On Saturday, I started my last Junior National race. And it was my favorite – a relay! Five years ago, in Soldier’s Hollow, I raced my first Junior National relay ever, on a team with Libby Ellis and Lynn Duijndam. Libby scrambled, Lynn went second and I anchored. We started a lot of traditions that year, including racing in facepaint and glitter for the relay. Every year since then, we’ve continued “bedazzling” ourselves come race day. Now I had an opportunity to close out JO’s with Libby scrambling again, and Elizabeth Simak skiing 2nd leg. And you know what? I still got nervous, just like the first time!
The conditions were quite tricky on Saturday, as the tracks were slower yet still glazed, and the outside of the track was icy and fast. We went on klister, and we had just enough kick for 3km but still had to work hard to close the wax pocket down. Because it was so icy, we stayed out of the track as much as possible and did a TON of double-poling.
Libby and Elizabeth did a fantastic job keeping us in the top 3, and staying within contact of the leaders. Because we started right alongside the J1 teams, it was sometimes hard to figure out which place you were in while racing. So we just hammered.
When I got the tag off from Simak, we were within sight of the leader – just far enough to have a fun chase. I started a little frantically, pretty much abandoning technique as I scrambled around the icy corners. How embarrassing. But once I got going, I calmed down (slightly) and got into a rhythm. The hometown crowd cheering was fantastic, and it helped enormously on the long grinding climb.
I was super excited to have such a great team; one that really topped off a great JO experience. And I don’t just mean my relay team – all the athletes, coaches, wax techs, family and friends that made this possible. Thanks guys!
The awards banquet was really well done (thanks to all the volunteers and organizers) but the best part was sharing it with my family and grandparents who came to cheer.