January 18th, 2014
I had my first real race of the year today. I did race the Craftsbury Opener at Thanksgiving, and I jumped in a time trial with CSU up in Mont Ste Anne around New Year’s, but this is the first scored race I have entered. I did fairly well, all things considered. As FasterSkier readers will know, my brother, Matt Liebsch, and Sylvan Ellefson also entered the Eastern Cup race, so I knew going in I wasn’t going to be contending for a top finish. I had the seventh seed (based on Nensa points), and I got out of the stadium in around 10th place, and faded to maybe 14th on the long descent at the start of the course…I had good skis and fitness, but I didn’t want to fight too hard for places just yet. As we started to climb, I fought back to about 10th place. Somewhere–my memory is a bit hazy here, I fell off of the lead group of nine, which then quickly shrank to eight as Eric Wolcott fell off the pace as well. I spent over a lap trying to bridge the gap to Wolcott…I would get very close at the top of hills only to fade on the flats and downhills. Finally, on the second trip up High School Hill I managed to catch Wolcott, though I was working so hard I nearly choked on my own phlegm as I crested the hill. I skied right behind him until we came through the lap, then he pulled over and I attacked.
I slowly bridged the gap to a struggling Sam Tarling, then passed him and started to gap him, but had to stand up to let him take the lead shortly after. He declined to lead, so I pulled him to the bottom of High School Hill, where he attacked hard, putting 6 seconds on me by the end of the race. I crossed the line in 9th place, a respectable placement given that I was the 10th seed based on FIS points.
Tomorrow is a classic race. With the top 3 from today departing, I should have a good chance to go top 5, maybe even a little better…