The first Tuesday night race at the Weston ski track went down two nights ago. I haven't done many of these in the past few years, mostly because they tend to set off my shin/calf problems, but also because grad school. Anyway, they're a ton of fun, so I figured I'd head out and see what happened if I tried some master blasting. (boom! boom! crap, I'm almost a master...). Warming up, I noticed that there was a very speedy-looking girl in Canmore tights, so I was a bit worried I'd have a race on my hands. I'd seen her the day before training in a Team Canada suit, and watching her ski you could tell she knew which side was supposed to be on the snow. So much for an easy win!
I was lined up in about row 7, near some folks who I tend to race around, like Mark, Bob, Terry, Greg, and Marv. We had some silliness called a parade lap first, like they do in Nascar racing, supposedly to spread out the pack, but it seemed to me that things were going too slowly up front, so the pack just bunched up. I double poled my way through the parade lap, nervous about getting stepped on, and I definitely broke the rule about no passing during the parade lap - by the time we came through the finish/lap area, I was right at the end of the lead pack. Oops. As we came down that hill, I heard a female-sounding yelp, and looked over to see Canmore girl (Viktoria) on her butt. That's definitely NOT the slidy part that you want to keep on the snow, so I immediately attacked, to put as many master blasters as I could between the two of us.
Around toward Mt. Weston for the first time and I was chasing Terry, with Mark right behind me. First lap you were allowed to bypass Mt. Weston, unless you were under 30 and particularly stupid, so I went over the hill, which didn't actually make much of a difference in placing, since you then get the downhill speed, and I tucked back in behind Terry and Mark. Bob had caught up as I went over Mt. Weston, and we were a nice little pack coming back down the hill and into the infield. I was happy to cruise with this group around the rest of the lap, but as we approached Mt. Weston for the second time I put myself into second, behind Terry, anticipating the accordion effect, and knowing that the left line up Mt. Weston was considerably faster than any other way up.
The accordion effect was enough to give Terry and I a bit of a gap, or maybe whoever was behind me had stumbled, either way, we were on our own, and I rode my tuck masterfully, if I dare say so myself, hitting my max speed halfway across the flats still in a tuck. The conditions were really icy, with a bit of slush and sugar around the corners and up the hills, but I was on a soft pair of skis, and was really suffering for lack of an edge to push off from. Coming up the inside hill, I passed Terry, ostensibly to take the lead and break the wind, but also because I was scared of the Canmore girl catching up to our little group. It was fast enough to V2 most of the uphills, and then back to a skittery tuck for the downhills, and I could tell that we were opening more of a gap. One more time around, and I didn't bother relinquishing the lead, enjoying being able to ski my own race and put the hammer down. David Currie came flying by on the flats by the river, who knows where he had come from, maybe he just started way far back, but he was moving way faster than me, so I didn't even try to match his pace.
Up the final hills, and I was starting to really enjoy the finesse required to accelerate on this "snow". So fast! Coming down into the finish, I did my best Kikkan Randall freeskate impersonation to hold off Terry, and that was good enough. We ended up finishing just behind Rob's group, in 15min or so for 5k. 12th overall, and I won for the women, woo!