Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More ski racing!

Last weekend was the Williams carnival, shortened to one day and moved to Craftsbury, the same day as the Saturday Eastern Cup (on the same courses). This was great for me, because it meant that after coaching for Harvard, I could just switch camps and start coaching for CSU. The work started Friday before departure, when Chris and I made a call on the fluoro, and prepped all the skis in the waxroom at Harvard. I kept trying to take a photo of the fluoro smoke coming off the iron and ski, because it looked really cool in front of the window, but it didn't work.

So then we drove north, and I realized, for the zillionth time, that I'm sick of driving everywhere this winter. What a stupid sport, so dependent on the climate doing what it's supposed to, and then going around driving hundreds of miles to ski on petrochemical waxes on loops of man-made snow. Sigh. My passion and my profession clash in my head.

Of course, staying at Craftsbury means delicious meals, which is wonderful, but testing kick after eating a massive breakfast is hard. We had a bunch of different combinations set up to test, and eventually settled on a good one, solid kick and good glide, and our skiers looked very comfortable out there - great! As the men's race wrapped up, I switched camps, feeling all sorts of awkward, and jumped into the wax army assembly line. With CSU we were basically using the same wax, only of the Toko variety, and Rob, Jamie, Amie and I were getting the sticky klister on the skis, with the rest of the army doing the fluoros and rills. By now the tracks were squirrely, gnarly, and pretty tough to ski, but the juniors managed just fine, and we had a lot of skiers step it up and post some spectacular results. Seeing the sloppy mess of snow out there, I was glad that I had decided not to race on Saturday.

Sunday morning dawned colder, and a lot of our juniors were pretty nervous - this was the last race used to decide on the New England Junior National team, and we had ten skiers "on the bubble", in the various age classes. In the end, they all fought hard, even more apparent in mass start races, and we got six of those ten onto the team! Combined with the five we'd already qualified, CSU is now sending 11 athletes to Junior Nationals! This is a new record for us, and it is even more than Stratton Mountain School is sending - also a new record! The skiers and coaches alike were pretty ecstatic, especially those bubble kids whose fates had been unknown until the 11th hour. I won't be going to Soldier Hollow this year, but Rob will be there, as will a slew of other competent coaches - the kids should be just fine.

I did do the mass start race on Sunday, and it was certainly fun. I'm glad Craftsbury was able to run their full loop, with all the awesome downhills, rather than just a tiny loop of manmade snow. Unfortunately my legs felt pretty flat, pretty heavy, but I had rockets under my feet, so I could fake it pretty well. I tried to ski with Maria Stuber for a hill, and quickly determined that was not a good plan, as my shin was cramping up, so had to back off. From there on out, I was in a small pack, including Olivia, one of my J1s, and it was really fun to play around that course, although the uphills were fairly painful. I ended up being dropped from that pack on the last uphill, my legs just weren't responding to my brain's constant requests for more power, and finished in 7th, about 8 seconds down on the pack, and 45 seconds down to Maria. It was a fun race, and I wish I'd been feeling a little fresher, but there were plenty of reasons for the fatigue.

From Craftsbury, CSU headed east, to Bretton Woods, for our annual president's day training camp. I could only stay one day, because of commitments in the southlands, but I had a good day on Monday skiing with the team. Monday afternoon, I set up a ski orienteering event, and sent the skiers out in teams of two. They all seemed to have a really good time, and only two or three teams got drastically lost. I skied around the course backwards, so got to see them all/check up on them all, this looked like a really fun event - we'll do it again next year, for sure!

Now back to the grind for a bit - not like I ever left the grind, really, there's no escaping work when it lives in your computer. The goal is to sneak away back to Bretton Woods for a day before the Middlebury Carnival this weekend, but I need to get some more of that to-do list crossed out first.

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