We had the first two weekends of official US SuperTour races in early December. The Green Team flew out to West Yellowstone about a week and a half before the first SuperTour in order to acclimate to the altitude and do a warm up FIS race that West Yellowstone held the weekend before their SuperTour. Although the first race, a 10km skate, didn’t go as well as I hoped, it served its purpose as a warm up race effort at altitude to get our bodies acquainted with the different feeling of going hard on that 5km race course for the next weekend. West Yellowstone had a lot less snow than they usually do, but the groomers and volunteers did a very good jog at pulling off some great races in the face of rain and lack of proper snowfall.
The week leading up to the SuperTour presented a solid block of training. I tweaked my back (popped a rib out of alignment) during some skate speeds but luckily was able to see the local chiropractor right after so he could pop the rib back in and it healed up faster than I expected. I struggled with that same kind of injury throughout the summer so it seems that my body can handle the recovery of my back misalignments much faster (finding that silver lining).
The first race of the West Yellowstone SuperTour was a skate sprint. I actually like the sprint course at Yellowstone, probably because it doesn’t have any V1 hills and I find that I tend to lose precious seconds during transitions from V2-V1-V2 to my peers that are faster sprinters. I felt strong and had fast skis and surprised myself to qualify 4th, just 1 second from the win to Nick Michaud!
The heats went very well that day. I started in 4th or 5th going into the first downhill. I think that was a combination of lack of aggression and relatively slow double pole off the line. I decided to not try and make moves in the S-turns because last year I tried that and it turned down to be a waste of energy for me, so I saved all my energy for the last climb and finish straightaway. I managed to weave my way to the outside of the turn and make up some time on my competitors and qualify 2nd, moving onto the semis! I did the same strategy, but placed 3rd in the semis, but finally got the lucky loser spot to make it to the A-Final. Same strategy, and I found myself trying to catch Nick in the final, but he was too fast and I got 2nd! By far the best skate sprint of my life, and feeling pretty excited for the 15k classic the next day.
The 15km classic mass start the next day proved tricky for the wax techs. Warmer conditions, fresh fallen snow with variable sun and clouds and glazing tracks. I tested both kick wax and zeros, and actually decided to use zeros. This was the first time I have ever raced on zeros, and I think the 2nd or 3rd time ever using them, so that was a fun experience. The kick was amazing the first 2 laps, and then faded along with most others’ kick on the last lap as tracks got glazed and the sun came out. I led the first few k of the last lap, which in retrospect was not a great idea. I felt a bit more fatigued than I thought I was, and couldn’t hang onto David Norris’ blistering finish kick up Tele hill and Brian Gregg’s final sprint. It was a fun race though and I had a good time mixing it up in the pack with all those fast guys, and racing on zeros for the first time!
We traveled up to visit our friends in the north to SilverStar, BC for the joint US SuperTour/ Canadian NorAm races. The races there were a classic sprint and 15km skate individual start. I felt amazing for the pre race intervals on Wednesday and also for the pre race workout on Friday. I think I did way too many speeds on Friday out of excitement and preparation, because I felt pretty drained and fatigued for both races. Lesson learned though, I will make sure to not hammer the pre race too hard for upcoming races at Nationals. Regardless of the results, it was a fun week in a beautiful place, and I got to watch Kait Miller crush everyone in the classic sprint and Caitlin Patterson do the same in the 10km skate! #goGRP Adam also had an amazing race with 5th in the 15km skate.
It turns out that after the first 4 combined SuperTour races I ended up being the overall male leader, which means I qualified for Period II World Cup starts after US Nationals! I am very excited and proud to represent the US again on the World Cup!
Back in Vermont we had a cold but fun 10km classic time trial with the UVM and Middlebury College ski teams and some hard interval sessions to prepare for nationals. I also had the opportunity to host a Skate Ski Clinic with Skirack at Sleepy Hollow the Monday before Christmas to local high school skiers. The turnout was amazing and it felt great to connect with the younger generation of public school skiing, while reminding myself of where I came from. Check it out here!
My brother came back for the holidays and we got a few skis in together which is a rare and fun opportunity these days! He is still pretty quick 😉
We are now in Anchorage, Alaska prepping for 2018 US National Championships! I have never been to Anchorage before; my first time to Alaska was last March for Spring Series in Fairbanks. The skiing is very good, even though they only have a few kilometers open. Getting used to the time change and lack of daylight seems to be manageable so far. Stay tuned for updates on Nationals in a week or two!