Smile. It makes your eyes sparkle.

A story mostly told in photos, because who doesn’t love photos! Race recaps also included below for the readers out there.

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I finished finals and headed straight to the wall once I came home!
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First ski on snow at Craftsbury with my parents.
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Craftsbury looked quite thin the next day.
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So we headed to Smuggler’s Notch (Tom, Amie, and my parents).

 

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I came home and my new mountain had arrived! I gave it a quick spin before heading out west…man it is so nice!
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Getting all packed up!
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Guppie squad reunited and happy in West Yellowstone, Montana!

Annie lead the charge with being head meal planner/chef during out trip! We used a ton of recipes from the book “Run Fast Eat Slow” that I was a gift from my friend Lo as a birthday present. Some yummy stuff in there 🙂

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Welcome to Canada. My time ever in Canada and I was welcomed with sheer beauty ❤
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Guppie squad take #2 on our first ski in Silver Star!
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Morning jog views are not too shabby.
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Crisp, cold, and sunny.
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Who wants some frosted flakes?
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-5 degrees Fahrenheit.
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1 v 1 bananagrams with KO.
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Just WOW…speechless.
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Too happy to handle.
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Current students and alumni from Dartmouth cookie party…with a photo bomb from Corey.

 

You can tell there is no goofiness or fun allowed on our team 🙂

Race Reports

Okay, now to the serious part, the race reports. I kicked off my race season with a windy skate sprint at 7,000 feet, followed by a stormy and very snowy 10km classic 10km in West Yellowstone, Montana at 7,000 feet elevation….quite a hard way to kick off the racing season. Even though we do time trials and hard efforts year round, there is nothing that compares to true racing. It felt good to shake off the rust and remember how to find that racing gear. I was neither disappointed or excited about my results the first weekend, but I was reminded that you have to be aggressive in sprint heats or else you won’t move on to the next round.

We quickly packed up and headed for Silver Star, Canada for a SuperTour/ NorAm! I have never been to Canada so I was very excited to get the chance to go and ski in the place many my teammates and friends call their favorite. I must agree with them, Silver Star is truly an incredible place and you cannot help but smile, even when it is five below. As we neared the races, I got really excited for the classic sprint because I think it is my favorite kind of race and the course seemed really fun. As soon as I went off the line in the prelim, it felt right; I felt like I was truly sprinting and I felt goooood, unlike the weekend before. I finished the qualifier and my coach asked me how it went and all I could think was, “wow, that was so fun” (always a good sign)! Even though the qualifier results can change a lot to final place, going into the heats with the 5th fastest qualifying time was definitely a confidence booster.

I sent the quarters right from the gun because the course had a lot of turns and I didn’t want to get boxed out. I lead until right before the downhill where I made a tactical mistake of taking the wrong lane and then was passed. Thankfully, I was still able to stay in second place to qualify on. In the semifinals I was headed towards the downhill in 4th and this time, not making the mistake again, I switched lanes early before the downhill to move into the lead by the bottom of the downhill. Before I knew it, it was time for the A final. With a poor start lane position, I headed out of the start in the middle of the pack and got tangled at the top of the first climb, but I was able to stay on my feet and stay in the race. I had looked up and suddenly I was in 5th and was starting to get dropped. I double poled hard to catch up to the pack and once again, I switched lanes early and moved from 5th to 2nd by the bottom of the downhill. From there, we were all charging up the last climb before a tight 270 degree turn over and then under the bridge, which I took tight and skidded to hold my inside position (wasn’t making the mistake again of not being aggressive enough). From there, it was an all out double sprint to the finish to claim to win. My coach/wax tech Pat did a great job with our skis with the help of John Ogden!

 

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Start of the final (I am #5 leg bib in the red white and blue suit).
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Taking the 270 degree turn tight.
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Podium!
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John Odgen and Flash were huge helpers this week! 
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The good stuff that makes the skis fast!

You can have all the tactics you want, but things rarely go as planned in sprint heats and you just have to make decisions on the fly. I truly believe that sprint heats take a ton of practice and you can really only learn by doing. There is SO much to learn from sprint days and that is why I find them so exciting! Here are a few of my take always from the sprint.

1) The best line in the qualifier may not be the best line in heats.

2) Never give up or think you have no shot…yes, this may sound cheesy but it is true. I had a brief moment when I was in 5th where I thought the podium was out of reach.

3) Be aggressive, no one will actually push you into the woods as long as you hold your own.

4) Think about what went well and what didn’t every heat before the next and carry over the lessons into the next heat.

5) Don’t be afraid to tweak your skis, don’t just settle for “good enough” with the amount of kick wax.

The long and exciting sprint day was followed by a 10k skate individual start race on a very challenging course. I went out hard but controlled and tried to focus on skiing well, pushing over the tops and working the flats. Especially for an early season 10k on a hard course in a competitive field, I was happy to place 10th and I felt like I skied the best I could that day, and that is all you can really ask for.

On my last day in Silver Star, I went for an epic classic over-distance (OD) ski with my teammate Annie and John Odgen. Although it was very cold, the skiing was incredible and I ended up skiing 32km and ranking the ski in my top 3 ever!

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John and Annie skiing along.
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The trees ❤
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A view on the ridge.
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And a frosted selfie.
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Lo capturing my impressive icicle beard.
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Can you tell it was a little cold? Good thing frosting tastes good.

I am headed up to Craftsbury, Vermont to race this weekend and then I am off to Germany to visit my family for the holidays!

Happy Skiing!

-JKern

 

 

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