Rikert EC Weekend Part IV: Sunday

Racing by Emily

On the bitter cold Sunday morning we were up early once again for a filling breakfast, once more warding off illness with fire cider. As we began to pack up, it was bittersweet to leave behind our lovely house (in particular the 4-person room that I shared with Eloise, Kennedy, and Greta in the basement with an adjacent cave at quick access through a swinging door). It was comforting knowing we would soon be back.

We loaded into two vans: a “loud” van for those of us who enjoy belting songs of questionable quality at the top of our lungs, and a “quiet” van for those of us who don’t want to their pre-race focus interrupted by such shenanigans. We pulled up to the venue accompanied by the sounds of the “loud” van singing “The Hall of Fame”.

Bluebird day!

After getting settled in the barn, we immediately set off to preview the race course. Kennedy, Greta, Johanna and I would be skating 10 kilometers for the first time, and we were all anticipating the longer race with a mixture of excitement and dread. The course was beautiful if a bit icy on the corners already, though the hundreds of racers that were about to go off had not hit it yet. As we went around the loop that we would complete three times, we envisioned the race: What technique will I use here? How should I maximize my speed around this dicy corner? How should I pace this?!? The coaches gave us advice, and warned us not to be too conservative though the race was longer than we were used to. As Evan put it, it’s better to push yourself so hard that you completely burn out so that you know your limits.

During our warmup on the course, the U16 girls sped by at a lightning pace on their 5K, and we cheered for Lucy, Hannah, Catherine, and Eloise!

After taking my lightning fast race skis for a spin, I began to ramp up the effort for a warm up, arriving at the start toasty warm to find Johanna and Elissa ready to begin their 10K right in front of me! In no time I was at the start of the line having shed my parka, and was out on the course!

I skied up the first hill, and rounded the corner to turn down, skidding on the ice that was uncovered from the racers before me. Then it was up through the stadium where parents, siblings, and other racers cheered me on, and a roller coaster through the woods. I felt great on the first loop, tired on the second, and just holding on through the third! However, it was extremely gratifying to cross the finish line with a sense of accomplishment for racing 10 whole kilometers!

Afterwards, we bundled up to cheer for the boys and watched them all have fantastic races!

The Trip Home  by Eloise

As we slowly loaded the skis on the van, athletes eager to rest their fatigued bodies, our positive team stood patiently in the brisk weather. We loaded the vans placing Johanna in a suitable place for her to extend her leg in the “aisle.” After jamming out to the playlist for a good amount of time, a few of us fell asleep, others conversed with a buddy, one knitted, and others peacefully watched the beautiful Vermont scenery go by through the window. On top of that variety of things, four athletes played the game of the weekend, Wise and Otherwise. While approaching the parking lot at Centerra, we attempted perhaps one of the most challenging feats that exists in the world today––hitting the high note in Kesha’s “Praying.” (No one could) After getting back to the parking lot with our voices strained, we slowly dribbled out of the vans afraid of the whiplash that comes with returning to the reality of our busy lives. A task that can be quite surprising after one of these dreamy, unforgettable opportunities that make all of us better people. We loaded our individual cars with our gear and reluctantly (or maybe not) left our teammates to sleep until the next day for practice.

(Slideshow photos below are, once again, courtesy of Dave Priganc)

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