(By Hallie, not Caitlin)
Last Wednesday, Mike, Casey, Ethan, and I, along with Ollie, Annie, Sam, and Brayton piled into the small Sprinter for an across-the-border spectating excursion. With World Cup racing as close to home as it gets, we made the trip to Montreal to see the second stage of the Ski Tour Canada. After a snowy drive, we pulled into Montreal just in time to see the women take off in their 13k classic mass start race. The course wound through the trees of the Parc du Mont- Royal and some of the sketchier corners led to several large pileups and some broken equipment. After a quick trip to an underground mall, we watched the men’s 20k race. There was a large Vermont contingent watching the races throughout the whole week, which was really cool!
Ida and Kait striding up a hill in Montreal.
After the race, Ollie, Annie, Sam, and Brayton went home, while the boys and I drove with Pepa and Nick to Quebec City. Watching and helping the coaches and techs back up the wax trailer in Montreal reminded me of a traveling circus. There were tons of ski bags and boxes and benches that were all carefully divided between huge trucks that were taking classic equipment to Canmore and skate equipment to Quebec City. After we arrived in Quebec City, we entered the hotel we stayed at armed with a crock-pot of chili, a portable grill, a box of food, and a cooler of more food. Ready for anything!
Grill, crock-pot, rubber boots. Fitting in nicely.
Thursday was an off day for the races, so we took the opportunity to ski the race course on the Plains of Abraham. After some research, we learned that the Plains are named after a fisherman/ farmer who may have owned the land during the French and Indian War. We were the only ones without athlete or service bibs on, but no one said a word to us as we skied for two hours. The course had a two really steep climbs and it was quite windy the day we skied, making the gradual hills seem hard as well. I got to ski a bit with Annika Taylor, who graduated from UNH last year and is racing for Great Britain now, which was really fun.
With frigid temperatures on the off-day morning, we did some hotel exploration, where we found the outdoor swimming pool, the gym, and the revolving roof top restaurant. Later that day, we had dinner at the roof top restaurant, which offered us a 360-degree view of Quebec City. We could see almost the entire racecourse from our perch! We thought it could be a great place to watch the races if you wanted a bird’s eye view without ever setting foot outside.
Friday morning brought an action packed skate sprint day. It was awesome to watch Ida in the quarterfinals, and a bummer that she narrowly missed out on a lucky loser. For the qualifiers and quarterfinals, our spectating location was about half way through the course, right across from the imposing city wall. We thought it was a good place for some mid race cheering. For the semifinals and finals, we moved to a slope where we could see the start and the finish, as well as some of the middle parts of the course. There were hordes of people cheering and running around.
Ida cruises by the city wall.
Kait in her first city sprint!
Friday also marked the true debut of the Kaitlynn Miller Fan Club, complete with trading cards. We kept the creation of the cards a secret from Kait and she didn’t know about them until two unknown kids came up and asked for her autograph!
Signing autographs left and right.
Saturday was the last Eastern Canada stop of the Tour and was a pursuit start race. It was a beautiful day with bright shiny sun. In the city square, there were picnic tables and fire pits to toast marshmallows and lots of people milling around before the races started. It made ski racing seem like a popular spectator sport!
Roasting marshmallows in the sun.
An afternoon race provided the perfect opportunity for Ethan to fire up his grill again. We had a lovely meal of sausages and grilled pizza, our spot marked by the waving American flag.
Flag? Check. Grill? Check. USA jackets? Check. Racers? Almost
We were able to get right next to the course, which was ideal for cheering as well as taking pictures and video.
The first 18 women started individually based on their time back, while the rest of the field started in waves, either 3:30 or 4 minutes back. This made for some pack skiing and many US girls skiing together.
It was a pretty similar scenario for the men. There were a few nail biting moments when skiers almost got lapped by the leaders- but everyone made it through to Canmore!
So many fans!