Francis takes Second at Titcomb

Blue sky, fresh powder, and mild temperatures greeted the UMF Nordic teams for their first race of the season at Titcomb Mountain. The blue sky matched the Rode Super Blue wax which provided a good balance between kick and glide, always the delicate dance in classical waxing. Fresh tracks, set by Tony Ramsey, held up surprisingly well and were a nice change from the challenging conditions encountered so far this winter. The first two races of the season were canceled due to lack of snow so it was great to finally get a start under our belts. UMF was joined by athletes from Bates for three loops of a challenging, hilly 2.5km classic course. 

   The women were led by Freshman Mullein Francis, who placed second with a time of 39:50 behind Mia Schifren of Bates. She was followed by Freshman Emily Eaton who placed third. I'm very pleased with the start for the women's team and look forward to making technical and tactical adjustments. Hopefully, they will be at full strength with one or two more athletes jumping into the mix in the near future.
   The men were led by Junior Isaiah Reid, whose time of 26:43, clinched the win for him. The Mass Start format, combined with new, slow snow, made passing difficult but he made a move partway through the first lap to get out in front. He was followed by Senior Connor Marland, who placed second with a time of 27:24. He skied a smart race and made a breakaway from a group of skiers on the one portion of the course where a pass could be made. An exciting race for third took place with a battle by Bates skier Clem Taylor-Roth, UMF's Senior Tom Wing and Junior Jason Labbe, who skied the three laps as a group. Wing made a move at the finish but was unable to get by the Bobcat skier. He finished fourth, less than half a second out of third, with a time of 27:29. Labbe was close behind with a time of 27:41, while Senior Jordan Fried placed 7th. Connor personifies the philosophy of the UMF program as he only started skiing when he entered UMF, while most other college athletes skied in middle and high school. 
   Winter seems to finally be here and we will continue to make technical adjustments as we transition from establishing an aerobic base and add speed to our training. Being able to train at both Titcomb and the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center allows us to encounter different terrain and conditions, and provides a new experience for the team. Establishing personal relationships with the athletes, particularly getting familiar with their technical and wax needs, is essential as we enter the competitive portion of our season. I'm pleased with the attitude and approach of the athletes and look forward to making further adjustments that will build on the solid start of our race today. We travel north this coming weekend to Presque Isle for two races on their World Class trails, before we head to Mountain Top in Vermont at the end of the month.