With near-perfect conditions the past two weeks, the Tuesday Night Sprints at Weston Ski Track have been a pleasure. And by pleasure, I mean they’ve been blistering fast with plenty of suffering.
I went from the gun, pulled a small group clear almost immediately, and kept the pressure on. My skis were fast and I felt confident. I had gone clear with just one other skier hanging on. I proceeded to tow him around for the rest of the race. I punched it hard on the final hill, got a bit of gap, but then got caught in traffic passing other skiers on the tight hairpins. My legs were burning. I was till pretty tired from Craftsbury, but I thought I had it. It came down to a sprint and I lost by a toe.
I didn’t want a repeat of last week, so I planned for an intense race and to go solo. But at 10km, this race was much longer than any of the previous ones. An all-out sprint wasn’t possible. I lead the first lap, strung things out, then sat in the second lap. I attacked on the third lap, got a gap, but not much of one. I had over-drawn my account and was struggling. My skis were starting to feel slow — I hadn’t rewaxed them since last week — and each time I glance back, I could see the chase group working together to close up on me. So I kept pushing it, hoping to hold on for another few kilometers. I was gulping air, but no relief came. With the finish line in sight, I thought I was clear, but coming over the final rise, the chase group had suddenly closed in on me. I punched it over the hill, tucked for the descent and sprinted like hell to the line. I managed to keep my gap and take the victory, but it was a close one.