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

Monday, February 18, 2019

Rikert Eastern Cup

Great skiing this past weekend at the Rikert Eastern Cup. Conditions were fantastic, pleasantly warm on Saturday and colder but sunny on Sunday, with a rock hard track. It was a good day for CSU, with skiers posting some speedy times around a very hilly and technical course, that challenges the best of us.

Saturday was the second day of the Middlebury carnival, so our juniors got to be in the same race as a lot of our alumni, now racing in college. Those college kids are fast! Impressive top-10 results for Leah Brams and Lewis Nottonson, and a host of other great results from athletes who got their start at CSU!

The men's 10k skate went first, and Henry led the way with a 6th place for the U18s, despite a crash. Ayden was our next skier, followed four seconds back by Jacob Jampel, a CSU alum that we were waxing this weekend. Linden was our next skier, coming back strong despite getting a bit rattled by a crash in the warmup. There were some really tricky corners out there, that were getting icy. Quinn, from DXC, came in next, with some strong skiing. Devin came through just ahead of Connor, separated by just under a minute, and Alex and Ben followed them, right in the mix with a lot of junior skiers. Lucas wasn't too far back, starting to find his form on these hills, and Dwight had a solid race just behind him. It was exciting to see every one of our boys right in the mix with the other juniors, and sometimes being in the same race as the college kids gives you a sense of where the top actually is.

The open women were next, with the U16s mixed in. Shea led the way for us, as the 4th U18 and just 15 seconds off a podium spot. She was followed closely by Sofia, who had a really strong race as the second U16. Our DXC friend Schuyler wasn't far behind, as the 6th U18, and Amelia 10 seconds behind as the 8th U18. Evie was close behind, claiming the third place spot on the U16 podium! Our next skier was Lily, from DXC, followed by Clara, Madeline, and Mica, in a pack separated by only five seconds. Laura cruised in behind them, with Aggie from DXC and Francesca just behind, Francesca fighting strongly through some back pain. Phoebe was our next skier, followed by Tali and Ella, who were separated by only 5 seconds. Flora skied a strong race, and Serena made it down all the scary downhills!

We had three EMBK skiers joining us: Emily, Willa, and Mirra. This sort of Eastern Cup is a crazy hard experience, and hopefully they all learned something and had a good time, in their longest and hardest race to date!

The U16 boys had to wait all day before they could finally get on course. Lucas led the way, showing that skiing onto the EHS team was no fluke, in 24th place. Clint (DXC) was just behind, and Sam skied a strong race, moving quickly through what was left of the course at the end of the day. Milo skied well too, about 40 seconds behind Sam, despite all the ice on those corners.

Sunday morning, roles were swapped, and the U16 girls went first. Mass start racing is always exciting, and we had a lot of light blue uniforms at the front of the race! Sofia had another great race, landing on the podium again in 3rd, followed closely by Clara, in 6th, and then Francesca in 8th and Evie in 9th. Mica and Ella both struggled a little with their kick, and I deeply apologize that we didn't get them on their skis soon enough to test the wax, but they both fought bravely nonetheless. Sometimes, grownups screw up and it ruins a kid's race, but luckily, that doesn't have to ruin your day.

The U16 boys were next, and Clint had a good day, landing in 14th! Lucas was just behind, in 17th, another excellent race. Sam fought hard on a tough course, unfortunately just losing out in a sprint, and Milo rounded us out, skiing very nicely. We had one EMBK skier joining us, Ian Brenner, and he got some good experience both with racing on not quite enough kick, and at a very high level of racing!

The U18 women were next, and the top three SMS girls blew the race out of the water. It was quickly strung out, but Schuyler hung in there for a 5th place finish (and third U18!), followed closely by Shea, Laura, and Madeline, as the 5th, 6th, and 7th U18s. Lily skied well, ending up as the 10th U18, and Phoebe had a really good race, showing that yes indeed 10k classic races might be her thing. Amelia was just behind, followed by Aggie. Flora demonstrated beautiful classic form, and Serena navigated the sketchy downhills with finesse.

In the open men's race, Jacob J led the way for us, as the 2nd U20, and 7th overall. Henry had another good race, again finishing as the 6th U18. Quinn finished as the 11th U18, not far behind Henry, and followed closely by Linden, just 10 seconds back. Lucas B popped a great race, showing that he can indeed race classic, just beating out Ayden in a sprint, a great race for both athletes. Ben finished in a sprint, which he won, and Connor had some good parts and some less good parts of his race. Alex finished the race after a really good effort, proving that he is fit enough to race for the entire 15k now, and Devin had a conservative start, but spent the whole race moving up, to finish just behind Alex.

With that weekend of racing over, we're enjoying a week off from school at Bretton Woods, for a training camp, or maybe a resting camp, before the final weekend of Eastern Cups! Super duper thank you to all the volunteers at the food table, in the wax tent, around the course, and the race organizers, for an excellent weekend.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Massachusetts qualifier race

Good day of racing for CSU yesterday at the Massachusetts state qualifier race. This race determined the teams for the U16 Championships and the Eastern Highschool Championships, later this season. Team MA can bring 24 boys and 24 girls to each of these competitions, and CSU makes up a significant portion of the team now!

The race was moved on Thursday from Notchview to Prospect, because of dwindling snowpack at Notchview and continued rain and warm weather. Prospect Mountain graciously stepped in, and Chris Li ran the race like clockwork. Huge thank you to all the volunteers who made this race happen!

The waxing was straightforward-enough, but the job we ended up on was the slowest possible combination we could have chosen, on the day with the most skis to wax. Super duper thanks to the wax team for calmly getting through it all, for the athletes waiting patiently, and to the food table team for keeping those waxers fed and caffeinated!

The girls' classic race went first. The course started with a big hill, then went down the hill, and had about 2km of flat/rolling terrain that was really fast on a hard icy day like Sunday. Our girls universally displayed good energy up that hill, and then out-double-poled the competition, to sweep the top 10 and put 13 in the top 14. Having set the bar so high, the boys responded, taking 11 of the top 12 spots. Some of this was just having good skis and wax, but a large part of this success is because the athletes have been putting in the work, and now they're seeing results!

Next up was the skate race. Prospect staff went out and scrubbed one of the tracks with a snowmobile, and the surface was fast and granular. Girls went first again, and again, it was a show of strength, fitness, and technique. The top 10 were again all CSU skiers, and Ella would have been the 11th if she'd stayed on course (to be fair, the race was run with a real skeleton crew of volunteers, so where she went off-course it wasn't as well marked as it could have been). At the conclusion of the race, it was all five of our U16s named to the U16 team, and 12 highschoolers named to the EHS team!

The boys responded to the girls' challenge, taking 10 of the top 12 spots (and the top 5). All six U16s were named to the U16 Team (even though Noah was clearly still under the weather, and looked like he might pass out while racing), and all the rest of them made the EHS team (we did have one DNS, so he didn't make it).

A special shout-out to Elizabeth, who not only raced in the top 10, but gets to represent the state of Connecticut at EHS this year!

I only got photos of the boys in the skate race, but at least that's half the team...

Ayden, with Ben in tow


Cheer squad!






Lucas B

Lucas D


Nick, with Lucas behind




I missed getting a photo of Bryce, since I was just looking for the blue suits. 

Extra kudos to Linden and Laura, for winning both races!

All around great day of racing. Thanks to everyone who made it possible!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Lake Placid Eastern Cup report

Lots of great racing at Lake Placid 10 days ago. We got hit with a real taste of winter; chilly temperatures on Saturday and a blustery blizzard on Sunday. These races were Supertour races, which means the best skiers in the US were there to contend for Supertour points. CSU skiers had a great showing amidst those top dogs, and the food table as always was a thing to marvel at.

I didn't get photos of everyone (totally missed the U16 boys both days), but here is a sample of race photos.

Sprint Race
Saturday's race was a classic sprint. With a Supertour field, you aren't expecting to see many juniors in the heats, but Alex, Madeline, and Laura all threw down some great qualifier races to show that they deserved to go up against the big dogs. Alex qualified in 20th position, and skied a smart quarterfinal, nearly moving on but finishing 4th in the heat, good enough for a final placing of 18th. For the women, Laura qualified in 26th, and Madeline qualified in 28th. They both fought hard, and Laura ended up 4th in her quarterfinal to land in 20th for the day, with Madeline 6th in her heat, to finish in 29th. Very impressive skiing from those three!

The junior heats were next. For the U18/20 boys, Linden was two seconds away from making the semifinals, with our DXC buddies Aaro and Quinn just behind. These fields are not only drawing fast professional skiers, but also fast Canadian skiers, coming down for the balmy temperatures of American ski venues. This makes it even harder to qualify!

The U18/20 girls' heats had a lot of blue pants in it. Schuyler and Lily from DXC both sailed through the semifinals and into the final, where Schuyler landed in 3rd! Shea and Amelia represented CSU, with Shea moving through to the final and finishing in 5th, after a commanding semifinal. In the U16 girls, five our of six of our starters qualified for the heats, with Clara, Sofia, Francesca, and Mica all in the same heat. Evie was in the other semifinal, and she, Sofia, and Clara all ended up in the final, where Evie took a commanding win, Sofia was 4th, and Clara was 6th.

As always, those who qualify for the heats get all the airtime, but there was some really good skiing out there by skiers who didn't make it in. The time margins are so small to get into those heats, that really little slip can mean the difference, and regardless as to whether you made it in, every time you don a race bib you gain race experience!

Amelia showing some nice body position on the climb.

Evie on the podium! Quincy from Craftsbury qualified for the open heats, and so took the overall U16 girls' win. 

Laura in the quarterfinal

Madeline in the qualifier. Only qualifier photo I took all day! 

The Clara/Sofia/Mica/Francesca heat! 

Sunday mass start classic
Sunday was a little warmer, but it was dumping snow, with heavy wind. We couldn't put our skis into the racks, because they would just blow right over. Luckily, it was cold enough that the waxing was straightforward, and it looked like everyone was on competitive skis.

The U16 boys went first, after a good course tour by Doro ("on this hill, you have to go HARDER!"). Clint, from DXC, led the pack, finishing in a clump of speedy skiers. Lucas D led the CSUers, despite skis that were starting to ice up a little, showing off his good fitness from running season. In his first-ever Eastern Cup, Sam was close behind, just barely losing out on a sprint for 30th place. Milo had a solid race, showing off his beautiful classic technique, and finishing sandwiched between some NY skiers (my home state!).

The U16 girls were next, and it was a pretty great day for us, with five skiers in the top 11 and all six in the top 17! Clara led the whole uphill, followed closely by Mica and Sofia, before the other girls who'd been drafting passed on the downhill. It was very exciting to see the trio of blue suits right with the lead pack coming into the stadium. Just behind them were Evie and Francesca, who had a little too much wax on their skis and lost some time on the downhill. Ella came in just behind them, also showing off her fitness from xc running season.

Next up were the open women, with our U18 girls. Shea and Schuyler were both near the front, until Shea managed to pull away on the final downhill, for the top U18 spot. Schuyler took 2nd for the U18s, and Amelia was a close 4th place U18! Just behind her was Lily, and then Laura and then Madeline, all on the first page of the results. A solid little pack up there!

Aggie from DXC is still recovering from a virus she picked up before Nationals, but is clearly on the comeback, finishing in 49th, and Phoebe was just behind her, followed closely by Tali. Elizabeth and Flora skied near each other, with Elizabeth finishing about thirty seconds ahead. Very impressive skiing by all, in a raging snowstorm!

The final race of the weekend was the open men's race. We had a lot of skiers in this race, and they were all looking really strong. It's hard to figure out the timing of breakfast, and lunch, when you race late in the afternoon, but most of them figured it out and raced with good energy. Henry led the way for us, as the 6th U18, and a huge stride. Just behind him was Linden, skiing with good form, and a little ahead of Aaro. Skier of the day goes to Ayden, who had a breakout classic race, showing that even if you break your femur you can still come back and ski well!

Ben was our next skier, followed closely by Quinn. Lucas B had a solid race, about thirty seconds behind them, and next was our DXC friend Adam. Alex may have been feeling intimidated before the race, but showed up ready to fought, and proved himself more than just a sprinter on those hills. Julian and Dwight skied much of the race together, before Julian pulled ahead on the final lap. Patrick did what might have been his first classic race, and managed to hold on to his form throughout the race on some seriously tough hills! Also impressive, we had two dads in the race, who skied with beautiful form and lots of fitness. Kudos to all the racers!  

 This is what happened to ski racks if you left them up in that wind.

U16 girls race start

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