SPAM Cup 2012 #1 Classic - West Yellowstone PDF Print E-mail
Written by Amy Frykman   
Tuesday, 18 December 2012 09:54

As Brian and I donned our new GAS/Intrinsik Nordic racing kits on Saturday morning for the SPAM Cup, a 15-kilometer classic race in West Yellowstone, I couldn’t help think back to my very first Nordic race. A year ago to the day, I’d traveled to West Yellowstone with my teammate Megan Lawson. We were both new to Nordic racing, and despite lots of bike racing experience, we were both intimidated as hell. As we pulled into the Rendezvous Trailhead, everyone we saw looked fast—especially the women. I intellectually knew there was nothing to be afraid of, but couldn’t shake the overwhelming sense of anxiety as we got closer to the start of the race.

Of course I survived that first Nordic race—Megan did more than survive, she won it—and managed to have a great time. So it was with more excitement than dread that I geared up for this year’s SPAM Cup. Since Megan wasn’t going to be around to defend her title, my goal was to try to keep the trophy on the team.

We had a solid showing for GAS/Intrinsik, with Brian Frykman, Sam Krieg and Sebastian White all competing in the men’s 15K, and me and Karen Appleby-Krieg in the women’s 15K. The conditions were complicated – with warmer-than-expected temperatures and humid air. With classic skiing, it’s important to get the wax just right, so you have good kick for going uphill and fast glide to squeeze as much distance out of every kick. If you don’t have good kick, it’s a frustrating experience slipping and sliding on the uphills, and if you don’t have good glide, it’s like skiing on sandpaper.  Warmer weather makes for harder waxing, and since most of the team is new to the sport, we did a lot of educated guessing—and second guessing. Some combinations seemed to work, and others didn’t. For example, Brian had to make do with very little kick for the climbs, and Karen suffered from zero glide. The rest of us were somewhere in the middle, with decent kick and OK glide.

They started us all together, and quickly Sam and Brian and a bunch of the other men were out of sight. After the first couple of kilometers, I was pretty much in no-man’s land—though I could occasionally see Sebastian in his tell-tale GAS/Intrinsik kit far ahead, which provided excellent inspiration to keep up the pace.

A Nordic race is an intense experience. You’ve got to keep your technique together while furiously huffing cold air and putting out a maximum effort. As you get tired, your technique falls apart, which makes you less efficient and therefore more tired. And it’s really easy to fall –or at least it’s really easy for me to fall – uphill, downhill, flat sections…you name it. A random ski tip in the snow, a bad pole plant, an awkward herringbone climb – just about anything can send you (or maybe just me?) sprawling.

When I finished, I was hoping I was in first, but wasn’t sure. I didn’t recall seeing any women get out in front of me, but with a mass start it’s always hard to tell. I was therefore delighted when I discovered I’d won and would be taking home the coveted SPAM trophy, which, if you are wondering, is a can of SPAM that’s been lovingly decorated by the folks who put on the race. Once you’ve seen one, you’ll want one for the mantel. Trust me on that one.

Sam managed to hold on to the front group of men for most of the race and finished in fourth, 10 seconds behind first. Brian came in 5th, a few minutes back from the leaders, and Sebastian finished 11th. And on the women’s side Karen came in 5th place.

A big shout out to the West Yellowstone Ski Foundation for putting on the race, and to our sponsors Gallatin Alpine Sports and Intrinsik Architecture for supporting our growing Nordic contingent. And high fives to my fellow GAS/Intrinsik racers for making it such a fantastic weekend!

-Amy Frykman