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Event Report: West Yellowstone Super Tour 15k Freestyle

Butterflies, nerves, why am I standing here... These were the feelings and questions I was experiencing while standing in the start gate in West Yellowstone last Friday.
After standing in the interval start line, it was my turn to start. I moved into the start gate. Starting instructions from the start gate manager were: "You will have a 10 second warning, the gate will start beeping each second from 5, you may start anytime after 3 seconds to go". At 1 second to go, I blasted out of the starting gate as fast as I could. No embarassing starting stadium falls happened, so I was off to a respectable start.
My strategy was to start the 15k race relatively consertively, as this was my first race in 3 years and my first Supertour race in 6 years. My top secret Germina skis were blazing fast with Fast Wax HSF-10 and Flite Flourocarbon polished in. Throughout the race, I was catching people (some very fast racers that placed very high in the standings) on the downhills, which is always a great sign. Conversely, I was passed by a number of people going incredibly fast going up the hills. I skied lap 1 of 2 entirely within myself and planned on skiing negative splits.

Frank L competing in the 15k Freestyle Supertour, West Yellowstone, MT. November 27, 2009. Photo Credit: Ian Harvey

After completing the first lap, still feeling relatively fresh, I opened up the throttle on lap 2! On lap 2, fewer people passed me and I even passed a few folks that passed me on lap 1, so it was fun to see I could still ski fast after a few years off.
Throughout the race, a number of familiar faces helped me along by cheering which really does make a huge difference. Thanks to folks including Ian Harvey, Jeff Jackson, Scott Wilson, Barry Schmitt, and others who I don't recall due to the anerobic fog I was in at the time.
In the end, I realized that I skied a tough 15k course in 43 minutes and change, but that there are many skiers far faster than I. This obviously is not a surprise, as North America's best skiers are duking it out for a place on the Olympic Team at all of the Supertour events this year.
In hindsight, I'm very pleased to have put myself on the line against the best skiers on the continent again. At the same time, it was also very humbling to be beat by nearly 12 minutes on a 15k course. In the end, I had a great time and am greatful to have had the experience!
There you have it, the first offical race by anyone in a Cyclova XC ski suit is now in the books! Brace yourself for countless more to come!

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