Into the Race Season

It’s been a while since our last blog post so here’s a peek into what we’ve been up to since early December along with a look at what’s coming our way in next few weeks! As always, LOTS of pictures…enjoy!

Mother Nature was pretty kind to Vermont in December, gracing us with decent temperatures and snowfall. After returning from Montana we had a couple weeks of training before our first Eastern Cup of the 2017-18 season, way up in Fort Kent, ME. Rikert (home venue for the Middlebury College Team, in Ripton, VT), our closest training venue with snowmaking capacity, hit it hard over Thanksgiving so we had a man-made loop to train on right when we got back to Vermont.

Classic skiing in blowing snow at Rikert….WINTER!

Our new uniforms from Bjorn Daehlie came!

Some dryland at school before campus turned white.

We added a couple extra days to our normal Eastern Cup routine for Fort Kent, heading up on Wednesday to allow two days of training on unfamiliar courses before racing on Saturday and Sunday. Temps were consistently chilly, but not so cold as to make for unpleasant racing or delayed starts….It is a winter sport! The events went really smoothly, with awesome snow cover and really well-run races. Our crew had mixed results but everyone came home with something they’d done well and other things they hoped to work on. Upon our return to campus we had just two days of training before the start of winter break, so December seemed to fly by!

Matt striding it out during the chilly classic race.

Erik moving well in the skate sprint qualifier.

Snowy courses!

Greg and Nick doing some pack skiing during the classic mass start.

Women’s start.Rena is second from left (second skier in the left track).

Emily climbing during the sprint qualifier.

Grace on her way to qualifying for the top 30 overall…first time ever for her!

Reunited with Walker Bean (’17) who’s still wearing Gumby green, just at Dartmouth!

Grace getting some trailside motivation from some course markings.

Smiles and neckies at the end of a course tour before the weekend.

Carl, pumped on winning the men’s U16 skate sprint heats!

Holiday break meant everyone got some time at home but we did have a small contingent (Greg, Matt, Josh, Ursula and Rena) who headed to Anchorage, Alaska with Colin and Peter, missing our first week back at school to race in the Senior National Championships. Funny enough, while they were gone we had colder weather here in Vermont than they had in Alaska! Careful dressing and delayed training kept us out of the danger zone with the cold weather and we actually managed to have a pretty productive week, complete with a skate time trial and a classic sprint workout on the warmest two days.

Rena, skating at US Nationals

Greg, sprinting with the dim Alaska sky in the background. Is it a sunrise or a sunset?

Elliot (GMVS ’17) went with the crew and was just one spot shy of a spot on the US World Juniors Team after some VERY strong results!

Greg (second from right) and Elliot (4th from right) on the start line in the junior heats.

Back in Vermont, Emily climbing through the stadium area during our 10k skate time trial.

TK taking charge in the closing meters of a sprint heat…

Brian and Carl taking a water break on a frosty day beside the Robert Frost cabin in Ripton.

Really chilly weather means skiing in packs (to watch for frostbitten cheeks) and wearing your puffy coat the whole time.

3 hour OD at Rikert with fresh pow meant exploring some unknowns.

Snowy woods. So pretty.

Making our own tracks.

A little time spent on the Catamount Trail

Shortly after the Nationals contingent returned we had Eastern Cup #2 right on our “home” courses at Rikert. Unfortunately Mother Nature had a change of heart right before the event, melting almost everything and forcing courses to be altered for the weekend. Saturday’s classic sprints went pretty well with much of the team qualifying for heats and a few skiing into the finals. Carl won the U16 men’s final in commanding fashion with Brian also making the A final. Nick, Josh and Olivia also skied their way through the heats, all finishing in the B final. Erik also had a strong day, making the heats and finishing 14th overall. Sunday was a skate individual start, 5k for U16s and 10k for everyone else. Highlights were Brian winning the U16 men’s race by 11.2 seconds, Rena taking first for junior women in the 10k (4th overall), and Ursula and Nick finishing in the top 10 overall in their respective races.

Ursula on her way to a top 10 finish!

Rena pushing hard through the last climbs of the 10k skate. 1st place junior, 4th overall!

Brian crushing the climbing on his way to the top of the U16 podium!

Nick pushing hard in Sunday’s race on his way to one of his strongest skate results ever.

TK riding the pain train during the final 1k of the men’s 10k on Sunday.

Josh on his way to an 8th place qualifying time in Saturday’s classic sprint.

Olivia striding through the climb during Saturday’s sprints.

Boys U16 sprint final: Carl (173), on his way to the W, with Brian (177) chasing hard.

With two weekends off from Eastern Cup racing we are working toward some alternative events. Kat will take a crew to Lake Placid this coming weekend to compete in the NYSEF JNQ on Sunday, a freestyle mass start. The following weekend we will head to Craftsbury for a SuperTour weekend that will feature both classic sprinting and a skate distance event. Eastern Cup #3 is at Trapp Family lodge the first weekend in February so we’re looking forward to some training there in the coming weeks. We went up yesterday and conditions were great considering the melt down last week!

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