Friday, February 12, 2016

My Favorite Race

We here at the HRT newsroom have been asked in the past what is our favorite race to cover or ski at.  Is it the small community club race with local flavor? A high profile NY weekend like the Loppet? or the packed speed-fest of a Super Tour/Carnival/Eastern Cup?  In is none of these.  Hands down, it is the local nordic high school sectional races.


Why? (so happy you asked, otherwise this would be our lamest post ever, and that is saying something)

The four regular readers of this blog know that we have many athletes from many different high schools who race on the weekends under HURT colors.  They train at summer camp together, act as teammates and friends, and share a part in building our nordic ski community.  It doesn't matter if they are from Queensbury, Shenendehowa, Johnsburg, Saratoga or Scotia....they work together to improve as individuals and to help their respective high schools become more competitive and their section become more competitive.  Then comes sectionals!  As a spectator you see all the kids on their best form, after a year of work, putting it all on the line to grab one of the 12 coveted spots on the State Team and to bring the Sectional crown to their high school.  In my almost 20 years of being around sectional skiing, I have never seen a more unpredictable and exciting race.  You may think you can predict the day after studying a season of results, but there just is no way to do it.  Someone always gives a big surprise.   And it is even more exciting when mere seconds divide the places and single points can bring the title from one team to another.

These past few years it is even more exciting because it becomes so clear that a path to excellence in skiing can be found with a healthy relationship between high school skiing and club participation.  The old model of "high school only" or "club sports only" is old fashioned and unproductive.   And you don't need to have a trust fund to go to a ski academy either.  With coaches working together, and athletes learning to set goals and communicate effectively, athletes can get themselves some speedy speed and be darn-good at this sport.  Some stats to prove the point...

-Top 6 boys at Section 2 Sectionals - all HURT skiers
-8 of the 12 boys on the Section 2 State Team - HURT skiers
-9 of the top 15 boys went to 2015 HURT camp
-5 of the top 12 girls at Section 2 Sectionals - all HURT skiers
-Section 2 girls champ - Eliza Blood (HURT)
-Section 2 boys champ - Owen Putman (HURT)

All of us at the HRT newsroom and in the HURT community want to congratulate all of our HURT juniors who skied so hard this year.  It was not an easy year to be a nordic ski racer and you all deserve a lot of credit.  And thanks to all the coaches in section 2 who work so hard for their kids.  They work tirelessly to make so many great opportunities happen.  Congrats to Coach Salls of Shenendehowa on his first sectional win.  I have a special place in my heart for this current Shen team and the close battles with Queensbury these past few years.  Coach Allison and the Queensbury team continue to keep the bar sky-high for section 2 and they will have many more championships ahead of them.

Looking forward to seeing you in Lake Placid.

Here are some of our favorite shots from sectionals (editors note....yes, these photos were pirated from our great moms' pages on facebook and yes, we did neglect some of our professional duties because we were glued to Coach Underwood's live timing feed from Underdog Racing.  We wish we could have been there.)

A lot of HURT'in in this group

Continuing to repeat as fastest girls team and best out-fitted (Mulshine shout-out)

Section Champ

A lot of HURT'in in this group


Anyone interested in a 2017 prediction?  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Jumpin' on the podium at ESG's

One of the factors that has made HURT nordic a truly tough team to overthrow in the club championship points series is athlete depth in multiple fields of racing; a that fact was truly on display at the 2016 Empire State Winter Games.  Back in 2015, it was a heavy-loaded HURT masters group that amassed a huge point tally, nabbed massive hardware and carried the weekend for the team.  This year, the Masters team was much smaller than usual (although still boasting some very solid age group talent from Ed Luban, Chris Yarsevich, Tim Huneck, Jill Koziol and Eric Hamilton) and it looked like the door might be open for The-Club-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named to steal winning points, especially on their home turf.  

It was not to be thanks to the army of HURT juniors that rallied to stomp all over the ESG podiums. It was a massive display of current and up-an-coming talent. 

It began with the Friday prologue...HURT juniors (having just finished a rescheduled Section 2 relay hours earlier) set fast times on the course sent several skiers into the Saturday sprint heats.  Fastest time on the day went to Owen Putman's 3:16 followed closely by A. Huneck's 3:19. Brian Beyerbach showed he is rising sprint talent with a top 5 overall finish as a U16, toppling some hefty U18 names in the process.  In the heats on Saturday it was Owen and Brian who stood 1-3 on the men's podium. On the women's side Anna Wiedmann nabbed a top 5 finish and was the top U16.  

In Saturday's freestyle women's 5K U16 race HURT placed 4 juniors in the top 10 with Anna being joined by Julianne, Meghana and Maddie.  In the 5K U16 boys race HURT went 1, 2, 3 and that was nearly matched in 10K men's race as HURT put 4 in the top 10 (three of those were U18's)

Sunday saw Brian back on the podium in the top spot with Bryce Beyerbach and Alex Fragomeni both in the top 6. All our top performances were supported by many other solid points-earners over the weekend  Nathaniel Kinkaid, Justin Caron, Nino Manzella, Daniel Manzella and Thomas Wiedmann all walked away with points on the weekend and helped HURT win the points weekend. 

We look forward to seeing our juniors wrap up their high school season at Sectionals and States in the coming weeks and many of the ski on into the post-season at U16's, Eastern High School Championships and Junior Nationals.  

Our Master's will have one more chance to flex their strong team muscles at the NYSSRA-Nordic Championship Weekend at the end of the month.  We look forward to seeing you on your local man-made gerbil-wheel until "winter" arrives (that's right....we still haven't lost hope :/)

Enjoy the pics from the ESG weekend! Full results and times are found here:

Brian storming the freestyle course

Dan Manzella charging the jumps hill

 A lot of green and gray on that podium

Eric Hamilton locking down the M9 podium

U16 girls DEPTH! 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

HURT Juniors are the season bright spot

While things may have hit rock bottom for much of the HURT Masters team (yes....I am writing this on my bike trainer), the HURT juniors continue to provide some bright spots for the 2015-16 ski season.  Just this week, we've added new blood to the HURT ranks: Julianne Burns, Meghana Caron, Maddie McGill and Alex Fragomeni all pledged their souls to the Green and Gray and many HURT juniors represented team colors this past weekend at the Super Tour races in Lake Placid.  Bids for the Junior National Team, EHSC team and U16 team were on the line

The weekend fit nicely with the pattern for the season....warm temps and manmade snow. The staff at the ski jump complex and all the organizers at ORDA did an amazing job preparing the jumps to hold the full weekend of top caliber racing.  The weekend ended up being spectacular for racing.  Coach Tomb and Coach PK even enjoyed getting elbow deep in red klister.

klistering like a boss

After strong performances by HURT skiers on both Saturday and Sunday, many juniors have automatically qualified for the postseason trips.  Congrats to all the kids that have been able to ski so well in a season filled with so many hurdles.  Full points list and all qualified athletes can be viewed here.  Qualification standards can be seen here.

Junior National Team qualifiers:
Brian Beyerbach
Dan Manzella
Seamus Tomb
Owen Putman
Nino Manzella
Aaron Huneck
Sarah Duclos

EHSC Qualifiers
Brian Beyerbach
Dan Manzella
Seamus Tomb
Owen Putman
Nino Manzella
Aaron Huneck
Casey Tomb
Adam Chrzan
Will Davis
Mikey Halligan
Eliza Blood

U16 Championships
Brian Beyerbach
Dan Manzella
Seamus Tomb
Casey Tomb
Anna Weidmann
Julianne Burns
Madison McGill
Meghana Caron

This coming weekend is a great chance to get the whole team together (masters and juniors alike!).  Empire State Games is in Lake Placid and the races will be back again at the jumps.  The weather can't and won't get us down. Any race changes will be broadcast at Hope you make it to Lake Placid!

The following week is Sectional Championships and HURT Nordic looks to pack the State Team for Section 2!