The weather was warm, the snow was packed, the wax was perfect, and the Andover Nordic Team was pumped. Such ideal conditions did not go to waste, as the team displayed one of their best recent performances in last Wednesday’s classic race at St. Paul’s. Though Andover racers have a long way to go before they can contend with powerhouses Holderness and KUA, they are improving more rapidly than racers from any other school, and last week’s results have put both boys and girls within striking distance of NMH. The previous week’s race had been cancelled due to fierce winds and subzero temperatures, so the team was eager to line up against other schools again. St. Paul’s is a favorite racing venue of the team’s as the 5K course itself is essentially flat. Coach Keith Robinson ’96 advised the team to “double-pole as much as possible, because along flat stretches it is a much faster technique than the usual diagonal stride.” Assistant Coach John Rich supplemented this advice by directing racers to wax with a shorter kick zone than usual, since the kick wax would only be needed for a few slight uphill sections, and more glide would be desirable for the majority of the race. The girls raced first, and emerged with surprising results. Meg Sullivan ’04 was the first Andover girl to finish, placing 27th with a time of 25:38. “It was over much faster than I thought it would be,” commented Sullivan afterwards, drawing on her only previous racing experience on a slower course. Kendra Allenby ’05, also in her second race, finished right on Sullivan’s tail with a time of 25:51. The most notable performances of the day were Gen Desaulniers ’04 and Helen Fitzmaurice ’05, who started in the same heat and pushed each other throughout the race to finish within four seconds of one another, both improving over 10 minutes on their previous race times. Placing 6th overall, the Andover girls showed more development since the start of the season than any other team. “As long as I have been on this team, it has never improved so much in such little time,” observed Captain Jackie Brown ’03. “I am so impressed by the level of improvement and the results.” The team’s growth will prove advantageous as the season progresses. The boys’ race was equally impressive, with two Andover boys claiming spots in the middle of a massive cluster of skiers, placing them within sight of the top positions. Scott Silverstein ’04 and Travis Green ’04 both broke away from their starting heats immediately, settled to a comfortable but brisk pace after a powerful first kilometer, and pulled through the finish with times of 21:12 and 21:42, respectively. Miles Canaday ’05 and Cage Brewer ’06, both with one race already under their belts, pounded it out to finish with respectable times in the 27-minute range. Not far behind were first-time racers Julian Jacobson ’06 and Dan Gabel ’06. Overall, the boys placed 8th, a position they will easily improve upon as novice skiers gain experience and give the team depth. The Nordic team faces off against NMH tomorrow, in their first-ever home race. They plan to run two laps of the Sanctuary loop, a moderately hilly course that they have been practicing on as much as possible. With the top NMH racers easily within Andover’s grasp, the race should certainly be exciting to watch.