Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Eastern High School Championships

Next up on the end of the year schedule was the E. High School Championships back up at Mt. Top for a return engagement.  What a difference in conditions compared to a couple years ago though!  Last time the kids skied in barely frozen, dirty brown, yucky snow whereas this year there were piles of the real thing.  Temps, instead of rising into the high 50s, barely made it to 30.  And most important, instead of messing around with klister we managed with zeros and hairies for one race and stick wax for the other classic event!   Plus, I just parked my car in the lot for the weekend and left it there......no driving.  Sweet!

Friday's skate races were held on nice snow, although a bit soft on the steeper hills where the course got chopped up.  The courses were 2 loop affairs, so that was a lot of skiers going around twice, but they held up reasonably well.  The CSU girls and the Mass team hit the ground skiing fast right from the get-go to set the tone for the weekend, which for the girls was "Catch me if you can"!  Fresh off JNs, Julia Kern, Leah Brams and Cate Brams fired off a shot across the bows of the other teams in 1st, 2nd and 4th.  Grace Smith (Greylock), fresh off a great weekend at J2s picked it right up and came home in 14th, followed closely by Clara, Rebecca and Katrin in 16th, 17th and 19th.  What a great start to the weekend!  7 in the top 20.....not too shabby! 

Ahemmm, Kathy was a NH coach this week.....
Talia and Izzy

The boys went next with Lewis 5th and Warren Taylor (Burke) 7th skiing strongly for top 10 results and Eric Guba (Acton) and Chris Koziel in 26th and 29th for top 30 results.   After the races the kids went off to get in hot tubs while coaches waxed classic skis for the next morning's races.  Its a tough life.........

Saturday morning was one of those classic NE mornings for classic skiing in March.  Nice and cold to start, but with the temperatures climbing steadily.  Rob and Jamie started testing wax right after breakfast on the nice, solid tracks which were starting to glaze.  Temps rose into the waxing death zone around 28-32 for new snow.  VR 60 and 65, while getting good kick, started icing.  Toko yellow was not much better.  Then the kick started to break down.   Rob fired up his zeros and I then grabbed them for a spin around the whole course.  They worked everywhere!  No icing.  Sweet!  Making the call, zeros were rounded up from everyone and Gunther and Rob plugged in the orbital sanders and went to work making hairies.  No wax at all.  Other teams kept at it with wax.  The girls mass start went off with NY, NH and Julia and Cate right in the mix.  A few minutes later CSU took complete control of the front of the field with Cate in the lead and Leah and Zoe in her draft and Julia just behind that threesome.  This was looking good!  A bit further back came Rebecca, CharCole, Sonya and Rosie moving through the pack.  This was looking awesome!  Then Katrin, Meg and Gabby.  Holy cow, this was unprecedented!  It only got better from there.  Cate and Leah hammered each other all the way to the finish with Cate taking the win in a mano a mano duel.  And then, the Mass team and CSU parade.  Oh, this was sweet indeed!  Julia and Zoe rounded out the top 4, Rebecca and Sonya in 10 and 11, CharCole 15, Talia 16 and Rosie 17 for 9 in the top 20.  Wow.....

We now scrambled to get all the boys onto zeros or hairies.  Rob and I got ours out, a pair of Alex's skis got put in the mix, girls skis were borrowed and off they went to the start.  Lewis got in the game early and had a good race in 6th, Chris K moved way up finishing 12th, Will popped a HUGE race (he liked the longer distance) moving into 14th, better than his J2 races, and Warren Taylor into 21st.  A much better race for the boys than on Friday.

Following the feed at the food table, ski prep began for the 1km sprints, to be run with wave starts.  This is always a fun format to watch and you get a better idea of how everyone is doing and it can make for some exciting racing.  1st up were the girls again and once again CSU set the tone.  The fearsome foursome of Julia, Zoe, Cate and Leah grabbed 4 of the top 5 spots with Rebecca, in her favorite event, moving up to 8th.  Next up was Janelle having herself a huge race to finish 17th and Sonya in 20th.  Unfortunately, there was one really tricky corner and several skiers crashed out in the deep and heavy snow off the course in the midst of having otherwise good races.  With this race the girls team cemented their hold on 1st place overall! 

The boys had a bit better time with the tricky corner and there was some great racing.  Chris Koziel stepped up to the plate and vanquished all foes with a masterful race V2ing the entire course.  No one could touch him up the final hill to take the win.  Warren was next up in 17th and then Jacob Meyerson in 29th.  With the conclusion of the sprints the Mass team now sat in 3rd place a scant 60 points behind Maine.  The relays would be important! 

Sunday dawned nice and sunny, but cold.  Waxing was not going to make the difference today as lots of stuff worked well in the colder snow.  Today would come down to each skier's performance.  Mass lined up some good teams and was shooting to regain the top spot for the 6th time in 7 years.  Last year the relay was overtaken and had to settle for 2nd, so pride was on the line.  Doro rallied the troops during the course tours and before long the scramble leg girls were lined up in the sun for the start, which began with a long climb through the fields before hitting the woods.  By the top of the fields Julia had already established the finish order for the #1 spot, having put a narrow gap on the field.  The next 3 teams in her draft were Cate, Rebecca and Rosie.  Wow, awesome!  By the tricky downhill corner in the field, Julia had a 20 sec lead over VT.  Cate, Rebecca, Sonya, Talia and Rosie were not far behind.  Handoffs to the boys at the top of the hill were executed and teams shifted around a bit.  While the lead of team 1 was cut into a bit, Lewis maintained his lead and handed off to Zoe for leg 3.  Zoe maintained the lead over VT, skiing the same time as Carmen Bango while Leah made up several seconds on the field.  It would come down to the anchor leg of Chris.  Chris skied off the front and iced VT by stretching the lead another 10 sec. and Mass regained number 1 in the relay.  Not far back, the 2nd Mass team of Cate, Will, Leah and Warren finished 5th, but by only a whisker as Warren put in a furious charge up the last hill, almost catching the Maine boy asleep as they both shot their foot at the line.  There was much discussion about who had actually finished ahead, but the decision went to Maine.  The real story of the day, however, was going on behind the leaders as the other Mass teams totally rose to the challenge of besting Maine and skied very impressively so that the Mass team moved into 2nd for the weekend!  That is only the 2nd time we've gotten 2nd since the CSU Jr team was formed. 

I should add here that it was a bit odd to see CSUers Lily (NH), Hadley (ME) and Sydney(NH) skiing for their respective state teams.  We missed them on our team, but of course it was fun to cheer for them too.

It was good skiing and a great team effort at Mt. Top for Team Massachusetts.  Moving into 2nd was the icing on the cake and everyone headed home happy.  However, not until the traditional Mass team photos, with and without warm clothes on.  Some traditions must go on despite 19F temps!

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