A crazy weekend of outdoor festivities kicked off Friday evening with lycra-clad nordies sprinting on a one-block long course.
Competitors went head to head as the sun was setting on a crisp, clear, evening as spectators began collecting downtown to check out the Bend WinterFest. The racers skied down the manicured track between Bond and Wall just getting up to speed before dumping some speed to go around an extremely tight 180-degree turn to sprint back to the finish. Many competitors bit the dust making the hairpin turn.
By the time the final rounds began, the entire length of the course was packed. In the men's final round, Colin Mahood went down at the turn allowing Marshal Greene to glide easily to victory. In the women's bracket, Molly Grove poled out of the gates ahead of Taylor Leach and extended her lead into the finish line. The short track of snow was well used as more than 100 high school nordic skiers competed on Saturday in head-to-head sprint races.
Watching as crews erected the WinterFest rail jam structure Friday afternoon at Troy Field, I thought that they ran out of plywood, 2x4's or nails prematurely; a huge section at the top of the structure appeared to be missing. I found out soon enough that the huge mandatory air was an intentional element of the design, and the first snowboard competitors of the evening launched just a few feet after pointing their boards down the ramp. Most made the drop look graceful; a sore few landed hard, unable to complete the entire course that also featured rail and log slides designed by Pete Alport. On Saturday, a few brave skiers dropped into the rail jam course with an impressive second-place showing from 13-year-old Lucas Wachs.
Winter Triathlon National Championship
Saturday morning dawned clear for the Winter Triathlon National Championship on the Mt. Bachelor Nordic trails. The race tested competitor's mountain biking, running, X-C skiing skills and mental toughness. A 4K run preceded an absolutely punishing 10.5K mountain bike section. Most competitors resorted to their bikes while running/wallowing in deep snow. All racers thanked the ski gods as they donned Nordic skis to complete the final leg. Joel Vergona, a local Ironman Triathlete summed it up perfectly when he said with a chuckle, "I never imagined that a Nordic ski leg would have been my most enjoyable section of a triathlon." Out of towners Mike Kloser, from Colorado, and Heather Best, from Alaska, proved that experience in winter triathlons pays off as they topped a field that included local Bend superstars.
The zany weekend continued with an MBSEF Nordic pursuit race on Sunday that was sponsored by Jack Hart of Patagonia. Snow/rain spit down on the racers as they prepared their classic skis for the first leg of the pursuit race. A pursuit race features both techniques as competitors classic skied 6K, exchanged equipment in a transition zone, and completed the final 6K stretch with skating technique. The rain made for incredibly difficult waxing conditions on the classic leg and left all racers scrambling at the last minute, attempting to find a wax that would grip on the ever-glazing tracks. Mary Wellington and Colin Mahood found the right combination of wax, technique, and stamina to top the women's and men's fields in the race. Thanks to Patagonia and Hart for all the amazing Patagonia prizes.
Sunnyside Sports presents Pro Night Talks with Ryan Trebon, Adam Craig and Carl Decker
Ryan Trebon (Short-Track Mountain Bike National Champion, USGP Cyclocross Champion, and Bend resident) and Adam Craig (US National Cross Country Mountain Bike Champion) will discuss training techniques for three cycling disciplines - road, mountain, and cyclocross. The talk is set for Saturday, Feb. 16 at 7pm at Sunnyside Sports. A $5 suggested donation goes to Rad Racing Junior Development Team.
Don Leet will host local cycling legend Carl Decker at Sunnyside on Thursday, Feb. 21st, at 7 pm. An optional $5 donation will go to Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA). For more information on either talk, go to www.sunnysidesports.com.
Twilight Ice Criterium
Test your winter riding skills at Swampy Lakes Sno-Park on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the annual Twilight Ice Criterium sponsored by the good folks at Cog Wild. Registration and practice is 6pm. The race begins at 7 pm. Any portion of the $5 entry fees left after the awards will be donated to COTA.