Eastern Cup #2 — Craftsbury Racing

An excellent weekend of racing! We’re so proud of the athletes that raced at Craftsbury this weekend. The American Nordic world converged on Northeastern Vermont for a combined Supertour, EISA Carnival, and Eastern Cup, which made for as deep and talented a field as any outside of US Nationals. 

Here’s what our skiers had to say about the weekend. Note that some athletes did not get a chance to chime in as they worked diligently on homework (or worked diligently on recovery and napped), but we’ll hear from them next time!

Justice: I was very pleased with my skate race. I think two takeaways that I did well was that I kept forward technique and I pushed hard over the hills. My classic race was not great but I still feel good about the weekend. The conditions were tough and unfortunately I broke a pole.

 

Victoria: Super tough week back into ski racing, but being apart of Ford Sayre for a weekend made it easier. Skate race wasn’t too bad, and I skied smart to finish with an okay result. Classic race was emotionally and physically taxing, but I’m glad I didn’t drop out like I considered and kept on shuffling (literally) forwards. It’s always hard to transition from the front of the pack in past years to the back and not compare yourself to a previous you. Just got to be patient going forwards and accept that coming back into this sport is going to be hard. I’m pleased that I faced my fear and raced this weekend, even though I hadn’t really been training. I just need to keep my eyes up and not allow my results to have power over me as I continue moving forwards. Looking forward to improving in the rest of the season.

 

Ann: I was a bit nervous going into a weekend of two distance races, but soon realized that I had it better (or worse, depending on how you look at it) off than some of my teammates, who would be racing a 5k and a 10k or a 10k and a 15k. My skate race was probably one of my best races ever. I was able to use the uphills to my advantage and get into a solid rhythm on the tough ones. It was a very hilly course, but a good course for me. It was the hardest race I have ever done but one of the best. The classic race was not as good, and I was very tired from Saturday. It took a while to be able to really “work” my wax, but when I did, it went well. All in all, a great weekend of racing.

Hannah: Saturday was a great race. I felt like I skied big and strong “like a monster,” which I told Hilary was my goal before my race. My warmup felt amazing, and during the race, I felt like I was going pretty consistently hard, to the point where I was struggling to breathe going up Screaming Mimi. I crossed the finish line, flopped in the snow, and inhaled large quantities of nice air. I didn’t know I could breathe that fast. Sunday was overall a big success, but not in conventional terms. Before the race, I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry, but I went to the start and started. During the race, kick was minimal, and life was rough. I was planning where to drop out, but I didn’t. Instead, I powered through, by a mixture of double-poling, stomp-running, and a little herringbone. I finished, and that was a huge success for the day.

Spencer: I did my first 15k! Ow. Definitely longer than a 10k. And a lot harder. Oh, and did I mention longer? Yeah. But also really fun. I think it was probably my best 15k yet! I felt pretty good, although I did crash. I caught a tip in the powder, and gave Nacio some quality entertainment! The crash made me angry though, so for the rest of my race, I felt good.

Dirk: Saturday’s individual start 10k skate went pretty well in general, but the course was very hard and I was tired especially in the legs, but also mentally. My skis were good but not amazing like they were on Sunday. The 15k classic was very fun and I felt good, energized and well fueled. The start was messy, and I did take a big tumble on a downhill in the first lap that set me back a long way, but I was able to come back from it. I found a good group to hang with for the race and my skis were much faster on the downhill. I did have to concentrate on my striding in order to get good kick, but it was probably good for me. Takeaways are not to give up hope when something goes wrong. The fall in the first lap put me back like 20 places but it also made me mad and I was able to catch back up throughout the race. Also don’t resort to herringbone as soon as you slip the first time, try to adjust your technique to make the wax work.

Jacob: It was wonderful to have so many parents and teammates out on the course cheering this weekend! That encouragement certainly made the five trips up Mimi’s a little easier. Although I didn’t have the races I was hoping for this weekend, I am proud of the way I attacked the uphills and stayed very focused even while skiing alone for long stretches of the formidable Craftsbury course.  Major props to all the parents who put together the food table and also to Victoria for jumping into her first races of the year! Outside of the tracks, highlights of the weekend include Hilary’s birthday party on Friday night, complete with cake, balloons, streamers, and party hats; and Nacio reading Dr. Seuss to the boys by firelight for our Friday night bedtime story (the boys’ house had neither Wi-Fi nor cell service). Above all else, this weekend was a reminder of the amazing chemistry and positive energy that this team has. I will miss all of you so much while racing across the pond in Norway for the rest of the season!

The Silver Fox Trot — A Ford Sayre Classic!

What a day for the Ford Sayre Nordic community!

A new week, another classic New England ski race, and substantially different weather than last Saturday’s Bogburn. But the cold could not deter the New England Nordic faithful from a day of racing at Rikert Nordic Center for this year’s Silver Fox Trot.

All told, a staggering 227 racers took to the starting line. A full 90 of those skiers were affiliated with Ford Sayre; parents and volunteer who have seen the Silver Fox Trot evolve over the years assumed both totals were among the highest ever. The Rikert crew worked tirelessly to provide excellent skiing on several iterations of their race course. Highlights from racing included countless top tens for Ford Sayre skiers, podium finishes for Wendall Durham and Tomas Masterson, a win for Sarah Glueck and one very high stakes Chicken Race. We were impressed by all the gutsy racing!

None of this would have been possible without all the volunteers. Special shoutouts to Margaret Loftus and Jonathan Durham for organizing and directing the entire operation; to Jonathan Chipman and Hope Rennie for coordinating the timing and registration operations; and the JNT team and parents for volunteering throughout the morning and then throwing bibs on and taking part in the Citizens Race! The Silver Fox Trot is many things at once — a mainstay on the New England Nordic race calendar, an event for skiers of every age, ability, and inclination, and a celebration of the Ford Sayre community. This year’s edition was a huge success, and we feel very proud and grateful to be a part of such a special organization.

 

A Not-So-Brief (because I am SICK of word counts) Personal History of the Bogburn, Mostly through Wax Incidents

By Hannah

The Bogburn was my first race ever: I waddled frantically around the Lollipop loop, coming in third and receiving a Kit-Kat for my efforts. 

Is a Kit-Kat a lollipop? 

No. 

Did this bother me? 

Yes… 

…but I like Kit-Kats better anyways so it’s all good. 

As far as I can remember, I’ve skied in every Bogburn since then. An unseasonably warm (or was it cold?) day in BKL introduced me and my dad to the wonders of klister. He recalls almost setting Jay on fire with a blowtorch. My freshman year brought another klistery Bogburn, as detailed in my post from three years ago, Fogburn Bogburn. The most memorable result of this race was the accidental almost-combustion of Tobin’s skis by another overly enthusiastic blow-torch-wielding middle schooler (who shall go unnamed) attempting to clean off the klister. 

Did I say klister? 

I meant klister-pine-needle-barf-like mixture. 

Sophomore year was my only Bogburn not at the Bogburn trails, and I ambitiously decided to double-pole all nine kilometers of the Woodstock loop. In that race, I discovered that double-pole endurance was an area that I had lots of potential to improve in…but I finished!

Fast-forward another year, and we faced the opposite challenge of the Fogburn. The wax of the day was Special Green, and as I was (and still am) learning the ins and outs of ski wax lore, I thought this was the same as the Swix VG35 basebinder. So…I waxed my skis with basebinder. It worked pretty well though! The shorts and t-shirt I wore at the Fogburn, however, would not have cut it in this particular Bogburn.

 

Wait…you wanted to actually hear about this year’s Bogburn? Well, I’m a senior now, so I’m allowed to reminisce about the past happy years of my youth. But the 2020 Bogburn was perhaps the best yet, despite bib-and-shorts racing temperatures, so here goes:

 

The waxing for this race was relatively simple: pick the warmest klister possible. I tested a Rex klister that came from an ancient gold-colored tube and appeared transparent yellow in small quantities but electric blue when spread on the kick zone. Hilary dubbed it the radioactive wax. It worked like a charm, and so I grabbed my training skis to wax up for the race. I applied a beautiful, thin layer of a Rex klister that came from an ancient gold-colored tube and appeared transparent yellow. The fact that it never looked electric blue should have tipped me off, but as I tested my skis 20 minutes before the race, just in case, I discovered I had no kick at all. I had not noticed the tiny “OU” on the tube, which differed from my original tube’s “OY”. With fifteen minutes to start, I cleaned off my painstaking but useless klister job and coaxed the last dregs of the sacred radioactive OY klister onto my skis. In the race, I had nearly perfect kick, as long as I had nearly perfect technique, which is a nearly perfect situation to be in.

Out on course, the magical single-track Bogburn trails swoop up, down, and around in convoluted loops that even my fine-tuned sense of direction can’t keep track of. Most races, I look at a map, plan out my race, and decide how I’m going to approach different sections, but the Bogburn is totally different. For me, it’s a journey through a beautiful, magical forest—perhaps there is some sense to Autocorrect’s attempts to change “Bogburn” to “hobbit”—and I take every twist, climb, and loopy descent as it comes.

No one that I know understands exactly how the start order is determined, but this year, I started in the middle of a bunch of Dartmouth women, with a few other U18s sprinkled ahead of me. For the first lap of the race, I always had a Dartmouth skier ahead of me to chase, and as Anna Lehmann or Molly Gellert (for example) passed me, I would cling to their tails and learn as much as I could from their skiing. 

All these amazing women pulled me forward with their momentum, and going through the lap lane, I sighted Sage and Aggie, who had started about a minute ahead of me. I worked on closing the gap and passing them for the second lap of the race, and the fast guys started catching me, giving me yet more speedy skiers to chase. 

As one tucking green-clad skier passed through my peripheral vision, he kindly warned me, “Three more coming!” 

These three turned out to be, in quick succession, another Dartmouth skier, my coach Luke (in his purple cow suit), and some other guy. Other friends I saw out there included Dirk and Elissa, who passed me just before the end, and Barry Kitch, who headed out on his first lap just as I was going through for my second. Basically, the Bogburn gives you the chance to ski with and chase a whole bunch of skiers you don’t normally get to be around. 

With the inspiration and challenge of all the skiers around me, I found myself pushing closer to my limits. By the last few kilometers, my legs and arms were jelly and most of my focus went into staying upright on the last few curves. And for the first time, ten years after my first race ever, I finally got the coveted Bogburn hat. See you next year, Bogburn—I’m already excited!

Eastern Cup #1 — Quarry Road

The first Eastern Cup is in the books! As the first installment of four Eastern Cup weekends, the competition was fierce and margins were narrow. This race series serves as the qualifiers for the New England Junior National team, among other things, and most eastern high school skiers mark these races as the ones to focus on. We are so proud of how our athletes prepared for and executed throughout the trip to Maine; also, there’s a ton of work that makes these weekends possible, so read on for a thorough accounting of all the help we’re grateful for.
Here’s Hilary’s recap of the weekend, with photos courtesy of Flying Point Road.
Thanks to Jon Chipman (Program Head) and Margaret Rightmire, we were able to secure familiar and comfortable lodging in Waterville almost immediately after the races were moved from Sugarloaf. The owner, Billy was delighted to welcome the group again and remarked at how tidy and respectful the kids have been and were! He even let us use his heated garage for waxing, which let me tell you, was a Godsend on Friday and Saturday nights!
Thanks also to the Rightmire’s and May’s for loaning your EZPasses for the trip and being at the ready with air mattresses. We took a slightly different approach with our transportation this time around and rented a UHaul cargo van that was comparable in price and unmatched in storage capacity! Thanks to the Bolingers for helping with the pick-up of that!

 

Quarry Road delivered with both excellent skiing and a well-executed race! Our athletes were well-practiced for Saturday’s sprint race, having done two complete King’s Court skate sprints the last two weekends. And it showed! Notable highlights include some huge jumps up the results sheets from last year’s EC skate sprint opener, including 83 places by Dirk in the skate sprint, four athletes skiing sprint rounds, and two JNT alums in the mix for the weekend.

 

Due to the unpredictable early winter weather, Sunday was the first day in classic tracks for many of our JNT skiers, not to mention their first day on classic race skis. But from the way they skied, you hardly would have guessed it. In fact, both the GMVS coach and the NENSA High Performance Director remarked at how strong the Ford Sayre crew looked out there. Many great efforts and happy (albeit, exhausted) faces at the end of the day. Each and every one of them should be proud of their efforts and remember that the ‘finesse’ will come! Classic skiing is an art form. Zoe and I were tremendously impressed with the professionalism that the athletes had both around the pre-race process and the ski testing and feedback. We were a bit short-staffed on the wax bench for the day because our substitute wax tech came down with a stomach bug Saturday night. Luckily, we got away with a hardwax binder rather than klister! And the generator lumbered to life so we could run some irons, another blessing. And thanks to Mark and Matt who trepidatiously jumped in the deep end, we were able to produce some competitive skis!

Craftsbury Opener Queen’s Court

The Craftsbury Opener did not disappoint!

Competitive racing and a surprise snow storm made the day of skate sprinting feel like mid-winter. Sadly, Craftsbury was only able to host one of the two planned Opener races, but the Ford Sayre crew made sure to make the one day count. All athletes raced a qualifier and were then assigned a heat based on their time. Within each heat, the top two finishers moved up and the bottom two finishers moved down. All Ford Sayre athletes put in a total of four hard efforts and sharpened their sprinting tactics. Thanks to Craftsbury for running such a professional event!

As we drove home from the Northeast Kingdom, we prompted the athletes with these options:

1) Describe your day today in five words or fewer

2) Tell us which heat was your favorite, and why

3) Tell us what your looking forward to during the first Eastern Cup weekend

Their answers — thoughtful reflections, unexpected creativity, and everything in between — are below:

  • Jacob: Strength gainz are paying off!
  • Hannah: My first heat was magical. I didn’t feel like I was working ridiculously hard but I took all the right lines and openings and worked up from 5th to finish 2nd, perfect for moving up a round with minimal effort. I might actually be able to do sprints now.
  • Sarah: 2: My favorite race was the qualifier I felt very good and I was in control and I felt fast and light on the big uphill.
  • Justice: 3: I look forward to putting this weekends work into play next weekend and learn form today.
  • Keelan: I had a good last heat my skis were much faster and I felt good. I was able to get a good gap going into the downhill and was able to lead the entire race
  • Wyethe: My favorite heat was the last one because I was exited to finish, I was not dead, and I got to race against Julia and Hannah.
  • Ann: My favorite heat was my first because I was able to get ahead at the beginning and successfully control the race, but it was also my hardest race.
  • Spencer: ow. oof. ahhh. yay. J.

  • Dirk: My first heat was by far the best because it was very fun to race against Keelan Jack and Sam. My skis were very fast and I came in third.
  • Luke: FAST, freshies, four efforts, fabulous!