After a three hour van drive, three plane rides, two nights and a lot of lost sleep, Colin and I finally made it to Vermont yesterday. Traveling during the holidays is always a gamble, but I was hopeful we wouldn’t run into any weather or mechanical delays…unfortunately, that did not happen. Needless to say, it is nice to finally be here and unlike the people in front of us who were trying to fly to London and couldn’t get a flight until December 31st, we were only delayed one day and will be able to enjoy Christmas with family.
The racing season kicked off for me in the last two weeks. The first weekend we raced in Silver Star British Columbia. I have now been there a handful of times and it never gets old! There is always an abundant amount of snow, good ski conditions, and the beauty of being able to step out of the front door to ski. The first race began with a classic sprint. I felt a bit slow off the line but was able to post a decent time to qualify in the middle of the pack with a 13th place finish. Going into my quarterfinal, I felt good and strong. I put myself in a good position but was not able to sustain my pace up the final hill loosing a place. I ended up 13th overall.
The next day was a 10/15k skate. We woke up to a foot of soft, new snow. These conditions are some of the toughest to race in. The snow was so soft that the groomers were not able to pack it down before the race began. Instead it made for a very slow long race. While I felt a bit bogged down with all the snow I reminded myself that everyone was battling the same conditions and feelings. It was not my best result, but I hung int here and ended up 13th.
A couple days later we made our way to Rossland, B.C. about a 3 hour drive. We arrived to quite the opposite of what we found in Silver Star…icey and glazed ski trails. They did a good job of grooming and mixing up the snow to make it skiable. Friday marked the start of a three day mini tour with a skate sprint race. It was a very fast course! I qualified 13th. I was skiing a great quarterfinal round, positioning myself in second place to advance to the semis, when on the last hairpin turn, a girl crashed in front of me and I was unable to get around her without getting tangled up. Bummer! During the time of the tangle-up, the other skiers got around us and our day of racing was cut short.
With the unfortunate sequence of events the previous day, I was psyched and ready to ski fast the next day in the 5k skate. I went out fast and tried to maintain a high tempo and speed the entire race…5k is a short race! I received some good splits along the way but knew that there were some fast skiers behind me. I ended up 9th… a result I was satisfied with (at least I didn’t end up 13th like several of the previous races!)
The final day of the tour ended with a 10k pursuit classic race. This means that our combined times from the previous two days were added up to determine our start time for the classic race. I began 1:30 minutes behind the first starter. I bolted out of the start and caught the racer in front of me within the first 1/2 kilometer. At about 2.5 kilometers, I was feeling a bit heavy and bogged down…maybe I was a bit too excited at the start and started too fast? A pack of skiers from behind caught up to me and I tired to hang. I hung for a couple kilometers until a couple of them took off and I as left skiing with one other girl. We skied the entire second lap together. I began to feel a bit better toward the end, so I tired to gap the skier in the last 1/2 kilometer, but was unable to drop her. It came down to a sprint in the last 100 meters. Unfortunately, I did not have the strength in my arms to beat her in the double pole sprint…guess what place I ended up? Yep, 13th! Maybe if I knew I was racing for 12th place I could have mustered up the strength to not get 13th.
Hopefully, I have put all the 13th place finishes of the year behind me! I am spending Christmas in Vermont before I head to Rumford, Maine for US Nationals late next week. Getting psyched and ready…all for now!
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!