Race Team Weekend Recap

March 7, 2006

The first weekend in March and much of the team was back on the trails again, racing across the region.  Half the Nelson gang crossed the border to participate in the big 50K Sibley Ski Tour, the other half, along with John Munger, headed up to Maplelag for the popular Lotvola Cup classical race.  Mark Parman and Paulette Niemi scored top results in the Lakeland Loppet on the Minocqua Winter Park trail system. 

Race Results

David Nelson     7th male Sibley Ski Tour 50K freestyle
Grant Nelson 11th male Sibley Ski Tour 50K freestyle
Josie Nelson 3rd female Sibley Ski Tour 50K freestyle

Mark Parman 3rd male Lakeland Loppet 25K freestyle
Paulette Niemi 1st female Lakeland Loppet 25K freestyle

John Munger 4th male Lotvola Cup 12K classical
Per Nelson 7th male Lotvola Cup 12K classical
Margie Nelson 1st female Lotvola Cup 12K classical

Read the full race story from Dave.

Dave Nelson

The 2006 Sibley ski tour in Thunder Bay, Ontario was a great race!  Josie and I made plans to race in Sibley this year mainly because my good friend from high school cross country running, Dan Horihan, had just moved there in January.  We figured it would be a good excuse to visit him and a great way to close out the season. 

We left “the cities” around 1pm on Friday and headed north.  We picked up my brother Grant in Duluth and continued north to arrive in Thunder Bay around 9pm.  We had waxed our skis with FastWax teal (a cold wax) and Grant waxed up with FastWax tan (a warmer fluorinated wax).  After reviewing a couple weather reports we all decided we didn’t have any good reason to change our wax so we stuck with our earlier decisions.

After a good oatmeal breakfast we drove the approximately 1 hour drive to the start on the Sibley Peninsula.  On the way the temperature dropped to ~-2F so my cold wax setup seemed perfect.  It was clearly a number-10-perfect-clear-sky-lots-of-snow-fantastic-day! 

Grant and I lined up on the far left of the front line with an anticipated 90 degree right turn approximately 200 meters down the trail.  Grant told me the outside edge of the start is always preferred since you can normally avoid congestion and ski around people on the outside.  The official starter gave a “5-4-3-2-1-GO!” count-down for the start.  Unfortunately, but as expected with a countdown start, the majority of the front line surged ahead at about “3.”  This put Grant and I at a disadvantage when we started at “GO!”  But we sprinted ahead and were in fairly good position going into the sharp corner.  At the corner a skier next to me seemed to ignore the turn and pushed me and Grant straight towards the woods.  Before I could react I had pushed Grant into the brush.  Somehow I stayed on my feet, rounded the corner and raced ahead to catch up to the lead pack.  I looked back over my shoulder and saw Grant trying to get untangled from the little balsam tree he seemed to be hugging.  I was bummed because I was hoping to ski with Grant again like the previous weekend at the Birkie.

The conditions were freshly piston bully groomed, lightning fast and spectacular!  I was thrilled to be skiing and it seemed effortless to be going so fast.  I was really enjoying myself in a large pack of around 20 skiers until Adam Swank took the lead.  At that point the pace picked up significantly.  I soon found myself at the end of a pack of 7 skiers.  After a couple kilometers Adam pulled over and dropped back behind me.  I was still excited about the fast conditions but now I wasn’t feeling too good.  Phil Rogers took the lead and continued to push the pace.  I asked Adam if he wanted to go by me because I felt like I was struggling but he replied, “it’s just a surge, don’t worry about it they’ll slow down.”  I replied, “I’m not worried”, but I should have been. 

About then we passed the 11km mark and began a long climb.  My form fell apart and I watched the pack of skiers glide away from me.  My previously lightning fast skis felt slow, and I began to think about how long the next 39km would be.  I struggled on my own for about 4-5km and really didn’t ski much faster than my training pace.  A group of 5 skiers caught up to me including Tyler Fish who I skied well with in the Vasaloppet 58km.  I caught on their train and felt better and better and rotated through the lead several times.  My skis felt fast again and I had a hard time staying behind the skiers ahead of me.  By the end of the race I was excited for a sprint out at the end.  At the last hill I pulled ahead and gave it everything I had, Tyler yelled, “I knew you would do that!” as I roared around the corner to the finish line.  What a great race! 

The racing was over but later in the afternoon, Dan, Grant, Josie and I pulled out our back-country skis and adventured down the Current river right in downtown Thunder Bay.  The ice formations, deep snow and rugged cliffs were awesome!  After an hour of skiing we worked up a mighty appetite that we satisfied at a local steakhouse with a group of friends from Duluth.   We had so much fun back-country skiing and exploring that we returned on Sunday after breakfast at the famous Hoitto Finish restaurant, to ski up stream on the Current River.  Dan commented, “This is the most fun I’ve had since I’ve been up here”, and I agreed that we simply couldn’t have had a better weekend.


The 2005-2006 Race Team is sponsored by Podiumwear with support from Rudy Project.

Paulette Niemi races on Atomic skis.  Per and Margie Nelson are based out of Finn Sisu.  Dave Nelson and Grant Nelson are based out of Hoigaards.  Josie Nelson is based out of Gear West.