The last race at EHS wrapped up around 10am on Sunday, but the weekend was hardly over, with all 48 skiers and several coaches piling into a tour bus, driven by none other than Keith Richards (ok, maybe not the real Keith Richards), and traversing the 8 hours back south to Mass. Presque Isle is beautiful, with great skiing, but it's very far away!
I had the pleasure of being the Massachusetts head coach, which is a nice title and all, but really the Team Leaders Susannah Wheelwright and Graham Taylor did all the hard work. I just stood up and threatened people with pushups and then screamed at them on the trails, after delegating all the hard work away. Actually, this head coach deal isn't so bad. Hey Rob, will you go get me a coffee? While you're at it, can you clean these test skis for me? In all seriousness, we had a top notch group of coaches to prep some skis, and a stellar team from Mass. The athletes were professional and focused, but clearly all having a good time, and what more can you ask for?
I'm going to focus on the CSU results, here, but the entire Mass. team skied really well, I thought - I was most impressed that the alternates and lower-ranked Mass. athletes really upped their game, showing significant improvement over past years. I think we're generally quite strong at the top of the results list, but then things peter out. Well this year, it was a good showing all the way down. Go team!
The bus arrived on Thursday, and hopefully everyone got a good night's sleep ready and rested for Friday afternoon's races. The CSU coaches may have snuck out in the morning for a crust ski on the potato fields, prompting Maddy to say "hey, this sport we do is actually pretty fun!" Yup. By the afternoon, everyone and their skis had made it to the venue, and course tours headed off to preview the 5k skate races. The boys stole the show, putting four in the top 10 - Lewis led the way in 4th (!), Ian was 7th, Chris 8th, and Warren Taylor was 10th. Boom! Sean also had a truly stellar race, what we've been waiting for all season, finishing in 17th. I'm not going to list everyone's results, because that would get way too long, so here are the boys results.
The girls went next, and were led by Rebecca, in 8th. Clara popped a great race, too, finishing 22nd, wahoo! Talia and Olivia were close behind, but the story of the day was Phoebe, who skied so far above her seed that heads were turning like "who is THAT?". Last year in J2s, Phoebe was never better than 66th, this year at EHS, she was 53rd. That's what I call an improvement! Liza, skiing super smooth, had a strong race, too. Girls' results.
The next day was a big day - mass start 7.5km classic in the morning, then skate sprints in the afternoon. We went with a hardwax combo, that was kicking really nicely, but unfortunately, I didn't snowplow enough in my wax testing, and so when some (nameless) skiers snowplowed a bunch, they lost more wax than would have been ideal. My bad - we learned from that mistake, and put everyone on klister the next day. Conditions were granular, and that stuff is abrasive.
I thought we had some truly stellar races in the mass start classic. Massachusetts skiers always ski better in mass starts, I think that's because we're so darn tough that we just won't let people beat us if we can see them. In the boy's race, Max nearly won the thing, coming in a scant 16 seconds behind the guy who did win, with some very nice-looking skiing. Right behind him in 3rd was Ian! Jacob had a great race, finishing 23rd, followed by Warren Taylor and then Sean in 25th. Excellent racing! Will skied very well against kids three years older than him, niiice. Despite an upset stomach, Hank skied quite well, a valuable scorer for the team, and Trevor and Eli proved that they've actually learned how to classic this year! Boy's results.
In the women's race, Rebecca also nearly won the thing! She was definitely the better skier of the two battling for the front, but unfortunately, Taylor was able to flail away pretty fast, and got away on the last uphill. Olivia had a great race, finishing in 9th, her first top-10 at EHS, and a really good result for a girl who only last year could count the number of times she had classic skied on one hand. Meg popped a great race, in 27th, and the 4th MA skier. Julia, despite not having classic skied in months, made it through the race with no ankle pain, and scored very well for us. Rosie popped a great race, skiing super strong, and Liza had another strong result, skiing very smooth. Sophie and Carina skied very well, and Mary, despite crashing in the start and thus putting herself in last place, managed to ski her way up through a LOT of people. Results.
Saturday afternoon was dramatic. The guys went first, and Max skied off a cliff and mixed a little blood into the snow, while Chris took 3rd and Ian took 5th. Sean had another super solid race in 25th, Mr. Consistency! Trevor showed that he's figured out how to move pretty quick, and Hank bounced back from feeling under the weather to knock out another super solid race. Boy's results.
In the girls' race, Rebecca left no question as to who would win the sprint, and dominated by over 8 seconds to 2nd place. That was pretty fun to watch. Clara (13th), Julia(18th), and Liza (25th) all had some outstanding results, too, showing just how fit, strong, and smooth they could ski. Funny how good training and good technique means you can pull out three strong races in a row! Rosie had a great race, too, in 31st place - all that speedwork we did last summer pays off! Claire had a really good race in the sprint, too. Results.
After much debate, we came up with some solid relay teams for the final race of the weekend, on Sunday. The order went classic boy, classic girl, skate boy, skate girl. The first team was all-CSU: Ian, Rebecca, Chris, and Olivia. They tried hard to maintain the winning streak we've had for the last five years, but couldn't quite hold on to Vermont, and took a close 2nd. I thought they all skied great - sometimes, it's not about winning, but about how much fight you put into the race, and I saw a lot of fight, from all the teams. Max, on the 2nd team, skied a great opening leg, too - we put him on that team because clearly the boy knows how to do classic mass starts! It's worth noting too that the third team, of Jacob, Meg, Lewis, and Julia, passed our second team (Max, Kat, Warren, Clara), with a superb anchor leg by Julia. The relay was super fun to watch, and I loved seeing how into the team spirit all the Mass. kids got. In the end, our skiers skied well enough in the relay to beat NH in the overall - way to go team!! Results.
And with that, the competitive ski season is over. Hopefully, everyone can get out and enjoy this late-season bounty of snow that's been dumping down on us! Good racing to all, and I hope you're pumped about next year!