FOR RELEASE APRIL 20, 2010
Ostroski repeats at TuckerMan solo champ in twisty Inferno Pentathlon
Keep It Classy Tilton wins second Inferno team title
By Tom Eastman
Conway Daily Sun
PINKHAM NOTCH - It was old-time ski racing here Sunday, April 18, as the foul-weather relocated final ski leg of the five-part rain- and snow-delayed Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon was held on the 1934 built Sherburne Ski Trail, a twisting and turning New England classic constructed by FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps.
Neither rain nor snow nor fog kept the race from happening - although it did delay things for a day, and it did force some last-minute format and location changes.
Despite the weather and delays, the outcome was still the same, however: local racer Peter Ostroski, 20, a junior at Plymouth State University and the son of Ann and Phil Ostroski of Intervale, repeated as solo TuckerMan champion, successfully defending his 2009 feat.
But instead of ending in Tuckerman Ravine, as all of the nine previous Tuckerman pentathlons have, this year's ski leg was moved to the ribbon-like Sherburne Trail, which had been coated by 5 to 9 inches of new snow in Saturday's spring storm.
Competitors had to hike up the Tuckerman Trail, but instead of continuing on to the Little Headwall and the Headwall in Tuckerman Ravine as in years past, they stopped at the U.S. Forest Service's Hermit Lake Shelter, where they began their descent down the Sherburne.
Although some felt the race was missing its star component by not having the ravine and headwall be part of it, Ostroski and others nonetheless loved the new dimension brought by the Sherburne.
"The hike was painful, the skiing was a ton of fun!" said local Ostroski at the finish near the Appalachian Mountain Club's Pinkham Notch Visitor Center at 11:45 a.m. Sunday under partly cloudy skies.
Seventy-one years before, the late and great 19-year-old Austrian ski sensation Toni Matt had finished his incredible summit-to-base run in the 1939 Inferno, down the headwall and the Sherburne to the base near the same spot in an incredible 6 minutes 29.2 seconds. Now Ostroski and the others had made a similar twisting run, minus the summit, headwall and little headwall parts.
"They ought to use that every year!" enthused Ostroski, a Kennett High graduate and past 24 Hours of Great Glen champ whose parents first took him up to ski the ravine when he was 7. "I pretty much went full bore the whole way - I tried to tuck the way down. My wax was slow, though. I was on some old rock skis, kind of heavy, 172 [centimeters]."
Past five-time champion David Lamb - runnerup to Ostroski last year - was a scratch from the field, as he suffered an Archilles tendon injury in an event in Virginia a few weeks ago. Past champion Chad Denning also had to cancel, as he had a scheduling conflict.
Officials opted to reschedule the Inferno and Wildcat Wildfire pentathlons from Saturday, due to safety concerns with Saturday's snow in the notch and snow/heavy rain in the lower elevations of the Mount Washington Valley.
Both the Inferno and Wildcat pentathlons consisted of a run from Story Land, kayak/canoe jaunt down the Saco from Thorne Pond across from Attitash Bear Peak, and a cycling event.
In the past, cyclists would head to Pinkham Notch, where the Inferno competitors would stop in the AMC's Pinkham Notch Visitor Center parking lot and head up the Tuckerman Trail to the ravine while Wildcat Wildfire athletes would cycle to Wildcat Mountain Ski Area, hike up the Polecat and ski down the Lynx.
This year, however, the race was turned into a triathlon followed by aduathalon: the clock stopped after the run, kayak and cycle first parts,. The cycling leg was changed by organizers, due to the snow in the notch: cyclists were given a new 22-mile route that went from the kayak takeout at Humphrey's Ledge, up West Side Road and out U.S. Route 302 to Fourth Iron west of Bartlett Village, and then back to the Wooden Soldier, and then to the finish at Story Land.
From there, with the clock stopped, athletes got in their support vehicles and headed to either to the AMC for the Inferno hike/ski legs or to Wildcat for the Wildfire hike/ski legs.
"When troubles kept coming up due to the weather, we just had to keep adapting and coming up with solutions," said Jake Risch, son of Friends of Tuckerman executive director Al Risch of Madison, who worked the event with his entire family, including his father, mother Alison and brother, Matt. "It turned out to be a pretty fun race for everyone," added Matt.
Competitors said stopping in the middle like that caused some cramping, but once they headed up the hiking trail, they were able to get their bodies back into gear, they said.
Ostroski topped the TuckerMan solo field with a total five-leg time of 3 hours, 38 minutes, 17 seconds. Placing second was David Romily (3:53:52) and third was Matthew Lunt (4:12:07).
Taking the team honors with a total team time of 3 hours, 6 minutes and 6 seconds was the local squad, Keep It Classy Tilton, captained by hiker Kevin Tilton, a two-time member of the U.S. Mountain Running Teeam. Tilton had the best time for the hike up the Sherburne in 25 minutes, 32 seconds.
Placing second was the defending champion Lake Placid team in 3:17:31, and third was the David Veal's AXA team in 3;25:29. (Veale is a founder of the Jen's Friends cancer family assistance organization based in North Conway).
Top duo in the Inferno was the Waters duo of Mark Trahan and Dave Mingori in 3:48:14.
In the ladies division, for the third year in a row, the Wild Things Team placed first in 4:10:21, followed by the Valley Girls in 4:19:15, and third was Team Lava (4:57:08).
In the Wildcat Wildfire, in the WildMan solo competition, Steve Piotrow of Jackson was first in 3:16:01, followed by John McCarthy of Springfield, Mass., in 3:24:30 in second and Joseph Langan in 3:50:44.
In the Wildcat WildWomen category, there were three entrants: Reshana Taylor in 4:01:40, followed by Valerie Rothen of Bartlett in 4:42:44 and Adra Lissell in 4:57:26.
Top Wildcat Wildfire team was the Buttercups in 2:59:27, followed by West County Old Stars (3:11:42) and the Burning Locals of Mount Washington Valley in 3:14:01.
All official results will be posted at wwww.friendsoftuckerman.org, notes Jake Risch.
Funds from the 10h annual race benefit Friends of Tuckerman Ravine, a non-profit member-supported organization dedicated to preserving the back country Tuckerman experience. It is based in Madison. The organization is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a gala banquet featuring music, a silent auction and dinner at the Grand Summit at Attitash May 8. Call (603) 367-4417 for reservations and further information.