Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Skate Relay Photos

Some photos from Saturday's skate relay, courtesy of Greg Askins:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Colby Carnival

All kinds of excitement at the Colby Carnival this weekend. First, the 5k race loop was cut down to a 3.3k loop to eliminate some challenging turns that some coaches felt were too sketchy. Next, the races were shortened to 10/10k due to the shorter loops. Then, a huge storm rolled in on Friday morning, and it snowed heavily before and throughout the classic race. Lastly and most importantly, we had some very good performances both days. The big highlights were a 13th for Kaitlynn and an 18th for Wilson in the classic race. Wilson skied smoothly throughout the race and basically just crushed it, even though he was the last carnival starter and was skiing alone for most of the race. Kaitlynn got off to a slow start, but was able to jump in behind one of UVM's top skiers halfway through the race, and she hung on all the way to the finish - a nice display of tenacity. To my knowledge, this was the best-ever finish for a Bowdoin Nordic first-year woman. It was great to see things come together for these two - the whole team gets energized by results like these.

Today's skate relay also went well. Our women's A team ended up a respectable 18th with the A team men in 10th, which is one of our better relay finishes ever. The men beat Middlebury for the first time since 2007 and ended up 6th in the team scoring. Overall, a solid step forward from last weekend. Lots of people who were flat in Lake Placid are starting to come around. Not everyone has found their top form yet, and consequently we're not quite where we want to be as a team, but we're making progress - lots of reason for optimism. Best of all, there's tons of snow at Pineland, cold temps in the forecast, and no racing until next Sunday. We're looking forward to some great skiing and productive training this week.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

MvW Underway

With several inches of snow falling yesterday, the roads were messy enough that we decided to minimize driving by training at Mt. Ararat. Mt. Ararat HS coach Ed Mendes grooms a nice little set of trails around the fields and through the woods behind the school, including a pretty decent hill. We started off with a sprint relay, the first of the Maine vs. World events. World pulled off a comeback win in a race filled with crashes. More crashes were in store in our next MvW event - we combined hill repeats with a series of downhill races. Maine evened the score thanks to a heroic effort by the Eusdens and Grace's upset win over previously undefeated Kaitlynn. Many impressive body prints were left in the trailside powder, mine included - one of my best crashes in a while, thanks to a slow-witted Alaskan standing in the middle of the turn. Overall, not a bad workout for a sloppy conditions day, and it was fun to check out a new training venue.

Today we started things off with Round 3 of MvW - the baking/dessert contest. The judging proved to be absolutely painful, as both entries were fantastic. Maine's truffles were technically dazzling and near professional quality, but World's apple tart had that down-homey quality that has made America what it is today (ie, really overweight). 3-2, World - could have just as easily gone the other way.

With our blood sugar running high, we headed to Pineland for some sprints. More sloppy skiing due to yesterday's snow and the classic coastal Maine "wintery mix," but we managed another productive workout. First, Maine narrowly edged World in the agility course relay to even things up at 3-3. Next, we combined our sprints with more downhill work, racing in small groups around the hairpin turn just off the teaching field. More spectacular crashes - I think Rainer and Sanville were having some sort of contest to see who could auger in most deeply. Toward the end of the session, Riley pulled of this impressive maneuver:

Fortunately, everyone survived, and I think they even sharpened their turning skills. I was actually pretty pleased with how things came around. I've heard that this weekend's course at Bond Brook has some nice technical turns - looking forward to seeing how our skiers handle them!

Monday, January 17, 2011

SLU Skate

Saturday's skate race was another great day for racing - nice and cold temps, with a little fresh snow. The course was gently rolling, with lots of turns and a few short, steep climbs. It ended up being deceptively hard - with so many racers, the hills got chopped up and fairly sloppy, and most people who went out fast faded hard. It wasn't a great day for our team - several people are feeling tired right now, while others just haven't found their race legs yet. There were some bright spots, though, most notably Wilson's 29th place finish - his first ever NCAA points! It's great to see him getting off to such a strong start after two up and down seasons.

Some race photos, courtesy of the Kenney family:

Friday, January 14, 2011

SLU Carnival Day 1

5/10k classic at the SLU Carnival today. The event is doubling as a SuperTour, so there was a good crowd of fast skiers on hand. Due to low snow at Mt. Van Hovenburg, the race was held on a 2k loop at the ski jumps - a very challenging loop with lots of climbing. We had a decent opening to the carnival season - results weren't amazing, but people looked solid. Wilson and James led the men - 37 & 38 for EISA skiers, separated by a few tenths - while Kaitlynn was our top woman (39th EISA). Riley had the race of the day, though - he skied smoothly and looked fantastic through the whole race, ending up in 44th, just a few seconds behind Spencer. A great start to his college career - hopefully there's more where that came from! It'll take a little more racing before most of our skiers are ready to put up the results that I know we're capable of, but today was a good start. Another highlight of the day was Walt's work on the wax bench - he's joined us as a volunteer assistant this season. We've never had a 3rd wax tech before - it makes a huge difference! Quicker waxing and more productive testing helped us get the wax dialed in pretty well today. We'll have better skis every race thanks to his efforts. Thanks also to the Kenneys and Longwells for braving the cold to help feed the team post-race - much appreciated after a long, tough day!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back Together & Lots of Snow

Almost everyone returned to campus on Monday, leaving us with a great training group these last couple days. Yesterday we did a very productive threshold workout at Pineland. Oak Hill has been holding up well, thanks to the usual stellar work by the Pineland crew - lots of shoveling and moving snow around gave us a surprisingly good 6k loop. Last night the snow started hammering, leaving the roads too treacherous for driving this afternoon. Instead, we skied on campus - a bit sloppy, but good to get out and get moving. I'd guess that at least 10 inches have fallen so far, with a couple more forecast before it's over. Hopefully this will set us up for good training these next few weeks.

Ironically, we're about to leave town for a much less snowy venue, Lake Placid, where we'll start the carnival season. Everyone's fired up to get things underway - just crossing our fingers for good roads and half-decent snow. We'll know soon enough.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Nationals Sprint

Wilson was our lone representative in Saturday's skate sprint at Nationals. He acquitted himself well, finishing 90th. This was better than I'd expected - he'd been training at altitude in Utah for the past 2 weeks, and although altitude training is great for building red blood cells, it's not so good for developing or maintaining speed. Not surprisingly, he felt like his top speed was a bit too low to be truly competitive on Saturday, which tells me that his solid result is indicative of good fitness and strength.

I'm pretty pleased with how things went this week. Results were respectable, but more importantly, our skiers looked fit and technically sound. We've made great progress toward closing the gap between us and the other college teams that we saw in our early season races and time trials, and I'm confident that we'll continue to get sharper in the weeks to come. For now, we're in a good place. The rest of the team is coming back to campus today, and we'll start training together tomorrow. If they look half as good as the Nationals group, carnival season will be pretty exciting.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

US Nationals - Distance

We've had a small group racing in Rumford these last couple days for the distance races at US Nationals. The snow is certainly thin, but there's adequate coverage on the 2.5k race loop. The highlight of yesterday's classic race was a very strong effort by Spencer - he finished 81st out of over 200 of the country's best racers. This was the best classic skiing that I've seen from him so far - very encouraging sign for the future. Today's 30k skate race was a bit absurd - 11 laps, with 101 racers sharing the loop. With 5 skiers starting at widely-spaced intervals, lap counting was a potential nightmare. It went surprisingly well, though - the skiers and I worked together to make sure everyone skied the right number of laps, with a little help from Riley and Dyk Eusden as well. No results yet, but from what I could tell our people skied very well and held their own against the other college skiers in the race. Wilson in particular looked snappy, despite being just 36 hours removed from a cross-country flight. Tomorrow, everyone's taking it easy, and then Wilson and Tim will close out the week with Saturday's skate sprint. Results for both races can be found at the Chisholm Ski Club site (when available).