A Busy December: EC#1 and MSA Camp!

January 10, 2024
A Busy December: EC#1 and MSA Camp!

December was a busy month for EMXC Juniors. Athletes participated in this season's first Eastern Cup mid-month, and then made the trek up to Mont Sainte Anne for a fabulous training camp at the end of December. See all of Coach Avery's details below:

Eastern Cup #1, December 16-17

Saturday Recap (Classic Sprints)

Unsure of how sprint racing works? Here is a little breakdown of a typical day:

  • First, athletes race a qualifier - an individual start race in which the athlete's placement determines if they will move on to continue racing throughout the day.
  • After the Qualifier, three rounds of heats take place: the quarterfinal, the semifinal, and the final.
    • At EC#1, racers that placed in the top 30 of their respective qualifier moved on to the open heats (6-person heats).
    • The top 12 U18/U20 racers not in the open heats qualified for U18/20 heats.
    • Similarly, the top 18 U16s from the qualifier would move on to U16 heats.

With multiple rounds of heats going on for each age group, sprint days are long!

Recap of December 16th:

Our first big race of the season put our EMXC wax team and athletes to the test.

photo courtesy of Dingli Zeng

The day started early, and as the sun rose, the trails were still glazed and very firm, resulting in some really fast skiing. By the time athletes were done warming up and toeing the start line, the sun had come out and the snow had softened, leaving the course to be slightly more forgiving. The wax team was continuously out on course and on the benches throughout the day; working hard to keep up with the temperature changes!

photo courtesy of Dingli Zeng

The first race of the day was the women's qualifier at 10am. The men followed at 10:45am. After some gritty racing from the whole team, we had three qualifying athletes, including Fran Tucker, Tor Webb, and Jasper Lloyd (who qualified despite a broken pole). Fran made it all the way to the final and had a determined and confident race; landing herself in second place in the U18/20 girls heats. Jasper and Tor both had strong quarterfinal races in the U16 boys heats.

photo courtesy of Dingli Zeng

Sunday Recap (Skate Distance)

After tackling Day 1, athletes returned to the venue ready to take on another day of racing; this time a skate individual-start 5k/7.5k. Once again, the wax team headed out early to get a head start on glide. The word on the street is that we had some pretty speedy skis!

U16s raced 3 laps of a 1.8k loop for a total of 5k. In the U16 races, Keira McNeil represented the girls with some smooth and strong skiing. Our six U16 boys also had strong races, with notable moments from each of them, including Eddie with some really focused V1 on-course, a 7th place from Jasper, and some aggressive downhill skiing from Brendan.

On the U18/U20 side, we had a much larger field racing, with a total of 21 racers. This group raced 3 laps of a 2.5k course for a total of 7.5k. Our large group of boys kicked off the open races, with Ian Brenner leading in 59th place. There was also a huge pack of EMXC boys right behind Ian and it was exciting to see the depth of our team's ability.

Our four U18 girls put forward some impressive performances as well, with Fran finishing 33rd in a strong field of women. It was exciting to watch as Sarah Kirincich, Hannah Petersen, and Polina Kontorovich held their ground throughout their entire races - either moving up in place or maintaining the same place each lap. Clearly these gals were paying attention during our negative split workouts!

MSA Camp, December 27-31

We skied a LOT! Despite the conditions being less than optimal, the athletes had their biggest week of training for our current training period! Each day, we held a morning and afternoon practice. Throughout the course of the week, we worked on technique, did intervals, and got stronger as skiers and as a team! We were lucky to be joined by Dublin XC for some of the workouts.

photo courtesy of Dingli Zeng

The weather threw us for some loops--a couple of warm days followed by rain, and then snow just in time for our royal court sprint simulation on Saturday morning. It was really impressive to see the athletes' excitement despite the rain.

photo courtesy of Dingli Zeng

Highlights of the week included:

  • The thrill of the downhill coming down from Mont Sainte Hilaire. The interesting conditions created some exciting skiing on this well-known downhill stretch, and we had some pretty fast "top speeds" reported by watch data.
  • Exploring the trails and running into dog-sled teams. What a fun surprise to turn the corner and (almost) run into a pack of happy huskies!
  • The Royal Court sprint simulation was an opportunity for athletes to get in some hard intervals in a "race" format. Coaches marked a sprint course and parent volunteers helped time and direct athletes. The athletes raced a qualifier which placed them into heats of 7. After the first heat, the top two from each heat moved up to a faster group, and the last two moved down. The great thing about this format is that, unlike normal sprint racing, there are no eliminations and athletes get to race all four rounds. It was cool to hear some of the younger athletes discussing tactics and strategy. We also heard lots of happy comments about how much fun everyone had.
photo courtesy of Dingli Zeng
photo courtesy of Dingli Zeng