At around five a.m., I rose from my own bed, bewildered why I was alone in my room without teammates to wake me up. It threw me off, but I soon realized that this was our home-course (Oak Hill!!) weekend and we weren’t staying together as a team. Tired and sore from my race the previous morning, I struggled into my race suit and headed downstairs. After a lonely JNT breakfast of oatmeal and eggs, I was ready to join my team and get excited for the race with them. As I stepped outside to load my skis into my car, I felt the first drops of rain splash on my face, excitedly anticipating the “wet, wild, and woolly” conditions that would likely occur at the Holderness venue. I drove through the dark to Centerra, listening to music along the way and reflecting nostalgically on the fact that this race was the last high school eastern cup for the seniors on our team. Race conditions and weather aside, I knew that this day would be exhilarating for my team.
Before warming up, our team spent at least half an hour decorating each other’s faces with glitter and tying ribbons in hair. Inspired by Jessie Diggins and her love of glitter, over the course of four eastern cup weekends our team’s glitter and ribbon supply multiplied, soon becoming overwhelming with choices, including “unicorn snot” glitter and Ford Sayre colored ribbons. Putting on glitter was so much fun for us that we convinced our coaches to participate in the team spirit, even Dennis! Glittery and psyched for the race, our team emerged from the lodge and infested the wax tent, demanding which klister to put on our skis.
Waxing was tricky, and as the coaches diligently tested a variety of klister potions, we klistered up with a universal klister and previewed the course on our warm up skis. Halfway through my warm up, I tested my waxed race klister ski against a team zero ski, and the choice was difficult. Neither ski was faster on the downhills, yet both skis were slightly slipping on the uphills. I decided to go with the klister skis, but requested more kick. Although some of us decided to use our klister skis, a majority of my teammates decided to use the team zeros. My kick was perfect!
As I finished my warm up and stood in line at the start, I was strangely calm as I watched teammates and friends embark on a ten kilometer classic race. A wintery mix was falling, and I pulled down my glasses. Finally, it was my turn to start, and I strode from the starting gate, feeling the familiar race feelings settle over me. Even with the fifteen second gap between racers, I was soon surrounded by other girls. The course was beautiful and felt like a maze; I never really quite knew where I was until I entered the stadium for my second lap! I lapped through and picked up my pace, making my second lap even more fun than the first. I skied with a pack of girls the whole time, and it felt empowering to work together with girls that I know and admire. After I crossed the finish line, I felt as if I’d given the race my best effort, and I changed into dry layers to cheer for my teammates (and coaches!) who were racing.
After the awards and Junior National team naming ceremony, our team loaded up our van and drove home, stopping once along the way at Dunkin’ Donuts for our annual team donut feast.
Thanks to Dave Priganc for all of these awesome photos – see more here!