Yesterday showed a hard day of racing with constantly changing conditions, but for six junior skiers, the hard work paid off in the form of a national title. Five of the winners were from New England and one from Intermountain.
From the get go, most of the races were up in the air for who could grab the title in each of the age groups. J1 women’s winner Isabel Caldwell qualified 19th for J1 girls, nearly 15 seconds behind Stella Holt of Intermountain who won the J1/OJ qualifier.
“My prelim wasn’t great”, said Caldwell, “I screwed up a little bit and felt pretty flat”.
The same went for New England racer and OJ boys champion Alex Schulz, who said he was worried after the prelims that he wouldn’t qualify considering that this season hasn’t been the best he’s had in recent years.
In the case of Alex Schulz and the rest of the New England boys, there was a good amount of team racing that helped each of them to succeed in all of their races. According to Schulz he and teammate Skyler Davis talked about working together to keep advancing through the rounds.
“I knew Skyler was a fast starter and could get out fast”, said Schulz “so I just skied with him and when Skyler broke a pole it paved the way for me to win”.
Not all of the athletes had to work as hard for their national titles once they got into the rounds. Two of these racers are Intermountain J2 boy Cole Morgan and New England J1 boy David Sinclair. Morgan won his prelim by five seconds while Sinclair also won his prelim.
“After winning the prelim by five seconds, I was pretty confident I could win”, said Morgan, but “I was still pretty worried about the New England kids after seeing how strong they were”.
Sinclair skied his final heat as if he were the one who had won his prelim by a large margin. Sinclair decided to work with his teammate Hans Halvorsen in the final heat and on the first long climb decided to put his head down and go for it.
“I just went as hard as I could up that hill and didn’t look back”, said Sinclair. “By the time I got through the camel humps and up the last hill, my coach told me I had a big gap so I just relaxed the last 100 yards”.
As Sinclair crossed the line with a large lead he threw up his arms and let out a victory yell.
“I didn’t even think about it”, Sinclair said, I realized I was about to win a national title and it was just a spur of the moment thing.”
Tomorrows 5, 10 and 15k classic races should be very interesting since conditions are still proving to be difficult and unusual for northern Maine.