The Rest of the Regular Season

Most of the team headed to Mont Sainte Anne in Quebec for a winter break training camp after Christmas. In Quebec, we trained as a team twice a day and spent most evenings together in the outdoor hot tub at the Chateau.

Shortly after returning from Canada, many of us raced at Senior Nationals in Craftsbury. Keelan, Hannah, and Kennedy traveled with Evan, Mia, and Dennis to stay in Craftsbury for the Thursday and Friday races of Nationals (some took day trips), and a larger contingent of the team joined them to race on Sunday.

After Nationals, we raced at the Bogburn (a traditional style classic race on narrow and roller coaster-like trails) and Ford Sayre’s home race, the Silver Fox Trot.  Some of the seniors sported the chicken suits in the “exhibition” race.

 

Unloading in Lake Placid

After a few weekends of smaller races, we set out for our next Eastern Cup weekend in Lake Placid at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Olympic trails. We had (or at least it seemed like) more JNT’ers than ever qualify for the classic sprint heats on Saturday. The grueling distance race on Sunday consisted of one, two or three laps of a 4km climb and the 1km downhill.

Finally in early February, we entered the last two Eastern Cup weekends of the season – the first one in Rikert and the second split between Dublin and Holderness. In Rikert, Ford Sayre rocked the double distance weekend with many season-highlight races and strong performances. Many skiers were also competitive at the college carnival level on Saturday during the skate race. During the winter break between the last two Eastern Cup weekends, skiers split between Craftsbury and Hanover for a week or training, resting, and recovering.

The Dublin Double race consisted of a 3km morning race and then a 1.5km sprint, only two hours apart. We don’t normally race twice in a day, so this was a new experience for many of us. The final Eastern Cup race, the day after Dublin, was in Holderness NH, Dennis’s favorite venue, for a classic distance race. The new snow, rain, and warm weather caused the kick waxing to be quite difficult.

Enjoying Holderness

Holderness was also the last Junior National qualifier race, so the New England team was named after the race. In Ford Sayre recent history, only two athletes have qualified to represent team New England at JN’s, and this year, Ford Sayre is sending 7 skiers to Anchorage, Alaska! Congrats to Sam, Jack, Evan N, Elsa, Greta, Kennedy, and Keelan. Andy, Dirk, Justin, Catherine, Caroline, Eloise, Hannah, Jacob, Nicoya, Spencer, and Tobin are all off to either Eastern High School Championships in Fort Kent, Maine, or U16 Championships in Bethel, Maine, or a combination of both! Eloise and Jacob are starring in Thetford Academy’s production of “Once Upon a Mattress” and Nacio is looking forward to the sailing season and to exhibiting his master chef skills in upcoming cooking competitions.

Everyone on our team is off to do great things! Congratulations to all!

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Beginning of the Season

A dryland OD from Hanover to Lyme

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.

Elsa at Craftsbury

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.

VT U16 & EHSC Qualifier

by Nacio

Sunday’s Vermont qualifier race was held at Rikert this year. For me it started with waking up at 6:30 because my family spent the night just outside Middlebury in an Airbnb. The hosts were quite lovely and they provided eggs, oatmeal, orange juice, and coffee for breakfast. What a pleasant way to start the day! 

A little after 8 I put some warm clothes on and walked outside to put my bags in the car. To my surprise, it had snowed overnight. There was now a light dusting of powder on top of the ice. It was now much more treacherous walking where the snow hadn’t been cleared. Somehow I made it to the car safely, and we were off to the race venue.

When we pulled up to the ski center, I unloaded my bags and brought them into the barn and claimed a table. There were several buses unloading in the parking lot, which created a bit of a traffic jam, but we managed to find a parking spot. I brought my ski bag over to the Ford Sayre area where Dennis and Scottie had set up, and then went back to the barn to pick up my bib.

Every skier at the qualifier skis two races. Both were 3 kilometers. The classic races were in the morning, and the skate races were in the afternoon. My first race was at 10, so at about 9 I began my warmup. I skied 15 minutes of L1, 10 minutes of L2 and another 10 minutes of L3, along with some speeds. Because I had left the klister on my training skis and there was fresh snow on the ground, my entire warmup was done on my race skis.

About 10 minutes before my start, I took off my pants and jacket and headed over to the start. Scottie was in the starting area, so I talked to her about my goals for the race. After that, it was time for my race, so I got in line and waited for the clock.

I didn’t think about much during the race, the 3 kilometers went by really fast, and then it was over. There was still another race in the afternoon, but I tried not to think about that while I was doing my cool down.

 

Holderness Cheri Walsh EC

by Greta

Greta

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!

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Craftsbury/Stowe EC Part II: Saturday evening & Sunday

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!

NOTE: Scottie and Evan are official MVPs for staying up past midnight to put klister binder on our classic skis. All I can say is best wax job ever. Thank you.

Enjoy the slideshow below!

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