by Perrin (race reports by each athlete)
Sunday was an early morning for everyone, and people were yawning as we met at the now decorated van. We were happy to see that Johanna was well enough to come after being sick the day before, but Adam unfortunately was still under the weather. Chris was also unable to come because of an unexpected flight change. We had Paco, a JNT alum, with us as well, which was a great addition to the van.
We arrived at Holderness, where we were glad to warm up inside. After settling in to our claimed portion of the squash court, the girls were lucky enough to warm up on the course with Tim Caldwell, while the J2 boys raced.
Jack: After putting on as much tape as I could find and then some, I stepped out of the small part of a squash court that our team had staked out and went to find my practice skis to tour the course. After an exciting roller coaster of ups and downs, the boys (soon to be men) took to the starting gate and were off. Through the woods and down the hills, I tried to nail my transitions and ace the downhills. Finally, after being cheered up the final hill by no other than Dennis himself, I double-poled across the finish and immediately went to put on my warm coat.
Malcolm: The course was really beautiful, and there were plenty of places to recover on the course. My skis were slipping a lot throughout the race, but I was good on the flats and downhills, where I just double-poled. My last kilometer of the race was the best, and I feel like I can be proud of that, even though it’s only 1/5 of the course.
By the time it was the girls’ turn, Johanna was sadly not feeling well enough to race.
Perrin: I was really excited for this race because I had been told what a great course it was, and it was classic. I was the third starter but the person in front of me was a ghost, so I set out trying to catch the girl 30 seconds in front of me. The course was narrow and gentle with a fair amount of double poling. I slowly gained on the girl in front of me, and by the end I had almost caught her. In the final stretch in the field I went all out and double poled past her to the finish. I felt good but not incredible, so it was a big surprise when it was announced that I was in 3rd. I was rushed to the podium ceremony and presented with a jug of maple syrup (yum!).
Sara: I am not as good at classic skiing as I am skate, but this course, no matter how well you race, is still one of my favorite courses. I love the twisty trails through the woods and the many places where you can cheer- an essential part of Nordic skiing. My race could have gone better, but with the help of Dennis and Scottie cheering me on the last kilometer or so, I was able to pick it up a notch. Cheering really does help, and last kilometer felt the best thanks to them.
Finally it was time for the ‘men’ to race. Today was a big race for Colin, as it was his very last Eastern Cup!
Colin: A lot comes into perspective when you do something for the last time. I took my ski pack inside, spent some time talking with the U16’s about their plans for this race, and finally plodded off to go on a slow ski around the course. I’ve always loved this course for classic and have fond memories of racing its rolling hills and smooth turns. There were oodles of snow on this course, and with the usual typhoon force winds that buffet Holderness, it looked like I was going to receive the full skiing hospitality of this course that Dennis always raves about. I skied with friends who I’ve known my whole high school career, tried out combinations of trusty Rode and the wild Vauhti Carrot wax, and took time to soak up the excitement and hubbub of the NENSA Eastern Cup atmosphere. I realize the reasons for which they call it a nordic community. You could stop anyone on the trails or in the stadium and they’d all have their own experiences and history with the sport to tell you. How often in life do I meet with so many people that share a passion of mine? Infrequently enough for it to make these races extra special. I raced and had as much fun as I always do with my classic races. The snow was incredible and the course never deteriorated or lost cover in places. A winter wonderland. The wax was okay, though I always want to push it and say I wish I’d had even more kick. But good things come in moderation, and waxing is no different, if I do say so myself. One of my favourite moments was rounding the last bend before the home stretch and hearing the shouts of the JNT and the BKL racers alike, the programs I’ve grown up in, cheering me on with true gusto. For my last EC report, this is Colin H. Pogue, signing off.
After all of the races, most people went home with their families, so only Sara, Colin, Arturo and I were left in the van. It was a quiet ride home as we were all tired from the days of intense racing, but Holderness had been a great last Eastern Cup of the year.
Paco: [A senior at Colby, Paco raced for Colby for the four seasons allowed by the NCAA. This year he was an assistant coach/wax tech for Colby and has been racing for a combination of Bridger Ski Foundation, Colby, and for Holderness, Ford Sayre.] My plan was to race what I called the “triple crown” which for me composed of both days of racing at the Middlebury Carnival (10k classic and 10k freestyle) on Friday and Saturday, then come home to Norwich for the night and then hop-scotch my way back to Maine Sunday morning via Holderness, with a race-one-more-time-while-I-still-can attitude.
I had one of my better races of the season the day before in a 10k freestyle on the Rikert trails and was stoked to have the opportunity to carry that momentum with me at the Cheri Walsh. After racing the more intimate SuperTour series and then mostly carnivals in the east I have become accustomed to very early start times, but in this Eastern Cup I could really snooz! Well, not quite. I spent the morning lying down in the Holderness squash courts reading papers about palynology proxies to study late-Carboniferous paleoclimates.
The race didn’t feel the best of my career but I tried to put in an honorable effort and made sure to relish every moment. The snow was soft, deep, new and cold; and as Scottie remembers I’ve always been a guy who does better ripping around on klister. This very cold and snowy winter has been nice, but to the detriment of my classic race results!
About 2k in I caught the Dartmouth guy in front me, we skied together for a little bit, but my skis were noticeably faster and was finally able to out-double-pole him. Then after a couple kilometers of enjoying the sun and rolling New Hampshire woods I heard the rapid breathing of Justin Freeman coming behind me. Freeman had picked up two of the green teamers ahead of him and a fast pack was quickly developing. I hung on for as long as I could but then got dropped at about the same time as Pete Hegman, and we skied into the finish together on a classic and storied New England course. While it has been great to still see guys like Pete–who I have skied against at racers since BKL days–the most treasured aspect of the day was the opportunity to ski with Ford Sayre one more time and reminisce the days where I began to love skiing more than anything in the world.
After the race I was able to hitch a ride with the Maine Winter Sports Center and they generously dropped me off at Colby and with that another weekend was in the books.