I realized a few weeks ago that I needed to race another Ontario Cup race to be eligible for the Ontario Senior Team for next season. Thus I decided to go to the Ontario Cup finale in Duntroom on February 28 and 29 to achieve this goal. Because the rest of XCOTTAWA saw no advantage in traveling when the Quebec Sprint Championships were in Hull, I was on my own. So on Friday morning I picked up the team wax box, loaded the car and headed down South. The drive from Renfrew, through Bancroft to Orillia and was really impressive. The beauty of this hillly, undulating region with lots of snow made the drive interesting. Now for the racing. Saturday was classic sprints with the qualifying round taking place while the snow was melting and the heats on a beautiful, warm, slushy afternoon. Nothing was that notable in the qualifying, other than Skeets Morel beating all of the men by a lot. Oh, and my being out qualified by my former university professor, Cornelius Brandt. When the afternoon came, I was able to beat Cornelius for one of the 4 spots. The final was set up as a real showdown with the four strongest skiers in the field: Skeets Morel of Parry Sound, Steve Hart of Peterborough and Rob Bewick and myself of Sudbury. Skeets and Steve skied away from us by the halfway point with Steve earning the victory. This was my first sprint final since high school and my inexperience showed. In the 45 minutes between rounds, I felt I needed 20 minutes to flush lactates and then the rest became a warm up. This makes sense but by the final I had skied so much all day that I lost my speed. I will try different things next time. In the women's final, Karla Mika was the winner ahead of Kerrie Fabius and Andrea Dupont. Sunday promised to be an interesting day. The 20km Skate Mass Start at 9:30am. The forecast was for -5C overnight with a high of +7C! We knew it was icy and fast at 9AM and that enevitably it would get slushy; the only questions were how fast would it change and would it happed by 10:15 (the expected end of the race). I decided to wax my skiis for around 0 because this seemed like the most likely situation. Both Sudbury clubs made the same decision so I have termed this wax job the "Sudbury Mistake". The race started well for me and by the end of the first lap (of 3) there were six of us in the lead; Steve Hart, Jeff Ellis, myself, Rob Bewick, Oliver Maloney and Mark Doble. My skis were running pretty well, and already better than skis waxed by some illustrious wax techs. A small split occurred as the lap finished with Jeff and Steve getting a 10 second lead. I bridged up to Steve early on the second lap, leaving the chase group behind and passing Jeff in the process. The two of us saw our lead grow, but it was getting slushy. With a km to go on the lap, Steve got a minimal gap on me, but it grew on every downhill. This was all he needed and skied in for a deserved victory. Jeff had really good skis and gained enough on me on every small downhill to pass me with 1km to go for second place. Oliver Maloney kept skiing well for a solid fourth place. This performance capped off a good week for the junior from Parry Sound who won OFSAA on Monday. It seems the race was decided by the gamble that every wax tech made. The skis I used are as good as any pair in the country and the wax was very good for the first 15km, but by with 5km remaining it was no longer ideal for the conditions. The skis just got slower in the changing conditions. Fortunately for me many others had bigger problems, even though they were working with wax techs with big reputations. In the end this was a lucky gamble, a solid performance, an interesting day and an enjoyable weekend.
Interesting Reading. . .