3.21.2012

End of a Season...

After the NHIAA State Meet and EC Finals, not many races took place (6 total races over 4 days on 2 separate weekends), although the ones that did were quite spectacular.

The Saturday following the Eastern Cups was the NHIAA Meet of Champions at Gunstock, which takes the top 10 racers from all 4 divisions in both skate and classic, and races them to determine the number one public school skier in the state.




The first race, a 6.9 km classic mass start, was interesting to say the least. Things got off to a rough start when, during wax testing, I found out that my coach had waxed my skate skis (which I was to race on later that day) and were handing them to my teammates to test. Oops. Then, while testing, we were only allowed one lap to test, so everything else was done in the stadium: NOT THE SAME CONDITIONS. Once the race was underway, I had very little kick in the tracks or on the inside of the trail, so my climbing technique was to hug the edge and run. Honestly, it worked pretty well. I got off to a commanding (~15 second) lead after the first lap of the three lap race, and had no major icing problems. My lead grew to about 30 seconds by the end of lap 2, but by the height of land on lap three, the icing kicked in. Myself and many other athletes who followed had between 0.5 and 1 inch of snow stuck to the bottom of our skis, and I had to stop and try and rub it off. That stop, by that point, cost me about 8 seconds, and I finished in first place with a 28 second lead on Spencer H. from Hanover and Joe S. from Moultonborough, who had an eyeballed "photo finish."

The Kennett strength continued throughout the race, with our senior Peter coming in 8th, and Donovan and PJ coming in 13th and 14th respectively.
Hannah, our only female at MoC's, also won her race with a dominating 2. 5 minute lead.


That afternoon came the freestyle sprint: a little easier to wax for (the klister had been removed by that point), but with one catch. The snowmobile groomer had either run out of gas or had broken down and could not wipe the tracks from the morning's classic race. This meant very sketchy and uneven trails for the sprint.

Once everyone was warmed up for the sprint and were lined up in their waves... they put a 5 minute hold on the course. Did I mention that it was about 25 degress out and windy? I was the first one out of my skis and sprinting along the side of the stadium keeping warm.
Finally, when the heats went off, many people were surprised. I'm not a strong double-poler from the starting line, and thus two of the guys in my heat were out in front as we disappeared into the woods. Their lead didn't last long. By the first hill I was past them both and crossed the line nearly 15 seconds ahead of the second place athlete from my heat (Matt came in third overall) and 8 seconds ahead of the overall second place time (Spencer).

Donovan and Peter tied for tenth, and PJ came in 19th, while Hannah also won her sprint.

The Kennett boys again won our races, capping off an undefeated public school season by being the number one school in the state.

Fast forward a few weeks. Eastern High School Championships in Chittenden, Vermont. It's 40 degrees, raw, and foggy at the start of the 4.8 km freestyle on Friday, March 16. By the time I started at 4:08:00, you couldn't see the length of the stadium. I did fall once on my first lap (I bounced and lost maybe a second) and finished in the mist for a solid 15th place. Not quite matching my 13th of last year, but still quite good.

Overnight, after Team NH had our little yankee swap (my gift was again the most popular), the weather cleared and gave way to 70 degree temps and sun. This, my friends, was the result:
About 3 inches of slush and no real warm up area for skis. That little strip in the background was our wax testing area. Again: NOT THE SAME CONDITIONS AT ALL.

Saturday was also the double day: 4.8 km classic in the morning followed by a 0.8 km skate sprint that afternoon. My classic race could have been better, 44th isn't really where I was hoping to place, but oh well, what can you do.

My sprint race went much better than expected thanks to some last second follies by another racer (sorry Silas). Silas, who I was drafting for 700 out of the 800 meters, fell with about 50 meters to go, as is seen here:
I came in 11th that race, 3 seconds out of the top 10.

And finally, Sunday came. The last day of racing for the season came with weather much like Saturday, which made for a very interesting classic relay. Teams were picked based off of the Classic results from the day prior, so I ended up as the anchor of team 5, which included the other NH State Skimeister Lucy Skinner from Hanover. We got off to a rough start, our scrambler fell at the height of land and lost some ground, but we ended strong, with a 34th place finish.
Overall, NH came in 4th, our worst finish in recent memory, but nonetheless it was a great time.

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