Our ski season started back in November with a very early batch of snow. Fortunately, this meant we had a fairly short dryland season before Garipay was skiable. By late December, we competed in the first Eastern Cup weekend in Craftsbury, Vermont. Hannah wrote this blog back in December about the weekend, and it unfortunately never got posted because we didn’t have any photos:
Making the Best of Dark Days (by Hannah)
On the winter solstice, in the pouring rain and fog, the JNT left for our first Eastern Cup of the season: skate sprints on Saturday, and 5k (U16/U18 girls) and 10k skate (U18-20 boys) on Sunday. While the coaches peered through the fog and darkness navigating the vans and SUV northward, the fun began, including listening to our newly assembled JNT playlist, pondering logic puzzles courtesy of Spencer, and generally chatting and catching up with teammates, both old and new. Pulling into the uphill ice-glazed driveway, the traditional Craftsbury van traction troubles ensued, but Scottie and Jennie’s strategic maneuvering quickly solved the problem, and for a change, we had a reason to be grateful that the side of the driveway was a strip of mud. As we piled out of the vans, older team members reminisced about previous Craftsbury weekends and their memorable stories (look back through the blog and find them!).
For house chores, we randomly divided up into three teams, named Extra Blue, Klister, and Glitter. My crew, Extra Blue, had several new JNT athletes who were very enthusiastic and helpful (shoutout to you all), and we prepared the traditional burrito/salad meal. While I did my best on the salad, it still wasn’t quite as good as Johanna’s salads last year. I’ll keep trying 🙂
After a quick team meeting, the girls went back to the other house for the night, where despite the colder-than-outside temperature, we slept soundly, happy to be on break from school.
Saturday morning at the race venue, the rain petered out to drizzle and then *gasp* snow, as we warmed up and raced the qualifiers. Many of us were in different places, some recovering from frustrating injuries and illnesses, others feeling absolutely awesome, and almost everyone feeling nervous and excited for this first race. However, the team (coaches, athletes, and alums) still had our supportive and positive spirit that makes being a part of JNT so wonderful. Once the qualifiers had run, those of us who hadn’t made heats returned to the houses, while the remaining athletes holed up in the nordic center for a long wait. Our still-racing teammates skied very fast, and we had two Ford Sayre podiums by the end of the day.
Meanwhile, at the main house, the solstice theme of darkness continued as around 1 pm, the power went out. For most of the afternoon, this was not particularly bothersome, aside from a lack of running water and increasingly dark rooms, and some games of ping pong and pool by headlamp light continued in the basement. In the living room, Greta inspired many artistic endeavors as she drew an incredibly detailed and realistic portrait of Andy, while Eloise drew Greta drawing Andy, I drew Eloise drawing Greta, Lucy drew me drawing Eloise, and then everyone started randomly drawing each other with varying degrees of success. Meanwhile, Dennis worked very hard to get our power back, making many telephone calls and trips to the village. The dinner crew started chopping vegetables by headlamp in the pitch black kitchen, but the coaches eventually decided to pack everyone, along with dinner makings, into the vans and go over to the girls house to cook. Fortunately, we couldn’t actually get out of the driveway, because a power truck appeared and a few minutes later, the lights were back on. Finally, the pasta was bubbling on the stove and everything seemed normal…until the lights went out again. More phonecalls were made, our resident engineers Keelan, Justin, and Dirk hooked up the team generator to power a lamp in the kitchen, and we had a candlelit dinner. Eventually, the fiasco was resolved, the electrician who had returned assured us that he had fixed the problem, and the electrical systems remained functional for the rest of the weekend.
A beautiful sunrise with snowflakes drifting down greeted us on Sunday morning, and the race course was amazingly fast for our 5k/10k races (now changed to individual start, because of the rain on Friday). I felt like I was flying on the flats and downhills, and my personal nemesis, the uphill climbing section starting at about 3k, was the best I’ve ever skied it. All in all, this Eastern Cup left me feeling excited for the season to come, both for my own races, and for all the promise my teammates were showing. Reflecting on the sleepy van-ride back, several of us discussed with Dennis the very real, tangible effects we had felt from the structure of our training in the past few weeks, and the year in general, and how our future plans made sense, not just from an intellectual training theory standpoint, but in a really personal, physical way. Next year, I realized, just over a week away, is going to be exciting, and I am looking forward to it.