The US Masters Nationals got under way in Marquette, Michigan on Saturday January 17. The expectations was for cold squeaky snow, but 3 inches of new snow and temperatures in the mid to high twenties made it a pleasant day of racing. Today’s events were 20 kilometer skating for women up to age 59, and 15 k for age 60 -100. The race length for men was 30 k up to age 59, and 20 k for age 60+.
Roughly 200 skiers showed up for day one of this 4-race event. In my opinion a number far less than this type of well-organized competition deserves. I believe that many more skiers would benefit greatly from doing this type of racing as preparation for upcoming â€œbigâ€ events like the marathons. Skiing well in long races always starts with doing well in short races. Have in mind that the good marathon runners all are good 5000 and 10000 meter runners. The same goes for ski racing. You won’t ski fast in long races before you can ski fast in s short race.
Nothing fine-tunes your technique like many races in a short time frame. Your tactical sharpness, waxing skills, technique, warm-up routines and everything else is sharpened.
Masters Nationals is not an elite event — it’s for everyone that loves to ski, race and stay healthy through ski racing. Put it on your calendar for next year!
The women started with age-category waves at 9.30 am and the men at 11.30. The Fastest women of the Day was (by a landslide) Diane Trembley of Fasterskier/TorbjornSport in age 30-34. The fastest male skier was Dennis Kotcon in the very competitive 40-44-age category. This group consisted of top age group skier from many parts of the country like Milan Baic, Michigan (2nd), Kent Murdoch, Washington (3rd), David Zink, Colorado (4th) and Barry Makarewicz, Utah (5th). This group was again right ahead of another group of good Michigan skiers. This entire group should all do well in a race like the Birkie. Top 20 for a couple and top 30 for several others should be within reach. Murdoch and Zink are both on Team Fasterskier/TorbjornSport member.
Other notable highlights included The Marathon Man, Chris Ransom skiing with a cast (broken arm) and still placed 6th (out of 13) in age group 50-54. Norm Bishop edged out Birger Vigsnes to win age 70+.
I raced in the men’s 45-49 category. Here is my story:
I left Park City, Utah at 6 am on Friday. Flew from Salt Lake City to Minneapolis. Four-hour layover — flew to Hancock, Michigan, picked up a rental car and drove the two hours down to Marquette and arrived around 8 pm. I picked up my race bib just before they closed the race office for the night, found out the weather forecast, checked in to my hotel, went out and ate a late dinner and went to bed. With the late start I decided to wax in the morning.
Waxing the next day went smooth. I hade waxed with the coldest SOLDA Wax (S-30) the day before I left Utah and decided to make things simple and just put Fluorocarbon (SOLDA HPO5) on top. I would have changed the base layer (to F-31 Violet) with more time (and energy) available to wax but I was convinced it would still work well — and it did.
My age group went out at 11.39 — sharp.
I felt good despite coming in late and not had a chance to preview the course. I decided to ski in the front from the start and was always in first or second of the seven-skier pack that formed in the front for the entire race. Several skier took turns leading, me included. I skied in front for the last 7-8 k and picked it up with 3 k to go. The narrow course made it hard to pass and I was able to win a tight finish, with four skier within 2.3 seconds of each other. Almost as competitive as a World Cup race! I was of course happy with that!
I would like to compliment the entire group for racing like gentlemen.Â No yelling, swearing, pole stepping, complaining or foul play. It was simply a very pleasant and enjoyable group to ski with. Racing people like that makes you realize that Nordic skiers are good people and do it because they enjoy it.
I was ahead today — it might be someone else turn to win on Tuesday and Thursday. It should be another close race judging from today’s results.
The sprint Relay is Sunday.