The Junior Olympics wrapped up on Saturday with the relay race and then the dance - or the "stanky grind fest" as Boobar liked to call it. For the relay, since we had 12 J2 skiers, we had two teams of three for each gender. For the girls, Heather, Maddy, and Corey made up one team, and Hannah, Heidi, and Cate were the other team. The boys were Paddy, Eli, and Jack, and Tyler, Hamish, and Devlin. Those are four pretty stacked teams!
Modeling my sweet NE J2z hat. And the sexy coach's bib.
The boys went first, and Paddy led them off well, getting a lead within the first kilometer. They went into the woods and it seemed like just two minutes later they were coming up the hill in the field. Paddy was still in first, by about 10 seconds or so, and Tyler was about 15 seconds back, sitting comfortably in a pack of six or seven other guys. Paddy tagged off to Eli and Tyler tagged to Hamish, and the boys went zipping off onto course. I ran back to the hill in the field to watch, and Eli came up still ahead of a hard-charging intermountain team, awesome work for a little guy. Hamish had picked off three teams, and was now skiing in 5th, so when he tagged off to Devlin they were still in a clump. Jack held the lead for the first team, and Devlin almost closed to the Alaskan team in 4th place - he said it was definitely his best race of the week. The first team won, and our second team was also on the JO podium in 5th!
Paddy leading the field after ~1km, heading under the bridge.
Hamish in the tag zone.
Jack chasing the gold medal!
The girls raced next, and Heather and Hannah were leading out the two teams. They both got off to a clean start, and slotted in behind other skiers to conserve energy. By the time they came up the hill in the field, Heather was skiing in second just behind the first place team, and Hannah wasn't far behind, in a pack of fast skiers. Heather tagged to Maddy, and Hannah tagged to Heidi, and the second leg skiers went to work. Both skiers maintained their positions, and Maddy even pulled ahead into first place by the end of her leg, giving Corey a nice cushion going into the anchor leg. Heidi tagged to Cate in 6th place, but in a group from 5th through 9th.
The J2 girls' start.
Here they come! Under the bridge.
Corey raced hard, and kept her lead over the intermountain team, for first place. Cate had a rough break, and got caught behind a midwestern girl who was snowplowing on a downhill - Cate tried to go around on the inside, but she got tangled up and fell, and couldn't make up the distance back to 5th place. She still brought home the second team in 8th place, a darn fine showing!
Hannah modeling her oh-so-fine "NE J2z" hat.
NE J2 girls after the relay.
We all stuck around to watch the older kids' races, and with the weather as sunny as it was, the boys were soon taking off their shirts and hucking snowballs (I don't know why that sequence of events, it looked painful when they got nailed with ice balls, but those are 17yo boys for you...). A four-region snowball fight broke out on the hillside during the J1/OJ girls' race, with team Alaska charging the Midwest and Far West divisions in a sneak attack - it was some good spectating. New Englanders were involved, but luckily they stopped throwing snowballs when the racers came through.
Our J1 boys had an ok race - their second-leg skier, Austin Cobb, lost a ski at 1km, which certainly slowed things down for him as he had to retrieve that, but the OJ boys who had been near him showed great teamwork and waited for him to get his ski, then worked as hard as they could to pull him back up to the pack. In what was probably the most exciting race of the day, Sam Tarling went from 4 seconds behind the Alaskan OJ team (currently in the lead) to 6 seconds ahead, in an amazing display of sheer guts. Cheering Sam skiing up the last hill, with ~0.5km left, he was trailing the Alaskan, and going flat out. As a coach, you can usually tell when a skier is just totally filled with lactic acid, and watching Sam, it was fairly obvious that he just couldn't go any faster. Somehow, he pushed through to a totally different level, and DROPPED that Alaskan skier (who is no slouch - David Norris was top 5 at senior nationals) like a bad habit. That was the sort of performance that gives you shivers to watch.
I should also mention that New England OJ boys took four of five podium spots. We call that domination. Wow.
The older girls were the last race to go off, and after some tight racing, the J1s took 2nd and 5th, and the OJs took 3rd and 4th.
The J2z hanging on top of the van waiting for everyone to be ready to leave.
NE J2s after the flower ceremonies.
We stopped at a Chinese buffet for lunch on our way home sunday, and Chris found crab legs. He took a while to figure out how to eat them though...