I was feeling pretty smug with myself. Whilst everyone was fretting about what kick wax could be used to deal with the variable conditions, I had read the Toko Wax Manual that was put on the web by Ian Harvey and it had exalted the amazing abilities of a couple of thick layers of Toko Base Green kick wax for variable conditions around zero degrees. That is what we get in Australia, wet snow and variable conditions. It makes classical ski racing very difficult and I had suffered my fair share. Today the State Championships at Perisher Valley was to be my revenge to this time-honoured technique which I loved but had confounded me so many times. I had the wax of the day and it was mine, all mine!
Oh so I thought.
The wind and snow were howling in across the course. Despite the groomer doing another run over the course 15 minutes before the start, the classic track had filled in with snow and foot high drifts had begun to form on the course. Because of the blizzard conditions and safety concerns, my 10 kilometre race was to be kept to four times around a 2.5km course. I did a few surges on the warm up track just before the start and felt the base green was still working. But once out on the course I found that conditions had changed to combination of no classic track, wind blasted ice and snow drifts. I had no kick. Classic had got me again.
I was forced into a run up all the hills. All the downhills seemed to be into the wind and whilst they were normally a tuck and hold on, they had now turned into a double pole. There was no rest for the wicked or for those that had missed the wax. I was passed by eventual second place getter Andrew Circosta who seemed to be skiing well on â€œhairiesâ€. National team member Chris Darlington started off to trying to wax and then reached for the Fischer crowns. As my heart and lungs were bursting with the effort of this inefficient shuffle, I could still hear my friends chortle to me in my mind â€œOh why don’t you just stick with the crowns all the timeâ€.
I stopped for a moment and thought of a DNF. I still had the skate race tomorrow so why not save myself for that and live to fight for another day. But a friend working as an official standing in the windiest, coldest place on the course, yelled out to me â€œonly three laps of this to go Warren!â€. Was he trying to get me to drop out so he could go home? Although I admired his dedication in standing out there, there was no way I was going to drop out now. He was going to get colder.
The eventual winner of the men’s race Ben Sim passed me. He had spent the post European season training in Siberia. I bet he hadn’t had conditions like this over there I thought. Eventhough Nick Almoukov his Russian born coach often compared Australian conditions to Siberia, he said at times they could be similar. Ben had broken a pole on his last lap with no one sensible around (as there was no one around) so as to give him a new pole. He skied the last lap on one pole to get the win.