Today (Sunday Feb 19) was the 63K "Tartu Loppet" in Estonia. A difficult race on a technically moderate course BUT lots of rolling terrain. Herringbone up together with 4000 or so people then shoot down the hill in a tuck - like Peterson (Stokley Creek), except with 4 lanes of tightly packed racers for the first 30K before things settle down.
Had 3 to 4 in of new snow overnight, temp at about 28F. Much colder until the day before so everybody was trying to find out what glide and kick waxes everybody else was using. So we waxed most of Saturday - and things were perfect on the trail. Great glide, good kick. HOWEVER ... BECAUSE OF THE NEW SNOW and the many skiers the tracks over most of the 63 km were all but wiped out. So the race felt like an old-fashioned Wabos Loppet - only longer and quite exhausting with one Peterson climb followed by the next after the descents in tucked formation.
I was "tackeled" on a fast downhill (a slow guy standing ahead suddenly jumped into the track, the guy in front of me collided with him, I followed and another piled on top of me. Result: both my poles broke and for several Km (about 4 to 5) I skied without poles to the next checkpoint where I got loners.
I finished in 6:13 and my adorable wife, racer Carol, finished in a very respectable (considering the exhausting conditions) time of 6:38.
We are staying in a hotel owned by the gold medal winner of the Olympic 15 km pursuit race, and the woman who won two xc gold medals, Katarina Smigun, lives nearby. Great party here tonight - the winner of today's race, Rezac from the Czech Rep, is staying here in our hotel in the small town of Otepaa, 35 mi south of Tartu.
Tomorrow its of to the Estonian capital of Tallinn and on to Stockholm and north (4 hr train ride) to Mora to do the REAL Vasa loppet - 90 km next Sunday! I guess I need some poles first. Hey, if we can do 63 we can also do 90.