Yesterday was one of those days that you remember. Super cold temps with an occasional stiff breeze made it a tough day to be outside, let alone ski around in race tights. Combine that with a LOT of climbing and you have a day of racing that won't soon be forgotten. The race was a 9/12k skate on a short loop - basically, a long climb up an alpine slope had been added to Saturday's sprint course. The ensuing downhill claimed several victims - steep and fast, with several small rollers and a big sweeping turn at the bottom. It got tougher as the day went on and the flat light made it easy to miss the little bumps. Six laps for women and eight for men meant a lot of trips up and down the hill, and a lot of skiers sharing the trail at once - an exhausting race that was probably more fun to watch than to ski.
Our team handled the challenge well. Spencer led the men with a 32nd place finish in a very competitive field, with Riley having one of his best races ever in 50th. On the women's side, Kaitlynn, Shelby, and Hannah were stacked up in 44th, 45th, and 48th. Jackson had the race of the day, however - he was on fire. Unfortunately, a counting mixup (not by Jackson) ended with him skiing an extra lap - judging by the bibs he was skiing around, he would have been around 4 1/2 minutes faster. Still, a great race and an encouraging sign for the rest of the season. I was equally proud of our skiers who didn't have great days - not everyone was feeling their best today, but everyone stuck it out and kept grinding. Overall, this was a very successful weekend - we still have a ways to go before we're where we want to be, but this was a solid showing for mid-January - we're definitely ahead of where we've been in the past.
We had tremendous support from the team parents this weekend - several folks braved the cold to cheer, and also brought a lot of delicious food for post-race recovery. We were also lucky to have wonderful overnight hosts to save the skiers from a lot of driving back and forth to campus: Steve DeAngelis and Tara Wicks hosted the men in Readfield, while the women stayed with Deb and Ron Aseltine in Wilton (amazingly, Deb and Ron were also key members of the race organizing crew, helping to put on a fantastic event for hundreds of skiers despite tough low-snow conditions). Thanks to all of you for taking such good care of our team!
Here are some photos from Sunday's race, courtesy of Greg Askins: