by Malcolm and Erik [with thanks to Gary Solow for sharing his fantastic photos! click any photo to see a larger version]
Monsieur Silver-Van Meter: Craftsbury—”A 4-season resort tucked beside a secluded lake in the tranquil ‘Northeast Kingdom.’ Escape the frantic pace and actively enjoy the great Vermont outdoors.” . . . And the location of the Vermont EHSC/U16 Qualifier.
The race course on Sunday was a mere 3.4 kilometers, and compared to the Eastern Cup courses, it felt like a piece of cake. We were able to completely go at it; pacing wasn’t much of a concern at all.
Classic was in the morning, and skate in the afternoon. I was number 54, Erik was 57, so he started 45 segundos behind me.
When he passed me in our classic race, I was able to stay with him right up until the end, which was très helpful, and didn’t finish long after him. In the afternoon, not so much. Around the same spot on the course, Erik came whizzing past me and had disappeared over the next hill before I could say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” I was completely exhausted by the start of my skate race, and my skate race could’ve been more . . . fast. Erik had two great races (as far as I’m concerned), and he made it to the ESHC team. I didn’t qualify for the U16 team, but had one of the best races of my season regardless, and made myself proud.
Erik: There are not many days during my season that I have a whopping TWO races in one day, but the Vermont Qualifier for U16s and Eastern High School Championship definitely took care of that for me. I was nervous, but I knew I had to keep positive thoughts in my head if I wanted to have a chance of qualifying. Last year was a different story. I showed up, had two decent races, and qualified in a comfortable 11th place, out of the 20 high school skiers they take. I knew this year would be different. The day before the Qualifier, I had looked online to see who had registered and realized the competition this year would be a lot stronger, based on the names I glanced at. I tried not to let it scare me, but I have to admit, I lost a little sleep over the thought that it would be much harder to make the team this year. Sunday morning, I woke up to a bit of a headache and a cough, which didn’t surprise me, noting that I had been sick all the week before, but I had a great breakfast, and got everything organized so my race day would run smoothly. After I had packed everything in the car, I hopped in the driver’s seat of our car, with my dad as the passenger, and pulled out of the driveway. I drove carefully down to the Thetford park n ride where we met Scottie. I transferred my pack and skis into her car, and we were on our way soon after that. It was a pretty quick ride to Craftsbury, and when we arrived, there were more cars in the parking lot than I had ever seen at that place. Scottie was able to sneak into a spot at the end of the a row of cars, and we unloaded the wax and skis, thanks to the help of Malcolm and his family who we met when we arrived. After everything was set up, I set out with Malcolm to preview the course. It was short, but sweet. The first part was all rolling and mostly downhill, and the last 2 or so kilometers were a mix of gradual uphill and rolling terrain. It was pretty much a sprint. My morning race went pretty well, and when I came alongside Malcolm about 1.5k into the course, he got into the track right behind me and stayed with me for a good bit of the race, which was awesome! I looked at my result after the classic race, 19th place. That’s alright, I told myself, I’ll just have to race better in the skate to ensure my spot on the team. When it was time to start my skate race, I was feeling pretty good, but a little tired. I blasted out of the the start, and hammered the first rolling parts of the course. I hammered the first big uphill, but as I reached the top, I was very tired, so I lost a bit of time on the flat between the uphill I had just climbed and the finish, which I knew would cost me. I looked at the results, 23rd. Oh jeez, this is a nail biter. I was hoping my times would average out to a 20th place or better. It was finally time for them to announce the teams. The girls were first, then the U16 boys, and then the big boys. They called 20th place first. “In 20th place, Erik Lindahl from Ford Sayre.” I looked around, waiting for Erik to go up and shake the announcer’s hand, but then I realized, THAT’S ME! I walked up excitedly and stood there as people clapped for the next 19 men. I may have been the last qualifier on the team, but I sure raced pretty hard to get there, so it was a good end to a beautiful day at Craftsbury. Also a big thanks to Scottie for testing wax, waxing skis, and providing great cheering for Malcolm and I.