[Empire Orienteering Club]

Garnet Hill
January 31, 2004

We had an enthusiastic if modest turnout. The weather was still quite cold: it remained a steady 5 degrees (F) the entire time. However, there was only moderate wind, and that only in the open areas. Actually, compared to last weekend at Saratoga, it almost felt warm.

You knew it was cold, though, when you started to ski and the snow still crunched with every stride. This produced some slower times than might have been had on a warmer day. I wanted to avoid a map exchange yet still print the courses at 1:10,000 because some have complained of difficulty reading the trails at 1:15,000. But this left me concerned that the resulting courses would be too short. In the end, the courses proved about right for the conditions, with the best times on Blue and Red being 75 and 71 minutes, respectively. The Green course probably was too long, with the consensus being that I should have just dropped Control #8. I'd be more certain of that if one of our recent Female Scholastic Champions had been there to test it, but I guess I'll have to accept the guidance of some of our best Female Masters.

Because of the race setup which was somewhat dictated by the cold, I essentially sat in my car for 5 hours (with the engine running) at the Start/Finish line. Sue handled Registration until Noon, and then once that shut down she came down to do the race. Thus there was no official gathering spot for post-race discussion back in the lodge, though I know some such discussions took place. So, I only got a few anecdotes (besides the general Green course complaints and not-so-veiled-threats about #8) about route-choices and errors or successes. I did get this interesting story (and cautionary tale) from the combination of Marty H-T and Mike George.

Though they were on different courses (Red and Blue), the courses didn't diverge until Control #5. So, Marty went to Control # 3 about half-way up the climb of Harvey Mountain on the SW part of the map. From there, the next control was NE, but the trail went back down NW, or on up SE, before going down again. My intent, besides just the physical climb, had been to give people some thought about going SE, and then jogging back W on another trail, but figured all should choose NW and then back E. From the control, Marty saw a fairly open line of snow due N, with no apparent brush or trees, though with plenty of big "lumps". He decided "What the hell" and headed off on a steep downhill bushwhack. He claims he never fell, but he did get his skis caught once or twice under some downed trees, and had to back out. As such, I'm not sure he saved much time, but he probably didn't lose any.

Starting later, Mike George missed the turn up to #3. He realized his error abut 300 meters later and turned around to go back, but then saw ski tracks from right where he was up to about where the control should be. Hating the idea of going backwards, he decided to follow the tracks up to the Control. Big mistake! He was soon foundering in snow frequently up to his waist, and while he did finally make it up there, the effort must have cost him at least 10-15 minutes, not to mention a lot of energy.

Moral of the story: there is a big difference between bushwhacking uphill and bushwhacking downhill. Both can be useful, but pick your spots. Before a race begins, I'll often test out what the off-trail snow is like, both in my skis and in just my ski boots, in order to be able to make better bushwhack decisions once the race begins. And, don't be too quick to try anything else rather than retrace your ski-tracks.

-Phil H-T

click on the map icon to see the course
maps up to 1500x830, approx. 150-230k
Blue Course
Aims Coney MO 1:15:04
Chris Frielinghaus MO 1:23:00
Declan Hennelly Rec 1:24:27
Martin Engstron-Heg MO 1:32:05
Michael George MO 1:35:49
Laszlo Kolyvek MO 1:37:53
Eric Barbehenn MO 1:47:08
Eric Smith MO 1:56:18
Red Course
Marty Hawkes-Teeter MS 1:11:52
Kim Phillips FO 1:50:55
Beth Gurzler FO 2:05:36
Megan Donnelly FO DNF
Green Course
Kseniya Popova Rec 1:43:14
Ellie George FM 1:44:14
Nadezhela Popova Rec 1:47:03
Sue Hawkes-Teeter FM 1:59:28
Ann Christoffel FM 2:25:10
Betsy Hawes FM 2:39:27
Katie Christoffel FS DNF
Verna Engstrom-Heg FM DNF

last updated: --Thu May 27 2004 07:58:28 PM EDT--