Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bye Week & Lake Placid SuperTour

Last week was our bye week - no carnival.  We don't always get a bye week in our schedule, but I'm always happy when we do - I think it's a great thing for the team to stay home, get a jump on schoolwork and rest, and focus on training again instead of the travel/race/recover routine that dominates the carnival season.  Although the temps got really, really warm and we lost a lot of snow, we still had a pretty productive and restful bye week.

 We started out with a lot of work on downhills and turns - got to shave off seconds wherever we can, and, more importantly, stay on our feet!
We had some beautiful late afternoon workouts, and the snow held up surprisingly well.
 With no races to worry about, we had plenty of energy for fun stuff.  We did some relays, played some tag, and did our best to catch air on a mini-jump that someone had built in the Oak Hill field.
 The skiers took advantage of the laid-back bye week feel to relax in the clean and comfortable confines of the ski room.
 On Saturday, we went up to Quarry Road for a duathlon with Colby - 5k classic, mandatory boot change, and a 5k skate.  Our skiers were great in the skiing segments and breathtakingly slow in the gear change.  This will be a problem if duathlon w/ boot change ever becomes a regular college event.  But our skiers did have the best tights in the race, which counts for a lot.
 Skiing on Sunday was remakably good - we had a nice long ski and did a few more jumps, just because.

While were were goofing around in Maine, Sam, Tim, and Tara were in Lake Placid for the SuperTour races.  Like everywhere else, Placid didn't have much snow, so the races got moved to the jumps, which meant short loops and lots of climbing.  Sam finished 76th in the skate sprint and 64th in the 10k classic in a very competitive field - all of the top juniors, lots of college skiers, and the usual SuperTour domestic elite crowd.  Although the results weren't quite what he was looking for, he felt good and skied well - definitely an encouraging sign for the rest of the season.  Spencer and Kaitlynn were both at the races as well.  With expert waxing assistance from Tim, Spencer was 35th in the classic and 32nd in the sprint, just barely missing qualification - this has been a theme with Spencer over the past few years....  Kaitlynn ended up 13th in the sprint after qualifying in 7th, and then came back strong to finish 2nd in the classic - great to see her continue to ski near the top after her amazing success at Nationals.

Overall, a good, productive week for the team.  Now we're all eager to get back to carnivals - UVM Carnival at Trapps coming up this weekend!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Colby Carnival 2016

Back to Quarry Road last weekend, this time for the actual Colby Carnival.  This carnival featured a fun and spectator-friendly set of races - a mass start 15k classic and an Olympic-style sprint relay:  2 person teams with each person alternating laps for a total of 6 laps.  For Saturday's mass start, we were able to use the full 5k race loop, which is one of the toughest courses I've seen in an EISA race.  The terrain is all up and down - lots of big climbs with minimal flat - and the downhills feature lots of fast, sweeping turns, which are technical and not at all restful.  It's a really challenging and (I think) fun course - one of my favorites on the circuit.  The setup of the loop also made for an interesting waxing situation - half the lap was abrasive manmade snow, and the other half was more forgiving natural snow.  Fortunately, we had expert assistance from Walt Shepard '10, who showed up armed with a couple boxes of Frosty's Donuts and top-shelf waxing skills.  With Walt's help, we were able to test a lot of binders and kickers in a short time and find a good solution for both races.  The men's race started off conservatively - as the pace picked up gradually and the field strung out, Sean was able to move up from his mid-pack start position, first into the 30s, then the 20s, and finally a strong surge on the last lap to finish in 18th place.  Jake skied really aggressively on the climbs to lock up a 36th place finish, his best classic result by far.  August also skied his best classic race ever, showing much improved technique over last  year.  The women went out fast and the top few skiers got separation immediately, but there was a good cluster of chasers, and Hannah jumped right in with this group.  For a while it looked like she was going to get shaken off the back, but she skied tenaciously and hung on for a 10th place finish.  Emma was seeded way in the back, but she was able to weave her way through the crowds for a 56th place finish as our third scorer.  Other highlights were strong races from Ellie and August - they both showed major technique improvements over last year and put up the best classic races I've seen from them so far.  This was a really grueling race, and the whole team gave a great effort - a day to be proud of.  We celebrated that night with a pasta dinner at Tim and Tara's house, featuring a hotly contested Maine vs. World trivia contest won by Team World (although Maine still claimed the overall victory, 5-3).

 Sunday's sprint relay had a much different feel - bright and sunny, with everyone fired up but also laid back and ready for a fun race.  With 20+ teams in each heat, the skiing was fast and furious, with big potential for carnage on the downhills and chaos in the tag zone.  Somehow, the skiers managed to minimize the mayhem, and the races went off pretty smoothly for most people.  Unfortunately, our skiers were not most people - we had more than our share of mishaps.  Each of our three men's teams had a crash on the big tricky downhill turn, along with a lost pole and a minor fall on a climb.  This was frustrating, because when the guys were on their feet they were skiing really well - all three teams were right in the mix and would have certainly finished higher without the crashes.  But crashes are part of ski racing - now we know what we need to work on going forward!  The women had better luck - no crashes - but also a stroke of misfortune.  Hannah and Ellie were skiing well and hovering around 5th or 6th when another skier stepped on Ellie's pole and pulled it out of her hand, and she had to ski most of a lap with one pole, Jessie Diggins-style.  She skied remarkably well, but obviously dropped back a few places.  Hannah skied a great last lap to bring them back a bit, and then Ellie closed it out with a tremendous effort on her final lap - she got caught by Colby's top skier with a couple hundred meters to go, but somehow held her off down the stretch to hold onto 10th place by a ski length.  Although it was disappointing to miss out on a bigger finish, this was still pretty exciting - those Colby women are two of the best skiers in the league, and it was a major accomplishment to edge them at the line.  Our other two women's teams skied great as well - both had exciting sprint finishes, and although we were just on the wrong side of both of them, it was still a lot of fun and also valuable experience for our skiers.  A fun day and a fun carnival - I'm really happy with how our team skied and very proud of their effort and good energy, and I'm confident that we'll keep getting stronger as the season goes on.

We had amazing support this weekend - several Bowdoin students and a couple alumni showed up, and there was an army of parents serving up great food and taking photos (all of the great photos for this post are from Everett Marshall and Doug Hands).  Everyone's presence really helped make this a fun weekend.  We're lucky to have such a great group of people supporting the team - thanks to all of you!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bates Carnival & Eastern Cup

The first carnival of 2016 is in the books, and it was a good one for Bowdoin Nordic!  Heavy rain early in the week wiped out the skiing almost everywhere around New England, including Black Mountain.  Fortunately, the good folks at Quarry Road agreed to host the race - they stepped up and made a TON of snow to cover a 1.5k race loop.  With a little fresh snow mid-week, conditions were pretty much perfect for Friday’s classic sprint.  The day started out well with people burning up the prelim – H. Miller (11th), Sean (15th), and Mac (29th) all qualified for the heats, with Jake just missing in 38th and H. Marshall posting her best race ever in 49th.  Things got better in the heats, with both Sean and Hannah advancing past the quarters.  Sean made the semis with a great lunge at the line; although he was knocked out in the next round, he came back strong in the B final to lock up 10th place – the best debut of any Bowdoin nordic skier ever! (at least in the EISA era).  Hannah was solidly in control in the quarters and semis, finishing second in both behind the top-seeded skier.  She ran out of gas in the finals but still hung on for a career-best 5th place finish.  It was a fantastic start to the season and an exciting day that got the whole team fired up and feeling confident.

 That night, we stayed in Augusta due to a nasty storm in the forecast (kind of silly to stay in a hotel 40 minutes from campus, but there was nothing available in Waterville except a place described as “scary” – after getting caught in the middle of a drug bust outside our motel a couple years ago, we try to be choosy about our lodging these days).  The storm hit that night, and we woke up to find our vans encased in ice with a couple inches of fresh snow on the ground.  The snow kept coming down throughout the races, making for soft and silky smooth skating.  The temps were colder than originally forecast, and our wax call for the men was clearly too warm.  For a minute it looked like we were in trouble – fortunately, our salvation arrived in the form of James Crimp ’13, who braved the storm and drove over from Rockland to help wax.  James was a total hero and helped us blast through the ski prep – we couldn’t have gotten it done in time without him!

The races were almost as exciting as the lead-up.  Since the event was a combined carnival/Eastern Cup and also was held on a short loop, there were skiers coming and going constantly – lots of passing and being passed, and lots of opportunities to work with other skiers.  Our skiers battled hard and looked good – I was pretty happy with how the team skied.  Somehow, though, our results were only OK, which was a bit of a surprise.  Just a reminder that our league is really deep – a lot of good skiers showed up ready to ski fast on this day.  Jake had the race of the day – he skied with a ton of fire and posted a career-best carnival finish of 35th.  H. Miller led the women in 19th – she was obviously a bit tired after a very long sprint day, but she hung in there nicely and put in a great surge in the final kilometer.  Marshal also had a great race – he latched on to a Williams skier early in the race and skied on his tail for the rest of the race, staying smooth and relaxed the whole time.  It was great to see him skiing well after so many setbacks last season – hopefully the first of many good races this season.

As if the combined Eastern Cup/carnival wasn’t enough, the race also served as the Maine State Championship.  Colby dominated to bring home the Chummy Broomhall Cup for the first time in 4 or 5 years.  We finished 3rd once again – one of these years we’ll win that cup!  Jake and Hannah earned All-State honors for their efforts – First Team for Hannah and Second Team for Jake. 
 One other highlight from the day – Kaitlynn showed up to race, fresh from her amazing performance at Nationals.  Not only was it great to catch up with her a bit, she also won the race and made it look easy – super controlled and powerful the whole time.

Even after such a long weekend, one skier hadn’t had enough – Sam decided to race in Sunday’s Eastern Cup classic race to score some points for JN qualifying.  He was seeded way in the back of the mass start, but managed to pass a ton of people to move up to 28th by the finish in a very strong field.

Overall, it was an exhausting but successful weekend.  I’m more certain than ever that our team is ready to put up some great results this season – can’t wait to head back up to Quarry Road for the Colby Carnival this weekend!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Jan Camp So Far

Jan Camp 2016 is underway - the first week-plus has been busy!  We started up on the first weekend of the new year with five hardy skiers:  H. Marshall, Lucy, Tess, Mac, and Wil.
 The first thing we did was head up to Quarry Road in Waterville for a classic time trial.  No other teams were back yet, unfortunately, so we had to settle for time trialing ourselves.  Lucy pulled off the upset to post the top time for women despite not having raced classic since the Hoover administration.  Mac and Wil were locked in a tight battle until Wil took a wrong turn 200 meters into the race, leaving Mac racing only against himself (he won).

 After a nice PM jog and a restful night in the scenic village of Kingfield, we ventured into the woods to explore the Maine Huts and Trails system in Carrabassett Valley.  If you live in New England and you haven't checked out these trails, you should remedy that - they're beautiful, challenging, and totally free to the public.  We had a great OD ski full of long climbs, fun downhills, and gorgeous views.

 By the time we got home, Pineland had scraped together enough snow to open the trails.  The skiing was really good!  We can always count on Pineland to do more with less.  Over the next couple days, teammates gradually trickled back to campus while we did intervals, specific strength, worked on technique, and practiced our downhill moves.
 Before we knew it, the weekend was almost upon us, and we headed up to Jackson for a mini-carnival organized by UNH.  We had a lovely pre-race ski on Thursday afternoon, highlighted by a little extra strength work when we had to push the van out of a snowbank on the way out of the parking lot - perfect race prep.  Friday brought a 9k skate - H. Miller was our top women, and Jake led the men, with Sam and Wil close behind.  Saturday was a classic sprint - 2 person teams alternating for a total of 6 laps.  After scraping off the rust on Friday, everyone was pretty peppy.  The women were particularly energized, because just before their race started we found out that Bowdoin Nordic alumna Kaitlynn Miller '14 had won the National Championship classic sprint! (an amazing accomplishment that deserves its own blog post - coming soon).  They crushed the double poling and dominated the downhills.  H. Miller and Ellie were in the mix the whole race and finished 3rd amidst some very strong skiers.  Tess gets extra respect for switching to skate skis for her last 2 laps and double poling the whole course - the only skier in the race bold enough to attempt this feat.
 We closed out a great trip with a pancake breakfast at the home of Angus ('89) and Rachel ('87) Badger.  They live on top of a big hill at the end of a country road - after our previous van mishap, we decided to walk the last couple pitches up to their house.  The women made friends with the Badger family sheep, while the men got a head start on the pancakes.  Angus and Rachel have been big ski team supporters for a long time, and it was fun to chat with them and two of their kids who were up for breakfast, Nina and Willem.  Thanks for the hospitality, Angus and Rachel!
Despite full bellies, we rallied for one final ski on the Jackson trails as the rain started coming down - we finished wet and chilled but happy.  All in all, a great trip, and we feel very lucky to have packed in a lot of skiing now that New England is pretty much bare after yesterday's monsoon.  Now we're enjoying a rest day and looking forward to more snow soon!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Fall Training Video

Happy New Year!  Several of our skiers are returning to campus for our first team training of 2016 this weekend - can't wait to get started!  For now, here's a video recap of our training for Fall 2015:

Thursday, December 31, 2015

European Marathon Adventures

Recent Bowdoin Nordic grads Tyler DeAngelis and Jackson Bloch are headed to Europe this winter to race in eight of the world's greatest ski marathons.  They'll be blogging about their adventures - check it out!  Also, here's a nice article from the Portland Press Herald about their trip.  We're all really excited to follow their travels - good luck guys!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Last Weekend of 2015


We've just wrapped up our team training for 2015!  It's been a great fall - nothing but hard work and positive energy from a very fit and focused group of athletes.  Our final practices of the year last weekend were no exception.  On Saturday, we drove up to Waterville to ski on a 200m scrap of snow at Quarry Road - kind of absurd, but at this time of year we'll ski on anything!  We joined Colby for a skate sprint relay - 2 person teams, alternating for 6 laps total - except in this case, 1 "lap" consisted of 3 times back and forth on the strip.  With 12 or 13 teams on course at once, it was a bit chaotic, but it ended up being a really cool workout.  Relays are always exciting, and everyone was fired up to represent their team as well as possible.  After the initial cluster sorted itself out, people were pushing hard and making aggressive moves - great practice for the real thing coming up in the Colby Carnival next month!  I was really pleased with how well our team skied.  Ellie and Tess gave Colby's top women's team a good run, finishing just a few seconds behind two of the league's best skiers.  Our second team of H. Marshall and Emma finished neck and neck with Colby's second team.  Colby's men were a bit too deep for us, and they put their top 2 teams ahead of Sean and Marshal, but it was a back and forth battle.  Since we had only 3 men present, August teamed up with a Colby skier and gave a good account, sticking behind some of the top teams for a good stretch.  Overall, everyone had a lot of fun and got a legitimate race effort in the bag.  Can't wait for the real thing in just a few weeks!

The next day, we wrapped up the semester with a great OD ski from campus to the Torres household in Yarmouth - a fun change of pace from our usual rollerski loops.  The sun came out, the air was mild and pleasant, and the Sunday morning traffic was pretty reasonable, so we had a great workout.  Once we arrived, Joan and Jon Torres served us a fantastic brunch - almond crossaint French toast, baked eggs, home fries, and more.  What a great way to finish our fall practices!  Every year I remember how lucky we are to have such a generous and supportive group of team parents - many thanks to Joan and Jon for making this a really special day for the team!

Meanwhile, a few of our skiers were off having a different adventure - Mac, Jake, and Sam journeyed to VT for "Man Camp."  First stop was the Miller household, where they welcomed H. Miller home from Svalbard and skied at Craftsbury.  After that, they descended upon the Groves household to ski on what little snow was left at Rikert.  Preliminary reports indicate that it's been a very successful and very manly trip, featuring knitting, trail running, Mitt Romney, man vs. egg battles, and even a little skiing.

So that's that - a few more days of exams and everyone is out of here until 2016.  Here's hoping that next semester will be just as great as this one!