Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Slide Show 2014-15

Hannah Marshall put together this great slide show recap of the 2014-15 season - check it out!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

More Spring Racing

Ok, it's over for real now.  Spring Break is over and the crew is back on campus.  Unless someone is going to organize a sprint race at Farley or a Polasky Ball showdown on the quad, the 2014-15 season is done (at least for Bowdoin Nordic).  Not without a bang, though - a few hardy souls kept racing throughout the break.  Two days after the final NCAA race, the Hannahs headed over to Cochran's Ski Area for a nordic cross race (basically an agility course - slaloms, obstacles, jumps, etc), where H. Miller finished 2nd.

That same day, Tyler and Jackson raced the 40k at the Maine Huts and Trails Race, finishing 2nd and 3rd, respectively.  Bowdoin Nordic alumni were also well-represented by Wade Kavanaugh '01 (60k winner) and Bob Bass '79 (5th in the 40k).
(photo from the MHT release at the link)

Finally, the Sugarloaf Marathon was last Saturday.  H. Miller was 2nd in the 50k and Jackson was 11th.  Tyler won the 25k by a convincing margin, with Mac in 2nd.  I'm guessing that Jackson and Tyler are all marathoned-out by now - no doubt this experience will help them in the Swedish Vasaloppet next year (the 2016 race filled up in 86 seconds, and they were among the lucky folks to get in).  So, that's that - now we're looking at a little more spring skiing here and there and a gradual transition back to dryland.  It's been an amazing winter - sad to see it go, but we're all ready for a little sunshine and warm weather!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

NCAA and JN Wrap

The second race at NCAAs proved to be even more exciting than the first.  After a few super-warm days, temps dropped significantly, and it was good and cold on race morning.  Amazingly, the snow still wasn't fully transformed, and I spent a good bit of the morning chasing a hard wax & binder solution while the sensible people were all focused exclusively on klister.  Fortunately, I had some expert wax testers - Kaitlynn tested hard wax while Shelby was on klister.  It's amazing how much you can get done with three people working on skis and only one athlete to worry about!  With some input from Hannah, we finally settled on a klister combination that had worked well the day before.  She tested it and came back feeling pretty good but wanting just a tiny bit more kick - not too much.  I believe her exact words were, "Don't harsh my mellow."  This brought my uptight square tendencies to the surface in a big way, and I spent forever fussing with this micro-adjustment before finally sending her out the door.  At the start, Hannah stayed at the back of the pack - as before, the plan was to ease into the early climbs and try to pick up a few spots as the race wore on.  In the first few kilometers, she looked nice and relaxed, and we could see that she had good kick.  By the second lap, she had settled into a small group at the back with 2 other skiers and was moving well, and she gradually pulled away in pursuit of another pack that was starting to string out in front of her.  Early in the third lap, she passed another skier and started a furious charge to catch a few more before the finish.  It was exciting to watch her chasing down the other skiers - she was holding her technique together remarkably well, and she looked better than almost anyone out there.  For a few minutes I thought she was going to get at least one more, but the gap was too big and she just ran out of room, finishing not far behind 5 or 6 skiers after almost an hour of racing.  At the finish we found a very happy skier - she told us that the race was super fun, her skis were good, and she'd had that unmistakable "peaking" feeling.  Can't ask for much more than that - a perfect way to end the season.  I'm pretty happy as well - this was a great week.  I've coached at seven championships now, with Montana State, Whitman, and Bowdoin.  I've worked with some really fast skiers and have witnessed some great races, including an All-American performance.  But I feel like this has been my most successful championships so far, because everything went right.  Hannah skied a pair of great races that were right at the top of her ability as a skier.  Skis were good both days.  The venue was perfect.  Most importantly, it was a really fun experience for both of us.  I owe a big thanks to Hannah for being so positive, enthusiastic, and coachable, both at the championships and all season long.

Thanks also to our great support squad:  Kaitlynn, Shelby, H. Marshall, Deb, and Meg and Laurie Groves.  Shelby handled feeds, which was a big help and allowed me and Kaitlynn to be out on course (at one point, she delivered a "textbook feed" to Hannah, in the words of the announcer).  Much thanks to all of these guys, and to all of the Bowdoin Nordic fans everywhere who have given us so much support all season!

Full NCAA Results

Replay of Live Feed

While we were wrapping up NCAAs, JNs was winding down in Truckee.  I haven't heard a full report yet, but it sounds like Ellie and Mac were both solid in the mass start classic, and Mac posted a really fast split in the relay.  It sounds like everyone did a good job of spreading the good word about Bowdoin Skiing, especially Ellie - no surprise there.  Sarah kept busy shepherding the J2 girls - no doubt this was a piece of cake, especially during the dance.  Overall, a really fun week for everyone.  Full results are here, and here's a video recap.

Still a little more racing to come as we enjoy the last of this amazing winter - stay tuned for more reports!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

NCAAs and JNs So Far

The first few days of NCAAs have gone by quickly - it's hard to believe that it's almost over already.  We started our trip with a couple beautiful sunny days, our first warm weather in what seems like forever.  The venue was in perfect shape and there was a festive feel - it's always fun to see a bunch of new faces and new race suits out on the trails in the early days of the championships.  It's also easy to get caught up in the intense atmosphere - coaches feverishly testing wax, athletes hammering their pre-race intervals, multiple foreign languages being spoken.  Sometimes it seems like everyone there is bigger, stronger, older, and faster than you are.  Hannah is always very even-keeled at races, but even she was feeling some nerves as yesterday's skate approached.
It clouded up a bit on race morning, but temps stayed high, so we got to try out all the warm waxes that have been gathering dust in our box for the last couple months.  After endless rounds of testing and some serious over-thinking, I threw three different fluoros on Hannah's skis, rolled on some structure, and sent her on her way.  As soon as she left the gate, Hannah snapped into race mode and went to work.  The plan was to be conservative on the steep climbs of the first kilometer, gradually pick up the pace, and pour it on for the rolling and downhill sections in the second half of the race.  She got caught by the skier behind her at about 1 1/2k, but was able to keep it close and work the middle section of the course as planned.  On the big downhill after the high point, she skied aggressively, passed the other skier back, and put in a strong sprint in the final half k to the finish.  When the results came up with Hannah in 30th, we were thrilled.  We'd entered the week with no real expectations, knowing that she was a bit of an underdog - we figured a top-30 finish was possible, but only if everything went right - fortunately, everything did.  It was a great performance on a big stage, and I'm really proud of her.  Best of all, she made the cutoff for scoring team points, so we know we'll leave this championship with at least one point on the board for Bowdoin.

We had some great support at the races, not only from Kaitlynn and Deb Miller, but from Shelby and H. Marshall, who made the trip over from VT to cheer their hearts out.  It was a great lift to have some friendly faces out there, and we're looking forward to seeing them again tomorrow.  Hoping for another great day!

Junior Nationals are also halfway through.  After much travel, Mac and Ellie joined Sarah in California late last week to beautiful sunshine and very little snow.  The opening race was a skate sprint - both of them were feeling the altitude but battled through.  Yesterday's 5/10k skate was a definite step forward despite some on-and-off snow that produced variable conditions for different starters - they both beat some really fast juniors and were close behind several more.  By all reports, everyone's having a good time.  The mass start for tomorrow might be in jeopardy due to the dwindling snow, but it should be a fun race regardless of the format.  Looking forward to seeing how things go the rest of the way!

Monday, March 9, 2015

March Racing

March is here, and with it lots of race action.  JNs started today in Truckee with a skate sprint - no results up yet, but they'll be posted here.  They also have a link to live streaming of the races - so great to be able to watch these races live!  One step closer to the World Cup.  Next race is a 5/10k skate on Wednesday.

That other championship event is about to get started as well - Hannah and I are in Lake Placid for NCAAs.  First race is also on Wednesday, also a 5k skate.  The weather's beautiful and the venue looks fantastic - can't wait to get out there tomorrow!  These races will be live streamed as well - men at 10am and women at noon.

Lastly, March is marathon month, and a few of our people got this going last weekend.  Sam did the Pepsi Challenge, where he hung with some local Midwest stars for most of the race and posted a fine finish.  Tyler, Jackson, and August raced the Bretton Woods Marathon and held their own against a very high quality field.  Much more racing to come - stay tuned!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

SLU Carnival

Carnival season is over already!  Every single year it goes by quickly, so it shouldn't be a surprise at this point, but somehow it always seems that the season ends right after it's begun.  Fortunately, we went out on a good note with a really fun weekend at the SLU Carnival in Lake Placid.  Once again, we had cold temps, but the wind stayed low and the sun stayed out and we had two perfect days of racing.  In Friday's 5/10k skate, Jackson led the men in 36th, with Hannah Miller in 21st for the women despite feeling the effects of a lingering cold.  Ellie and Louisa scored PRs, and H. Marshall had her best race of the season as well.  A very good day overall, especially for the women's team.  That night, we had the long-delayed conclusion to Maine vs. World.  Clutch performances by the seniors gave Team Maine a victory in the trivia competition and its first win in the overall since 2009.

Saturday brought perfect conditions for a classic race - sunny and cold (but not too cold).  We've really been incredibly lucky with the conditions this year!  The seniors all skied well - Tyler scored one more top-30 finish to lead the men, with Jackson right behind in 32nd, while Shelby chased down 3 skiers in the final lap to go out on a high note.  Our younger skiers were pretty scrappy as well - good solid races for August and Ellie, and Rachel skied with good fire to post her best race of the year.  Jake and Sam were in a crash at the start and left the stadium well behind the pack.  Jake made up a tremendous amount of ground to ski his way back into the thick of things - definitely the best classic skiing we've seen from him so far.  Sam also showed a lot of grit, skiing with Jake to get back into contact before his ski, which had been damaged in the crash, finally fell apart.  Even so, he was able to get a replacement and pick up a few more spots before the finish - a great display of perseverance.  After the races, we celebrated with a cake for the seniors, courtesy of Deb and Ron Aseltine.  As always, the parents have been fantastic this year - we'll miss the parents of our seniors!  Overall, it was a fun and happy day for our team and a fine way to end the carnival season.

Of course, the season's not really over yet.  Hannah Miller qualified for NCAAs - our third straight year with an NCAA qualifier!  This is really a remarkable achievement, especially for a sophomore - she's made a big jump forward this year.  We're headed back to Lake Placid next week for the championships - looking forward to seeing what she can do against the best college skiers in the country!  Plenty of action for our other racers as well - Mac and Ellie are on their way to Truckee for JNs, with Sarah accompanying them as a coach for Team New England.  We also have several skiers planning marathons and other fun stuff for March, starting with the Bretton Woods Marathon this weekend.  Stay tuned for updates!

Here are some photos from the classic race from Everett Marshall:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Middlebury Carnival & Eastern Cup Finals

Another deep freeze at the Midd Carnival last weekend.  With a scary-sounding forecast (subzero temps and high winds) Friday's classic was pre-emptively delayed until early afternoon, and we went to bed wondering if we'd even get to race.  Fortunately, the winds held off, the sun came out, and we ended up with a beautiful day.  It was super cold, but the bright sun and dry air made it feel quite pleasant - almost like a bluebird day out west when you end up shedding layers and running around without gloves despite the temps.  Our races weren't as amazing as the conditions, unfortunately, but it wasn't a bad day.  H. Miller posted a solid 18th place finish to lead the team, and Shelby and Jake had strong races as well.  The team regrouped with some foolishness at the venerable Middlebury Inn that evening - hide and seek throughout the Porter Mansion and a vaguely suspicious sounding activity called Piggly Wiggly.  This must have fired everyone up, because Saturday's skate was much better.  Jake in particular looked feisty, posting a PR of 46th - good to see him skiing with fire after slogging through several low-energy weeks.  Hannah Miller showed some grit with another top-10 finish despite feeling pretty terrible - a race to be proud of.  Thanks to the team parents for coming out to cheer on a frigid weekend!  Thanks in particular to Meg & Laurie Groves, who hosted the team for a fantastic dinner on Thursday night, and to Everett Marshall for shooting some great race footage (which I will try to post soon).

Once again, there was Eastern Cup action happening alongside the carnival (not at the same venue this time, unfortunately).  After the Midd classic race, Sarah took Ellie and Mac over to NH in a final push for Junior National qualifying.  Both of them skied well - Ellie crushed the skate race. Mac had a great classic day, and both ended up earning spots on the JN team.  New England is the most competitive region in the country with regard to JN qualifying, so this was a major accomplishment.  Congratulations to Mac and Ellie for achieving a season-long goal!  Very satisfying to see hard work pay off.  They'll be headed to Truckee in early March - looking forward to seeing what they can do against the best juniors in the country.