Scottish Roller Ski Champs – Race Report Aug 21
Saturday the 7th August saw the recommencement of roller ski racing in Scotland with the Scottish Roller Ski Championships at the Fife Cycle Park in Lochgelly. Somewhat reminiscent of the torrential downpour during the final event of the 2019 championships, the weather forecast was again promising thunderstorms and heavy rain. Those intrepid enough to venture forth to the race, however, were rewarded with clear skies and a light a breeze.
For the first time the Fife races had chip timing provided by Keep it Simple Timing! Although the Fife track is uniquely wide enough to facilitate mass starts, the decision was taken to run all the races as individual time trial start as we navigate level 0 and beyond in the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The racing kicked off at 12:30 with the Novice event. Two laps of the descriptively named “hairdryer” 500 metre loop to make the flatter (not flat, the handle is still a hill) 1 kilometre novice course for those new to roller ski racing. Competitors can take part in up to three novice events across the Snowsport Scotland Roller Ski Series before considered experienced enough to take on the more challenging and longer courses. The novice event is open to all age groups with U12s racing alongside senior veterans. Ffion Townsend of Cairngorm Biathlon and Nordic Ski Club (CBNSC) took the overall win and was first U16 female in a time of 3 minutes 7 seconds. Ali Smillie of Polmonthill Snowsports Club was first female senior and second overall. Euan Hosie came in third and took first U12 male and his younger brother Ross was second U12 male.
Moving on to the 3.2 km championship race for the U12 and U14 age groups. This was two laps of the full 1.6 km circuit in the clockwise direction. Being flowing, with several climbs interspaced by gentle downhills the course requires almost constant work. What rest can be afforded was reduced further on Saturday by the wind slowing a couple of downhill corners. Combined with the time trial start, this made for tough racing conditions. Racers started at 30 second intervals, leading to large gaps between competitors, often with line of sight being broken by the twist, turns and undulations of the course. For the casual observer it was difficult to tell what was happening within in the race. For the racers this lack of visibility meant that the only strategy available was to go full out. This clearly paid off with two new course records being set! Ewan Mcadam of Fife Roller Ski Club (FRSC) took the overall win and U14 male title in a time of 8 minutes 34 seconds. Elspeth Cruickshank, fourth overall and first U14 female set the time 9 minutes and 21 seconds. Jack Rauscher (FRSC) and Luke Nicholls (HNSC) respectively took 2nd and 3rd overall and in the U14 male category. Sophie Forth (HNSC) came second in the U14 female with Rebecca Dargie (CBSNC) third. Harry Townsend (CBNSC) took the win in the U12 Male category followed by Hamish Ball (CBNSC) in second and Robert Bate (HNSC) in third. Special recognition goes to Euan Hosie, who after competing in the novice race wanted to give the championship race a shot and was the youngest competitor in the race.
Next up was the 4 lap, 6.4 km race, which is both the U16 | U18 Female race and the Open event. The Open event was created in 2019 as a steppingstone event for novice and intermediate skiers who maybe don’t feel ready for the longer distances of senior races or for those who just prefer a shorter event. As the name suggests, this event is “open” to all ages. It is the only event without age group categories. Many of the U14 | U12 competitors also took part in the Open Event. The winner of the U16 female event was Hannah Mchugh (FRSC), in yet another course record time of 19 minutes 42 seconds. In second place was Ffion Townsend of CBNSC who was another double entry having raced in the novice initially and then giving her championship race a go. The Open was won by Ewan Mcadam, again followed by Jack Rauscher and Luke Nicholls.
The final championship race was the 9.6 km, 6 lap, U16 | U18 male, senior, veteran, and super veteran competition. In first place overall for the senior men was James Slimon of Highland Nordic followed by Peter Thomson and Fergus Newman. Scott Meenagh, two time Paralympian sit skier, posted the fastest time of the day, at just over 24 minutes taking 3 minutes off the previous course record set by his teammate Callum De Boys in 2019. Logan Duncan of HNSC posted the fastest time in the U16 category and was second overall (having had a fantastic sprint finish to the line with Peter to set a new course record). Murdo Reid (HNSC) was second in the U16. Roger Homyer of Highland Nordic took gold in the male super vet and Mike Hall of Tynside Loipers, who travelled all the way from south of the border, was first male veteran.
To finish the day there was a team sprint event where competitors took it in turn with a partner to race two laps each of the novice hairdryer loop. Nearly all the championship competitors took part with a couple of additional skiers being roped in from the officials supporting the day. There was a surprise lead on lap one from Snowsport Scotland’s Alex Standen, who might have had the freshest legs in the field, but had still been working hard as Event Director. His colleague and team mate couldn’t hold off James Slimon and Logan Duncan on either the first lap or the second lap… and this reporter was too tired by the time they crossed the finish line to actually compute who the top three were!
A big thank you to all the Volunteers without whom the event could not have gone ahead! It was also fantastic to be back at the Fife Cycle Park and continue our partnership!
The full result lists from the day can be found here: http://www.kitst.co.uk/rollersk2021.html. More info on roller ski racing and the Snowsport Scotland Roller Ski Series on our Roller ski series webpage: https://snowsportscotland.org/scottish-roller-ski-series/. The next races in the series will be on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 September organised by Huntly Nordic Ski Club and Cairngorm Biathlon and Nordic Ski Club.