Tad Elliot races for the Saab Salomon Factory Team. The following is Tad’s account of the Great Ski Race. The Great Ski Race is one of the largest Nordic events west of the Mississippi River, with 1,032 racers competing in 2008. The race covers 30 kilometers, beginning at the Tahoe Cross Country Center in Tahoe City, and ending at the Cottonwood Restaurant in Truckee. Complete results and more information can be found at www.thegreatskirace.com.
The Great Ski Race was exactly that, great. The night before the race Fabian, the team’s great French wax tech, waxed up two pairs of our Salomon skis for each racer. Racing with me would be Rebecca Dussault, who has won most everything she has entered this year including last weeks American Birkebeiner, and for the first time this season Fabian would himself don a race bib. I was excited that I would get to see Fabien race for the first time. Criss-crossing the country all winter in the team bus and waxing other people skis is not the best way to prepare for a race. But with only two team members racing and no possibility of feeding the team during this race Fabian decided it would be good to ski the Great Ski Race.
We woke up in the morning to warm conditions but it was not raining like the forecast said it might. Before we tested skis I asked Fabien if he waxed the skis the same or different. He said, “one is for sunny weather the other is for rain. Hopefully you choose the right pair Tad, because I do not want to rewax your skis” I was more nervous for this then the start of the race. I went and tested my skis. Both were fast, but one pair felt a little better. I took them back and told Fabien which skis I felt were better. I asked if I chose right? He said, “Yes of course I thought these would be best.” Fabien being such a good guy I am sure he would not have told me if I chose the wrong pair. He then waxed us up with the topcoat of Swix Cera F 8BD over Swix 8 HFBD.
I did not ski on my race skis until the start cannon went off. Oh wow my skis were crazy fast. We are lucky enough to each have a pair of next years Salomon skate skis that have been fast in every condition this season. It was a blast racing on such a fun course. 12k of uphill and then 18k of downhill with a finish straight like you would find in a World Cup downhill race. Halfway down it started raining but my skis stayed fast. I finished down the original and crazy fun finishing straight, without crashing). I was now interested in seeing how Rebecca and Fabien were going to finish and who would could finish without crashing. Rebecca won the women’s event, only 5 men beat her, Fabien came in 11th. We had plenty of hot chocolate with extra whip cream for recovery. A big thanks goes out to the groomers and volunteers for putting on such a fun event. With tough snow conditions and not the best weather the course stayed in great shape and there were volunteers everywhere. This race is appropriately named, and I will for sure be back in years to come.