McCall was an absolute blast. From the moment the Australian arrived bearing gifts of Bundy Rum and “KANGAROOS NEXT 25 KM” signs the place livened up.
McCall Idaho is about 100 miles north of Boise and situated on the Payette Lake. The trail system is on a long peninsula of land NE of the township in the Ponderosa State Park, one of Idaho’s prettiest nature reserves. Although not large (about 2 km wide by 7 or 8 long, the peninsula is natural forest of various pines with many beautiful huge Ponderosa Pines, some 300 years old. The trail system was expanded a couple of seasons ago for the oncoming World Masters to include a beautiful 15 km race trail with an “A” and “B” variation and subsidiary links and loops to form various grades of 10 and 5 km race loops. The terrain is not harsh but testing just the same. The 15 km A course has an Height Differential of 54 metres, a Maximum Climb of 30 metres and a Total Climb of 261 metres.
The Start Finish and Stadium area is large and well organized and of course, if you have the deepest snow year on record, everything is possible. We were skiing on almost 2 metres of hard pack for the entire course. McCall Idaho had had a record snowfall for the winter of 2007/2008.
The organization for a World masters is huge. With over 1220 competitors from 27 countries, the whole town was behind the event. When the Presidium arrived from Switzerland to inspect things the week before the opening, the comment was: “zis is 120% correct – why should we try for 140%”.
The Aussie team gradually came together and we met some of the US residents who had decided to ski. Joel and Chris Vergona from Bend in Oregon and Lachy Ingram from Laramie in Wyoming turned up then, at the last minute, Kerie Raymond, also from Bend. Whilst skiing around the trails, we ran into many old friends from previous Masters competions…Ruskies, Danes, Germans, Finns, Froggies and the like. The Brits are always great to catch up with and they had 11 skiers this year.
Skiing before the opening of competition was great. As usual, Camille Melvey just skiing slowly, was a task to shadow.
The trails were hard and fast. The long climb (ha ha…1.5 km with plenty of flattish breaks) was easily mastered and put into the psychological memory banks. The courses were just magnificent…rolling and curvy…just technical enough to keep you on your toes….There was one stretch called “Down Under” which was part of the harder 15 and 10 km course which wound down with tight corners and had a max pulse climb out at the end. I had brought two full size yellow and black kangaroo warning road signs with me and they were duly posted at each end of this section. Grooming was beautifully done every day…we couldn’t complain about race preparation.
We had the opening ceremony on Friday night, 29th February. As there are no Andorrans, the Aussies head up the parade. There were cowboys, Indians (Nez Pearce tribe), boot scooters, horses and the whole town out to welcome us. I don’t think the Americans have had 250 odd Russians march down Main Street before.
First Competition day was 30/15 km Classic. No Aussies competing so we had a slack day waxing up for day two. It was to be a -2 to -8 wax day with plenty of speed powder. The race starts the next day are men first, youngest to oldest with age groups 10 minutes apart followed by the ladies. I was off at 9.50 for 30 km.
We all had a great race and Camille was an admirable 8th against stiff ex-Olympian competition including Laura McCabe from the USA.
Next day it was up early as it is 10 km day….classic in the morning and free technique in the afternoon. Camille was up for Classic, the rest of us for free, but I was wax guru and between Camille, me and three pairs of Peltonens we cracked the wax….
three very light applications of Star multigrade stick, a short wax pocket over Rode black stick base binder, ironed in the night before. Camille got a 5th in the Classic, again against very stiff competition. The 10 km in the afternoon for the rest of us is always a great ski and in M 06 class, I was pleased with my 31 minutes something time…Bob Dunn cracked a 26 minute something in M 04 class…a great ski from Bob.
Relay day allowed us to put in a team of ladies with the addition of a Brit classical skier.
Camille did the first leg, followed by Sian Mooney (the Brit) then Debbie Feakes followed by Chris Vergona for the freestyle legs…What a race. We normally come stone cold motherless last in the relays but this time we came fifth and beat the Germans…how embarrassing (for them). This race would prove to be the highlight of the week.
The next ski for all of us was Friday…..All the men 45 km free and the ladies 30 km free. This is my last year skiing the longer distance as I move up an age group to the Veterans in 2009 so I put everything into it. Unfortunately several old injuries took their toll but I was still pleased with my sub 2hrs.23mins. Roll on 2009.
WE are in Vancouver as I write this, ready to fly home tomorrow morning. It will be sad to leave such beautiful snow but the boasts in the Nordic shelter this season are something to look forward to.
Interested in our individual results…go to www.MWC2008.com and follow the links for results.
Want to know about next year in Autrans (Grenoble Fr) see www.MWC2009.com . Seriously, it is the best skiing you can have with your clothes on…..
Many thanks to John Weir from Mountain Adventure Centre, Jindabyne for posting this stuff for me……we never seem to manage any publicity through anybody else…..but then again we are just a bunch of old farts getting better relative results than most other XC skiers at International level and enjoying ourselves doing it.