- By: Werner Schwar
The week between Christmas and New Year’s has seen the return of a more normal Thunder Bay winter, –20 C nights and highs –10 to –15 C. And best of all that dry squeaky snow we are so famous for. Fortunately it has not been too slow, since the snow is thin and a lot of people are going around a short loop.
There still is almost no snow in the City of Thunder Bay, but out in Lappe the skiing has been quite good. Good enough to hold the annual Boxing Day Classic, and a short time trial on Sunday Dec 30. The great thing about Thunder Bay is the fact that there is great local talent and the training center athletes here. Even time trials can have good competition.
These were the first tests of speed for yours truly, the loppet specialist as I have so politely been named. (Read: crusty old guy that can’t go fast in short races, but can go for a long time). Well the crusty old guy was pleasantly surprised by the snap in his legs up the hills in those first two events.
Boxing Day Classic – 13 km Cl
The sun was out, the tracks were hard, the temperature around –10 C, a great day for classic skiing. Timo Puiras showed us all how to ski, by beating us by around a minute, while Riku Metsaranta and myself battled it out for a close finish for second. It was a good feeling to race again, since my last real race was the Nationals last March. As reported before, I also did this race on new skis and poles that I had never used before. This alone was exciting, as it was the first time in ten years for me with new equipment.
Time Trial – 7.5 km F
The sun was out, the tracks were hard, but there was a stiff wind at –14 C, bit cool for a skating race. 6 of us competed, me the only old guy. Again, for the first time I raced in my new Peltonen skis and Exel poles and pilot boots, but this time I had the benefit of skiing the day before with them. We skied short loops with flats around the stadium and the last two steep uphills of the course. The old guy held his own. This time Riku Metsaranta showed us how it was done finishing a minute ahead of the second Will Fitzgerald. I battled it out with former Thunder Bay training center athlete, now an OttawaXC member Lee Churchill. A mere 0.3 sec. separating the two of us. If only I didn’t have to work at the smoky Bingo the night before.
This day was also the annual Lappe Distance challenge, where people are encouraged to ski 25, 50, 75 or 100 km all in the name of fun. I would have loved to ski the 100 km, but the old guy needs speed more, so I opted for the short time trial. However, an extra long warm up, almost 20 km, and an extra long warm down, more than 20 km, still let me get my 50 km in. Believe it or not, this was the first 50 km ski of the year for me.
Riku Metsaranta 7:09 7:17 7:19 21:46.0
Will Fitzgerald 7:16 7:37 7:46 22:41.0
Sean Crooks 7:28 7:49 8:01 23:17.8
Lee Churchill 7:37 7:47 8:07 23:32.2
Werner Schwar 7:40 7:54 7:57 23:32.5
Timo Puiras 7:45 8:23 8:18 24:27.8
That’s it for now. Have a great New Year everyone!
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