Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Yosemite Nordic Holiday Races February 26-27th, 2011 Yosemite Cross Country Ski Center, Badger Pass

Nordic Holiday 18K Classic / Telemark / Glacier Point 38K Skate

Laura Stern

This year marked the 39th annual Nordic Holiday Races at Badger Pass, a super-fun two-day event including an 18K classic race on Saturday morning, a downhill telemark race in the afternoon, and a 38K freestyle race on Sunday out to spectacular Glacier Point and back. An overall "Trifecta" is awarded based on placing in all 3 races, although many (if not most) racers do only the classic and skate events. Field sizes were smaller than normal this year, likely due to late-week storms that brought even more new snow, and lots of it! Race conditions, however, were perhaps the finest I've ever experienced in Yosemite. Saturday brought partly sunny and cold conditions, a perfect hard-wax day for the classic race. The course heads out Glacier Point Road to Mono Meadow before turning back, with long, gradual hills but nothing technical. Grooming was impeccable, with 3 sets of tracks set the full distance. My Rossi C2's ran great with the recommended Toko HF Red and Blue mixed 1:1 for glide. For kick, Toko Carbon Blue grip wax with Viola underfoot worked perfectly. Temperatures were single-digit at Badger Pass in the early morning, so I was happy to try my new Podiumwear warm-up pants. Like the matching vests and jackets, the pants not only fit great and move well, but have zippers that are actually maneuverable with cold/gloved hands. Plus, they're just the right weight; warm but not bulky. Super-star Beth Reid took the overall win in the Classic race, stopping the clock in 1:09:08. Next in were Peter Mayfield and Russel Reid for 2nd and 3rd overall. Rossignol's Julie Young and Truckee XC's Laura Stern took 2nd and 3rd in the women's division. We were lucky with the weather, as within 10 minutes of finishing it started to snow heavily again. In the afternoon Tele race that took the combined time for 2 runs through the gates on a NASTAR course, Dan Warren smoked the field for the overall win. Beth Reid placed "only" 7th overallÅ  but on skate gear! A late-afternoon awards party completed the day.

With another cold one predicted for Sunday's Glacier Point Skate Race, I waxed my Rossi WCS skate skis with the same Toko Dibloc HF red/blue glide wax mix as Saturday, finished with solid Blue Jetstream corked in. (In hindsight, straight blue may have been preferable given the earlier start time.) Conditions couldn't have been finer for the 38K race, with crystal clear skies and the best views I've ever seen in Yosemite. The course was beautifully groomed and only slightly punchy in a few spots, no mean feat given the logistics of grooming all the way to Glacier Point after a storm! The scenery en route is simply spectacular, and the race is sufficiently low-key that you can actually enjoy it. The stupendous view of the snow-covered Clark Range while climbing "4 Mile Hill" is almost just a teaser before the jaw-dropping view of Half Dome as you swing around Washburn Point during the final descent to Glacier Point. After a quick loop around Glacier Point, you soak it all in again on the return! Despite the exquisite scenery I was still feeling pretty trashed near the end of the skate race and truly appreciated the ultra-light swing weight of our OneWay poles. Really nice! Beth Reid soloed off the front to again take the top spot overall in the skate race, finishing in 2:08:59, and also winning the "Trifecta". Russel Reid and Peter Mayfield finished 2nd and 3rd overall in the skate race, respectively, and Julie Young and Laura Stern placed 2nd and 3rd in the women's division. Dan Warren finished 4th in the men's skate division to claim the men's Trifecta win. What a weekend! A big thanks to Dave Bengston and his staff at the Yosemite Cross Country Ski Center for organizing this fantastic two-day event!

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