Another mini-tour is under the belt, this time in North America. I returned to the states a little more than a week ago to finish off the season on US soil with my club team, APU Nordic Ski Center.
Speaking of that team.... how's this for enthusiasm?
The week started off with a massive heat wave. In fact, some of us were so un-prepared for the close to 80 degree weather that we had a "team outing" to a local thrift store to buy shorts and tank tops. I also bought myself some mud boots at the local corner general store. You'll see why here......
I feel like I've heard about Vermont Mud season from Liz and Newell for a while now.... Driving on the dirt roads here can be similar to driving on ice - except for the fact that you're fish tailing on mud - beware!
The mini tour here at Craftsbury consisted of four races, a skate prologue, classic 10k mass start, classic sprint & the grand finale, a hill climb UP Jay Peak, the local downhill ski area. If you want to know more about the races you can check it out on the event website HERE. My efforts ended up with a 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 9th place........ this combined to equal a third place finish overall in the Mini-Tour, just 3 seconds out of second. Here are some pictures from the race week:
Race #1 Skate Prologue - notice my mud boots and the brown grass everywhere!
Some US Ski Team & APU Ladies (l-r) Sadie, Jessie, Ida, Liz, Rosie, Holly & Becca (photo compliments of the Sargent Family)
Racing the 10k Classic mass start
This was a special race because the APU ladies SWEPT the podium. It's pretty special when a club can do that because more and more, the level of competition has become higher and higher. The last time I remember this happening was 2011 Nationals:
In the 10k we skied well but we also had some awesome skis with great kick and awesome glide. We have this group of hard working guys to thank for that:
Erik Flora, Eric Strabel, Sam Sterling, Casey Fagerquist & Mikey Matteson
Next came the classic sprint. I was happy with my qualification ski but failed to make the A final. I made a tactical error that lead to poor positioning. Also, nearly the last third of the course was flat double pole. Double pole has never been my strength but ever since breaking my wrist and skiing with one pole (and mostly my legs) I've really struggled with it. I've been waiting to celebrate the last classic race for this reason and now I can look forward to rebuilding my upper body strength & double pole for next year.
Skiing the heats with Jessie Diggins
While the classic sprint wasn't my best day it was AWESOME to see some of my teammates pick up the slack. APU skier Reese Hanneman skied to a Silver medal in a stacked field and APU Junior, Celia Haering won the Junior Women's race.
Celia showing her apple pie award!
The final tour standings were decided with a 2k hill climb straight up an alpine area.
Overall Tour Podium - Me, Susan Stephan (Liz's Mom!) & Jessie all share a good laugh!
Coming up tomorrow is the National Championship 30k for ladies. We are racing on a 1.5k loop, potentially in what Easterners call a "wintery mix." It should be interesting.... stay tuned and thanks for reading!