Rodrigues Cup Sprints

12/11/2021

Results: https://www.bullitttiming.com/events/Rodrigues-Cup-2021


The Rodrigues Cup Sprints were held today in Craftsbury. The weather did not hold off, and as skiers arrived, so did the rain. At least the course prep took place before the deluge. The heroic efforts of Craftsbury made a fun loop that held up well for the event.


The Rodrigues Sprints have no eliminations. They begin with a qualifying round, followed by three sets of knock-in heats where skiers can advance based on their performance in the wave. This makes for a festive atmosphere of friendly competition. There is strategy involved, but for the most part, the heats were composed of evenly matched skiers having multiple chances to move up or down for the final result.


Weather played a significant role in the event. It was relatively warm and rainy; however, the course remained quite speedy and may have even gotten a little faster over the day. Due to the miserable weather, the event directors opted to keep the day moving as quickly as possible, moving people up to fill the heats as well as the start times. There were no protests, and it added to the event's fun.


The course started in the Upper Field and headed down Teaching Hill into the lower field, going right, out to Coaches Corner. There, skiers turned left onto Lemon's to the Snow Pit and Climbed Wilbur's to the cabins. Once passed the cabins, skiers descended into the Lower Field, then back to Teaching Hill, and back up to the Upper Field for the Finish. The course was just over a kilometer, and top skiers were making the loop in about 2:30. Most of the racers were spread over the three-minute range.


The rain picked up during the Qualifying round, and the course began to deteriorate on the first climb and in the corners. The deterioration only seemed temporary as by Round One, skiers commented that things felt faster. The rain began letting up, but the interval between Round One and Round Two of heats was tough. Cold and wet with two more rounds, people began turning in their bibs. It was becoming a race of attrition; however, a couple of skiers who missed qualifying due to travel mishaps were allowed into the heats.


In qualifying, there were different mentalities. NWVE's Scott Magnan was set on not throwing it all down on the first lap. I had a differing approach as I knew I would not ski well in the pack and wanted to get as high up in the standings as I could, to begin with. Most put down a reasonable effort, saving some for the heats. The result was things were sorted with a familiarity one might know from reviewing results over the years.


The course was not very technical, nor did it have any steep pitches. In other words, it was forgiving, which was a good thing as we had BKL, Juniors, Seniors, and Masters throughout the coed heats. Usually a recipe for disaster, today it worked great.


In qualifying, John Thompson was NWVE's top skier. Tom Thurston was seven seconds and ten places back. I was third for the club a little back from mid-field, then Scott and Jessica. Other notable masters were Adam Terko (MNC), sneaking into the top ten, and Sara Graves (Stowe Nordic) as the top Masters Woman. In the Quarter-Final, John Thompson faced a big challenge from the UVM Women's Team and U16 Craftsbury skier Charlie Kehler. John finished third, holding his place in the 6th of 14 heats. Tom Thurston had a good challenge from Michael Gaughan (MNC) and Eli Gallaudet (EMXC (EMXC was formerly CSU)). Tom broke away with Michael to take second and move up one heat. I was in the ninth quarter-final with Sara Graves, Julia Thurston (MNC), and U14 Jonah Gorman (MNC). I held back but was still not skiing as conservatively as I wanted to. Sara fell after the turn on Wilburs, losing all her momentum and having to regain steam on the slog to the cabins. Jonah held me off in the sprint. Scott skied smart, hanging back and moving on the second half of Teaching Hill to cruise into second in his heat, advancing for the next round. Jessica held position in her heat but was feeling the chill of the day. Sara Falconer (MNC) missed qualifying due to sliding off the road on her way to the race, but she made it and hopped in at the end of the heats, easily winning her round.


The action continued in the semi-final round. Sara Graves and I were the recipients of what would equate to a "lucky loser" as we stayed in Heat Nine due to people in higher rounds dropping out. Tom and Michael Gaughan advanced to a round with John, but John was feeling refreshed wearing the Paul Smith's threads after a uniform switch. John finished third in the round, with Tom edging Michael Gaughan for the semi-final. I built some confidence and took third in my round; Jonah Gorman (MNC) Julia Thurston (MNC) went one and two. Sara Graves got boxed in traffic as the heat made its way up Teaching Hill and had to settle for fifth.


Meanwhile, Steve Crafts (MNC) was quietly closing in on Sara and me winning the Heat Ten using the Scott approach. Scott Magnan also won his semi-final, making the same move late in the race. Jessica also found herself advancing from the semi-final.


Things were shaping up for some exciting finals. Adam Terko (MNC) had made his way into the elite final with calculated racing. He would end up fourth overall. Jack Young (Colby) dominated the day, setting the stage for the Eastern Cup next week on his new home course. Charles Martell (St. Michael's) rounded out the top six. Heat four was the Elite Women's wave Tara Geraghty-Moats (GRP) took the win over Anna Bizyukova (UVM). Anna was joined by teammates Waverly Gebhardt and Annie McColgan, who had worked their way up from Heat Six in the quarter-finals. John Thompson, who had spent the day in Heat Six, owned it in the final. Michael Gaughan (MNC) would have to settle for third and never make it to Heat Five, where his teammate Michael Millar (MNC) ended the day. Eli Gallaudet (EMXC) would have the last say against Tom as they finished fifth and sixth respectively in Heat Six.


In the final round, I advanced to Heat Eight in a shakeup of things and did not face Sara Graves (Stowe Nordic) and Steve Crafts (MNC). Using my strategy of the day, coasting until the downhill into the Lower Stadium, I advanced a couple more spots but could not get my toe across the line before Julia Thurston (MNC). Jonah Gorman's hot streak caught up with him as he got pushed to the back of the pack. Steve Crafts made a move going up Wilbur's, seemingly having found the fast snow and gapped the field. Sara Graves was closing with Lily Sabol (St. Michaels), but they ran out of course before the finish line. Scott also got into a bit of trouble after winning his semi-final (with a detached pole strap); advancing into the next wave proved a little more challenging. A gap opened that he was on the wrong end of, and the sprint went to Junior National Mountain Biker Greta Kilburn (MNC).


Sara Falconer (MNC) blew up the final Jessica had advanced to. The skiers strung out as they tried to hang on as long they could. The strategy was a good lesson in confidence-building for the young skiers as they led the chase; Jessica got gapped but finished feeling good about the effort. Cambelle Nutting (St. Michael's) was officially not having a fun day at the start of her final, but coming up the hill to the finish with the lead in her wave, she ended the day on a high note, winning the sprint in her final of the day.


So the weather was not the best, but people were psyched with how things went and that they got a race under their belts. The format was fun, the energy was jovial, and getting to shelter out of the elements never felt better. At the awards, Elvis McIntosh (GMVS), who was second overall, got the prize for being the only one who showed up. NWVE skiers took a quick cooldown lap as the Craftsbury Outdoor Center transformed the venue for a Biathlon event to follow, where a few more NWVE athletes competed!


Damian