by Arturo (“Arusco”, nickname oh so kindly given by Andrew “Dottery”) | 3.14-16.15, Fort Kent ME… basically Canada
8+ HOUR BUS RIDE #1 (Thursday)
I met a lot of great people who I will remember for as long as I live. Stuff that happened (not necessarily in order of occurrence):
- Lots of sleeping people
- lots of chaos
- 1 minute/person speed dating for 10 minutes (initiated by the coaches)
- blue and black pens (not sure why)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at quite the unnecessary volume
- arrival (predicted arrival time by bus driver : 6:03). Actual arrival time (6:03) No area code pun intended.
- dinner (at the UFK) and jackets!!
YANKEE SWAP in the Northern Door Inn Lobby . Some popular/weird items:
- A PillowPet and some candy
- Darn Tough USA socks (exactly like Colin’s from the Stowe derby)
- A hello Kitty gingerbread house/cake thing.
- a Rasta Banana stuffy ( christened Phil Smith by my roommates George Henry (GH) Werowinski and Jack Burnham, the legend himself)
…And much, much more…
STADIUM TOUR (Friday AM)
Nothing like a morning stadium tour, right? Exactly. Especially on a bright, sunny, cloudless morning following a wonderful breakfast at the UFK. Not even the miserably cold morning air could ruin the day.
After touring the venue, we returned to the Northern Door Inn (about 50 paces from the Canadian border) for a 30 minute jog/run, exploring the town, and getting distracted by creeping halfway across the river to Canada. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel and were given our race suits, and some down time.
SKATE 5K (Friday PM)
(Skipping ahead to my race, as I feel my warm-up loop went fine)
Honestly, I’d probably say that the 5k skate was my best race for a whole slough of reasons, including that it was my first race of the weekend, and also because it was in the afternoon, so I had more than enough time to rest up for it. The course, however, probably wasn’t my favorite, but perhaps my second choice. My first choice was the sprint course mainly because of the length. In the skate 5k, I managed to stay second out of four in my heat (behind a Vermont kid, obviously) for about 2k until the Maine skier also passed me. However, the Massachusetts guy stayed behind me the whole way, and I was only passed by a Vermont kid 11 numbers behind me (#88). (Whoo, that’s a lot).
I finished strong, and put everything that I had left into the finish whiskers.
While I didn’t make 40th, I placed 5th for NH, and 43rd overall, tying a teammate. Later that night, we went to the UFK for dinner again and other fun activities, resulting in fun prizes (my old J2’s race suit, for example) and enough peer pressure to make me breakdance a little bit in the parking lot when we got back to the hotel.
CLASSIC 5K (Saturday AM)
After the 5k skate, my performance/results gradually diminished…but not too much. Obviously, a 3:30pm 5k skate followed by an 11am 5k classic can impact one’s performance. However, the classic course was loved because the 3rd kilometer was all downhill and hated because the fourth felt like going up a cliff. But by the time my race began, I had a plan. I’d hugged the inside edge on all of the turns on the skate course, and planned to do the same on the classic, but if a flat followed a descent and I could glide along the flat with the occasional double-pole, I’d focus on my double-pole technique and form. So, that’s what I did. The Vermont and Maine racers shot out ahead (again), and I raced with the Massachusetts kid right on my tail. Of course, 88 soon passed us both. This time, though, instead of him passing me on a hill, he passed me on a flat, so I stayed close in his wake for about a kilometer until the next hill. The Massachusetts kid (let’s call him Miles), started to get uncomfortably close about halfway up the 3rd kilometer. I’ve discovered from previous experiments and results that I often do better when I’m right on someone’s tail than I do when I’m the leader. So, as we came to the last peak of the hill, I let Miles pass by, but vowed to never let him get more than 4 meters away. As we crossed the flat and started towards the wax building, Miles went into a tuck, so I stepped to the inside, and with one fluid double-pole, shot forward about 2 meters. As we neared the wax building, one of his coaches yelled “You’ve got this, Miles! Nobody’s gonna get by you!”, which, of course, sparked my little motivational fire into a roaring, uncontrollable blaze.
I glanced ahead and saw the wax building looming over the track, and heard my teammates cheering for me as we came out of the woods. With newfound energy, I roared “Track!” and shot past him, determined to keep the lead all the way to the end. From there on until the finish whiskers, the rest of the course through the stadium was all a blur, but I could feel him starting to edge closer. But I never stopped pushing myself forward:
“Up the hill, down the hill, up the hill, around the top, down the hill, sprint over the bump, around the corner, past the finish, around the little loop (keep the inside edge, and don’t do anything you don’t need to), and into the finish straightaway. Double-pole…Efficiency is key…Perfect form…And again..And again…push and never let down…Don’t stop until both skis have completely crossed the line…Yes, that’s Miles a few meters back…go for the split-leg finish…you’ve got nothing to lose…and over the line. Fall down. Get up. Take your skis and poles off. Congratulate Miles, teammates, and anyone else. Offer to take other people’s skis off also. Go get water cups for everyone. Get yourself 2 water cups. Drink 1.5 cups. Splash the remaining half on your face/head. Grab warm layers from Team NH cubby. Go back to help out finishing teammates. Cheer and celebrate with them. Do a few post-race stretches. Warm down. Good work. Now go get some lunch”
And hey…47th. That’s not too bad.
1.something K SKATE SPRINT (SATURDAY PM)
The (skate) sprint was a different story. The start was different, and the course was the opposite direction of all of the other courses so far. The course started on a flat, then immediately shot up the hill around behind the lodge, cut to the right of the wax building, and was mostly downhill and flat from there, until the last little climb up to the finish. Easy, right? Yeah, basically, except for a tiny little hiccup called the final climb being complete slush. Oof. The start went fine, I stayed ahead on the double-pole, and fell in behind the Vermonter. Unfortunately, I realize now that I probably could’ve stayed ahead of the Maineiac the whole way, but instead, I stepped aside to let him pass, as to avoid a crash. And from there, he chased the Green Mountaineer with me applying heat until they both lost me on the flat. I didn’t forget about Miles, though, and made sure to stay in my groove ahead of him for the whole course. I succeeded, and even though I felt a little tired on the slush-hill, was able to gain a little time on the Maine racer, who must’ve been feeling the same way. I didn’t see Miles at all during the race, but he told me afterward that he felt pretty good.
It wasn’t my best race, though. I checked the live timing and discovered I was in 35th, but, of course, live timing changes. For me, it changed 16 places for the worst, landing me in 51st. Hmmph. Anyway, after lunch and few warm down laps, we found out about what soon became the best part of the day (and for many, the weekend) for the the entire New Hampshire party crew (ski team). I don’t know whose idea it was, but it was a good one.
THE PLAN IN 20 STEPS:
- warm down
- layers and pack up day bags
- find out discipline for relay (classic for me)
- give relay race skis to wax team / 5.5 Take picture of non-relay skis and poles, in case they..um… die?
- put day bags on the bus
- meet behind the wax building on other skis ( skate for me)
- ski along skate course to the cell tower at the top of the hill where the alpine/nordic areas overlap
- take lots of photos
- hit the slopes (Yes, all 50+ of us, less bus driver and coach Steve O.)
- gather at the bottom and feel awesome (This is a little less than half of the team. The whole team went down)
- send a few guys back up partway to take pictures and hit a jump.
- take skis off
- put skis on the bus
- walk back to the hotel
- put skis in ski bags; load the bus again
- meet at the bus to go to the banquet.
BANQUET (Saturday PM)
The banquet was fun, as I ended up with a nice bike jersey from the raffle table.
RELAY (Classic Boy, Leg 2) Sunday AM
Nobody was looking forward to Sunday. At all. Nobody. Sunday represented a number of unfortunate things, including:
- Waking up 15 minutes earlier (actually, waking up in general)
- Being fully packed and all bags on the bus 45 minutes later
- Snowing heavily
- A classic course involving the rough 1k down, 1k up hill.
- 8+ hours on the bus
- The team dispersing
- Getting home past midnight
- The end.
But hey, it’s not over ’til it’s over.
It was a pretty good course, and I felt pretty good about my performance, as I was only passed by one racer (Yes…from Vermont), and I managed to stay ahead of and/or pass at least 5 other skiers. I’d say that my best part of the relay was my neck-and-neck with the Maineiac next to me, which started at the wax building, when he sidled up next to me. From there, we both fought aggressively for the lead as we stride-sprinted up the steep behind the lodge, tucked the downhill, until he passed me on the peak of the last climb (behind the bleachers). But I was far from done with him. Without missing a beat, I stepped in behind him as we rounded the corner down into the stadium. From there, we each took a lane, and kept working hard. He stayed in his tuck and started to double pole as he came onto the flat, but I pushed once at the top of the hill, and was able to glide right up next to him, as we came up to the little bump over the tunnel in front of/under the announcing building, into the racers’ pen. What happened next, I’d been thinking about for the entire weekend, and practicing for about a month.
We approached the bump still in our double-pole battle, determined to fight it out all the way to the tag zone. However, I had the inside edge, and I’d been paying attention to Falun.
Especially the classic sprint, and how Petter Northug took the inside of the last small climb, and how he (and everyone else) arguably strode up the hill, but more accurately, ran. So that’s exactly what I did, and I gained a good 6 feet on the Maine kid, and held the lead all the way to the end of the tag zone. And then, the cold set in…
The 8+ hours on the bus ride back were quite exciting, including (but not limited to)
- Laughing as we passed Massachusetts’s stuck bus, and laughing even harder when we saw Vermont’s bus stuck (again. They’d gotten stuck Sunday morning on the road up to the venue, and thus had to load onto Maine’s school bus)
- an unrated Will Ferrell movie (Talladega Nights) “if you ain’t first…you’re last”
- a 2 hour long masseuse competition (I won)
- 12oz of Red Bull, more than enough Gatorade, a TruMoo, and a lip-sync rap battle
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
- me falling from the ceiling… (you really had to be there)
- the best group of people that I could’ve possibly ended up with for the weekend, and who I feel I’ve grown so much closer to, and I can’t wait to see everyone next season!!