Having skis dramatically lose glide last week in similar conditions, I figured I would use a harder wax this time even though it would be warmer and wetter. If dirt was plugging up my skis, a harder wax may offer a little more resistance. For tonight, I used cheap HF Fast Wax for sub-freezing temps. The temp was about 38F. I also planned to limit my warmup, since I only brought one pair of skis. No need to pick up excess dirt before the race. I can always ski a little longer afterwards. My "race" skis still have storage wax on them. Conditions just haven't been good enough at Waterville to bring them out. Plus they have a very fine structure for new, cold snow. I suppose I could warm up on my race skis and race on my rock skis with a more aggressive structure, but working until
Buying my trail pass, another skier dropped $150 on Toko HF yellow and HF Moly. I was tempted to pick some up too, especially with Lake Placid coming up on what could be similar dirty, transformed snow. I thought even harder about it after the race. More on this in a minute.
Warming up, I knew I was going to biff in this one. Conditions were highly variable, from ankle deep loose corn snow to very hard areas. The last minute grooming left some pretty big ridges in the skate lane too. Then there was the bottomless pit of corn snow at the bottom of the chute by the clubhouse. My knees nearly buckled the first time going through it unaware. I made a big mental note to avoid that in the race. I did two moderate pace warmup laps before lining up. My skis felt reasonably fast.
I lined up in 5th row, four across, since I typically finish around 20th place. I got a decent initial start. Nobody crashed in front of me. But I immediately came undone. I could not control my flailing and efficiently transfer energy to the variable surface. Upwards of 10 guys came around me in the first minute. Things thinned out, then I went to work to reclaim some of those lost positions as they slowed down.
Coming around on the next lap, I was just latching on to long line of guys with Victor and Marv in it. I come flying down the initial bump by the club house and see Marv and another skier drop over the lip. They never exited. I guess the other skier bit it in the corn snow pit, taking Marv out, and I had no where to go. I was quite certain my skis were going to shish kebob Marv's torso at 25mph. I laid it down while barely avoiding the other two. So much for catching the train. There were many other wrecks during the race, I think mostly skiers taking themselves out.
At least nobody got hurt. I don't think anybody passed us even though we lost 15sec. The three of us worked together in no man's land for a while. About half way through the third and final lap, I came to the front and manage to put a small gap on Marv. My skis were still going good, not slowing down. I had a drafter though, and another guy we dropped earlier came up in my draft in the final descent to the finish. I had nothing to contest the spot up for grabs.
Assuming we take two minutes off the clock time, I finished the 7km race in 20:02 minutes, good for 20th position overall, slightly better than last week. This was the most grueling race yet for me this season, due partly to conditions and partly it was a much longer race. It was exactly what I came there for, my mid week fix.
After the race, I ran into the guy who dropped some serious coin on wax before the race. Apparently he had enough time to wax. He was thoroughly impressed with the result, surprising himself, using superlatives to describe how fast his skis were. I don't know what he was using previously. Quite the unsolicited testimonial. I almost bought some when I was done skiing, but it was late. I may take the plunge next week depending on how conditions look for Lake Placid on February 6. In my case, I still think this is analogous to a mid-pack Cat 5 roadie investing in $1200 carbon wheels. Sure, maybe I'll pick up another couple spots at Weston, but I really need to continue work on technique first. Going to Weston is all about pushing my body to the extreme limit for 15-20 minutes, not trying to eek out one more position in the results. Kudos to the crew that pulled this night together against all odds. Nobody went home disappointed.