by Adam | Rumford ME, 3.21.15
Due to my performance in the skate the day before, I was seeded into the front row. I was surrounded by my older J1 friends from VT and MA, who I had seen produce spectacular results at the Eastern Cups and at Junior Nationals. This race was 7.5 km. 50% longer than my longest race of the season. The ten lanes of tracks disappeared out of the start and the trail narrowed rapidly to a meager 2 lanes. I was in the lane second farthest to the right and one of my friends from CSU, Lewis Nottonson, was in the track furthest to the right. To the right of the start, was the lap lane, which went around the outside of the stadium. I told Lewis that we should grab the two tracks in the lap lane as soon as we got out of the start to secure a position and stay out of any possible crashes. Lewis agreed that was a good idea as we prepared to start. The gun went off and I ran out of the start, transitioning to a quick double pole. I tried not to fall too far back and jumped into one of the two tracks behind Lewis that exited the lap lane. As the trail narrowed, all the skiers from the left side of the start had to move over, some ending up ahead of us, but because we had grabbed the tracks early, we had secured ourselves spaces. We started the first downhill Vermont and Massachusetts skiers slowly glided by me.
It was a difficult waxing day and all of the teams had struggled to find functional kick, so as we rounded the corner and started up the hill, I found myself in a pack of skiers either herringboning or double polling. I focused on staying light and fast, not being too powerful, and passed people up the hills with a quick herringbone. We began the fun part of the course, high school hill. Everyone ahead of me was taking the inside line on the left side of the hill, but they were getting stuck behind the people ahead of them and having to slow down and widen their stride in the mushy snow. I herringboned past them in the harder snow on the right, before and over the top of the hill and going into a tuck. People glided past me on the downhills, but I herringboned up the following hills, catching people each one of them. I double poled through the stadium before starting my second lap. I hadn’t moved up into the top 10 yet, but the lead pack (other than Lance Mckenney who broke away out of the start) was still within reach. On the downhill, Adam Witkowski and Scott Mooney pulled ahead of me. I started catching people one by one with bursts of quick double pole. The course began a sharp uphill turn to the right, and I ran up the inside edge, jumping in behind Scott. As the course reached high school hill, I saw my opportunity and took the unused right hand side of the trail. I went into a sprinting herringbone and was amazed to find that I was rapidly gaining on the leaders. Powered on from cheering from my coaches and spectators, I floated away from Adam Witkowski and Scott Mooney and rapidly caught up with Daniel Streinz, Gavin Mcewen, and Koby Gordon, some of New England’s fastest U18 skiers.
I flew over the top of the hill even with the leaders and settled into a low tuck. Koby, Gavin, and Daniel began to pull away from me on the downhill. I broke into a sprinting herringbone up the last rolling hills to regain contact before doing all I could to hang on as we started the final downhill. By the end of the downhill, they had enough of a lead that catching them would be almost impossible. I stayed even with them in the double pole sprint, but was too far back to make a move for the podium spot. I crossed the line in what I thought was 4th, but was actually 5th (didn’t realize Lance Mckenney broke off the pack and won by 20 seconds). Although I was very excited about my top 5 finish, I was more happy that I had been able to finish a mass start race within 5.5 seconds of Daniel Streinz (3rd in JN MU18 sprint) and Gavin McEwen (7th in JN MU18 Sprint and 4th in JN MU18 Freestyle individual) showing that I am capable of competing with some of the best U18s in New England and the Country. I’m excited for 15km races and new opponents already!