The day was clear and crisp and I was super excited to be racing again. The other racers had braved a week of sketchy weather during the other races that I did not race in. I somehow was blessed to arrive in town just as the sun came out. They even received more snow during the week after early fears that all the snow would melt away with the rain, warmth and wind.
I had arranged through the Saab/Salomon Factory Team to have assistance for waxing from the Canadian National Team in exchange for waxing done by us at our US Nationals for one of their athletes. Knowing I'd have great wax techs behind me added to my confidence level. I also had the excellent help of SVSEF in the form of Travis Jones for feeds along the course.
It was a hilly and fast course consisting of four 7.5km loops. The weather was cold enough overnight that the course stayed super firm making for a quick thinking race with lots of tricky downhills.
Due to my somewhat crummy points I started in the 4th row of the chevron mass start. There were about 40 women who raced so this made for a lot of work initially to make it up to the front gals. I tried to keep my wits about me and not break anything as I snuck along the outside of the narrow course.
The race started to string out due to the pace and the narrowness. Ekaterina Vinogradova of Russia / USA made a bolting start and led us for a furious first 15km of the race. I just hung on and listened to my body seeing where I felt best and how my skis were running. My single pair of next years Salomon skate skis were once again running fast which I especially used to my advantage on the downhills. As it ended up Ekaterina fell off the back on some of the uphills. I came to the front and took the lead while Brooke Gosling held a strong second behind me. Knowing she was also skiing well, I made sure she did some leading too. We skied well together for the next 12 km while the rest of the field followed close behind.
The men had started 25 minutes ahead of us in their 50km race and we were sure that at some point they would come around to catch us. It finally happened on the last lap and boy was that a rush as the lead pack of 10+ men came screaming by us on the downhill. I decided to rally and go with them so I jumped on the back and powered right along with them. It was more derby-style racing than I can ever remember. Quite fun! I don't think the men passing Brooke worked to her advantage as she fell off my trail. In the end I jump skated up the last hill and powered to the finish line in just under a minute ahead of second. I was so relieved to have achieved a victory against such a talented field of women.
Complete Canadian Nationals Women's 30km and men's 50Km freestyle results.
Open Women 30 km. Free Mass Start PL Name Team - Club Time Diff 1 Rebecca Dussault Saab Salomon 1:25:09.6 2 Brooke Gosling Foothills 1:26:08.2 +58.6 3 Ekaterina Vinogradova Independent 1:26:53.8 +1:44.2 Open Men 50 km. Free Mass Start PL Name Team Club Time Diff 1 Gordon Jewett Foothills 2:08:53.8 2 Michael Sinnott Saab Salomon/SVSEF 2:08:56.7 +2.9 3 Noah Hoffman USST/SVSEF 2:09:00.3 +6.5