The final Eastern Cup weekend was a blast, with amazing snow conditions and two fun races at some “old school” New England courses. Last year this final weekend was a tough one for us…not everyone handled the more remote and (for many) unknown venues, and it ended our Eastern Cup adventures on a bit of a mixed bag.
Things started out with a bit of a mixed bag on Saturday at Oak Hill. I think my comment to some was that we were “emotionally, physically, and motivationally all over the map”. That being said, I was really impressed with how everyone got after it. We’ve done more work this year on honing our pre-race psyche and post-race analysis. Being self-reflective both before and after a competition really helps you grow as an athlete, and I’m impressed with how much some Pugs have learned, after good races and poor races alike. That kind of ownership and thought is was elevates you from “a skier who races” to a “ski racer”.
The U18 men and all of the women were racing against a full college field as part of the Dartmouth Carnival on Saturday, and the strength of our group was impressive for sure. Rose, Lily, Jenny, Kai, Dakota, and Isaac all held their own against some of the nations strongest NCAA athletes! We had a good crew again joining us from “MNC South” like Evan, Henry, Isabella, and Adam C which was always fun…and even alum Charlie Cobb crushed it with a great skate race.
Not to be outdone, we also saw some great racing from U14 racers Ava and Esther as the Eastern Cup Adventures of Toads and BunBun continued! Look for those two to tear it up at the BKL Festival next weekend.
On Sunday, it was time for an epic New England day…a little bit of dry snow and a nice layer of saturated wet snow, with some falling precipitation to make it extra spicy. Earlier in the week I had put out the call for any and all zero skis, and boy did our crew deliver. A HUGE thanks to those that let their skis be shuffled into the mix for this one. During our quick team meeting on Saturday night I warned that things were probably going to get frantic, probably stressful, and probably a bit wild. That definitely happened, and everyone held strong with flying colors.
In the U16 race, Ali and Magda skis on zeros that belonged to Jenny and Rose, respectively. Sammie rocked a klister-covered combo, and everyone had solid races. Sammie skied right into the top 10 and Ali and Magda joined Quincy on the podium for a really sweet 1-2-3! Camille in 6th for another super-solid Eastern Cup race meant a lot of blue, white, black and green out crushing.
The zero ski transfer and turnaround happened quick as Rose and Jenny needed to immediately jump right back on those skis to test them for their own races. Rose rocked it to what I’d say was one of her strongest races yet: just getting more and more comfortable challenging the best skiers in New England. Lily and Jenny toughed it out but I think handled it well. Jenny had some problems with her back on the second lap and Lily had a rough go on her first foray into zeros, but the spirits were high afterward!
In the open men’s race, the sky opened up a little more and rain began to fall. This made me a bit nervous for Isaac and Kai, who had elected to go out on zeros as well. Isaac was in fact racing on a pair that originally belonged to Murray Banks, was passed down to Coach Liam John, and eventually to Ethan John, before being resurrected from the John family basement just before we departed for New Hampshire.
When he came back from trying them, Isaac said “I like them and I think I want to race on them, but is there any way you can try and speed them up more?”
We threw on a somewhat unique fluoro combo, which also went on all the open men’s skis, and off he went. I was actually continuing to apply klister and fluoros to other men starting later when Isaac came back to the tent absolutely drenched and soggy.
“DUDE” he said, and I gritted my teeth waiting to hear a poor report.
“THESE THINGS FRICKIN RIPPED!” he exclaimed.
Then there was a glance at the results on the live timing board: Isaac won the whole race by a minute and a half! So, in the end the gamble to trust the zeros for their kick and speed paid off. Kai also had a great race to end his season, with another top-20 in 18th overall. Not to be outdone, Charlie had another solid one and Baxter skied the best he has all season…after coming back from pneumonia and a mysterious illness known among the group as “Baxter’s Death Rash” (I’m forgetting the exact medical title at the moment) he has been carefully picking races and is starting to emerge strong.
After the slush had settled, it was time for the awards where the podium was honored, the U16 JN team was named, and the top-10 JN-qualified older athletes were brought up. Since it was a great day for MNC on all of those fronts we had a lot of cheering to do!
To see results and photos, check out the following links:
Photos of Sunday by Dave Priganc (aside from the first one, all photos in this post are from Dave!)