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XC Ottawa takes on Climb to the Castle
By:  Ingrid Hagberg   (2014/09/11)

Last weekend XC Ottawa and some Carleton skiers headed back to Lake Placid to compete in the annual NYSEF Climb to the Castle rollerski race. The 8km race takes skiers up the toll road that climbs Whiteface, the 5th highest peak in the Adirondacks. With no downhills, and an average grade of 8% the course is very challenging and is sure to get the burn going in everyone's legs! Once again, the race was attended by several members of the US ski and biathlon team members.

This year Ingrid Hagberg, Sheila Kealey, Kyla Vanderzwet, and XC Ottawa alumnus Holly Jones all returned to Whiteface after having competed in previous years. We were also joined by Carleton rookies Emily Jones and Ben Dearing, who were keen to take on the climb for their first time.

Race day dawned warm, slightly rainy, and very windy. Unperturbed by the weather, we headed up to the base of Whiteface and we were lucky enough for the rain to stop! After a nice warm-up, we hit the startline, ready to fight to get to the top. This year, the first half of the race featured nice, clear weather, with a bit of a nasty headwind. About 6km in, the clear weather dissipated as we skied into a large cloud covering the peak. The final kilometre was best described as an intense wind tunnel, and slowed most of the racers down to a slow, sluggish pace towards the finish.

We were treated to a very foggy, windy finish as clouds continued to roll across the peak. In the women's race, Liz Stephen of the US ski team won the race for the 4th time in a row, this time with a 3:30 lead over 2nd place finisher Caitlin Gregg. Sheila had the top result of the day for XC Ottawa, finishing 12th in the women. She was followed by Holly (19th), Ingrid (20th), Kyla (23rd), and Emily (27th).
On the men's side, Tim Burke of the US biathlon team took the win, 40s ahead of 2nd place finisher Russell Currier, also of the US biathlon team. Also notable was Simi Hamilton (USST) who double poled the entire race to finish 11th! Ben came through in 25th, an impressive showing for his first climb.

Full results can be found here:

The road climbing up to the top of Whiteface, taken in a much sunnier September 2011.

Emily crossing the finish line in the thick fog.

Emily (right) making friends at the finish

The team after the race. From left to right Emily, Ingrid, Kyla, Sheila, and Ben. Thanks to Holly for being the camerawoman!
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