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2006 Keskinada Race Report
By:  Wayne Dustin   (2006/02/21)

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Saturday's Races

Saturday was cold and windy. Craig was the man, skiing the 51k classic over the modified multiple loop course. He had a good race, finishing 9th in a strong field in 2:44:54. P-O also braved the windchill and skied to an easy 2 minute victory in the 15k classic.

Sunday's Races

Sunday was much nicer than Saturday, warming up a little overnight. Wayne had his best Keski in years, finishing 9th in 2:21:40. Andrew also had a good race, coming in a solid 13th in 2:24:59. Sheila skied well, finishing 4th (49th overall!) in 2:38:46, against a stronger than usual women\'s field. Tom didnít race due to a cold.

More detailed race reports to follow.


Wayne's Race: 

Race Strategy:

I have not had a good race at the Keskinada in a few years. Aside from any fitness considerations, the main reason for this is every year I seem to go too hard up Pink Lake hill off the start, then suffer until somewhere past Penguin, and then I ski fairly well to the finish. I think the main reason I have been starting too fast is because I have been to focused on trying to ski with particular people, instead of skiing my own race. So this year I planned to just ski my own pace, and hopefully that would put in with a group of skiers going at pace I could handle. And the fact that we wouldn\'t be climbing Pink Lake hill this year should also help!

Race Morning:

Perfect conditions. The snow was hard and fast and perfectly groomed, not too icy. (That was my initial impression, but some places like Penguin were quite icy). Temperature was on the cold side, but warming up. A little windy. With the wind and the fast snow it would be very beneficial to be skiing in a group on the parkways, drafting. No need for any extra clothing. Wax should be good. I went with the following layers: blue/graphite/IR spektra green/IR spektra green/black fox. A long race and very abrasive snow, so I put on an extra layer of green. I arrived around 8:00, taped my 4 Cliff Shot gels inside my suit, and was ready to go. I skied for about 30 min (on warm up skis), did a little zone 2 and zone 3, and went to the start at about 8:45.

The Race.

I started on the 2nd row, behind Steve Cyr. The start was uneventful, and looked very clean. I got into about 15th place as we hit the parkway. The pace was bursty, a little fast, and I was at the back of the pack. I looked back on saw there was nobody close, so it was either ski a little on the fast side, or ski by myself. I decided to stay with this bigger group until the pack split up, which was bound to happen as soon as we hit some hills.

As we went through the stadium after the first lap, it was still one group. I got a feed of eload (from my sister, nice to be racing on the home course for feeds). The hill out of the start field is where things broke into 2 groups. I stayed in the second group of about 5 or 6 skiers, which included fellow xc ottawa skier Andrew Wynd, and 1998 Olympian Chris Blanchard.

I led through trail 15. When we hit the parkway I took a gel, let Chris lead. My next feed was at the bottom of the hill at P5. As I stood up to slow down for my feed I was skied into by Andrew, who thought I was going step out of the track. I came very close to crashing, and had to stop and go back for my eload. Better to lose a few seconds than miss a feed. I easily caught back up to the group as we turned off the parkway to Penguin.

On Penguin the American skier Robert Douglas put the hammer down, and dropped me and Chris, who dropped the other skiers. Half way up I let Chris go, I felt the pace was too fast. But I was able to catch back up to Chris over the top, and the whole group except Andrew reformed before we got Keogan. I believe Andrew got dropped, on Penguin, caught back up briefly, and then was dropped for good on Burma.

From Keogan to Black Lake hill our group stayed together, with me and Chris doing most of the work. I got 2 feeds of eload from Steve and Alicia (thanks!), and took a couple of more gels. On the uphill to Black Lake, Robert once again made a big move, and dropped the rest of us by a lot, at least 50m. This is where things got interesting, as my left quad started to cramp up. I immediately went in to damage control, trying to rely on my right leg and upper body. 

Going down Black lake hill we had faster skis than Robert, and ate him up by the bottom. I got my last feed by Mackenzie King, where we caught Cyrus Kangerloo. He joined our group for the final charge to finish. 

Robert picked up the pace again by Mackenzie King but the group was able to stay on him, and he stepped aside at the top. I was happy to take the lead from him, as I could control the pace while favouring my left leg.  

After Notch Robert attacked again, but again we all stayed with him. I led down Pink Lake hill, and along the flats. Just before we turned off the parkway Robert took the lead, followed by Cyrus. I was able to follow, but the final uphill on 26 the real sprint began and I was toast. Robert and Cyrus skied away. I stayed ahead of the others until Chris out sprinted me in the stadium. 

Overall I was very happy with race, it was my best Keski in years. 9th place, 2:21:40, just over 8 minutes off the lead. The only downside to the race is the inside edges on my skis are toast from the ice, they look like someone took some sandpaper to them!

Big thanks to Steve, Alicia, Sandy and Erica for the feeds!


Sheila's Race:

I was pretty excited about his yearís Keskinada, and looking forward to racing against an impressive Canadian womanís field.

My race didnít get off too quickly, since I didnít have a great start. I guess I wasnít aggressive enough and was trying to stay out of trouble and keep my poles in one piece, but consequently let lots of guys close in Ė I stayed relaxed and figured Iíd be able to move ahead once we reached the parkway and things opened up. Once at the parkway I was disappointed to see double classic tracks on both sides so it was still single file and really hard to pass people (unless you double poled, which I did). I was a little frustrated that I wasnít up there with some of the lead women (at this point national team member Dasha Gaiazova, Sarah Peters, Jacki Benson, Shayla Swanson, and Nikki Kassel), but remained patient until we finally got a wide track again at 9km.

I worked hard to pass Shayla and Nikki before going into the woods on trail 15. I was feeling pretty good, and passed Jacki toward the top of this climb, putting me in third place. Once back onto parkway I skied to the base of Penguin with a friend Ian Dalling, and could see Sara not too far ahead as we approached Penguin. I lost Ian going up Penguin, and after that I was pretty much alone for most of Ridge Road, wishing I had people to ski with! A small group of guys caught me going down toward Burma, but I couldnít hang onto them once we were on the icy trail, so skied most of Burma alone too. Jacki caught me at about 38km, and was skiing really well. I skied with her and eventually a couple of guys for about 5km, but got gapped (don't you hate it when that happens!) and was solo again.

Dasha won the womanís event convincingly, finishing 18th overall showing she has great endurance to match her incredible speed (sheís coming off impressive top 5 performances at the U23 Worlds Ė watch for her in Whistler!). Sarah was a strong second, followed by Jacki in third. I ended up fourth woman and Nikki Kassell rounded off the top 5 on the womenís podium.

Overall I felt pretty good and think I was skiing technically well but still have lots of room to improve. Iím happy about my race since I know I couldnít have handled the icy sections and hard packed conditions as well a few years ago. Iím of mixed minds about the new course Ė I like the climb up trail 15 and coming through the stadium area, but didnít like the congestion in the first 9km of the race. Maybe a new wave structure, and parkway trackset for skating at the beginning could help, but I'm not sure it that would be enough for waves C, D, and E.

Thanks to all the Keski volunteers and to Steve, Alicia and the Rossignol crew for the feeds!

 
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