Friday, March 14, 2014

Ozbaldy 50k: A River Runs Through It

(all photos thanks to Sharon Chen)

So, winter came late this year, but it came with a vengeance, dropping many feet of snow over the last couple of weeks.  Then for the entire week before the Ozbaldy, it rained torrentially, saturating the snow and sending big swaths of it sliding down the mountains.  The night before the race it rained multiple inches; the morning of the race the rain was heavy at the pass, but subsided to a serious mist by race time, when the temperature was near 40 degrees.  Perhaps you might think these were not completely optimal conditions for a 50k skate race, and yet 32 skiers (28 men, four women) showed up with skis in hand, ready for whatever Mother Nature threw at them!

And what they found was pleasant spring-like conditions, a challenging and perfectly groomed course, good competition, friendly and helpful volunteers, and a well-staffed aid station, and afterward, back in the warm dry cabin, a tasty lunch and plenty of great draw prizes.  Can't ask for much more from a Sunday in March!

It was a tactical race, as the pack circled the course five times.  A large lead pack stayed together through four laps, pacing each other, and then on the fifth lap Brad Bauer turned on the turbo booster and blew everyone away.  Jeff Hashimoto finished second, a minute back, and Russell Stevenson third, another minute back, and then the rest of the pack skied in one by one.  Carey Gazis decisively won the women's race, something she's starting to make a habit of!

All the results are here:

Lots and lots of volunteers made the day happen, and a big thank you to all of you, but special thanks go to Race Director Sharon Chen, a first-year member who stepped up in a big way, taking on a big job enthusiastically and successfully!  She brought a new dimension to race director duties, coming back out on the course to look for and ski in with the Very Last Skier.  Special thanks also to stalwarts Lisa Boveng, the events committee chair, who has supervised and organized every race, and Keith Ritland, who has managed the timing duties for every race, and our friends from the Nordic Ski Patrol, who keep us safe in every race, and our generous sponsors, who make every race feel like Christmas, and Nick the fabulous groomer, who has taken these crazy snow conditions and turned them into something we can ski on in every race, and Kare and Aase Gjolmesli, who have managed the kitchen for every race (and who kindly waited and saved some lunch for the Very Last Skier).  We couldn't do these races without you!

Another special thank you goes to Peter Boveng, who has been the utility infielder this year.  When the Stampede race director had to pull out before the race, Peter, along with Carey Gazis, took over the race director duties.  When the Ozbaldy chief of course had to bail out and wasn't able to find someone to take his place, Peter stepped up again and took over chief of course duties.  He raced, also, and won the master of the ages award.  And of course, let us not forget that it is Peter and his connection to Waypoint Outdoor who is responsible for a hefty percentage of the fabulous draw prizes that we hand out at the awards ceremony.  Thank you, Peter!!  Next year, please, someone else volunteer for these duties and give him a break.

So that's the end of the racing season at Cabin Creek for this year.  It was an, um, interesting one this  year, with the drought, the Amabilis Scramble, the Stampede, the snowmageddon, the biblical rainfall, and finally the Ozbaldy.  Many many thank yous to all of you racers who laughed at the conditions, were flexible and willing to try new things, and came out and raced.  You all are the reason we do this every year, and we can't wait to see you all next year!  In the meantime, train hard, rest well, repeat, and have a fun summer!

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