Today was the 10km classic race at Presque Isle (5km for women and J2s). Beautiful course, good snow, very, very long tough drive home in the snow, sleet, freezing rain, rain.....You get the picture! More on that later.
It was an epic adventure for Team CSU. Peter Hoenig gets the Jeff Gordon NASCAR award for driving 8 hours in the storm on Thursday night and then 9 hours on Sunday. Enough blizzard experience for you, Peter?
Most of us made it up there by Friday afternoon for some skiing. Good thing they have lights since sunset there is 3:45 and it was pitch black by 4:30. The facility is world class with great trails, great snow, and a huge building with biathlon range on one side and a start/finish stadium on the other. There are large, heated wax rooms which made life very good for the coaching staff (Bradlee, Doucett, Burnham). (And thank you to Marsha Rich for arranging excellent rooms at the Northeastland hotel).
Saturday's skate sprint saw strong performances from all CSUers (see full results on nensa.net). Coach Alex Jospe and J1 Hilary Rich qualified for the elimination tournament in the overall category and Jackson Rich in the J2 category. There were major timing snafus (see, it's not just us - even organizations with million dollar budgets make mistakes). The women's tournament was late, but the men's races were delayed till 4PM. Hilary and Jackson both raced hard and advanced to the next round. Hilary was knocked out in the Semi's and Jackson in the final, but it was great to hear the CSU name being announced. Way to go! Alex made it all the way to the B final with some aggressive skiing. Don't let her draft you.
(For you wax geeks - HF Blue by itself seemed best. Adding Jetstream was either the same or perhaps slower. Snow was cold, fresh, and dry. Race time temps never got much above 8 F and were dropping in the afternoon). Saturday night the whole crew went out for a great meal at a local restaurant.
On Sunday the races were moved up an hour so we could get on the road before the storm. I was testing wax at 7:20 AM and tried many combos. I settled on Toko Mint covered by Swix Polar as a speed-up. Just before the Men's race the snow started so we added one more layer of Toko Blue for more grip in the fresh flakes. The course was great fun with curving downhills and long, gradual climbs.
It was the first big race of the season and as the politicians say Mistakes Were Made. I made the mistake of following the skier in front of me at the lap/finish fork and turned into the finish on my first lap. Sad to have 35 years of race experience and make a rookie mistake. But, it's the racer's responsibility to know the course so I'll pay the penalty of about 30 seconds lost time and PAY ATTENTION next time. Another athlete missed his start time - next time he'll be more careful. I saw an athlete from another team who arrived at the start only to realize that she didn't have her bib. (She got a replacement in time). Ski racing is complicated so we need lots of practice at doing it right. Use every race, no matter how small, to go through your entire routine, so that when you get to a big race you just follow your successful routine and do your best.
The drive home was tough, but not as bad as the news media made it sound. It took me 8.5 hours (versus 6.5 in good weather) and there was some tough sledding when I hit freezing rain near Portland. The warm bed at home feels so good after a great road trip.
It was a very cold day up here in the far north for the Presque Isle sprints. CSU was well represented by several Jrs, Joe Bouscaren and Alex Jospe. Conditions were pretty slow given that the temps were in the single digits. I'll get results up when I can get to them, but both Alex and Hilary Rich made it into the elimination round with both qualifying for the semi-finals. Hilary was eliminated in the semi-finals while Alex made it to the B final and finished 3rd!
Tomorrow is the 5 and 10 km classic race. Conditions are awesome!
Alex Jospe made the podium at the Craftsbury Opener, coming in 3rd! Way to go Alex! And that is after a flat tire derailing her trip to Great Glen for the sprints the day before and doing the one day surgical strike to Craftsbury for the opener. Her story on her blog at: http://alexjospe.blogspot.com/
In addition to Alex, former CSU Jr and now Dartmouth skier Matt Truehart also had a good race, finishing 18th and right in the thick of the action. Matt's report: Sunday couldn't have been better. Nice and cold, lots of snow, and a decent turnout. Starts were in waves of 2 (just like classic EHS qualifier) and they paired up Dartmouth and UVM skiers for the first 12 starters. However, they had their full team, we just had everyone who didn't have final exams today, which included our top guys. I started with Fritz Horst. Nevertheless, I led for the first few Km before he took off and I started getting tired. Then my teammate that started 30 seconds behind me caught up to me, and gave me one hell of a ride for the next 4 or 5 Km and I started feeling good again, so I passed him and with a few K to go and led him into the finish. I haven't seen full results yet, but I did pretty well. Then we skied around for a while, it couldn't have been better.
Former CSU Jrs and now Colby skiers Matt Briggs and Ben Haydock were caught on camera at the Great Glen Spints. Matt is in 2nd coming out of the tunnel and Ben is in 3rd in the other photo. (Pictures from Great Glen website.)
The season has begun in earnest. On to Presque Isle!
CSU Jrs had an excellent practice today on nice snow at Waterville Valley. It took a bit to get the wax dialed in due to glazing tracks, but once we did it was really good early season skiing (watch out for the few rocks and dirt poking through) with people going from 2.5 to 3 hrs. Tripoli Road was really good all the way to the top. So nice to get on real snow with real hills so much earlier than last year!