Today at J2s was the relay. I didn't think we had a chance at a podium today given the depth of the other New England teams, but I'm happy to say the Mass team had other plans in store and team #1 got on the podium in 2nd! Boys skied the scramble classic leg and Alex White, from Mt. Greylock HS got off to an excellent start, coming up the big hill in second followed closely by teammate Sean Houston. Maine was in first and a NH team was in the mix. Alex tagged off to Rebecca Smith and Sean tagged Josie Marshall from Lenox. Rebecca and Josie charged the big hill hard, putting the Maine girl in trouble and at the top of the hill, where it flattened out Rebecca really put the hurt on Maine and forged a sizable lead with Josie maintaining contact not far behind. Rebecca tagged Sean Skahen in 1st and Josie tagged Max LaChance for the 1st skate leg. Sean, as he had all weekend, looked like a warrier on a mission as he kept NH and Maine boys at bay, finally tagging Charlotte Cole. Max also skied an excellent leg, tagging off to Julia Schiantarelli. Charlotte, however, was now being hunted by Shannon Nadeau of NH, winner of the skate sprint and 2nd in the classic race and Tara Humphries of Maine, winner of the 5km skate race. Charlotte, who skied very consistently all weekend held off the hard charging NH team on lap one, but finally ran into a problem on lap two when both she and Shannon were passing a slower team (the skate legs were 2 laps of the sprint course) and Shannon was able to gap Charlotte just enough to keep the lead when Charlotte got caught behind the girl's big snowplow on a corner. Charlotte charged hard all the way to the finish to take the silver while Maine was left in arrears taking the bronze. Julia skied strongly on the 2nd team to bring them home in 5th before the onslaught of Vermont teams. The first two Mass teams finished before any other state's first two teams, so an excellent result and better than we've done in years to my knowledge. I was very happy with how well the everyone skied on the relay and to have two Mass teams leading the race for much of the race was an unexpected and exciting pleasure!
The J2 festival started on Friday afternoon with the 5km skate races, which fortunately didn't start until after the rains finished. The weather was not great, foggy and wet. A number of skiers seemed to have trouble with the heavy, wet snow and there were a number of crashes, so not the best day for Team Massachusetts. Notable performances were Sean Skahen's excellent 7th place, Max LaChance's 10th, Charlotte Cole's 9th, Olivia Cannon's 14th and Julia Schiantarelli's 22nd.
Saturday morning was the 5km classic race. The course had iced up overnight and so it took a while to soften up enough to feel confident we had the right wax selected. We went with Toko Orange with some silver on top under the foot. In the boys race Alex White set the tone, banging out a nice 4th place. Alex was followed by Sean in 13th, Max LaChance in 16th and Rafi Razzaque in 37th. Nick Reitman fell on the final corner coming in to the stadium, but bounced up to take it home with one pole in 49th. Rounding out the CSU contingent were John McDaniel 57, Jacob Meyerson 72 and Max Godbey 88. On the girls side this was the race Rebecca Smith had been waiting for since last year's J2 festival and she went out to take control. In a very close race, Rebecca finished in 3rd, 1 second behind 2nd and only 4 seconds off the winner. Rebecca's big smile lit up the Mass wax area after that effort! Charlotte, again skiing very strongly, finished a solid 10th followed by Julia in 20th and Olivia in 22nd, Clara Cousins in 48th, Rosie Cob in 66th, Meg Yoder 76, Kaela Cote-Stemmerman 87 and Emily Ryan 90.
After a magnificent lunch table at the tent organized by Sara Cobb and provided by all the parents to fuel the troops came the skate sprint race. By now the course had gotten very soft and the corn snow very deep. This would be a slog of a sprint on a tough, twisty turny course with one big, tricky downhill corner that would claim several victims. In the boys race once again Sean Skahen blasted around the course to claim an excellent 8th place, followed by Max 14, Rafi 36, Nick 40, Jacob 60, John 81 and Max G in 83rd.
As for the girls, Charlotte led the charge, this time in 9th with Rebecca close behind in 11, Julia 23, Clara 43, Olivia 46, Rosie 71, Emily 78, Kaela 82 and Meg 88.
CSU was definitely a force to reckon with at J2s, both on the course and socially! All the skiers seemed to have a great time, pick themselves up from less than perfect races or falls, cheering each other on heartily and I suspect recruiting some new members. All in all another great J2 festival!