Skinnyski Race Team Racing Recap: Bostrom at Nationals
By Sonja Bostrom
Photos by Bruce Bostrom
January 16, 2003
I just got back from Chevy truck cross-country ski Nationals
which were held this year out in Rumford, Maine. I travelled
out there with a good friend Liz Parke, another group of people
including Peter and Jenny Abraham and Mel Scheefer from Williams.
My dad, Bruce Bostrom, also came to meet up with us later
on in the trip. We all had a really great experience out there.
I got some good racing and skiing in, and met up with a bunch
of people I hadn't seen in a while. There were some ups and
downs but all in all it was a good trip!
Liz Parke, Sonja Bostrom
Liz and I got into Rumford two days before the races started.
The first day we got there in enough time to ski around on
the course before the sun went down. We were a little worried
when we got there as the course did not look too far off from
Battle Creek. They were hauling, making and spreading snow
all over the place and were even dumping what seemed to be
ice chunks on this huge hill called "high school hill".
We were able to ski the course but not without getting some
unique "structure" in our skis. The night before
the first race we were blessed with a storm that delivered
just enough snow for the races and for the Minnesotans to
remember what winter use to be like.
15K women/30K men classical, Saturday, January 4th
This was the first race that was held at Chevy Truck Nationals.
Liz and I were both pretty worried about whether we would
be able to figure out the kick wax for the two classic races
especially the first one. Luckily we met up with Liz's friend
Leigh Mallory who gave us some of the best kick I have ever
had! Liz's parents, Lauck and Libby also drove up from Vermont
to watch this race so we had an excellent cheering section
and we recruited Lauck to give us the feeds on the second
lap which worked out perfectly. It was snowing pretty fiercely
for the women's race but other than that conditions were perfect.
The race course was three laps of a pretty challenging 5k.
There was one sketchy sharp downhill left turn that had many
I started early in every race because of the way we were
seeded so there was over an hour between my start and Liz's.
My strategy was to go out at a good pace and work on being
efficient with my classical technique as I tend to freak out
and start scrambling at times. The first lap went smoothly
with no major falls or mishaps and as I lapped through Liz
cheered for me on her warm up. The second lap was the hardest
mentally because you are no longer in the beginning of the
race but your not on the last lap either. You just have to
keep your head in it and keep chugging along. As I lapped
through the second time Liz was heading into ski marking and
cheered for me. The last lap is the best because you know
you don't have to save anything for any more laps and you
just put what you have down on the table and make sure its
gone at the high point of the course because the finishing
sprint in an interval start race is to late. It felt really
good to finish that race. I had handled the sketchy turn well
all three times which pleased me because that is one of my
weak points. As I was recovering in the finish area, Liz finally
began her race. I ended up 20th in that race which I was satisfied
with, especially as my classic skiing is not the best.
5K women/10K men freestyle, Monday, January 6th
We had a rest day between this race and the last which didn't
turn out to be much of a rest because of all the preparation
we had to do for this race. The 5k course, like most other
courses on the side of a mountain, was pretty much down for
2k, up for 2k and into the finish.
By the time I got to the lowest point on the course I had
lost a lot of time to other skiers and only had about 2.5k
to make it up. I started the climb and gained time on the
people who had started in front of me the whole way up the
hill. Unfortunately there is only so much time I could gain
back in 2.5k. When I finished the race, I was extremely winded
and felt like I had just run a 400 or 800 on the track. I
ended up 33rd which is a decent place but I realized that
kind of course does not suit me well.
5K women/10K men classical, Tuesday, January 7th
The classic race was the same story as the 5k skate but with
the added complication of kick wax and the fact that I was
going out first. I didn't get a very good warm-up in for this
race which I really needed as it takes my body a long time
to get up to speed. I tried to be as efficient as I could
on the downhill and then went as hard as I could on the uphill
portion. When I finished, I was again really winded but happy
to be done with the 5k sprints. The most people showed up
for these two 5k/10k races -- more than for any other race
the whole week. Many colleges turned out for these races,
as well as high school teams and junior skiers. Many races
had between 150-200 people finishing!
Sprints, Thursday, January 9th
The sprint races are always fun in that it is really a spectator
event. There are so many people watching, so many people participating.
Since I don't consider myself a "fast twitch" person
I really wasn't expecting much from the sprint race but it
actually turned out to be one of my better races. We got there
a little late so I was a little rushed but once I got my bib
and skied the course at a good pace I started to feel warmed
up and ready. I ran over to the start, did a couple of quick
sprints and lined up. The course started on a nice uphill
then a downhill and flat going into another challenging uphill,
flat, a left hand downhill turn and downhill into the finish.
My plan was to go as hard and quick as I could through the
whole thing. I took off up the first hill V1-ing as quick
as my legs would go. I skated the downhill and did the same
on the last uphill. I had a little trouble on the downhill
turn, went a little wide and lost a couple seconds but got
back on track and sprinted it into the finish. When I crossed
the finish line, panting, I turned around a saw that Sigrid
Aas (UAF/Alta, Norway) who had started 15 seconds behind me
was finishing right behind me.
I figured that I hadn't done that well since she had beaten
me by so much but Sigrid ended up 4th in the prelims and my
12 seconds behind her was good for 22nd place, 4 seconds out
of qualifying for the quarterfinals which I was pleased with.
Originally my dad and I had planned to go Telemark skiing after
my sprint race but instead we decided to go the next day and
stuck around to watch the finals of the sprint races. It was
Lindsay Williams and Lindsey Weier vs. the world in one of the
quarterfinals (that also included Sigrid and Katja Ivanova).
Ivanova came in first in that quarterfinal (and also in the
A final for 1st overall). Sigrid just edged out Lindsay for
the last spot in the A final and went on to take 3rd overall.
Lindsay had an impressive 2nd place finish in the B final for
6th overall. All in all it was a fun day!
Williams and Aas duking in out
in the quarterfinals
The race coordinators also put on a banquet for the athletes,
coaches, and parents where they gave out awards, named teams
and just got everyone together. The best part was the comedian
who didn't know what cross-country skiing is! To start off
a joke he asked us how many of us were "black diamond"
skiers and no one raised their hand. Finally someone yelled
out "we ski UP the hills!" to which he replied "what's
that a yellow triangle?"
30K women/50K men mass start freestyle, Sunday, January
The last race of the week was the 30k/50k skate. All week
long I had been asking my friends if they were staying until
Sunday and for almost every one the answer was no. I knew
this was going to be a small field of skiers but when I got
there and saw the start list I was still surprised that there
were only 23 women signed up for the race. The weather was
pretty cold and windy that day, so much so that the volunteers
were having troubling keeping things up right!
I headed over to the start line, hugged my dad and went through
ski marking. My dad went up the hill at the end of the mass
start area where he would be giving me two feeds. As we we
were getting lined up someone informed us that we would have
to postpone the race 5 minutes as there was a medical emergency
up on the hill. Someone was having a heart attack! I frantically
looked for my dad as the other racers ran off to get their
clothes and go warm up. "There is a man in a blue and
white coat who is a doctor, is he up there helping?"
I yelled to one of the volunteers. He informed me that there
were two doctors up there but I couldn't see my dad! I grabbed
my warm-up coat and ran up the hill where I saw my dad, the
NMU coaching staff and some other people kneeling by the guy.
I felt a little relieved that I found my dad and people were
there but was still worried as my dad was doing breaths and
someone else was doing chest compressions which is not a good
sign. I ran back down the hill to make sure someone had called
911 and to see if I could help direct the ambulance or anything
but there were so many people willing and ready to help that
there wasn't anything more I could do. Abigail Larson invited
me into the Subaru trailer to stay warm where I was able to
calm down a bit as we had a little "meaning of life"
chat. After the ambulance left I ran out to find my dad again
and gave him a big hug. He told me that the second time they
shocked him they got a pulse back so there was hope. It was
really weird to go back to the starting line after that.
Sonja in the 30K freestyle race
They made us re-mark our skis and I think we lost another
racer in our already small field during the events as the
volunteers were all running around saying that someone hadn't
been re-marked. The course was a 6k course that was a bit
more mild than the courses we had been doing all week. We
did it 5 times and the boys did it 8. This was the longest
race that I had ever done with the second longest being the
Korteloppet, which I haven't done in about 4 years, so I really
didn't know what to expect. I think I was still in that 5k
mind set as I went out pretty hard. I realized by the 3rd
lap that I definitely went out too hard and hit the wall big
time! My head felt funny and I was having trouble focusing
my eyes. I needed some calories and was grabbing anything
anyone would offer me to drink. Around the end of lap 3 beginning
of lap 4 I changed my race goal from "do well" to
"finish" and proceeded to drag my carcass around
the loop two more times. I managed to hold onto tenth place
which I was more than happy to take but it sounds less impressive
when you realize that only 14 people actually finished the
race. My dad met me at the finish and we went inside where
the food at the downhill place actually looked gourmet I was
so hungry! After we ate we went back out, cheered Owen Hanley
of the Rossignol team around twice and then decided our day
had been eventful enough and went back to recover at our B&B
All in all, I had a really great trip to Senior Nationals
this year. Thanks to my dad for coming with me, my mom for
letting us go, the Parke's for everything, Skinnyski and all
the coaches from the midwest that gave a helping hand to the
"ghetto team" with wax and such, and the volunteers
at Black Mountain who were phenomenal!
Sonja with her dad, Bruce
from Senior Nationals