Austin Huneck led both Kingston roller ski races until the last few hundred meters, but couldn’t quite close the deal. In both events, he couldn’t drop the field as he did earlier in the month in the Prospect Mt Sufferfest. He ended up in second place in the classic event and third due to a mechanical in the freestyle event at the 8th annual Kingston Rollerski Races, hosted by Kingston Nordic Skiing.
The 5 k classic started at noon, and the 10 k freestyle race started at 1:15. Both used the same loop through Lake Katrine Middle School grounds into a local subdivision. Flat and fast, the loop featured about 20 feet of vertical gain, mostly in two small bumps. A long false flat trends downhill going out and uphill coming back.
Conditions were ideal for the 39 classic and 56 skaters who toed the line. Hitting 67 degrees, the temperature and sunny skies ameliorated a wind that gusted to 20 mph throughout both races. A crucial section that had been particularly bumpy in previous years received fresh pavement over the summer. There was minimal debris on the course.
Team HURT showed up en masse and several high schools, some local and some not so much sent athletes.
In the 5 k classic, Hudson United Racing Team’s (HURT) Austin Huneck was pipped by teammate Martin Donnelly-Heg at the hairpin turn 500 meters from the finish. Donnelly-Heg got tangled up with other skiers at the start, then pulled away, drafting Huneck most of the way.
“I gunned it to the finish,” said Donnelly-Heg, after making his move at the hairpin turn 300 meters from the finish. His winning time was 12:50. Huneck came second, two seconds back at 12:52. Brian Halligan came third in 12:59. All three shattered Donnelly-Heg’s old 5 k record of 13:25.
Throughout the day, that hairpin was either a challenge or an opportunity for racers. On a narrow stretch of road, skiers came into it carrying a lot of speed. Many needed to come nearly to a stop to make the turn. Coming into the hairpin dead even, Luke Strauss pulled away from David Kvam.
Kate Zeppetelli won the women’s 5 k in 18:11, followed by Ashley Forshey in 18:13 and Erika Rodball in 19:01.
Team HURT swept the first seven places in the classic race.
The 10 k skate race, an hour later, was a near replay of the classic event. Sean Halligan led from the start, until Austin Huneck made a move as they left the school grounds. Again, Huneck couldn’t drop his pursuer.
“I drafted Austin mercilessly” for most the race, said Halligan.
Halligan declined to take a turn at the front until the last 500 meters. As they approached the school entrance on the final lap, he made his move, pulling in front of Huneck and putting on a burst of speed. Thirty seconds later, the rear wheel came off Huneck’s right roller ski. He ditched the bad ski, scootering to the finish in a great display of calm and second effort. Huneck’s mechanical allowed Donnelly-Heg to reel him in in the waning moments of the race.
Halligan’s winning time was 22:04, just shy of the course record. Martin Donnelly-Heg repeated his second place finish with a time of 23:40, with Huneck coming third on one rollerski at 23:48.
On the women’s side, Ann Seyse won in 29:35, followed by Karen Delaney in 31:40 and Kate Zeppetelli in 32:06. Full results will be posted when they become available.
Scotia Glenville High School won the high school team trophy, and HURT came away for a third straight year with the open team award.
Tom Cowell raced with a video camera fixed to his helmet. Below is the video: