Monday, February 20, 2017

Race Report: König Ludwig Lauf

All the cool kids are double poling the big classic marathons now, and Jon Fewster is definitely one of the cool kids!  He found himself on the starting line of Germany's Konig Ludwig Lauf marathon with not a drop of kick wax beneath his feet.  How did he do?  Read on!  And thanks, Jon, for the race report and photos and for sharing your adventure with us!


Apparently last week Obberammergau was a winter wonderland with cold temps, full snow coverage and fresh snow in the trees.  Then starting on Tuesday, it started raining.  Race weekend had a freestyle race on Saturday and a classic race on Sunday.  The main event is the classic - which I was doing for the first time.

When I got there on Saturday afternoon, it was warm (+9C) with rivers of water near the course.  Much of the course had been underwater so the course was shortened and moved in places, and they did a lot of work draining water (ponds had been forming) and adding snow.  The course was shortened from one 50k lap to two shorter laps totaling 38k.  This also cut off the longest, steepest climb.  I had planned to double-pole and when I heard this there was no doubt in my mind that it was a DP race!  The night before, I saw some people waxing - and I only saw people putting straight glide on their skis.  Overnight it froze, resulting in rock hard tracks made from large-grain refrozen snow.  The tracks were super fast!

Race morning I was able to walk out the door of my hotel in Ettal, walk to the other side of the parking lot to the ski track, put on my skis and ski 1km to the start.  Could not have been easier!

The race was FAST.  I was not in the elite starting area, but started in the second row of the non-elite.  95% of the people around me were double poling.  There were only three hills where you would consider kicking.  I DP'ed up these without much problem.  Each one had steep sections that required a lot of strength, but there was so much ground to recover afterwards, that it was not an issue.  I only saw maybe five people trying to kick or herring bone.  It was challenging to feed because (1) I avoided the drinks at the aid station due to food allergies, and (2) the trains of skiers were going fast and when I grabbed my bottle or food from my waistbelt, it was easy for the train to get ahead.  I will need to work on my feeding.

The last hill was ~1k from the finish, climbing up to the base of an alpine area.  This was arguably the longest, hardest hill on the course.  Leading up to the last climb was a very fast straight section.  I was following a Norwegian who was setting a screaming pace!  When we started the last uphill where there were extra tracks, I went around the Norwegian and told him "You set a great pace!  Now get on and follow me!"  However, he could not hang on.  It was a hard hill mostly because of the length, but also with a kick up at the end.  I muscled through it and caught up to a splintered group near the top of the hill.  The hill then immediately turned down toward the finish.  This downhill was an open field groomed for skating (no tracks), with the course making twisty turns, including some 90-degree turns.  With the ice-hard corduroy it was hard to stay up or turn.  I stayed up, but also could not go quite as fast as I wanted.  At the bottom of the hill was a small bridge, a tight turn, then onto a running track into the finish.  I was not able to pass anyone in the last section.

I finished 127 out of 1000-1200.  My time was 1:46 (earning me third American!).  Winnning time was 1:26!!!  I was very pleased with my race, staying strong the whole way and with my finish place.  With some more DP training and some intervals/intensity, I should be able to get into the top 100.

After the race I talked to Tyler Cornfield and _____ of APU.  They had come in 7 & 8 - in the lead pack.  They said that just before the last uphill, the lead pack was ~25-30.  At the top of the hill, they were down to 12, led by Tony Livers.  On the downhill, skiers were trying to get ahead, cutting each other off... then Stanislav Rezak went down and Tony Livers had to avoid him.  Max (name?) of Germany had been 30m off the pack at the top of the hill; however, with the pack cutting each other off and with some skiers going down, Max was able to somehow get through/past this group and into the lead for the win.  Germany was excited to have a homegrown Germany winner for the first time in 30 years!

After the race, all the racers went into a gymnasium to pick up their drop bags, get food and take showers.  Only in Bavaria is the first refreshment draft beer!  The race was sponsored in part by Ettal / Benedicktiner beer which is brewed by Benedictine Monks in Ettal, across the street from my hotel.  Pretty nice!

I raced on Propulsion Cold (Warm may have been a little better, however I chose my skis ~ a week before when conditions were cold) waxed for me by HWK (thank you!).  They were fast and glided up many hills.  Gliding on the downhills, my skis seemed the same or slightly faster than those around me.  I know that the stiff forebody of the Propulsion gave me a lot of control to navigate the last downhill.  I was very pleased with the skis!  For bindings, I used the Xcelerator 2.0 Classic front with R4 heelplates to get my body up and forward for double-poling.  That was a good call.  For boots I was on the Super Nano Classic which gave me plenty of control - although knowing how icy and twisty the last hill was, I would now consider racing in skate boots just for additional control on that downhill.

I really applaud the race organizers and course staff for getting the course in such good shape despite the crazy warm weather!

Obberammergau is a small village in the Bavarian alps.  This is what Leavenworth strives to be :).  If you ever have the opportunity to race in Germany, do it - you will have a lot of fun!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

City of Lakes Loppet: Race Report and World Masters Preview

Many thanks to Rune Harkestad for sending us this report from the City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis, coincidentally the site of next year's World Masters.  If you're thinking about going to either event, read on for all the details!


Two weeks apart, the only thing in common between this year’s classic pursuit in Winthrop and the City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis is they were both classic technique and the same distance (slightly above 30k).  Other than that, they were polar opposite races.  While the Winthrop race started out with a 45-minute continuous climb, there were no hills longer than one minute in Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis, venue of 2018 World Masters and this year’s National Masters.  

Plenty of snow around here in the Northwest, not so much in Minneapolis.  Actually, the Loppet is supposed to be an A to B race of 42k, but due to the almost complete lack of snow, the race was shortened to 5 loops on a 6.2k course on mostly man-made snow and snow brought in from other areas.  Driving around Minneapolis and only seeing a tiny pile of frozen snow here and there, I really wondered how the organizers would be able to pull it off, but they sure did and managed a thin but perfectly adequate cover of snow which made for a great race.  Skiing on the course the day before was blistering fast and I seriously wondered how this was going to work, given the number of skiers (200+) on the course at the same time and some of the fast downhills and sharp turns.

As it turned out, no need to worry and it worked out perfectly well.  Temperature was in the low to mid 20s and just a perfect day for a ski race.  If there was a way to measure the amount of skiing done per snow crystal, this course must set the record, with high school meets during the day and lots of skiers at night, the same 4 inches of snow being groomed over and over and over.   Still, the organizers managed to set great tracks, which held up well on the first lap, but quickly deteriorated thereafter and on the last few laps, every uphill was pretty much 6” of sugar snow and the downhills plowed out down to the bare ice (cross country ski edges don’t catch on black ice). 

Most ski races I do are about the exhaustion and how to properly dispose of energy.  This was very different in that it was such a technically challenging course, which totally changed my mindset.  I got off to a decent start, in the top 20, and the field stretched out rather quickly, maybe because Matt Liebsch (former overall winner of the Birkie Skate) was up front setting the pace.  In places it was faster in the track but for the most part, it felt faster outside the track, which meant constantly going across the tracks to cut corners as the course winds itself throughout the park.  After advancing a few more places, I ended up skiing mostly on my own, which was perfectly fine with me; it allowed me to fully concentrate on finding the fastest track and cut corners, and as I got into the later laps, figure out where to pass about 100 skiers or so and avoid any crashes.

I ended up in a 16th overall, won my age group by 4 minutes, and had just a great experience coming away with many important lessons in preparing for next year’s World Masters.  As long as the temperatures stay below freezing, I have no doubt the organizers will pull it off with man-made or natural snow.  Logistically, it is a great venue with lots of quality hotels nearby, very well organized with shuttle buses to/from a nearby parking lot, and just a really cool stadium area.  The hills are shorter and less challenging than I would ideally prefer in a classic race (probably makes for a really fun skate course) but should be more than challenging enough for a Masters event.  With proper preparation and the right conditions, there is an outside chance I would choose all-out double pole, but we will see what the snow conditions end up being next year, and subsequently which courses they have available before making that decision.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Finding Snow!

Ozzie the Viking and the snowy wonderland.
It's happening, people -- snow on Amabilis and at the cabin!  Our adventurous Wednesday guys have been finding powder and reporting multiple inches of snow falling at Cabin Creek.  Rune says that the Forest Service is going to close the road on Saturday, which will give Nick a chance to get his machines up there and make us something delicious to ski on -- go get some for yourself!  And don't forget: Nick will be posting reports on snow and grooming conditions on the Kongsberger website and also via the link over there on the left.


Frank. Snow. Sunshine.
And people who were able to go a little farther afield also found gorgeous wintry conditions at Silver Star over Thanksgiving: not quite enough snow to groom the lower trails, but plenty for the upper trails.    It was a long long weekend of smiling faces and delicious food and great conversations and as much skiing as your body could handle, a chance to remind the ski muscles that roller skiing is fun, but real skiing is life!

Master chef Peter.

One day of sunshine, and the rest was snow snow snow.  And more snow.

And more snow.

Winter is back, people -- see you on the trails!  I'll be the one with the big dopey smile on my face.

Friday, November 18, 2016

First Tracks!

People, your friends are skiing already!  Washington Pass, on the way to Mazama, has been blasted with snow and people are skiing on it.  Winter is coming!  I heard that Sam and others have been grooming a little 2k loop -- not much, but enough to put on skis and do real skiing, not that pavement rolling thing.  For us lowlanders, our turn is coming, but until it does, enjoy these wish-I-were-there photos from Max and Robin.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Trail Work Party

Wow, it could not possibly have been a more gorgeous fall day to be in the mountains, breathing the cold clean air, eyes soaking up the dark pines and golden maples and bright blue skies, spiffing up the trails for winter.  Today was trail work day at Cabin Creek, and 21 Kongsberger regulars showed up, saws and loppers and pick axes in hand, to beat the summer's growth back into submission and clear the way for Nick to do his magic this winter.  We put in a solid morning's worth of work on Amabilis, then headed back to the cabin for lunch and time to catch up with good friends we hadn't seen this summer, hearing stories and comparing notes and making plans.  It could not have been a better day, and if you were hoping to come but soccer/gymnastics/swimming/laundry/shopping/Saturday got in the way, never fear -- Jim will be there tomorrow to lead another trail work party for anyone who can make it.  The mountains are spectacular this fall; go get yourself some before winter comes back!

Saw sisters!
Trail Chief Glen, looking for something to chop

Messiest spider web ever!

Oh, hello, Mount Rainier!
Poisonous?  Or edible?
Jim winning the battle with the ditch
Susie contemplates a really big lopping job
After lunch, Bert, age 90, heads out for a mountain bike ride.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Party for the Ski Community!

Two of my favorite things: a party, and a chance to hang out and support junior skiers!  Here are all the details you need to know.  What a great way to kick off what's going to be a terrific ski season!

 Food, drinks, prizes and the official start of winter!

Join the National Nordic Foundation and Momentum Northwest for our first annual Winter Kickoff Party! A good time for a great cause, bringing the cross country skiing community together to celebrate the coming season. Food and drinks included with entry, and many great prizes are to be had. This is an opportunity to see old friends, meet new ones and support two great causes.

Mt. Baker Community Club (Seattle)
2811 Mt Rainier Dr. S 
Seattle, WA 98144

In advance: Over 21: $25, under 21: $15
Day of event: Over 21: $35, under 21: $15
Momentum Northwest was founded in early 2014 through a need for a comprehensive, inclusive, year-round Nordic ski program in the greater Seattle area. 

With an emphasis on junior skier development, Momentum Northwest provides critical, experience-based coaching and technique development, while also creating an exciting and fun competitive racing program that fosters individual accountability, goal-setting, and personal betterment through

About the National Nordic Foundation:
The National Nordic Foundation (NNF) is the leading grassroots Nordic sport development organization in the country. The NNF serves the skiing community by centralizing energy and funding towards a common purpose. 

By matching our collective donations with funding opportunities, we amplify our giving community, engage skiers at every level and establish a pathway to athletic success.
Event Contact: