Poems, Packing & Glitter: Hailey Swirbul on WJC

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photo 1Some people choose to listen to pump up music, or maybe relaxing music to calm their pre race nerves. I am guilty of “nervous knitting” before a race, and heck, I have been so nervous as to have no other desire than to bake some cookies! Whatever the typical ritual for coping with excitement, anticipation and nerves before a race, the World Junior women’s relay team has figured out the ideal way to distract ourselves from over thinking a race while simultaneously bonding, laughing, and creating high spirits: writing a poem together.

My name is Hailey Swirbul,
it is my day for the blog,
it is relay day today,
the stadium thick with fog.

We woke up, ate our porridge,
then retreated to our rooms,
after many days of racing,
our race suits reek of fumes.

Then came along the glitter,
a US race day must,
armed heavily with sparkles,
into the wax cabin we did bust.

“Oh no…” the wax techs muttered,
“Keep that away from us.”
Too late to escape the venue
on the double decker bus.

First we roped down Boobar,
the most willing of the bunch,
We then found tech Filardo,
Gladly us he did not punch.

Glitter at last complete,
Team spirits high today,
It’s kick-butt time for us,
The excited Team USA!
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There must be something magical about writing a ‘team poem’, because our 4×3.3km relay team proceeded to pull off an impressive result, finishing as the 8th best team in the world. We began the race ranked 10th, and it became a team goal to beat our starting bib. Alas! We achieved that goal, but nonetheless we were left hungry for more, eager to come back next year and move up a few more places in the final results.
Julia Kern scrambled for our relay team, holding on tightly to the leaders on the 3.3 k classic portion of the course, and tagged off to Vivian Hett in 5th place. Hett raced strong, battling with other teams despite the fact that she fell, and handed the racing duty off to Katharine Ogden in 8th place, the first skate leg of our relay.
“It was lonely out there,” Ogden mentioned, noting that she skied alone the whole leg of her race, but she opened up a gap on the Finnish girl behind her, giving me the job to hold off the Finns and see if I could gain any time on the teams ahead. I managed to pace the hilly course well, and thanks to the cheering from generously glittered wax techs, coaches, and fellow teammates lining the final climb, hold off the Finnish team. Whew! What a fun day to be a part of team USA.

The 5x5km U20 boys relay began shortly after the girls’ ended. Thomas O’Harra led the team with a strong classic leg, followed by Ian Torchia. Evan Weinman and Tom Bye finished off the skate portions. The boys ended the day in 11th place.

Racing officially complete, it was time to pack the ski bags and head back to the hotel to get organized before early morning departures. It was bitter-sweet to leave the venue.

Thank you so much to our wax techs, coaches, volunteers, and especially Bryan Fish for leading this awesome trip with the amazing Team USA. A successful week of racing in the books… Thanks for the support NNF!!

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