the first of two posts by Adam
The conditions for Friday’s race were perfectly suited to me. After the girls had skied around the course, the already soft snow had turned into complete mush which gave the advantage to smaller lighter skiers like me. I got ready for the individual start 5km skate (my best Eastern Cup event) and hoped that my wax would be good. I went out of the start and onto the downhill with a powerful V2. I figured that the snow would get so soft that it would be really hard to ski powerfully later on in the course. I turned out to be right when the next uphill was covered in three inches of mush. If I pushed harder with each stride, I would just sink so I increased my turnover and ran up the hill. At the top of the hill, the most efficient line (right down the middle) was mushy so I stuck to the outside edge and sprinted over the hard snow. There was a long downhill coming up where I was hoping to get rest but I put in 5 strides of powerful V2 to gain momentum over the top and down rather than losing it. I caught my breath on the downhill then transitioned from V2 to V1 and hammered the hill, the following downhill would give me a chance to rest. A large group of N.H. girls cheered me on though I have no idea how they knew my name (I wasn’t on the bus ride and didn’t know any of them). I sprinted over the top and skied the next hill without pushing quite as hard (it was mushy and I’d be wasting energy). I then skied into the big s-turn downhill. The inside edge of the corner was solid ice where other skiers had skidded the corner so I went to the outside edge and cut straight across the ice without trying to turn. I tuck skated focusing on pushing really hard with my legs since the trail was firm. I skied into the second lap and hammered everywhere the snow was hard. When I got to the big hill before the downhill on the second lap, I sprinted because the snow was firm and I had no more uphill. I continued over the top and into the downhill. I stayed on the outside edge then cut it, slingshotting the corner. I saw another N.H. skier and yelled “go New Hampshire.” As I skied by, I realized it was Colin so I said “hi Colin” then skied off (he has to stop wearing different hats, I didn’t actually recognize him until I could see his face). With less than a kilometer remaining, I had nothing left to lose so I sprint V2ed for the flat/downhill section toward the finish. With every second counting in the individual start, I increased the power and turnover of my skating and flew toward the finish. After the race, I stayed around to cheer on Erik (who had started later) as well as a few other friends from Vermont and New Hampshire. A few people were a little confused that I cheered on Erik. I think that with the school teams, there might be less interstate interactions and friendships with out of state skiers since most competitions are in the school’s home state. I ended up in a sixth place finish. The race felt great and being small and light was favorable in the soft snow.
On Saturday morning, I was dismayed when I couldn’t find any oatmeal at breakfast. Luckily, I had brought oatmeal from home. It wasn’t as good as JNT breakfasts (raspberries+oatmeal=yum), but it was more similar to my race routine than hotel eggs and bacon. I didn’t want to sit on the N.H. team bus for an hour before I started my warm up so I got my warmup skis on and went to the wax tent and asked what they were putting on. They said VR60 so I got the V60 I had brought and put some on my skis and tested it. I got absolutely no kick, but excellent drag. I tested the other swix waxes I brought (65, 70, 55) but got no kick with either of them. I continued trying to find working wax until half an hour before my start when the girls who had raced on Zeros said they had kick. I had zeros I could use from my awesome coaches, but they had SNS bindings and I had NNN boots. I had a pair of SNS boots I had borrowed so I put them on. They were older than me, with a yellow and purple color scheme, a green strap, and orange laces. I skied a lap of the course and felt like I was going to crash on every downhill. This was likely because of snow stuck under the heel, though it could also have been because the boots had no stability. Luckily, another skier loaned me SNS boots that worked better. I did a comparison of my race wax ski vs. a zero, and got no kick on the race wax ski but good kick on the zero. I grabbed the zeroes and headed down to the start.
I was trying to get out of the start into a good position without crashing and breaking a pole. Being N.H. fourth seeded starter, I was in the first row behind the arrowhead (a tapered leading formation containing the top three seeded skiers from each state). Immediately after the start, a skier in the arrowhead went down and a large chunk of the formation went down including the 3 N.H. skiers 🙁 right in front of me. Thanks to my experience at JNs, I realized that going through a crash doesn’t work out well so I swerved to the side and avoided it, putting me in a good position. I skied around the field as the skiers spread out, then drafted the back of the lead group as thy skied down the hill. As the course started climbing steeper hills, I started to slip a little. I double poled a gradual uphill section where I would have prefered to kick double pole, but didn’t have enough kick, I took the first loop easier than I did the 5km skate the day before due to the longer 7.5 km distance. Passing wasn’t easy, but due to avoiding the crash at the start, my position was good. I skied near several other crashes, many of them near me, but avoided goiing down. On the second lap, I put on a burst before the final downhill and sprinted over the top and into the hill. I thought I had a big lead on everyone behind me and a big gap between myself and everyone ahead of me but I still kept sprinting because the first time on the downhill, many non-N.H. skiers passed me easily, likely due to wax. Everett Sapp caught up with me on the downhill the first lap even though I had a fifty foot lead on him before it. I sprinted down the hill and continued my double polling into the finish. It was lucky I didn’t slow down at all because Chris Koziel from Massachusetts was gaining on me and being a lot bigger, would have an edge in a double pole sprint to the finish. I heard people shouting “he’s right behind you” and “catch him” so I went harder. I lunged across the line ending up in front of Chris with a tenth of a second lead. I unfortunately missed the top 10 by one spot, finishing 11th, but was still the top N.H. finisher. I went for a cooldown and then stopped at the N.H. food tent. (JNT should get one of these) Parents of skiers on the N.H. team had brought soups, stews, brownies, breads, chocolate milk, water, cupcakes, muffins, more muffins, cookies, and tons of delicous food. I had a bowl of soup, some bread, a muffin, and chocolate milk before going to relax on the bus. Having usually skied my race weekends as two days with one race on each, having two races in one day with a race the day before seemed exausting.
stay tuned for Adam’s sprint and relay post!