Greetings from New Brunswick,
Today was the first race of Canada Games, a 10km Classic Mass Start. The heavy snow stopped overnight but it was still soft and slow. The wind was strong enough that ski marking got cancelled due to the tent being blown over.
This created a tough race in which it would be difficult for any skiers to break away. The start was clean and the fastest skiers made it to the front early. Each province was given 1 skier in each of 5 lanes. I was one of the unfortunate ones who started near the back, in row 4, but I was able to be in 5th place and skiing in the lead group by 3.5 km. From here on in people were getting dropped off the back as the pace took its toll. At thebeginning of the second lap, Steve Lowry of Team Alberta attacked and strung out the pack, causing a number of skiers to get dropped. He then got caught at 8km by Vincent Renart of Quebec, who got away. Mike Argue of NWT got away for second place and Jonathon Blais of Quebec outsprinted Dave Nighbor of Ontario for 3rd. Lowry ended up 5th.
For me this was just a hard race. I was skiing well and in the pack (next to Argue) at 3.5 km but then lactates started to build and I was unable to keep moving fast. I tried but just kept getting passed by people and ended up 14th. I have barely raced in the last month and have probably grown unaccustomed to skiing fast while suffering. Often in this situation it takes one race to regain the proper feel, so I hope to be performing up to my potential in tomorrow's sprints.
Overall, today was not a good day for Team Ontario with Sean Crooks getting dropped by Lowry's attack, Dave Nighbor stepping on Timo Puiras' pole (thereby breaking it) and Jeff Seguin being unable to catch the leaders after starting in the 5th row. Nighbor said after the race that 4th place should not have been our best result and I believe that we all agree. Among the women it was similar with Colleen Mortimer and Perianne Jones losing a sprint for 3rd, while Andrea Nighbor (who started in the 1rst row) dropped out due to cold hands.
I should take this occasion to note the helpfulness and friendliness of all the race and event volunteers. They have been doing a great job and it is appreciated.