from Peter Gagarin

U.S. Team in Saturday's Long Competition 

1. Andrey Grigoryev, RUS 1:42:43
52. Scott Pleban, USA 2:26:43
55. Nikolay Nachev, USA 2:32:39
56. Greg Walker, USA 2:32:48
DNF Adrian Owens (broken ski)
67 starters

1. Helene Söderlund, SWE 1:20:52
8. Ali Crocker, USA 1:25:43
25. Alex Jospe, USA1:39:19
DNF Cristina Luis
48 starters


Next, just to show that in ski-O, like in foot-O, everything does not always go as planned, even for the stars. Here’s Greg Walker’s report (and Greg, by the way, is a star wherever he goes in European orienteering circles because of his work developing the O’ game Catching Features):

“Not the greatest race, but then again my longs rarely are. Weather was slightly better than usual, only snowing for half of it, and only somewhat insanely windy.

The highlights:

- The mass start had 600m of marked route and then climbed up over the bridge over the road, single file.

- The first control on each of our three loops was up at the top of the map, like a zillion contours up.

- I made a lot of bad route choices, I think because I was trying to avoid some of the narrow stuff, but the big stuff wasn't too fast anyway because it was soft.

- Second loop I took a route to the first control that did the whole climb on a snowmobile road, except it wasn't as wide as I was expecting, so it sucked a lot. I could skate, but couldn't get much glide with each stride. And by then it was too late to bail to a bigger trail. That was a long climb.

- Even with Scott on the equipment control on the second loop, but then I went high on a big trail to the next one, and he cut across the middle on the little stuff and gained lots of minutes. Never saw him again.

- Took another terrible route choice at the end of the second loop, I think I was only a couple trails away and a few contours below the control, and all it would have needed was a horizontal cut, which was probably already there. But instead I dropped down and around and came at it from the back side, which added lots of climb and probably many times the distance. It made sense at the time.

- Coming down a long steep hill into a t-junction I tried to cut the corner, but hit lots of powder too fast and faceplanted, mangled my map holder beyond recognition, and stabbed myself in the leg really deeply with a pole. I heard somebody coming down behind me and idly wondered if I was totally buried in snow and about to get run over, and then Nikolay faceplanted right beside me.

- I had gained a minute or so on Nikolay after the big climb on the last leg, but then going across the horizontal at the top my map holder, which I had managed to bend back so it was roughly pointing outwards and only listing 45 degrees to the side, blew open in the wind and the map went flying. Fortunately it was windblown and crusty, so I could sortof dp after it across the fields, though not too fast. Then Nikolay skied by on the trail below and gave me a look like what the hell are you doing on your knees digging around down in a tree well.

- Got another minute or so lead on him on the downhills to the bridge for the final couple controls, went through the second to last one and read the code as 60 and didn't think to much of it, it was in exactly the right spot. Got almost all the way to the last control and was looking at the map for that code, and saw that the last code was 50, not 60. I figured I just read it wrong, the codes are on translucent plastic tags hanging from the horizontal wires, with black sticky numbers on both sides. So when you look through the 50, the 0 from the back side is lined up with the 5, so it could be 50 or 60 or 80. This happened a few times earlier in the week too, so I figured I did the same thing. But I wasn't sure, and I figured I would be less pissed to lose a place to Nikolay than to mispunch, so I doubled way back (100m?) to check it, which burned a bunch of time and he got past me.

So I guess the good news was that I actually did have a lot of good skiing in there, some of the tricky downhills on the narrow stuff I pulled off quite flawlessly. And while I felt pretty trashed on the uphill dps at the end, I think I still ended up stronger than the longs of the past. But I had a couple out of control crashes, and a bunch of pretty bad tiredness-induced route choices that probably cost me lots of minutes.”


And finally, because we can’t not read it given the results, here are some words from Ali about her race:

“Woooooooooooooooooo! 8th! So so psyched! =) I was hoping to crack the top 20 again today, so super-duper happy with at top 10 result!

Gosh. So how'd it all go? Unfortunately don't have my GPS track, because wasn't seeded in top 20 this time (depends who the top teams actually put in each race). But no big mistakes, biggest one was just into the final control before the bridge before the finish, went the wrong way around the houses, which is probably how I gave up 7th place...

Anyways, started not too strongly, probably was in 20th going over the bridge, some chaos involved in that as some girl skied on top of my ski and then fell down, ah well. Then was a looong uphill climb to the first control. I started just skiing by girls steadily climbing up and think I got to my first control (was forked) in 5th. Some were confused by the forking, had to stop and readjust their plan, happy that I had stayed in contact the whole way up!

Then cruised around the rest of the loop, sometime in contact with other skiers, sometimes not, always doing my own thing, not getting distracted by other forkings. There was a really fun downhill right towards the end of the first loop, screaming down a little narrow trail ending in a big trail so you really didn't have to worry about too much speed, awesome fun. Came into the map exchange, apparently in 4th! Not that I knew it at the time. Then was a super gimp getting my map in the map holder again, missed getting energy drink and the Swedish girl who ended up winning passed me right then.

Second loop, think I had the slightly longer forkings, so gals were catching me a bit, also might have been tiring a smidge. =) Did the uphill with the Swede, Helene, and Czech, Helene was faster, but I was about the same speed as the Czech. Through the equipment control, got a little sports drink there, and then on. My forking took me across and then up higher than the first time, Marte Renaas caught me on the flat crossing bit. I wasn't losing time much on the small trails, just a bit, and more when I was really studying my map.

Then down the hill, to one little control just off the big trail that the Russian just in front of me missed and was coming back up to, sweet! Should be able to get her, if I can stay ahead the few controls on the south side- so I was studying that bit really hard skiing on the big trail right to the control before the bridge again, and oops!!! missed the left turn and when the long way around the group of houses. So the Russian was ahead of me again. =( Ah well.

Executed the final 3 controls perfectly fine, heard gals in back of me and could see the Russian in front, so was definitely pushing, but I don't think much ground was given or taken.

On finishing, found out I was actually in 8th! Cool! I knew by the numbers on the bibs around me that I was doing well, but not exactly where, so happy with that place for sure! Woo!”