2005 Keski Climb Reports
By: Team XCOttawa.ca (2005/09/26)
This was my second Keski Climb. With a lot more roller skiing under my belt, I went into the race with a lot more confidence than last year. Since the race was part of the "Coupe Elpex" I knew it would draw a competitive woman's field, and the winners of the first event in Quebec (a tie between Emilie Allard and Maryse l'Heureux) were racing.
My start was pretty conservative and too slow (I think I should have been doing a few sprints instead of taking pictures!), so I found myself in fourth place among the women at 1km into the race (mostly flat and downhill). I wasn't far back, and I managed to pass Emilie, Maryse, and Annie Parent on the first climb before the Asticou Center. Since the race is mostly uphill after that I figured this was a good sign. Once onto the parkway I picked it up and let my new fast racing wheels pull me along (my usual roller ski wheels are very slow, so it felt great to have more speed on the uphills). I skied alone most of the way, passing people due to my conservative start. The last 2km of the race were the best, when I was skiing with Phil Shaw and teammate Ed McCarthy (on snow I would be no where near these guys, so it was a fun opportunity). Predictably, I lost the sprint to the finish, but I won the women's event. Emilie and Maryse had another tight race and finished second and third just 0.4 seconds apart.
Now things get exciting. Since Emilie and Maryse tied for first at the Quebec race, it looks like whoever wins the third Coupe Elpex race will win the series (and a pair of Elpex rollerskis). If another woman wins, the series win will go to whoever has the next best finish (calculated by % time from winner) in the three races. The third race is in Montreal on October 30th, a 1.6 km classic hill climb up Mount Royal. Time to work on my classic roller skiing!
My race was really fun. I only had super-bomber fast skis, so couldn't quite stay with the guys with mega-super-bomber fast skis, but Craig and I skiied together for the whole race. We worked really well together, with Craig powering away on the flats and downhills and me scampering into the lead on the uphills. I was plotting the sprint finish for most of the race to try and beat Craig. After the T (about 2.5k left), I gunned it, but Craig came back up to me. Then I went again right near Huron lookout, but again couldn't quite lose him. When he caught me that time, I eased off, which was was a tactical error; too close to the finish to ease off. He threw down and gunned around me and down the downhill, and I missed his draft and got chucked off the back.
It was a fun race; I was in a nice, relaxed rhythym most of the race and didn't work too hard until the last couple of kilometers.
This was my first time doing the Keski Climb, or any rollerski race for that matter, and next time I will certainly be getting some faster wheels... yeah, I think that pretty much sums up my race.
As my introduction to the wacky world of rollerski racing, this race certainly was intructive. It was hard to believe how fast the top guys rolled off the line - I'm fairly sure P-O's rollerskis are in fact rocket-propelled. On this course, though, fast rollerskis weren't everything - the climbing felt like a lot more than expected, and I found that a certain amount of power in the longer, slightly steeper uphills helped a lot, as well as staying smooth in flat sections. I probably went out a bit too hard; this race needs some speed at the end, where the slower-starting but steady folks catch up!
Last year I made the mistake of taking roller ski speed for granted. I just borrowed what I thought were some pretty fast skis and showed up at the start line. There I found out that "fast" roller skis are all relative, and some people skis seemed to roll by themselves. It was a bit frustrating not being "in" the race, but I didn't have the slowest skis out there. My time last year was a respectable 53:38.This year, I souped-up my roller skis with in-line skate wheels. In testing I found them "scary fast" nad it was almost hard to get my feet back under my body quick enough. But once again other people somehow found ways to make their skis faster and I found myself 1-skating behind the lead pack after 100m as they free skated away with ease. Luckily Tom was right there with me. Try as we might to get back to those guys floating in front of us, we couldn't and we both realized this. So Tom and I pushed the pace but like a bike team shared the hard work breaking the wind.
Team tactics don't apply as the finish line nears, and while we didn't negotiate an "each man for himself from here on line" Tom made it obvious to me that we had passed that invisible line with 3km to go. He made a good move on a small rise and then another, and it weren't for the draft and the rolling terrain both moves might have left me skiing by myself. But he didn't loose me, and made yet another and attempt. It was a classic, and I spotted it early. He pulled up behind an in-line racer, rested in his draft for ~10s then jumped past the in-line racer and put the pedal down as the pitch got steeper near Huron. It almost worked again, I was lulled by the easy pace in their draft, but I managed to get back up to speed quickly. I caught up to Tom and knew that I had just enough energy for a 10s sprint. So Iinstead of tucking behind Tom or leading him out to the finish I went wide around him and as fast as possible. Tom missed the draft and luckily I was away to steal 4th, in 48:54. That's 4:44 faster than last year, but what part was of that due to faster skis, Tom's team work and draft? I guess that will be decided on snow.