The Eastern Cup openers in Presque Isle were definitely not as exciting as Ida’s Canmore races, and I didn’t go through quite the agony and the ecstasy that she did after falling and then making the A Final – but I had a few exciting-in-a-bad-way moments of my own en route to some of my best Eastern Cup finishes ever, and a really solid start to the season.
Saturday really suprised me as I am usually very bad at sprinting – I mean, not just not good, but actually bad. Luckily, Pepa has helped me grow some fast twitch muscles and I was shocked to see that I qualified in 7th. The real excitement began in my quarterfinal, though, when about two strides out of the start the basket came off my right pole. This was completely due to my own stupidity since I knew it was loose when I left Craftsbury and had just forgotten to find pole glue and fix it. That threw me off and I was in 5th coming up the first steep, awkward hill. Luckily, on the rollers on the next part of the course, I was able to do some really quick V1 and get by a lot of girls, ending up 2nd in my heat and advancing. Every time I planted that pole, though, it sunk into the snow and I was terrified that the bottom was going to just snap off, which would have been a big problem! Before my semifinal, Janice from NENSA was nice enough to find a new basket, some pole glue, and a heat gun, and fixed me up. Thanks Janice!
I entered Sunday’s mass start confident that my poles were all set, and caught a lucky break in the start. I was in the second row, but the girl who was supposed to start in front of me never showed up. In addition, I was on the inside lane for the turn at the top of the hill. So I got a good start. By 2 1/2 kilometers in, I was skiing in a lead pack of 8 girls. Then, somehow, I don’t know whether it was from me skiing up on Rachel Hall’s skis or Olga Golovkina skiing up on mine or some combination of the two, but the binding on my left ski opened. WHEN HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED???? It was on an uphill, so by the time I noticed that my skiboot was making direct contact with the snow, my ski had already started sliding down the hill. I stopped and frantically turned around to go get it, shouting to the spectators at the bottom of the hill, “Grab my ski! My ski!” and also, perhaps, cursing. I managed to get the ski, put it on, turn back around and ski up the hill again, but the damage was done. Sprint as I might, I couldn’t catch the pack – the closest I ever got was within 8 seconds going by the shooting range, although I did catch Rachel when she dropped off the back. I still had my best Eastern Cup result ever, but it was frustrating because I think if I had been able to stay in that pack instead of wasting my energy trying to sprint up to them for a few kilometers, I could have had a really excellent result. Oh well, at least I have more confidence for next time, because I know I can ski with those girls!
So, here’s to getting equipment malfunctions out of the way early in the season….