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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Far Too Long!

Welcome back to the MMSC U16 Blog!

And I have gone just about as far as I could possibly go without a post on here and have discovered just how quickly, yet again, that time can fly by whilst in the midst of ski season. February flew by at the speed of a Super-G racer careening down Main St showing little concern for the transition and has made a rather noticeable dent in the month of March.

Since my last post, the MMSC U16 crew has raced now 13 times, (more for some) including two more regular Northern Vermont Council events, two consecutive weekends of Vermont State Competitions which planned to cover three different disciplines, The Eastern U16 Championships, and we are now half-way through a two day series over in Lake Placid known as the alumni race. It has been an incredibly busy time for us as we have worked all season long to accomplish our goals. Some of us are still working towards them, and others have already revisited the goals in order to adapt them for the remainder of the season. Please bear with me as I have a fair amount of information to publish and hopefully the vocabulary to avoid redundancy.

Way back on February 3rd, the MMSC crew got to sleep in their own beds the night before racing Giant Slalom on our home hill. As always, the snow at Stowe held up very well allowing for an optimal day of GS. Our racers displayed solid skiing and accomplished some good results, some tough crashes, but an all around great day. On February 10th, we again were able to stay in our own beds as we were making a short trip over to Sugarbush for another NVC race. Competing in Slalom, arguably one of our stronger events, athletes achieved more good results as the day went on. Some tricky course sets challenged our U16 competitors, but we drove away from Sugarbush on the 10th excited as a good time was had by all.
Setting a course for some training on Main St
Upon the completion of our final NVC race at Sugarbush, athletes began preparing for our state competitions. The state competition was slated to consist of two SL races, two GS races, and a SG race. Due to poor snow conditions however, we were unable to fit a SG that could allow a fair and safe surface for all competitors. The first weekend had the male athletes racing at Okemo Mountain Resort while the female athletes were racing at Killington Mountain Resort. While our boys competed in both a GS and a SL, the female schedule was changed so that they would have two days of SL racing. Due to the warm temperatures leading up to the races, conditions did not hold up as well as we would have hoped making it very difficult for our athletes to "attack from the back of the pack." Despite the conditions however, our racers had some good results helping them to qualify for future races.

The following weekend provided round two of our state competitions with the girls racing at Sugarbush for their remaining two GS events and the boys racing both a SL and a GS on our home hill at Stowe. The snow was able to set up a little better for us as temperatures were slightly colder at nights allowing the surface to become more firm. Due to the success of our athletes throughout the course of the weekend, MMSC athletes Sandra Schoepke, Grant Gutstein, and Trent Gutstein qualified for the Eastern U16 Championships at Sugarloaf, ME, and Dash Kim qualified for the Eastern Finals at Attitash Mountain in NH.

Before heading up to Sugarloaf, and down to Attitash, some of our athletes competed in the John Kearns Memorial race at Mad River Glen on March 5th. While the field was rather small, our athletes totally dominated owning all three spots on the podium as well as the fourth position as well. For their success, our athletes were each given a bit of swag in the place of a medal.
Our boys at the John Kearns Memorial(Sorry it is blurry!)
On March 6th, we packed the van to the gills and began our journey up to Sugarloaf through the winding roads of VT, NH, and ME. Competition began on the morning of the 7th with our first super-g of the year, and our athletes displayed the ability to put the pedal to the metal on command. With speeds approaching 60 miles per hour, the slightest mistake or lapse in focus could have resulted in a mess of a crash, but all of our athletes were able to safely and rapidly make their way across the finish line. On March 8th, our athletes again competed in a SG known as the Sugarloaf Schuss which has been a tradition for nearly 50 years. Again, all of our athletes made their way safely to the finish line through a course that was even faster than the one set the day before.

On the 9th of March, Girls were given the day off to allow for the boys to run their GS. An incredibly difficult course set knocked nearly 50% of the field out on the first run, but the 2nd course setter was much more friendly providing a course that allowed athletes to push their limits without the fear of blowing out of the course. March 10th gave the boys a day to rest and recover for the final SL event, and hosted the girls GS with a much friendlier first run set than the boys. The second course also provided an opportunity for our single female competitor to excel and push her own personal limits while throwing down a very solid day keeping her right where we wanted to be going in to the SL, our strongest event.

March 11th came about quicker than one could imagine and there was definitely a sense of urgency in the air. The first course set for the girls was exceptionally difficult as it was a grinding course forcing athletes to work from the second they left the start to the very last gate of the course. In other words, to be successful, you had to stay focused and move dynamically from gate to gate without blinking until crossing the finish line. While most coaches were grumbling about the difficulty of the set, members of the NVC smiled as our female competitors held 9 of the top 10 positions after the first run. The boys first course was rather different as it was a wide open "all or nothing" styled set. One after the other, boys came down with great runs stacking the field for an exciting second run. MMSC athletes executed the plan on their second run beautifully allowing everyone to move up in the ranks. Sandra Schoepke finished the day with a bronze medal around her neck and Trent Gutstein held down the 11th position when all was said and done.
The top 10 Finishers for the girls SL
The results achieved up at Sugarloaf allowed all of our athletes to qualify for more racing back up at the Loaf  in the Am-Can race series. Coaches were biting their fingernails as Alex Krebs, Eastern Junior Development Program Manager, called off the names for everyone who had qualified for the Am-Cans. For her second consecutive year, Sandra qualified not only for the Am-Can competition, but also for the Park City project where she will get to work with the United States Development team. Trent also qualified for the Am-Can series with his results in the SL on March 11th.
Group Shot at the end of the Eastern U16 Championships
Today we began the first of a two-day Alumni series at Whiteface in Lake Placid, NY in the pursuit of a good points race and a great time at a historic site. For those of you who do not know, Lake Placid was the host site for the 1980 Winter Olympic Games that produced stories like Disney's Miracle. Well all of the ski racing for those games went on at Whiteface. And for those who have never been to the town, it is worth a visit! Olympic logos are on everything here to this day as the town has become a destination resort. With one day in the books, all of the athletes that chose to be a part of this trip have made significant progress on their point profiles(a universal ranking system) and we were even able to make a top to bottom run on the old Olympic downhill race trail- what a riot!

With another day of racing to go here in Lake Placid, all are excited to head out in the morning and give Whiteface another run for its money!
Jack making a few turns down towards the top of Main St
That is all for now, until next time!




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