Nordic Team Builds Up Confidence at Cardigan

If last Wednesday’s classic race at the Cardigan Mountain School is any indication, Andover’s Nordic Ski team is in for a great winter. Nine skiers, several of whom had never raced before, headed to the wilds of central New Hampshire to face off against some of the best Nordic teams in the Lakes Region. Andover emerged with mixed results, but a few incredible performances by previously unknown skiers have given the team a fresh spirit for races ahead. The Cardigan course is rarely used for races, so none of the veterans on the team knew what to expect. A map viewed upon arrival revealed that the course featured rolling hills, with few flat stretches but no major challenges. Coach Keith Robinson ’96 suggested that racers “work hard on the hills and maintain a comfortable but aggressive pace on the flatter sections,” bearing in mind the techniques the team had used during their extensive hill work throughout the previous week’s practice. The snow was softer than expected for the cold temperatures, coercing racers to improvise in their application of kick wax prior to the race. “The worst thing that you can do in a classic race is to use too hard a wax, because you lose your kick and render your lower body useless,” admonished Coach Robinson, recommending that skiers err on the side of caution. The boys had minimal time to warm up before their start, but began their races aggressively. Scott Silverstein ’04 found himself alone for the first half of the 5.4K race, eventually finding his niche just behind another racer and hammering out his remaining energy in the final stretch to finish with a time of 27:50, placing 33rd. Travis Green ’04, also using the strategy of keeping neck in neck with another skier, pulled through the finish a couple minutes later with an impressive elapsed time of 28:56, good enough for 36th place. “I am completely exhausted,” he remarked after catching his breath, “but hey, that’s the way it should be.” An exuberant Cage Brewer ’06, sporting a pair of black shorts over his blue Andover spandex, capped off the boys’ race with a time of 35:42 – a solid time for his first race. Overall, the boys placed 7th, a standing they should easily be able to improve upon once they add more skiers to the regular racing squad. The girls’ race was even more remarkable, with three skiers placing in the top 30 and plenty of zeal for races to come. The stars of the day were Meg Sullivan ’04 and Kendra Allenby ’05, both racing for the first time. Sullivan dashed through the course in 30:48, finishing an incredible 19th. “I never thought the race would be so long!” she exclaimed upon finishing. She went on to report, “I felt great during the race. It was tougher than I had expected, but I kept a steady pace and hung in there.” April Warren ’04, an experienced racer who has stepped up to become a leader of the girls’ team, chased Sullivan throughout the race and finished just behind her with an elapsed time of 31:48, good enough for 22nd place. Allenby, making a phenomenal comeback from a late starting heat, arrived at the home stretch a minute behind Warren and captured 27th place. Captain Jackie Brown ’03 turned in a sound, though disappointing time of 34:35. “I just didn’t feel like I had much power today,” she observed afterwards. “I kept an even pace, but it was slower than I would have liked.” The girls placed 5th in the competition, and most were satisfied with their performances. “The girls are doing a great job of sticking with each other and pushing one another in practices and races,” commented Coach Robinson. Like the boys, they will look to continue improving on power and technique so that they are primed for races to come.