Massachusetts Qualifier and Eastern Cup #3 - Craftsbury

February 23, 2024
Massachusetts Qualifier and Eastern Cup #3 - Craftsbury

Massachusetts Qualifier

Due to constraining snow conditions throughout the state, the MA qualifier was hosted at our very own Weston Ski Track! We are so thankful for the snowmakers who made this race possible, and were excited to do some racing on our home course. Due to events happening earlier in the day on Saturday, the qualifier races began at 6:00 PM, and the last race toed the line around 8:30 PM. This is a more condensed schedule than in past years, and the wax team and race organizers worked quickly to make this event run really smoothly!

It's uncommon to have races starting so late into the day, but the athletes adapted! With a whole day to prepare for the evening's races, there's a lot of time for nerves to build. We challenged the athletes to fuel well throughout the day, and to have a mantra that they would carry into their races.

MA Qualifier

The qualifier requires athletes to complete two races almost back to back - first a 4k classic race, and about an hour later, a 4k skate race. Athletes stayed on top of fueling and warming up, and it was awesome to see some really strong and focused performances in every race.

Eastern Cup #3 - Craftsbury
The Craftsbury Eastern cup was a depiction of perfect snowy weather and really fun ski racing. The days started out cold and clear, but the afternoon sun was warm and temperatures rose to around 32 degrees by mid-day. The atmosphere was lively with sunshine, sparkling snow, and smiling faces.

We had our largest team showing yet, with around 40 athletes making the trip to Craftsbury. We had a few athletes racing their first-ever eastern cups (woohoo, shoutout to those athletes). We also saw many athletes making breakthroughs in their racing, whether in motivation and determination, pre-race nutrition, or navigating packs and winding downhills.
On Saturday, the team got a visit from World Cup skier Ben Ogden. We got stickers and took photos with Ben, and Kay even received a compliment from Ben on his overalls!

Ben Ogden

Saturday: Skate 7.5k Skate Interval Start
On Saturday, all U16s, U18s and U20s (aka everyone) raced a 7.5k interval start race. This race was unique in that it was combined with the Harvard Carnival, meaning our juniors were mixing it up with college-level racers and a world-cup skier. The women's race went off first at 9:30 and the men's race began at noon.
The women's race was fast and fun, as the snow was firm and cold. Our U18 women had some strong races, with Fran Tucker and Alex Taylor both in the top 60 and amongst some college skiers. Sarah successfully worked on using positivity and fun to motivate her through the course, Hannah raced on her cold race-skis for the first time, and Polina was proud of her skiing through transition sections.
The U16 girls impressed, as, for many of them, this was their first eastern cup race (shoutout to Avery Miller and Iris Lampe!), and/or the longest distance they had ever raced! The rest of our U16 girls were Abby Kirincich, Anneka Doughty, and Kiera McNeil, who all skied smooth and controlled through the two-lap course.
The sun came out for the men's race, but the snow stayed cold and fast. After the first race, the corduroy disappeared as skiers wore it down, and the snow resembled sand. The boys found it advantageous to ski on the less-trafficked side of the trail where the snow was still firm. There were a total of 30 EMXC athletes competing in this race, and the coaches were busy cheering them all on!
In the U18/20 category, Ian Brenner and Jared Rife led the team in 85th and 96th respectively. Adam Synnestvedt, Mori Finlayson-Johnecheck, Levin Brenner, Dashiell Martin, and Owen Manchek also had some of their strongest races of the season. Many of our athletes are finding their stride and continuing to improve as we move through the season - just the way we like it! The U16s continued this trend with Jasper finishing 10th for U16s and Zach close behind in 12th (a personal best result)! Lucas Whittle, Colin Kurtz, Lukas Webb, and Jacob Miller all raced their first eastern cups. Beyond results, the athletes demonstrated their determination and ability to push themselves. There was a lot of excitement around mental mantras and finding ways to stay motivated in a hard race.

Sunday: Skate 5k/10k Pursuit Start
Sunday's pursuit start was a little different than what we're used to. Instead of starting at precise, 15-second intervals, racers started based on their finish times from the day before. This means that the winner of Saturday's race was the first starter on Sunday. Each racer's start position was determined by their time back from the winner. This gave athletes an opportunity to race strategically; knowing that the people starting around them were of similar ability and speed gave them motivation to hang on to their competitors. We saw some tactical racing and lots of EMXC skiers working together in the races.
The U16's were the first racers on course for the day, completing one lap of a 5k course, boys followed by girls. We had a total of nine U16 boys and three of them placed in the top 15 (Japer, Tor, and Zach). Some of our skiers got to start next to each other, as Lucas Whittle, Jacob Miller, and Kay Nichols-Brewer all started within 10 seconds of one another. These teammates made a plan to motivate each other during the race - a great example of team camaraderie! There were five U16 girls racing on Sunday, and three of them started within five seconds of each other (Anneka, Keira, and Avery)! These three didn't spread out by much and finished within a 35 second span of one another. Abby Kirincich put down another top 20 result in the pursuit. Most importantly, all the racers had fun out there, and Iris Lampe could be quoted saying "that was fun!" after finishing both days of racing.
The U18s went next, doing 2 laps of the 5k course for a total of 10k. In the boys race, Jared Rife had EMXC's best result of the day in 27th place! Ian Brenner, Mori Finlayson-Johnecheck, Levin Brenner, and Dashiell Martin were all in the top 45. Because so many of our athletes are U18 boys, this race was exciting for EMXC fans as well as athletes. Racers really had the opportunity to work with their many teammates to dig deep and push each other. This could also be seen clearly in the women's race, as Hannah Petersen and Sarah Kirincich raced the majority of the 10k together, placing 22nd and 30th respectively. Those two gave each other words of encouragement and pushed themselves and each other to some great results! Fran Tucker had another amazing day, with some very powerful V2 through the finishing stretch and into 8th place.

Up Next

Some of the team is heading to Hanover NH for our February camp. We'll be taking advantage of the beautiful trails at Oak Hill and preparing for our final Eastern Cup of the season, which will take place 2/24-2/25 at Holderness.