at the same venue. The winds were more moderate, in the 20+mph range but there was still drifting snow on the upper parts of the trail. The race consisted of fighting uphill against the wind and fairly soft snow and racing back with the wind as fast as our skis could carry us. The race was pretty much decided at the halfway point. Solda Fluor gave great glide. I had wonderful skis.
The relays were held at Kincaid Park, as scheduled. We had a 5-600 M oval with a small hill on 300 loads of trucked-in snow. The arena was surrounded by mud and grass, and the snow was very slow and slushy. But it was quite a show, and no one was hurt.
We skied the last event, the 5k-5k Pursuit at Anchorage Pacific University. They had preserved a course, kept skiers off it for a couple of weeks and tilled the hard ice and slush so that it was skiable and quite fast. One nasty downhill with a turn at the bottom with water in the snow was the cause of most of the spills, and there were many. Picking the line was tricky. I spun out in the watery slush on the second skate lap. But it was an exciting race and quite exhausting, as same-day pursuits usually are.
Hats off to the organizers for their accomplishment. We had a great time and look forward to next year in Upper Michigan.