Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Junior Nationals Recap

Team New England and the SMS racers at Junior Nationals finished the week on a high note with some awesome classic racing and a lot of really strong performances in Saturday's relay event.  As most everyone knows now, New England successfully defended the Alaska Cup for the fourth straight year, taking a big lead in the first day of racing and never looking back, scoring over 1500 points, nearly 500 points more than the second place team.  Nice job to all New England racers!  It was a really strong team performance and lots of different athletes stepped up to score Alaska Cup points for New England.
For the second straight year, SMS was recognized as the top overall club in the country.  It was pretty special for our team to get up on the podium and be recognized for skiing fast at this event.  Even though we had our 12 JN athletes up on the podium accepting the club award, our whole team deserves to be up there.  We work together to push each other, and while we have a lot of fast skiers racing at an event like Junior Nationals, those at the top get pushed by the skiers below them to become better. 
Our boys deserve special mention this year for taking home the Roger Weston Award for the top high school team in the country and the boys club award.  Our girls put up a good fight and were second in both categories, but hats off to Steamboat Springs HS who won the high school trophy and to CSU who won the girls club award. 
We had lots of parents out there cheering our team on - thanks for all your support!  Special thanks to Michael Cobb and Jeanne Pastore for many of the photos that appear in this post.
Issy has skied very well all year and this week was no exception.  She had a great day on Wednesday with a 4th in the freestyle race and then blitzed the middle leg of the relay and skied her team into first place before they settled into silver medal position. 
  
Katharine went from 5th to 4th to 3rd to 1st in her four races this week and though it was her first national level race, you'd never know.  Though I didn't see it myself, Pepa from Craftsbury raved about how well Katharine skied Hermod's Hill in the classic race - "just like a professional skier!". 

Brooke had a great week - silver in the sprint, 4th in the classic race.  She wasn't psyched with her freestyle result, but she bounced back and charged out of the start in the relay and skied an aggressive scramble leg.  It was a gutsy move that strung out the field and put her team in contention for a top spot. 
 Boobar rallied the troops all week and kept all the coaches organized and on task.  This is his fourth year as the head coach of the New England team and NE has won the Alaska Cup each year.
 Gino, surrounded by Rocky and Intermountain skiers, at the start of the freestyle race.  Gino skied his strongest race on Wednesday with a fifth place finish and then skied a great scramble leg for his J1 relay team, bringing them into the tag in fifth place, only 3 seconds out of the lead.

 Hamish had a really nice prelim on Monday - 6th overall - but then just missed advancing to the semis from his quarterfinal.  He skied a nice anchor leg for his relay team on Saturday - bringing them up several spots to finish 7th. 
 Tyler sprints to the finish in the 10k freestyle race.  Tyler paces himself better than most people on our team and the freestyle race was no exception.
 He went from mid-20s after the start to 19th at the 5k and then moved all the way up to 12th place.  A really nice result for a first year J1.  He skied another great race on Friday (18th) and then anchored his relay team to a 5th place finish.
 
 Paddy never finished lower than 2nd in any race this week - silver in the sprint, classic, & relay, and gold in the freestyle race.  He was also the New England nominee for the Dave Quinn Award, given to an athlete at JNs who exemplifies leadership, work ethic, & love for the sport. 
 
 Heather Mooney picked up a silver (classic distance) and a bronze (relay) medal this week.  It was great to have her energy and talent on the team this week!
  Anika hit her stride in the relay and skied a beautiful race.  She brought her team into the exchange zone in second place overall for both J1 and OJ teams.
 
Koby had an awesome first trip to JNs -  he racked up 3 All American performances in 4 races: 4th in the sprint, 10th in the classic, and an anchor leg on the 3rd place relay team.  
 Rachel Hall was the skier of the day for SMS on Friday with a national title in the classic race.  She's on the podium with fellow New England athlete Mary Kate Cirelli from GMVS.
 Boobar with SMS/Middlebury skiers Rachel & Heather after the classic races.  I don't have a picture of him skiing in the relay, but it should be noted that fellow Midd kid Austin Cobb crushed his leg of the relay after missing the two distance races due to illness.  Cobby got silver in the sprint on Monday and then came down with a cold, leaving him down and out for Wednesday and Friday.  By the time Saturday rolled around, he wasn't sure how he was going to ski in the relay... turns out he skied pretty well!  Austin moved his team up from 12th to second with the fastest split for the middle leg of any other J1 or OJ out there.  
This pack of boys ended up 2, 3, 4, 5 in the freestyle race.
 Nice race Paddy!
The J2s got a tour of the USSA Center of Excellence on one of their off afternoons.
Sweet foam pit! 
Kris Freeman up on the right.
Tessa and Zoe check out the anti-gravity treadmill.
The huge rollerski treadmills that the USST uses for testing - most of our group had watched videos on YouTube of the USST crew hitting their max and falling off the back of the treadmill (harnessed in, of course), so seeing the treadmills in person was pretty cool!
Hard to see, but the three SMS J2s posing underneath the photo of Ross Powers (SMS Snowboard Coach) who won a gold medal at the Olympics in 2002.
J2 girls team photo at the COE. 
Boobar gets a total body workout.
J2s pose for a team picture.
Brotherly love. : ) 
The J2 relay was a nailbiter!  Julia Kern (NE anchor) and Alaskan skier Lydia Blanchet sprinted for the line and it took a photo finish review to determine the outcome... (the two teams pose for a photo above before the result was annonuced)
New England wins by a boot!
Our J1 boys got up on the podium for second (Paddy's team) and fifth (Gino & Tyler's team). 
SMS boys up on the stage with the Roger Weston Trophy.

The whole team up on stage accepting the overall club award. (Thanks Tim for the photo!)
Team New England with the Alaska Cup!
On Sunday morning, we slept in after a late night of dancing (athletes) and chaperoning (coaches). : )  A few skiers headed out for some alpine skiing with their families, while Matt and Liz took the rest of the crew to Sundance for a recovery ski.  Beautiful trails, sunny, and warm!  A great way to end a great trip.  Now we're all back in Vermont and getting psyched for our last two race series: Canadian Nationals starting this weekend and Super Tour Finals/Spring Series the following week.  Fingers crossed the snow holds until then. : )

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