[event date: 3.21.16]
Driving through Vermont on my way to the individual start distance skate race at Supertour Finals on Monday, it was hard to imagine there being any snow to ski on. Even as I neared Craftsbury, the ground was still dry and barren. However, upon arrival, I was amazed to see a pristine loop of snow snaking through the woods. I got out of the car just in time to watch the first finishers of the women’s race. They seemed to be skiing incredibly fast and it was amazing to watch Jessie Diggins V2 up the final hill sensationally quickly to a 30+ second lead. Adam Terko from Mansfield Nordic was testing waxes and generously offered to topcoat my skis. Eventually, I got on the course and started skiing around. There seemed to be a lot of fast people there. I saw tried chasing Noah Hoffman, Paddy Caldwell, Kris Freeman, and Tad Elliot on my course preview, but then decided that it probably shouldn’t be an L3 course preview, so I backed off. I skied another lap with Adam Terko, then got off the course before it closed. I started 34 minutes after the first starter, so I ran around, took off my down shorts, skied some L3 and speeds on a little warmup loop, then picked up my race skis and headed to the start.
After getting a chip on my left shin, I entered the start and got ready to race. I watched the starting clock tick down and relaxed, realizing that starting this course too hard would be a terrible idea. When the starting clock reached zero, I flew out of the start with a quick tempo before dropping into the first dip on Lemon’s Haunt. I V2ed quickly over the top of the hill then along a flat. I tried to ski the transitions quickly, and speed over every little bump. I reached a medium sized uphill and worked on being super light and quick to V2 up the whole climb. I tuck skated around coaches corner, and went into a big steep downhill that was part of the sprint loop. On the next uphill, I started catching another skier and slowly worked on reeling them in. The course started a super long downhill, and my skis slowly reeled in the skier ahead of me. I rested my elbows on my knees to rest my quads. The downhills had a couble of icy corners, but by taking the right line, I was able to avoid crashing. I went past a sign reading “lowest point on the course.” This was where the climbing began. I attacked the hill then sped up significantly when I saw Henry Mcgrew holding a camera, a friend of mine from New York who had come with Everett Sapp to film the races. I reached Screamin Mimi, the largest hill in the course, and V1ed all the way to the top, (the spectators here really helped). By this point, my quads were burning, so I made my arms move faster to force my tempo higher and let my upper body accelerate me over the hill. I went through the stadium and started my second lap. On my second lap I slowly reeled in Kamran Husain from SMS, and passed him going up Screamin Mimi. On my third lap, I caught a pretty fast college skier who I stuck with for half a lap then dropped. I was getting splits off of Bill Harmeyer who I had been around 8-12 seconds ahead of for the first 3 laps, and I was worried that he would kick and catch me on the fourth lap. Because this was the final lap, I rested my legs on the downhills and let my heart rate drop into high L3, then attacked on the climb. Halfway up Screamin Mimi my quads were in agony, but I ignored the pain and kept pushing. I entered the stadium and V2ed up the final hill. I could see the finish and pushed as hard as I could, forcing my legs to keep supporting me. As soon as I crossed the finish line, my legs were so fried that I collapsed into the snow and lay on the pleasantly cool ground, gasping for breath. I ended up being the fastest U18 by almost a minute and the fifth fastest U20. It was amazing to race with America’s best and to ski on the best snow I’ve seen in all of March.