Sunday, March 31, 2013

All Scholastics

CSU was everywhere in today's Boston Globe All Scholastic nordic awards, which can be found here:

Skiers of the year were Eli Hoenig and Sonya Jampel and All Scholastics included Lewis Nottonson, Sean Skahen, Charlotte Cole, Clara Cousins, Julia Schiantarelli and Rebecca Smith.  All Stars included Max LaChance, Jacob Meyerson, Hank Yoder, Eli Bucher, Mary Lagunowich, Liza Dawley, Meg Yoder, Haley Colpitts, Phoebe Seltzer, Claire Telfer, Elizabeth Karpacz, Carina Wallack, Olivia Cannon and Sophie MacArthur.  Sorry if I missed anyone in my quick scan.

Coaches of the year included Pat Garrison and Graham Taylor!

Congratulations to all!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Why We Train All Winter!

It won't be long before we get back to what we really love and why we endure 4 months of winter skiing in the dark and cold with no cars:

Friday, March 29, 2013

New CSU member, Jake Brennan

Here is the newest member of CSU, my grandson Jake Patrick Brennan.

Rob Bradlee

Jake like napping just like grandpa

Jake is hoping to someday have as much hair as I do

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lost and Found
Nadja Kern visits from UCSD and brings along a friend and teammate Emily from the UCSD basketball team; Emily XC skiing for the first time

we are just trying to figure out that new olympic ball game on skis
haha very funny Nadja says!

All the lost talent. See how a basketball player skates after her first hour of practice on skis ever
Emily Osga, guard UCSD  Basketball team

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Last Dance?

What do you do if there is still a full loop at Weston on a Tuesday evening in the spring?  You race on it of course!  30+ die-hards showed up for one more race on dirty, goose poopy corn snow that was actually remarkably good skiing over the full course.  It was nice to race in full daylight with a beautiful sunset on one side and a beautiful full moon rise on the other.  What's not to love about a race on 3/26.  We think this is the latest Tuesday night race ever.

The Tuesday Night Die-Hards getting in one last chance to go head to head for the season.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Parent's View of the JN Experience

Elizabeth Wilcox, mom of Zoe Snow, sent in this perspective on being a CSU parent:

For most club sports, being the parent of an athlete does little to enrich your life. I have a clear memory of one eighth-grade club soccer practice. It was raining and I had just driven 45 minutes through traffic to a field with five girls on it, too few to scrimmage three-on-three. Having played soccer in college and a member of a year-round adult team, I offered to be the sixth. I was dressed for a run and given the girls were only 14, I thought I might, dare I say it, be able to offer some help. Zoe’s coach refused. Parents in club soccer were relegated to the sidelines, or in the case of inclement weather, their cars. So I sat for 45 minutes inside my car ruing the day she signed up, while the girls floundered about on a soggy, wet field.

Fast forward four years. Something Zach Caldwell wrote last year has stuck with me. CSU has found a way, he suggested, to capitalize on the energy of all its helicopter parents, harnessing their energy and involvement to create a stronger, more successful club. I might argue the reverse. The energy of the club and the people involved has enriched my life far more than what I’ve brought to it. Take the recent Junior Nationals. We did not accompany Zoe to Fairbanks, Alaska. Instead, we were compelled to watch results online. Like Nathan, I developed a race strategy of my own. Not one for suspense (full disclosure: I sometimes read the back page of a book), I decided throughout the duration of the race, I would lay in a hot tub relaxing, reading, or if nerves necessitated it, playing words-with-friends, while Lucian would watch the results stream live downstairs. Needless to say, a few words spelled (sadly, low scoring ones) and I was calling Lucian from the cell in the tub to the home line downstairs. Of course, the trouble came when Zoe made it through to the next round, scheduled for three hours later. I rationally decided that for Zoe to ski well, I had to get back into the tub, but how? The tub would be either stone cold or drained. And that’s when Zoe’s younger brother Oliver stepped in (it takes a village), running his own tub, which I later climbed in. But then I got to thinking, what if she went forward from there, could I lie in cold water? If I did it two more times, might hypothermia set in? Or if I laid fully clothed in an empty tub, would that have the same positive effect on Zoe’s race? And would Oliver ever be able to look me straight in the eye again having known his mother lay, fully clothed with a cell phone, pretending to play words with friends, in a tub, twice, while his sister raced?

Zoe did go on and now prune-like and chastened by Oliver’s disapproving glances, I decided I really couldn’t get back in. And that’s where the CSU parents came in. Peter Hoenig had been talking to Lucian, working out how to best track results. Dave Brams and Alan McEwen, both on location in Fairbanks, had been calling in. We had our support team in place. Come the final race, Alan got on the phone with Lucian while Dave called me on the cell downstairs, providing skate-by-skate live narration of the race. Zoe finished. She was smiling. We’d all survived.

Being a CSU parent can be demanding. We wax, we drive long distances, we bring food to races, we spend hard-earned money on equipment. But what I relish most about CSU is that Rob and the other coaches never relegate anyone to the sidelines. Come inclement weather, we never sit in our cars. Unlike those soccer parents, we are encouraged to ski, to coach or, if we’re feeling really brave, race. We stand together, supporting our kids and each other, sharing our joys and disappointments. I feel so fortunate to be able to enjoy the friendship and camaraderie of so many engaged, down-to-earth, and kind-hearted adults. When Zoe joined CSU freshmen year, Jim Stock said to me that the people whom she would really come to value and from whom she would learn so much would be the CSU community. I never thought the same would be said of me.

Lots of EHS Photos

Here are some photos from EHS last weekend.  As Alex reported, CSU kids did great!  Congrats to all on an excellent season!
Trevor, skate race

Will, skate race

Olivia making her hair fly

Eli, skate race

Clara on her way to a great result

Claire, skate race

Carina, skate race

Talia, skate race

Sophie in the skate race
Max controlling the pace in the mass start

Ian at the top of one of the downhills

Sean looking fierce

Lewis looking great on the big uphill

Max and Lewis after the classic race
Chris, 3rd leg of the relay over the bumps
Jacob in the classic race

Rebecca dueling for the lead!

Talia and Meg in the classic race

Rosie in the classic race

Julia in the sprint

Liza in the classic race

Mary in the sprint

Phoebe takes the hairpin in the sprint

Ian leads out part of the relay field

Here is a report about JN's from Nate Moreau:

Racing at Junior Nationals this year in Fairbanks, Alaska was exhilarating. The snow was perfect, packed-powder (a dream, especially for classic skiing), the air was cold but not too cold (although, when walking to breakfast it was usually around negative 20), there was bright sun and blue skies pretty much the whole time, and on the last night we saw an amazing show of the Northern Lights that even had the Alaskans out in the hotel parking lot cheering at the sky! 
        The opening race for JNs this year was a skate 10 kilometer individual start. Last year in Utah the first race was a classic sprint. Traditionally at Junior Nationals the sprint has been first, the two distance races second and third, and the relay last. For me personally, this reorganization of the schedule meant that, instead of the first race being what is typically my worst event (sprinting), the week of racing would be opening with the event in which I usually perform best (skate distance). While the general goal in ski racing at championship events is--of course--to always be ready to perform at your best, this year it was especially important for me to be race-ready upon arrival.
Last year I was not totally ready for the opening race of Junior Nationals. Of course, it was thrilling to be there racing on the best JN team in the country at the site of the 2002 Olympics. However, that year I had qualified as an almost "surprise" alternate and was the last guy to make the team; I was feeling the pressure of racing against all the best juniors in the country and performing to the standard set by Team New England. So, it was not that I was not physically ready to perform--I was--but that I was not completely mentally prepared. This year was different. Throughout this past year I have practiced relaxation, visualization and affirmation/auto suggestion. Two weeks before Junior Nationals I made a plan with Rob for what I would do for those 14 days in order to be fully ready to perform in Alaska. Mental preparation was the second most important thing in that plan (number one was rest and recovery). Each day, I visualized for 10-15 minutes, wrote down a JN-specific Affirmation 15 times, and did a relaxation session before bed. I focused on fine-tuning my technique for JNs when I was out on the snow skiing, but I also worked on technique in my mind through visualization (this was something I had never tried before, and, although it might sound strange, I found it quite useful. The science behind this kind of visualization is also really fascinating). I used the videos at the event website to get a visual idea of the race courses and then imagined what it would feel like to ski them. All this mental preparation boosted my confidence and helped me keep myself in a focused, positive space throughout the days leading up to my departure and during my time in Fairbanks. I still felt the same test of my confidence that comes from skiing with the best; the difference was that, instead of losing my head and skiing badly the first day and then getting my confidence back together for the rest of the week like I did last year, in Fairbanks I was able to focus through the challenges of each race and let go of the things that did not matter or were outside of my control. This enabled me to ski my best. 
The races themselves were extremely fun and exciting. I also learned a fair amount from each of them. To give you an idea of what these races were like for me personally and what I took away from them, here is some of the analysis from my race logs: 

3/11/2013 - Skate 10 Km Individual Start

I paced the race well; I was light, quick, and steady on the uphills; and I worked the flats and the downhills hard. I got a ride with a skier who was moving a little faster than I was for a while, and also had the opportunity to draft behind another skier on the last downhills and then blow by him on the final climb and flat. Most importantly, mental frame during the race was very strong and positive, as was my focus and connection to my performance. I got a split from a coach on the steep climb near the start of the second lap; he said that I was leading for New England and currently top ten overall (out of those skiers who had started at that point; the seeding was slowest to fastest). This was a very exciting split. A few minutes down the trail, it only served as a point of motivation but, at the time I received it, the split divided my focus for a few moments. I think that maybe if I had just taken that split for what it was at the moment, not allowed myself to think it over so much, and just maintained the connection to my skiing, then I could have had a bit stronger focus as I finished the climb and possibly skied a little faster overall. This was in no way a big mistake or problem in the race; it is just a point to use for refining my reaction when I receive splits like that in the future.
Something else that I think maybe I could have improved upon was my descent of the final downhills. As I mentioned earlier, all the way down those hills I drafted in the slip-stream of another skier. This was good because he broke the wind for me. However, he was also skiing somewhat conservatively--especially on the corners--so, by skiing behind him, I could not ski as aggressively as I wanted to. It was a trade-off, and I still cannot decide whether tucking in behind like I did was faster or if I could have gained more speed if I had skied around and dropped him at an opportune moment (or if I would have just wasted energy and ended up providing him with a drafting opportunity instead). I can't help thinking that maybe it might have been faster to go around him earlier though, and blaze my own trail. Again, this is a rather fine point; overall it was a very solid race for me and a great start to an exciting week of racing.

3/12/2013 - Classic 3x3 Km Relay

My warmup for the relay was very thorough and left me well prepared to hammer right from the start of my leg (anchor). I always adjust my warmup according to feel; today I did easy skiing for around 20 minutes, then 2x3 min L3 intervals, then finally one 2-3 minute race pace interval. Between the various intervals, I included longer recovery segments of easy skiing than I usually do. Total warmup time was probably 1 hour or a little less. I hammered harder and faster today than I have in any race to date, sprinting at top-speed for all 3 km. For the great majority of the race, my mind was blank; I thought about nothing. I can only suppose that is what it is like to become one with a performance. It felt incredible. My pacing was excellent today, and my tempo (especially in striding) was faster than it has ever been before. Calvin and Devlin (my relay teammates) also had ripping races. Unfortunately, Dev broke his pole scrambling; if he hadn't, I am pretty sure our relay team would have been in the top five and on the podium. As for points of improvement for this race, the only thing I can really think of was a moment near the crest of the last hill heading into the finish where I was really feeling the pain and relaxed a little and--in doing so--maybe glided a bit too long for a small stretch and lost some speed. I may have been able to push a little harder there. Then again, perhaps relaxing into the glide like I did was actually the smart thing to do and resulted in an increase in speed instead of a reduction. In any case, it was a small thing. 

3/14/2013 - Skate 1.25 Km Sprint

Did a good, thorough warmup for the sprint and maintained a clear, positive, mental frame through it. Despite this good preparation, I felt like I just never got into the "gear" needed for top speed. I found this gear for the first time at the Mountain Top EC Sprint earlier this year, but today it was elusive. My explosiveness was not what it needed to be to make the heats and neither was my tempo. I guess I simply did not let go enough to free myself to ski at top speed. I should have tried to ski the whole thing like it was a 50 meter speed, but I just didn't. I think I was trying to control my skiing too much instead of letting raw speed flow. I still cannot really explain why this was the case, but it was disappointing after being in the top twenty in the previous two races.

3/16/2013 - Classic 15 Km Mass Start

My start in this race was exhilarating. Somehow, the lane I was in stayed clear of all other skiers the whole way up the first climb, enabling me to ski right up the side of the pack until I was literally even with the top 5 guys. It was while all this was happening that I noticed that my boot had just become incredibly loose. This was strange because I had just made sure it was fully tightened before the start. It turns out that, during this last-minute tightening, the lock on my speed-lace had broken so that it no longer locked. Of course, I was not aware of this at the time. After most of the first lap, I decided that it was not a good idea to ski the course's large down hills and tight corners twice more with a super-loose boot and so tried to tighten it up mid-race. Not only did this not work, but my zipper also got stuck and I was left with a boot that was both untied AND unzipped. I only finally got it zipped back up after coming to a complete stop first. I then skied the final lap with one boot still quite loose but zipped up so that it could not physically fall off. I see now that my mistake was attempting to tighten the boot in the first place; if I had just ignored it and focused on my skiing, I am sure that it would neither have come off or even significantly impeded my skiing. I am a good enough skier that I can race 15 Km with one minimally supportive boot (after all, I did ski the second 5 km of the Hanover race course with only one contact lens back when I was a first year J1). If I had done that, I am certain that I would have finished in the top 15 or 20, maybe even top 10. For future reference, I created a "what to do when a boot comes untied/gets very loosened up in a race" entry in my distraction-control plan. A great positive for this race was that my capacity to refocus after dealing with the boot issue was better than it has been in any past situation, and I know that I skied incredibly well after I had gotten over the problem and regained my best focus. My last lap--and especially my finish--felt heroic; I hunted down and passed three of my New England teammates before the end, and, in the process, pushed myself harder than ever before in my life. The knowledge that, if not for the distraction, I could have achieved my goal of top 10 in a race at Junior Nationals, or at least come very close, is incredibly frustrating. I guess that is just how you learn.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Here are some photos that go along with the blog!

J2's making awesome T-shirts!

A view from the plane.

Leah and Sonya in red SMS jackets....traders day!

Ice Sculpture of a huge bear, much taller than a person!


Leah in a traditional Iditarod outfit!

Northern Lights Pic taken by Julia!





Leah, Charlotte, Cate and Julia with the Northern Lights!

New England Sweep!

Julia's JN Excellent Adventure

Julia Kern
Junior Nationals Fairbanks 2013

            My trip started with hiccups and complications. I planned to fly out at 6 AM from Logan, but with the snow storm (in March?), I sat on the runway for 3 hours. Then I rebooked on the flight that the rest of CSU was on leaving at 6 PM.  Landing in Seattle, I found out that instead of going straight to Fairbanks with CSU, I  was scheduled to fly to Anchorage, spend the night there, and then arrive at 7 AM instead of 2 AM. Luckily, a nice man helped me get switched onto the correct flight. I arrived, but not my luggage.  After a little over 24 hours the airline managed to find my ski bag. But, my duffel with all my gear was still lost, so in the meantime I borrowed gear from NE teammate, Katharine Ogden, who was very generous to lend me ski clothes. By Sunday, the airline office in Fairbanks told me my bag was in Denver and Denver Airport said it was in Fairbanks.  I went on a nice little shopping spree with Katharine and Coach Poppet since wearing the same clothes for 3 days is not pleasant. Who knew? The airline reimbursed everything. That night my bag arrived during the opening ceremony,  just in time for the first race the next day. I didn’t worry about not having a bag because worrying would just waste energy and wouldn’t bring me anywhere. The opening ceremony included many interesting speeches from sponsors and former athletes and then was followed by some traditional Eskimo songs and dances that all the athletes learned to bring home and I can demonstrate.
            Finally the first race-day came, starting off with a beautiful sunshine and moderate cold for New Englanders, but warm for Alaskans. For J2s and J1 girls it was a 5km skate individual race. The course started off with a fast and tricky downhill followed by a big, long hill. The top of the hill was at the 3km mark and then there was 1km of gradual downhill rest with a solid hill (aka Whoop Ass hill) ending with a flat, big turn finish. I was second in my seeding group so the whole race I got splits from random coaches and spectators I didn’t know telling me “you’re down on Leah Brams” or “you’re second to Brams”. This was motivational and also made me happy Leah was having such a fast race.  The course was mostly one big hill, which is my weakness, but with the immense amount of hill training I did at Bretton Woods, I was pumped to try this course to see how I have improved on hills and how I compared to others on a hilly course. When I finished, I was just ahead of Leah by 8 sec and I knew had a good race but had a feeling I would get kicked out of the top 3 after the rest of my seed-group finished. With a pleasant surprise, Katharine won by 1.6 sec, I was second, and Leah was a close third.  A New England sweep to start off the week set us J2s in a fiery mood for the rest of the competitions. Sonya came in 37th with a strong race. What I learned from this race is that if you identify your weaknesses or dislikes, then you have to set your mind to love them, and have a desire to improve them. I used to say “oh no, another hill” or “I don’t like this course, soooo many hills”, but when I realized I needed to work on hills, I changed my mindset to “I love hills!”, and “Rob, can we do uphill intervals and the mountain climb again?”. People thought I was crazy at first, but later they realized that it made sense. If you want to get better at something then you have to work at it.
            The next day was the Team Relay, classic 3.3km classic. With the sweep the day before and our wonderfully painted nails, we were pumped to race. Katharine Odgen started the relay, putting down a great race, with a little mishap of going in the finish lane instead of lap lane to tag off to Leah. Thankfully, Katharine threw down an awesome race putting us in a 10 sec lead and only being 8 sec out of 1st after the little mishap. Leah raced really hard and had a flying split and caught the Rocky Mountain girl ahead and moved into a good lead and tagged off to me. Classic 3km is one of my favorite races and so I held the lead, enjoying the lead Katharine and Leah gave me to secure the team win.
            With a rest day before the Sprint, we were ready to go. The course was a 1km skate sprint with a gradual uphill then a quick gradual downhill with another uphill and then a sharp turn and down a short downhill with the finish right thereafter. My prelim went just as I planned. I ended up winning the prelim and was happy with it, but knew a lot of racing was left. Leah was not too happy with her prelim, but instead of moping around, she took the attitude that she could only improve and learn in the heats. Sonya’s birthday was that day, and she just missed the heats in 35th place but still enjoyed her day. My heats were pretty fast, but went well and I got to experience two different methods of how to race the heats. Leah fell out in the quarters but raced the heat really well, but she just wasn’t heavy enough to go fast down the hill and got shaked and baked even though she put up a good fight. In my final, I put myself in 3rd at the top of the first climb, then passed the 2nd girl so that I was right behind the Alaskan, Lydia Blanchet, at the top of the last uphill.  She managed to get a slight gap before the downhill and my draft and shake and bake plan did not work like I planned.  I chased her into the finish in 2nd   to finish right behind her. Lydia raced well. The heats were really fun and I expanded my experience for future races because you can only practice heat strategy in races.
Zoe had an awesome day, making the A final for J1s and ending up 3rd American (podium!) and 6th in the A final because of the 3 Norwegians guest racers.
            That night, the J2s visited the World Championships Ice Sculpture display that happened before we arrived in Fairbanks. It was a great bonding time and Sonya walked with me admiring the various artistic sculptures while I took some photos. Even though it was quite chilly outside, we had a great time and Sonya’s father bought a big birthday cake for us all to celebrate with.
            Saturday the final race came, the 5km mass start classic race for J2s and for J1s the 10km and for OJs did 15km. The course was wide with at least 4 tracks the whole way around,  and with an uphill for the first 1km to spread out the field. I started out fast till the hill began to avoid any tangle ups, and then slowed down the pace for the first uphill. No one tried to lead early, which made it really easy to cruise up the hill. Near the top, I hopped in behind Lydia and drafted her down the long hills, forgetting about one sharp turn that almost threw me down, but I just caught my balance. When we hit Whoop Ass hill, the pace was too slow so I took the lead with Katharine and Hailey Swirbul  (was also on the U-18 Norway Trip that I took in January) with Leah close behind. On Whoop Ass hill, we started to push the pace more, leaving just Katharine and I in the lead pack at the top. We skied together down the hill and up the last hill Katharine and I put up a good fight, again with the hill training coming in handy, I pulled away and put in the famous CSU DP in the flat finish. Leah came in 5th place shortly after with a good race and Sonya with a good race as well. This race was probably one of my favorites of the week because of the tactics and interest of the race. You compete head to head with your competitors and can control the race somewhat. The crazy loud cheering for us from so many people and other athletes helped tremendously. One moment I remember is the motivational words given to Hailey by her brother (and my friend), Keegan, who was next to us cheering.  He shouted out “You have trained for the whole year for this!”.  He reminded me and helped me push harder because it was the same thing I used as one of my reminders to refocus as suggested in the book In the Pursuit of Excellence. Hearing someone scream it as encouragement out loud helped me, even though it wasn’t directed towards me.
            After the race, I had a nice cool down ski around the whole course with teammates Chloe Levins and Katharine, enjoying the beautiful, relatively warm weather and awesome classic skiing. I knew it could possibly be my last day on snow and it was too nice to stop skiing even after 5km and given how tired I was, but alas, we had a tight evening schedule.  Dinner was great with awards following. Canadian Olympic gold medalist Beckie Scott gave an inspirational speech on skiing and the evils of doping. We headed outside for a big bonfire and sledding while they set up the dance. The dance was fun and ended at 10 and then we headed back to the hotel. When we got back, we J2s hung out until someone ran by saying “the northern lights are out!” Everyone rushed outside and the lights in the night sky were amazing. I spent an hour outside enjoying watching them and taking pictures and hanging out with people. The northern lights was one of the things I have always dreamed of seeing, making the already awesome day just unbeatable and the perfect day to end my season.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eastern Highschool Championships

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!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

JN 2013 Wrap-up

Here's a report from Kathy Maddock:

Our JN skiers have returned from the Great White North to . . . the Great White New England!  I'm not sure any of us would have expected to be greeted by a snow day upon our return, but it certainly is nice to have a day in which we can regroup, reorganize, and get a jump on a week's worth of laundry.

We had a successful second half of our competition week, despite the disappointment of not being able to pack the Alaska Cup back into a New Englander's suitcase.  

Forecasted low temperatures and high winds brought the viability of holding Thursday's sprint race into question, but fortunately the temps were higher and the wind speeds lower than expected, resulting in a chilly, but not unpleasant, day for the sprints.  Fairbanks' time zone placement and its apparent solar time (I think that's the term I want) meant that even though the boys finals didn't start until after 6:00 pm there was enough daylight to race without flipping the switch on Birch Hill's elaborate lighting system.

Gavin, Julia, Leah, Zoe, Cate and Eli all made the heats and were fierce in their head-to-head competitions.  Zoe's first heat was particularly fun to watch as she skied a great tactical race, letting the Norwegian girl lead up both hills, then slingshotting ("shake and bake!") around her on the final downhill into the stadium.  Zoe and Julia both made it to the A finals in their divisions, coming in third and second, respectively.  Eli put the hammer down in his last match to win the B final, earning him a seventh place finish. Gavin fought hard in the B final to take 8th.  Leah and Cate just missed the semis to finish 15th and 19th respectively.  Other CSUers had strong prelims: Sonya 35th, 52nd Hadley, 57th Charlotte, 33rd Calvin, 38th Rion, and 44th Nate.

After a brief ski on Friday morning we traveled to the home of David Monson, widower of famed Iditarod champion Susan Butcher.  (Monson's eldest daughter attends the Saint Paul's School in New Hampshire and is friends with NE skier Jack Schrupp.)  She and her younger sister (both accomplished mushers) hooked up the dogs and took us on trips around the pond that fronts their spectacular log house.  Inside we snacked on homemade cookies and marveled at the craftsmanship of the home's interior.

Saturday's mass start races were fast and furious--and tough!  Kilometer number one was all uphill, ascending to the top of Tower Hill, the high point of the course.  J2s skied one five kilometer loop, J1s and women OJs skied two, and men OJs skied a grueling, three-lap, 15 kilometer race.  It was a punishing culmination to a week of hard skiing, but CSU skiers put up some great results.  Julia skied off the front of the three-person lead pack of Katharine Ogden and Alaska's Lydia Blanchette for the win in the J2 race. Congrats to our National Champion! Leah fought hard at the line to come in fifth, only a millimeter out of fourth.  Eli was just off the podium in fourth; Cate fought hard to stay in the lead pack for much of the JI race, ultimately double poling across the finish line in 18th with Zoe, who finished 17th.  Gavin had another top 30 finish at 24th along with Nate at 28th, Calvin at 29th, and Rion was 36th just ahead of Luke Costley (and he was just ahead of him at EHS 2 years ago - history repeats).  Sonya came in 53rd to complete her first of many JN trips while Hadley was 50th and CharCole 54th.

Things didn't slow down from there as we scrambled to travel wax our skis, catch a bus back to the Wedgewood Htoel, shower, get spiffed up for the dance (!), and head back onto the bus for dinner and awards.  Olympic gold medalist Becky Scott gave an inspirational speech in which she spoke not only of her hard work as an athlete, but also as an outspoken critic of performance-enhancing drugs.  A steady stream of CSU skiers made their way to the stage for awards, several of them completing multiple laps across the stage and back up again just in time to receive their next medal.  CSU ended up 4th in the club competition, just off the podium, but top NE club just ahead of Stratton.  CSU did make the podium in the girls club competition coming in 3rd while the boys moved up to 6th from last year's 8th.

A massive bonfire kept us warm outside the recreation center as volunteers scrambled to dismantle the dining set-up and clear the dance floor.  Sonya and I headed to the airport for a 10:30 pm flight out of town--anyone who wants details on the evening's activities will have to get their information from another source!

It was a cold, exciting, and very, very fun week.  It gave me great pride to say I was a CSU coach; I can't imagine being with a part of a more dedicated and fun group of athletes!

NE Coaches Kathy and Tracey

Easier to ride in the sled than do the work  yourself 

These dogs love to run on snow too

Re-ON makes a friend

New England's best with Olympic gold medalist Becky Scott

Gavin Striding



Behind the mask she's all business

Cate leads out the relay start

Julia showing how to sprint

Leah fighting tough

Zoe on the hunt

Gavin showed that he can sprint too