I was deceived by the weather forecast which said Tawatinaw, 80 km north of Edmonton, received 10 cm of fresh snow in the last 24-hours... so I agreed to go. Arriving to find frigid repacked old snow trails scared me just a smidgeon as this course has some wicked twisty technical descents.
cycling clubmate, Greg Nicholson, before his 1st x-c ski race!
A brave lot of us, 17 to be exact, started in -29C temperatures. It was a 15-km course so it was a choice of 15k or 30k. I stormed up the first hillclimb and gapped whoever was behind. Up in front of me was one super speedy guy who I couldn't see the whole race. So I went a good high heartrate pace the whole way.
I was surprised I had excellent grip up all the steep climbs in the tracks, except for few sunny sections. It was possible to descend safely in the tracks except for the odd sharp corner where step-turning was very sketchy on the lumpy and abrasive inner track. I only skidded out a couple times, though safely.
What was great was skiing the last 5-km southern section that had been removed from last year's course due to lack of snow. It was the most fun with continual big ups and downs, in the sunshine, with remarkable views.
Into my 2nd lap, I passed a green-jacketed skier who must have taken a shortcut on the first loop. He wondered why he was in the position he was in. Passing him encouraged me to ski faster as I figured he'd take the same shortcut again!
I'm glad the organizers still held this race despite the cold temps as I kept warm enough and the tracks were blazing fast and super fun to ski on. Bonus - almost everyone got a medal, and everyone won almost two draw prizes each!
Greg, post-race, a little frosty with a valiant effort after losing the grip wax on his skis
The comment of the day... was post-race when I was in the chalet in fresh dry clothes. Green-Jacketed man comes in and chats with me about how some "little boy" passed him very quickly in the 2nd loop, so GJ-man realized he must have taken a wrong turn. I said "that was me"! And Kamren, my carpool buddy, got a real good laugh as he was within earshot of that comment. ha ha ha!
It was agreed that this course is well-rounded with the hills, flats and technical... "a real x-c course".