February 25, 2014

Mid Season SuperTours

Nationals ends, teams are named, and everyone splits. Juniors head to World Juniors, U23s to U23 World Chapionships, College skiers back to NCAA racing, a few fast people head to Europe for World Cup and Olympic competitions, but what about all of us who don't fit in those categories? We race the SuperTour, which is the professional circuit in the U.S. for cross country skiers. It is always a challenge in the middle of the season because we only have 1 coach and we are spread across the world at all these various events meaning we are forced to organize lodging, waxing, and travel logistics on our own. Sometimes we score big and sometimes we are a total mess, but it always ends up being a great adventure. I feel lucky this year to have been taken in by so many kind people making this mid-season quite successful.

I first headed east to Craftsbury, where I am lucky to have a nice bed to sleep in, lots of friends, great food, and what turned out to be amazing skiing. It was extremely frigid, but that made for nice skiing so I can't complain too much. I spent a few weeks training before we got under way racing. It was great to have so many new trails to make training just fly by and remind myself how much I love skiing. I also got to join in on lots of college races as we had combined SuperTour and NCAA races which was fun to catch up with my old teammates and coaches.

We first attended UVM Carnival for some practice and tune up after taking a few weekends away from racing. It was during the first day of races that we learned of the passing of Torin Tucker, a Dartmouth skier, in the Craftsbury Marathon earlier that morning. While I was never a teammate with Torin, seeing my friends and former teammates hurt so badly was more than I could handle. It was devastating. It is hard to imagine someone as fit and young as any of us could suddenly pass away doing something I do every weekend. It made for a very tough weekend of racing. Winning or losing doesn't seem very important when life is at stake. I was happy to be able to participate in a memorial ski with much of the community and college skiers in honor of Torin's life. If you are interested in knowing more about the great impact Torin left on Dartmouth and the ski community, please read here: http://thedartmouth.com/2014/02/06/news/torin-tucker-15-remembered His classmates and teammates did a wonderful job expressing what a loss this was so I will leave it in their words.

Tough weekend of racing at UVM. I think you can see my distractedness in this photo. Not many race thoughts flowing through my mind.

Cheering on Annie at UNH Carnival

The following weekend, we had a packed weekend with 3 days of racing in Craftsbury, which was combined with Dartmouth Carnival. I was really excited and happy to be able to take part in another Dartmouth Carnival as some of my fondest racing memories come from Dartmouth Carnival. While I was sad not to be racing at Dartmouth, Craftsbury provided a great alternative with brutal courses and great conditions. My skating seemed to be suffering a little a bit so I opened the weekend in the 5k skate with a 4th place. But I really found my stride classic skiing and had one of my better races of the season winning a 15k individual start. Feeling the fatigue from 2 previous days of racing and struggling on a grueling sprint course, I limped home in 4th place in the skate sprint on the last day.
Izzy, Me, Annie, and Erika post race at Dartmouth Carnival/Craftsbury SuperTour
Classic Racing!
Trying hard to find my skating legs
Freshman Mohawks!
Pink Hair and Captains!
Next, we flew to the midwest for the next weekend of SuperTour races in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was graciously put up my Annie Hart's family. Annie was a freshman at Dartmouth my senior year and despite only sharing one year together, we became rather close. I am very thankful for her family's generosity! We were once again greeted by frigid temps, but plenty of snow so we bundled up and did our best. While I often think of the Midwest as flat, the course we raced feature a large number of hills, making for good racing all around. The first day featured a 10k classic Mass start. We haven't done many mass starts this year so I was excited to get some head to head racing in. I felt like I was struggling quite a bit, but did a good job of focusing and drawing on some inner strength to win the race in a solid sprint finish! The next day featured a 5k skate on some incredibly slow snow. My skating felt much better than it had and I was able to move up to 2nd place, which I was much happier with.
Patrick racing in the cold. 

Podium shot

Start line 

More Podium shots

Psyched to win!
I am actually feeling better and better as time goes on so I am really hoping for a strong end of season. Next weekend, I am doing the American Birkebeiner, which will be my first 50k race ever...Stay tuned for that race tale!