Ski-O race 2:28:57  20.0 mi (7:27 / mi) +610m 6:48 / mi
It's still that much fun.
Mass start, starting in back, since I don't have any points.
And since I haven't done a ski-o race in two years.
Everyone is fast. Why? Because everyone is European, and if they're going to drag themselves to the US, they're not bringing scrubs. Also everyone has been doing ski-o all week. I haven't. What I should have done is figured out my first control and followed, kind of like Billygoat. What I did was basically lose my mind and start skiing and trying to read the map and then everyone else skied faster than I did and I got lost. I found my control, and got going to the second, which, by not exactly going the right way, was best accessed via a shortcut down to a big trail. Someone else had already skied it. I could see the big trail. How hard could it be?
It wasn't hard. I dropped down through the powder and hit the big trail and snap! There went my ski. I skied towards the control, and away from the start, and confirmed it was pretty broken. I probably could have skied the whole lap on the broken ski, but was pretty close to the start.
So I turned around and headed back to the start. I hadn't dropped skis in the start area, so I headed to my car, with Boris announcing my plight through the stadium. I asked Alex: can I go and get skis out of my car? Sure! So off I went.
Of course, I only had my good skis in the car. Why I hadn't brought other skis? I don't know. I now have a matched pair of unbroken skis, but one was in Boston. So I took the good skis and hoped I wouldn't break or gouge them. Alex grabbed me and knocked the sticky snow out of my boots and I was able to get the skis in and ski off.
Then I was off. Now 15 minutes off the pace, I hit the second and third controls and skied off to the other side. I came close to matching pace with some of the leaders on the skiing part but my navigation was way rusty headed in to the maze. And a real maze! Plus, once I was in there for a while the lead women came training through, so I spent some time staying out of their way, mostly. A few bobbles, the biggest one having a big brain fart and overrunning a control for a total of three minutes. But otherwise, mostly small and recoverable. Down the little trail, then back up, way behind everyone but skiing okay. Saw Alex, who took a picture of me, and then yelled at me to ski clean and fast. Thanks Coach Alex.
Out back again a second time. Felt a lot more comfortable on the trails this time. Long climb up the little trail leading some women, I matched or outskied them on the uphill, but then had to stop and look at a map while they knew where they were going. Had some legitimately good navigation, where I figure out the route and ski to the control without stopping or even slowing to look at the map. Not every time, but more than once. Took Ruthie's down instead of the little trail, it was about 5s slower but my legs weren't burning at the bottom. Coming back through the last control before the stadium I got confused a couple of times, but it turns out there was an extra trail skied and groomed in. Not a huge issue, and Alex et al did an amazing amount of work to put this on, especially with changing conditions. I didn't realize how much until talking to her and Ed and the others, and it was really something. 99% perfect, and I think everyone appreciated that they did something we've basically never done here before. Most impressive. Next time, Alex, I'll volunteer.
Back through the start for the more local loop, skied well, although I got to the mislabeled control. Since it was my last control, and since I definitely didn't want to mispunch, I checked it twice, skied around to make sure I was in the right place, and then, when I got there, asked Ken who confirmed it was the right control. Beep.
So I finished last. I had no specific ski-o training, broke a ski, and still almost came back to not finish last. 42 controls, all punched, in the right order. I really do think that if I ever did this, say, more than once a year, I could get a lot better at it. Being a faster skier would help. Being a better navigator would help a lot. I'm not going to be Andrey Lamov or Tove Alexandersson. But they also don't drive up after classes for one race every two years.