Skinnyski Race Team Weekend Recap
By Bruce Adelsman
January 29, 2003
As the race calendar massacre of 2003 continues, it's amazing
that the team was spread out over three different races last
The Noquemanon was the big marathon on tap, and the race
had a good turnout once again for this point to point course
in the UP. This year, the course was back to its full distance
and the competition was a little tougher as Brian May captured
a strong 3rd place finish. Just as impressive, John Munger
came off his first solid week of training to capture 4th place
(although John and Brian didn't ski with or see each other
for most of the race).
Paul Schoening and some other metro area skiers organized
a short-notice race, appropriately called 'Hidden Lakes Hiihto'
as it was held at Sweeney Lake in Golden Valley (located just
west of Theodore Wirth). Per Nelson and Margie Tilman joined
up with a turnout of about 40 skiers. Both finished very well,
with Per coming in fourth in a tough pack sprint, and Margie
taking second female overall behind the always strong Lynne
Sonja Bostrom heading towards
the finish, Ski Games Freestyle Race
Finally, Sonja Bostrom hit some of her first races since
Nationals by turning a few laps on the finely tuned trails
at Troll Hollow for the Ski Games. Sonja posted the top time
in the classical race on Saturday. Under some bright sun but
very cold temperatures, Sonja accidently missed her start
on Sunday but skied with some extra punch as she tried to
make up some of the lost time (no official time or result
posted as of Wednesday).
Race Team Results
January 25, 2003 Noquemanon
Brian May 3rd male 55K Freestyle
John Munger 4th male 55K Freestyle
January 25, 2003 Hidden Lakes Hiihto
Margie Tilman 2nd female 13K Freestyle
Per Nelson 4th male 13K Freestyle
January 25-26, 2003 Ski Games at Troll Hollow
Sonja Bostrom 1st female 7K Classical
Sonja Bostrom ?? female 7K Freestyle
Team Member Race Reports
Race Report from Per Nelson
I had been planning to do the ski games all month, but
on Thursday night when Bruce had the announcement for the
Hidden Lake Hiihto to be held on Sweeney lake, I knew there
could be no Ski Games. Sweeney Lake is a part of my roots.
My grandpa and Grandma have lived across the street from
the lake for about 50 years. I was taught to fish there.
I have skied there, run, swum, biked in, on, or around the
lake. I've even kayaked there several times.
Margie and I went out to get the feel of the snow Friday
night via my grandpa's fishing trail (taking us by the yellow
caution sign that says "Old fisherman Crossing").
The snow was thin. The ice, in many places, was not covered
well enough to facilitate a good hard skate. In fact, several
places the snow was not enough to give a feather soft wimpy
push. We quickly came to the conclusion that this was not
going to be a "legs" race.
Saturday morning, sporting the same bibs from the byob
"Ridgenator", we signed the self service sign
up, and made our way on a warm up quickly discovering that
the dusting of snow that fell overnight had unfortunately
not turned into a rock hard, lightning fast crust, but instead
had the same consistency of the snow that had already been
there the night before.
Roy Carlstad weighed in on the winter. One of our skiing
grandfathers who needs no introduction, least of all by
me. I figured he'd be able to put this winter into perspective,
so before the race I asked him if he'd ever seen one this
bad. His quick reply: "No." Said he's been skiing
since '69, and downhill before that, and this one is the
worst. Good thing we skiers are so tough.
The start was great. Double pole to the willow. I double
poled past the willow because there wasn't much to skate
off of. The pack took on the consistency of a long single
file, I at the front. Had to put on a bit of a show since
Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle were cozy in a minivan that
had a great view of the course. The LATBIYAGLATE principle
in full effect (lead at the beginning if you aren't going
to lead at the end). Sometimes the principle is self fulfilling,
but I didn't have the luxury of knowing in advance. All
I knew was there were some fast guys in the pack. Turns
out I didn't know the half of it.
My grandpa and grandma are Sweeney lake legends. They
build the first house in the whole area. Stop by for a visit,
and you're sure to see the old photo of a new little house
surrounded by nothing but tall grass. 1948 they moved in,
and the fish have been running scared ever since. My grandpa
has even been known to leave dinner guests with my grandma
in order to get a little evening fishing in.
Per Nelson taking a turn at
I did my best to string things out in the first three
laps, taking pulls as hard as possible, but it seemed like
it wasn't until the end of lap three that things got going.
By this point I was no longer in the lead. In fact, I was
struggling to stay with the pack. Then John Erikson, one
of those hot shots from St. Louis Park, decided it was time
to start racing. This guy got out and nearly split the pack
in half a lake, then hung on for a strong second. I managed
to sprint to 4th position.
This is what skiing is about. Great turnout, a good
tough field. Technically challenging (despite the lack of
terrain). Thanks to the organizers, and Breadsmith/Hoigards.
In this winter, it is great to get skiers pulling together
to make the best of it.
Race Report from Brian May
After doing a couple of short races and then the 24 Hours
of Telemark Relay, it was finally time for my first marathon
of the season. I hemmed and hawed as to whether to do the
skate or classic Noquemanon, but settled on the skate race
with thoughts of Seeley Hills and Porcupine Mountains in my
future. Checked the Toko wax recommendations on Thursday evening
and waxed up my second-best pair of skate skis with the recommended
combination. I knew my universal grind probably wasn't the
best for the anticipated cold temperatures, but given the
likelihood of finding the occasional rock on the Noque course,
I wasn't quite willing to bring out my favorite pair of skis
for the event. Nikolai Anikin, Erik Viken and I headed out
from Duluth late Friday afternoon, arriving Marquette just
in time to scarf a Subway foot-long and pick up our bibs.
We crashed at a friend's house a few blocks from the Dome
for the night.
The morning preparations went smoothly, energy bar and
oatmeal for breakfast, then the bus ride from the Dome to
the start. With relatively cold conditions (10 F), it was
reassuring to have a warm place to hang out both at the
finish (the Dome) and the start (Al Quaal Recreation Center).
A short warm-up ski, then off to the start line. Sizing
up the competition, I noticed many of the usual suspects
... fellow Skinnyski racer John Munger, the Riverbrook gang
(Tom Krenz, Tom Meyer, et. al.), Mike Dietzman from Ely,
Cory Wubbels fresh off a commanding win in the Pepsi Challenge,
plus a few I didn't recognize. A relatively small elite
wave, but plenty of competition - repeating my
victory of the previous year would certainly not be
an easy feat!
At the sound of the horn, Nikolai quickly jumped into
the lead, with Adam Swank just behind. I slid into 5th or
6th place, just behind Cory. The first few kilometers went
smoothly enough with Nikolai and Adam taking turns up front.
The classic track seemed much faster than the skate lane
and I tried to take advantage by using a lot of marathon
skate (though I wondered how long I could keep it up given
that I virtually never train the technique). The first major
obstacle of the day came at the spillway ... up a steep
slope (snow shovelled onto some hay bales!) and then down
a steep twisty descent on the other side. Apparently there
was a wipe-out somewhere behind us and our lead pack of
5 opened a gap on the rest of the field.
The next shake-up came at the first aid station. Carrying
our own bottles, Cory and I skied through while the others
slowed to drink. Cory didn't make a decisive move as I thought
he might, but ever so gradually upped the pace looking incredibly
relaxed and smooth out in front. Climbing one of many steep
uphills in this stretch, Nikolai stumbled ahead of me and
it was clear the pace was taking its toll. I skied by and
tried to close the gap that had opened up to Cory ... but
to no avail. Adam skied by me and surged hard to reel him
in, but I didn't have the legs to go with. So, 10k into
a 55k race, I was on my own, Adam and Cory leading the field
up front and the chasing packs somewhere behind. I continued
skiing hard with faint hopes of regaining contact with the
leaders, but as we descended onto the Dead River basin I
was able to look forward and assess the damage. Cory and
Adam were about a minute in front and I wasn't gaining.
Though I wasn't yet willing to admit it, it was now a race
for 3rd place. I glanced back over my shoulder and was pleased
to see a long gap behind me with nobody in sight ... at
least I had a solid hold on that 3rd place slot!
Climbing the hills out of the Dead River basin, I reflected
on the year previous when we had started the race on the
basin. Feeling fresh, I had led the pack through those early
climbs, putting the hurt on those behind. Oh, but what a
difference a year makes ... now I was the one with the hurt
put on. I continued to push hard, but slowed ever so slightly
to look out over the basin as I crested one of the many
climbs - who says racers can't enjoy the scenery! This stretch
(like many on the race course) offered a series of fabulous
climbs through open hardwood forests and equally fabulous
With the leaders gone, I settled into a comfortable race
pace, enjoying my solitary ski through the backwoods of
Michigan. As I skied on, I began to encounter many of the
classic skiers who had started before us. It was nice to
be cheered on as I skied by and I was happy to have the
company out on the trail :-). With 25k to go, I downed an
Enervit gel to keep me going through to the finish. I continued
to ski well and I'm sure the gradual downhill over the last
half of the race course didn't hurt. With 6k to go, I looked
up and could see the Dome off in the distance. The course
was a little rough as we came into town, but they had done
a good job with trucked-in snow to carve out a ski course
through the city. Up the final straight, across the line
and oh, so nice to be done.
Overall, it was a very good ski on a great course (though
certainly a little lacking in snow in spots). Up front,
Cory had gone on to win for the second weekend in a row,
with Adam a few minutes back. I had hung on for 3rd place
- a great result against a quality field. It wasn't long
before team-mate John Munger sprinted in to win the battle
for 4th place. Then, off to the Dome for refreshments, showers
(what luxury!), and the inevitable rehashing of the day's
events among friends.