Sunday, January 17, 2010

Methow Super Tour

The Super Tour made its debut in my hometown this weekend. The McCabe Trails at the Liberty Bell High School offered a fantastic venue for Saturdays freestyle sprint. It was pretty cool to get ready for the big races in the same locker room as my junior high and high school years. The entire community came together to bring the Super Tour to the Methow Valley and to make it such a great event. We had some uncharacteristically terrible weather with warm temperatures and rain early in the week. An impressive amount of shoveling and salting were needed to make the races happen. Thank you to the many volunteers and the entire community for all you hard work. I am very luck to have 5 different Super Tour races in my dual hometowns of Winthrop, WA and Hayward, WI. I had two of my best races of the season this weekend and I will write more about those races tomorrow on my recovery day.

Something about racing in your hometown makes it feel like your skis aren't even touching the ground. Plus this has to be the coolest photo ever taken of me.
(Photo Credit: EA Weymuller)

I am looking forward to racing in Hayward in two weeks for the Telemark SuperTour.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

US Nationals Day 1

Top 10 at US Nationals has been a goal of mine since high school. I have had some really good races over the year, but I have never achieved this goal. I have raced at a level clearly within the top 10 in the nation, but for some reason things haven't come together for me at a National Championship race. Until now.
Qualifying Time Trial of the Freestyle Sprint Photo: Toko USA (Ian Harvey)

In a cross country skiing sprint competition, racers start the day with a time trial race against the clock. After a few hour break, the top 30 fastest skiers compete head to head in heats of 6, with the top two in each heat advancing to the next round. I qualified 8th on Saturday morning which is a strong qualifying position for me. Generally I ski well in the heats and can improve my finishing result.

If you aren't familiar with it, the whole thing can seem rather complicated. The important thing is that on a sprint day you can end up racing the 1.1 kilometer course for times. I really enjoy skiing head to head against other racers. There is a lot of strategy involved and it can be pretty intense.

I had an exciting quarterfinal with five skiers finishing within 2.2 seconds. I had to work pretty hard in the final 200 meters to advance to the next round. My semi-final heat was in 10 minutes so I didn't have much time to recover. I went out hard but was tired and found myself looking up the course to a pack of three other skiers. I found myself in a difficult decision. I could really hammer and try to catch the group or I could conserve some energy for the B final. This was a challenging decision to make and I had to do it in just a few seconds. I gave a few hard pushed and then decided to hold back a bit and save myself for the next round. I don't think it is ever good to give up, but sometimes you need to pick your battles.

Ten minutes later and feeling much more rested I went hard out of the gate of the B final (racing for 7th-12th place) . I skied relaxed in second position pretty much from start to finish. Peter Kling made a move to takie the lead with 500 meters to go which I was unable to match. Peter finished first in the B final and myself second.

Finishing second in the B final put me in 8th place for the day and a new personal best at US Nationals. My favorite event, the 15km skate is tomorrow and I am ready to go. My goal is now top 7.

Matt cooking up a mean meal of Chicken Curry and Tomato/Avocado Salad.

The sun doesn't get very high in the sky here in Alaska, but it does provide for some great sunrises and sunsets here at Kincaid Park.