The GRP recently returned from a two week trip out to the heartland of the USA, surviving bitter cold, deep snow, and many hours of driving in the van to log another successful block of racing.
Our first stop was a weekend of SuperTour races in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We were very fortunate to be able to stay at Gordon’s home right in Minneapolis, only a short 20 minute drive from the race venue in Battle Creek near St. Paul. While I, personally, had a dismal set of races the first weekend out there, the rest of the group stepped up to the plate and earned several more top 10 finishes for the GRP.
Pat and Gordon cruising in the 15km classic (Justin Samuels photo).
The lead pack in the men’s 15km classic (Justin Samuels photo).
A full recap of the races and results can be found on the Craftsbury website here: http://www.craftsbury.com/general/about/news/14stmn_140219.htm
After the conclusion of the weekend’s racing we all packed into the van and made the trek across to Hayward, Wisconsin, home of the American Birkebeiner. The Birkie is a legendary race, surrounded by the most outrageous hype, lore, and general hysteria that one could possibly imagine.
I, however, did not race this year’s Birkebeiner. I opted, instead, to focus on the Elite Sprints held on Hayward’s Main Street two days before the actual race. The sprints are a fun event organized by a bracket of 1v1 heats that see the loser eliminated and the winner advance to the next round. The skiers drag race down the street, pull a 180 around a pylon fixed in the snow, and sprint back to the finish line, racing all of about 200 meters. This video does a great job showing what the event is like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1nrYT-ACC4
It’s an ideal event for a bigger guy like myself, requiring more power and quickness as opposed to aerobic capacity. With the help of a can of RedBull I was able to advance through the rounds far enough the end up in 3rd place on the day, earning my first official race winnings of the year.
After the sprints I transitioned from racer to salesman and went to work for Concept 2 at the Birkie Expo. C2 arranged for me to run a booth for the company at the expo, acting as a company rep and trying to get skiers interested in the SkiErg. Immediately following the sprints I joined Andrew and Pepa at the expo center and began unpacking and setting up the SkiErgs.
Madly assembling SkiErgs!
The day before the actual Birkebeiner I put in a big 9am to 9pm shift working the expo so the rest of my teammates could rest up for the long race that awaited them. Luckily, the brothers Graves were in town to also race the Birkie, and they swung by and gave me some company at the booth for several hours.
John Graves and I talking to some interested folks.
Peter and I giving a shot at two man SkiErg technique.
The expo wrapped up late at night, with many new SkiErg fans spreading out into the greater ski world. The next morning was Birkie race day, and I joined Pepa and Nick in giving out feeds to the rest of the GRP racers as they braved some seriously cold temps and slow snow, highlighted by Caitlin and Clare both skiing into the top 10 in the women’s race. A full race report can be found here: http://www.craftsbury.com/general/about/news/14birkie_140226.htm
After another two days in the van driving back East, we are finally all together at home in Craftsbury once again. Soon, however, some are taking off for OPA Cup races in Europe, while the rest of us look forward to the Craftsbury Spring Tour coming up soon, followed by the season finale SuperTour Finals in Anchorage at the end of March. Keep checking back for more updates about the end of the season!