by Perrin (photos by Emily, Margaret Rightmire, Dave Priganc)
Until the van departed for Craftsbury last weekend, I hadn’t thought much about this being my last year on JNT. Throughout the weekend I slowly had the realization that this was the last time I was going to have a true JNT race weekend. These weekends are my favorite part of JNT – what could be better than hanging out and having fun with an awesome team while skiing for an entire weekend?! This weekend especially highlighted how our team, that started out as just a bunch of kids from different schools, has now become a close knit “family”, as Hannah so accurately put it.
After the races on Saturday, I sat with Eloise doing some math homework, and realized that I kept looking out the window in anticipation of the arrival of the other half of the team. Their van drove up and I found myself smiling: finally we had the whole entire team together under one roof! We cooked up an impressive feast, including the signature brownies, and then stuffed ourselves into the small dining room to eat. We played a game at dinner where everyone wrote something down that no one else knew about them and then we had to guess who’s was who’s. Despite having been on JNT for four years with some fellow athletes, I never knew that Johanna likes eating kiwis with their skins on, and a young Malcolm once found a cat and kept it in his basement for 3 weeks. After dinner we played ‘the tapping game” which is basically a feel-good game where everyone closes their eyes and a people tap those who they appreciate for different things. The night only got better when we had brownies and ice cream during a cozy team meeting, where it became apparent just how much the team meant to everyone.
On Sunday morning I woke up to the sound of the U16 girls leaving for their race, and then rolled back over to sleep for one more precious hour. After the classic JNT breakfast of cheesy eggs and oatmeal, the U18 girls piled into the van to head to the venue. We arrived in time to cheer the U16 boys on as they started! (it was a mass start skate day so they all started at the same time). Daniel pushed through his race with positivity despite breaking the tip of his ski out of the start (so it dragged along the whole race).
I didn’t know what to think about this race. I had felt awesome the day before in the 5k classic but 10k skates have not been my strong-suit so I was a bit nervous. At the crowded start, I smiled over at Greta who was right next to me, and then after several start gun malfunctions, we were off. I started off fast and strong, but soon my legs felt the fatigue start to set in and I felt bogged down on the uphills. I kept pushing, around the first lap and into the second. As I pushed up the first big hill of the second lap, Kennedy and Emily came cruising along behind me. They were skiing beautifully and gave me the motivation to keep going over the top of the hill. I passed coaches corner and the extra cheering gave me enough energy to fuel me to the finish line. I fell over into the finish pen and could barely stand up, so I knew that I had given it my all despite where I ended up on the results list.
After lots of tired hugs and smiles of accomplishment, the girls all met up to CHEER! With Johanna’s glitter skills (she was unable to race — ask her if you want the story of her trip to the hospital the day before — don’t worry she is okay) we were prepared for some professional cheering. Catherine even donned a sparkly mustache and many of us had gold glitter as a kind of alternative eyeshadow! We all headed out to cheer the boys on during their 15 km skate race (3 loops of the course). The men’s pack stayed very close together on the first lap and all the JNT boys looked awesome!
While all the girls wore green and blue ribbon in their hair, Malcolm was brave enough to tie a bow on the bridge of his glasses. I guess it was worth it to sacrifice some visibility for style. We skied back and forth on the course to catch the boys on different sections, and by their third lap my voice was almost gone and I was feeling light headed from shouting so much. We joked that it was basically another race for us cheerers. The boys all pushed hard to the finish, but after the race we learned that Jacob had fallen during the race, hit his head and gotten a concussion. We are all sending our healing energy to him and hope he gets better soon! Who knew XC skiing could be such an impact sport!
We packed the vans, and then 10 feet into our drive home we got too close to the edge of the road and got stuck in the snow. I guess Craftsbury just didn’t want us to leave:) Kindly, one of their groomers used a chain to pull us out while a line of cars waited, and we were finally on our way. Many chili lime chips, clementines, and m&m’s later we had sung our hearts out to Dennis’s special playlist and were home. It had been my favorite JNT weekend yet, and I am so grateful to have had all of those incredible team travel experiences. They have truthfully been the highlight of my high school years! I drove home in my car with the music on and a smile on my face, thinking about how lucky I am to have such a great group of friends/teammates, and coaches. Being on a team with people from 5 different schools is a pretty cool thing! Thank you everyone for making my last travel weekend the best! And now onto our HOME race at Oak Hill! Woo Hoo!
Enjoy the slideshow below!