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Empire State Games Archives The Altamont Enterprise, February 9, 2012
Biathlete Roosa tries new events, and wins two medals
ADIRONDACKS Darwin Roosa, of Altamont, is the president of the New York Ski Racing Association, Nordic, and volunteers year-round to plan winter races and help get youth involved in the sport.
Even with all of his coaching, volunteering, and organizing, he remains a top competitor in masters’ races.
He took home two silver medals from the Empire State Games this year, one for the two-and-a-half-kilometer cross-country race, and one for the seven-kilometer race.
“I think everybody had a good time and appreciated being able to ski on snow,” said Roosa, of the approximately 40 skiers who raced in those events last weekend.
The races had to be moved from the original location, at Mount Van Hoevenberg, to the Intervale area near the ski jumps, because the trails on the mountain were nothing but dirt and ice.
The Olympic Regional Development Authority agreed to make extra snow at the ski jump area so the cross-country ski races could be held at the Games.
“I said, ‘Hey, that’s good enough for me, and probably will be for a lot of other racers,’” said Roosa.
Most of the competitors hadn’t been able to find snow to ski on all winter, real or man-made.
The cross-country ski routes are typically point-to-point, but, because of the small area available this year, races were run on a 1,000-meter loop.
“We had seven laps to do, and it got a little boring, plus you had to keep track of how many laps you had done and how many you had left,” said Roosa of the 7-kilometer race.
One competitor lost count and crossed the finish line after six laps, but quickly realized his mistake and headed out to complete his final lap, Roosa said.
“It was still a pretty fast race, the snow was sugary, and not at all wet or icy,” said Roosa, though he noted that it would have been easier to ski on fresh snow.
The loop met the criteria for a good cross-country ski course, where generally it’s the one-third rule, he said one third uphill, one third downhill, and one third flat.
“I guess it was kind of like running a race on a track, or cycling in a circuit, where you pace yourself and just keep repeating,” said Roosa.
Roosa’s usual event, the biathlon, which involves cross-country ski racing combined with target shooting, was canceled because of the weather, but he said he chose to ski to further his training, and because he really wanted to compete.
The Games, which lost state funding two years ago, have been kept alive through corporate sponsorship and contributions from Lake Placid and neighboring towns. The Lake Placid Convention and Visitors’ Bureau organized the 32nd Winter Games along with ORDA, the Whiteface Visitors’ Bureau and the towns of North Elba and Wilmington.
Roosa hopes the winter weather improves in the future, so the Games will keep receiving donations.
“I think the thing that will inspire donations will be skiable snow and being able to train and compete in a high-caliber race,” he said. “The good weather, good snow, skiing early, and skiing frequently are really big factors.”
The Games usually have about 100 cross-country skiers competing, compared to this year’s 40.
“Our organization wants to see the Empire State Games continue and get built back up to the level they used to be we certainly want to have it continue for the youth,” said Roosa, who dedicates a huge portion of his time to getting the kids involved in skiing.
“Cross-country skiing is really a life sport, and you can enjoy it long after high school,” concluded Roosa. “The family element is always worth noting you’ve got parents racing, the kids racing, and that’s something really neat to see.”
By Anne Hayden
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