Relays are a different kind of pain and fun, because if you give up, you’re not only failing yourself, you’re failing your teammates, yet if you have a good race, it is not only great for you, but amazing for your friends and teammates who are depending on you. 40 minutes before my start, I tested my race skis and found them to kick well enough for the course (which was nearly all double poling with some running on the uphills), yet incredibly fast. I brought them back to the wax trailer to say that they were great, and the wax techs asked if they could make them faster. I found it hard to believe that it would be possible to do so, but I would soon find out just how fast my skis would be.
The start was a wide ten lanes which became a narrow trail extremely quickly before entering a descent. I was boxed in out of the start and forced into the back. I pulled to the right of the skiers, and my amazing glide put me in a position to run up the hills into the top 6. I could feel myself approaching my limit and backed off. You can go really hard in New England and recover on a downhill, but at altitude, there’s no turning back once you’ve blown up. I maintained my position, as the lead two skiers broke off from the group. We began the first large uphill of the course. I relaxed on the climb, having to run, but trying not to kill my legs. After pushing over the top of the hill, I started double polling to give my legs a break. There was a long flattish section, and I muscled the double pole to catch the two leaders who had broken away and ditch the chasing group. The course was almost over as we entered the sharp left corner before the downhill. I entered the corner in third, then took my own track, and leaned back on my heels to pull my kick zone off the snow. Thanks to my spectacular glide, I easily drafted and caught up with the leaders, before pulling ahead of them at the start of the uphill. I ran up the hill focusing on speed as well as power power, trying to be quick and light before accelerating over the 180 degree corner at the top into the final downhill. I sunk into a low tuck, and dived down the hill toward the stadium. As the course flattened out, I broke into as fast of a double pole as I could manage, continuing to accelerate. I entered the final 180 degree corner into the stadium, and sprinted as hard as I possibly could.
I tagged Russell with an 8 second lead, then had to force myself to stand as I left the course. From the stadium, there was little to no view of the course, so we had to wait and see what would happen over the next seven minutes. Eventually Russell came into the stadium going as fast as he could, but Alaska had reduced our lead to six seconds. Russell tagged Adam Witkowski who immediately broke into a blisteringly fast double pole, but Alaska’s anchor leg took off in hot pursuit. Eventually, we caught sight of the leading skier coming, and it wasn’t Adam. Alaska’s anchor leg was destroying the field. Adam kept up a spectacular pace and gained on the Alaska skier, but their height and power gave them the lead into the finish. My team and I all skied as hard as we could, and managed to turn out a spectacular race working together.
It’s been a great week at junior nationals and though I didn’t get the individual podium I was hoping for, I skied the fastest U16 leg in the relay, and helped my team to an epic silver medal.
None of this would have been possible without the wonderful support, motivation, and coaching I got from my parents and fellow grasshoppers.
More photos below… email readers, please click to web page to view… and click any photo for a larger image.
And finally, from his coaches: we had to record this on video because we couldn’t believe our ears. We were happy to have you training with the gang today, and are equally happy to help you fulfill this wish – happy birthday!!