Tuesday, March 13, 2018

NCAAs 2018

Back home after a successful NCAA Championships - what a week!  Turns out that Steamboat is really far away from Maine - getting out there was no easy task.  We originally planned to fly out Friday after classes, but the "bomb cyclone" that swept through the Northeast put a wrench in our plans - all flights cancelled, so we had to wait until Sunday afternoon.  Sad face emoji.  We made the best of our situation with a couple nice workouts at Quarry Road and a relaxing weekend on campus.  Still windy on Sunday, but we made it off the ground.  We got delayed again during our connection, and for a moment I had visions of being trapped in Baltimore breathing sea level air for a couple more days - fortunately, our flight finally took off and we made it to Denver late Sunday night.  Phew!  Next morning, we loaded up our beautiful red rental pickup (aka, Big Roj) and rolled out of Denver amid howling winds and blinding dust.  Denver to Steamboat is about 3 1/2 hours - just a quick trip by Western standards, but after all the delays it felt like it took forever.  Our spirits soared after a fine lunch at Jimmy John's - we weren't at all daunted by the creative and not at all accurate interpretations of our order, nor the disgruntled customer who stormed out of the building in a blaze of profanity.  Our first ski in Steamboat that afternoon went well - the course was in great shape, and we were just excited to finally get out there.

For the next few days, we kept it pretty low-key.  Some highlights:  wandering around Steamboat talking in bad Australian and British accents; seeing a couple moose ambling through the race venue; representing "Bow-doyne" College at the pep rally; taking a gondola ride to the top of Mt. Werner for the championship banquet; studying a lot (with varying levels of enthusiasm); and skiing just a bit each day.  The skiing stayed fantastic despite warm temps and blazing sun, but our breathing ability did not.  Testing wax got harder and harder, and after a couple days I was gasping for breath just lying in bed.  Going from 50 feet above sea level to 6700 feet is not super fun, folks.  Not much we could do, though - we just drank a ton of water and tried to rest as much as we could between workouts.

Thursday dawned nice and cold, but the sun was bright, and temps warmed quickly as race time approached.  As the women tested skis, we had some concern that our thin klister binder was dragging, but as things continued to warm and we continued to adjust, the skis started running well and the race was on.  Both of the women went out pretty hot - maybe not the best strategy for a race at 6700 feet, but it takes some time and experience to learn how to adjust your racing style at altitude, and we were short on both.  Even so, they hung in there and were able to post pretty competitive results - Gabby 28th, Renae 34th.  Elliot paced his race much more conservatively, but he just didn't have much pop - he'd had a slight cold all week, and this combined with the altitude really sapped his energy.  He hung in there to finish 39th, close behind a bunch of strong skiers.  It wasn't the day we were hoping for, and the skiers were a bit disappointed, but I still felt like it was a solid showing.  We were the second to last team to arrive, and it showed - we were clearly not acclimated.  The age gap was also pretty striking - our three skiers didn't really stand out in the EISA circuit, but out here it was very apparent that they were three of the youngest competitors at the championships.  So not an amazing day, but certainly nothing to hang our heads about!

Over the next couple days, we slowly started to acclimate.  Skiing on Friday, I got to the top of a big climb and felt almost not terrible - progress!  By the time Saturday rolled around, we were at least on the right side of the acclimation process.  The men's race went out super slow, and Elliot was able to hang out at the back of the train.  I could tell that he was still not feeling great, but he kept skiing smoothly even as the pace quickened and the pack splintered.  Entering the final lap, he was 38th with two skiers within sight.  It would have been easy to accept his fate and cruise it in, but instead he kept fighting and gradually reeled them in.  He dropped one and then narrowly lost a sprint finish with the other to finish 37th.  For the women, we tested wax up until the last minute and sent them sprinting off to the start with skis in hand (Colby coach Tracey Cote actually jumped in to help us apply fluoros to their skis - thanks Tracey!).  They'd obviously learned their lesson from Thursday, because they went out easy and hung around the back of the pack for the first few kilometers.  At the start of the second lap, they began steadily moving up, working together to leapfrog from one skier to another, and I knew it was going to be a good day.  Gabby had an unfortunate crash on a hidden icy patch at the end of the second lap, and she lost contact with Renae, but both of them kept fighting hard and passing people.  They kept it up until the end for a fast finish, with Renae in 28th and Gabby 33rd - easily the best skate races of the season for both of them.  I'm super proud of all three of these guys for coming back strong after not feeling great on Thursday.  They kept their heads up, paced their races well, and fought hard until the end - a fitting end to an amazing season.  It's hard to believe that these guys are only first-years - they're so far ahead of schedule!  Going into the season, if you'd told me that one of these guys would pop a single top-10 finish I would have been overjoyed.  To have all three of them qualifying for NCAAs is so far beyond my wildest hopes I can't even process it.  What's possible for the next three years?  I can't wait to find out!  When the excitement and euphoria died down, we packed up and enjoyed a nice post-race barbecue.  Then we drove out of town and cleared our heads with a nice walk up to a beautiful frozen waterfall just outside of town before hitting the road for Denver and closing the books on a fantastic week.

Thanks to Jackie Schneider for the beautiful race photos!

One last note about the championships:  It was fantastic to reconnect with some Bowdoin Nordic alumni this week!  Jackson Bloch '15 has been around the circuit all season as Colby's assistant coach - he's loving the job and doing great work with their team.  Alaska-Fairbanks head coach Nick Crawford '09 had a strong week - his program is thriving despite the threat of cuts just a couple years ago.  On our way back, we also stopped for a short visit with former Bowdoin Nordic skier Matt Klick '98 and his wife Lalida Crawford - it was great to catch up with these guys, and our kids got a nice dog/puppy fix.  Lastly, former Bowdoin Nordic assistant Adam St. Pierre was a huge help to us, lending us a ton of equipment that would have been incredibly inconvenient to lug through the airport.  Much thanks to all of these guys for their help, hospitality, and camaraderie all week!

Things are quiet now - coaches are back in Maine and the athletes are scattered for Spring Break.  Brunswick got a ton of snow last week and we're getting a full-on blizzard today - just in time for the season to be over.  There's one final chapter to write, though - Jake is competing at the Paralympics in Pyeongchang.  Can't wait to see how it goes!  I'll post an update soon.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Midd Carnival... and Beyond!

It's been a bit of a crazy week since the Middlebury Carnival - sorry for the slow update.  Here's a quick recap of what went down last weekend and what's next:

After three days of blazing hot weather, it was a minor miracle that the Midd Carnival races actually happened, but the crew at Rikert did a great job of chopping up ice and pushing around snow to cover the full 5k loop.  I seem to be saying stuff like this more and more often these days - I guess those are just the times we live in...  Anyway, excellent work by Rikert gave us very nice skiing for the whole weekend.  Friday's 5/10k classic was your basic klister day - we tested a whole range of things with much help from our volunteer wax tech Cirque and were able to get the skis pretty well dialed.  This was one of those days where the whole team passed the eyeball test - everyone looked really good!  Gabby had a clutch performance to finish 8th - she came into the day holding onto the last NCAA qualifying spot by the thinnest of margins, and this race gave her some much needed breathing room.  Renae was solid in 17th, Lily 26th, and Ellie just outside the top 30 in 33rd.  The Ellie/classic relationship has been a long and winding road - we've been chipping away at this for the last four years, and sometimes it seemed like classic was just never going to click for this kid.  But years of hard work resulted in a breakthrough last fall, and she's been crushing classic all year.  Coming into the season I would have been overjoyed to know that Ellie would have a 33rd place classic finish - it's a mark of how much she's overachieved that this is only tied for her 3rd best classic race of the year!  On the men's side, Sam has made similar progress in classic, and he showed that with a 36th place finish, just one off of his PR set last week at Williams.  The big showstopper of the day was Elliot, as has been the case so many times this year - 3rd place!  Best ever men's result for Bowdoin Nordic, and our first ever men's podium!  The crazy thing was that for the first half of the race he didn't look like he was moving that fast, and his first lap split wasn't anything special.  Then suddenly he started showing signs of life making time on the skiers around him, and I figured maybe it would be an OK race after all.  Even so, I didn't believe Cirque when he told me that Elliot was just a couple seconds out of 3rd at 7.5k!  Elliot didn't believe it either when he got the split, but he put his head down and gunned it anyway, and that final surge put him on the podium.  It was really a remarkable display of pacing, and a great reminder that relaxed smooth skiing is fast, even if it doesn't always look fast.  So much for the eyeball test.  That night, we celebrated with a delicious dinner organized by team parents and friends - a fantastic group effort by a bunch of people who have gone above and beyond for our team all season long.

The next morning was pure spring skiing for the 15/20k skate - loose granular snow that just got warmer and wetter as the day went on.  Cirque again earned his money, and we were able to test a wide range of things right up until the last minute.  The soft, slow conditions made the race a real grind, which was right up Christian's alley - he was strong and steady for the whole race to finish 15th.  The Rad Chilla has quietly had an outstanding season, with 6 races in the top 20 - super consistent and really impressive improvement for a guy who wasn't on anyone's radar 2 years ago.  Elliot was right behind in 16th, with Sean 28th, Sam 29th, and Jake 31st.  Jake skied the whole race just a few seconds behind the Sean/Sam pack - it was a bit tragic but also inspiring to see him fighting so hard the whole race to close that gap, skiing by himself the whole time - a really courageous effort.  For the women, Renae was steady as always, leading the team in 17th.  Ellie got taken out in a crash right from the start - by the time she got up she was about 3rd or 4th to last, and this could have been the end of her race.  But she never gave up - she started chasing people down and moving through the field steadily, putting in a final push to grab a couple more places and finish 24th - her second best finish ever and a fine way to end an excellent college career.  Speaking of people who never give up, Rachel gave a great effort, making up tons of ground in the second half of the race to pick off several skiers and finish 54th, just a couple places from a PR.  Rachel has put in a ton of hard work over the years, and right now I can't think of any Bowdoin Nordic skier who improved more between freshman and senior year.

So that's a wrap - the 2018 carnival season is complete.  It's been a fantastic year for Bowdoin Nordic - the best season we've ever had by any measure.  And we're not even done racing yet!  Elliot, Renae, and Gabby have all qualified for NCAAs!  We've only had five Bowdoin Nordic skiers qualify for NCAAs in our entire history, so three in one year is almost too much to take - and all of them are first-years!  Way ahead of schedule.  If we can ever get a flight out of the Northeast with all this crazy weather, we've got some exciting races to look forward to in Steamboat this coming week.  Also, Jake is already in South Korea to prep for the Paralympic Games.  We know from last spring and a couple races in December that he's competitive with the top visually impaired skiers.  This year he's been super steady, and his fitness is excellent - can't wait to see what happens.  First race on March 12th - I'll post more info when I find links to timing and maybe even a live feed if we're lucky.  Lastly, I'm happy to report that a few of our skiers are re-establishing a proud Bowdoin Nordic tradition and finishing the season at the Rangeley Loppet today!  Last time our team went to Rangeley (2014) Jackson Bloch '15 and Hannah Miller '17 swept the 50k.  Based on early reports our crew did pretty well today... I'll post more details when I have them.

One last note before we put the 2018 carnival season in the books:  All four of our seniors - Jake, Rachel, Ellie, and Sam - are going to be much missed.  They've done so much for the program - not just skiing fast, but helping build a culture of dedication and focus, and most importantly creating a fun and supportive environment on our team.  This year was fantastic not just from a competitive standpoint, but also from a team unity standpoint.  Our skiers really had fun together and supported each other beautifully - they really care about each other in a way that you always hope will happen but you can't ever take for granted.  Our seniors have played a huge role in making this happen, and it's made all the difference.  As Rachel often says, "Happy people ski faster!"  Thanks seniors, for making people happy and for being your amazing selves.  We will miss you so much!

Much thanks to Chris Shaheen and Orion for these great photos!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Williams & Bowdoin Carnivals

After a nice snowy weekend at Dartmouth, it was back to warm temps for the Williams Carnival.  By the time we got to Prospect on Thursday afternoon, we were in full spring skiing mode.  Sadly, the massive melting wiped out the stadium and kept us from accessing some tough climbs and fun descents, but the organizers did a nice job of pulling together a decently challenging 2.5k loop for Friday's 5/10k classic.  It was an unusual waxing day - super warm when we started testing, and then gradually dropping down toward freezing as the morning went on.  As with any klister day, we had to do some scrambling, but we got good skis on almost everyone's feet.  The team was really feeling the strain of schoolwork this week - mid-February is a tough time for us every year - and a lot of people were tired, but they managed to put up surprisingly solid results nonetheless.  Elliot was 9th and Christian 20th to lead the men, with Renae 14th and Gabby 19th for women.  These 4 have been amazingly consistent all year, to the point where it's easy to take these results for granted - I have to constantly remind myself how impressive it is that a sophomore and three first-years are putting up these performances every week.  Sam also had a nice race, scoring a big classic PR in 35th - lots of technique work paying off.  One other fun thing about this race was that a bunch of local HS skiers came out to watch the races - lots of them knew Ian since he grew up just down the road in Williamstown, so there were a ton of excited kids cheering for him every time he came around - very cool.

Things kept cooling, and the next morning we had a nice fast track to work with.  With no stadium, the originally scheduled sprint race wasn't possible - very sad, since this was our only sprint of the year.  Instead, we did a 3.8k prologue.  I've never loved the prologue as an event, but this was actually a really great race thanks to the fast snow and fun course - a couple big climbs in the first 800 meters, followed by a series of short descents and fast rolling terrain - tons of free skate, V2alt, and all the fast stuff that makes skating so much fun.  This race wasn't an NCAA qualifier, and this combined with the weird distance had me worried that the skiers might not be able to get fully focused.  Fortunately, no problems there - everyone was excited to let it fly, and everyone came back talking about how much fun it was.  Turns out we got some pretty good results out of the day as well.  Renae led the women in 18th, with Gabby 22nd for a skate PR and Lily 30th.  For men, Elliot was 6th, beating Gabby's record from last week for the best first-year result ever.  Sean was 22nd, Jake 29th, and Christian 30th.  Seven people in the top 30 - that's a good day even by the standards of this season!  Thanks to the strong team showing, we were able to overtake Williams to claim 5th place overall for nordic teams.

A few other notes on the weekend:  1) Rachel served as our third wax tech this weekend and was a great help.  She did a little bit of everything - testing, structure, klister touch ups, and a ton of glide waxing and scraping - and her efforts really helped make our good results possible; 2) Jane Culnane led a small but determined group of parents who went above and beyond to provide a great array of hot and delicious food on a damp chilly weekend; 3) Last but not least, a few of our men lost their minds and fashion sense and decided to get really bad/amazing haircuts:

As someone who lived through the late 80s/early 90s, I enjoyed this little dose of nostalgia despite the questionable aesthetics.

While some of us were racing and cutting hair in Vermont, others were back in Maine doing an informal race I dubbed "the Bowdoin Carnival" - a duathlon with several skiers from Colby and Bates at Pineland.  Russell and Orion broke away from the group, with Russell taking the win in the final sprint.  Many thanks to John Eldredge and John Tarling for handling timing and helping the skiers get organized!  Here are results:

MEN Total
Number First Last School Time Place
43 Russell O'Brien BOW 36:12' 1
45 Orion Watson BOW 36:13' 2
48 Anders Hanson COL 36:20' 3
44 Cirque Gammelin BOW 36:57' 4
46 Carter Hall COL 37:17' 5
50 Mark Young COL 37:31' 6
47 Gabe Forest COL 37:43' 7
54 Tucker Pierce BAT 37:49' 8
51 Addie Sinkler COL 37:55' 9
55 Ben Keener BAT 37:57' 10
52 Ben Theyerl COL 38:34' 11
53 Cole Fuller BAT 39:07' 12
57 Charlie Cobb COL 39:12' 13
Number First Last School Time Place
71 Talia Seltzer COL 29:44' 1
72 Meg Yoder COL 30:14' 2
75 Amy Bruce COL 30:43' 3
74 Julia Lazzeroni COL 31:06' 4

One more carnival to go:  Eastern Regional Championships at Middlebury this weekend.  Can't wait!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Dartmouth Carnival

For the first time since 2011, the Dartmouth Carnival took place at Dartmouth!  Oak Hill is a great race venue - narrow and winding trails lined by beautiful tall evergreens.  With a nice dose of snow just a few days before the carnival, conditions were excellent.  Friday's 10/10k classic was old school - a single 10k loop.  These days a 5k loop is standard, and it's pretty common to do several short loops when snow is low, but anything longer is rare, so this was a fun treat.  When I say "fun," I mean a certain type of fun - interesting, different, challenging, fun when you're done, etc (if you're a ski racer, you know what I mean) - because the Dartmouth 10k loop is really, really hard.  I raced it a few times myself back in college, and it still shows up in my nightmares now and then - an unrelenting series of switchback climbs followed by several technical downhill turns that are fun when you're on your game and not so fun when your legs are shot from all the climbing.  So this was not your typical course.  The men got it started with some respectable finishes - Elliot 9th, Christian 29th, and Orion 38th.  Ski feedback was mixed, so we did another quick round of testing and made some adjustments for the women.  The early starters looked solid, so we started feeling cautiously optimistic.  Then Gabby came by - WOW.  Fast, focused, everything driving forward powerfully - great skiing.  When Renae came through a few minutes later looking just as good, we knew it was going to be a special day.  They ended up 7th and 8th - combined with Elliot's 9th, this was the first time we've ever had 3 top 10 finishers in one day.  Gabby's 7th also set a new mark for us - best finish ever for a Bowdoin Nordic first-year, edging Hannah Miller's 8th place finish from the 2014 Midd Carnival.  Lily rounded out the women's scoring with a solid 28th, putting the women in 4th, just three points out of 3rd!  Overall, a great day that wouldn't have been possible without volunteer assistant coach John Eldredge, who made a special trip out to NH so he could help with the waxing.

Saturday's 5/10k skate was combined with an Eastern Cup - a large, competitive field and a charged, slightly chaotic atmosphere.  Elliot led the men in 13th (for EISA), with Christian 20th and Sam posting his first official top 30 finish of the year in 30th.  The women continued their strong trend, with all three scorers in the top 30 for the fourth race in a row - Renae 16th, Ellie 25th, and Gabby 28th.  I don't mind saying that we got some rather unusual but very positive feedback from the women about the skis - "too fast!"  A little hyperbolic, no doubt, but I'll take it.  The team's combined efforts put us in 5th for the weekend - hard to believe that this kind of finish is the new normal for Bowdoin Nordic!

Unfortunately, an otherwise great weekend was marred by a bad accident - Luca had a nasty crash in the skate race and dislocated his shoulder again.  I can't even describe how heartbreaking this is - Luca has had a lot of ups and downs with his shoulder over the last year and a half, and he's worked so hard to come back from his surgery last May.  He's a strong person, and he has an amazing family backing him up - I know he'll come back strong.  Even so, this is a tough blow to absorb.  We'll be sending all our love and support to help Luca through his recovery.

Monday, February 5, 2018

UVM Carnival

After the latest round of warm weather, the UVM Carnival had to be moved to Craftsbury.  I can't remember when the last time was that we didn't race at Trapps at least once in a season, so this was kind of sad.  But Craftsbury is a great venue and we were certainly grateful to have them step up and host - conditions were excellent all weekend.  Friday's skate mass start took place on a new course (for us, at least) that was super challenging - some long climbs, some steep climbs, and some long steep climbs.  It would have been a grind in any race, but 3-4 times around for a 15/20k was extra nasty.  The women got the day off to a great start with a fantastic team performance from top to bottom.  The field spread out right away as 5 skiers broke away early.  Renae stuck with a large chase pack for the whole race - even when they shattered in the final kilometer, she was able to stay right in the mix for a 13th place finish, just a few seconds from the top 10.  Ellie was really gunning for this race, and her aggressive approach paid off with her first ever top 20 finish!  Lily skied more conservatively and picked up a ton of places in the final lap to finish 26th, with Gabby right behind in 27th - first ever skate top 30 for both of them.  Fiona struggled a bit with the 15k skate races last year, so it was really gratifying to see her crush this race for a best-ever skate finish of 43rd.  Rachel showed great toughness, grinding up the big climbs to score a big PR in 52nd.  Her mom got to see her race for the first time of her college career, so that made it extra special.  The women were 4th on the day, with every racer scoring a skate or overall PR - a really impressive performance.

The men's race got off to a clean start, with all of our people in good position.  The race stayed pretty close for a long time, with Elliot settled in at the back of a lead pack of 15 or so.  Although he's been brilliant all season long, I was a bit worried that he wouldn't be able to hold on for such a long race on such a hard course.  My fears turned out to be groundless - Elliot actually gained a few spots on the last few climbs climbs and one more in the final sprint to finish 8th - a stellar showing for his first college 20k!  Jake also put on a strong charge at the end to finish 19th - first ever top 20 finish!  Christian was just behind in 23rd, with four others in the 30s - Sean (31), Sam (32), Russell (37), and Ian (39).  The overall nordic team score put us in 4th for the day - really a great showing for the whole team.

After a nice dinner with a big group of team parents, we woke up the next morning to cold temps and nice crisp tracks for the classic race.  The race was combined with an Eastern Cup - with 15 second intervals, there were lots of skiers to chase or catch rides from, and it was a great atmosphere for racing.  Gabby caught fire and absolutely crushed this race for 15th, with Renae close behind in 19th and Lily in 23rd.  For the men, Elliot was 15th and Christian was 17th - it was super fun watching him get onto a mini train and hang on for a nice classic PR.  Ian C found an extra gear out there and skied the best race I've ever seen from him.  One of the quirks of the combined college/Eastern Cup events is that the non-carnival skiers don't get included in the college results, and Ian was unfortunately not on our carnival team this weekend (with such great depth, picking the carnival team has been quite a challenge for me each weekend - a good problem to have).  Anyway, by my count Ian was 31st in the college field - a nice PR!  Although we skied well, UNH and Colby skied even better, and we had to settle for 6th place in the nordic team standings.  It's a mark of how far we've come that we're a bit disappointed by 6th place - going into the season this was the best finish in program history, accomplished just once before.  This team is raising the bar for Bowdoin Nordic!

Many thanks to the team parents - a huge crowd of them came out for this carnival and braved cold and windy weather to set up a wonderful post-race food table for the team.  I'm particularly grateful for Mike Ketchel's excellent photos from the skate race - here are a few:

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Chummy Cup 2018

Last weekend was the 11th Annual Chummy Broomhall Cup - the Maine collegiate championship.  This race is named in honor of the late Chummy Broomhall, a Maine native and a US nordic skiing legend.  We usually combine this event with a carnival; this year we had a break in the EISA schedule, so we took the opportunity to hold the Chummy as its own event for the first time since 2011.  This year's venue was the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle - first time we've ever had the Chummy up north, and the first time our team has ever raced on those trails.  It's rare that we get to check out an unfamiliar venue, so this was pretty exciting.  Turns out that the NHC trails are fantastic - nice mix of terrain with lots of rolls and transitions, including several fun turns in the middle of fast downhills.  When we showed up to preview the course on Friday evening, the scene was gorgeous - blazing orange light shining through thousands of ice encrusted branches - one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen on any ski trail anywhere.  This picture doesn't even come close, but it's the best I can do:

The next morning was cold and clean and perfect for racing.  The team was as amped up as I've ever seen them - we've never won the Chummy, and everyone was determined to make this our year.  Not surprisingly, the men's race got off to a hot start - after some chaos, things calmed down a bit.  After Zane Fields of Colby went off the front, Elliot settled into a duel for second with Parker McDonald of Bates, pulling away in the last few hundred meters.  Meanwhile, Sam, Christian, Jake, and Sean were part of an absolute brawl with a few Bates and Colby skiers - the final climb into the stadium was just a boiling mass of skis and poles, with everyone battling for those precious points.  Sam ended up 6th, Christian 8th, Jake 9th, and Sean 10th - a solid showing, but still a few points behind Colby going into the women's race.  We knew it would take a near miracle to close the gap, especially with one of our best skaters (Ellie) out due to illness. but the women were game to try.

As it turned out, they had to wait a while to get their shot.  On their cooldown, a few men discovered a huge hole right on the edge of the trail - looking more closely, they discovered a hibernating mother bear and two cubs!  Not something you see every day at a ski race - certainly a first for me.  A true Aroostook County experience.  After a short delay, the race organizers were able to re-route the course, and the race was on.  A big pack stayed close together for the first several kilometers - Gabby and Renae were right in the mix with the top Colby and Bates skiers, with Lily detached but fighting hard to stay close.  The skiers disappeared into the woods again - standing on the final hill, I had no idea what was happening until I heard our men making all kinds of noise, and I figured we must still have skiers in contention.  When they finally came around the turn, it was Renae leading a pack of four - Kaelyn Woods (Bates), Kirsten Miller (Colby) and Gabby.  At the base of the climb, Kaelyn found an extra gear and broke away, closely followed by Kirsten - Renae and Gabby fought hard but couldn't quite keep up, finishing 3rd and 4th.  Seconds later, Lily came around the turn with a pair of Colby skiers and the same scene repeated itself - a final charge up the hill with our skier just off the back.  In the end, we had to settle for second, just 6 points behind Colby.  We really wanted this one, and it's tough to accept that we'll have to wait at least another year before we finally hoist that cup.  Still, we can't feel too sad - Colby has been killing the skate races this year, and it was going to take a perfect day to beat them.  On this particular day, they were just a bit stronger than us - hats off.  Our team gave it a great fight, especially the women - as Ian would say, they punched above their weight.  The season's off to a great start, and we have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about February.  Back to action at the UVM Carnival this weekend!


Here are photos of the All-State teams (top 10):

Many thanks to Tim Whiton, UMPI, and the good folks at MHC for organizing a great race.  It's a fantastic venue, and we hope to have a chance to come back for more training or racing soon!  Thanks also to Andy Shepard of OSI for starting this event in the first place, and for keeping it going all these years.  It's a special tradition for the Maine schools, and I hope we have many more to come.

Friday, January 26, 2018


Once again, Kaitlynn Miller '14 has made Bowdoin Nordic history - today she was named to the 2018 Olympic Team!  We are all so excited and proud - such a great accomplishment and a well-deserved honor.  She is the 5th Olympian in Bowdoin's history, and the first since Joan Benoit '79 in 1984.  It's so incredible to see this happening right before our eyes for someone we know and love.  Right now I'm thinking of all the four years Kaitlynn spent in our program, and all the hard work and perseverance that she put into her ski career and her schoolwork.  Great athletes make it look easy, but I was right there, and I can tell you that there was nothing easy about it - there was plenty of struggle and plenty of lows to go with the highs.  Kaitlynn handled success and failure with grace and humility, and she never lost sight of the joy of this amazing sport.  She couldn't be more deserving, and I couldn't be more proud of her.  Can't wait to see what happens next!

(photo courtesy of Deb Miller)