The ski season started for the Green Racing Project where it usually does in the US: West Yellowstone, Montana. We flew out to Yellowstone after two mini training camp weeks on snow in Foret Montmorency, Quebec. Adjusting to the altitude in West Yellowstone is always pretty tough, being around 6700ft. As always the Green Team tries to compete in the West Yellowstone Ski Festival FIS skate race, 5km for the ladies and 10km for the guys to warm up for the following weekends’ Supertours. It usually lands on day 4 of being at altitude which makes it a nice and painful wake up call for the season. I felt ok for the race but really just focused on going as hard as possible and truly dive into the pain cave. I was very happy to be able to win the race and it gave me a bit of confidence not only about my abilities but my skis for the next weekend.
The following week was spent skiing on the minimal snow that West Yellowstone had and prepping for the Supertour races. The first race was a skate sprint on the flat twisting course where you only have to V2, which I much prefer to hop V1 in a sprint. I was happy to qualify 4th in the sprint. The quarterfinal went smoothly where I placed 1st or 2nd in my heat after drafting 1st for most of the course. The semifinal was much more intense I skied from the back of the pack to 3rd in a fast heat. I managed to get lucky loser along with my old Middlebury teammate Adam Luban who was 4th in my semi. My strategy for the A Final was to go out really hard and get a good position to try and control the pace and respond to moves. I managed to sneak in right behind Newell and stay behind him until the last hill. He put on a nice burst before the final climb and put some distance on me but I managed to maintain 2nd place to the finish!
Sunday’s race was a 15km skate individual start. It was incredibly cold in the morning but warmed up to moderately chilly temps by race start. My skis have never felt so good, thanks to Pepa and Ollie and Brian! I went out fast and smooth trying to get as much glide and recovery as possible. On the climbs I tried to stay nice and springy but also not blow up. My plan was to just go as hard as I could but stay relaxed, and focus on pushing the first 2km of each 5k lap because that is the hardest part of the course. I left it all out there and faded in the last few hundred meters, but managed to win by just over 3 seconds!
The next day we traveled to Silverstar in British Columbia. I felt surprisingly good after the travel day and got a bit excited doing strength Tuesday afternoon. I thought I was doing light weight squats and lunges, but I don’t think I lifted properly since before the Yellowstone races and got surprisingly sore. I was doing everything I could to reduce the soreness by race weekend but the sprint was still a bit uncomfortable. I did well and made it through to the A final but lost my energy and got last in the final.
The second race that weekend was a 15km classic race, one of my favorite races. I still was fighting fatigue and soreness, which was my own fault, but managed to race pretty well. I went out smooth and fast but my legs were loading more than I expected on the climbs and I felt the altitude when I tried to double pole hard to crest the climbs. I kept getting back splits that Kyle was within a few seconds of my time, but I faded a touch on the last lap and got 2nd by about 3 seconds.
Overall this was by far my most successful start to any ski season! I took my training a bit more relaxed this summer and fall, and trained a bit less, so I did not know what to expect. I was happy to be able to race hard and within myself and still have great and fun results.
After a week of rest and seeing my girlfriend in the midwest, I had one more weekend of racing the Craftsbury Eastern Cup before I flew out to compete in the 2019 Tour de Ski! This Eastern Cup was to be one of the largest ever attended with the great snow in Craftsbury. The sprint was fun and even with a dreadful rainfall, Craftsbury still pulled off amazing conditions. I made it through to the A Final and got a bit boxed out on the last climb and skied to 5th with some very fast college kids in the mix. It was fun to race the eastern college skiers and Canadians again! The best part of the weekend was having my parents and my twin brother and best friend from high school come watch the race as they were home for the holidays.
My energy was fading throughout the rounds but I decided to do the 10km skate race the next day anyway as a good hard effort. The weather normalized a bit and it was cool and sunny for the 10k. I went out nice and fast and was surprised by how well my legs were handling the climbs, sea level felt amazing after all those weeks at altitude. I honestly don’t think I have ever skied a distance race feeling that good. I managed to secure the win and felt great that day!
The best part of the weekend was spending time with the whole family which only happens on snow a few times a year at most!
Next stop: Tour de Ski!