Adrian Owens on World Masters Ski-O Championships

In our latest race report from Craftsbury ski members, Adrian Owens reports from World Masters Ski-O Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland where he was competing last week. Ski-O is a grueling sport, check out his report below:

Adrian Owens with his 3rd place medal from the long distance event at World Masters!

Adrian Owens with his 3rd place medal from the long distance event at World Masters

Lenzerheide, Switzerland hosted the World Masters Ski-Orienteering Championships from January 20th to 24th. The three person US contingent included Adrian Owens from Craftsbury. The finish arena is also Switzerland’s newest biathlon venue and will host one leg of next year’s FIS Tour de Ski. A new format this year provided contests for two medals instead of a single one in the past. The first was a pair of middle distance races for which the fastest combined time of the two days determined the middle distance champion. The long distance race stood on its own. Adrian raced in the 45 to 49 year-old category. Here’s the race report from Adrian:

“I had a pretty clean race going for the first 80%, and was in third place. Then, while skiing a short-cut between two cabins, my left ski tip hit a pile of cinder blocks. The tail of the ski jammed up against the cabin on my right. My momentum bent the ski tip backwards. I felt a little pressure on my left leg and heard a sort of pop. I looked back to see the candy cane shaped ski, glad it wasn’t my leg that broke. After a couple hopping steps to catch my balance in the deep snow the ski popped back straight. I could glide on it when it was flat on the groomed trail, but it would catch whenever it was on edge or in softer snow. So I cautiously completed the course, not wanting to crash hard on a fast downhill. Two racers passed me during my limp to the finish, with the third place time a minute and 9 seconds ahead of me. My fifth place finish time of 26:–minutes.

Despite the broken ski, this race was very encouraging to me because my previous best single race result in the WMSOC was 7th in 2009. I had spare skis along so, I was confident about moving up at least one place in the race the next day.

Day 2 of the middle distance contest went very well navigationally.  However, I think I was skiing over-cautiously on the narrow downhills because of the broken ski the day before, there were several downhill legs in the course. My confidence from the night before wasn’t enough. Instead of gaining a place, I slipped back to 6th for the second day and 6th for the combined time for the middle distance.

After a rest day came the long distance. Straight-line distance between the controls announced as 10 km, and the vertical climb would be a least 230 meters. That would be twice as long as each of the middle distance races. This was an interval start. I started 3rd of 13 men in my category.

I tried to ski fast, and as a result had some sloppy navigation. I was never lost but I did pick some sub-optimal routes. Two racers from my class, from Russia and Finland, who started behind me passed me about halfway through. The final part of the course was a loop down into fields we hadn’t raced in before, followed by a grueling climb to the finish. When I crossed the line the announcer declared me in fourth place. He soon corrected that to 3rd. I waited as the other competitors finished over the next 20 to 30 minutes and was excited to stay in 3rd! I received a small bronze medal in the ceremony that evening. After my long distance race I got back to the hotel in time to watch the women’s biathlon pursuit in from Italy where Susan Dunklee got a lot of camera time on EuroSport TV. This series of races was good preparation for me for the upcoming world championships in Norway.”

Before heading for Switzerland, Adrian hosted two separate weekend ski-o races in Craftsbury as preparation for the other National Team Members. The last was set on maze like narrow “European style” trails. National team members and ski-O enthusiasts enjoyed the challenge of an unknown trail network. All three Jr. Team members raced as preparation for the World Championships that will take place in Norway early February. Melanie Sergiev and Kestrel Owens of Craftsbury will represent the U.S. as juniors.

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