Thursday, March 14, 2019

U16s race report, with the happy ending!

We just wrapped up some exciting racing at the U16 Championships in Bethel, ME. This place was like a snowy wonderland, with beautiful sunshine on the first two days, mountain views, and a really nice Inn where somehow they let us inside despite not meeting any sort of dress code. CSU sent eight skiers and three coaches to the weekend of racing, and our skiers were an integral part of Team Massachusetts! 

I'll highlight some race results, but before getting into that I'd be remiss if I didn't call out our unfortunate Sunday morning mistake, and give a HUGE shout-out to the way the affected athletes handled the situation. Team MA printed out schedules with the start time for the girls' race a half hour later than it was actually happening, and thus were caught completely sleeping when suddenly we heard the announcer talking about the first wave of skiers taking off. Everyone rushed down there, but it was too late for the first three skiers, all three of the CSU girls. The officials slotted them in as soon as was possible, but at the end of the day, the race officials decided not to use their actual time on course, but to apply a five minute penalty, because barring force majeure it is an athlete's responsibility to make it to the start on time. The MA Team has did everything possible within the rules to protest this decision, but unfortunately, it stood, and all three girls got a five-minute penalty. 

Clara had the fastest time of the day on course, Francesca the 3rd fastest, and Mica the 4th. I don't care what the paper results say; that is DOMINANT. 

I want to say that I am SO PROUD of the way that our athletes handled this situation. It would have been easy to get really flustered, but instead they remained focused, and channeled all their energy into the race, using the frustration as fuel. They reacted with maturity and poise, and it is actions like these that make us the team that we are. Sometimes, adults in positions of power make mistakes, and it totally ruins your day (or worse), and there is just no good lesson to take from it. What matters is that you take care of the factors within your control, and Clara, Francesca, and Mica did that beautifully. Respect. 

The racing
Friday started with a 5k skate race, and in the boys' race, Lucas had a good battle with our friend Clint from DXC, skiing for NH, and ended up 13th, and the top Massachusetts skier. Sam was our sixth skier, in 39th, and Nick was our 11th skier, in 63rd! The girls went next, and Clara and Mica took first and second places - impressive! Francesca wasn't far behind, in 16th as our third Masachusetts skier. 

Saturday started with a 5k classic. The boys went first, and Lucas again led the way, this time with a 4th place! Very impressive striding work. Across the board, our boys skied well in the classic race. Sam was our 6th skier again, in 33rd, followed by Nick and Noah, tied for 63rd place and our tenth MA skier. Milo showed off his great classic stride with an 88th place. The girls, well, the girls skied incredibly well, but the results do not reflect that. 

Saturday afternoon we moved over to the golf course behind the Bethel Inn for a "sprint" race. I say sprint in quotes because it was a mighty long sprint course, and that is a tough one after having already done a morning race. The boys went first, and Nick deserves a shout-out for nearly cracking that top-50, in 51st place. The girls had a little bit of frustration to work out, and Clara won the race, with Mica in 12th and Francesca in 14th. 

Finally it was time for my favorite race of the weekend, the relay! We did our usual fun times of getting together with the relay teams and trying to do a dry-run of how relays work, and then it was time to apply the glitter and get going. On the first leg, Francesca and Mica were scrambling, and had a little trouble off the start line. That didn't stop them from making up ground, and Francesca showed her mass start skills by moving up through the pack to tag off in 4th place. Lucas, Nick, and Milo were all on classic legs for their teams, and Lucas brought the first MA relay team into the exchange in 6th place to tag to Clara. Clara had a point to prove today, and did it decisively, moving from 6th to first in the space of a kilometer, before really laying down some hurt on the two final climbs of the course, tagging to Col McDermott for the last leg. Col did eventually get caught by VT, Midwest, and ME teams, but he hung on with a real fight, edging out Clint (DXC) by a toe at the line for 3rd place! (2nd official, because Midwest is a guest team). Sam and Noah were anchor legs for their respective relay teams, and had good battles as well, gutting it out up those last big hills. Sam outsprinted a team from VT for 12th place! 

Great to see Francesca, Lucas, Clara, and Col on that podium! 

But, there is a rainbow at the end of this story! Team MA submitted a protest to NENSA, protesting the race organizers' decision, and NENSA ruled that the missed starts were not the girls' fault. So, reinstated them with their original times! This means that now Clara, Francesca, and Mica are in 1st, 3rd, and 4th place in the classic, and tied for 1st, 4th, and 7th in the overall! (NENSA was not going to strip placements or medals from the athletes who had already been awarded the medals, hence the ties). 

Lucas was the top MA boy, in 14th place, and Sam, Mr. consistency, was 37th. Nick was 55th, Noah 70th, and Milo 90th in the overall. I was so proud of all the CSU skiers on Team MA - they skied with integrity, dignity, resilience, and a whole lot of guts. 


Team MA!

Skate podium - Clara in 1st, Mica in 3rd!

CSU contingent of the MA Team! 

A huge thank you to Maddy for leading the coaching staff, to Maile for joining us, and to NENSA for hosting such a great event. I've attached a photo by Ann Kitch of the CSU contingent from U16s. Thanks CSU!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Weston Championships of the World

A few, mostly not so good, photos from last Tuesday's races:

Monday, March 4, 2019

Bretton Woods Marathon

It would be great if someone had a story to add of their Bretton Woods Marathon adventure, but here are some photos of CSU and some CSU Jr. alumni in action.  The waxing was pretty straight-forward since it stayed cloudy throughout the race with occasional snow falling, obviating the need to switch skis (which is allowed).  The race, being at a later date this year, attracted lots of college kids, probably doubling the field for a much more competitive race than last year.  CSU was there in force.  Sorry if I missed anyone.

Lots more photos at:

Parade lap around the golf course

Chris Burnham




Sonya Jampel


Rebecca Feist











Monday, February 25, 2019

Dublin Double and the Cheri Walsh

We just wrapped up the final weekend of Eastern Cup racing. It's been a wild ride, and having three races in the weekend was a real test of fitness, guts, and skiing ability. The weekend started at Dublin, with a 3k prologue and a 1.5km prelim, and we had some solid results. Below are some photos, huge thank you to Peter Nichol who captured nearly every skier! 

Francesca skied to 12th place in the 3k, and 9th in the 1.5k

Shea took 9th in the 3k, and 11th in the 1.5k

Amelia busted out a 5th in the 3k, and 7th in the 1.5k (and 9th overall!)

Evie had a podium day, 2nd in the 3k (to her teammate Sofia, who won! sorry no photo of Sofia), and Evie won the 1.5km!

Madeline was 25th in the 3k, and 8th in the 1.5k

Clara was 6th in the 3k, and 4th in the 1.5k

Flora was 12th in the 3k, and 13th in the 1.5km

Big Burt was 16th in the 3k, and 8th in the 1.5k 

Henry was 13th in the 3k, and 18th in the 1.5k. Importantly, he was on the leader board for the fastest downhill split time! 

Linden was 10th in the 3k (leading our team!), and 14th in the 1.5k

Julian was 41st in the 3k, and 36th in the 1.5k

Lucas was 24th in the 3k, and 27th in the 1.5k

Ayden was 11th in the 3k, and 14th in the 1.5k. 

Ella was 22nd in the 3k, and 21st in the 1.5k

Tali was 23rd in the 3k, and 21st in the 1.5k

Sam was 28th in the 3k, and 19th in the 1.5k

Ben was 40th in the 3k, and 40th in the 1.5k

Connor was 18th in the 3k, and 19th in the 1.5k

Lucas was 14th in the 3k, and 20th in the 1.5k

Dwight was 35th in the 3k, and 41st in the 1.5k

Milo was 27th in the 3k, and 26th in the 1.5k

Laura was 10th in the 3k, and on the podium in 2nd in the 1.5km

Devin was 19th in the 3k, and 17th in the 1.5k

Serena was 37th in the 3k, and 40th in the 1.5k

We missed photos of  Sofia (1st and 3rd), Mica (14th and 11th), Phoebe (29th and 24th), and our guest BKLer Emily.

If you count it up, that's 13 kids in the top 10 of their age groups, and five podiums! Lots of smiles, all around.

1.5k U16 girls' podium

3k U16 girls' podium

1.5k U18 girls' podium

Sunday dawned all New England-y, and got a little nutso with the waxing. Big apologies to all the U18 boys who had zero kick; luckily they were in good company with about half the field struggling as the snow changed to rain before anybody could do anything about it. No photos from the day, because of said rain and snow.

The U16 boys went off first. Clint (DXC) led the way, in 10th place, followed closely by Lucas in 16th and Sam in 17th, for what I think are PR placements. David Shycon, a U14 trying out an EC, was just behind in 20th place, and Milo skied great, landing in 26th. That's four on the top page! Kaden joined us to try out an Eastern Cup, too, and placed 32nd, followed closely by Alexander, another EMBK skier, in 33rd. Glad they could come race!

The U16 girls were next, and in the theme of the weekend, Sofia skied herself onto the podium in 3rd place. Evie was close behind in 5th place, and Mica showed that she can definitely ski classic, landing in 7th, ahead of Clara in 8th by 0.6 seconds. Francesca battled some draggy skis to finish in 11th, and Ella rounded out putting all the CSUers into the top 15 by placing 15th! That is an IMPRESSIVE showing.

The older girls had more of the same, but two laps now. Shea showed her mettle, taking the overall win in a commanding fashion. Schuyler (DXC) rounded out the podium in 3rd, and Amelia was just behind in 5th place. Wow! Eva was back in a race bib for the first time in a long time, and finished as the 14th U18, followed by Aggie (DXC) in 17th and Madeline in 18th for U18s. Phoebe, despite skiing into a tree and finishing with blood all over her face, was the 20th U18. Tali had a rough day of it, electing not to wear glasses, and then basically being unable to see for the sleet, but still finished as 24th U18. Flora skied to 7th U20, her first top-10!

 Next were the boys, with another 10k. Unfortunately, this is where the weather turned, and the snow changed from sleet to rain. Without any time to change the wax on the skis (some were racing already), really only those who had elected to race on zeroes had any kick. My apologies for not pushing that option harder to those who had the option. Regardless, our team skied with a lot of guts. Many people out there were in a similar situation, and the boys kept fighting, even in less than ideal conditions. That's what we like to see!

Quinn (DXC) led the way for us, in 12th overall and 8th U18. Henry was next, in 15th overall and 10th U18. Jacob, visiting back east during his time out west, was next, as 6th U20. Lucas B showed that fitness matters, fighting hard despite no kick, and ended up as 14th U18, followed closely by Aaro (DXC) as the 7th U20, and Ayden as the 10th U20. Devin (in 13th) was just ahead of a group of Alex, Connor, and Ben, separated by 3 seconds, and then Julian in 27th. Julian was in 27th, and Linden took 32nd place for the U18s.

JN Team
After the race, NENSA announced the New England Team going to Junior Nationals. Junior Nationals, up in Anchorage this year, is a race where each region of the country can bring a certain allocation of skiers every year. Even though New England is consistently one of the strongest and deepest teams, we still only get to bring as many skiers as the smaller, less competitive divisions. This makes it INSANELY competitive to qualify to make the NE team, which is done using points from the Eastern Cups. Having this level of competition makes everyone a faster skier in the end, but it can be really hard to watch teammates and friends qualify for a team that can only take so many athletes to a race. Sometimes, hard work only takes you so far, and you need a swig of luck to finish the job. 

Remember the difference between success, and excellence. Success is what other people see, but it doesn't define you as a person. Excellence is your behavior, how you react to situations and how you deal with the factors within your control. Excellence often leads to success, and it is excellence that we need to be striving for, not success. You can't control how many people show up to a race, or how well they ski, but you can control your communication with your wax techs, eating the right breakfast, wearing your lucky socks, or doing the right ski training for the last four years. Skiing is a long term development sport, and we all need to practice excellence for a long time before we reap the public success. Even those athletes who appear to be successful are still striving for something more. The road is never ending, and it is the process from which we need to find pleasure, motivation, and inspiration. 

This year, we're sending a TON of athletes to Anchorage on the New England Team. A big congratulations to: 

Evie Walton
Sofia Scirica
Clara Lake (1st alt.)

Laura Appleby
Shea Brams
Amelia Tucker
Madeline Kitch
Schuyler Michelak (DXC)
Lily Bates (DXC)
Aggie Macy (DXC) (1st alt.)

Henry Johnstone
Jacob Jampel 
Alex Burt

Good work, kids. Your job is just beginning.
U18/20 girls heading to Anchorage. Thanks to Ann Kitch for the photo