RUMFORD, Maine — As usual, there was so much going on during Friday’s 20/30 k classic mass start at the U.S. Cross Country Championships that not all of it fit into the race reports. Here were the notables and quotables from Black Mountain:
The University of Vermont placed three women in the top 10; Amy Glen led the way for the Catamounts in seventh, Caitlin Patterson was eighth, and Lucy Garrec was tenth. The trio worked together for much of the race, and said that though they’d gone into the race hoping to do well, didn’t necessarily expect to. The carnival season starts Jan. 20 with the Bates Carnival back at Black Mountain, and it looks like UVM could be a team to watch for.
Friday was doping-control day. The top three finishers of each race crossed the finish line and were immediately introduced to their own personal USADA chaperones, who are responsible for watching their athlete like a hawk until they are able to collect samples.
Sadie Bjornsen (APU/USST) is getting sitr-crazy after being sidelined this week with a sinus infection. She said she’s starting to feel better, but is being cautious about racing again too quickly what with a trip to Milan, Italy, coming up. She still doesn’t know if she’ll enter Sunday’s classic sprint, as doesn’t want to tax herself too much and get into a hole the rest of the season.
At long last, real, natural snow flurries were in the air Friday morning, but at exactly the wrong time. The accumulation of a few inches on the trails made waxing difficult for a lot of teams, as the changing conditions necessitated retesting and reapplying kick to the bottom of people’s skis. For coaches that were able to adjust and hit the wax, it made all the difference. Most athletes had their kick figured out, but glide was an issue for some. Reese Hanneman (APU) dropped out after deciding that struggling against dragging skis for nine laps wasn’t worth it.
Eric Packer (Dartmouth), on the other hand, benefitted from excellent glide: “Dartmouth did a great job with the skis, you have to credit our coaches Ruff and Cami, they really knocked it out of the park with the wax,” he said.
“My skis I felt like were the fastest out there, there was a long one kilometer downhill about 800 meters into the race and I was just skiing away from people down that, gliding away from people, it was awesome”. — Noah Hoffman (Team HomeGrown/USST), 1st
“Interestingly, I had the hardest time on the easiest parts of the course. Skiing High School Hill was an area where I could actually recover. I had too much wax on the skis. This cost me from sticking with Noah and [Norris] when the race was getting decided. — Torin Koos (BSF/Rossignol), 4th
On Pacing and Skiing in a Pack
“[The pace] was pretty easy for a little big and then all of a sudden, the race got really hard, and I just tried to hang on from there.” — David Norris (AWS/NMU), 2nd
“After a while I looked at Noah and he’s like, ‘You wanna go?’ And I was like, ‘All right, yeah.’ I told him on the next uphill I was gonna peg it, and we’ll see what happens. I ended up going hard and leading Hoff for a while and then the group came back together and Noah had another gear and skied away. I didn’t, so I kind of stayed back.” — Tad Elliott (Team HomeGrown/USST), 13th
“The pace was pretty relaxed. We were going fast but really relaxed, then Noah [Hoffman] and Tad [Elliott] put a huge effort in and blew the field apart, and blew me apart, then the group came back together”. — Lars Flora (APU), 4th
“I kept trying to increase the pace, and then on the last lap I t was down to five of us … and I had pretty good kick, but pretty slow skis, so I was at the back of the pack at the bottom of the hill. Jessie [Diggins] made a break by everyone until she had a gap and then it kind of stayed that same gap until the finish.” — Ida Sargent (CGRP/USST), 2nd
“I didn’t really know what was going to happen, actually. We were all together for most of the race, switching back and forth … I felt pretty good myself and thought, ‘OK, just stay strong, ski relaxed.’ That’s the most important thing, when you tense up and your kick starts to go even faster. It all comes down to the last lap in something like this.” — Jennie Bender (CXC), 3rd
“I made my move at the beginning of the climb on the ninth lap. I had my coach Jan Buron back from [Alaska] Winter Stars cheering me on, he said ‘It’s time to go,’ so I went for it and just hoped for the best, and it ended up working out.” — Eric Packer (Dartmouth), 3rd
“I didn’t see any reason to ski from the front today. I wanted to ski in the pack, but do so efficiently and without incident. In that regard, I executed the race plan quite well.” — Torin Koos (BSF/Rossignol), 5th
On Skiing a 20/30 k (the First Time for Some)
“It was pretty tough, but you know, hopefully I won’t have to do another one until next year. There was a lot of good herring going on, especially up that High School Hill, it was pretty rough.” — Hilary Rich (Middlebury), 49th in first 20 k
“You kind of play games with yourself to try to remember which lap you’re on … It’s long, I always forget that I’m doing a 30 k and go out hard, then I remember at about 10 k.” — Chase Marston (Middlebury), 60th
“It was pretty rough. I planted and fell and broke my pole in the stadium [with four laps to go]. That broke me. … I had a lot of time to just relax and kind of have fun with just the skiing part … I wasn’t really prepared for how fast everyone started. I had a lot of time by myself.” — Eliot Neal (Middlebury), 73rd in first 30 k
On What They Should Have Eaten for Breakfast
“Eggs, bacon.” — Eliot Neal (Middlebury)
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Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.