Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dan Nagy Memorial- LaCrosse, Wisconsin

This past weekend I went to LaCrosse, Wisconsin for the Dan Nagy Memorial FIS series. They don't get many world cup athletes around there (sorry Michael) so it was a lot of fun to come off my recent results and bring good skiing to their neck of the woods. I was accompanied by a few characters to say the least, making this weekend one to remember for everyone involved. There was the "absolutely killing it" announcer Warner Nickerson, lightning fast Will Brandenburg, Dodge boot star Charles Christianson and his younger brother Kieffer aka lil fawn aka Eskibro, former child star Michael Ankeny, future child star Matt Strand, Chris "Frank the Tank" Frank, Cochran Clansman Robby Kelley, Man camp attendee Cameron Smith, Taylor "Shiff-Cat" Shiffrin and two local heroes in Jake Lund and George Rolfs. Not to mention many stellar up-and-coming girls who participated in the race. Taylor Rapley NZL, Maisie Ide, Anne Strong, Sara Kikut and Anna Kikut all raced for top honors with the latter four headed to Dartmouth College this fall. Go Big GREEN!

The races were classic. Guys were charging out of the start house, through the farming fields for 6 gates, dropping off onto the "Damnation" pitch (read- super steep) and finishing on a flat that isn't really comparable to anything I've raced on. The transition from pitch to flats is key for carrying your speed and having a good run. The fastest guys had mistakes on the pitch but when it came to the transition, they were smooth and quick. This is definitely a hill for tactics as well as hustle and unfortunately for some, it proved too much at times. Even I hike twice run 1, day 2 to give me an awesome starting position of 74th for second run. Our other victims included Robby Kelley (hiked a lot day 1, run 1), Will Brandenburg (hiked and DQed day 1, run 1) and Michael Ankeny (hiked THREE times day 2, run 2- leading after the first). It's safe to say we set a trend for hiking that day with most every athlete who missed a gate hiking and finishing. We even inspired some of the officials with our actions throughout the weekend. This is a excerpt of an email sent by Mike Quinlivan:

As an attending volunteer official, I wholeheartedly echo Bill's compliments concerning this group. They conducted themselves as true ambassadors of the US Ski Team and US skiing. Their competitive fire is obvious, their spirit contagious, they mixed with all the athletes and parents. They finished, even if it required substantial hikes on very steep terrain, a huge example to young athletes; Nolan and Robbie skied second runs from way back of the pack and skied to win and demonstrated what it takes. Warner, who was announcing, did so in a fashion that was inspiring and incredibly motivating for all 104 men and 70 women, and Will joined him Sunday afternoon announcing and followed his lead. Every athlete on the course and through the finish go the full on Warner and Will enthusiastic reception; I highly doubt announcing at Nor Ams or World Cups is more insightful or fun for all to listen as these fellows. Folks could not help but be impressed by these USST and top US ski racing representatives and come away as wanting to be part of it. I think these ambassadors and I know the attending field and parents all came away with the WOW feeling after a great weekend of FIS racing and enjoying the sport.
Thanks again Mike!

Day 1 M
1st- Michael Ankeny, 2nd- Nolan Kasper, 3rd- Will Brandenburg
Day 1 W
1st- Maisie Ide, 2nd- Taylor Rapley, 3rd- Sara Kikut
Day 2 M
1st- Matt Strand, 2nd- Charles Christianson, 3rd- Kieffer Chirstianson
(Charles still doesnt have to retire, barely beating his brother again...)
Day 2 W
1st- Sara Kikut, 2nd- Maisie Ide, 3rd- Anne Strong

Complete results HERE

I want to give a big thank you to region 1, the officials, the race organizers, the parents, the other athletes and everyone else involved! You all made this weekend a lot of fun and have given me a great reason to come back in the future.

If you haven't already, check out Warner's recollection of the weekend on his site.
There's a whole different perspective and a bunch of great photos!

In other news

Today, I flew back to Europe for the last two slalom world cups of the season. One in Kranjska Gora on the 11th and WC Finals in Schladming on the 18th. I am currently in Soelden where I will be training a bit before the races... With the warm weather in Europe, the ants are out in full force and roaming around my room. Every time I kill one, two more show up and start picking up different pieces of dead ant. Maybe I should put some peanut butter on a stick outside of my room to draw them away. Stupid ants...

Pictures of the race courtesy of Dave Navin

Will B- Charging through the hill transition

Matt Strand- Looking for speed

Michael Ankeny (Twins?)

Robby Kelley- Stunning the crowd

Kieffer- Loves draggin' knucks... through the powder?
Those kids are shocked too!

George Rolfs- Killer inside knee

Jake Lund- Still got it

Me- Pretty sure I missed that red gate and hiked