August 29, 1999 - Park City, UT
The turnout for today's race was below normal, but Cory Smith took advantage of the small numbers to post his third victory in four races. Before we go any further though, it should be noted that Scott Loomis was absent for the second straight race. The competition knew Smith was ready to race when he pulled into the parking lot, Metallica blasting from the stereo of his convertible 4-Runner, and quickly downed two packs of Double Caffeine PowerGel. Smith was already amped up and the gel just put him into overdrive. Did this have anything to do with the ongoings that kept Smith out until 1:00 am this morning? Probably not, since Eric Maas had also been out on the town, but did not turn in one of his better performances. Today's race was a unique format that was being tried out in the I.R.S. series before being used on the World Cup this winter. If its good enough for us, its good enough for them. It was a one day pursuit race. The racers did a 6 minute classic race and then followed it with a 4 minute skate pursuit. In the classic leg, Ian Harvey and Smith battled up the first hill. Smith started 10 seconds behind Harvey and had gained a few seconds by the top of the hill. But then Harvey's pole tip broke, and Smith went by. Smith then passed all the other racers, except Erik Stange, who finished in second place in the classic leg, 21 seconds back. Harvey managed to put in a top three finish despite the pole mishap. He finished just seconds ahead of teammate Gerald Robinson, who raced the first race of the year for Nordic Equipment, but has since defected to the Yoko/Toko/XL-1 Team. Eric Maas put in a strong performance considering that he was last seen at 12:45 am dancing up a storm at Harry O's, which is more than we can say for no-show Andrew Johnson.
While the race was technically a pursuit, Torbjorn Karlsen made a last minute change in the freestyle leg. Rather than have the racers start according to their time back in the classic race, they would instead go at one seconds intervals. This meant for a more exciting race and also allowed Smith to just hang with the leaders to protect his 20 seconds cushion. From the start, Ian Harvey went ballistic. Clearly upset from the classic mishap, he made up his two second disadvantage in no time and soon had a 10 meter lead over Smith. For a while it looked like he might make a tremendous comeback. But then the sprint effort caught up with him and Smith reeled him in. Once Smith got by, he seemed to let up a bit, with the victory in hand. This tactic was shameful and almost cost him the skate leg victory as Stange was closing fast and finished only two seconds back. In the overall pursuit Stange took second, moving up a notch from last race. At this rate of improvement, he will be IRS champion in the next race and World Champion shortly thereafter. He is reportedly already planning for the day that his face will appear on ski boxes world wide. We cannot disclose what Stange planned to do to celebrate his race, but we will suggest that his roommate do laundry when he gets home.
As usual, the Dave Chamberlain Honorary Chipwiches were awarded for podium finishers, though Ian declined his. Another scandal seemed to be brewing when Stange challenged the name of the chipwiches, saying that it was he, not Chamberlain, who had turn us on to chipwiches in the first place. We'll keep an eye on this matter.
That all from here. Check out the new points standings.
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