Monday, March 02, 2009

Alaska State Championship Relays: Rest of the Story

You can get the official -in print- account here:

but I don't think you'll get this POV anywhere.

Both relay races for the boys and girls at the AK high school state championships were close and exciting, and not really decided until the end. The last leg of boys race was particularly intruiging. Andrew Dougherty of Anchorage South, who had finished 2nd in the freestyle, had a solid 7 second lead over Donald Haering of West Anchorage at the exchange. Considering he had a minute on Haering in the Ski Meister competition you'd think that he could hold that lead and maybe increase it a little. But by 2K into the leg 5K, they were skiing side by side through the puffy newly fallen snow.

Coming off of Tower Loop and Roller Coaster Cuttoff, at 3K, the leaders were practically walking, with Haering skating easily, glancing back at Dougherty every 10-15 m. Just before entering the stadium Haering motioned for Dougherty to lead. Dougherty hung back and the skiers almost came to a stop in front of the 100 or so spectators at the corner.

Dougherty eased around Haering, staring into his eyes as they rounded the turn, and suddenly he turned it on from Level 1 to Mach 5, and the skiers rocketed down the backstretch with just under 2K to go. Fast skiers usually take only 3.5 to 4 min on Warm Up Loop, but the games apparently continued, with some slogging and sprinting and I bet their circuit took 30 seconds to a minute longer than they could have done.

The skiers came out of the final hill on Warm Up, and Haering had a slight lead with 120 m to go. But Dougherty turned on the afterburners once again and blazed to a 1.6 second victory. These were two of the four best skiers who skied at State, but their splits were more than a minute behind Lathrop's Jordan Buetow, and only 7th and 8th splits for the anchor leg.

I wondered if they'd throw fists, glare, or just ignore each other afater crossing the line. However, even though they'd had a heated battle out on the course, they patted each other on the back and shook hands. All in good competition.


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