Freeman Frost White Mountain Classic – 1/26/2019 – Race Report by Damian Bolduc
Teams from around New England showed up in force for the Annual Freeman Frost White Mountain Classic. This race is part of the NENSA Marathon Series, as well as the NENSA One Day Club Championship. The White Mountain Classic has become a great primer for the Marathon Season as it is a shorter race, but very challenging. It serves as an excellent tune-up for the crown jewel of the Marathon Series, Craftsbury next weekend. The postponement of the Geschmossel also helps with preparation for the Brodhead Challenge by providing a shorter but more intense effort as skiers cruise into the next big weekend.
The conditions in Jackson were remarkable and far exceeded expectations. The course modifications due to flooding conjured visions of ice fields. Upon inspection, the cover was a fine granular. It looked as if there was a nice layer of powder on top of the ungroomed snow off the trail, but a quick pole test proved a solid crust on top of softer snow. Skiers tried a few different things out, but most went with a blue klister covered. The NWVE Recommendation! We tested on our test skis and were satisfied and went about putting on the race application.
The trail was expertly prepared with robust double tracking throughout. The tracks were solid and for the most part full depth. The course held up well and still looked great after the abuse of 3 laps. The snow was generally a fine granular throughout. Temps remained in the mid-teens under mostly sunny skies. The predicted wind was not the factor of last years gusts, and in my opinion was not noticeable. The course started near the finish as the usual lap on the Touring Center side of the road had flooded with waters leaving a lot of debris as well as chunks of ice. There was a short lap to spread things out, and then skiers climbed Yodel. Skiers crossed the road to the Eagle Mountain Trails and skied a loop three times featuring the rollercoaster Wave. Skiers then crossed the road, dropped down Yodel and finished on a looping flat.
As seems to be the case, the start snuck up on people. The 5-minute warning was sounded while people were still testing and adjusting their skis. The skiers received some inspiring words before the race instructions, and soon they were off. The self-seeding at the start was quite good, and with a quick funneling of six lanes to two, skiers got on course without too much commotion. The initial loop was a fast double pole, and the race field began to organize. Race winner Kris Freeman wasted no time establishing himself as the dominant skier and behind him, an elite pack of racers formed. Ford Sayre’s Joel Bradley and Eli Enman (NWVE) were joined by Silas Eastman (Unattached) and Seth Downs (Anchorage Alaska). NWVE’s Chris Burnham was initially with the group, but his fast skis proved to be not-so-great climbers, and he could not maintain contact up Yodel. A very compatible chase group formed including Tyler Magnan (NWVE), Neal Graves (Stowe Nordic), and Liam John (MNC). The efforts of these three club rivals working together enhanced their races, and they maintained great position in the field. Not far back a slightly larger group was working well together including Eric Darling (NWVE), Frank Feist, Jimmy Burnham and John Sakalowski (CSU), and Nansen’s Dennis Page. Things broke apart after that. Luke Shullenberger took himself out of the race starting the second lap after a mis-planted pole snapped. He rejected generous offers of a 147.5, as well as a 140 as he pondered what to do. Elissa Bradley (Ford Sayre) and Brian Lavoie (Stowe Nordic) skied together putting some distance on Stephen Wright (NWVE), Arthur Mathisen, and me (Damian Bolduc). Behind us, CSU’s Andy Milne charged hard pulling Richard Costanza (MNC), and Kyle Darling (NWVE) with him. This groups presence was a known threat to those just in front of them. Behind them was the elite pack of women that included CSU’s Hannah Smith and Rebecca Feist as well as NWVE’s Kasie Enman and Stowe Nordic’s Sara Graves. This group accordioned quite a bit depending on the pitch of the trails with Sara making up ground on the downhills while Kasie pulled away on the climbs. NWVE’s Sarah Pribram and Jonathan Rodd were in good company with CSU’s Rober Faltus for much of the race. Trina Hosmer (Stowe Nordic) came to the White Mountain Classic on a mission. Prior to the race during the parade of the Team Championship Plaque, she warned the bearer that they better hang onto it tight or it might slip away. On course, Trina attracted the company of New England’s Most Eligible Club Skier, Todd Taska (Unattached). Todd has evaded the offers and requests of several clubs for some time. Perhaps it is time to unleash the most powerful recruiting tool. The legendary Ham and Cheese Sandwich. Why haven’t we tried this earlier? John Lazenby (Onion River Nordic) left the professional photography to CSU’s Jamie Doucett and put a number on. He was happy with the conditions and won the M8 division. The next pack was a contentious group of skiers; usually mild-mannered people, the gloves come off when these people race. Jud Hartmann (Grafton), Brendan Barden (NWVE) and Victor Golovkin (CSU) were continually changing places during the race as they tried to drop one another. Perry Bland (NWVE) was a marked man on the course as people gauged themselves with his consistent skiing. John Witmer (NWVE) tested his fitness against Doug Armstrong’s (Mount Washington) fierce ability. Once skiers lock horns with Doug in a race, they always come away with a new perspective on tenacity and tactics. Bruce Katz (Unattached) has to be happy with his great result as the perennial Marathon Series skier kicked off his season. Hannah Barden (NWVE) was one of the racers with her eyes on Perry, monitoring her progress against his. Little did she know that Carol Van Dyke (Stowe Nordic) and Lisa Doucett (CSU) were keeping her in their sights on her as the race for the women’s championship hinged on the outcomes of their efforts. Christine Pasterczyk (CSU) was in a good group during the later climbs in the race, moving through some of the men who were fading from overly ambitious early efforts. Cipperly Good (NWVE) was skiing very strong today as well, dropping her competition on The Wave. Jody Newton (CSU) commented about the last lap as her one poled Spring Fling Skiing Buddy lapped through with two shoulders that are nearly fully operational.
As the race progressed, conditions allowed for a lot of these match-ups to stay in contact. It was fast yet forgiving as people cruised along. Kris Freeman continued his dominance, and the elite pack stayed together. Joel overtook Eli coming down Yodel, and with the speed of the snow in the final meters of the race, any advantage was nearly impossible to overcome. Chris Burnham held his position, outkicking Evan Wetzel by a second after soloing much of the race. Liam suffered a mishap on Yodel allowing Tyler and Neal to get away. Even though, only 2 seconds back, the time could not be made up in the final sprint. Tyler would take it this week by one second over Neal as these two flip flop over the season. Eric Darling skied away from CSU’s 1-2-3 punch of John Sakalowsky, Jimmy Burnham and Frank Feist. He was one of the rare skiers able to put significant time on his opponents in the final kilometers of the race. Elissa Bradley and Brian Lavoie stayed together to the finish closing on those that fell off the pace when Eric made his move. I spent most of the race trying to keep a big enough gap on Stephen Wright to hold him off coming down Yodel to the finish, but it was not big enough, and Stephen seized the opportunity and sprinted by offering a draft knowing that he had sealed the deal. Andrew Milne slipped away from Kyle Darling and Rick Costanza the last time through the wave and increased his lead in one of his favorite races. Kasie Enman’s climbing outpaced the elite women’s pack, but the youth and fearlessness of CSU teammates Hannah Smith and Rebecca Feist were too much for those that used a little caution on the days challenging descents. Jonathan Rodd and Sarah Pribram raced it to the end appreciating each other’s efforts and were able to sit together at the post-race banquet on good terms. Trina Hosmer would not be overtaken in the final kilometers of the race as she led a small pack all the way to the line. Jud Hartmann broke away from the pack he was in, while Brendan Barden held off CSU’s big man, Victor Golovkin. Perry Bland was psyched with his performance and the performance of a newly tried wax. Maybe he will check out some of the other stuff in our wax box. John Witmer achieved a rare feat in besting Doug Armstrong in a tightly contested race on his home course. Hannah Barden held off Carol Van Dyke, and Lisa Doucett as the Master’s Women scored well for their teams. Cipperly Good also denied a late surge from Mansfield’s Karen Alence skiing away from her down Yodel.
The teams looked great at the White Mountain Classic. As usual, it was a toss-up as to who had fielded the right combination of skiers for the One Day Championship. It is interesting as the big dogs are vulnerable from a precision attack from smaller teams. At the awards ceremony skiers patiently awaited the results. After weathering a couple of jokes from the man with the guts to “go there,” the NENSA Club Champions were crowned. For the women, it could not get any closer. In third was CSU with 5 points, second was NWVE with 4, and winning with a perfect score of 3 was Stowe Nordic! Trina Hosmer was very pleased with her squad’s performance in earning the Women’s victory. For the Men scoring was spread out slightly. In third was Stowe Nordic with 17 points, second was CSU with 8, and NWVE retained the Men’s title with a score of 6!