Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bates Carnival

Carnival season is underway at last. Several inches of snow fell on Thursday night, giving us a clean, soft course for the weekend. Friday's 5/10k skate was a so-so day. The skiers pushed hard, but the results weren't there - we still don't quite have the edge that we need to race fast, and most of our competitors do. Still, most of our skiers felt strong, if not fast - the fitness is there, and the results will come. This race also happened to be the 6th Annual Broomhall Cup, Maine's collegiate state championship. We ended up in 3rd behind Bates and Colby, with Spencer finishing 4th for Maine skiers and earning First Team All-State honors.

Today's 10/10k classic was a step forward. The cold temps and fresh snow made the waxing straightforward, and we were able to get the skis dialed in pretty well, thanks in no small part to Walt Shepard '10, who took some time away from his high-powered consulting job to provide expert wax tech assistance. In the men's race, Spencer got off to a strong start before crashing twice on the first lap - with over 100 skiers clustered close together in the early kilometers, he lost a lot of places and had to burn a ton of energy passing people. Riley took over as our top skier, and for a while it looked like he'd win the battle of the Eusdens, but Spencer rallied to pass dozens of skiers in the second half of the race and earn our top finish in 52nd, with Riley close behind - still an outstanding day for him. We also got some strong performances from the first-years - Kevin and Jackson were right in the mix. I should also note that Wilson commented that his skis (waxed by Walt) were the best he'd ever had - that's why we like to keep Walt around. The women had a very solid day - every single one of them bettered their skate finishes. Kaitlynn got off to a good start and moved up throughout the race, ending up in 35th - she's been feeling better bit by bit, and today was definitely a sign of good progress. Hannah also looked like she was starting to find her race gears after spending the fall in Argentina. Erin had a particularly impressive effort - before the race she was worn out just walking around, and she was dead last going up the first hill out of the stadium. She kept after it and eased into the race, passing a ton of people and beating some very good skiers. Overall, a very encouraging day for the women, and a respectable day for the team as a whole. Although I wish we'd been able to get our season off to a faster start, I have a lot of confidence in our skiers - I'm positive that we'll keep getting better as the season goes on, just like we do every year.

We had great support this weekend from a lot of team parents, who spent a long time huddled in a cold parking lot to give our skiers hot soup and snacks after the races - thanks to all of you! Thanks also to Andy Shepard for keeping the Broomhall Cup event going strong. This has always been a fun event for our team, and it's become a major goal for us to strive toward - we'll keep chipping away in anticipation of winning the Cup someday soon!

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