Saturday, March 07, 2009
It was an amazing day, with crazy weather and even crazier skiing. Sun, fog, snow, wind, sun, wind, snow...
We managed to just keep ahead of the weather and UW had decent skis and used them to great advantage.
The women started the day 12 points in front of Whitman, this meant that as long as they were within 1 place of Whitman they would win the overall. The women decided to make it interesting and almost gave the coaches heart failure!
Gracey rocked the first leg, coming in 20 seconds in front of second place. Gwynn took off for the fastest split of the day, adding 1 minute to the lead. Kari took off in the lead but soon found that an entire week of skiing her heart out had taken it out of her. It was all she could do to finish and both St. Olaf and Whitman caught her before the end of the race. Luckily for UW Shaina from St. Olaf held off Whitman for the win, leaving the cowgirls standing on top of the overall podium!
The men had an amazing day. We figured the points and if we took the top 3 men off the team the UW men would still have won Nationals. As it was the second relay team, lead by John passed the first relay team, Eliah, on the first leg of the relay. Matt was the first leg of the 3rd relay and finished right on Eliah's heals. Dan was second and soon dominated the rest of the teams. Jacob was the second leg for the 2nd team and he took off into 2nd place, behind Dan. Adam skied 2nd leg for the 3rd team and had a great run. Despite plowing fresh snow for the rest of the field and almost crashing into some touring skiers Dan came into the exchange zone 1+ minute in front of second place. He handed off to Zhenya and the race was over. Jacob handed off to Justin in 4th and Adam handed off to Fitz. Zhenya came it well in the lead, grabbed a UW flag and skied to the finish like a world cup winner, waiving the UW flag. Justin, having left everything on the trail yesterday, faded a bit but Fitz finally had the race we were all looking for all year, flying up from the back, passing team after team.
It was a good day, with the UW men and women completing their first ever double victory!
It doesn't get any better than that!
These athletes ROCK OUR WORLD!
The men were amazing as usual this week. The hallmark of a truly strong team is that when one falters another can take her/his place. This is exactly what happened in the skate race.
The men decided they didn't want to lead the whole race and managed to come out of the start with two skiers in front of them. Four UW men, Dan, Zhenya, Eliah and John, in a row were followed by the rest of the pack. Only a few kilometers into the race the lead man crashed and caused a huge pileup that forced our men to the front. Not a problem though, they were willing to work together.
By the second loop three UW men, Dan, Zhenya and John, had separated themselves from the pack and were skiing together with Dan leading and the other men hanging on.
It was an impressive race with the three men at the front followed by Eliah in 7th, Jacob in 14th and Justin, Fitz, Adam and Devin spread out through the pack.
The full 15km found Dan still leading with Zhenya jsut hanging on and John having dropped back a bit but still in front of the rest of the pack.
Zhenya tried to make a move to take Dan but Dan proved to be too strong and managed to complete the hat trick of three races in a row! Zhenya was 2nd three times and John had his best skate race of his career to finish in 3rd. The rest of the men skied amazing and the men's National Championship it now in the bag!
1-2-3 sweep with one different man for UW!
Now we are just looking for a good relay and these athletes can relax and celebrate their stunning victory.
Friday, March 06, 2009
The women skied beyond our wildest expectations! Gracey went out with the lead pack and worked with Brittany to finish in 3rd place. Kari and Gwynn worked together the whole race, picking girls oof left and right to finish right behind Gracey in 4th& 5th! Marie had amamzing day, coming from 9th in the first lap to finish hot on the heals of Kari & Gwynn in 6th!
Morgan, who's legs haven't allowed her to skate all year finished the race in 15th and Shannon had an amazing day finishing right around 17th.
The women definitely won the day with 12 points, Whitman followed with 20.
More on the men's race later.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Needless to say the men won, with a perfect score!
The women also rocked! They were 3 points down to Whitman after the sprints and were on a mission.
They had a great day with Gracey 3rd, Kari 5th, Gwynn 6th, Morgan 10th and Marie 13th! What a great finish! The women were 1st by 8 points and now lead Whitman by 6 points in the overall!
It was an amazing, wonderful day!
We are now looking forward to a day of rest and the mass start on Friday.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
The women started the prelim at 6:15pm in the waning light of the sunset. Kari was the first woman out of the gate and she successfully navigated the course and looked comfortable doing it. Gwynn followed in good speed, Gracey, Marie, Shannon and Gina. They all looked good, although Shannon took a hellatious fall on the downhill that impressed the Maine coach.
The men started immediately after the women, as a matter of fact the first men had to contend with the slowest women. Everything looked good for the start until Zhenya's pole broke right out to the start. Thanks to Rachel and Adam he got a pole in about 10 seconds and then skied like a god to try to make up the time but 10 seconds in a 1.4km sprint is a huge amount of time and we weren't sure he would make the finals. The rest of the men looked great! Dan, Eliah, John, Kinner, Fitz, Jacob and Adam all skied amazing and cranked around the course.
The top 10 athletes from the prelims go on to head to head finals. We waited on pins and needles to see who had qualified for the finals. The women were announced first and 4 of our women qualified, Kari, Gwynn, Gracey and Marie! Wow! 4 of the top 10 were UW! They were divided into 2 heats for the semifinals and unfortunately 3 of our girls ended up in one heat, Gracey, Gwynn and Kari with Marie in the other heat.
We still didn't know the results of the men when the women's heats started. But Marie was in the first heat and skied amazing. She just chewed people up on the uphills but lost a little ground on the downhill. She finished 5th in her heat, not far out of qualifying for the next round.
The 2nd heat went off with the final three UW women. Kari and Gracey got a decent start but Gwynn got tripped up on the uphill and the race was just too short to get back to the group. Kari and Gracey started in 4th and 5th spots and fought their way up until they were in 2nd and 3rd. That put Kari into the A final and Gracey into the B final.
Meanwhile we were still waiting to find the finalist for the Men's final. They were finally announced and we had put 4 men into the finals! Dan, Eliah, John and Zhenya, despite his broken pole!
We got luckier with the men that the women with them split 2 in each heat. The first heat went out with Dan and Eliah. They got a good start but were following Tom from Western State. They were starting to make ground on him and were about to pass him when Tom crashed, leaving Dan and Eliah free and clear in the front. The first 2 from each heat automatically qualify for the A final so Dan and Eliah were able to ski half of the second lap a little slower to conserve energy for the final round.
John and Zhenya were in the next semi and it was a great one. John was trying to take the lead on the killer uphill when he got tangled with an Whiman skier and got his ski caught in the fence. He didn't give up but got up and went after the rest of the field. Zhenya skied like a man possesed, trying to prove himself after the breaking of the pole earlier. He followed a Clarkson skier for about half a lap and then blew by him and destroyed the heat. Easily winning and moving onto the A final. John made an amazing comeback and almost managed to get himself into the B final.
The finals were also amazing! The women's B had Gracey and these women were fight for places 5-8 in the race. Gracey skied smart and tough and pulled herself into 6th place with some great tactics on the back stretch.
The men's B was the only final that didn't have a UW skier, this was because of the 4 people who qualified for the A final 3 of them wore a bucking horse on their legs!
The women's final featured Kari in her worst event. She got tripped twice on the first hill and came out in 4th. She fought like a tiger and took 3rd and just missed 2nd by 1 second! This was her best ever finish in a sprint at Nationals in her 4 years of college!
The men's final was the show of the night, with 3 UW men and one Whitman. The men took off fast Dan leading, Zhenya hot on his heals and Eliah hanging on. The easy lap Dan had when in the Semi's showed up now because he lead from start to finish with never a challenge. Zhenya followed Dan around but couldn't quite catch him, Dan became UW's first Nationals Champion for the week and we hope not the last. He finished in a comfortable 2nd place. Eliah spent the race fighting with the Whitman racer. Around 75% of the course he lead but the Whitman racer was waiting for his chance and with the straitaway to go he made his move. Eliah tried to fight him off but just lost at the finish, despite an amazing lung Eliah just missed the 3rd place. What an amazing finish for UW though, 1,2, 4!
There were probably 200 people lining the finish stretch and the roar was amazing!
The men finish the night well in the lead of this national championship event with only 7 points. The women were 2nd, just edged out by Whitman by 3 points. They are motivated to go after them tomorrow!
The final thought for the day is the amazing support showed by the entire team, those who raced, those who didn't and those who raced and immediately asked what they could do to help the rest of the team do well. Without Adam Zhenya wouldn't have gotten a pole in time and wouldn't have made it to the finals and wouldn't have gotten 2nd. Without Liz and Catherine on the hill we wouldn't have been able to tell our athletes to go wide on the top corner so they wouldn't slip on the ice. Without any one person out there I don't believe if the result would have been the same. This team wins because of every person, racing or not, counting or not. They are all part of the magic and we are proud of them all.
We are now waxing skis like maniacs, preparing for tomorrow morning at 9am when they race the 8.5km classic race.
More updates then!
Monday, March 02, 2009
If you are in the area the premier will run at 6pm, with finals at 7ish. It should be a great show.
One change to the schedule, the men will start at 9am on Wednesday morning followed immediately by the women at around 9:30am. The change it due to the drastic warm up that happens between 10:30 &11:30.
This change is great and will make things much more fair.
We hope to see some of you out there cheering on the team, even if it's just virtually!.
I was also testing madly, trying to find the perfect base wax for the conditions. The glide is not a crucial because even if the skis are slow they can still move but if the kick doesn't work... All bets are off.
It was a great morning and we got to see many of our friends from the East and only had a few people with too much sun. Luckily the worst two were Rachel and Joe, they won't feel good but at least they don't have to try to race tomorrow!
Tonight I'll be skiing the proposed sprint trail with Amy, VP of Cross-Country at 6pm and we'll see how that looks. It should be a grand spectacle with 1000 people out to watch the finals! Luckily it's not a classic sprint though because we won't get a chance to see the course early and that would sure make it tough for a classic race.
I'll try to update the blog once I've skied the course.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
We had time this evening to get unpacked, meal teams organized, go to the store to buy food and make and eat dinner.
Dan, Eliah, Matt & Willie made a great pasta dinner and we had our first team meeting.
Information so far... The sprint course is unknown because the original one was unacceptable so they are having a renegotiation and will be planning a new course soon. We won't be able to ski the sprint course until right before the race on Tuesday. It sounds like the course will be 2 X .7km loop. We'll see how it goes.
It also seems that it's possible that we'll be doing a different course for the races at Devil's Thumb, which will probably actually be better for us. So that's good news!
At this point the biggest excitement we've seen was the cutting of Willie's mul-hawk. At this point it actually amazing and judging from Marie's reaction, a tad frightening. I will reserve judgment until I see the finished product.
Tomorrow we'll ski the classic course, test glide and kick and see what weather gods bring.