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2005 National Championships Report #3: Pursuit Skate.
By:  Tom McCarthy   (2005/03/02)


Today marked our third day of competition at the Canadian Champs in Prince George. As has been the trend, temperatures have continued to climb, and didn't even get below freezing last night after the classic race. This meant that we arrived at the race course this morning to find a sopping wet mess, with rocks, pine needles, dirt, and globs of yesterday's klister liberally stirred in. Several nasty corners on the race-course are even nastier with the melt that's going on, but that didn't stop us! No, no, that didn't stop the races… stay tuned though, the 50k at the end of the week may undergo some changes.

This was day 2 of the pursuit- meaning that the race started in the same order as it finished yesterday. So that Ivan Babikov, who won by 10 seconds yesterday, started 10 seconds ahead of Dan Roycroft, who was second, and so on. For XC Ottawa, this meant the opportunity for several racers to make amends for unlucky races on Day 1, and the opportunity for others to improve on the good races they had.

The waxing was again slightly complicated- coach John told us to test very quickly, because when the snow is this dirty it starts to get the ski bases dirty, which slows them down very quickly, and he didn't want any dirt on the skis when he applied the final coat of fluoros. We ended up skiing with a Vauhti blue base, and put Vauhti IR Spektra Molybdenum on top of that, and covered THAT with Vauhti IR Spektra Yellow. Phew, expensive day! Then John covered that with Vauhti ZeroFox fluor powder, and covered THAT with SilverFox powder!!!!! And you thought the IR waxes were pricey.

So in the men's race, Ed started first of the XC Ottawa posse, followed 13 seconds thereafter by Tom (see preview from yesterday) and then Dave (the Invigidebilitator) 18 seconds after Tom. Karl was a little ways back of Dave. Tom caught Ed after 5k and kept moving through the field, riding on the coat-tails of the biggest mover of the day, Ian Murray of Nova Scotia. Tom finished 21st overall open men, 19th senior men. Ed finished 26th in the senior men, dropping a couple of spots from the day before, but professed to be reasonably pleased with a decent skate race. He was pretty happy with his skis. Dave moved up the field as well, finishing in 23rd of the senior men. He was pretty happy, but said he couldn't keep his energy levels high the whole race and dropped off a bit at the end. Karl is continuing to have an unlucky streak- he fell rounding one of the tricky corners and broke a ski. He was having a decent race until that point, but he fell on the first lap and lost a fair bit of time.

Ivan Babikov stretched his lead out to close to a minute to win the men's overall pursuit. Dan Roycroft was second, and Brian McKeever edged Dave Nighbor in a sprint finish for third.

The women's race was also exciting. Megan of XC Ottawa put on a brave show, competing in her first skate race since having surgery this spring to repair a torn ACL. She battled through quite a bit of pain and the treacherous downhills to finish a very respectable 17th in senior women. We all think she's pretty tough. Dasha Gaiazova was the class of the field among the women, winning by over a minute. She was followed by Chandra Crawford and Tara Whitten, two girls newly returned from World Championships.

So it was a pretty hectic day at Nationals, but a pretty good day. We're all hoping the snow will stick around long enough for the 50k to happen on Sunday, but we're prepared for an alternative. Stay tuned! The next race is the sprints, which happen on Friday. Megan's looking for a good race there.

Interesting Reading. . .
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