Sunday, April 7, 2013

Barb and the Ozbaldy

Barb Kelly Ringel had a smokin' hot Ozbaldy this year!  A scientist, a triathlete, a Leavenworth juniors' coach, and a former high school racer (from the same high school as Jessie Diggins!), Barb is a strong and steady force at local races.  This year, it's a good thing she had such a good race, because the following weekend, she broke her leg.  Really.  But let's let her tell her exciting race story and the aftermath...

Ozbaldy 50 km 2013: The Women’s Race, by Barb Kelly Ringel

Sharon Chen photo
 It is always fun to come to the Kongsbergers races and see the big ski family. Getting ready for the race, I saw only a few familiar women’s faces and had no idea how the competition would be on the course. This is much different than the men’s field, which is deeper and with a long history, amongst often close competitors. 
 First the conditions – in the 20’s, there had been some fresh snow that week and the snow was relatively clean for this time of the year and it skied fairly fast. The grooming however, could have been better; there were a few places where chunks had come up and the surface was uneven, and in a few places it was down to an old ice layer and the skis slipped out on this.  Usually you could move over a bit and get through it as it was short stretches. As the race went on it warmed a bit and I thought this helped. 
 Off we all went at 9 am (DST). After the turn around on the road, I saw there were two women close behind me, and a  third woman just a little further back,  and best yet, Tim Burnham, also with LWSC, was right with me.  It was his first 50 km.  The first time I raced up Ozbaldy, I had passed a few women near the bottom, but my tired legs gave out on the curves going down and the women I had passed went by me as I lay in the snow. Now I always stay within myself on the climb; it’s a long race and you need steady legs for the downhill. Near the top of the climb the two women passed me. The down didn’t have much snow to slow you down and flying down in a pizza pie wedge my legs almost gave out; on the last curve I had to will myself to bend my knees. The two women gapped me, but I kept my pace, getting in my feeds and drinks. 
 Coming into the end of the third lap, I saw one of the women (Leah Kiviat). I passed her, then, as I took my feed she passed me right before the road. I tucked in behind her, then after the turn around I passed her and, since it was into the wind, tried to pick up my pace up the grade. 
 As we neared the turn off the road I could hear skis right behind me. It was several hills and turns later that I got a glance at the skier behind me, and it was Tim; I was relieved to see him. We passed a few others. On the last lap my legs were getting a bit tight but my energy felt fine.  Towards the later half, Tim and I passed a few men and were bringing it in. In the last stretch to the finish, I heard skis coming up on my side, ohh really, a sprint?  But not with Tim; he was happy to be right behind me.  It was an M2, so we sprinted, and he inched me out.  I finished second woman. The first woman was from BC and had a really strong race. 
 I was happy with my race, as there was usually enough going on to remind me to Race. Tim was also happy with his first 50 km but vowed to practice drinking from his water bottle and feeding on the go. I was especially proud of Galen Voorhees, a high school senior at the Bush School, who became the first female student to ski the Ozbaldy 50 km; very inspiring! 
 The age-gender adjusted results are always interesting to hear, although if there is a group that defies aging and does not slow down, this is it. In tenth [age-adjusted] was the race winner, Brad Bauer, who I am certain will not slow down for a few decades.  I was thrilled to be 9th, a good result for my 25-year- old-man-self, my best finish ever for age-adjusted.  The age adjusted is a nice ego boost for many of us, but best yet is that I have seen how it makes people look differently at their competitors and in some cases get to know who they are, further building our nordic community.

Here is a postscript from Barb, with what happened AFTER Ozbaldy:

The Ozbaldy was my 8th race of the season and put me at over 206 km of racing (I'm proud of that, plus 5 were classic races, for 136 km). It was my 5th Ozbaldy.  A week later I broke my tibial plateau while alpine skiing in steep trees at Stevens.  I am sure I will be in the estimated 14% that regain muscle strength within 1 year and ready to ski the Birkie - that's gonna be at about 11 months recovery time. 

I 100% believe Barb will be in that 14% and will be toeing the line at next year's Birkie, stronger than ever!

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