by Adam [originally titled ‘Adam’s Overly Long Race Report’]
Right before my start, I entered the starting area and placed down my skis in the number 2 spot on the arrowhead formation, with Russell leading the arrowhead to my right, and Walker to the left. I clipped into my bindings and nervously waited for the start. After the 30 second call, starter raised their gun, everyone tensed, and I tried to move my poles to a powerful position in which I could get out of the start quickly, and yet not slide forward. I heard a tiny click, but the gun didn’t fire. The starter handed the gun to the announcer who fiddled with it for a second, then raised the gun and actually started the race. I started double polling as soon as the gun went off, but was easily passed by Walker and Russell. Royal exploded from my right and settled into the lead. The trail abruptly dropped down before beginning the first of 3 climbs. I V2ed the gradual part before passing into third over the top of the hill as Russell took the lead and Walker took 2nd. I noticed Adam Witkowski from Stratton edge up behind us from his fourth row seed. On the downhill we made a breakaway, with Russell maintaining his lead I tuck skated into second alongside Walker. We started the second climb and Walker put on a burst of speed, passing Russell and taking the lead. I saw an opening and surged up the hill into second life, alongside Walker. Adam Witkowski was still on our rail, though the four of us had accumulated a large lead over the other racers. The second downhill was very icy and contained many sharp turn. I tried to step all the corners, but ended up skidding most of them. Russell took the lead, with Walker and I to his left and right respective. On the first part of the third climb, I pulled into second by V2ing on the inside edge. The first part of the climb ended and a gradual downhill began. Walker and Adam Witkowski tried to pull alongside me, but the trail was too narrow. The trail turned a corner and began the long gradual uphill. Russell bolted, trying to secure his lead permanently. I chased him down, sticking to him and preventing his breakaway. Walker and Adam Witkowski caught up, and we began a small downhill. I made my first mistake, getting pushed too far to the left, I ended up in the soft mush and sprung over the top in fourth. I began tuck skating and flew by Adam Witkowski, catching up with Walker. The lead pack of 4 that had formed after about 600m was still intact 4km later. Everything seemed to blur as we flew down the hill at maximum speed. The last uphill on the course was coming up and it was time for me to make my move. As the downhill changed to up, I broke into V2 Alternate. I had a whole lane to myself, and started to jump skate, using my climbing abilities to pull into second. Neck in neck, Russell and I skied to the far end of the field. I was briefly ahead of Russell, but he was on the inside lane and got ahead of me on the final corner before the finishing stretch. Here was where I made my second mistake. I went farther out to get my own finishing lane rather than slotting in behind Russell. Walker and Adam Witkowski were able to get in Russell’s lane and pull even with me. Adam Witkowski and Russell were gone, and Walker inexorably began to draw away. I crossed the line in 4th, seconds from Russell, who was leading. After I crossed the line, my racing focus broke, and I realized just how hard I had been pushing and just how exhausted I was. I collapsed at the finish with a classic Adam flop, and lay there, appreciating the support of the cool snow. After getting up and congratulating my competition, and warmed down with them, talking about how much fun it is to ski in a fast pack. Today was my best Eastern cup mass start so far, and as always, it’s fun to go fast.
It needed more uphill though.