To begin, it must be mentioned that our team was exceptionally well prepared for this race, and we had excellent race and wax support. Among those who made superb contributions in this regard were Pavol Skvaridlo, John Langstone, Tom McCarthy, and Don Moxley. This race had been a major team objective since the summer, and it was very satisfying to accomplish what we had set out to do.
Conditions for the race would definitely have to be considered less than ideal. Heavy snowfall the night before meant a soft track in many areas, and in some places snow drifts that made double-poling the only viable technique. Windy conditions also made it difficult to ski alone for extended periods of time. In addition, in many areas only a narrow section of the parkways were groomed. All of these factors contributed to an increased importance belng placed on strategy and tactics.
In the opening kilometres, Jean Paquet and Robin McKeever escaped off the front, and quickly opened a sizeable lead on a pursuing group of skiers, including Karl Saidla, Lee Churchill and Arno Turk of XCOttawa. Ian Murray and David Zylberberg, also of XCOttawa, worked diligently in the opening kilometres to get the other XCOttawa memmembers towards the front. Until approximately 30 kilometres, we all managed to work together and remain in the first chasing group.
At this point, things began to heat up, with the pace increasing several times, shrinking the chase group to five. Included in this chase group were Lee, Karl, Will Fitzgerald of NTDC Thunder Bay, Jason Lemieux of Lake Placid, and former Canadian Olympian Chris Blanchard.
At the bottom of the Pink's lake hill, the chase group began to splinter. Karl was about 10 senconds ahead of Will. Both were eating into the lead of the two leaders, and Jean Paquet was passed near the Asticou parking lots. Karl took the lead with roughly 2 kilometres left, between the two climbs on the bike path coming back towards the finish. Will Fitzgerald passed Robin McKeever in the final kilometre, moving him into second place. This ended up being the final order of finish.
The Keskinada is truly a world-class event, and deserves recognition as such. XCOttawa would like to thank the organizers of the Keskinada for putting on such a great event. We look forward to being key participants in the coming years.