Right after New Year's, we packed up and headed to Craftsbury for US Nationals. Normally I'm not a big US Nationals fan - it costs a lot of time, energy, and money, and I prefer to keep the team at home to train and time trial in a most peaceful environment. But it's a cool experience for the skiers, and when it's within a reasonable drive you kind of have to do it. We squeezed into a beautiful house in the wilds of the Northeast Kingdom and spent the next 5 days racing, training, and hanging out. Conditions were amazing and the energy was intense - almost every college team in the country was there, along with a ton of elite racers and top juniors from all over the country. Elliot provided the biggest highlights of the week - 40th in the 15k classic (6th junior) and 7th in the junior 10k skate mass start. He just missed qualifying for World Juniors - a bit of a bummer to be so close for the second year in a row, but certainly a showing to be proud of. The rest of the team was right in the mix - nothing special, but a good jump start to the season and a lot of fun.
(photos courtesy of Todd Anderson)
We caught our breath on campus with a few good days of training at Pineland and a little Maine vs World.
(this looks dramatic and church-like, but it's just the MvW trick basketball competition)
Soon enough we were making the long drive to Lake Placid for the St. Lawrence Carnival. Conditions were fantastic and the scenery was gorgeous. Solid showing in the skate - Elliot 7th and Renae 22nd. We came back strong the next day in classic - Renae 8th (tying her PR), Gabby 16th, and Lily 24th to put the women in 4th for the day. The men followed it up with a 5th place finish, led by Elliot in 9th and Christian 23rd. This put us in 5th for the weekend - pretty good start for our first carnival, when we're rarely at our best.
(race photos courtesy of Dave Priganc)
The next few days on campus went by in a flash - a couple more good training days at Pineland, a few more MvW challenges, and a nice time at the annual Friends of Bowdoin dinners. Before we knew it we were in Jackson for the UNH Carnival, where perfect tracks awaited us. We had to scramble a bit to get the skis ready on time for the mass start classic, but fortunately we had a pair of capable helpers in John Eldredge and Rachel Zafren '18. They helped us catch up on binders and test kick efficiently - we waxed thin to win, made some adjustments for individuals, and got everyone to the start line with minimal stress. After that, the skiers held up their end of the deal with one of our best performances ever - men 3rd and women 4th! Elliot was 5th, just 16 seconds from the win, with Christian tying his PR in 14th and Sean close behind in 19th. Gabby led the women in 11th, Renae was 17th, and Lily closed out the scoring in 35th. That night we celebrated a great day with a fine dinner hosted by Angus Badger '89 and Rachel Vose '87. Many thanks to Angus, Rachel, and daughter Nina '22!
Saturday's skate sprint was a little less thrilling than the classic race - good solid effort, but skate sprinting just isn't one of our stronger areas right now. Still, we had some highlights - Renae, Elliot, and Sean all qualified for the heats. None of them advanced from the quaterfinals, but all 3 looked great and were right in the mix. We also had some new blood in the team scoring - Noah E, Perrin, and Triana all scored for the first time! We were 6th for the weekend - a bit of a letdown after a hot start to the carnival, but still a good solid result.
(photos courtesy of Steve Fuller at Flying Point Road)
Overall it's been a great Jan Camp - good skiing, fun times, and some encouraging signs in the early races. We're all feeling pretty good about how things are going so far, but I think we all agree that we can ski faster - hoping to hit that next level in the coming weeks!