As you’ve probably seen from Spencer’s posts, the weather in Bozeman was a bit cold this past week! We had already decided to skip the sprint to focus on the 15km Classic Mass Start, which was fortunate because with a high of -12F, there was no chance of the sprint getting off. Though the weather was supposed to be slightly warmer on Sunday,  we woke up to a temperature of -20 and we were once again questioning if the weather would get to the legal race temperature of -4F.

We made the drive up to the venue at 11:30, in preparation for the already-delayed 1:00pm start. However, when we arrived it was clearly still too cold to race, and we quickly learned that the start had been delayed even further. After sitting through several more delays, we suddenly got the call and learned we’d be starting in 45 minutes. Though the temperature had reached -4F, with wind chill it was probably about -25, so we bundled up in our puffys for a quick warmup, grabbed our race skis from our wax tech Tim, and made our way to the start.

I started the race off conservatively and settled into the middle of the lead pack, probably around 15th place. With the cold temperatures and the challenging hills of the Bozeman course, I knew it’d be important to have lots of energy for the second half of the race. Luckily my Rossignols had great glide and kick, with Toko HF Blue and Cold Powder for glide, and a mix of Toko green binder, blue and xtra cold for our kick. By the end of the first 5km lap I had moved up into the top 10, and 2km later I made my way into the lead for the first time on the day.

For the rest of the race I stayed in the top 6, and took turns in the lead with a number of other skiers, including Miles Havlick, Reese Hanneman and Truckee’s one and only Matt Gelso, now skiing for Sun Valley. With about 2km to go, I moved into the lead which I shared with Miles Havlick, until CXC’s Russian Dimitri Ozerskiy made a move up the middle between the two tracks, which was hard to counter, unless we wanted to break our poles. The pack was still probably around eight or nine skiers, so the sprint up the last two hills was on!

By this time, the cold I had really started to get to me, freezing my eyes open and making my mind a bit delirious. After loosing a couple places on the first uphill, a steep wall barely wide enough for two skiers to herring bone up, I found myself falling back into fifth place. But with one more hill to go, I put my head down and powered up, passing two skiers and making my way back onto the podium, which I held onto until the finish!

Photo Credit: Paul Clark

Photo Credit: Paul Clark

Now it’s back to Truckee for some focused training before Christmas, and then it is on to the National Championships in Soldier Hollow!

About Patrick Johnson

Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Patrick attended Middlebury College in Vermont. A two-time member of the US World Junior Team, Patrick came to the Far West Elite Team last year, and has thrown his hat into the ring for another season. He has been training hard and is building upon his excellent results from last season. New for Johnson is an emphasis on Biathlon training. He was invited to the US Biathlon Association’s Talent ID camp in Lake Placid, and was then named to USBA’s Talent Group. Patrick is a great role model for the region’s juniors, and worked with nearly every Junior and High School Program in the area last season.

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