The Koasalauf has the reputation of being the second biggest loppet race in all of Austria, behind only the Dolomitenlauf. It sees racers from all over the world (so they claim) racing 20km's, 30km's and even 50kms of both classic and skating technique.
Our punishment was 20km of classic, as we all figured that there we would have the greatest chance of winning and destroying any hopeful young Austrians.
How sadly mistaken I was………
My race started horribly as my skis were set down too late and I discovered I was in the third row, behind two female racers. Now I am not sexist at the best of times, in fact skiing behind fit women skiers could be one of the more enjoyable aspects of racing, but with a fast start in mind, this was going to be interesting. Sure enough, as the starter counted down from 10 in German, some bored Austrians decided "GO" would be at 6 and off they went. After my side of the field reacted, we were off and racing. Well, everyone except the clowns in front of me. Some more aggressive fools behind me jumped out of the tracks and tried to go between rows of skiers. Down they went, causing yet another delay. Two crashes and much more yelling later, I was finally doing something resembling ski racing. Up ahead in the distance I could see my green suited Aussie team mates, happily skiing off towards the finish, while I searched for an empty lane to make some passing manouevers.
I finally bit the bullet, launched an attack up the outside of the tracks, essentially off the course, and made some headway. Into the first downhill and I found myself next to the female who had started in front of me. It turns out she is quite a handy skier.
Into a blind corner, with only two tracks set, when in actual fact there should have been none, as the track twisted about like Mocky's small intestine after too many wurst sausages. She got out of tracks and moved to the right, I stayed in the track and moved left. I got spat out of the track, she cut across my line. She wore black, I wore green. Some things just weren't meant to be together. We didn't merge well that day and I managed to "hip and shoulder" her off the track. Desperately trying to escape the forthcoming abuse, I scrambled to stay on my feet, yet still managed to end up on my back close to a road full of Audis.
Suffice to say we were both OK, nothing broken and on the race went. Now back in no-man's land I decided to ski more conservatively in case that female skier up ahead had a neo-Nazi boyfriend somewhere about. At the turn around, I managed to glimpse Mocky and Darlo now almost 5minutes ahead of me. Spurred on by my amazing distance behind, I dropped the hammer and moved up 10 spots. Into the final downhill and I was taking risks, seeing how many extra places I could make up.
Taking the final left hand 90 corner at warp speed, I once again flew out of the tracks and did a large face plant on the ice to come to a stop at the feet of the only cameraman on the course. After the stars across my vision subsided, I congratulated myself on such a spectacular crash at the only point with cameras. Basking in my glory was cut short as I looked back and saw the relentless form of that female skier bearing down on me yet again. Damn it… she must really think I am a German Shepard on a linoleum floor.
10 minutes later and the torture was over. I honestly think that will be my last ever Koasalauf. With a continental cup on next weekend with a course profile to match the Australian stock market, I am looking forward to bringing you more good news in the week to come.
[Note - here you can find Wyndy's 2004 report from racing in North America]