Part 1: All Hail the Wax Techs
The weekend before the NCAA Regional competition (better known as Birkie weekend) our team was invited to do a small time-trial race at Al-Quaal to practice racing the course. Those of us who chose not to attend the greatest ski race in the country (The Birkie) waxed our skis with the black stuff on the wax bench, and set off to Ishpeming for some quality time on snow.
When we got to the venue and the sun was so bright and warm it felt like a beach! Except it wasn’t actually warm, it was really freaking cold. But the sun was out! and as long as you stayed out of the wind and shade it was lovely. (We hadn’t seen the sun in a while.) The format was 5km skate, so we lined up, and at perfect intervals set off on the Teal Lake Loop. Everyone raced hard and it felt good, like racing.
After the race Joe, who was out at his favorite splits spot, came up to me and said, “Nice work today, but what did you put on your skis?! They sounded really slow.” That’s when we realized that many of us had put the wrong stuff on our skis and are helpless when it comes to waxing for ourselves on race day. .
That weekend I was 45 seconds behind the leader. The very next weekend at Regionals I ended up taking the lead by 3 seconds. Same course, same racers, same athlete, different wax. The amount of variables in this sport never ceases to amaze me.
As Athletes we often take for granted how much impact the work of our wax techs have on our race results. Every time you see someone on the podium, it is the result of hard work from multiple parties. Even though the racer is the one getting their picture taken, it is important not to forget about the coaching staff, parents, teammates and friends that stand behind them every step of the way.
Thanks guys! We all owe you one (or twelve!)
Part 2: Inspiration from Afar
Tuesday Morning, I’m pretty sure everyone in the library wanted to stuff me full of cotton balls while the Women’s Skate race was happening. Having spent multiple training sessions along side Caitlin Gregg and racing against Jessie Diggins in High School, being able to watch them and the rest of the women’s Nordic team race live at the World Cup was a real treat!
The performances Caitlin and Jessie had that day were truly inspiring. Being a Minnesota Girl myself, it is especially exciting to see these two representing our country in such a wonderful way. Even the local news papers had real articles about the races! Real news about ski racing! It’s about time.
Performances like this serve as a great reminder why we train so hard year round, why we wake up at 6am to hit the weight room, why our families schedule important holidays around our race schedule and why we spend endless hours on rollerskis in the heat of the summer. Moments like this help justify all of the sacrifices made throughout the year. Witnessing someone achieve their goals is one of the best things in the world to see.
It’s usually at this point during my daydream that life takes a swing, and punches me in the stomach as a reminder that school is a thing and summer employment still needs to happen. Unfortunately tests, homework, and deadlines don’t get delayed for ski races.
On Thursday I had an interview with a structural engineering firm out of Minneapolis. With the positive vibes from the races on Monday I entered the conference room with confidence and a big smile. As the interview progressed I was very thankful for all the practice from the Career Fair and interviews the week before. I hoped that what felt to me like stumbling in the dark would be considered acceptable by engineering standards. Just like after a hard race, I left their office analyzing every instance I could have done better and looking forward to the next event of the week, the final NCAA qualifying races.Our team returned to Ishpeming for the NCAA Regional competition and once again the sun was shining beautifully! This time, with our wax techs by our side, it turned out to be a great weekend to be a Husky! We achieved 6 top ten finishes (including a second place and two Regional Championship titles) and a lot of really great performances all around. It was a wonderful way to end the regular season!
Next up NCAA’s here we come!