By Rebecca Davis, Team OAM Now Nordic Skier
Racing this weekend at Black Mountain turned out to be my strongest weekend yet, so it was a nice way to wrap up my season. On Saturday, I went with a colder wax choice, which seemed to work pretty well. I managed to get both good kick and glide for most of the 31k classic race.
The race course started on a lake and then climbed up, and up, and up. Eventually, racers made their way back down onto the lake and finished. This was one of the hardest courses I have seen. My biggest women’s competition was teammate Kaitlyn Patterson. She is obviously a top notch skier, and although Freestyle is her preferred technique, she is still very competitive in the classic races. I knew she was still high from the Birkie, but probably a bit tired from racing four 50k races in five weeks. I decided to push the pace early, hoping I could get some space.
I noticed at about 10k she was right behind me and decided to relax a bit in case she made a move, hopefully saving enough to hang on. I was able to shake her about half way, and added to the lead the rest of the way, while passing quite a few of the men.
I finished 1st woman and 11th overall. Kaitlyn felt her marathons catch up with her, but still managed to finish 24th overall and 3rd women’s. The OAM men all had great races, with Dan Yankus finishing 2nd, Alex Vanias 3rd, and Mike Davis 6th.
After a hard effort on Saturday, I had low expectations for the race on Sunday, partially because it was a freestyle race which I don’t feel as strong at, and partially because I was very sore. Having seen the hills on Saturday, I knew they would not be easy on my already screaming legs.
We started on the lake again, climbed onto a very hilly 10k, and finished back on the lake. Taking off, I felt stiff, and a junior girl got a pretty good lead on me. I headed into the climbs with a group of guys I felt were at a good speed for me. About 5k into the race, I passed Mike stuck in the snow bank on an uphill after he was run off the trail when the men went three wide on a one person trail. He was in good spirits, but decided to ski in at a more leisurely pace instead of stressing to get back up to the front group. At the top of the climbs, I felt a little weak and was passed by another woman, but she encouraged me to stick with her. After another kilometer or so, I started to feel much better and was able to really work the down hills. I passed both women in front of me, and never looked back.
Coming into the finish, I was surprised the race was over so quickly, and sprinted into the finish with a smile on my face. It was a really rewarding way to end my season. Now it’s time to pick up the paddles again.