LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Riley Douglas, a junior at Honeoye Falls-Lima High School, and Colin Delaney of the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) won the women’s and men’s 7.8-kilometer Harry Eldridge Memorial classic races on Jan. 11 at the Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid.
Both men and women skied three laps on the 2.6 k slushy-yet-snow-covered rollerski loop, primarily used by U.S. biathletes in the offseason. The classic technique race was a Junior Nationals qualifier for Mid-Atlantic skiers, as well as a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) national-ranking list race.
Douglas won in 26:14, five seconds ahead of Mackenzie Rizio of the Stratton Mountain School. Autumn Eastman of Champlain Valley Union High School was third.
Delaney’s winning time was 21:31. St. Lawrence University skiers Will Frielinghaus and Calvin Swomley finished second and third respectively.
That the race occurred at all was a minor miracle. Rain had washed away the snow at Mount Van Hoevenberg, leaving only the 2.6 k loop of manmade snow at the ski jumps. Race day temperature was 46 degrees, and it began to rain on and off 30 minutes prior to the men’s start at noon. Starting at 1:30, the women raced in an unrelenting downpour.
Although there were dirty and icy patches, the track was solid, and the downhills were fast. A huge puddle covered the track at the base of the big climb leaving the stadium, and the returning descent. Continuous shoveling by Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) employees and volunteers kept a narrow lane open in each direction. An ORDA employee said he saw someone try to make a move around another skier through the puddle, only to faceplant.
The weather led NYSEF to cancel Sunday’s freestyle race.
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Peter Minde is a FasterSkier contributor and personal trainer specializing in functional strength and corrective exercise. Whether skiing, trail running, or cycling, he’s always looking to see what’s at the top of the next hill. From the wilds of north N.J., he skis for Peru Nordic. On Twitter @PeteMinde or at www.oxygenfedsport.com.