Thursday, March 8, 2012

More Photos, Mass Start Skate Races

Another round of photos from Gunther and Rob's report on Day 2 of racing at JNs:

Wednesday Report

Sorry for the delay with my report. I went skiing yesterday after the race, and then we had awards in the evening and then a USSA coaches meeting.

Wednesday’s races were mass start skate distance races. In other words, they were a completely different animal than the classic sprints of Monday. Several skiers found out why the coaches were making such long speeches about being careful at altitude. Max LaChance was the first to find out that a long, tough uphill at 5700 feet can discombobulate the best race plan and throw an athlete into a tailspin that can’t be recovered from. Lesson learned for Max and he is ready to come back and race well on Friday.

Olivia learned the lesson to the utmost by trying to go with the lead pack, a lead pack that included many girls who live at 9,000 feet, working too hard, falling over, and getting up and trying to make up the distance she lost in the fall. She put herself so deep into oxygen bankruptcy that she required medical assistance at the finish. Not what the coach wants to hear over the radio. After her cousin Eli vomited blood at last year’s JNs, I am beginning to wonder if the Hoenig / Meyerson clan just likes to scare the pants off the coach. Jacob and Phoebe please don’t feel that you need to continue the family tradition. The good news is that after breathing some oxygen, drinking some fluids, and resting all afternoon, Olivia looks bright-eyed and ready to come and race a SMART race on Friday. Right, Olivia?

Our other entrant in the J2 boys race, Gavin, started in 31st position, skied steadily and smoothly, worked his way through the field, and finished an excellent 6th. Nice work, dude.

Our J2 girls all had strong races. The sun still had not come out and the course was fast and the “Whale’s Tail” downhill was fast enough to require some caution. Charlotte was 36th and Hadley 31st. Zoe achieved her goal of skiing with the lead pack cruising into another top ten finish with a 7th. We are not used to seeing anyone challenge Julia, but an Alaskan girl who has also been skiing fast all year put on a strong finishing charge to win with Julia chasing her for 2nd.

The J1 boys did a 10K as the clouds cleared and the course started to soften in the brilliant Utah sunshine. Eli Hoenig got spun around on the first uphill, but stayed calm and slowly worked his way back to the lead pack where he worked with other NE skiers taking turns drafting. Paddy Caldwell was “on” and skied away on the flats with his ability to ride ski through the soft snow. Eli and the other top 5 went back and forth till near the end when Eli and his teammate Fabian had a furious finishing sprint that Eli won of course. Nathan had been doubtful of his worthiness before the race, but as I always say, if you can make the NE team then you have a good chance of getting a top 20 at JNs. Sure enough Nathan skied a really smart and steady race to finish 18th. Wow!

For the J1 girls 10K the course was getting pretty soft. Rebecca Smith skied her best 10K ever with a steady performance and no mistakes or problems. She’s a good example of how to set process goals for a race and not get wrapped up with thinking about results. You can’t control results, but you can control how you ski. Cate Brams scored some Alaska Cup points with a strong 30th. The 10K is Corey Stock’s least good (can’t say worst with her) event so she knew the race would be a challenge. We made several race plans. I figured that if I were coaching her competitors I’d tell them to attack her on the big hills and use their comfort with altitude to beat her there. No one wants to leave the race to a sprint with Corey. Sure enough they attacked and attacked. Corey was hanging on for dear life in 4th and spent most of the race deep in the pain cave. But, she followed the plan and stayed with them. With the open terrain at SoHo, I could see the group of 4 climbing the final hill. Corey was in 2nd staying under control just as we planned. As they reached the top of the steep part they turn to the right for a more gradual climb and presenting a nice profile to us spectating. I said to myself, “Now watch this” as Corey put the hammer down and dropped the other girls to open up an 8 second lead before the trip down Whale’s Tail. Just to give her father heart palpitations she looked behind her to see where the other girls were on the high speed descent. But, she’s steady on her skis and she cruised in for her second win.

Distance racing on big hills at altitude is really tough. CSU skiers are stepping up to the challenge, working through some rough spots, and still skiing well. We had five top 10 finishes and a 1st and two 2nds. A lot of coaches are shaking my hand and saying “Congrats on your team”. I say “Congrats TO our team”. Great work!

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