This article was written by one of our regulars at the Weston Ski Track: John Sakalowsky, CSU Master Racer & EMBK Coach
I was there when the guns started blowing at the Weston Ski Track in the middle of December. One day I was rollerblading on the road. The next, I was on the snow. There was a mere 150 meters of coverage on the Park Road side. Ski down one side. Ski back the other. Repeat. We called it the ‘Gerbil Track’.
I watched as the staff at Weston worked hard over the next few weeks to expand the footprint. First, they got to the top of the hill…then around the bend…past Mt. Weston and down to the river. Finally, they connected the full loop. Then, the inner loop. It was impressive. No natural snow, nor prospects for any, but the nights stayed cold, the guns blasted, the manmade snow piled up. And Larry in the Pisten Bully smoothed it all together.
(Photo credit: Jamie Doucett)
On Tuesday nights, I raced the Weston CSU Sprints. We crammed 40 or 50 skiers onto the Gerbil Track until the loop expanded enough for us to spread out. We did Nascar-style rolling starts to keep things civilized…until the racing started for real and we went for it. We raced hard and we were all still friends afterwards. Once, I skied clear to the win. Another time, I skied in tears a silent lap in memory of Hannah Randolph, an athlete I coached on EMBK and daughter to one of the Tuesday night racers, tragically killed in a skiing accident.
Other nights, I coached team Finland, part of the Eastern Mass Bill Koch league. I raced around with twenty 11-13 year old boys and girls. We worked on V1, V2, V2 Alt. We did hot feet, scooters and robots. We fooled around: downhill with only one ski, follow the leader, and relay races.
We focused on classic technique and how to wax. On the manmade snow of Weston, Toko base green binder worked well. But once the snow had transformed over cycles on warming, re-freezing and rain, it was all about finding the right klister concoction. Sometimes it slipped, Sometimes it gripped. Sometimes it just stuck there. We learned A LOT about klister.
Each week followed the pattern:
Monday: speed and technique
Tuesday: Tuesday Night Sprints
Thursday: Intervals, followed by EMBK
Friday: rest day
Saturday: EMBK (or a race up north)
Sunday: Over-distance ski
Without any of that pesky natural snow to screw things up, the conditions were remarkably good and consistent. On the warm days, the snow was slow. When the track froze up, it was slippery and fast. I skied five or six days a week until early March. I stood atop Mt. Weston and watched the Charles River go by my Finland kids skied up it. I crossed the Tuesday night finish line, breathless, heaving, and coughing.
All in all, I skied more than 88 hours, approximately 660 times around the 2km loop at Weston.