The Bogburn was my first race ever: I waddled frantically around the Lollipop loop, coming in third and receiving a Kit-Kat for my efforts.
Is a Kit-Kat a lollipop?
Did this bother me?
…but I like Kit-Kats better anyways so it’s all good.
As far as I can remember, I’ve skied in every Bogburn since then. An unseasonably warm (or was it cold?) day in BKL introduced me and my dad to the wonders of klister. He recalls almost setting Jay on fire with a blowtorch. My freshman year brought another klistery Bogburn, as detailed in my post from three years ago, Fogburn Bogburn. The most memorable result of this race was the accidental almost-combustion of Tobin’s skis by another overly enthusiastic blow-torch-wielding middle schooler (who shall go unnamed) attempting to clean off the klister.
Did I say klister?
I meant klister-pine-needle-barf-like mixture.
Sophomore year was my only Bogburn not at the Bogburn trails, and I ambitiously decided to double-pole all nine kilometers of the Woodstock loop. In that race, I discovered that double-pole endurance was an area that I had lots of potential to improve in…but I finished!
Fast-forward another year, and we faced the opposite challenge of the Fogburn. The wax of the day was Special Green, and as I was (and still am) learning the ins and outs of ski wax lore, I thought this was the same as the Swix VG35 basebinder. So…I waxed my skis with basebinder. It worked pretty well though! The shorts and t-shirt I wore at the Fogburn, however, would not have cut it in this particular Bogburn.
Wait…you wanted to actually hear about this year’s Bogburn? Well, I’m a senior now, so I’m allowed to reminisce about the past happy years of my youth. But the 2020 Bogburn was perhaps the best yet, despite bib-and-shorts racing temperatures, so here goes:
The waxing for this race was relatively simple: pick the warmest klister possible. I tested a Rex klister that came from an ancient gold-colored tube and appeared transparent yellow in small quantities but electric blue when spread on the kick zone. Hilary dubbed it the radioactive wax. It worked like a charm, and so I grabbed my training skis to wax up for the race. I applied a beautiful, thin layer of a Rex klister that came from an ancient gold-colored tube and appeared transparent yellow. The fact that it never looked electric blue should have tipped me off, but as I tested my skis 20 minutes before the race, just in case, I discovered I had no kick at all. I had not noticed the tiny “OU” on the tube, which differed from my original tube’s “OY”. With fifteen minutes to start, I cleaned off my painstaking but useless klister job and coaxed the last dregs of the sacred radioactive OY klister onto my skis. In the race, I had nearly perfect kick, as long as I had nearly perfect technique, which is a nearly perfect situation to be in.
Out on course, the magical single-track Bogburn trails swoop up, down, and around in convoluted loops that even my fine-tuned sense of direction can’t keep track of. Most races, I look at a map, plan out my race, and decide how I’m going to approach different sections, but the Bogburn is totally different. For me, it’s a journey through a beautiful, magical forest—perhaps there is some sense to Autocorrect’s attempts to change “Bogburn” to “hobbit”—and I take every twist, climb, and loopy descent as it comes.
No one that I know understands exactly how the start order is determined, but this year, I started in the middle of a bunch of Dartmouth women, with a few other U18s sprinkled ahead of me. For the first lap of the race, I always had a Dartmouth skier ahead of me to chase, and as Anna Lehmann or Molly Gellert (for example) passed me, I would cling to their tails and learn as much as I could from their skiing.
All these amazing women pulled me forward with their momentum, and going through the lap lane, I sighted Sage and Aggie, who had started about a minute ahead of me. I worked on closing the gap and passing them for the second lap of the race, and the fast guys started catching me, giving me yet more speedy skiers to chase.
As one tucking green-clad skier passed through my peripheral vision, he kindly warned me, “Three more coming!”
These three turned out to be, in quick succession, another Dartmouth skier, my coach Luke (in his purple cow suit), and some other guy. Other friends I saw out there included Dirk and Elissa, who passed me just before the end, and Barry Kitch, who headed out on his first lap just as I was going through for my second. Basically, the Bogburn gives you the chance to ski with and chase a whole bunch of skiers you don’t normally get to be around.
With the inspiration and challenge of all the skiers around me, I found myself pushing closer to my limits. By the last few kilometers, my legs and arms were jelly and most of my focus went into staying upright on the last few curves. And for the first time, ten years after my first race ever, I finally got the coveted Bogburn hat. See you next year, Bogburn—I’m already excited!