Thursday, May 24, 2018

Spring Thoughts

It's a beautiful spring day in Brunswick - blue sky and sunshine.  Campus is gorgeous, and graduation is right around the corner.  That means I'm overdue for a rambling post on subjects of interest only to me (and Nick Crawford).  As we close the book on another fine school year, here are a few of the things I'm thinking about:

Walking the lineWhen it comes to training, there’s a fine line between too much and not enough.  If you want to get faster, you need to push the limits, and it’s easy to push just a bit too hard.  This happens pretty frequently to college athletes - every year a few of our skiers hit the wall and start feeling crushed by the training load.  The big challenge is how to respond – rest, of course, but how much and how early?  Our typical response is to have people take a day or two off if they’re a little tired, and a week or two off if they’re really in a hole.  That works sometimes, but sometimes it doesn’t.  A day or two doesn’t seem to do much if an athlete is really tired, and a week or two off doesn’t do much if a skier has been struggling for a while.  I’m starting to think that we need to have a lower threshold for the longer rest periods – catch it early when someone is just starting to get into a hole, and rest them longer to ensure that they’re fully out of it.  This year we had a couple instances where this approach paid off, and I’m ready to keep using it going forward.  What we really need, of course, is to not get into any holes in the first place – keep the intensity carefully controlled, use good recovery practices, get plenty of sleep, etc.  But the world isn’t perfect yet, so instead we’ll settle for being a little more aggressive with our interventions.

The sophomore jump:  Our sophomores were a huge part of our success this year – not just because there’s a million of them, and not just because they’re such wonderful people, but also because they all improved significantly this year.  Sophomore year is often a time of major improvement – most people learn a lot in their first year and then turn all that learning into better race results a year later.  But that doesn’t always hold true – some skiers make big gains right away and then have a bit of a sophomore slump, while others just sort of plateau.  But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a whole group of sophomores make such steady progress as this year’s group did.  Why did this happen?  There's a lot of good energy surrounding this group – they have good relationships with each other and with the whole rest of the team, and I think they’re having fun with this whole ski team thing.  Happy people ski faster, after all.  We were also lucky to have a great group of seniors to serve as role models, and the younger skiers have learned a lot from them.  I’m really encouraged by the progress our sophomores made this year, and I’m excited to see what they (and all of our other skiers!) can do in the future.

Organic training:  Organic training is our term for training that just sort of happens naturally when you’re doing something for non-training purposes.  Some examples drawn from our team in recent years:  trail work, hunting, running/hiking between data collection sites, bicycle touring, raft guiding, and more.  This is stuff that doesn’t fit nicely into a training log – you’re focused on something besides heart rate or pace or duration, and it’s hard to quantify the training benefits that you’re getting.  But you’re working hard, and you end up getting stronger and fitter whether or not you realize it.  I love this stuff!  It’s not training by the book, and maybe it’s not an optimal use of a skier’s time and energy.  But people come back from a couple weeks or months of organic training in great shape, and more importantly they come back happy and fired up to jump back into regular ski training.  This year we had several skiers doing their share of organic training, and it certainly didn’t seem to hurt anyone when it came time to race.  Lily is the most notable example – she spent the summer leading canoe trips in Ontario, and she came back decently fit and outrageously strong after hundreds and hundreds of hours of paddling and portaging.  It took her a few weeks to get her running and rollerski fitness back, but once she did she was unstoppable.  I’m not at all sure that she would have skied faster this year if she’d spent the summer on a traditional training plan.  I’ve always had a soft spot for outside-the-box training, and I’m more convinced than ever that any college skier can benefit from some random outdoor adventuring over the summer.  Happy people ski faster!

The dam breaks:   Despite Bowdoin Nordic’s gradual improvement over the years, we haven’t really seen much change in our team finishes.  By every other measure – placings, percent back, USSA points, NCAA qualifying – we’ve improved, but it never seemed to translate into better carnival finishes.  This season, we suddenly jumped from 8-10th to 4-6th.  I’m not shocked – we’ve been working toward this for a long time – but I’m struck by how big the jump was when it finally happened.  It’s encouraging to see how quickly things can change after years of grinding – persistence pays off.  The other lesson to take from this, though, is that things can go the other way just as quickly – we’ll have to fight hard to stay at this level.  Right now, we’re in a good position - we’re bringing back a great group next year, and I think it’s realistic to expect us to stay competitive.  But it’s not going to just happen.  We’ll have to find ways to keep improving and keep closing the gap between us and the teams ahead of us.  It’s going to take imagination and creativity and a whole lot of hard work.  We're ready for it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Last week was Bowdoin's All Sports Award Ceremony, and I'm happy to report that Elliot was named the Outstanding First-Year Male Athlete!  It's a real honor considering how many great hard-working athletes there are on campus - I'm really thrilled that Elliot was able to stand out among such a strong group.  This is just the third time Bowdoin Nordic has won an award at this event - our team won the 77 Award in 2016, and John Hall '08 won the Academic Achievement Award for Men - and it's a nice feeling to see one of our own being recognized.  It's certainly a well-earned award.  Anyone who reads this blog already knows about Elliot's exploits:  NCAA qualifier, podium finish in the 10k classic at Regionals, 2nd place at the Chummy Cup and 1st Team All-State, and EISA All-Academic honors.  In the USSA rankings, he's currently the top ranked skier in the country in his year of birth.  He had the most successful season ever of any Bowdoin Nordic first-year, and the future is bright.  I can't wait to see what he and the rest of the crew can do in the next few years!
Congratulations to Elliot and to all of the award winners!  It's been a great year for Bowdoin Athletics, and it's exciting to see our fellow teams crushing it all three seasons.  Go U Bears!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Marty Hall of Fame

Last weekend the great Marty Hall was inducted into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.  Marty is a North American nordic ski legend - his long career included stints as a national team coach for both the US and Canada, among other stops, and of course eight years as head coach of Bowdoin Nordic.  I was lucky enough to attend the induction ceremony in Squaw Valley, California.  Among Marty's many supporters were a few other folks with Bowdoin Nordic ties:  Jacob Scheckman '06, Alison Flint '05, and former Bowdoin Nordic assistant coach Adam St. Pierre.  It was a special moment seeing Marty receive this honor, and I'm so glad I was able to be there.  The whole event was pretty interesting - seven others were also inducted.  Listening to their speeches and seeing their tribute videos gave me a real appreciation for how many different ways there are to have fun sliding around on snow, and how much we all have in common despite the huge differences between the various snowsports.

There's a lot to talk about in Marty's legendary career.  As a USST coach, he helped Bill Koch to a silver medal in the 1976 Olympics and served as the first coach of the US women's cross-country ski program.  He led the Canadian national team for much of the 80s, coached numerous athletes privately, and had his hand in countless innovations that have shaped the sport as we know it today.  For decades, he's been a vocal and influential commentator through his books and columns in various ski publications.  Here's a recorded interview by Peter Graves prior to Marty's induction, and here's a written one from a few years ago by Nat Herz '09.  Marty has left his mark on North American skiing like few others.  But what I really want to talk about is the final chapter of his career and what he means to Bowdoin Nordic.

When Marty arrived at Bowdoin in the fall of 1999, the program had been competing at the NCAA Division I level as a member of the EISA for six years.  For several decades prior, the program had been gradually evolving from club to varsity team, led by a string of dedicated part-time coaches.  The step up to EISA skiing meant a much higher level of competition, and in those first few years Bowdoin skiers fought gamely to adapt to this new environment, with only mild support from the college.  Marty's arrival was a watershed moment for the program.  In classic Marty style, he turned everything upside down, with a new approach to training, technique, waxing, travel, everything.  His knowledge, professionalism, and forceful personality inspired the team to new heights - he had high expectations for the team and held the skiers to high standards.  Marty was also a tireless advocate for his athletes, always pushing for more resources.  This in particular was huge - although Bowdoin Skiing had had varsity status for several years, the program was well behind most other varsity sports in terms of funding, facilities, and coaching positions.  Over the years, Marty and AD Jeff Ward worked together to expand the team's resources; correspondingly, the team gradually became more and more competitive.  By the time Marty retired in 2007, the program was solidly established and poised for future success.  I was so incredibly fortunate to inherit a stable foundation with all the resources I needed to build a competitive team.  I am really proud of how this program has progressed in my 11 years at head coach.  I'm also well aware that none of this success would have been possible without Marty's tireless work building our launching pad.  For that, anyone involved with Bowdoin Nordic owes him a huge debt of gratitude.  Thanks for everything, Marty, and congratulations on a well-deserved honor!

Monday, April 2, 2018

March Wrap Up

While we were focused on NCAAs and the Paralympics, there was plenty of other good Bowdoin Nordic-related stuff happening in March.  Here's a quick rundown:

Rangeley Loppet - Rangeley used to be an annual season-ending tradition for our team.  We've had a lot of fun and some great performances there - most notably a win by Erin Hatton '12 in 2010 and a double victory for Jackson Bloch '15 and Hannah Miller '17 in 2014 - but the team hasn't competed in this race for the last few years.  This year, a small but determined group went back to Rangeley to recapture our lost glory.  Mission accomplished!  Ellie won the women's race by 10 minutes - she was mixing it up with the college boys for most of the race, and ended up beating some of them.  Sam nearly made it a sweep for the captains, finishing just three seconds behind GMVS coach Peter Kling, a former elite nordic combined skier.  Russell was 3rd for men, while Lily was 10th and Rachel 11th for women.  A fine team showing and a great reminder of how much fun this event is.
Spring Break - After NCAAs wrapped up, several of our skiers descended on the peaceful home of the Watson family in Livingston, MT.  Orion spent the next several days guiding Christian, Rachel, Noah, Ian, and Elliot around the mountains of Montana on various ski adventures.  When Orion headed back to campus for track, the crew went over to Noah's cabin in Idaho for a few more days of skiing.  Here are a couple photos courtesy of Lee Watson:

Meanwhile, a few of our skiers were adventuring all over Norway:  Sam, Ellie, Cirque, Lily, and Fiona.  They crossed paths with Tyler DeAngelis '15, who spent the winter racing World Loppet events, as well as Mac Groves '17 and Hannah.  Here's a short video of a typical day.  The trip culminated in the Norwegian Birkebeiner, where they all carried a little Baby Haakon 54 kilometers to safety.  Pretty much all of them have described this event in superlatives:  hardest race ever, most exhausting, most fun.  A Spring Break well spent.

World Cup - As the SuperTour leader, Kaitlynn Miller '14 earned start rights to the March World Cup races.  Even after four highly successful years as an elite skier, Kaitlynn had never raced in Europe, so this was a nice opportunity for her to race some at some iconic venues against the world's best; she held her own and put up some respectable results.

Spring Series - SuperTour Finals were in Craftsbury this year.  Renae is one of those people who just can't get enough of racing, so she headed over to Vermont with some Colby friends to do a couple races on the final weekend of Spring Break.  Spring Series is the only time all year that the international skiers race domestically, so the races are super competitive.  The whole Olympic Team was there, including two newly-minted gold medalists!  Exciting stuff.  Renae was just 1 second away from qualifying for the heats in the classic sprint, and she posted a solid mid-pack finish in the 10k skate.  I'm proud of her for taking the initiative to get to these races - it's a daunting task to handle your own logistics and wax your own skis at a big-time event against a field of fully supported elite skiers.  Not a bad showing for a college first-year.  Meanwhile, Kaitlynn posted three strong finishes to lock up the overall SuperTour title!  That's no easy achievement - women's skiing in the US is stronger than ever.  This should open some doors for her in the coming season.

The Medal - Jake came back to campus with some hardware.  It's pretty sweet.  Here's a photo:

Fast and Female - Speaking of medals, Kikkan Randall held a Fast and Female event at LL Bean last weekend.  Fiona, Lily, Ellie, and Gabby all helped out - very exciting to meet Kikkan, help the next generation get fired up about skiing, and of course take some photos with the gold medal!

(thanks to Steve Fuller of Flying Point Road for this photo) 

Quite an eventful month - looking forward to a peaceful spring!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Paralympic Games - Silver!

Ok, I kind of ruined the suspense with the title of this post - couldn't help myself.  I couldn't make it out to Pyeongchang for the Games, but I followed Jake's races as closely as possible from the US, with Sue Conner and Sean (who were there in person) providing added details.  Here's a recap of the week:

Conditions were beautiful in Pyeongchang - sunny and warm but plenty of snow.  Monday's 20k skate got off to a good start, with Jake feeling strong and in medal contention, ably guided by Sawyer Kesselheim - unfortunately, Jake got tired and faded to 5th as the race went on.  Wednesday's classic sprint also looked like it was going to be a special day at first - he qualified in 3rd and tied for the win in his semifinal.  After a strong showing in the finals we thought he'd won bronze, only to find him relegated to fourth after a protest by the coach of the fourth place skier.  I don't know the exact details, but apparently it had something to do with a lane change while double poling uphill.  I support the current push to protect classic skiing and enforce technique rules, but man, this was tough - if enforcement at the NCAA Championships had been this strict, half the field would have been disqualified!  This particular case was a bit extra frustrating because it had no real effect on the outcome - the gap between Jake and the fourth place skier was pretty substantial.  But those are the rules - nothing to do but hope for the best in the next race.  I got a little worried when I heard that Jake had come down with a cold going into the 10k classic on Saturday - I knew it would be mentally tough to come back after two near misses, and adding a cold on top of this could have easily sunk Jake's chances.  Turns out I had nothing to worry about - Jake won silver!!!!  Such a hard-earned and well-deserved honor.  Here's a video of the medal ceremony, and here's a press release with some quotes from Jake and Sawyer.  The last event of the Games was a 4x2.5k mixed relay - a pretty cool event where skiers of all classifications competed in the same race, with different time adjustments depending on gender and classification.  The US team finished 7th overall, with Jake posting the fastest split for the anchor leg.  Overall, a great week.  It's been a long road for Jake - lots of hard work went into this achievement.  He's trained more hours than any skier in the history of Bowdoin Nordic - the past four years have been an experiment to find out how much training is possible for a Bowdoin skier.  He's improved a ton and has put up some strong performances, but it certainly hasn't been easy - he's had no shortage of setbacks along the way.  After four years of ups and downs, it's incredibly gratifying to see Jake's career end on such a high note.  We're all so proud - can't wait to get him back on campus to hear all about his adventures!

Here are some photos, courtesy of Sue and Sean:

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!