Prep School Race at Proctor
We had a great day of racing at Proctor Academy yesterday! The race was a mass start classic race, meaning that all the boys started at once and all the girls started at once. The classic technique involves skiers skiing in a set track made by a grooming machine. The challenge for the coaches is finding a “kick” wax that allows the skier to push their weight down on one ski so that they can propel themselves forward. If the coaches pick a wax that is too grippy the skiers will be very slow on the down-hills and flats. If they pick a wax that is too speedy it may not give the skiers enough kick on the up-hills.
Yesterday was close to a waxer’s nightmare! All coaches dread what we call “zero” conditions—conditions when temperatures modulate around 0 degrees centigrade. Anything colder and the waxing is pretty easy, everything kicks and it is just a matter of finding the fastest kick wax. Anything much warmer and we go to the super sticky wax called klister. At zero we have multiple options and not many of them are ever good! You have the danger of what I saw happen to a skier from another school where her skis iced up under the wax pocket and she could not move forward.
I was lucky to have a guest waxer, Sean Macy, helping out Coaches Masterson, Weber, Bates (Lisa) and me. We spent 90 minutes waxing our skis, one with one wax and one with another, and checking them for kick and speed. We brought kick waxes in four suitcases from four different European wax companies (we study and read about wax year round, it gets a little obsessive!). After testing multiple combinations of wax we settled on Toko waxes for the first race, the girls’ mass start. We went with a Toko sandwich of green on the base (you cork each layer in very smooth), then a layer of Toko red, then green and then yellow on top. Yellow is for warmer conditions and gives more kick. For our more experienced skiers we covered the Toko sandwich with a thin layer of Rode multigrade violet to speed it up. Most girls seemed to have solid kick, but some were slipping. Our top skiers were slipping on the up-hills, but were flying on the downhills.
The tracks started to glaze up and get looser after all the girls skied three laps of the course so we kept testing. We went with a similar combination on the boy’s skis but played around with where we put the Rode and Toko within the wax pocket to keep things fast. We clearly did not have the best kick of the other teams but we had the fastest skis by far. That played out differently on our team, depending on our skier’s skiing styles. There are two other things we did to prepare the skis for the race. First, we had the athletes wax the tips and tails of their skis with glide wax. When the skier puts equal weight on their skis they are designed so that the sticky wax does not contact the snow and slow the skis down, and instead the tips and tails glide quickly without resistance. We picked correctly when we picked Toko Red glide wax. Once the glide wax is scraped off and brushed out with special brushes we can add structure to the base. We use special tools that imprint different patterns on the base to break up the suction between the ski and the wet snow surface. On race day Calvin tested out two different structures for the team and we picked a fine linear structure for the bases. It seemed to work well.
The girls’ race featured some of our newer skiers and it was awesome to see Michelle, Grace, Rebecca, Antonia, and Theresa having the courage to jump into the race and race well. Diamond was the real story of the day. She almost quit Nordic last year because she could not stand up. So, when I saw her striding up the big hill yesterday in the middle of the pack I was very proud of her. In Nordic we score the top four finishers for each school. The fifth and sixth skiers are called “Displacers” since they stay in the results and can push top fours skiers from other schools down in the results. After the top six, all of our other skiers are taken out of the team score when calculating team results. It turns out that Diamond filled the all important sixth spot yesterday and was a displacer! Lara was our fifth place displacer, Sita was our fourth scorer after a strong sprint at the finish (28th), Robyn had her best race of the season and finished 8th, ninth grade rookie Agnes finished 4th and sophomore Lilly won the 5 km race by almost a minute.
The Boys’ race went very well as well with our top skiers enjoying good starts and getting out in front of the large pack. Some of our beginners, John, Grady and Ethan, started at the very back of the pack and worked their way up past a group of more experienced skiers. Riley continues to impress in his first and last year on the ski team and seemed to improve his technique as the race went on. AJ has been staying late after practices to hone his classic technique and it paid off with a top fifty result. Jared loves the classic stride and it showed as he joined Ben as one of our displacers. Ryan, our fourth scorer, finished 13th, ninth grader Quinn had another solid result finishing 7th and Calvin (1st) and George Henry (2nd) took the top two podium spots, something we have never done before! The boys finished 31 points ahead of second place.
Next week we are scheduled to host a classic race at our Nordic Center. While the forecast was not looking good, it now looks like we may receive some snow before the 25th. Proctor will be the backup venue.
[Sorry for the lack of pictures, we were too busy waxing!]