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Wild Rumpus Sports
 

VT Recovery Week

Ah yes, I remember what it’s like to come back from New Zealand now…. Last week was a good reminder that although traveling down to NZ is pretty damn easy, putting in 14 days of epic training and spending two days flying BACK to the US is really when it finally hits you. It’s kind of like a week long training camp hangover.

Fortunately we planned accordingly in our training and make sure to have a pretty easy week upon arriving back in the states. I flew directly into Boston to meet Erika. Which worked out perfectly since that travel to major city like Boston took almost a half day off my usual travel. Quick and easy. We spent tow days hanging out in Boston around the Beacon Hill area, catching up with T-swift and friends. It’s still a little bit of a blur I have to admit I must have been little sleepy most of the time.

Just as a monster of a New England heat wave was hitting us we drove back to Southern Vermont and eased back into Stratton life and some training.

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Best way to wake up from a cloud of jet lag…. cold water plunge. this one is called the twinkle toes pikes falls jump.

I spent the week training very low hours but also getting out the door every day to get my sweat on roller skiing a few days with the SMS group and getting the legs back into running form. You kind of forget that taking a 14 day ski training camp in the middle of summer can take a toll on your running legs. With a super humid heat wave upon us each session filled with lots of sweat dripping down my face but was followed immediately by some cold water swimming.

 

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As usual the waves are a little flat at Stratton pond…. Erika’s heading out for a paddle anyway

Some training sessions we were able to do as a team but a lot of last week’s workouts were on our own so it was a good opportunity to explore some new spots that we don’t normally hit. Erika and I ran out to the Hamilton falls which are usually pretty rad. With the dry hot weather the falls weren’t pumping but it was still a beautiful run.

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biker babe on the Bonneville

Andy Newell

 

Also trying our luck fining fishes in the West River. = unsuccessful

Some of the non training activities of the week besides fishing included getting out on the Triumph a few times and helping our the Foster crew at Ryan’s house. Their place is looking incredible these days and everyone is pitching in for the final week push before Mae’s wedding next weekend.

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laying fence posts and landscaping. It was such an epic summer weekend that it was actually really enjoyable to be working outside, taking plenty of breaks to swim in the pond.

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Erika, top notch graffiti artist on the famous ‘party bus’

After a pretty relaxing weekend we are now back into a full ‘work week’ of training that will include a lot more hours and interval sessions. This is a good full week of training before most of the US Ski team squad heads out for another camp, this time a roller skiing adventure in Norway. I’ve never been over to Norway in the summer so I have to say I’m looking forward to it and looking forward to jumping in some of my first big time roller ski races.

This week in VT will be made even more busy with the BKYSL and junior camps happening at SMS. These camps are hugely important to the club but also the whole New England skiing community and are great for developing the next generation of skiers. I remember going to the SMS camps when I was a youth skier and learning a little bit about what it was like to train for skiing as early as a 10 or 11 year old. Yesterday we had a full group of about 40 10-13 year olds roller skiing around so you can imagine the chaos. I was actually really impressed with the level of skiing these little guys displayed.

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Fireworks to New Zealand

The past week has been super hectic but at the same time incredibly enjoyable because this time of year has two of my favorite things. 4th of July and skiing!!

As I’ve described in my blog before the 4th of July weekend is something the southern Vermont locals take pretty seriously to say the least. Since I live in the area and have a lot of buddies who are not involved in the skiing world it’s a perfect weekend to hang with them and chill. As it turns out this was the first week in I don’t know how many years when the 4th of July weekend actually fell on an easy training week for me. Incredible! It’s like all the stars were aligned and for the first time since probably 1987 I didn’t have any training scheduled on the actual 4th of July! and was able to take the whole day off and enjoy it with friends. It was a weekend filled with lots of BBQ’s, swimming, and catching up with friends who I don’t get to see very often.

 

IMG_2188Erika and Natalie sing with the locals at the Landgrove Parade and Picnic

Erika’s sister Nat came to visit us for the weekend which definitely added to the good times. It was cool to show some outsiders all of the fun, and admittedly weird, 4th of July traditions we have. One being attending all the small town gatherings and parades in the area. Landgrove has a great town singalong and potluck dinner which we try to hit up each year. It’s almost eerie how ‘small town America’ it is but that’s what makes it charming.

This particular 4th of July Saturday marked a huge milestone in my life, which was getting the chance to be in the Londonderry parade! I signed up our SMST2 team to be part of the small town festivities and we rolled and actually skied down the street in the parade throwing candy to kids. It’s hard to compete with the tractors and the wagon filled with the old person brass band, but we tried our best.

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We might have trashed a few pairs of skis but I think it was worth it

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Enjoying the tropical waters of the Stratton Snow making pond

Even with all the fireworks and festivities we were able to fit in some training during the weekend including some bounding intervals with the SMS kids and some easy training on Sunday. In General it was a great end to an easy week of training which was meant to help us rest up for the next few weeks of USST camp training in New Zealand!

Last summer we took the year off from flying down under so this time I was super stoked and excited to get back to NZ. This is a little bit earlier than we normally travel down for skiing but it snow conditions are perfect. On Wednesday we loaded up the vans at SMS and drove to the airport to start the epic 2 days of travel it takes to get here. It actually sounds a lot worse than it is and even though it’s a massive 13 hour flight from California to the North Island of NZ it doesn’t feel much worse than traveling to Europe.

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After we arrive on the North Island in Aukland we catch another flight to the South Island and Queenstown. As you fly over the South Island the landscape is maybe the coolest I’ve ever seen. Amazing beaches with waves rolling in and green fields that lead into huge snow covered mountains.

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Taking in the drive from Queenstown up 2 mountain passes to the Snow Farm. We were a little short of space with our team rental vans but got lucky because Steve, our long time friend and manager of the Snow Farm, flew in at the same time so a few of us caught a ride with him from the airport to the Farm.

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Yo Steve, you’re driving on the wrong side of the car! It always takes a little bit to get used to that.

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For the next 14 days we will be in full on training camp mode here at the Snow Farm. Right now they have a perfect 30 plus K’s of trails groomed and hopefully even more on the way. This really is the best place to train I have ever experienced with awesome skiing right out the door, mild winter temperatures, great food and lodging, and super fun trails. We will spend the next two weeks skiing big hours, working on technique, and even getting in a few time trials.

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The first 3 days of training here we have had about the best conditions you can imagine with hard wax skiing all day long for classic and fresh cords on skate days. I think we are all a little bit sore at this point from kicking so hard the first few days. It always takes a little bit to adjust to the skiing muscles.

Even after traveling down here to train 10+ times I’m still amazed by the views, mountains, and terrain you get to experience skiing from the Snow Farm.

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It’s a lot of hard work coming to a training camp like this but it’s also a lot of fun

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Jessie getting stoked outside the UFO

 

Big Days and Surf Adventures

This past week was the second of two back to back big training weeks. We have been using this time before our first US Ski team training camp to come together at Stratton and have as many quality SMST2 team workouts we can. So far things have been working out perfectly and now that paddy Caldwells is back in town we have had a great mens group on interval and speed days.

For me this week was another pretty big training week and had a decent amount of hours for this time of year so I was forced to be out on the roads quite a bit logging the distance. Thankfully with these long days and beautiful green scenery it made for some fun workouts. We’ve been waking up pretty early to get out the door for our first session and often times waiting until late afternoon to go out training again. This is the perfect summer training routine… combine that with an evening swim and nightly BBQ’s and it’s real VT living.

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Cabin life! This is the perfect setting for BBQ’s this time of year. Although I’m not staying there much since we are shacking up near Stratton it still gets plenty of use in the summer time.

With a few longer easy skis on the schedule some of us took the opportunity to make it over to NY state for some buttery pavement and farm field views.

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These are some of my favorite rollerski loops. If you look closely in this picture you can see Erika and Annie out in the distance in the center. Rolling along during a 2.5 hour skate ski.

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I guess you can tell it’s a little humid out when the camera starts taking pictures like this…

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the blurry haze.

For intensity sessions this week I we had two threshold sessions to work on both skating and classic. Saturdays’s intervals were a mix of double pole and striding which we did out in good old Weston VT. After a few long double pole intervals we headed up Andover mountain, which is a perfect 9 minute striding hill with sustained grade and lot of elevation gain.

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Reese Brown, our friend from SIA was in town and he was nice enough to shoot some of our workouts so we can revamp the SMST2 website and just compile a lot more summer training pics. It’s was awesome having him around and it was super helpful to our team to score some sweet photos.  Pat was doing the driving while Reese hung out of the van.. photography magic.

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Simi and I finishing off some DP intervals before we started striding up the big hill.

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Cresting the top of Andover mountain. It’s a big hill to say the least and although it’s long I think it’s completely skiable on the way down. During one decent between intervals I had a car come up next to me. When I’m going that fast I would prefer to take up the whole lane so I just kind of make myself visible. When I go to the bottom I though the dude was going to be upset that I was tucking down the middle of the lane, instead he was stoked and told me I hit 47 mph and he was having to speed to keep up. It was a good motivational booster.

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Our beautiful ladies team. We took the opportunity to shoot some team pics at the SMS campus in the afternoon before out gym session. For me I just started a tough 4 week power block in the gym so a lot of the excursuses are fast, explosive, and can leave me a bit sore. It’s always more fun doing these types of workouts in a gym full of teammates. Just another reason it’s so helpful to have the SMSt2 team around. Although many of us are on different programs as long as we are working out in the same location we help push each other.

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Reese Brown Photo:

After a long wet 3 hour run on Sunday the big volume week was over and it was time for an easy rest day. Erika, Jessie and I had been checking the surf reports daily throughout the week because there was a big storm rolling through and scheduled to kick up some good surf on Monday. We took the chance and drove down on Sunday night and lucked out scoring some great waves Monday morning. An epic 24 hour mini vacation.

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Jessie waxing up a board. It wasn’t easy, or small conditions and Erika and Jessie held their own out there in the line up.

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Head high + sets rolling in. Just another reason I love living in New England.

 

 

Intervals and running races week #8

Believe it or not we have just finished up the 8th week of the training year which means we’ve got a solid two months in the books so far! Whenever I fill out my training log I like to make a note of what ‘week’ it is because it gives a cool perspective on how fast the training year can go by and how important each training week can be.

It can also provide a helpful outline for the year and mark important phases in the general training plan. So now that we are settled at Stratton and with 7 weeks of lots of easy distance training logged we stepped it up a little bit for the ‘Ocho’ with more intervals and more volume. This was the first week so far where I have trained 3 intensity sessions in the week and also jumped above 20 hours, which made for a busy sweaty situation here at SMS. 

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I’ve been trying to get in a lot more skate skiing this year but also some more skate intervals. It was great having Ben and Simi around this week to work on some skating both during some distance workouts and threshold intervals!

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The girls working on a little pace line. Everyone has been trying to build some efficiency by skiing without poles as much as possible in the early weeks of the training year.

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Beauty of a shot by coach Pat with Stratton in the background

Some other key workouts for the week were some hard fast and flat double pole intervals and a decent amount of volume and distance training. I was able to get out on one long run and a long over distance road bike ride in some of the awesome summer weather we’ve been having. For the most part I still find road biking to be incredibly boring but if I get out once a week its a nice change of training.

Although most of the training has been done up around the Stratton area I was still able to make it down further south for some fun skis around NY and take advantage of stopping by my parents house for a swim.

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pool life in Shaftsbury

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Saxton throwing backies after a long OD in NY.

My final of 3 intensity sessions for the week was by far the most fun. I went down to Shaftsbury on Sunday for a 5k run and celebration for my retiring gym teacher and old running coach Howard Herrington. Mr. Herrington was had a huge impact on the southern VT community not just with how amazing he is a being an elementary school gym team and getting kids active. But also in all of his after school programs like cross country running and gymnastics. I can remember running in his Stateline Striders program and it was my first taste of real endurance racing as a kid. Mr Herrington was the first person I can remember teaching me to set goals in athletics and teaching me that if I worked hard as something I could improve and get faster. What a great lesson for all elementary school kids to learn.

So Sunday morning was a great opportunity to say thank you to Mr. Herrington and also hammer out a 5k running race with some friends. The race was half on grass and half on pavement and I have to say I’ll e a little but sore from the effort, but it was hard and a great workout.

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My dad and friends were on hand playing some music for the great turn out. It was cool to see runners of all ages show up who had been through Mr. Herrington’s programs. It was especially cool to see some of the young runners not shying away from the 5k run and sprinting out of the start line.

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The picture is a little hard to see but I still have my Stateline Striders running jersey from when I was 10 years old. somehow it still fits so I wore it during Sunday’s race.

Sunday continued to be a big day in Bennington because it was also Olympic Day. Every year they host a really cool Olympic day celebration down at the Bennington BMX racing track so I headed down to say hi to the kids and watch some intense racing.

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There are races for all ages here at the track with an announcer and everything. These are scored races that can qualify kids to race a national competitions. My favorite was the strider class of 4 and  5 year olds.

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There were advanced racers as well who were really cool to watch including a local girl who has qualified to race the world junior championships in the past. Its exciting racing to watch and you can see a lot of similarities between BMX and skier cross and even sprint racing. It was a great day of connecting with the Bennington community.

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Bro and sis hanging out on the porch.

Week 9 is shaping up to be another epic week of training with more volume but slightly less intensity. Now that the SMS school is out of session we will be having a lot of joint workouts throughout the week and running our normal ‘agility training’ before with the club members before strength workouts. Looking forward to getting my sweat on!

 

PC to MT to VT

 

 

 

 

The past two weeks have been filled with a lot of adventures, big training, and experiences stretching across 3 states. I was happy to get in some great high altitude training in Park City but on June 6th we changed locations and made the drive up to Bozeman Montana. There we met our friends from VT Ryan and Kate and showed them around the area a little bit.
IMG_2086Hiking near Sacajawea peak we found a decent amount of snow still on the mountains. Temps were warm and sunny and the wild flowers were blooming so we did a little trail blazing of our own to get a sweet view.

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One of my favorite things about hiking around the west compared to Vermont is how open and easy it is to get to the tops of mountains. Without a bunch of trees and bushes in your way its super fun to be able to scale some big peaks and get an awesome view.

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For whatever reason this summer has turned into the summer of experiences. We started it off with skydiving in Utah after the end of our camp but have continued with that theme throughout the month. Maybe it’s because new experiences get you fired up to have more new experiences.. I dunno, but there have been a lot of ‘firsts’ happening this June.

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Like my first time on a horse. Or at least a real horse. I was pretty worried it was going to be incredibly boring and lame but it turned out to be pretty fun. Kate is an accomplished horse rider so we agreed to hit the ranch with her and Ryan on their first full day in Montana. I have to say it was interesting to at least learn the basics of riding a horse, but I really wanted to push the speed and get a gallop going.

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It was a beautiful day and although we had to ride pretty slowly and in a line there were a few opportunities where we got to do what I call ‘horse freestyling’ which meant we were allowed to ride wherever we wanted and it was a lot more fun to trot along the high desert prairies feeling a little bit like a cowboy.

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Although we were there to have fun and see some friends Erika and I were still in training mode during our time in MT. so we spend a lot of the mornings training together including hammering out some running intervals and roller skiing intervals.  One morning heading up Bozeman Creek for some 5×7 minutes L3.IMG_2084

Putting in some hard training made the afternoons feel even better which brings me to the second experience of the week: catching my first trout! Gus and Ryan had bid on a two day fishing package with Erika’s dad at one of our SMSt2 fundraisers so this was the perfect time to make it happen. The timing worked out that both Ryan and Gus were able to make it out to Bozeman and Pat Flowers was nice enough to be our legendary fishing guid.

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Even though the water was a little high and temps were a little too hot on our first day of fishing we all still had an epic time and spend two days floating some long sections on the Madison river in search of some fish.

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90 degrees made for some tough fishing but some hot and toasty rafting. We would take turns jumping into the water or tubing off the back to cool off. Even in not so great fishing conditions Ryan and Gus were able to hook a few.. I mostly just got a sunburn.

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The next day the conditions improved we found some cloud cover and landed some nicer fish. Flyfishing trout experience, check! I was fired up to catch my first real fish a nice looking brown trout.

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The long sunny days were awesome in MT and we are so grateful to Pat for taking the time to bring us fishing. It was a fun chance for my VT friends and I to do some Montana mountain man stuff.

On Wednesday we made our way back to Stratton for the start of 3 weeks of team training here with SMST2. With the exception if Paddy C. the whole team is back together now in the area and everyone is stoked to jump into team workouts. Without much time to settle into VT life the last few days have been super busy with lots of quality training and team meetings.

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Sophie bounding up Stratton on Saturday.

The SMS school just graduated as well so club-wide summer workouts will start up this week too with SMSt2 lead workouts a few days a week. To me this is what summer is all about enjoying the quality training around Stratton and of course having fun.

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Pikes Falls swimming hole is one of the best places to cool off.

For the next three weeks the whole team will be back together training and making the most of these VT summer days. After having so many rad ‘first time’ experiences over the month of June I’m stoked to settle into the normal training routine, but I think we’ll definitely keep the weekend adventures going.

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home-made photo booth. random experience, check.

 

PC camp update

Our first few days of Park City camp consisted of our typical 9 hour days in the COE packed with testing and training and of course lots of meetings. In addition to our usual VO2max test on the treadmill and a new strength test I also chose to do a double pole max test this year just to hammer on the arms a bit more. We are seeing more an more opportunities in classic ski races now these days when it’s an option to double pole the whole course, and whether it’s good for skiing or not we’ve got to be prepared.

Across the board I think testing went pretty well and I’m happy with where I’m at for the spring time. It’s always fun to compare results from 10 years of data and although treadmills and calibrations change one test that stays pretty consistent is our vertical jump test. I think it’s a good test to measure pure explosiveness and I was pumped to set a PR in jumping! it’s always funny how often times when you’re doing the least amount of training (spring) it can be easier to post higher vertical jump numbers. And it’s always fun to show people that an old man like me can still jump.

IMG_2003Getting my DP test on at the COE

After 3 days of testing we jumped into more team workouts and drylands training and fell into the normal camp routine. I have to say it’s a bit of a bummer not to be skiing in Bend this time of year but having a more relaxed PC dry land camp was a great way to ease back into group training. It’s a team wide goal this year to work on more specific strength so we had some productive DP and single pole workouts out on the roads and got in at least two speed workouts down at Soldier Hallow.

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EBJ hammering our a skate speed.

Speed training in May is typically not supposed to be all out, we use the early summer months to work more on speed technique, so a lot of our sprints are kept to about 90% of max and we do them solo as apposed to in big groups to practice specific technique changes and relaxed skiing.

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We also got some shipments of our new Craft and L.L Bean gear in and the team was pumped up for the new threads. With new sponsors it’s always important to generate a bunch of images so that we don’t have to use old ones so the cameras were out at just about every workout capturing pics of the Craft and L.L. Bean gear. We are all fired up that the US Ski Team has partnered with these two companies since it feels like they are really into allowing us to create our own identity and style on the World Cup which is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time.

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We experienced some of the most rain I’ve ever seen in Park City over the past 10 days so we had to be a little bit flexible with some of our group training sessions. When it cleared up and the trails we dry we jumped on the opportunity to go for some easy group runs, although those windows were few and far between. We definitely had our share of wet rollerski workouts over the past week during some of our threshold and speed workouts at SoHo. When the sun finally came out for our last day of hard training we all embraced .. making those level 4 double pole intervals that much more enjoyable.

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Soaking up the sun after too many days of wet ski boots.

To celebrate the end of a tough camp get the energy going again a big group of us drove over to Ogden on Friday to do some skydiving. Any time someone wants to jump out of anything… bungee, bridge, plane I’m into it for sure. I love the feeling of free fall and feeling of the first few seconds it takes to reach max speed. Skydiving in Ogden was an awesome experience. We had a friend join us who was a certified jumper so I was able to go out of the plane at the same time as her and get a few spins and hi 5s in during the 1 minute of free fall.

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cork learning to fly.

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Simi and his tandem jumper

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Ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson joined us for the day.. I’m sure she wasn’t scared at all.

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Our plane. Hopefully I’ll have some video of the jumps to post later but thats all I have for now.

 

Since camp finished up on Friday most of the team has gone their separate ways. June is going to be our biggest break from training camps so most of us will return to our home clubs and get in a good training rhythm for the nest 4 weeks. After June our schedule will before much more hectic with NZ and Norway training camps. As excited as I am to get back to Stratton and start SMSt2 training Erika and I are spending an extra 10 days our west to take advantage of the great high altitude training, and some fishing!

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I will spend another 5 days here in Park City training with Erika and some other teammates before getting a little fishing break in Bozeman before flying back to VT. I have a feeling next week is going to be a major break though in my fishing career and by that I mean hopefully catching my first trout. Loving this summer time training life!

IMG_2039The view over the handle bars on todays 3 hour Mt. Bike ride on mid-mountain trail

Living high week 3

Week 3 of training has been a lot of fun getting settled out here in Park City and easing into a daily training routine. I’m not sure I would actually call it easy since my strength coach Tschana has been just kicking my ass in the gym so it’s been an extremely sore week. The first few hard strength sessions of the training year always seem to make you super sore, but here in Park City it takes it to another level since Tschana is right with me for each session watching every exercise critiquing teaching and pushing me though every rep. It’s definitely the most productive way to lift but also the most intense. I find it extremely helpful especially during a hard core session to have someone standing right over you making sure you don’t slack on any exercise.

In addition to the tough COE strength workouts we’ve had a few great outdoor adventures despite the rough weather. Its been pretty cold and cloudy here in PC with the accessional snow or rain shower but as with most western states the weather can change super quickly so it’s all about taking advantage of the good windows. I was able to make it out for a few great roller skis with the Hoff and Liz who are both in town, but a lot of the training was done with just Erika and I. It’s fun to take advantage of a mellow schedule and setting your own training hours for a few days before camp starts.

IMG_1974We went on a few high altitude adventures up on Guardsman pass. I was determined to run to this cool lake I had been to before.

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we found a little bit of snow along the way. Actually a lot more snow than I thought was going to be there which made for some slow going and trail blazing.

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And although Erika had her doubts in me we found the ‘cool’ alpine lake but it was all frozen over still.

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views from the top

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lots of green and cool trees toward the bottom of our trek.

This weekend I’ve been keeping training pretty relaxed since we will start the training camp on Monday with back to back max tests on the treadmill. some folks don’t like maxing out on the treadmill but I have to say I don’t mind it and find the whole scientific side of testing pretty interesting. At the very least when you’re skiing on a treadmill it feel like you’re hailing ass which is kind of fun no matter what. In addition to the max tests we will have our normal blood, hemoglobin, and strength tests to see what kind of shape we are in to start the training year.

So I think today will be spent chilling and possibly fishing depending on if we can find the weather window. Looking forward to getting back together with my USST teammates after a long break, we’re such a tight team and spend so much time together throughout the year its a lot like a big family reunion for our first camp of the summer with everything from by team BBQ’s and of course lots of meetings!

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Week 2 VT-PC

 

 

 

 

 

The first few weeks of training are all about getting back into the routine of working out every day, and getting organized to tackle another long summer of tough workouts and long days. For me the first few few weeks of training require getting extremely sore at least a few times a week as I start to check off the first long run, bike, or hard lift of the season. It really is a great time of year for a skier and really feels like you can start over with a clean slate and a new training plan.

For the past week I have been easing back into training while hanging out at home in VT.  After a few busy weeks of running around if definitely felt good to stay put at home. We were lucky enough to have some absolutely epic weather for week 2 of training which made it easy to get out the door for some roller skis sessions and road rides.
IMG_1917warm weather also allowed for the perfect opportunity for some spring cleaning at the cabin.

Down ‘south’ near Shaftsbury and the NY boarder you can really see the difference in elevation with how green everything was. I made it out for a few beautiful easy roller ski workouts near home. Some athletes really dread getting back on the roller skis but I actually don’t mind it at all and sometimes look forward to the hot sunny skis out in farm country.

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Spring hit hard and fast this year in VT

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great views of green rolling hills during an easy roller ski on Thursday

Saxton made his way over from Dartmouth for a few days to take advantage of the perfect spring training. Spring time runs in VT can always be a bit of an adventure mixed with mud and snow. On this day we tried to run up the back side of Stratton on the AT and had about an hour slippery snow running.

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Stratton Mt. School spring break was over so it was cool to be able to link up with the kids on a few workouts. Even if it’s just having a big group around for a lifting session in the gym it makes training a lot more fun for me. Hiking and skiing stratton is still my favorite spring training session so it was a must to get out with the team one last time to ski the mountain.

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There were a lot of grass and dirt patches but it was still worth hiking up with the ski. The Fischer Jibskates are alive and well here at stratton I think I saw a least 5 kids with them!

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did a little hiking with the ‘Old Guys’ Sver, Matt, and Pat

On Friday I packed up most of my summer training gear and jumped a flight to Park City. It’s my plan to spend the next month or so training out here both to spend time with Erika and also since our first USST training camp will begin here next week. But it’s always a lot of fun to be in PC during a non camp atmosphere so I’m really glad I got the chance to come train here for 10 days before camp starts.

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First day was a little cold, rainy, snowy

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But since then the training has been great. Erika and I have done some roller skiing down at Soldier Hollow and gone on some sweet runs. I have to admit the running around here is one of the highlights of PC life. I’ll spend the next week mixing up the training with some rolling and biking and training with whoever is in town… like the Hoff. this is also a great time to check in with all the staff at the COE and start to plan out strength plans and get some hands on sessions with out strength coach Tschana. Stay tuned for PC updates as we jump into the first camp of the year!

 

 

 

 

The Vacation Blog

Well it’s May 1st and it’s officially time to get back to being a cross country skier… But it’s important to think back on the last two weeks of spring shenanigans and be grateful for our downtime before we jump back on the roller skis.

Like I mentioned in my last blog the springtime skiing in VT was unbelievable. I tried to get in as many skiing days as I could before heading out of town, everything from xc skiing up at Prospect, tromping around the backcountry, and even bringing it back to my roots.  Hitting jump at Stratton.

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I ended up breaking my pole going off the second time so for the rest of the day I had to ‘no pole’ it. I guess thats the price you pay for jumping with triacs on. It was a lot of fun to shoot some video and photos and just goof off on the mountain for an afternoon, it totally brings me back to my high school days when the SMS guys and myself would spend literally every nice sunny afternoon of the springtime up on the mountain.

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the pipe was pretty melted out but it was still good enough for a hit or two.

It seems like as soon as the temperature starts rising my springtime thoughts definitely turn to surfing and getting in the ocean.  A lot of people ask me how a VT guy got so into surfing but it’s something I’ve been interested in for a really long time and got started pretty young surfing around NJ and New England. Some of my Uncles were lifeguards on the Shore and having a connection to the ocean and looking up to lifeguards and all around watermen has always been in my blood. I got my first board when I was 12 and basically would spend all day long in the water. By the time I got my license is when the real semi annual surf trips started happening and the search for waves went to the next level.

Although central America is typically my destination of choice for the spring this year Erika and I went to central California instead and I was stoked we did. As much as it’s appealing to surf in 85 degree water Costa Rica is just too damn hot most of the time so a Cali spring break was a chilly… or should I say refreshing change of pace.

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there are so many cool surf destinations on the US that are worth checking out before flying abroad.

We were lucky enough to get hooked up by Erika’s family and had an awesome place to stay right on the beach in Aptos. Aptos is just south of Seacliff beach where you can see the sunken cement ship off the peer. Thats where all the birds hang out apparently.

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Beach front living at its best. It felt like the sand came right into the living room. One of the coolest parts of being so close to the ocean was watching all the sea life swim by, we saw tons of dolphins, some whales, seals, and sea otters. We were close enough to the water that if you saw a pod of dolphins swimming up the coast you could paddle out on a surfboard or kayak and make it out in the water in time to hang out with them. pretty rad

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beautiful sand… Even these days I get beyond stoked to hang out at the beach. something about the salty air and the hunt for waves

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some of the first mornings were were there we woke up to some heavy fog and clouds. sometimes it would burn off and other times it wouldn’t. I guess thats pretty common for central California that time of year. But when it finally did burn off it was beautiful and the temperature was perfect for hangout out on the beach. here’s a look at Capitola, a small village down the road with some super colorful beach front cottages.

Most people who have gone on ‘vacation’ with me can be easily mislead by the word. to a lot of people vacation means kicking back and relaxing, but with me it tends to mean ‘surf training camp regimen’ and for better or worse everything tends to revolve around the waves. I guess I get in the zone. One of the big reasons I wanted to go to the Santa Cruz area is because it’s home to some of the most consistent and good surf spots in California. One of the big spots is Steamer Lane which is a point break just out of town that can handle some pretty big swell. Protected by the wind it stays pretty glassy most days. Surfing is no joke in this area, right next door is a surfing museum and brands like Santa Cruz and O’neal call this area home along with countless professional surfers.  So there can be some decent crowds in the water and even bigger crowds on the cliffs watching the surfers most days. I was expecting a little bit of localisms but was stoked and surprised with how friendly most surfers were and happy to have an outsider in the lineup with them, which made for one of the most fun surf sessions I’ve ever had at Steamer Lane.

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to get into the water at the Lane you have to wait for a set to crash into the cliffs… then send it off a 15 foot drop.

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was able to get a few shots with the GoPro during some sessions! To get most of these shots you have to paddle for the wave holding the GoPro in your mouth, the drop it into your hands to take a few shots or capture video. easier said than done.

One thing that makes me happy beyond words is enjoying the water and having a fun surf session with your buddies. The waves don’t have to be epic but as long as they’re shredable, it’s sunny,  and you are out there with you friends it’s as good as it gets. Thats why I was fired up when Erika started taking an interest in surfing last year and although she’s a beginner she has picked it up really fast. Being able to share the fun of surfing with her during vacation was the highlight for me.

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Making old new by re waxing this beauty Patagonia board we found at the house.

The water was cool, around 56 degrees, but with a 3/2 wetsuit it was perfect and with booties on you could surf all day. A lot of the areas have kelp growing in the water which helps keep the surf nice and glassy. Also makes it so seala and other fun water animals come floating by right next to you while you’re waiting on a wave.

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On this smaller day we were having a great time surfing the Hook which offered up some long rides and fun surfing conditions. Everyone in the lineup including a lot of locals were not preturbed at all to have a beginner out in the water. Guys were encouraging Erika to paddle for waves and helping her out it was really cool to see.  My experience is that as long as you’re respectful to the people who live there and try to follow the rules of the water everyone gets along.

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some beaches were sandy, some had cliffs, others massive rocks like this beach here just north of Big Sur.

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Aside from the tasty waves the main reason we were in Central California was because Erika’s sister and friend were running the Big Sur marathon. This Marathon is one of the toughest road races because of how much climbing is involved and how windy it can be right next to the coast. But it also draws in a lot of runners because of how beautiful it is. Nat and Emma ran a great race and completed the challenge raising money for breast cancer in the process!

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we snuck onto course and joined Natalie for a few miles. the marathon follows highway 1 and there are some epic views along the way as long as you don’t mind hills. I was impressed that Nat and Emma were able to fly right in and complete the marathon just two days later. It was a highlight of the trip hanging out with them and Erika’s family and enjoying some beach time with them after the marathon.

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taking a break from surfing we ventured into the red woods on a few cool runs. I think this was Erika’s favorite adventure of the trip.

Now that I’m back home I have to say I’m a little sore from all the surfing but definitely ready to jump into being a skier again. When I’m in the surfing zone I have to admit the last thing I’m thinking about is ski racing or ski training so it’s definitely a break. Who knows maybe someday I’ll live by the ocean and actually be able to surf every day totally emerged in the scene but until then I have a lot more ski training left in me. For the next week I’ll be easing back into training here in Vermont before flying out to Utah for a few weeks of altitude training!

 

 

Spring Timin’ update

Since the races wrapped up in Sun Valley the typical spring chaos that tends to ensue has been in full effect .  The feeling I get at the end of a long race season isn’t always the same, sometimes I’m really ready to hang em up for the summer and other times I feel like I could keep on racing for another month or so. This year it was more of the latter since my strength and fitness felt like they were starting to come around and since World Champs I was having fun racing out the last world cups and super tour races in Sun Valley. I started feeling pretty sick the day before the 50k which was a real bummer since thats one of my favorite ways to close out the season. What I thought was just a normal cold though turned into one of the worst sicknesses I’ve had in years with a ganrly soar throat lasting more than a week and lots of hacking. I tried not to let the sickness slow us down while my teammates, Erika, and myself jumped into a few weeks of springtime freedom.

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After spending a few days in Sun Valley Erika and I drove back up to Bozeman and had a few days to chill out at her house. With the snow melting fast we took advantage of a 60+ degree day up on Bridger Bowl. Although sections of the mountain were closed because of lack of snow there was absolutely nobody out on a weekday and we had some empty chairlifts and runs to ourselves.

One of our big ‘to Do’s’ for the spring was to make it back to Boston to attend the YES fundraiser. YES is a really cool organization supported by skiers such as Ted Ligety and the T2 foundation and they help bring outdoor activities like skiing to inner city youth in the Boston area. We were able to meet a bunch of the kids and hand out certificated for those who tried xc skiing during the winter. Than night we attended a really cool YES fundraising dinner where Erika accepted the community outreach award on behalf of the SMST2 team.

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BOSTON

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Erika and I at the YES fundraiser

After the fundraiser our eastern ‘spring break’ really began and we had a few days to see the city and visit with Erika’s sister who lives in the Beacon Hill area. We made it out for a run by the water and spent some time cruising the streets. It was one of our first runs of the year and as most of you know it can make you pretty sore to pound the pavement after a long winter, so we tried to keep it under 1 hour.

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Erika and I have a unique running style we were revealing to the many joggers getting ready for the Boston marathon.

We heard the New England aquarium was pretty cool to check out so we put our tourist shoes on and made the trip. Most were pretty excited to see the penguins.. I really liked the seals, they were so happy and laid back… I think we had a connection.

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there was an 85 year old turtle there that weighed 500 lbs!

After our two days in Boston we drove back to Vermont for phase 2 of Eastern Spring break which consisted of hitting up the local sugaring parties, driving muddy back roads of Vermont, and since the weather is still so wintery… skiing a lot.

IMG_1770We picked up a friend of ours from Luxembourg in Boston and brought him back to VT for the week so he could check it out. Kari is a world cup skier from Luxembourg and is spending some time in the US for vacation. I felt bad that the weather was so cold and nasty but we tried to take advantage of it by going xc skiing, backcountry skiing, and alpine.

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Erika on our Easter Morning backcountry ski up and down Peru Peak. I’ve never seen so much snow in this area during April. Stratton is staying open at least a week longer than normal and we will be able to ski here will into May.

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Kari and I up on Stratton for an Alpine day. it was crazy that it started snowing and we couldn’t believe how cold and icy the snow was. Not your typical spring break. It was one of Erika’s goals to do all the different kinds of skiing we could, which included the famous snowmobile trail skiing of southern VT. I just so happen to get a text from Beckwith the day before explaining how he and Brie where skiing a large chunk of the Catamount trail for their honeymoon adventure. We joined up with them at Grout pond and skied a 15k section point to point.

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Up at Prospect Mt. XC on April 11th. still groomed tracks and full coverage

The plan for the next week or so is to hang out here in Vermont and enjoy some down time. It’s easy to be too active this time of year since the skiing is still so good, but I’ll do my best to relax. It’s been a while since I really had much time at home so I’m looking forward to it. This is the first spring in a while where I haven’t gone down to central America for a surf trip. I’m definitely craving the warm water and big waves but this is also a fun change of pace. It can’t be a ‘spring break’ without any surfing though so Erika and I are heading out to California later in the month for a week of surfing adventure! gotta love April

 

 

World Championships!

The 2015 Falun World Championships have come to an end after two weeks of what I think was ski racing at it’s absolute best. Across the board the majority of athletes I talk to think these championship were some of the most fun to participate in because of the cool race courses, awesome stadium layout with tons of fans, and general smooth organization on behalf of Falun2015. It’s cool how Falun has a ‘small town’ feel but was also big enough to host a major championships and since the ski jumps and the xc venue were right next to one another it was a super convenient for spectators to access the racing action and pack the stands. I think almost every day sold out even standing room tickets!

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The sprint race was first on the schedule, which I think is always kind of fun to start out the championships with your big event. Conditions all week were kind of soft because of high temperatures which forced the organizers to close the courses before each race… which meant no testing of skis or course inspection before you start. It’s always a little crazy skiing a sprint qualifier on a course you haven’t been able to check out since you have no idea how soft or fast the corners are going to be, but it worked out great. The closed course made the tracks a lot more firm for the heats and it turned out to be perfect sprinting conditions.

I felt great in qualification posting the 10th fastest time

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The heats could have gone a bit better, I feel like I’m definitely skiing at a top 10 in the world level, but just couldn’t make it happen in the stadium. So it was a bummer not to make it into the semi’s but I’m happy I’m finally feeling strong and fast so I have to be happy with that.

 

World Champs have a unique feel because although you have been looking forward to a specific race the entire year and focusing on competing well there, it’s over before you know it. Since there is basically a major medal event each day things move so quickly and focus shifts from one race to the next instantly. I think in general the mens team didn’t ski to our potential on sprint day so we were fired up to have a better result during the sprint relay. As always the relay was a super exciting race and although it’s always a major leg burner it’s also one of the most fun events to compete in. Simi and I skied a clean race without any major mistakes in the semifinals and in the finals continued to stay out of the carnage and finished with a 7th on the day.

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I think it’s safe to say that people will be talking about the women’s 10k skate race for a long time. To me it’s not worth talking about whether it was a fair race or not, but what is important to see is that it was a challenging day for everyone in the field and instead of being discouraged or distracted our girls team jumped on the opportunity and stayed focused. I think there were a lot of skiers who deserved medals that day because of their performances and the two medals that were won by Jessie and Caitlin that day are truly celebrated and shared by the entire group… it was a historic day for our team and US skiing.

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JP… a tired wax tech from working so hard. All medals at the worlds are celebrated as a team and as a team wide achievement.

Although I’m typically a distance relay guy I haven’t done many distance races in the past month because of health, hives, and injuries so just competing in the sprint events was my plan for these championships. It was awesome this year because we were able to bring one of the biggest teams we’ve ever had at a championships with a number of capable distance skiers. For for two days during the women’s and mens relays I was on cheering duty… it as pretty cool to make it out on course especially up in the woods by the Morderbaken where the real fans hang out. My parents were also in Falun for the championships so it was a fun chance to hang out with them.

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There were so many people lining the course up the big hills it was a crazy atmosphere…. like a wave of sound when the racers went by.

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This can energize you like nothing else but also be overwhelming if you are not used to it. I though some of our world Champ newcomers to the team did and awesome job, but Kyle and Rosie stepped it up.

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Rosie B skiing up the Morderbaken

It was awesome having my parents and as well as the Stephen’s and Caldwells in town for the champs. They all rented a house together outside of town and we were able to make it over there a few times for a happy break form hotel life.

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Made it over to Mora for a ski with Mom and dad.

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It was really cool to ski some new trails and check out the Vasa marathon track for a few k’s

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Playing tourists for a day with my parents was a good break from the championships.. sometimes it’s good to see something other than ski trails.

It’s safe to say these championships will be something we never forget. The US ski team is truly starting to make it’s mark on the international stage. The media interest in our team grows each year and it was funny… I kept on having reporters come up to me and ask “do you guys really only have 3 wax techs” . this is obviously an exaggeration but we are in many ways an underdog going up against some of these larger skiing nations. Many teams have twice the amount of staff we do but we make it with grit and determination.. which is definitely catching the eye of the rest of the world. even without reaching my goals in my individual races it was a pleasure being in Falun and being part of the team… I’ll be back in medal contention soon and our team is surely going to grow and improve by the next word championships in Lahti 2017!

thanks to the many people who volunteer their time ( and a lot of it) to make it possible for us to have success.

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Davos to Sweden

We just finished up our pre World Champs training camp in Davos and as always life at the Kulm didn’t disappoint. We spent the past 10 days getting in some great skiing in some snowy conditions and enjoy a short break from World Cup racing.

Everyone’s approach to a pre championship training camp is a little bit different, for me I spent the first few days working on some easy distance training while adjusting to the altitude. It’s funny how even just a few days of logging some increased hours of distance training during the middle of a busy season can help boost your fitness.

After a few longer days of training I switched over to working on some hard intensity. Each athlete has their won individual formula for a successful peak leading up to World Camps. For me it was time to focus on some hard intervals getting in a few Vo2max style sessions and going to the gym frequently to work on some explosive strength. Since injuring my neck in Otepaa I’ve had a hard time working on fast speed and intervals and was frustrated with trying to race with a sore neck in Russia. It was perfect to be able to get PT work done every day while in Davos and get rid of the neck pain so I could get the most out of these hard intervals. I’m happy to say that everything has come around and this is the best I’ve felt all season.

Because of the busy training schedule the days just flew by… after a solid week of building up it was time to cut back the training again and begin a taper. It felt like it snowed almost every day during our time in Switzerland which made for some powdery training sessions but the grooming in Davos is epic so I seemed to work out. We spent most of our harder training days ripping around the race trails which are primarily cold and in the shade. but it was awesome to venture out on some tours up some of the valleys when we didn’t have intervals on the schedule.

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skiing selfie. Thinking about starting a new style of wearing the drink belt in front.

Once we start to cut back our training everyone on the team had a little bit more free time on our hands so it became a priority to make it out of the Kulm every once and a while and hit the town. As aways we had a few great visits to the local coffee shops and even got hooked up by our local buddies with some free tickets to the Davos Vs. Zurich hockey game. It’s a fairly small arena but the fans make up for it and there is a seriously rowdy group of local HCD fans that are singing and yelling the entire time.

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When we got there the arena was packed so I’m not sure how we score some sweet spots close to the ice.. I think Erik was just ducking past security as usual.

We even made it out of the hotel for dinner one night. It’s always tough to miss out on the amazing Kulm food but it was rad to hang out with our local friends at their apparent and cook up some Mexican. We also introduced them to the excitements of watching US skiing thanks to the new live feed from Faster skier. It was actually really cool and we had a blast cheering on everyone racing in the US. I was obviously glued to the TV watching Erika race!

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Who ever though we’d be watching super tours on a big screen??

 

Having just arrived in Sweden yesterday my pre Words taper is in full effect and we are getting fired up to race the world cup here in Ostersund before driving over to Falun for the Championships. I’ve never races here in Ostersund since it’s been a long time since the nordic world cup was here but from looking at the courses it’s going to be awesome. The sprint course especially is super cool and the trail actually goes up the stands next to the spectators. I think it’s going to definitely be something worth checking out on TV. I think it will be pretty fun to race here this weekend and just having 4 days in between the race here and the Worlds Sprint things will be happening quickly. Sweden has always been one of my favorite countries to race in so I’m looking forward to lighting it up!

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The Stadium in Ostersund Sweden

 

 

 

 

do svidaniya Russia!

 

 

We saw a little but of everything during this trip to Russia from highs to lows both on the race track and in sub zero temperatures. In general it was an outstanding weekend of top performances from our ladies squad and as always it was an exciting adventure filled with things out of the ordinary so… here are a few pics.
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the trip to Rybinsk started with a 6 hour bus ride from Moscow. The roads are a lil bit bumpy in some parts and our rickety bus didn’t go much faster than 40 miles per hour, but we were able to spread out and enjoy the bumps and just roll with it. We watched a few movies and kicked back but at the end of the day it was a wicked long travel day. I couldn’t believe we made it the whole 6 hour trip with only one roadside pit stop.

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we made it to the race venue just in time for a very late dinner. We race and stay right next to the ski trails staying in cabins and eating in the restaurant with the rest of the skiers. Although the food might be little bit different you have to give them an A for effort and most things are pretty dialed when it comes to racing over here.  I did take down a little chicken liver on a few nights but nothing too wild.

We woke up our first day to temperatures around -25 c. Which for us is below the legal racing limit but we headed out for an easy training day and did our best to prepare for the upcoming races.

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Chilly early morning walk to breakfast

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Just like most places in the far north when it’s clear it can get damn cold. especially here in Rybinsk since the rails are right next to the Volga river humidity is high and the wind can get ripping.

When it’s -25 most of the time we don’t do any super hard training to protect the lungs so we went out for an easy classic ski and it was actually really nice with pretty speedy snow and some sunshine.

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Frosty first ski in Rybinsk

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Luckily things warmed up a bit for the 3 days of races and the typical massive crowds of Russia came out to brave the cold. Here the stands are just filling up but just outside the gates there are tons of venders and ‘tailgaters’ enjoying the XC skiing scene eating and dancing with strange Disney World type mascots. There were many highlights of the weekend including Liz getting her first career podium with a 2nd place in the skate race. Jessie scoring two top 5’s, and all the girls pretty much kicking ass all weekend. In addition Erik scored his first spirt points on Saturday.

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Beautiful spot here in Rybinsk… as long as you don’t mind the cold

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I’ve always had a great time traveling around Russia and look forward to the next time we come back. There are so many old buildings and a lot of history in the country…. and I like checking out some of the crazy vehicles they have over here.

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One of the many old chapels we pass through the small towns between Moscow and Rybinsk.

Tomorrow morning we will have an early morning exit from Russia flying on a charter flight to Munich where we will load up our rental vans again and drive to Davos. The team and I will have our pre World Champs training camp in Davos for the next two weeks and I’m looking forward to forgetting about some of these less than stellar world cup results getting healed up and healthy and focusing on the big show in Falun!

 

 

Fightin’ the Hives

The Tour de Ski is officially behind us and unfortunately for me it couldn’t have come too soon. It’s safe to say that the past 1o days have been some of the hardest for me as an athlete struggling with both on-course disasters and my health. With that being said there were still many highlight of the week which can’t be ignored especially seeing Liz battle her way to a 5th place overall finish. We were beyond stoked to see her crush the classic mass start sage 6 and then to turn around and hammer up another placing in the hill climb was unreal! We were all yelling at the TV here in Ramsau and it really was an epic ski on her part. So proud of her.

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Sophie, Sadie, Ida, Simi and I traveled to Ramsau after the races in Toblach since we were planning on skipping the last 2 stages, and Ramsau seemed like a great place to train for 5 days before having to fly out of Munich. We’ve been spending the last 4 days resting, re-organizing, and getting in a little bit of training. Ramsau and the Dachstein area really is one of the most beautiful places we travel to and we’ve been staying here a lot over the years so in a lot of ways it feels like a perfect place to re-group after the Tour.

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I’ve been pretty discrete about my heath and allergy problems over the past month or so but after this past string of races it’s kind of hard to not tackle the topic.  I haven’t talked about it much because there are a lot of unknowns many of which we are trying to figure out while we have time off from the World Cup. For me it is a very frustrating situation because for the most part I feel great but for the first period of the world cup have been struggling with two things. First, continuing to get hives on my body on a daily basis, and second having a hard time accessing my aerobic capacity while racing. Basically not being able to get my heart rate even close to where my max should be.

This is something I’ve been struggling with for a long time and have talked with doctors and allergists about it at serious length but it still continues to be a bit of a mystery. I go months and months without getting any allergic reactions or hives but then they will appear and not go away for months on end as well.  So needless to say it’s a tough thing to test for. Aside from really watching what I eat and using special soaps etc.. there’s not a while lot else to do.

So the main obstacle that my coaches and I have been wrestling with for the past few months is if fatigue is causing the hives or if the hives are causing the fatigue. Haha classic chicken and the egg situation. So while trying not to get too discouraged I’ve been trying out a lot of different options for the past few weeks from extreme resting, to new allergy medications, and everything in between. This past week in Ramsau has been kind of a last big push to get to the bottom of it with a combination of very low training volume and some new medications.

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Not racing to your potential can be one of the most heart braking things for a skier

So for the past few days I’ve been trying to relax and stay positive taking it one day at a time with very short skis and even some walks. Very strange I know…. I’ve never been much of a walker but apparently its good for you, and makes sense that if you can’t train… might as well walk. I tend to get bored out there though and will find myself going on adventures in the woods instead.

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Night walking in snow storms

I’ve been feeling great during training and every day activities, which has kind of been the case all season long so I’m trying to stay optimistic knowing that when we iron out this situation results are not far away. As it is now Ik now I can compete at a world cup level sprinting, and even do pretty well, but just competing is not the goal and I want sort this out in order to be in medal contention shape by the World Championships.

On Wednesday we will travel to Otepaa Estonia for the next stop of the World Cup. We have a classic sprint and a sprint relay scheduled for the weekend. Even under the current circumstances I’m really excited to get back to racing on the world cup and hopefully with a little but more punch assuming a week of low training and medications can help fight the hives. I was told that vitamin D can help a lot so Sadie and I have been doing our best with that as well.

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healing powers of the sun in Austria

Today we will be driving to Munich for the night before flying to Tallin tomorrow. I hear the snow conditions are good both in Otepaa and Rybinsk so the two big sprint weekends are going to be fun. Hives or no hives… I’ll still be on the start line ready to give it my all.

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Home for X-Mas!

When I heard the news that FIS had changed and relocated last weeks races to Davos not to mention substituted in a Skate sprint, I have to admit I wasn’t too stoked. It had aways been my plan to skip the last weekend of World Cups before Christmas and travel home for some family time. After running through every possible scenario to stay in Davos and race the second Skate sprint I decided to stick with the travel plan and miss out on some valuable world cups points and continue flying home to VT on December 16th.

Looking back it was a tough decision for sure… It’s never fun to think about a world cup sprint going on without you, especially on a course you know you can compete well on… but at the end of the day for me it was totally worth it and I’l glad I stuck with the plan to head home for a break.

After a long travel day I made it back in to Albany and Home to Shaftsbury just in time to crash for a good nights sleep. I think it’s always prefect heading back to the US because there’s no jet lag!.. I always wake up in the mornings fired up and ready to go. Erika met me in VT having just flown in from Bozeman and we were ready to have a fun Christmas vacation together. We were both pleasantly surprised by how much snow was in the North East, all the trees were covered and all the ski areas were up an running. Especially after spending a bit of time in warm snowless central Europe I was excited for a wintery Christmas, and even more excited to actually spend some time with Erika during the winter which can be a pretty rare occurrence.

We didn’t waste any time and loaded up the truck the next morning to drive the 5 hours north to Rangeley Maine where my parents have a cabin. This was only maybe my second time ever being at the cabin in Rangeley so it was a new experience for me and Erika and we got to ski, snowshoe, and do all kinds of other winter activities. In general snowshoeing is pretty boring I have to say.. but not when you do it at night tracking animals!IMG_1592

Our first day in Maine the snow just started dumping. some of the biggest snowflakes I’ve ever seen. Made for some sketchy driving but it was fun to get ‘snowed in’ at a cozy cabin.

Since I’m usually in Europe for Christmas this year seemed a lot more festive than usual, listening to a lot of Christmas music, decorating the house, eating Christmas cookies and just getting into the stuff we usually miss out on.

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After a few days of skiing in Maine we made our way back to VT and over to Middlebury for the Eastern Cup opening races. I had caught a little bit of a the second day home but it was still part of our plan be there supporting the local nordic scene so we made the trip. I was pretty funny to be back at the Eastern Cups after so many years but really fun to catch up with the everyone and represent SMS in the races.

 

 

IMG_1617We were lucky enough to get some epic weather… and have an epic place to stay over at the Marstons house. It made me realize how great Vermont can be in the winter!

Erika and I jumped in some of the races at Rikert which was a perfect way to get some hard skiing in. After two days in Middlebury we drove the rest of the way back to Stratton in time to hit the gym and make it to some local Christmas parties. Although I had been back in the US for almost a week I hadn’t been around to hang out with too many buddies or my family much. Each day was feeling more and more festive and I knew for sure I had made the right decision coming home for the 12 day trip.

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We totally scored being able to stay at the Marston’s beautiful guest house!

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Fun to be on top of the podium… even though it’s just and Eastern Cup:) One of the highlights of the weekend was being there for the BKYSL races on Sunday and being able to hand out the ribbons to the skiers!

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Skiing at Rikert was perfect… and awesome to be there with Erika and the rest of the SMS team.

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Ben Ogden and I showing off a sweet hand made long board by Ben.

With just a day or two before Christmas we returned back to Shaftsbury for a night before Erika flew back to Bozeman. The skiing conditions had been so perfect in Vermont you kind of knew it couldn’t last and sure enough the day before Christmas it started pouring rain and got pretty warm. Erika headed home to Montana but I stayed in VT and got some quality training in… wet training.. but still quality training. Even though temps got close to 50 with several inches of rain the snow held up at Prospect and I was luckily able to ski every day, get some good intervals in and spend the holidays with friends.

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The Bennington bros!

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Home for the Holidays! can’t beat it

Today I’m traveling back to Europe for the remainder of the winter.  After an awesome break back in New England I’m ready to get back on the World Cup tour and start the Tour De Ski next week. It’s always super frustrating to miss out on points and world cup racing opportunities but in the long run I think it was the best choice to come home… and certainly the most fun. We will start racing again over here on the 3rd in Obertsdorf Germany for the prologue and 15k classic in the first 2 stages of the Tour de Ski.

 

 

Ruka to Lillehammer

Sometimes it feels like the ‘steeps’ of Ruka can either make or break your weekend in Kuusamo. There really are very few ski courses in the world that have steeper hills and it’s something that we definitely don’t see on the roller skis throughout the summer so it can be a very rude awakening to the world cup scene. For me it was a tough adjustment and the races didn’t go nearly as well as I had hoped.

The race weekend started with the classic sprint on Saturday and as usual everyone including myself was pretty fired up to draw race the final Ruka climb into the stadium and fight it out on what has become an iconic opening sprint race.  They day wasn’t made any easier by some tricky waxing conditions.

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looking up the big climb.

I think it’s safe to say that often times conditions are a lot more tricky than they appear on TV. I struggled with slightly slick skis in qualification and then switched skis to more of a Klister binder and ended up icing up a bit in the the heats. small adjustments can be so important on the world cup.  For most of the team the day was a bit of a disappointment other than seeing Ida make her personal best in classic sprinting on the WC! No matte what the outcome it’s great to get that first World Cup race out of the way.

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Ruka by night… looks very christmasy

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Ruka by day.

The sun never actually hits the ski trails but when it comes up you can usually see if from a distance. It had been about two weeks since we’ve seen much sun it any time it comes out in Finland we’re pretty stoked.

It’s easy to get bummed out when the first weekend of racing doesn’t go as planned but having a strong team behind you is so helpful when traveling on the road far away from home. Sunday was a tough day for our team when we learned that Noah had broken a bone in his ankle and would have to immediately fly home for a few weeks. Even with a few bad races under our belts it’s easy to get down but in instances like this you can see how quickly things can change and how it’s really important to enjoy and take advantage of your time here on the World Cup.  We’re going to miss Hoff for the next few weeks but looking forward to getting him back in Europe before World Championships.

On Monday we loaded up some busses and flew out of the Kuusamo airport to Helsinki and then on to Oslo. It’s kind of funny looking at a map Kuusamp to Lillehammer isn’t very far away but it takes an entire day of buses and planes to get there.  I have to say that the team was excited to get back to the Radisson hotel here in Lillehammer and dig into some amazing food after a day of travel.

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In case you ever need 7 different fish options for dinner Norway is the spot to be.

For the past two days we have settled in here and took an easy day to ski up a sjusjon yesterday morning while they prepared the world cup track. There’s not a ton of snow here but just enough to ski at the higher elevations. We hit up the local gym last night, and by local gym I mean the Olympic complex which is huge. the gym was bumpin with the most nordies I’ve ever seen lifting in one place along with a bunch or Nordic combined guys and ski jumpers. One of the biggest ski development programs called NTG has a base here so there are a ton of junior skiers around and a great ski culture here.

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This morning was our first day skiing on the world cup courses which had a think layer of man made snow on them. The courses are at the newly remodeled Birkenbeiner Olympic stadium. The courses here are very challenging but also a lot more fun that your average ‘engineered’ courses. They have a ton of flow with lots of transitions, corners, tough climbs, but also very skiable terrain which is great for classic racing. 20141203_153358

This afternoon we passed the time by walking around town. although mostly everything is way too expensive to buy here it’s cool to check out the scene and enjoy the christmas feel on the walking streets.

With just one more day before the competitions start we will spend tomorrow doing our pre race workouts and testing some skis for the first skate sprint on Friday. Lillehammer is a mini tour this year so all three races will count together finishing with a 15k classic pursuit start on Sunday. should be kick ass!

 

 

 

Far North Update

We have been in Muonio Finland for the past 4 days and going through the usual adjusting to the Euro time zone and the dark coldness of the far North. As usual it look the typical 27 hours + to travel all the way from Vermont to Northern Finland but with everyone here in one piece and all of our baggage intact you can’t really ask for much more. Muonio is about a 3 hour drive North of Roveneimi (the official airport of Santa Clause!)
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Getting ready for the 7+ hour flight across the pond. In order to get to Muonio we had to fly to Amsterdam- Helsinki – Roveneimi

IMG_1520This shot of the map in the airport gives you an idea of how far North we really are…. about a 3 hour drive above the arctic circle.

For the past 4 days we have been getting some great on snow training in and adjusting to the sleep schedule. It can always be a little tricky when the sun rises at 10 in the morning and sets again at 3 but of me I think I’ve been adjusting to Euro time pretty well.  One of the best ways to do that is just by training twice a day. It can get damn cold up here but we have been fortunate enough to have had some amazing training conditions with temps just in the mid teens – 20’s.  We’ve had some clear days but also the ‘ice fog’ that tends to roll in here.. it makes it feel much colder than it really is but also makes the trees really beautiful and white.

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The sun never really hits the area where we are staying but sometimes you can see it shining in the sky which can make for some really cool colors.

While we are here we stay in some epic cabins right on the ski trails complete with wood stoves and sauna. It really is Northern Scando living at it’s best with great training right out the door. They also do a ‘frozen thunder’ type thing here in Muonio so they guarantee snow by mid October. So right now there is a 5k loop here made up of mostly man made snow and natural snow mixed in. So far the track as been rock hard, fast, and great hard wax skiing.

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Cold snow classic skiing at it’s best!

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Peter J drove over from his home in Sweden to be here for a few days so we’ve been running through some of the new skis he’s picked over at the Fischer factory. What we typically do is test some of the newer boards against some of the older race skis and try to eliminate some early on in the season. We try to keep the race fleet to about 30-35 skis

Through the weekend we will be training here and getting ready for the first World Cups in Kuusamo. I have already jumped into my first interval session since being over and will try to get in a practice time trial on the weekend. It’s been great having the whole world cup crew back together.

IMG_1519All smiled in the North Land. It’s been cool having Reese and Caitlin over here for the CC spots and we’re all really excited to get back to the craziness of the world cup. This picture below is a great example of what it looks like outside most of the time up here.. dark and icy, but we are all still stoked to be here skiing on real snow!

20141120_193738the crew walking up the hill after a hot dinner of potatoes, meet, and wasa crackers

 

 

 

Last week Home

yes it is. Actually it’s the last week in the US for a while so here’s a little recap of whats been going on.

After returning from Canmore Erika, Simi, Sophie, Ben and I hit up the big city for two days. Now most people know I’m not much of a city guy but NYC has been growning on me the last few times I’ve been there. It’s just so different, I feel like it’s kind of it’s own country. Very overwhelming, but a pretty cool place to see in small doses. We spent a day checking out some different parts of town including the MET and central park before we had our NYC Gold Medal Gala US Ski team fundraiser that evening. It was a great turn out and a as always it was a cool opportunity to catch up with USSA supporters, trustees, and ski fans from NY. It’s always a super fun night that turns in to a long night… with an even longer story thanks to taking Jonny Mosley’s invite to a NYC club. But I won’t get into that. Basically I was ‘citied’ out by the next day and happy to get on the train with Erika and head back to VT.

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A look at all the athletes with us at the NYC ski ball. a good handful of medalists from all disciplines.

It was great to get back to VT after what had been a really long 3 week training camp. I always spend the first day back just trying to hammer out some laundry and get organized. After doing so much training and racing in Canmore it felt good to kick back for a few days. After a few days at home I felt like I could have been coming down with a cold so I took a Zicam type medicine which turned out to be a bad idea. I’m incredibly allergic to a lot of medicines including Aspirin and since a lot of medicines are chemically closely related I basically have no idea what kind of reaction I’m going to have. In the end I ended up not getting a cold but I did get an epic case of hives for a few days. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had hives on the palms of your hands but its a very itchy uncomfortable situation. I actually had to fill up water bottles with ice water and hold them in order to sleep at night.

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It took a few days to work the itches out and I was very relieved once they were gone. It felt great to get back into some easy distance training around VT. It can be pretty hit or miss training in VT in November but so far I’ve had no complaints. We had a few super cold early morning roller skis where your wheels just inch along and your ski poles never seem to stick in the pavement but that just gets me more fired up to ski on real snow.

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I really like going for runs when the snow starts flying especially here in VT. It helps when it gets a little colder because the mud and water freeze up and it makes the back woods running a little more enjoyable.  Hadn’t been out to the sun bowl trails at Stratton in a while so I headed out there for some pole running. The trails were in great shape and it was sweet to run around on a lot of the trails we trained on as little SMS skiers.

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now I’m not sure when Newell’s Knoll is a blue square and Caldwells Cascade is a black diamond…. who do I need to talk to about this?

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Since the hives have cleared up I’ve been getting in a lot more quality intervals to get ready for the start of the season. It’s easy to get super fired up for the first races of the year especially when they are only a few weeks away. During these two weeks at home I’ve been doing some intervals specific to the first races in Kuusamo Finland to get ready for the demands of those courses. The sprint there is one of my favorites with a massive steep classic climb and the distance races have some gnarly walls on them too. I think bounding intervals up the mountain is the best way to get ready for those races… even better when there is some snow in the air!

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a view from the top of stratton after some L4 bounding intervals on Sunday

With just a few more day’s left at home I’ve definitely already started getting packed and ready to roll for Europe. I think this time of year we all look forward to the simple but exiting lifestyle of traveling around the world to ski races. to get ready for these several month-long trips however can make for some not so simple and extremely busy days at home. I’ve spent the past few days closing up the cabin for winter, making sure I have all the gear I need for Europe, and hanging out with the VT buddies.

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We were able to spend one more night at the cabin before closing it up. and spent the morning cleaning and raking leaves.

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with the nights getting well into freezing we’ve had some beautiful cold evenings for Sauna’s over at Fosters.

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Needless to say I’m pretty excited and ready for this training season to be over and looking forward to heading to Europe on Sunday. We’re going to miss any pre world cup races this year so our first real on snow races will be the World Cup openers in Kuusamo. Despite not arriving in time for the races we will spend a week or so training in Mounio Finland dialing in the on snow feeling and hopefully keeping warm above the arctic circle. ready to get this year rollin!

 

 

Canmore update

Frozen Thunder in Canmore never seems to disappoint.  We’ve been training here for the past week getting used to the feel of skiing on real snow and extending our mega camp into it’s third week.  The thought of skiing on a 2 k loop for a week can make some skiers cringe but something about being here in Canmore on the ‘Thunder” isn’t bad at all. I’ve been in plenty of ski tunnels over the years and although the skiing is just as crowded and often times just as sugary here on the “Thunder” the fact that we’re outside surrounded by beautiful mountains makes it that much better.

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We have been spending the past week adjusting to the roller ski – snow transition which means working on a lot of technique. Here Liz, Jessie, and Matt work on some skating without poles.  Our first few days in town we worked on easy distance skiing and speeds… Doing speeds on snow is one of the best ways to get your balance back so we have been throwing in accelerations in almost every workout. In addition to skiing in the morning we have had some strength sessions, running, and even some L4 double pole intervals in the afternoons.

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With two races scheduled we didn’t have much intensity planned and used the season openers as a chance to go hard.  The Frozen Thunder sprint is always a a really fun event and this year took it to another level with Justin Wadsworth’s king’s court format. I have to admit we were all a little worried that trying to race that many skiers through heats wouldn’t work out but it flowed really smoothly. Each skier got to qualify and race 3 heats either advancing up or moving down depending on if you finished in the top 2. For me it made for a really productive and hard racing day. It almost felt like each heat was a final and we had to hammer all out just to advance. Great practice for the world cup.  In the finals it was a show down with Dakota and it was awesome to get the win! Regardless of where you finish it’s always fun to race the first sprint of the year and have a good feeling of fitness. I was extremely sore after Friday’s classic sprint but thats always typical with the season’s first events.

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happy team!

After a few hard efforts on the snow I think everyone is starting to feel a little tired from our 3 week camp so eating, sleeping, and training tend to take up most of they day. We are staying at the Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge here in town and doing our typical team dinner cooking to save money. The kitchens here are super small and not ideal for cooking for 12 people but we make it happen. So far we have had some pretty amazing meals including last nights feast prepared by the girls.

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Chicken with stuffing and veggies!

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For both of the races here we were on training wax but we still always have plenty of work to do in the wax room. Our coaches are pretty great when it comes to putting in the time in the wax room and preparing skis for us every day. Having traveled around the world enough I can tell you thats it’s pretty rare for national team xc ski coaches to also be the ones waxing the skis but these dudes work hard here on team USA.

Today was another racing opportunity with a  10ish K skate race. I think it’s always pretty fun to do 6 lap races like that.. it’s a good opportunity to work on pacing since all the laps are pretty short and it’s easy to see where you are loosing time. 10k skates are still my weakness in skiing but I’ve been trying to slowly get better at them by working on the right pacing and technique.

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Erika, who is an awesome skate skier, had a great race today for the SMS-T2 team.

tomorrow we will finish off the mega camp with a longer OD before heading back to the US for our final weeks at home before the season. Now that things are starting to fire up for the season I will be trying to update the blog more often with pictures and insights from the road.

VT to PC and Speed Camp

The past week was a crazy one while putting in some good training in Vermont and also getting organized for our month long training camp to Park City and Canmore. Fall is one of my favorite times of year to be training in Vermont and the past week was awesome with cool night, warm days, and lots of color. We had some of our usual workouts scheduled including bounding intervals up the mountain and a long OD ski run combo with the SMS club. School is in full session now so it’s great to have a big group of young skiers along for a weekend distance workout and the gym is always crazy. On Saturday the whole group was out for a ski run around Little Rock Pond and a big BBQ at sverres house to celebrate the start of the year and the super fun Peru fair weekend.

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Fall runs are the best!

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SMS team BBQ at Sverre’s house

The T2 foundation is a big part of the SMS-T2 team and it’s a perfect partnership since we are both big on building the Nordic community in the area.  The T2 foundation is dedicated to funding developing skiers and getting more kids involved in alpine and xc so we try to reach out to different clubs whenever possible. We on Sunday we made the trip over to Hanover to run a ski dry land clinic with the Ford Sayre ski club. We had an amazing turnout with over 70 kids. We took the opportunity to run them through a workout at the local ski trails and then a Q and A slide show where the kids came up with some great questions.

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After a few easier days of training and a lot of packing we flew out to Park City on Friday for the start of a big month long training camp. It’s always a tough camp to pack for since we’ll be doing dry land training and skiing up in Canmore so we have to bring a little bit of everything. For the next two weeks we will be focusing on training some pretty big hours and taking advantage of the high altitude.  It was a fast and furious first day in town with our second annual Speed Camp Park City.

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We had a great turn out with a solid group of local shredders and we spent two hours running through specific speed and agility drills.

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I was really impressed with the level of skiing that all the kids showed. We like to set up pretty advanced obstacle courses including slaloms, curb jumps, and backwards skiing and all the speed campers were charging hard.

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Thanks to everyone who came out to this years Speed Camps Park City!