This was only my third Tuesday night race, which is too bad, I like these things. I think they actually are really good for learning about drafting and skiing in a pack and minding your poles and your eyes and throwing elbows and staying upright. Nothing like a high-speed mass-start with your pride on the line to get people moving. Last night I had fast skis, they were the pair of skis I'd waxed for the Birkie with fluoros that had ended up being slower than the LF skis (meaning I used the skis with LF), so for once I had fresh jetstream moly on a pair of cold skis, putting me on equal footing with other people who wax their skis for Tuesday nights!
I got off to a bad start, I was right behind Marc Jacobson in the start grid and he fluffed a pole plant, bringing him to a standstill, and I skied into him, and then he started moving again and now I wasn't moving, so I ended up a couple rows further back than normal. Its too bad, because the start actually matters in these fast races, and I was hoping to see if I could ski with the lead pack with my fast sksi. I passed some people I normally don't see, and by the first downhill I was alone, chasing a pack with fast people in it, like Blazar. It quickly became clear that I was not gaining on their pack, and coming through the infield I looked back at the 180 and realized I was towing a huge group of guys. Crap.
I led over the top of Mt Weston, and then one of the guys went by, it was Neil Garrison, one of my J2s. I knew he'd be a smooth skier and easy to follow, so I sort of forced my way back into line behind him, and instantly the pace felt easier. Ahhh, drafting. Neil took us around most of that lap, and coming up into the infield from the river I let my momentum take me around again for another pull. I pulled through the 180 before the finish, and then approaching Mt. Weston Neil and Bob Burnham got ahead. I checked behind me, but it appeared that the big group had let a gap open up, it probably happened when somebody slipped on one of the icy patches somewhere, doesn't take much. I bided my time behind Bob, who provides a nicer wind shadow than a skinny little J2, and then used my rocket skis to pass him on the downhill going into the infield. Still behind Neil, I let him lead through to the final uphill before the finish, when he looked back as though asking me to take the lead. Aw hell no, I ain't that dumb! Poor guy had no chance as I slingshotted around him to take the "win". I think this might actually be the first sprint finish I've won all season. Thanks, Neil!