Madison Capitol Square Sprints
After a few weeks in the sun-filled West, I flew back to Midwest, this time to Madison, Wisconsin for some city sprints. This weekend consisted of two sprints, classic on Saturday, skate on Sunday, around the Wisconsin State Capitol building as part of the Madison Winter Fest. After seeing how cool city sprints can be in Quebec City, I was pretty excited to race in the middle of a city again. While the crowd didn’t quite live up to Quebec City World Cups (that would be a feat) it was pretty cool that they are able to pull off these races. Snow is laid out around the Capitol Square on Friday night and, boom, a race course is open on Saturday morning!
The course was only ONE lap around the square, which is just under one kilometer, so the races were fast and furious with essentially no time to settle in. You had to be on your game from the get-go and never let up. After a lot of longer sprints this year, and many of them at altitude, it was deceivingly difficult. Saturday’s classic sprint was just a double-pole derby with NO striding whatsoever, thus everyone went on skate skis. The girls took just over two minutes to get around the course, and the guys just under two. I qualified in third, but ended the day in fourth. Because there weren’t enough girls to have quarterfinals, we only had to run semis and finals. In the final, Jennie and Rosie took off from the start and about halfway around the block, I just didn’t have the gas to hang on. I thought I would be able to hang on to third, but another girl passed me right before the last corner and I just didn’t have enough to go for the podium.
Start of the girls A-final on Saturday (Renee Callaway/MadCross Photography)
On Sunday I woke up with a crazy sore neck and back from so much double-poling. Same course, same skis, only this time we were actually able to skate on our skate skis 🙂 It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining but the air was still crisp. The track was firm and fast. Really fast. With such a short course (skating the course was less than two minutes) and fast conditions, I felt like my skis were too fast for my body to keep up! On the flatter sections, my arms were just flailing trying to keep up with my ski speed. Doesn’t sound like a problem, but it really throws off your tempo!
There were enough girls to justify quarterfinals (we were bummed about that…it’s nice only having to do semis and finals!) and while I easily won my quarterfinal, I just play my tactics quite right or have enough oomph left to make the A-final. I finished third in my semi and got sent to the B-final. I was bummed but I still had to go out and do my best, but once again I got passed just before the last corner and finished second in the heat for sixth place overall. I didn’t meet my goal of being on the podium in both sprints, but what can I do. More speed! Here are some pictures from Sunday, also from Renee Callaway/MadCross Photography.
Leading the B-final
Leading Jennie in the semifinal in front of the Capitol!
College roommate/teammate Claire, who goes to grad school in Madison, racing her first sprint since college!
Apart from racing, it was fun to be in Madison. Claire, my freshman roommate/teammate from Middlebury, is going to grad school in Madison, so I got to spend the weekend with her. She lives with four other Middlebury classmates, all of whom I haven’t seen since graduation, so it was fun to hang out with them as well. Claire has been helping coach the local high school ski team, so the first night I arrived in Madison, she took me to team practice as a “celebrity guest coach.” It was fun to be a role model for the kids, and we worked on sprint starts and tactics. They had a lot of questions and were genuinely excited and motivated to listen to what I had to say about racing at the elite level.
It’s amazing what an effect the opportunity to talk to and get advice from a top-level skier can have on the next generation of racers. It is easy for us to fall into the thought that very few people out there really care what we’re doing because cross-country skiing is such an insignificant sport in the U.S. But it is important to remember that the more we (high-level skiers) get out and promote skiing as a fun, healthy, globally competitive sport, the more skiing will grow in popularity and we will continue to produce amazing skiers that can compete on the World Cup and the Olympics.
Anyways, digressing to my time with Claire, we also skied at a place called Blue Mounds, about thirty-five minutes away from Madison, on Thursday. The trails reminded me a lot of New England: super narrow and winding through the woods; Beech leaves all over the place and getting stuck in your kick wax; undulating terrain. Incredibly (I did not think it was possible in the Midwest) we skied through a meadow on a slight hill where you could see out into the distance!
I also want to thank Igor Badamshin and Andy Keller, the CXC coach and wax tech, for taking on two rival APU skiers (myself and Reese) and waxing our skis for the races in Madison. It’s always hard to go to races without your own wax tech, and I’ve been fortunate enough to find some great techs the past few weeks while I’ve been traveling sans APU coaches.
To finish out this post, just a couple funny things I want to share. First, this hilarious photo of my dog that my mom just sent me. She got into a box of cereal while Mom was out.
Secondly, these are four really funny music videos made by various ski teams as part of a recent FIS video challenge. Enjoy.
This was the first video to come out, the US Ski Team takes on Taylor Swift’s new song “Trouble”:
Then the Aussie team came back with this one to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” although, ironically, there are no girls and no kissing in the video…
The boys at Scando Cup came up with this winner:
THEN, the girls team at Scando produced this surprising parody: