Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bear Valley Bjornloppet - Bear Valley XC - Bear Valley, CA

March 9 and 10, 2013

Val Licon

This year marked the 40th consecutive running of Bear Valley Cross Country’s Bjornloppet. The Bjornloppet is more than a race. Its two races over two days, two great partys, and lots of prizes for all competitors, The “Bear Run” is an opportunity to reminisce old times, support the upcoming young racers, and enjoy the competition of the friendly nordic community.

An unexpected foot of snow fell on Friday afternoon and evening. The night was cold, but dawn came calm and clear. The 10:30 race start made for a relaxed morning and perfect skiing. Most racers opted for the 20K option, but also available was a single 10K loop and a 5k loop for the junior racers. The 10 and 20k race provided rolling terrain with plenty of transitions, and the famous Bjornloppet downhill. Taking the overall honors for the day were Far West Farm Team members Spencer Eusden and Wyatt Fereday at number one and two, with Peter Hansen placing third. For the Women, Julie Young and Maryellen Benier battled for 1st and 2nd place.Truckee XC’s Laura Stern placed third. Other Truckee XC skiers in the competition were, Scott Fairman, Rick Eckert, and Val Licon.

The 10K Classic race on Sunday was run over a shortened variation of the race from the previous day. The flat portions of the train and the gradual degree of most climbs made this race a double pole delight. Winners of the race were identical to the Saturday event; Eusden, Fereday, and Hanson  placed for the men, while Young, Benier, and Stern were on the podium for the women.

The Spring-like weather brought relatively straightforward waxing conditions. I had good glide with Toko HF red with red Toko Jet Stream, combined with the number 5 Finite Tool for structure. Glide wax for Sunday’s classic was identical. For kick I used two thin layers of Toko Red hard wax. While the wax was durable and had great kick the first 5K lap. I was wishing I had used a little yellow for the warmer snow found on the second lap.

A special round of applause, high five and a hearty thank you must go out to Paul and Diane Petersen for the hospitality they showed to all of us out of towners. The pride they place in race organization, course planning, grooming, start/finish set up and general all around nordic atmosphere is clearly evident. Even more remarkable is that Bear Valley Cross Country owner/director, Paul, frequently has a major hand in all aspects of the event. If you haven’t made the yearly trek to Bear Valley part of your nordic season, put it on your list for next season. The opportunity to ski at one of the states best run and well-groomed nordic areas is well worth the drive. You won’t be disappointed.

Yosemite Nordic Holiday 18 km Classic & Glacier Point 38 km Freestyle Races - Yosemite, CA

February 23 and 24th, 2013

Laura Stern

Yosemite Nordic Holiday 18 km Classic Race, 2/23/2013

The Yosemite Nordic Holiday is not only one of the oldest nordic ski races in California (this was the 42nd edition or so?) but is also one of the most fun events of the season.   This year brought a smaller turnout than normal -- 29 for Saturday's race -- but perhaps to be expected after last year's races being cancelled due to lack of snow, plus other conflicting ski events pulling away some of the usual suspects this year.  The classic race is an out-and-back along Glacier Pt. Road with a turnaround at Mono Meadows, including some fairly long "rollers" but nothing  particularly steep or technical.  Lots of double-poling  on this course!  Several inches of light powder fell overnight to cover a base of fairly crusty and transformed snow, creating potentially tricky  waxing conditions for kick.  The course was groomed immediately before race-start however, resulting not only in beautiful tracks but also in fairly uniformly-mixed snow.  Many racers opted for straight klister, but after experiencing some icing issues even after trying covered klister during warm-up, I decided to go with my Rossi C2 Rubbers.   Not quite optimal snow conditions for those skis, but the warming temperatures resulted in better kick as the race progressed, and they glided quite well with the recommended Toko HF Red on tips and tails.  Overall I was very happy with the ski choice!  Plus there was no grabbing or icing problems when stepping out of the tracks and into softer sections to get around the recreational or back-country skiers who were out there too.  (It's a little different racing in a National Park compared to most XC ski centers.)  This was my first time using the Rubber C2's in a race and I was really impressed by their versatility!  Bruce Pauly won the men's race in 1:06:59, with Julie Young taking 2nd overall and winning the women's division in 1:12:56.  I finished 4th overall and 2nd in the women's field, about 3 minutes behind Julie.
Glacier Point Skate Race, 38 km Freestyle, 2/24/2013

Sunday brought clear skies and brilliant sunshine, with sub-freezing temperatures near start time but warming significantly during the race.  27 racers lined up at the start... with the usual nervous chatter about what condition we'd find the course in and how long we'd be out there҆ only to be blown away by the amazingly well-groomed corduroy all the way out to Glacier Point.  I've done this race many many times, and this was one of the best-prepared courses there ever!  My Rossi's felt fast with the recommended Toko HF red glide wax plus roto-corked Jetstream red on top, and I was really looking forward to this race!  The course is unparalleled for scenery, and one benefit of smaller or low-key races like this one is that there's actually time to check out the spectacular views of the Clark Range while working your way up "4 Mile Hill," not to mention the jaw-dropping panoramic view featuring Half Dome as you whoosh past Washburn Point before the turnaround at Glacier Point.  WOW!  You could hear most the racers hooting and hollering their way down that final drop to Glacier Point as they soaked in the views.  Truckee XC's Scott Fairman was fast off the start line and duked it out with Julie Young for most of the race, with Julie eventually putting the hammer down near the finish to win OUTRIGHT in 2:01:39.  Scott finished close behind in 2:02:16.  Way to go you two!   I placed 5th overall and 2nd in the women's field, nearly 12 minutes back, losing a bit more time (and focus) than I should have due to one pole grip coming loose from the shaft at the start of the race.  (Why didn't I check my race gear ahead of time??!  Lesson learned.)  Nonetheless, it was one awesome day on the snow!
For those who still wanted even more, there was an optional tele race on Saturday afternoon after the classic race, with points counting towards a final "Trifecta" score based on lowest combined time for all three events.  Former alpine racer Betsy Radigoz smoked the tele course and won the Trifecta outright (she was 3rd in the womens division for both the classic and skate races), with Allan Erbes taking the men's Trifecta.
Many thanks to Dave Bengston and his awesome team at the Yosemite Cross Country Ski Center for organizing this terrific 2-day event and preparing such great tracks for us.  It's no easy feat to do this in a National Park!  For those of you who've never done this weekend of races, please mark your calendars for next year and come check it out.   The Nordic Holiday  attracted several hundred skiers (I'm told sometimes over 400) back in the mid-70's, but in recent years the numbers have dropped dramatically.   This event really needs our participation and support to keep it alive!  The Nordic Holiday features a Saturday afternoon awards party and dinner that's a lot of fun too.  Thanks also to Bill and Jody Sterling for donating this-year's raffle prizes.

Scott Fairman

Glacier Point Skate Race, 38 km Freestyle, 2/24/2013
I’d hoped to challenge on Saturday in the Yosemite Nordic Holiday Classic Race, but other commitments interfered.  I drove into Yosemite Valley Saturday night, greeted by a full moon and amazing nighttime views of The Valley under moonlight.  If you’ve never skied this race, it’s one to add to your bucket list, if for no other reason than the amazing views that litter the drive and even more amazing views along the course.  I recommend planning an extra day somewhere to ski the course so you have the time to stop and snap some photos or just relax with the views.  After a brief stop for food in Yosemite Valley I settled into my camping for the night.  Overnight temps were in the teens, despite the cold and rustic accommodations I slept quite well, though getting going and motivated was a little tough in the morning.  Once I was fed and made my way to the Nordic Center at Badger Pass I registered and made my way to the tracks.  One of the aspects I enjoy about this race is the draw of long time Nords, this race is one of the longest running in California and, while small, seems to attract many of the same folks each year.  I was greeted by many of these familiar and friendly faces as I warmed up and then made my way to the start.  I went with the recommended Toko HF Red with a pass of the Red Structurite tool, and pre skiing part of the course it seemed it was the right choice.  Temps were a little colder than I anticipated, but were warming quickly as the 9 am start approached.  I had thought of layering under my Podiumwear kit, but was glad I hadn’t as it  kept my at about the right temp as the day warmed into the 20s and felt great throughout the race.
This race is an out and back, 38k.  Once on course the my X-iums were running great.  I easily skied away  from the lead group on the descents, though my fitness waned a bit on the climbs and a few racers made their way back to me on the long climb to the point.  One steep, fast twisty descent to the turnaround at Glacier Point Visitor Center gave me a good gap on everyone.  I took a quick glance at the unique perspective of Half Dome through sweat drenched eyes and started my climb back out.  One last racer managed her way back up to me and put a little gap before the summit.  I easily caught back on once we hit the flats and again created a gap on the long descent.  One last climb before the finish and I hoped I had opened a big enough gap to stay away on the descent, but found her on my tail again.  With several hundred yards before the top she made a hard effort and passed and gapped me, I closed it down a bit on the final descent into the finish area, but not quite enough, though good enough for a strong 2nd on the day.  Laura Stern was also there and skated across the line to a drum roll with a respectable 5th overall and second woman.
The Yosemite Nordic staff and race volunteers provided fantastic support, great food and drink and even drum roll and bells as each racer skated across the finish.  Looking forward to this race again next year (hopefully both days)!!

President's Cup - Auburn Ski Club - Truckee, CA

Monday February 18th, 2013

Danny Buchanan

Congratulations to all the athletes who got involved at today's Auburn Ski Club's Presidents Day Race.  
Conditions were again ideal.  The fastest times coming in at just over 20 minutes for the 10k skate race.
The field seemed a little smaller than usual but this may just be a perception change when comparing the adults to all the junior racers.  The kids completed a 2K race and junior racers a 5K race.  In total there were 64 juniors and kids, 1/2 again as many as the adults! 

As always the trails at ASC provided plenty of challenges.  The turns at ASC are by far the sharpest of any around and the hills, while they may not be the longest are the hardest!  Thank you to al the race coordinators and volunteers and ASC staff.  A special thanks to Roger Chaney who's Toko tent has become the home of any racer wanting fast skies!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Paco’s Valentine’s Race, Tahoe Donner XC, Truckee, CA

February 10, 2013

Laura Stern

Wow, this race was a blast!  Sally Jones and crew at Tahoe Donner XC prepared a fantastic race course that traversed several small but attention-grabbing hills along the upper trail system before dropping down to the Euer Valley and back.  Not only were the tracks in virtually perfect shape despite the lack of recent snow, but the course was groomed exceptionally wide (particularly at the start!) making passing a non-issue.  This course had it all: short punchy climbs, long gradual ones, quick descents, plenty of twists and turns, and a few flat sections connecting everything together.  Conditions were sunny but cold, with corduroy holding up beautifully.  I followed the Toko wax recommendation - Toko HF Blue and Red mixed 1:1 (over an LF Black base layer), finished with roto-corked solid Jetstream Red / Blue mixed 1:1 - and my Rossi's ran GREAT!  Plus, Roger was there at the start helping everyone with final ski preparations.  The few clouds in the sky significantly changed the lighting from time to time, so at the very last minute I swapped out the dark lenses on my Rudy Project eyewear for orange ones, and was happy not only with the decision but with the ease of the change-out thanks to their excellent design.

Over 90 skiers entered one of the various distance races, with 77 toeing the line for the main 15-km event.  TDXC's Peter Werbel, donning a giant Tina Turner-esque wig and clad in a one-piece pink lycra suit with purple beads draped around his neck and a giant red heart pinned to his chest, entertained everyone on the start line while delivering final instructions. Then off we went.
In the men's division, the Farm Team swept the top 3 spots with Wyatt Fereday winning in 37:55.  Not far behind though, and taking 4th overall, was Rick Reynolds!  Needless to say, Rick won his M3 age class by a substantial margin.  I believe it was his first ski race of the season, too!  In the women's division, Farm Teamer Holly Whitney won in 43:22, placing 9th in overall classification.  She's tearing it up this year!  I placed 6th in the women's field and 1st in M3 age class, and really enjoyed skiing much of the race with Susan Reynolds after she bridged up to me in the Euer Valley.  Susan led us quickly through all the twisty sections in the valley, and I had to dig extremely deep to open a small gap when we eventually started the long climb back up.  Once up top there was still a final set of "rollers" on White Lightning to negotiate, and I was relieved that no photographers lurked nearby to capture my rapidly-deteriorating form.  I was able to hold about a 13-second gap on Susan and others close behind, but it wasn't pretty.  (Was that my tongue down by my skis?)  In the shorter events, Raylene Chew took top honors in the 7-km Junior race in 29:03, and Alexandra Tinsley placed 1st in the 3-KM Youth race in 9:34.

Many thanks to Paco's Bike and Ski for sponsoring this event and donating a terrific selection of prizes, and to TDXC for preparing an awesome race course plus post-race feed.  Also thanks to Mark Nadell (Macbeth Graphics) for not only being out on the course to photograph all the racers at this event (and cheering everyone by name), but for doing this at nearly all races on the Far West calendar!  (And thanks, Mark, for NOT stationing yourself on White Lightning on the return.)  We really appreciate Mark's season-long time and effort, not to mention his photographs posted here on our blog.

Tahoe Rim Tour, Tahoe XC to Northstar, Tahoe City, CA

January 27, 2013

Danny Buchannan

The "Rim Tour" in my opinion has become one of our premier local events!  Not only is it a fundraiser for Far West Nordic but it is also the only long classic race in our region which makes it especially exciting to race in.

We were blessed this season with lots of early snow, which read the other way means it hasn't snowed much since before Christmas!  Luckily 3 - 4 inches of new snow fell early in the morning just before the start of the event and then blew out of the area.  This improved the waxing conditions from what I expected to be very challenging klister conditions to hard wax conditions.  I never did find out what the winners used for their kick wax but most racers did seem to use a hard wax.  My recipe for kick wax included a thin layer of klister covered with hard wax, not a bad combo for me as it gave me a little extra kick.
The start was very mellow this season. Thankfully just before the race start a snowmobile lane was groomed…  this made the skiing a little easier.  With 27 Kilometers of classic skiing to the finish for the racers seemed to realize the race would not be won in the the first 2 kilometers and there was a minimum of fighting for position.  It was very quickly apparent that the new snow had filled in all the tracks so everyone classic skied the skate lane.  As I've seen through the season our local Far West Farm Team racers are in great shape!  They lead the pack from the start and steadily opened up their lead.  Hard work and good technique are paying off for them and I wish them good luck representing the Far West in the nation’s larger events!

Thank you to all the Race organizers and volunteers that supported the event as well as Tahoe Cross Country and North S tar for their grooming.  Lastly, thanks to the local snowmobile tour company that delayed the start of their day so we could participate in the race without snowmobile interference!

Rik’s notes:  Far West Farm Team’s Noah Brautigam & Holly Whitney were 1st man & woman in 1:37:04 and 1:54:51.  Truckee XC was out in force with Danny Buchannan 10th in 1:53:10, Rik Eckert 20th in 2:06:53, Laura Stern 7th at 2:11:53, Val Licon 31st in 2:19:32, and Roger Chaney 40th at 2:42:20…  For me, two layers of New Toko Red gripwax over two layers of New Toko Blue kicked like a mule, and a topcoat of Jetstream Red bloc with a secret recipe of Finite structure made short work of the long descent !

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sierra Skogsloppet, Tahoe Donner X-C, Truckee, CA

January 21, 2013

Rik Eckert

The energy at Tahoe Donner Cross Country is a little different this season… Changes in management, new trails and grooming equipment, lodge renovations, and an overall look at the way things are done has made an already superior ski experience even better. TDXC will host the USSA Supertour Finals and US Distance Championships in April.

So, in that spirit of innovation, the course for the Sierra Skogsloppet was changed as well… Two laps of challenging new climbs and sweeping technical downhills made the course ski much more like a USSA race than ever before.

67 men and 24 women lined up in the old meadow on another bright Sierra Holiday Monday for the 15K. (Men & Women started in separate waves.) Our old buddy Peter Werbel started us at 10:00 sharp, and we streamed out of the meadow, around ‘the tree’ and kicked in a tight procession up Wombat and White Lightning. I had good skis with a mix of Toko HF Blue and Red, and an application of Rotocorked Jetstream Red for a little extra glide…

I’d taken a little unplanned hiatus from racing for about three weeks prior to the Skogs – a little bump on the left knee had kept me in a brace and out of my new Podiumwear race suit. I can’t really say I felt like I was in the form I’d been in at the Tannenbaum, but I skied to a respectable 27th in 49:17. Truckee XC’s Val Licon hit the finish 43rd in 55:37. Top honors for the men went to Spencer Eusden in 38:27. Our Laura Stern took 7th in the Women’s field in 50:22 - nice work by Laura in a really tough race won by Holly Whitney in 45:24.

The Skogs race proceeds benefit the Truckee High School & Alder Creek Middle School Nordic teams. Congratulations to Junior 7.5K winners Hugh Pollard and Raylene Chew and 2K winners Mason Payne and Alexandra Tinsley. Many thanks go out to the crew at Tahoe Donner for making this the best ever Skogsloppet!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Alpenglow Freestyle, Tahoe XC, Tahoe City, CA

January 13, 2013

Danny Buchannan

The Alpenglow 20km was another great event! Thank you to Brendan at Alpenglow for continuing to sponsor this event and Kevin and Valle at TXC for putting the event on! This was my first race of the year coming off of an illness. Nothing like a little friendly competition to push a person beyond what they thought they could do. The morning was cold and clear, so the waxing was much easier than the usual Sierra race wax conditions. The snow was cold and dry so structure was really not a factor. For wax I put on Toko Blue LF with a layer of Jet Stream Blue roto-corked in on top. This was mostly for emotional support. The new course included a "stadium lap" that really helped get everyone distributed well before entering the narrower trail section of the trees. The end of the race included a small fast descent with turns and short climbs 1k out from the finish! This was great for one last push to try and catch people ahead and added a little more excitement! I hope to see this all again next year.

Congratulations to all the competitors, but especially the juniors! They came out in force for the JN qualifier. All I can say is, thank goodness I didn't have to race against all of them! There are some really fast juniors skiers in our community! I wish them luck in Alaska this year.

Link to Alpenglow Freestyle results

Truckee's Premier Nordic Ski Team