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Wild Rumpus Sports

Two slow Saturdays in the snow.

So I actually entered a ski race a week ago, and should probably blog about it. I have waited due to a few factors: jet lag, a desire not to compete with U.S. Nationals coverage, and not wanting to admit how slow I raced.
The race was a Zak Cup at Gunstock.
The last time I raced at Gunstock was an Eastern Cup several years ago where I requested to be seeded as a Master racer so that I could make my start time after working in the morning. The snow slowed after the faster seeds and then started to speed up again as I started. By the time I finished the tracks were blazing fast. I won that race, but it is hard to say whether I did so despite or because of the changing snow conditions.
Last Saturday I started in bib #1, a consideration given to me as I was flying back to Europe that afternoon. The course was fast and icy (but very well prepared). I skied hard out of the start, and came through the lap right between a Bowdoin skier and Fabian Stocek of Dartmouth. I caught the Bowdoin skier in a few hundred meters, and shortly after Fabian caught us both. I moved aside a couple times to let him by, but he declined, leading me to think that maybe I was skiing fairly well.
As I came through the lap the second time, Fabian went by me. Somehow I managed to trip myself as he did so. I must emphasize that neither he nor the other skier near me had anything whatsoever to do with my fall, it was due completely to my own incompetence. I am just glad I didn’t taken them down with me. Anyway, it can’t have cost me 10 seconds to crash and yet by the time I next got a look at Fabian he was 20 seconds ahead and continuing to grow his lead. Based on the results he put over a minute into me over that lap, and then didn’t slow down on his third lap.
I ended up eighth place, losing to several skiers I don’t think had ever beaten me before. My 2 minute deficit to Fabian is certainly my worst ever result relative to him. I did win the master’s division by 8 seconds over Sam Evans-Brown; the last time I remember being on the same results sheet as him was four years ago when I was 4 minutes ahead over 45 minutes.
So … it turns out that living in a country with no snow and practically no hills (and not bothering to rollerski) is not good for ski race performance. I could try to make other excuses, but there doesn’t seem much point.
Yesterday I got to train in snowy conditions again. There was heavy wind and precipitation that straddled the hail/graupel line, with occasional bursts of sleet. I planned to run 8 times about 1500 meters in the Dunes, starting at 5:15 and getting steadily faster. I am hoping that the weather (poor footing in corners, sogginess, wind) slowed me down a huge amount, because in four repeats I couldn’t get under 5:27. All in all it was probably the slowest interval session I have done since high school. Jet lag? Too much skiing in the last month, not enough running? Weather? Or just getting old and slow, regardless of the sport? Time will tell.

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