Well, I have completed my last Eastern Cup as a member of the JNT program. I tried not to think about the season coming to an end too much during the school week but I couldn’t help feeling a bit sad. This was soon overshadowed by excitement though, because I knew I was going to make it a weekend I would never forget. Now let’s get right to the racing. I admit that Saturday was a great race for me, and an overall beautiful day at Craftsbury, but I’m here to talk about Sunday. Some people say that your body will tell you if you will have a good race or not, but I wasn’t feeling superhuman or unusually fit on Sunday. I was just mentally prepared and ready to rip the course apart. As the snow started to come down hard just an hour before my start, I realized that my strategy could not be to just “rip it apart” but rather be light on my feet and float across the deep ruts that would form across the trail.
BANG! I tore from the start tent and I leapt from ski to ski, gliding as much as possible. After I reached the top of the first climb, I noticed that my legs were already burning and my lungs already screamed in agony. “Come on Erik,” I thought to myself “you did not just go way too hard out of the start of your last Eastern Cup race, did you??” I soon found the answer to my question. This whole race was going to hurt, regardless of how hard I went from the start. I knew I had to lay it all out on the line and just go crazy out there. The first lap was smooth and once I went into the woods for my second time around, I turned up the heat once and for all. I started to pick off racers that had started minutes ahead of me, and that was all I needed to carry myself up the big hills.
It seemed like at every corner there was some group of JNT parents or team members, and calling out our names to help us keep pushing through the slowly growing layer of fresh powder forming on the trail. That’s what it’s always been about as long as I can rmember being a part of Ford Sayre. We push outselves to our limits and we help others push theirs. I finished the race in a full sprint, and stood at the finish area to take in the Eastern Cup excitement one last time. It was fitting to have my best Eastern Cup race ever as my last one, but it was also fitting to spend my last Eastern Cup with some of my favorite people on this planet. My JNT family.