US Nationals: Annie Pokorny Reports

Greetings from the west, the land of little oxygen and many-a-sunburn!

When I used to play soccer, my coaches always preached the importance of starting a tournament off well. They would tell us how the first game sets the tone for the rest of the weekend, and therefore it should be considered the most important. In skiing the same could ring true, but in terms of attitude, not results. Well, either way, we’ve started this week off REAL well.
Because of its name, juniors, seniors, masters and coaches alike treat US Nationals like the end-all be-all of skiing. Luckily, we prefer to see it as a hard week in January, and thus walked into the sprints yesterday calm and excited, which appears to have worked. We landed four women in the senior heats and two men in the junior heats. Whether in the heats or not, with such a competitive field, everyone finished the day with a respectable result.
During the qualifiers, our main plan was to not freak out. The sprint course begins with a long gradual uphill followed by a little kicker, a long downhill and a deceptively long finish. Combined with cold air, slow snow and about 5500 feet of altitude, that course provides a recipe for lactic explosion after about a minute and a half from the start. Thus, and easy start was necessary. “I felt like I was skiing a five k” said a one Heather Mooney. She qualified 15th. Surprise. Calm works.
Kelsey, Stella and I also qualified into the senior heats (26th, 19th, and 13th) but didn’t make it through the heats. Jack and DMac qualified into the junior heats, but both were crashed upon by their competitors and didn’t make it through. As I write this, we are designing a training program for elbow throwing, ski crossing and trash talking–next time we’ll all make it through!One girl clearly versed in all these techniques made it to the B final, tying her best ever nationals finish at 8th place. It was so much fun to watch Heather race through the rounds, nothing energizes you like watching your teammate slay it. We are so proud!
We skied each race on stiff skis and hard wax. The tracks were perfect, the grooming was tight. The only thing that was missing was a few tubes of sun screen (actually, that’s more of a non-issue, pre spring break tanning? DMac and Eliot?)¬†Yep, at this point, we couldn’t be in a better place. The skiing is phenomenal (despite being manmade, despite being slow), the competition is tough, and, best of all, the team is psyched. We’re looking forward to the rest of the week!
Hope everyone is enjoying the snow out East and elsewhere!

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