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Hard Tracks at Hardwood Hills; Sprints and Mass-start Classic
By:  Craig Storey   (2006/01/01)


Freezing rain made for tricky racing conditions at last weeks Ontario Cup races in Hardwood Hills. Luckily the grooming staff did a good job coping with a lack of snow and an abundance of freezing rain for both the Thursday 1.2km Sprint and Friday's 5/10km Mass-start Classic races.

The sprint races took place only a few hours after the rain stopped. Most of the trails at Hardwood remained closed for the day, and would probably have been better navigated on hockey skates. The sprint course was a mixed bag of soft, hard, icy, fast, snow on rolly and twisty terrain. Add to that dull light due to overcast skies and it was generally hard to ski well. There were lots of falls and wobbly legs out there making for some interesting racing and great spectating. Luckily for skiers the groomers were able to break up the surface and re-groom after the qualifier, making the snow a bit more consistent for the head-to-head action in the heats.

XCOttawa skiers stayed on their feet. Linnea Rudachyk made the B-final for 8th place and Erika Langman finished 10th in the Women's category. In the men's race Gavin was the speediest finishing 10th, while Wayne Dustin finished 13th and Craig 18th. Gavin moved through to the quaterfinals with ease, but ran into big league competition (Gord Jewet, Skeets Morel and Mark Doble) in the semis. Wayne looked smooth in the quarterfinals and while our picture (below) shows him ahead a step before the finish line, the official photo finish had him in 3rd and out of the semis. Complete Sprint Results.

A few more pictures from the sprints...

Linnea in the semi-finals.

Erika cruising home in the quarter finals.

Gavin getting set in the quarter finals.

Craig and Wayne draw the same quarterfinal round.

Craig in the quarter finals.

Craig and Wayne in the quarterfinals.

Friday morning everything was crisp, cold and shiny. The groomer crunched up the ice and was able to put in a track that set like concrete. It was abbrassive to say the least.


Grip was hard to find, and even harder to keep. Luckily, John Langstone and Greg Mark who coach Carleton were supporting Linnea, Gavin and Erika. John and Greg, having seen this many times before, calmly pulled out a Kempi-special - a mixture of base binder and tar klister which is both durable and sticky. Everyone had great grip the whole race.

The women went first, and their 5km race was over fast...with Erika finishing 13th and Linnea 15th, while Ottawa's Perianne Jones got the win. Women's 5km Results

The fast conditions and the narrow course, by modern standards at least, lead to a lot of scrambling in the men's race. The pack didn't spread out much before the climbs and not everyone had good grip which lead to pile-ups and many, many broken poles. Dave Nighbour, Adam Kates and Skeets Morel got off the front and stuck together right to the line. Wayne also managed to get away cleanly and ski a strong race finishing 9th. He managed to catch Gavin near the end of the second lap and out sprinted him as Gavin finished 10th less than 1s back. Craig managed a 15th place finish after getting involved in two scrums. Men's 10km Results

A few pictures at the start of the men's 10km mass-start classic race...

Tavis Apramian is excited!

The men get ready...

..and they are off!

Photo Credits: Edith Post.

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