by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 1-20-2013
JAY — The sun may have been shining, but it was the only weather effect working in anyone’s favor on Friday morning. The North Country Union High Falcons held their Alpine ski meet at Jay Peak’s Stateside facility in freezing cold temperatures.
The race was originally slated to allow racers two runs down the grand slalom course. The bitter cold quickly reduced the race to a single run each for both male and female varsity skiers. The decidedly unpleasant temperatures offered no particular advantage or hindrance to racers, North Country Coach Mark Rappold told the Chronicle.
“The hill and the weather are the same for all competitors so training, natural abilities and the will to get to the finish is what drives them all,” Coach Rappold said.
The will to finish was perhaps never greater than it was on Friday. A brisk wind coupled
with temperatures in the single digits presented its own unique problems. Many of the racers, and even Coach Rappold himself, reported minor cases of frostbite. Coach Rappold said that the frostbite he sustained was still painful more than 24 hours after the race.
“Shortening the race may have saved some fingers and toes from severe frostbite,” he said.
Justin Berthiaume was the top Falcon racer on the day taking sixteenth place with a time of 52.56 behind event winner Ryan Susslin of BFA-St. Albans. North Country’s Jed Wheeler, Evan Clarke and Braxton Birchard finished twenty-ninth, thirty-second and thirty-third respectively with less than two seconds separating them on the clock. North Country’s only female competitor, Jani Masi, finished with a time of 1:15.59. The top female racer was Mount Mansfield Union’s Darcy Patnode.
Coach Rappold spoke highly of the development of the team since the start of the season. Though it is a young squad, with enough training he feels confident that North Country might again return to the state meet later in the season.
“I’m very pleased,” Coach Rappold said of his squad. “They have come a long way since the first day of on-hill training. Miles and miles of skiing are what make great skiers and racers, so commitment to anything will make you better at it.”
The Falcons travel to Hard’ack for a BFA-St. Albans hosted event on Friday, January 25.
Contact Richard Creaser at firstname.lastname@example.org