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Phew. It feels good to finally get a chance to sit down and rest. The post-JNs depression is setting in and the quick immersion back into school definitely isn’t helping. Overall, however, I’m still really psyched on how the week went for me. I went into JN’s with some confidence from upward trend of my season, but really wasn’t so sure how’d it would pan out and where I would end up. The U18 (J1) field this year is pretty stiff and my goal was a top-10, but realistically I was hoping for a top-20 or top-15. After a fairly easy travel day on the way to Stowe, it was a more than welcome surprise to find that, by some miracle, they actually had significantly better skiing/snow than out west. I was feeling pretty good on the training days before the first race, but wasn’t feeling super prepared for an actual race. Monday was the classic 10k interval start. I was thinking that this would probably be my best race of the week, but during the race I was never able to hit that next gear. I felt pretty slow and after the first lap, because of a pretty low seed, I was out on the course alone without much to gauge my speed off of.

Finally Famous! Front page of the Stowe Reporter with Connor Gray and Bjork H├ągensen

Finally Famous! Front page of the Stowe Reporter with Connor Gray and Bjork H├ągensen

The classic sprint day on wednesday I was looking for some redemption. In the qualifier I made a pretty bad mistake right off the the bat. The Stowe course has a gradual, but decently long, hill almost immediately and the decision to double-pole it or stride it was a tough one that I think was make-or-break for a lot of people. Immediately after double poling it I regretted it and the rest of the course I was praying I would get another shot in the rounds. I ended up with a better than expected qualification in 15th. Next up was the Quarter finals. I was really anxious about the quarters since I had a mental block and couldn’t make it through any all season. When it came down to it, I felt great and hung in behind Thomas O’Harra to come in an easy 2nd. In the semis I was feeling really good again sticking in 3rd, but in the tuck section before the last quick uphill I tripped up a bit and had to stand up, losing some pretty significant ground. I made up a lot of it on the hill, but sprinting is pretty unforgiving and I ended up in the B-final. The B-final for me had a strong start, but at the end I just didn’t have it and hit a wall pretty hard coming in last. In the end that got me a 12th place though which I was more than happy with. It was tough to be so close to top-10 and have missed out, but luckily I’m a 1st year so I have another shot next year.

Semi-final on Classic Sprint day. Left to right IMD: Logan D., Karsten H., and myself

Semi-final on Classic Sprint day. Left to right IMD: Logan D., Karsten H., and then me. PC: Alex Diekmann

The last individual race was the Skate 10k mass start. I’m typically a stronger classic skier, but any mass start is going to be a fun race. The start was a rolling start because of a pretty terrible crash at the start of the U20 race at a hairpin right out of the start. It made for a real relaxed beginning and it was easy to work into the race. I was feeling really good, but was also trying to be patient and not push it too hard at the beginning. In the end I somewhat regretted this as the group I was skiing with dropped off the lead pack and before I realized it was happening it was a little late for me to bridge the gap on my own. The whole race was nice and steady for me and our group was definitely able to pick some people off. I was a little bummed because I felt like I had a lot of energy throughout the entire race and could have been going harder, but the course was a tough one to bridge a gap on. In the last 1k I put on a big push to drop the people around me and got out in the open enough to be able to single-stick it through the finish. My final place was 25th which I was really pleased with considering I did not expect it to be a strong race of mine and I thought I could have gone a bit harder.

Scramble leg of the relay

Scramble leg of the relay. PC: Alex Diekmann

The final race was the 3×3 relay leg. I was on IMD #2, but no matter what the circumstances relays are awesome. I had the pleasure of being the first leg and the responsibility of surviving the start. Warming up I was crazy tired. I really did not think it was going to go very well for me with some yawns here and there and some 500lb legs. Right out of the start, however, I was feeling quick. After the first 1k or so I was sitting in 3rd. Then as we approached the 2k mark and the only real major hill on the course I was feeling strong and decided to go for it. I hopped up into first and got a small gap going. More importantly though I was leading through the major spectator corner…I mean lets be honest, that’s all that really matters. In the end, Lars Hannah from Rocky Mountain, Logan Diekmann who’s also from IMD, and I came in and tagged off at about the same time. My team finished in 7th after it was all said and done. It was a super fun day and was awesome to see both our girls and guys U16 relay teams come in first.

JNs dance this year was, without much more said, mediocre. I ended up on a pretty epic sledding mission that night though instead.

JNs is always awesome and it’s tough to leave a week full of some of the greatest things life can offer- good company and ski racing. We’ve got a local race in Jackson coming up and the Club Championships in Sun Valley in 2 weekends, but other than that the season is coming to a close. Will update again soon.



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One Response to “Stowe Junior Nat’l Champs Recap”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    “And then my super awesome sister came all the way to watch and it made the entire week of racing worth it.”

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