A Celebration of our Seniors!

Hello Ford Sayre friends and families!

The calendar has turned to June and, while many of our seasonal rhythms have been upended, we still find ourselves nursing the early-summer blisters of rollerskiing, embracing the newly-greened beauty of our environment, and importantly, celebrating a transitional time for our oldest JNT skiers! We’re so proud to see Nacio, Hannah, Keelan, and Justice graduate from high school and look to whatever lies ahead with poise and hopefulness. What a winning crew.

And because the occasion is too good to pass up, we enlisted the help of parents’ old photo albums. Enjoy the time capsules interspersed among reflections from teammates and friends and coaches.

Why you love having them on the team:

Keelan

  • Such a selfless, positive teammate– always willing to go the extra mile to make someone’s day better or lend a helping hand… and, always seems to have a fun story on hand to make everyone laugh!
  • Endlessly entertaining view of and experiences in the world. Adventure is always close at hand!

Justice

  • Super hardworking and dedicated, but also easygoing and so fun to talk to, and always finds things to laugh and joke about! It’s been so great to get to know you this year!
  • A genius wax table packer… and a grounded, mature perspective on the world.

Nacio

  • Always makes everyone laugh! I hope there is a sequel to the fireside chat sometime!
  • I agree with Catherine: such a comedian, always pulling little tidbits from seemingly nowhere that crack the whole team up! Definitely added so much to the fun-loving culture of the team. 🙂
  • The most fun person to ski behind on ODs and easy distance practices! Always talking about something exciting and interesting!

Hannah

  • Steadfast in her commitment to skiing, to her teammates, and to the program. We couldn’t have done it without her!
  • The best math tutor, carpool driver, and always great to chat with!
  • So genuinely caring; always looking out for her teammates! And, super dedicated and driven, which is really admirable.
  • The carpool to practice would always brighten my day! I am going to miss squeezing into the car with skis going over our heads and laughing our way to practice!

 

A favorite memory of each senior:

Keelan

  • Table climbing… Crazy!!! Also, attempting to do a pull-up for all the granola bars.

Justice

  • That box… The one that was impossible to open… Sorry. Not impossible. Just very hard. I remember spending sooo much time on it.

Nacio

  • I will never forget that fireside chat (I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed that hard!) and also your soundtrack to Hilary and Luke’s life cycle of a frog skit!!! Absolutely precious 🙂 
  • Trash-talking each other before every race. I swear that cut minutes off of my times!

Hannah

  • First time I met Hannah was at U16s a few years back. I remember sitting across from her at the banquet, and after we’d finished our meal, she got up and announced that she was going to get some cake because she needed more protein, which apparently the sprinkles on top acquired lots and lots of. Hannah, I’m very sad to announce that sprinkles have 0 grams of protein.
  • Rooming with you at Thanksgiving camp and mmmmm the cashew bars :)))))
  • Integration by parts. Need I say more?

 

A couple choice “wise words” moments from elder statesmen:

Keelan

  • From “I Wrote Mr. Tambourine Man:”

Never trust a musician who plays with their eyes open

All the good stuff happens when they’re closed

You gotta give yourself the shivers

Before you can give ’em to someone else.

Nacio

  • “Spencer, do you want my headlamp, ‘cuz it’s going to be dark by the time you finish!” Honestly, that was the most brilliant statement ever!

 

Their spirit animal:

Keelan

  • Bear: easygoing, but a steadfast leader and very resilient

Justice

  • Koala because he is very very good at sleeping.
  • Ostrich. Don’t know if you’ve ever seen a video of one running, but they’re crazy fast. Please look it up. Anyways, if you’ve ever seen Justice off the start line, you’d get what I mean by fast.

 

Nacio

  • Owl: very wise and thoughtful 🙂

Hannah

A bunny because you are so positive and energetic.

And for fun, one sibling shares a “Senior Superlative”

Justice

  • The most impressive burrito consumer of all time.

—-

We’re so proud of these four, and we’ll miss them dearly.

We didn’t manage to find any yard signs for Keelan and Justice, but here are Näc and Hannah, reppin TA and HHS. Congratulations to all the graduates!

Transformed and Triumphant by Victoria Bassette

Victoria, who joined JNT before the Craftsbury Eastern Cup, is in the process of writing a memoir (yes, we were impressed too). She’s written the following excerpt as a reflection on her decision to join Ford Sayre and get back into Nordic training and racing. Thanks for sharing, Victoria!

*****

Part VI: Transformed and Triumphant

         I decided immediately upon arriving home. I was going to join Ford Sayre. I was going to commit myself to my talents with Christ as my foundation. No longer was I controlled by fear. No longer did depression rob me of my joy and passions. No longer did I feel ashamed of myself but accepted myself for the athlete and the person that I was at present. No longer was I enslaved to devilish lies and thoughts of suicide. God had freed me from the darkness and broke the chains of bondage that had held me back for so long. According to the words of David Powlison, “It’s not the distance you’ve covered. It’s not the speed you’re going. It’s the direction you’re heading.” My steps were on the right path, and for the first time in my life, I felt free to make mistakes along the way, knowing that no journey is perfect. Nothing but the living God is perfect, and on the cross, he freed me from the need to be. My perfectionism went down the drain, and I reacquired the motivation to improve both my body and my mind, this time in tribute to Him.

         Over the next two months, I remained patient with myself as I transitioned back into racing with very little training underneath me. Each race tested my character, physical ability, and especially my humility, but with each effort, my ranking slowly climbed its way up the result sheets. Sport fostered an empowerment to improve within me, and not only was I improving, but I was also finding joy in the process. The group of Ford Sayre girls, who were once my competition, were now positive teammates, encouraging and teaching me through their example what fun really looked like in sport. Before each race, we would stand huddled together with our arms draped over one another’s shoulders and sway back and forth, offering support and laughter before expending ourselves in a challenging race. Dancing on van rides to and from race sites quickly became a race ritual, fueling us with joy and energy. 

         One weekend in February, I traveled up to Maine with the team to race in the third Eastern Cup series of the year, which New England athletes qualify for Junior National through. Despite subzero temperatures, I raced well on Saturday and felt energized going into the classic sprints on Sunday. Waking up the next morning, I slid from my hard bed in the rental house and slipped into my race suit, excited for the day. I always performed best in sprints, and I anxiously anticipated my first classic sprint since the disastrous one at Junior Nationals the previous year. As we drove into the large parking lot of the race venue, I peered up to the top of the downhill ski mountain that was blanketed with snow-covered treetops. The sun shone radiantly down upon them, causing the snow on their branches to sparkle like freshly applied race glitter. Not a cloud dampened the bright blue sky, and everything appeared so breathtakingly beautiful. As I warmed up in the serene heavenliness of my surroundings, my body felt strong and capable as I glided forward in freshly made classic tracks.

As I warmed up in the serene heavenliness of my surroundings, my body felt strong and capable  as I glided forward in the freshly made classic tracks.

Glancing down at my watch, the time read 10:10. Twenty minutes remained before my start for the qualifier, and I paused alongside the trail to estimate how much time I would need to get to the starting line. I thought it better to be safe than sorry, so I wrapped up my warmup, grabbed my race skis from the coaches, Hil and Luke, and made my way to the start. Walking into the start coral, I found my teammate, Catherine, already there, and she flashed me a big, friendly smile as she supported her weight on classic poles and swung her leg forwards and backwards in preparation for the race.

“Hey! You excited?” I asked.

“It’s going to be so much fun.” she responded, excitement clearly written all over her face. Seconds later, she began jumping up and down, dancing and singing Party in the USA to herself, a song that we’d listened to that morning on the van ride over.

Two other teammates spotted us from afar and joined the group. “Hey! Huddle before we start?” asked Ann and Hannah.

“Heck yeah.” I said, stepping closer to congregate into a circle with the girls. We placed our arms over one another and began to sway as usual.

“Ok girls.” Catherine began, “It doesn’t matter how any of us do as long as we give our best and have FUN. It’s a beautiful day. The snow is fast, and the course is awesome! Let’s kill it out there! Rock the fox on three! One! Two! Three!”

Placing our hands all together, we simultaneously yelled, “ROCK THE FOX,” in high spirits while athletes from other teams stared at us for our ridiculous enthusiasm. (To this day, I still don’t know what “rock the fox” means, but I suppose at some point I should ask.) Now fully hyped and excited for the race, we went separate ways to finish our sprint preparations. After taking off my ski pants to reveal my uniform underneath, I clipped my boots into my skis, strapped on my poles, smoothed out my race top, adjusted my race bib, and finally, lined up according to my race number, ready for the start. Each athlete was separated by fifteen second intervals, and about ten girls were lined up before me. Tightening my pole straps one last time, I turned to wish the girl behind me good luck with a cheerful smile.

No matter what the result,” I said inside my head, “you can be grateful for having the opportunity to be here and for a second chance at life.”

The two minutes and thirty seconds that I stood in line passed quickly, and soon, I found myself behind the starting gate, awaiting the countdown to start my race. “It’s only 1.4 kilometers, and the pain will pass quickly. Do not give up.” I reminded myself, like I did before every race since competing again.

Beep, beep, beep, beep, BEEP. The timer signaled me to start, and off I went, striding quickly from the gate and transitioning into a powerful double pole. I fixed my eyes on the girl ahead of me and raced in pursuit of her. Spectators hollered and cheered, and I fed off of the energy of the atmosphere and pushed harder. “God gave you a talent, so don’t waste your gifts and your potential because of an unwillingness to suffer.” I told myself, now skiing with even more aggression. The gap between me and the girl ahead had decreased significantly, and I could hear her heavy breathing and the tails of her skis slapping the snow with every transfer of weight. Charging up the last hill, I gasped for air, now feeling the lactic acid in my legs beginning to build, but I heard coach Zoey from the sidelines, encouraging me to catch the girl ahead. Less than ten meters remained between me and her now. Pushing over the top of the hill and down the other side, I squatted low into a tuck, relieved to have a short rest. Slowly, as I coasted down the stadium hill, my skis glided closer and closer to my competitor, and rounding a gradual corned, I prepared to sprint past her to the finish. However, before I had fully rounded the corner, my right ski flew out of a shallow track, and I strained to keep my balance, but my tired legs were incapable of keeping me upright. I fell with a crash at the bottom of the hill, losing all my momentum one hundred meters before the finish. A swear instinctively popped from my mouth, but I gave myself no time to feel bad about the word. Unentangling myself as quickly as possible, I jumped back up to my feet, and refocusing my attention on the finish, I double poled ferociously towards the line with all the energy I had left, gritting my teeth all the way. I was determined to not let the fall discourage me into accepting defeat. Moments later, I lunged across the line and collapsed into an exhausted heap, frustrated but also content with my effort. I’d given my very best effort, and I’d faced an obstacle without allowing it to overpower me. What more could I ask of myself? After recovering on the ground from the painful sprint, I dragged myself to my feet and walked out of the finish chute after taking off my skis and poles. I handed my bib to a race official on the way out and rejoined Catherine, who’d finished a couple minutes earlier. 

“Hey! How’d it go!?” she asked, bubbly in mood as usual.

“I fell, but I gave my very best, so I guess it went well.” I responded, shrugging my shoulders and wiping the drool from my face.

“Oh no! I’m sorry. That stinks.”

“Eh. Oh well.” I replied, trying not to linger on the disappointment.  

In the distance, I could see two blue and green uniforms bobbing up and down, and I quickly recognized the figures. “There’s Ann and Hannah!” yelled Catherine. Immediately, we raced to the rails by the finish, cheering loudly for our two teammates as they labored to the finish. The moment they both crossed the line, we rushed over to greet them with hugs and smiles. Even after having a frustrating race, I found it easy to celebrate with the others’ successes and enjoy their presence. We’d all accomplished our goal in one way or another—to have fun and to work hard, and for me, to never give up. That was something worth celebrating. Strangely, I found myself thankful for the fall. Although frustrating at first, it had challenged me to apply my goal of never quitting in a new way, and I felt proud of accomplishing that. 

After taking a quick glance at the live results, I felt even more appreciative of my effort to finish strong despite the fall. Somehow, I’d squeaked into the junior heats as the last qualifier, even after losing many valuable seconds. 

Nothing remarkable happened in the next round as I finished fifth in the heat, but that day taught me a valuable lesson—no matter what curveballs are thrown at you, you’re always capable of overcoming them, as long as you don’t let them overcome you.  If I’d accepted defeat the moment I fell, I would have been defeated, but instead, I ignored the setback and charged to the finish with even more tenacity than before.

Driving home to Vermont from Maine, I sat happily beside my teammates and reflected upon the valuable lessons that I’d learned over the weekend. I could only imagine the effect of applying those lessons in the future. Surely, they’d make me unstoppable.  

***

The week following the Eastern Cups in Maine, the final Junior National qualifiers took place locally. Two days prior to the races, I started feeling more tired than usual and the day before the first race, I caught a cold. Although it was just a common virus, nothing too severe, it sapped the energy from my body and drowned my excitement for race day in negativity. Arriving at the race venue on Saturday morning, instead of feeling excited to race, I dreaded the entire day, unenthusiastic about expending any energy. The cold weather added to my dampened mood. All the same, I carried on with my preparations per usual and reminded myself to do my best and to try to enjoy the experience along the way. On this particular day, I’d have to race in two races instead of just one, yet their combined distance was still shorter than the usual five kilometers. After completing the normal pre-race rituals with the other girls, I stood at the starting gate for the seventh time that season.

“You’ve done this before. You’ve just got to do it again. Take it a climb at a time and don’t get too far ahead of yourself.” I thought to myself, inhaling one last big breath before racing out of the gate. Two of my teammates had started directly ahead of me, and I focused my attention on their backs, intending to catch up and ski behind them as my first step. Together, we could ski as a pack and pull one another along. Despite feeling heavy and breathing cold air through a sore throat, my teammates provided me with the motivation to go hard. As I passed my teammate Sarah, we glanced over to one another and simultaneously said, “Good job!” She tucked in right behind me as we now chased after Hannah, who was struggling up ahead. Unfortunately, after a few weeks of sickness, Hannah’s body had taken a toll, so after eventually catching up to her, it was apparent that Sarah and I would have to work together without her. Towards the end of the last climb, Sarah passed me again, and I settled in behind, matching her fast tempo. Her impressive uphill abilities and my gutsy downhill skiing provided one another with the perfect package to ski a strong race. In the last straightaway, I pulled ahead, and together, we charged to the finish. After toeing the finish line, I hung limply over my poles, catching my breath. Within thirty seconds, I regained my strength and wandered over to Sarah who was also drooping over her poles.

“Thanks for pulling me up those hills, you speed demon! It helped a lot.” I said, greeting her with a fist pump.

“Yeah! It was fun, especially because results don’t matter for me yet.” she responded.

“Totally. Results will matter as much as you make them matter. Even as a U18 skier, racing can still be lots of fun, whether you focus on results or not.”

Together, we walked from the finish coral to the live timing screen, relieved to have finished and grateful for my teammates’ help in pulling me through the race. Glancing towards the middle of the screen, I searched for my name in the rankings, but I couldn’t find it. A large group of coaches, parents, and athletes crowded in front of the screen, making it difficult to see the results, especially with the glare from the sun. Towards the top of the page, the letter “V” caught my attention, and I gasped as I read the name. “Thirteenth!? How!?” I thought. I’d felt horrible while warming up and heavy in the race. I double checked the name to make sure it was really mine. It really was.

“Well, I guess I’ve got more in me today than I thought. Good thing I’ve got another chance to redeem my effort.” I said, half laughing and now slightly frustrated that I hadn’t gone harder. I thought back to all of the times when I’d doubted myself and to all of the results that could’ve turned out differently if I hadn’t given up hope so easily. Here I was, learning another valuable lesson through ski racing.

In the next race, my mentality experienced a tremendous shift from the last one. Instead of showing up to the line with intense dread, I exploded from the start with determination and enthusiasm. Although I still felt physically weak, my mind was fueled to the brim, fully prepared to suffer and excited for the challenge. Charging across the snowy trail, I chased after my teammate with powerful aggression, like a lion in pursuit of a deer. Bounding to the top of the first hill, I hop skated my way past Sarah and charged onward, fueled on the determination to conquer my doubts. My legs burned, begging to slow down, but in response, I hop skated the next hill even harder. Now my legs were screaming, demanding their way, and as I skied along a gradual stretch, I felt myself giving in to their commands. A few moments later, I snapped out of it and refocused my attention to the last hill. “It’s the last climb. Hop skate it with as much strength as you’ve got.” I told myself, putting my head down and clenching my teeth. Strangely, I felt as if my skis had both wings and cement blocks attached to them at the same time, but I continued charging forwards with aggression, picturing the wings in my mind instead of the cement blocks. After reaching the top and power skating down the other side, I could see the finish line now, and I held nothing back. Side to side I glided with graceful power, and one meter before the line, I lunged my foot as far forwards as I could. Immediately, I tumbled onto the snow, spreading my skis and poles to my sides. I felt completely satisfied. Even without seeing the results, I felt proud. I’d ignored the doubts and the temptation of giving into my pain, and I’d skied with aggression. Sarah crossed the line moments after me and also collapsed onto the snow in exhaustion. I eventually shuffled over to help her to her feet. Smiling, we leaned in for a quick hug, clearly content with our efforts and thankful for the help that we’d provided one another throughout each race.

After putting my race skis in the team rack, I slipped on my coat and ski pants, lingering in the pleasant feeling of being done with racing for the day. Before I’d been able to see the results, Catherine attacked me from behind, giving me a big bear hug and nearly knocking me off my feet. Elsa and Ann approached from the front, looking excited. “Did you just hear the announcer!? He just said you skied into second place for U18s!”

Charging across the snowy trail, I chased after my teammate with powerful aggression, like a lion in pursuit of a deer.

I stared unbelievingly at her. “No way.” I responded, now making my way over to the results. By the time I made it over to the live timing, I was third for U18s and eighth overall. “I guess this is why you should never listen to your doubts.” I thought to myself, surprised that of all the days, today’s races were my best performances of the season.

That day, I went home, having learned another valuable lesson—you’re always capable of more than you think you are. Never let your doubts destroy your confidence.

After racing one last time on Sunday, I finished the Eastern Cup series proud of my journey. Somehow, one slow step at a time, I started the season nearly last in the rankings and worked my way to twentieth by the end, just five spots out of qualifying for team New England. Through the strength that God provided me with and applying the lessons that I’d learned, I accomplished results that I hadn’t thought capable after so many months away from athletics. To my surprise, Justice, who’d been such a good sport watching me travel to Nationals the previous year, qualified on the boy’s side, and now, I would get to watch him race just as he’d done for me. Trading places with my big brother and stepping into his shoes from last year was the perfect end to my racing season, even though I hadn’t qualified myself.    

I would’ve been perfectly happy if my racing season had ended there, but at the last minute, Justice and I entered the Vermont State Nordic Championship as the only Woodstock High School athletes competing. Instead of riding a school bus like in past years, my dad drove me and my brother to the race venue and acted as our coach for the day. The temperatures were quickly rising, and the snow felt slushy and wet underneath my shoes, but luckily the race was skate, which meant no kick wax. Leaning over, I clipped my boots into my race skis. I then slipped off my jacket and revealed my t-shirt, exposing my slightly scarred arms. It was far too hot for a long-sleeved uniform. Skating over to the start with my poles in one hand, I positioned myself in line behind number six, calmer than a summer evening. All the other athletes ran around the start coral, looking wide eyed and panicked. They all had team titles on the line, but I was free to just enjoy the experience with zero pressure upon my shoulders. After a brief wait in line, I cruised from the start, smiling and full of joy. The feeling of the warm air ruffling my loose hairs and the sun beaming warmly onto my face encouraged me onwards. Beauty surrounded me, inspiring me to make the most of the experience and push hard. Putting all my training and lessons into practice, I chased after the girls who’d started before me, face beaming up each hill. This didn’t feel like a race, but like a fun game! Seeing a sharp, right turn ahead, I prepared to ski around it without slowing my pace, but as I reached it, the snow turned to ice, shooting me wide around the corner. “No. No. No. Stay up.” I thought, clenching my teeth as I struggled to stay on my feet. One ski glided on the very edge of the trail, while my left ski hung off the side of a steep embankment, but my ski continued its course, gliding right off the trail and taking me down into a ditch. I struggled helplessly in a pile below the trail as my competitors flew past me, continuing their race. Precious seconds were ticking away. Instinctively, I pulled myself up from the wet snow, arms stinging with fresh scrapes, and hopped back up onto the trail. “Now, you have to go even harder.” I told myself, building my momentum back up. Again, I chased after the girls who I’d passed before the fall. One by one, I picked them off again, finishing the race in just over fourteen minutes. “That was fun and exciting” was my first thought after crossing the line, totally unconcerned with the result. A TV camera stuck itself in my face as I caught my breath, but I took off my skis and walked out of the finish area quickly, feeling uncomfortable with the attention. Not even bothering to check the live timing, I hopped onto my cooldown skis and enjoyed another half hour of exercise in the sunshine. It wasn’t until after the boys’ race had started when I finally glanced at the results. I stared unbelievingly at the screen. Only two skiers had beaten me, one of which had been a girl that I’d passed before falling. Again, just through enjoying the experience, working hard, and ignoring my doubts after a fall, something beautiful had come to fruition, and I had enjoyed every moment.  

Over the course of three crazy months, I went from wasting my life on the couch to joining a new team and nearly qualifying for Nationals. Through every failure, I learned a valuable lesson, and within every victory, I’d applied that wisdom. To me, that was success, and I felt even more content and satisfied than all of the times that I’d stood proudly at the top of podiums in Alaska. Now, sport was far more than just personal glory—it was an opportunity of personal growth. Now, it possessed meaning. Now, it was pure joy.

*****

Championship Season!

The days are getting longer, the dirt roads are getting bumpy and athletes are hurriedly finishing school assignments and packing T-shirts and sunscreen for race trips. Yes, it’s March in the world of New England Nordic skiing, which means Championship Season! Here’s a quick update on who’s headed where! Check out the JNT blog to get the scoop directly from the athletes themselves! And follow us on instagram for photos: @fordsayre_nordic

BKL Festival at Great Glen

More than 70 Ford Sayre BKL skiers and their families participated in this year’s BKL Festival at the Great Glen Trails at the base of Mount Washington. Such a fun celebration of skiing, and so exciting to see Ford Sayre relay teams on top of the podium in three different age groups! Check out great photos of the event by:

Joe Viger Photography

 

California Dreamin’

Good luck to JNT skiers, Elsa Bolinger and Justice Bassette, and recent JNT alum, now Colby College skier Andy Rightmire as they head to Truckee, CA on Saturday to represent Team New England at Junior Nationals. Evan Nichols will be joining straight from Jr. Worlds. Ford Sayre’s Nordic Head Coach, Hilary McNamee, will join them as the U18 Girls Head coach. Together with the 60 other skiers and staff members, they will try to bring home the “Alaska Cup” for the 7th consecutive year. Follow along on the Jr. Nationals website:

JN’s 2020

All JNT Skiers Qualify for Eastern High School Champs!

We’re thrilled to announce that all of our JNT skiers have qualified for Eastern High School Championships! And even more delighted that the Team NH roster is full of BKL graduates who are now skiing for Hanover High School! Six JNT skiers will race Mar. 13-15 at Gore Mountain, NY. Nacio Levey is our lone representative for Team VT. Hannah Chipman, Catherine Bregou, Ann Rightmire, Spencer May and Dirk Andrew will be strong forces for Team NH. Who will bring home the Championship?? Will it be VT yet again? Or will the long-awaited suit and jacket redesign from Team NH propel it to victory??

Follow Eastern High School Standings Here

U16s and NoCo World Juniors are wrapped!

Ann Rightmire and Caleb Zuckerman have already repped Ford Sayre at this year’s U16 Championships at Mountaintop in Chittenden, VT. Check back soon for a recap from Ann. Also, shout out to Evan Nichols for his success at Nordic Combined World Juniors!

 

Eastern Cup #4 and NH Series Race Reflections

Qualifiers galore!

These past two race weekends have flown by in a flurry of qualifiers for Junior Nationals, Eastern High School Championships and U16 Championships. And this team has QUALIFIED! While we don’t fixate on results and rankings, it is pretty cool for this team to be able to say that every skier qualified for EHSC. That, plus Elsa and Justice will be representing Team New England at Junior Nationals and Ann and BKL skier Caleb Zuckerman will be representing Team New Hampshire at U16 Champs.

The athletes offered some commentary about the races in Dublin, Holderness and Whitefield, and looked ahead to highlights in the championship season to come. Again, didn’t get everyone, but soon enough!

Share your race reflections from Dublin / Holderness / NH Series #2 (how have the races gone? Anything you’re particularly proud of?):

Hannah – Dublin was cold and I wasn’t feeling too great (going on three weeks since I first got sick). For the first time, I DNSed a race—and it turned out to be one of my better decisions. I woke up the next day without the usual pre-race adrenaline rush, ready to go have fun skiing the beautiful Holderness course. My process goal was to smile, and smile I did. Holderness was both my best and most fun race of the season…until NH Series #2 came along. I flew off the start line and hunted down the wave in front of me, saying hello to Ann. Themes of the race included big monster V2, smiling, and trying to keep up with Ann as she flew up past me on the last big hill before the finish. Go Ann!

Dirk – At Dublin the 3k did not go as well as the 1.5k. I felt very tired and my muscles were tired. I also could have sent it harder on the down hills. I was a little scared of the icy corners when my legs were tired. The 1.5k was much better and I did a good job pushing myself in general especially over the top of the last hill. Holderness was ok. I feel like I could have pushed a little harder in the first lap and caught Justice. The NH series was good, but I feel like I could have gone harder on the flat. Pacing was hard because I had no one to pace with and the course was very easy and fast.

Catherine –Dublin was fun! We had raced five times there earlier in the season on the 1.5k race course which made for a really fun race. I paced the 3k well; I had used all my energy by the last hill. On the downhill I was extremely tired and was just trying to hold on until the end, but I relaxed a little too much and I wasn’t able to make it around a corner and ended up off the trail and in a bush. It was not ideal. The rest of the race went well though. I had a very fast sprint to the finish and a great cool down with Elsa and Ann. I started the Holderness race at the perfect speed and kept it up throughout the 10k. It was my second 10k classic and I have learned to love that distance. I enjoy settling into a pace and pushing through it. Best race of the season!

Ann – Dublin was a pretty good day of races for me. I felt speedy during the first race, but wish I had been a little bit less cautious on the downhills. I was able to go hard in the 3k race, but had good recovery time between races and had a pretty great 1.5k, feeling less tired than expected. At Holderness, I had a great race but wish I had gone harder. It was difficult to go hard in the first section because it was so rolling, but I had a great second half to the race. I felt speedy and quick, but want to work on taking bigger strides when I “run” up hills. I felt super speedy and powerful in the sprint to the finish, which was so fun. Today at the NH Qualifier, I had a good race too. I was surprised that my heat, the first heat, was not as fast as I thought it would have been, with 2 of the racers gone because of JNs. I wish I would have gone out harder in the beginning, because Hannah quickly caught me. That being said, I would not have had as good of a race if she hadn’t caught me! I was able to chase after her as she used to powerful V2 on the flat and gradual uphills. I have found that I always go faster when chasing people and having people to set the pace. I felt especially powerful and speedy at the end, and was able to really push myself and pass Hannah on the last uphill. Thank you Hannah for pushing the pace and making me have a great race!

(Elsa is a very supportive teammate)

Spencer – I feel like I didn’t run myself into the ground in the first race at Dublin. The 1.5k, however, I felt like I really worked super hard and it paid off. I felt really powerful on the gradual downhills and flats. Then, at Holderness, I felt like I didn’t warm up as well, but I raced hard. I think my double polling in that race could have been better (better core-to-arms transfer of energy), but my striding felt strong and I kept my kick the whole race. In the second NH Series, my whole plan was to draft on Noah for a bit and then go all out for the last 3k or so. I think I did this, but on the final uphill and finishing straight, I was definitely feeling it! Overall, some good races!

 

Victoria – I’ve been really encouraged by how quickly my body has adapted back into the sport/racing after taking so many months away from athletics. While feeling pretty sick and crappy over the weekend, I’m proud of laying the negatives aside and giving my best efforts for each race. I’ve also been working on keeping a healthy perspective for races, and for the first time ever, I am able to feel content with just giving my best, even if the result was “bad.”

Elsa – Dublin and Holderness were both super fun, but bittersweet because they were the last Eastern Cup races! There were definitely lots of nerves in the air but I am so proud of how our team handled the charged atmosphere: with composure, grace, and lots of glitter to lighten the mood! 🙂

 

Which end-of-season races are you looking forward to? What goals do you have for the last month of the season?

Dirk – I am very excited for EHSC, its too bad that I didn’t make it to JN’s, but I still have another year. Hopefully I can do well at EHSC, maybe a podium.

Hannah – I’m looking forward to all the races I wind up doing—EHSC, Craftsbury relays, maybe Bretton Woods Marathon, and who knows what else. My goal is to smile in all of them, because I think I sort of forgot that recently. Turns out I go my fastest when I focus on enjoying the race and going hard because I want to, not because I have to. Also looking forward to being with an awesome group of NH teammates at EHSC.

Catherine – I am very excited for Eastern High Schools! It is always a highlight of the season. It is really fun to get to see skiers that I have known for years through the U16 and EHSC program.

Spencer – Can’t wait for EHSCs! I want to work on the technique tip that big sassy Hil gave me about my arms and upper body.

Ann – I am excited for EHSCs and U16s because it will be so fun to be with some of my HHS friends and to be with the team! Also I always love the Craftsbury relays because it is always so warm and beautiful, with so many fun people and such a low-key race!

Elsa – I’m looking forward to JNs, and also the club relays!! My goals for the last month of the season are to remain focused and motivated even as races are winding down, and to savor every moment with the team! 🙂

Victoria – The only race I have left, which is the club relays (Victoria will miss EHSC as she travels with family to Truckee for JNs cheering) . My goals are to spend a lot of time on skis, having fun and putting in some solid work for next winter as I continue regaining my fitness.

Favorite part of spring skiing?

Dirk – skiing FAST

Hannah – Norpining and long skis at Greens…can I beat last year’s record of latest spring ski? Last year was April 22 at the Skiway.

Spencer – Wearing a t-shirt and shorts in the super nice weather!

Ann – Wearing a t-shirt and enjoying the SUN!!!

Elsa – Being able to wear a t-shirt: even though I love winter, the feeling of warm weather on the horizon is so nice 😉

Victoria – Not really sure, but I look forward to skiing in places that I don’t normally get to ski at during the racing season and spending time with teammates. Also, T-shirt skiing is pretty great.

Glad to be together at the end of the Holderness Eastern Cup

Eastern Cup #3 — Rumford

Rumford, Maine we love you so!

This past weekend, the JNT team made the pilgrimage to Black Mountain for two days of bluebird racing. While our travel up to Maine may have been less bluebird, race days dawned cold and clear, and we were treated to fresh corduroy.

Saturday was a joint Eastern Cup and EISA Carnival. Sadly, this assistant coach didn’t get any photos, but our skiers mixed it up admirably in deep collegiate fields. The team was rebounding from sickness and not everyone felt peak fitness. That said, there were tons of highs throughout the day, racing-related and also in adjusting perspectives and maintaining positive attitudes.

 

Sunday’s classic sprints were Eastern Cup-only, and our skiers went head-to-head with their peers. We are thrilled that everyone sent it in the qualifier and 7/9 athletes raced highly-competitive heats. We were once again impressed with the team’s thorough preparation and dedication to each other. Spencer skied about 25k between warming up for his own race and accompanying three others on their respective warm-ups. Further proof of this group’s supportive nature was on display as they cheered on Ann in her U16 semi, a full six hours after the first qualifier.

It wouldn’t truly be an Eastern Cup weekend without a little fun thrown in there too. Nor would it be a true trip to Maine without a stop at Marden’s (Surplus and Salvage, in case you didn’t know). So, the team put on its own fashion show Saturday evening. The girls’ team set the bar incredibly high with a choreographed dance routine, and the boys held their own with some all-star purchases.

The whole gang in true Marden’s fashion!

Up and up and up! Eastern Cup Finals this weekend at Dublin and Holderness — we couldn’t be more excited!

Eastern Cup #2 — Craftsbury Extracurriculars

The Craftsbury Eastern Cup weekend gave us lots to celebrate from a racing perspective but also spawned (ha) some excellent outside-of-skiing time. Friday night was Hil’s birthday, and we held a team-wide Talent Show throughout the weekend.

To briefly recap, the team did a great job decorating the boys’ house with all manner of party supplies, and Ann, Catherine, and Elsa adopted their alter-egos of Barbara, Nan and Delores. They then proceeded to perform a feat of TV-show-quality master-baking, producing some excellent muffins and a fully formed cake in no time — a bit of Hollywood magic mixed with microwave magic. On Saturday, the run of show included a beautiful viola performance from Hannah, an epic rap battle introduced by Hannah and performed by Dirk and Spencer, yo-yo and magic tricks by Jacob and Justice respectively, and perhaps the most ingenious fireside chat ever from Nacio. The coaches did also engage in the revelry, though they’d rather not admit the extent of their talents. Deniability is key.

Below are some hot takes from the participants / audience members. We recommend following up with these individuals for more details!

Justice: Nacio’s performance was… out of this world!

Victoria: Most hilarious frog performance ever! It might’ve been the best part of the weekend.

Ann: Barbara, Nan, and Delores’s cooking show was so fun and the look on Hilary’s face when we pulled the cake out was priceless. For the talent show, I saw my coaches cheering for me today and could only picture them as eggs and tadpoles. So grateful to be on such a goofy team.

Hannah: ‘Twas a pleasure to introduce Spencer and Dirk’s act.

 

Spencer: I got to practice some hardcore rapping with Dirky-wirky. Gotta say, his rap was okay, but he couldn’t compete, cuz my skills were s-w-eet. Also got to watch many other great performers; I learned about barns in central Pennsylvania (just kidding, from central New York), and got to witness Jacob almost break the window with his Diablo, as well as learning about the frog lifecycle. I was sooo excited when the balloon popped in front of the fire!!!

Dirk: Very fun, Nacio’s fireside talk was hilarious and the life of frog was very fun to watch.

Jacob: I may or may not have the first couple minutes of “The Life Cycle of a Frog” by the coaches on my phone. Video available upon request.

Eastern Cup #2 — Craftsbury Racing

An excellent weekend of racing! We’re so proud of the athletes that raced at Craftsbury this weekend. The American Nordic world converged on Northeastern Vermont for a combined Supertour, EISA Carnival, and Eastern Cup, which made for as deep and talented a field as any outside of US Nationals. 

Here’s what our skiers had to say about the weekend. Note that some athletes did not get a chance to chime in as they worked diligently on homework (or worked diligently on recovery and napped), but we’ll hear from them next time!

Justice: I was very pleased with my skate race. I think two takeaways that I did well was that I kept forward technique and I pushed hard over the hills. My classic race was not great but I still feel good about the weekend. The conditions were tough and unfortunately I broke a pole.

 

Victoria: Super tough week back into ski racing, but being apart of Ford Sayre for a weekend made it easier. Skate race wasn’t too bad, and I skied smart to finish with an okay result. Classic race was emotionally and physically taxing, but I’m glad I didn’t drop out like I considered and kept on shuffling (literally) forwards. It’s always hard to transition from the front of the pack in past years to the back and not compare yourself to a previous you. Just got to be patient going forwards and accept that coming back into this sport is going to be hard. I’m pleased that I faced my fear and raced this weekend, even though I hadn’t really been training. I just need to keep my eyes up and not allow my results to have power over me as I continue moving forwards. Looking forward to improving in the rest of the season.

 

Ann: I was a bit nervous going into a weekend of two distance races, but soon realized that I had it better (or worse, depending on how you look at it) off than some of my teammates, who would be racing a 5k and a 10k or a 10k and a 15k. My skate race was probably one of my best races ever. I was able to use the uphills to my advantage and get into a solid rhythm on the tough ones. It was a very hilly course, but a good course for me. It was the hardest race I have ever done but one of the best. The classic race was not as good, and I was very tired from Saturday. It took a while to be able to really “work” my wax, but when I did, it went well. All in all, a great weekend of racing.

Hannah: Saturday was a great race. I felt like I skied big and strong “like a monster,” which I told Hilary was my goal before my race. My warmup felt amazing, and during the race, I felt like I was going pretty consistently hard, to the point where I was struggling to breathe going up Screaming Mimi. I crossed the finish line, flopped in the snow, and inhaled large quantities of nice air. I didn’t know I could breathe that fast. Sunday was overall a big success, but not in conventional terms. Before the race, I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry, but I went to the start and started. During the race, kick was minimal, and life was rough. I was planning where to drop out, but I didn’t. Instead, I powered through, by a mixture of double-poling, stomp-running, and a little herringbone. I finished, and that was a huge success for the day.

Spencer: I did my first 15k! Ow. Definitely longer than a 10k. And a lot harder. Oh, and did I mention longer? Yeah. But also really fun. I think it was probably my best 15k yet! I felt pretty good, although I did crash. I caught a tip in the powder, and gave Nacio some quality entertainment! The crash made me angry though, so for the rest of my race, I felt good.

Dirk: Saturday’s individual start 10k skate went pretty well in general, but the course was very hard and I was tired especially in the legs, but also mentally. My skis were good but not amazing like they were on Sunday. The 15k classic was very fun and I felt good, energized and well fueled. The start was messy, and I did take a big tumble on a downhill in the first lap that set me back a long way, but I was able to come back from it. I found a good group to hang with for the race and my skis were much faster on the downhill. I did have to concentrate on my striding in order to get good kick, but it was probably good for me. Takeaways are not to give up hope when something goes wrong. The fall in the first lap put me back like 20 places but it also made me mad and I was able to catch back up throughout the race. Also don’t resort to herringbone as soon as you slip the first time, try to adjust your technique to make the wax work.

Jacob: It was wonderful to have so many parents and teammates out on the course cheering this weekend! That encouragement certainly made the five trips up Mimi’s a little easier. Although I didn’t have the races I was hoping for this weekend, I am proud of the way I attacked the uphills and stayed very focused even while skiing alone for long stretches of the formidable Craftsbury course.  Major props to all the parents who put together the food table and also to Victoria for jumping into her first races of the year! Outside of the tracks, highlights of the weekend include Hilary’s birthday party on Friday night, complete with cake, balloons, streamers, and party hats; and Nacio reading Dr. Seuss to the boys by firelight for our Friday night bedtime story (the boys’ house had neither Wi-Fi nor cell service). Above all else, this weekend was a reminder of the amazing chemistry and positive energy that this team has. I will miss all of you so much while racing across the pond in Norway for the rest of the season!

The Silver Fox Trot — A Ford Sayre Classic!

What a day for the Ford Sayre Nordic community!

A new week, another classic New England ski race, and substantially different weather than last Saturday’s Bogburn. But the cold could not deter the New England Nordic faithful from a day of racing at Rikert Nordic Center for this year’s Silver Fox Trot.

All told, a staggering 227 racers took to the starting line. A full 90 of those skiers were affiliated with Ford Sayre; parents and volunteer who have seen the Silver Fox Trot evolve over the years assumed both totals were among the highest ever. The Rikert crew worked tirelessly to provide excellent skiing on several iterations of their race course. Highlights from racing included countless top tens for Ford Sayre skiers, podium finishes for Wendall Durham and Tomas Masterson, a win for Sarah Glueck and one very high stakes Chicken Race. We were impressed by all the gutsy racing!

None of this would have been possible without all the volunteers. Special shoutouts to Margaret Loftus and Jonathan Durham for organizing and directing the entire operation; to Jonathan Chipman and Hope Rennie for coordinating the timing and registration operations; and the JNT team and parents for volunteering throughout the morning and then throwing bibs on and taking part in the Citizens Race! The Silver Fox Trot is many things at once — a mainstay on the New England Nordic race calendar, an event for skiers of every age, ability, and inclination, and a celebration of the Ford Sayre community. This year’s edition was a huge success, and we feel very proud and grateful to be a part of such a special organization.

 

A Not-So-Brief (because I am SICK of word counts) Personal History of the Bogburn, Mostly through Wax Incidents

By Hannah

The Bogburn was my first race ever: I waddled frantically around the Lollipop loop, coming in third and receiving a Kit-Kat for my efforts. 

Is a Kit-Kat a lollipop? 

No. 

Did this bother me? 

Yes… 

…but I like Kit-Kats better anyways so it’s all good. 

As far as I can remember, I’ve skied in every Bogburn since then. An unseasonably warm (or was it cold?) day in BKL introduced me and my dad to the wonders of klister. He recalls almost setting Jay on fire with a blowtorch. My freshman year brought another klistery Bogburn, as detailed in my post from three years ago, Fogburn Bogburn. The most memorable result of this race was the accidental almost-combustion of Tobin’s skis by another overly enthusiastic blow-torch-wielding middle schooler (who shall go unnamed) attempting to clean off the klister. 

Did I say klister? 

I meant klister-pine-needle-barf-like mixture. 

Sophomore year was my only Bogburn not at the Bogburn trails, and I ambitiously decided to double-pole all nine kilometers of the Woodstock loop. In that race, I discovered that double-pole endurance was an area that I had lots of potential to improve in…but I finished!

Fast-forward another year, and we faced the opposite challenge of the Fogburn. The wax of the day was Special Green, and as I was (and still am) learning the ins and outs of ski wax lore, I thought this was the same as the Swix VG35 basebinder. So…I waxed my skis with basebinder. It worked pretty well though! The shorts and t-shirt I wore at the Fogburn, however, would not have cut it in this particular Bogburn.

 

Wait…you wanted to actually hear about this year’s Bogburn? Well, I’m a senior now, so I’m allowed to reminisce about the past happy years of my youth. But the 2020 Bogburn was perhaps the best yet, despite bib-and-shorts racing temperatures, so here goes:

 

The waxing for this race was relatively simple: pick the warmest klister possible. I tested a Rex klister that came from an ancient gold-colored tube and appeared transparent yellow in small quantities but electric blue when spread on the kick zone. Hilary dubbed it the radioactive wax. It worked like a charm, and so I grabbed my training skis to wax up for the race. I applied a beautiful, thin layer of a Rex klister that came from an ancient gold-colored tube and appeared transparent yellow. The fact that it never looked electric blue should have tipped me off, but as I tested my skis 20 minutes before the race, just in case, I discovered I had no kick at all. I had not noticed the tiny “OU” on the tube, which differed from my original tube’s “OY”. With fifteen minutes to start, I cleaned off my painstaking but useless klister job and coaxed the last dregs of the sacred radioactive OY klister onto my skis. In the race, I had nearly perfect kick, as long as I had nearly perfect technique, which is a nearly perfect situation to be in.

Out on course, the magical single-track Bogburn trails swoop up, down, and around in convoluted loops that even my fine-tuned sense of direction can’t keep track of. Most races, I look at a map, plan out my race, and decide how I’m going to approach different sections, but the Bogburn is totally different. For me, it’s a journey through a beautiful, magical forest—perhaps there is some sense to Autocorrect’s attempts to change “Bogburn” to “hobbit”—and I take every twist, climb, and loopy descent as it comes.

No one that I know understands exactly how the start order is determined, but this year, I started in the middle of a bunch of Dartmouth women, with a few other U18s sprinkled ahead of me. For the first lap of the race, I always had a Dartmouth skier ahead of me to chase, and as Anna Lehmann or Molly Gellert (for example) passed me, I would cling to their tails and learn as much as I could from their skiing. 

All these amazing women pulled me forward with their momentum, and going through the lap lane, I sighted Sage and Aggie, who had started about a minute ahead of me. I worked on closing the gap and passing them for the second lap of the race, and the fast guys started catching me, giving me yet more speedy skiers to chase. 

As one tucking green-clad skier passed through my peripheral vision, he kindly warned me, “Three more coming!” 

These three turned out to be, in quick succession, another Dartmouth skier, my coach Luke (in his purple cow suit), and some other guy. Other friends I saw out there included Dirk and Elissa, who passed me just before the end, and Barry Kitch, who headed out on his first lap just as I was going through for my second. Basically, the Bogburn gives you the chance to ski with and chase a whole bunch of skiers you don’t normally get to be around. 

With the inspiration and challenge of all the skiers around me, I found myself pushing closer to my limits. By the last few kilometers, my legs and arms were jelly and most of my focus went into staying upright on the last few curves. And for the first time, ten years after my first race ever, I finally got the coveted Bogburn hat. See you next year, Bogburn—I’m already excited!

Eastern Cup #1 — Quarry Road

The first Eastern Cup is in the books! As the first installment of four Eastern Cup weekends, the competition was fierce and margins were narrow. This race series serves as the qualifiers for the New England Junior National team, among other things, and most eastern high school skiers mark these races as the ones to focus on. We are so proud of how our athletes prepared for and executed throughout the trip to Maine; also, there’s a ton of work that makes these weekends possible, so read on for a thorough accounting of all the help we’re grateful for.
Here’s Hilary’s recap of the weekend, with photos courtesy of Flying Point Road.
Thanks to Jon Chipman (Program Head) and Margaret Rightmire, we were able to secure familiar and comfortable lodging in Waterville almost immediately after the races were moved from Sugarloaf. The owner, Billy was delighted to welcome the group again and remarked at how tidy and respectful the kids have been and were! He even let us use his heated garage for waxing, which let me tell you, was a Godsend on Friday and Saturday nights!
Thanks also to the Rightmire’s and May’s for loaning your EZPasses for the trip and being at the ready with air mattresses. We took a slightly different approach with our transportation this time around and rented a UHaul cargo van that was comparable in price and unmatched in storage capacity! Thanks to the Bolingers for helping with the pick-up of that!

 

Quarry Road delivered with both excellent skiing and a well-executed race! Our athletes were well-practiced for Saturday’s sprint race, having done two complete King’s Court skate sprints the last two weekends. And it showed! Notable highlights include some huge jumps up the results sheets from last year’s EC skate sprint opener, including 83 places by Dirk in the skate sprint, four athletes skiing sprint rounds, and two JNT alums in the mix for the weekend.

 

Due to the unpredictable early winter weather, Sunday was the first day in classic tracks for many of our JNT skiers, not to mention their first day on classic race skis. But from the way they skied, you hardly would have guessed it. In fact, both the GMVS coach and the NENSA High Performance Director remarked at how strong the Ford Sayre crew looked out there. Many great efforts and happy (albeit, exhausted) faces at the end of the day. Each and every one of them should be proud of their efforts and remember that the ‘finesse’ will come! Classic skiing is an art form. Zoe and I were tremendously impressed with the professionalism that the athletes had both around the pre-race process and the ski testing and feedback. We were a bit short-staffed on the wax bench for the day because our substitute wax tech came down with a stomach bug Saturday night. Luckily, we got away with a hardwax binder rather than klister! And the generator lumbered to life so we could run some irons, another blessing. And thanks to Mark and Matt who trepidatiously jumped in the deep end, we were able to produce some competitive skis!