|Loomis Goes Two For Two, Enman Get First Victory
July 13, Soldier Hollow, Utah
If Scott Loomis wants to feel at home on the ski trails of Soldier Hollow this winter, he is well on his way. Loomis dominated the second race of the 2001 International Rollerski Series on the Olympic Trails and further cemented his overall lead in the series. The pursuit of the women's overall title also got underway as Molly Enman added her name to IRS lore by winning the first event she entered after moving to Utah to train full time.
The men's race was not without controversy, as is usually the case. The pathetically small field consisted of only Loomis and Cory Smith. Smith has had a hard time keeping skis on his feet recently. While in New Hampshire a week or two ago, he blew out wheels on his skate skis on two workouts in a row. Upon returning to Utah, he borrowed Erik Stange' skis (since his were still in disrepair) and promptly blew out Stange's wheel. So for the IRS race, Smith was still without skis and had to take Loomis up on an offer to borrow his old ones. As Loomis and Smith started their warm-up before the race, Smith began to feel and hear the all-too-familiar thumping sound of a wheel about to blow. Sure enough, a few minutes later the wheel popped. Had Loomis sabotaged Smith's ski, similar to the way he broke Smith's poles in the 1999 series? Smith protested that Loomis has a history of trying to unfairly eliminate the competition. Loomis countered that if Smith's technique didn't look like drunken duck trying to square dance, that maybe he wouldn't blow out wheels left and right. And this was all still during warm up. The IRS Imperial Senate immediately took the matter under investigation and made a quick ruling. Though Loomis may have had ulterior motives, they ruled that Smith's recent history made it impossible to prove Loomis guilty. They ruled that Loomis would race the course, then give his good skis to Smith so he could race.
When all was said and done, Loomis need not have worried about the competition, because there really wasn't any. He came in with a time of 11:52 over the 4.5K course. Smith was just plain awful, finishing over a minute behind. Did he have a hard time adjusting to unfamiliar skis? Did he take a wrong turn? Did he get shot down in the biathlon stadium? No one knows for sure, but he was so far behind that the Imperial Senate took the unprecedented move of deeming him unworthy of his second place points, awarding his points for third, even though there were only two people in the race. To his credit, Smith was racing with broken ribs, but even he admitted afterwards that they had healed enough so that it wasn't much of a factor. It should also be noted that Loomis had one minute added to his time for failing to wear a helmet (as is mandatory at Soldier Hollow), but it was still not enough to make him lose the race.
Despite rumors that the women's field might be the strongest in years because of possible appearances by Wendy Wagner, Jeannie Wall and Barb Jones, it turned out that only one female showed up. Molly Enman, who had been looking forward to some good competition, instead cleaned up in the women's race, finishing in 14:55. Another unidentified skier, who was not rumored to be Juljia Tchepalova, did show up late and was timed by the race organizers in a desperate attempt to increase the field. The woman who was not Juljia Tchepalova finished two laps of the course in 18:23, placing her well behind Enman. The woman later did not say later in interviews that she had come to Soldier Hollow to prepare for the Olympics and was proud to take place in the next best thing - the IRS. She also, by no means, said that she was hoping to get a date with someone on the IRS Imperial Senate.
So there you have it. Can anyone stop Scott Loomis? Will Erik Stange's tendonitis subside enough to allow him to get back in the races? Will we get more than three racers in the next IRS race?
See results below and check out the overall standings.