From Hyland Park to Giants Ridge

How the girls’ Nordic ski team prepared for sections and state


Modesty Manion

After getting fourth in the State meet last year, the girls’ Nordic team went into the sections meet determined to return to Giants Ridge for the State meet. This year, we were the Metro West Conference team champions, and we went into the sections meet with confidence and intent. There are various factors that go into preparing for such an important meet. Our chances of returning to State depended both on how our five pursuit skiers placed in relation to the other teams, as well as how the skate relay team performed in the semifinals and finals. 

The way that the Sections meet works is that a team of seven varsity skiers is chosen, with five of them doing the pursuit race and the other two working together in the sprint relay. The pursuit team, consisting of Hanna Wilsey, Jersey Miller, Rachel Katzowitz, Ayelel Meyen and Kaylee Crump, do a 5K classic race and later a 5K skate race — their times are then combined to see their overall placing.

The sprint relay consists of four laps around a one-kilometer course, where the first racer (me) does the first and third laps, and the second racer, Addison Chenvert, does the second and final laps. There are two heats of the semifinal race, and the top seven teams from both heats participate in the finals. Based on the placing of the top three pursuit skiers, as well as the placement of the relay team in the semifinals or finals, each team acquires a certain number of points that are combined and compared to find the winning team. The top two ranking teams send all seven of their skiers to the state tournament, and the next top four individuals from the pursuit and the next best relay team (not from the top two teams) are also invited to state.

One of the biggest aspects of our preparation is our ski wax. The nordic team’s main coach, Doug Peterson, is a wizard when it comes to waxing skis. He is a master at determining the best wax to use based on the weather, snow conditions, environmental changes, etc. Three days before the sections and state meets (respectively), Doug took our skis to work his magic. Usually, after Doug waxes our skis, each individual racer would scrape and brush the wax off of their own skis. However, for meets as important as these, the coaches did this for us. 

Technical changes are another crucial part of meet prep. There was about a week and a half in between Conference Champs and sections and a week between sections and state, so we had a longer period to work out logistics. At this point in the season, our physical conditioning is at a good point where we’re in good shape and need to focus more on race strategy and technique. The pursuit skiers mainly worked as a group on their classic uphill form and skate weight transfers. For the sprint, Addison and I worked with the coaches on skate-tucking, finding the right line to take on sharp turns, positioning our skis to use the most power and uphill climbing technique. 

Individually, diet was something we focused on both before and during the meets. The night before, we always try to eat a carb-centric meal, usually pasta of some sort. For breakfast, our coaches recommended eating something light a few hours before our races. Pursuit racers were encouraged to eat a light carb snack right after their first race, as they had a few hours in between their first and second races.

The relay had significantly less time in between the semifinals and finals, so Addison and I were told to eat something small, but to focus on drinking water. The biggest food-related instruction our coaches gave us was to not try something new or stray from our normal diets too much. The last thing you want to do is try a new food the day before the biggest race of the season, just to realize that it makes you sick and unable to race.

Overall, a lot of preparation went into the sections and state meets, but our hard work and commitment paid off.