We stood in our start positions hearing “We are the Champions” over the loud speakers in the stadium. As the music stopped with one minute and thirty seconds to the start the GMVS boys began some sort of tribal call throughout the pack. Once we got moving we realized exactly how cold it was. Seconds later the gun went off and pack took off towards the downhill left-hand corner at the end of the stadium. According to John’s phone, the real feel temperature was negative thirty-two degrees. The tracks were some of the firmest I have ever raced on, even though four races had taken place in the course already that day. The course climbed up into the woods where it snaked through a hillside before descending back down towards the stadium. It was also one of the most beautiful courses I have ever raced on. The sky was cloudless and blue, and the sun lit up the snow that covered the trees and created sharp shadows and patterns on the tracks. The world sparkled as the race field stretched out on the first lap thanks to the hilly first 2.5 kilometers. On the descent back into the stadium the field strung out even more until people were skiing in small groups of three or four as we lapped through to begin our second lap. After reaching the top of the course I realized how close to the finish we were and dug deep to hold on. After going over the last two steep bumps on the outside of the stadium we turned left on a banked turn to open up into the final stretch. After crossing the line we hurried to find warm, dry clothes before we headed off to cool down.
Travel by Perrin
We quickly packed up and immediately got on the road so we wouldn’t get home too late. The northern Maine hills rolled by outside the frosted windows of the van, and nine tired athletes dozed in and out of sleep as we drove closer and closer to the New Hampshire border. Our JNT playlist repeated itself over and over, and again we played “The Question Game”, in which we all ask each other deep questions to get to know each other better (and to just have some laughs). Night fell and on we drove, straight on a 70 mph highway, longing to arrive at our dinner stop: Whole Foods. At 7:00 we were wondering if we were close, and checked the map. We had passed the Whole Foods in Portland 30 minutes before. It was devastating. Our hunger and hanger grew, but Scottie saved the day by finding a Mexican restaurant in Portsmouth. When the van rolled up to Dos Amigos, we practically fell out of the van, and rushed to order several meals each.
Our stop at the restaurant also included the last of our nightly Menorah lighting; Malcolm and Eloise had brought a handmade cardboard Menorah complete with birthday candles, and each night they had said a prayer as the team crowded together for the ritual. We let the candles burn down, and then got back on the road to complete our long drive. It had been an unforgettable first weekend in a gorgeous and snowy Maine, but we missed having everyone there and can’t wait for the next Eastern Cup when we can have the whole team together at last!