Rikert EC Weekend Part III: Sat Heats & House Time

by Kennedy

After an incredible morning of racing, we had more athletes make the heats than I can ever remember. Lucy represented Ford Sayre in the U16 heats while Perrin, Greta, Johanna, and I (Kennedy) qualified to compete in the open heats. For the boys, John was the only one to qualify for the heats, but the rest were not far behind him in the qualifier. Because there wasn’t enough time between our qualifier races and the heats to go back to our house and rest, most of us tried to find a warm spot to sit down and conserve energy. For me, this meant squeezing onto the couch closest to the fireplace in the downstairs nordic center. However, the time, as it always does on race day, seemed to fly by, so after about an hour of resting, it was time for me and the other U18 girls to head outside and commence our second warm ups. I finally left my cozy seat about an hour before my start and wandered upstairs to the barn in search of my warm up clothes and new bib number. Unfortunately, the bibs and start list were not ready yet, so we had to go start our warmup without knowing which heat we were in and what our specific start time was. This was not a problem because when I approached the table mid-warm up, I was able to efficiently collect my bib and head back over towards the start.

For warmup, I started by testing my race skis, which is especially important on a classic day because having your kick tailored to your goals for the race is extremely helpful. I was looking to have enough wax on my skis to kick up the hills, while I also have teammates who wanted very little kick and planned to double pole most of the course. After skiing the course once on my race skis, which had amazing kick and glide, I exchanged them for my training skis so that the topcoats and wax would not wear off before my race. After some L3 and some shorter speeds, I skied back to the team area to drop some of my warmups and collect my race skis. I ran with my skis over towards the start, fitting in a few last minute speeds. Once we chose lanes and lined up, it was only seconds before we put our toes to the line and the starter yelled “GO.”

The race started with a frantic double pole zone with athletes competing to be the first around the first corner. After that, Johanna and I cruised along outside of the tracks, where the snow was faster, watching ourselves easily gain on our other competitors. The first hill commenced with a short steep section and proceeded to become long and gradual. Stepping into the tracks where it was easier to kick, I tried desperately to maintain contact with Anna Lehmann, the winner of the qualifier from the morning. Once we reached the top of the hill and passed through the striding zone, we turned a sharp corner and plummeted down back towards the stadium. The large final hill became the only thing between us and the finish. I saw the two SMS girls in front of me and I felt like I was slowly gaining on the second one, but the finish line was too close for me to catch her. After crossing the finish line and bending over in pain, I looked back and watched Johanna lunging to a photo finish with a competitor from CSU.

Johanna and I took off our bibs at the finish and then stumbled back towards the start. We were just in time to watch the next heat go off and we proceeded to walk over in search of our coaches. Because of my third place finish in the heat, I was unsure how my time would compare to the other heats and whether or not I would be a contender for the lucky loser position (two fastest times of those who were not the top two in their heat). I was not a lucky loser, so after a short warm down, I meandered into the barn to change my layers and put on warm clothes.

After the boys heats, most of the team started to pack up and pack into the vans at the venue. We were all extremely sad not to be able to cheer for Lucy, but going back to the house made sense so we could start dinner, shower, and rest.

On the van ride back to the house, loud music blasted from the van speakers while we all recounted our various racing experiences from the day. Upon arrival, the vans were unpacked and we started taking turns in the showers. There were snacks out in the kitchen and Emily, Eloise, and Catherine showed off their amazingly choreographed dance to the song, Havana.  The afternoon was mostly spent lazily eating snacks in the kitchen and hanging out until the boys arrived from their house and the coaches arrived home with Lucy. After a yummy dinner of pasta and salad, the team gathered in the living room to wait for team meeting and the brownies. A group of us played Wise and Otherwise, a game very similar to pictionary, but where the players must finish the proverb and then vote on the option in which they think is the correct answer. The coaches kindly rearranged the skis to put the U16 skis in the early morning car so that Evan could test/apply top coats before the late departing van with the ski bags arrived at the venue.

The team meeting, as always, started with personal reflections from the day by going around the circle and explaining one thing each athlete would like to improve on and some things that went well for them. After the coaches outlined the plans, coach roles, start times, etc… for the following day, the boys left in their van and we slowly started making our way to bed.

(All slideshow photos below courtesy of Dave Priganc, a Mansfield parent – more can be seen on his Flickr stream)

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Rikert EC Weekend Part II: Sat AM & Qualifier

by Johanna

The girls awoke at 7am to the arrival of the boys from their house down the road. After a few grumbles from the boys concerning the girls’ later wake up time, we met around the breakfast table for none other than the beloved JNT oatmeal and eggs. A brave few began the meal with a dose of fire cider – a delicious concoction with enough frightening ingredients (including apple cider vinegar, onions, horseradish, garlic, tumeric, and habanero pepper) to thwart even the most aggressive illnesses.

At 8:15 – right on schedule (although behind the schedule we’d anticipated the week before due to a 2 hour delay in start times) – we piled into the two vans. Dennis and Jennie navigated safely despite the One Direction at max volume (courtesy of the fabulous JNT playlist) and a chorus of tone-deaf skiers (who luckily have chosen to pursue athletics and not singing).

With ears ringing from the uplifting hit-song “What Makes You Beautiful,” we pulled into the Rikert parking lot and unloaded the vans.

It was not long before we set out to preview the course, taking note of the fresh snow. After a double pole start, the sprint loop curved sharply to the left and then set off down a brief descent. “Work the transitions!” the coaches reminded us as we began a steep climb from the bottom of the downhill. The course soon leveled off to a more gradual incline then curved back down the hill to end with one last ascent before the finish.

The girls moved right from the course preview into their warm up while the boys returned to the barn to get another hour or two off their feet before their races.

After testing my race skis, I transitioned to running in order to fit enough intensity into my warm up. Soon, however, it was time to race, and the girls all found themselves approaching the start line for the sprint qualifier. Perrin started first of the Ford Sayre girls, and I began my race a few minutes later. After crossing the finish line, I turned around to see both Kennedy and Greta double poling the last stretch.

We all returned our skis to the ski rack, and then Kennedy and I grabbed our sneakers to cool down and cheer for Emily, Catherine, Hannah, Lucy, and Eloise in their qualifiers.

After the girls had finished, we wished the boys – who were at that point mid-warm up –  good luck in their races, then headed inside to rest before the heats.

Rikert EC Weekend Part I: Friday

by Daniel

The bus up to Rikert was scheduled to leave at 3:15, so naturally the Bandlers arrived 5 minutes late, while struggling to cope with yet another difficult departure. Fortunately for the Bandlers, when they arrived, the team was still struggling with the logistics of packing the vans for two separate destinations. With some helpful tips from Hannah, John and Keelan managed to pack the skis into the precarious roof box, and strap them down. The van ride up was very quiet, until someone suggested that we play the Alphabet game. The Alphabet game involves looking out the window at signs, where you try to work your way down the alphabet by searching for letters. If you find a letter on a sign, then that sign is off limits. The people sitting towards the front of the row predictably curb-stomped, as those in the back could barely see through their fogged up windows. After that, people mostly talked about the last time that they had been there.

Finally, we arrived at the girls’ house. Our van was the second one to arrive, so when we entered the house was already bustling with activity. Some of the people were already in the kitchen cooking dinner, like Johanna who was making her world-famous salad, while some of the boys hovered around the Grand Piano, assembling a puzzle map of the world. Down a couple steps below them on the livingroom floor playing a game of bananagrams. After snooping through the kitchen, I ascertained that dinner would be burritos, and that my help wasn’t necessary at this time, I headed over to the living room, where Perrin had taken out a game that she had brought, called Wise and Otherwise. In W&O a person reads the first half of a proverb, then everyone writes on a card their best guess for its second half. Then, everyone votes on which one they think is right, and if you guess correctly, you get to move forward a space. It is really fun to play, especially with a creative group.

Dinner was, as I had learned, was delicious burritos with Johanna’s salad. It was quite good, and apparently I looked like I enjoyed it, because I received several comments comparing my eating style with that of Adam Glueck. After dinner, those of us who didn’t help make dinner cleaned up the dishes we made, and returned to playing games and working on the puzzle. In the other room about half of the team did what was apparently yoga, although I have never heard of a relaxing exercise which evolved so many shrieks of laughter. Then we all assembled for a whole team meeting, where we discussed strategy for tomorrow. After the short team meeting, it was time to return to our respective houses. My roommate was Keelan. Before we went to bed we hung out in the attic up on the third floor, where John Cunningham (aka “Runningham”) decided to pre-emptively warm up for the race on the treadmill. Finally, in a timely manner, we all went to bed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NB8cM2oDxsc

Greens OD

by Dirk and Justin

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

As we drove up the snow-covered path to Green Woodlands, the thermometer in the car read a frigid three degrees Fahrenheit. This was with the sun shining high in the sky as it was 12:30pm. After we parked the car, we hesitated to get out and brave the icy air. Yet after the sub-zero temperatures in Canada, we told ourselves this was mild. We grabbed our skis and jogged over to the trailhead. Popping on our race skis, we headed out to warm up with some others. The snow squeaked under the skis and caused them to stop short on the glide phase. We shuffled back and forth between the trailhead and the Black Bog trail and the parking lot a few times before convening and heading out on the trails.

We skied slowly up the Black Bog trail as a big group, chatting and trying to stay warm in the frigid, icy air. We talked about the exciting news that Jessie Diggins got 3rd in the Tour de Ski the day before.  The very persistent cold temperature had made the new snow very slow, and loud as our skis slowly glided along. The bright sun felt good on our backs warming us as we climbed the hills. We zipped down the back side and then cut over to do the short version of the Smart’s Mountain loop. The snow piled heavily on the tree branches, weighing them down low, where they glistened in the afternoon sun. On the downhills, the wind whipped our faces and froze our tears. We stopped for a quick second at a trail junction but then planned on going to the next warming hut far a snack and drink in the sun. When we finally stopped at the warming hut on wheels, the quick break and snack was a welcome relief yet the sun was hidden behind the only cloud in the sky. We then skied down toward the Carriage trail but decided to head back because we had been out for plenty of time. We passed many families and dogs out embracing the cold and having fun in the perfect snow. Everyone was ready to be done as we glided down the last hills on the Black Bog trail. We worked our way back to the parking lot and dispersed into our separate cars for the ride home. I was glad to put on some warm layers and enjoy hot tea for the ride home.

Fort Kent Weekend: Sunday Classic Mass Start & Travel

Races   by Andy

 

We stood in our start positions hearing “We are the Champions” over the loud speakers in the stadium. As the music stopped with one minute and thirty seconds to the start the GMVS boys began some sort of tribal call throughout the pack. Once we got moving we realized exactly how cold it was. Seconds later the gun went off and pack took off towards the downhill left-hand corner at the end of the stadium. According to John’s phone, the real feel temperature was negative thirty-two degrees. The tracks were some of the firmest I have ever raced on, even though four races had taken place in the course already that day. The course climbed up into the woods where it snaked through a hillside before descending back down towards the stadium. It was also one of the most beautiful courses I have ever raced on. The sky was cloudless and blue, and the sun lit up the snow that covered the trees and created sharp shadows and patterns on the tracks. The world sparkled as the race field stretched out on the first lap thanks to the hilly first 2.5 kilometers. On the descent back into the stadium the field strung out even more until people were skiing in small groups of three or four as we lapped through to begin our second lap. After reaching the top of the course I realized how close to the finish we were and dug deep to hold on. After going over the last two steep bumps on the outside of the stadium we turned left on a banked turn to open up into the final stretch. After crossing the line we hurried to find warm, dry clothes before we headed off to cool down.

Travel   by Perrin

We quickly packed up and immediately got on the road so we wouldn’t get home too late. The northern Maine hills rolled by outside the frosted windows of the van, and nine tired athletes dozed in and out of sleep as we drove closer and closer to the New Hampshire border. Our JNT playlist repeated itself over and over, and again we played “The Question Game”, in which we all ask each other deep questions to get to know each other better (and to just have some laughs). Night fell and on we drove, straight on a 70 mph highway, longing to arrive at our dinner stop: Whole Foods. At 7:00 we were wondering if we were close, and checked the map. We had passed the Whole Foods in Portland 30 minutes before. It was devastating. Our hunger and hanger grew, but Scottie saved the day by finding a Mexican restaurant in Portsmouth. When the van rolled up to Dos Amigos, we practically fell out of the van, and rushed to order several meals each.

Our stop at the restaurant also included the last of our nightly Menorah lighting; Malcolm and Eloise had brought a handmade cardboard Menorah complete with birthday candles, and each night they had said a prayer as the team crowded together for the ritual. We let the candles burn down, and then got back on the road to complete our long drive. It had been an unforgettable first weekend in a gorgeous and snowy Maine, but we missed having everyone there and can’t wait for the next Eastern Cup when we can have the whole team together at last!

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