Well, after finally returning to Marquette after being held up in Fairbanks due to the volcano I have found some time to reflect on the races. Due to the race courses being extremely hard the races were demanding as well as fast. The field was smaller than a normal short distance US Nationals, but the quality of the field was still very high.
In both races the front group split up on the second biggest climb, the Tower climb. This was probably the biggest hill on the Duathlon course, but it was second biggest to the Black Hole climb in the 50km. These were straight up herringbone hills. In both races I was able to stay connected with the lead pack because of insanely fast classic skis. I was feeling really good in the Duathlon during the classic portion and came through the exchange in 6th, 4th American. I just did not have it in the skate portion and had to settle for staying in the pack that was fighting for the 3rd American spot. On the last time up the big Tower climb I was dropped a little and just could not make it up by the time the finish came. In the end I had to settle for 7th overall, 6th American.
In the 50km classic I was able to fight the entire race just off of the lead pack. Just as the race started the Sun warmed the tracks and they started to glaze due to all the racers and my skis became a bit slick. This was really unfortunate because I felt great the whole race and ended up being passed in the last 3km by the 3rd American, Glen Randall. He had a great race, but I feel like I could have stayed with the lead pack of Ivan Babikov, Stefan Kuhn, Noah Hoffman, and James Southam with a little more kick. I stayed with them until about 25km before having to settle in the chase pack with Torin Koos and Graham Nishikawa.
All in all it was a bit disappointing to be so close to the podium in the races but at the same time encouraging for next season. It was also great to finally be able to ski with my older brother Chris again. It has been awhile since we have even been in the same race, and it just so happened that we skied pretty much together for the entire Duathlon and about half of the 50km.
Currently, I am taking some time off of training and just staying active by playing basketball with some of the Men’s NMU ski team and Gus Kaeding, as the ski team practices for the annual Basketball Massacre. The Massacre usually takes place in late April and consists of the current Men’s ski team taking on the current Women’s NMU basketball team. It is always fun to watch as well as play in! I am also waiting for some warmer weather so I can get out on the road bike.
Check back for pictures, because we cannot currently post any for some reason.