This past weekend was the Canadian Easterns Championships held at Nakkertok. Ever since I’ve been skiing, the Easterns have been held in the Ottawa region, usually alternating between Skinouk and Nakkertok. I frankly don’t remember an edition where things went unarguably wrong but as with any race there can always be some improvement tweaks here and there. The shallow snow pack and the rain last Monday had everyone fearing the worst for the ski conditions on what was also to be a cold weekend. You had could certainly have forgiven anyone who thought on Monday that skiing wasn’t going to be the activity of choice until the next dump of snow.
When we previewed the course of Friday (that we’d already skied a gazillion times over the last few years) and the first thing I noticed was that the race trails were in perfect condition. I don’t mean perfect considering... they were actually perfect. There were no rocks, the course was firm and yet had some give plus it was fast. So far so good. After the coaches' meeting we were told that race start was at 11 AM. NOTE TO OTHER RACE ORGANISERS: Imitate Nakkertok. When you know it is going to get cold on a Saturday morning a 2hr delay right off the bat is so much better than a bunch of 15, 30 and 60 minute delays on race morning.
Race time finally came along and the course was well signed and groomed, just like on Friday for the preview. Beside that the trails were perfect, the start on time, the volunteers knew what they were doing, the course was well signed, and thanks to the race delay and the sun, the temperature was perfectly enjoyable.
Once the race was done, the Gatorade was hot and in re-usable cups. The next step was the post race meal (which isn’t always offered at events of this type), or in some cases wanted. I give kudos once again to the volunteers. The bagel sandwiches were tasty and filling, the yogurt quite tasty, the soup was hearty and the Ribena drink was warm and tasty. That was it for Saturday and it was more of the same on Sunday save for even better weather.
You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t really spoken about the actual racing yet. That’s because Alana is taking care of the race report and because it was one of those weekends where I couldn’t help but to wonder if the highest achievers weren’t the volunteers. More often than not the standard set by race organisers is quite adequate but this weekend was no question a clear step or two above that. Despite cold temperatures, the atmosphere had a more than pleasing warmth. I am therefore taking this opportunity to officially thank all the volunteers for whatever their contributions were.
If you ask me, these people have more than what it takes to throw that little annual ski party we all call Nationals.