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World Cup: Canmore

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Unfortunately, the last time that I managed to post something on this blog was the last time that we were in Canmore.  Here, not a whole lot has changed.  The scenery is still absolutely gorgeous, the skiing is still excellent, and there are fast people here again.  Well, I suppose the level of speed here has increased quite a bit, and I would guess that the field is significantly deeper than in November.  There might be a couple more nations represented here, and I swear I never had to take a bus to the venue before.  So really the Canmore scene has changed quite a bit, and definitely for the better.  They definitely know how to put on a good show here, and I look forward to seeing what they have to offer. So far, the skiing has been impeccable, and there are rumors of a snow-covered down town festival complete with trucked in snow.

Canmore is renown for it's ugly mountains, and they were especially bad this morning as you can see.

Canmore is renown for it's mountains, and they were awesome this morning as you can see.

APU is representing well: we have a large contingent of three men and five women competing here at the World Cup.  Some of us are old hands at this, others are wide-eyed first timers just soaking up the scene.  We have done a pretty good job this year at loading the international travel teams with APU athletes.  In addition to the eight here we have three going to the Olympics, and had three at  the u23 World Championships in Hinterzarten, Germany.  APU puts a lot of emphasis on developing athletes that will be internationally competitive, and this is a good first step.  To be competitive, you have to get there first!  Also, the fact that the whole team gets to travel so much is very important.  For me, honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to come here if I didn’t have a team that travels the entire SuperTour early in the season.  That’s where I got enough points to come here.  And this is something I that I definitely don’t want to miss!

Skiing is just really miserable here as well.  All of the snowmaking and sunshine are really just a rough combination.

Skiing is just really sweet here!

Tomorrow is the 10k and 15k freestyle race, and we have a couple of athletes who are really excited to tackle the massive uphills on this course.  It will be really awesome to see how they line up against the rest of the world here!

Holly was a photographic genius for getting this shot with the mountains in the background

Holly was a photographic genius for getting this shot with the mountains in the background

And we are all super psyched to be here!

And we are all super psyched to be here!

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Silver Star Review ✭✭✭✭✭

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

First, a quick recap of the races in Silver Star:

On Saturday we did a 10 and 15k skate race.  The cold conditions and hilly course made it a long and difficult race that rewarded tough skiers.  After dominating the American field this year so far, Holly Brooks also beat the Canadian racers that day, edging Dasha Gaiazova by 8.5 seconds.

Holly won the 10k Skate race on Saturday as well.  She is on a roll!

Holly is on a roll this season!

Taz and I rounded out the top 10 for APU Women with 6th and 9th places.  Full results can be found at here.

James Southam took second in the Men’s 15k race behind Garrott Kuzzy, on a day when American skiers dominated the top 5. More results here.

James laid down a solid 2nd place.

James laid down a solid 2nd place.

Sunday’s sprint got off to a decent start, and developed into a really great day for APU, with 4 of our girls in the A final!  Having qualified 3rd, 7th, 14th, and 19th, Holly, Kassandra, Katie and I worked our way through the heats to meet in the A final.   Following Dasha’s 1st, Holly and Katie had a photo finish for 2nd, Kassie got 4th, and I barely missed 5th in a photo finish with Rebecca Dussault.  APU skier Laura Valaas also qualified well, getting 2nd in the prelim, but didn’t race the heats due to a minor illness.

APU ladies took 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th in Sunday's sprint race

APU ladies took 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th in Sunday's sprint race

Mark Iverson had a blistering day finishing 4th, leading the mens team which had 3 skiers in the B final as well.  Anders Haugen finished 7th, winning the B final, Mike Hinckley was 8th behind him, and Brent Knight was 10th.  The APU men finished the heats in significantly better places than their qualifying places too.

Mark Iverson was very happy about his 4th place in the sprint race

Iverson was very happy with his 4th place in the sprint race

Silver Star is an amazing place to be a ski racer.  The accommodations are excellent, there is skiing right from your house, and the race courses are challenging both technically and aerobically.

As a young athlete, getting to be on the road with APU is an important learning opportunity.  Because we are able to have coaches on the road for 5 weeks straight in the early season, I am getting much more racing experience than I would if I only made it to West and Bozeman.  I know that I learned more than a few things tactically on Sunday here, as well as in the sprint in Bozeman.  Courses with substantial climbs like you might find at world junior championships or U23s are important to experience, and Silver Star is an excellent example. Also, it’s a total blast!  I love getting to start the season, head out on the road, and spend a bunch of time with the team. Traveling and racing is exciting and super fun, but is also hard work. While it’s great to hang out with your teammates all of the time, it also takes some cooperation and compromise.  There are chores to do, and skis to be worked on, and of course training once or twice daily.  Basically it’s very very fun, but also fulfilling, productive and definitely worth taking advantage of.

We are a large travel team.  This really hit home as we were skiing in a mob for some photos, and we took up a lot of space!

We are a large travel team. This really hit home as we were skiing in a group for some photos, because we really took a lot of room to maneuver.

The big blue mob coordinating and synchronizing

The big blue mob coordinating and synchronizing, which took some serious teamwork!

Unpacking and sorting skis upon arrival to Silver Star

Unpacking and sorting skis upon arrival to Silver Star

APU team Conoco muscle shot

APU team Conoco muscle shot

APU, looking sharp.

APU, looking sharp.

We have a good time together, even when trying to take team pictures at -20ºC

We have a good time together, even when trying to take team pictures at -4ºF

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Bozeman to Silver Star

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

After some strong APU performances in Bozeman, the team just finished traveling to our next race venue in Canada: the Sovereign Lake Nordic trails.  They  are located near Silver Star ski resort in the Vernon, BC area. Learning our lesson from our 18 hour drive last year, we made the trip in two parts with an overnight stop in Colville WA.  We had some great races in bozeman, and APU skiers looked especially strong in the striding sections of the course at Bohart.  Here are a few shots from the weekend:

The top three women finishers at the sprints in Lindley Park

The top three women finishers at the sprints in Lindley Park

Holly and I were 1st and 3rd

Holly and I were 1st and 3rd

James celebrates his victory on top of the podium at Bohart Ranch after the classic race

James celebrates his victory on top of the podium at Bohart Ranch after the classic race

Holly and James both won at Bohart Ranch, I was 4th.  It was a good day for APU!

Holly and James both won at Bohart Ranch, I was 4th. It was a good day for APU!

The big news from the drive was that the SuperTour rankings had come out, and APU Women are 1,2, and 3!  James Southam is also holding a strong position in 4th.

Now that we are in Silver Star, all there is to do is keep training, ski prepping, and get ready for some skate races this weekend!

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West Yellowstone

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

We are finally on the road and happy to be here!  After an amazingly smooth travel day, we arrived in West Yellowstone to excellent skiing and more snow on the way.  It’s always exciting to get the season underway, and traveling with APU is as good as it gets.  We flew into Bozeman, leaving pretty darn early from Anchorage:

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We made one stop at Costco in Bozeman for food, and left with 8 carts of goodies, then headed straight to West.

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Skiing the next day was beautiful.  The great thing about West Yellowstone, other than the races, people, and event, is the chance to really get your skis figured out.  We have spent the last few skis organizing, testing, and prepping skis for the season.

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We have a lot of skis!  Our coaches and tech work really hard, testing all day yesterday and today, trying every single pair that every single athlete has.  They are extremely good at waxing and ski testing, so it’s an awesome resource for us as athletes.  It’s good to know that your coach is going the extra mile to make sure that come race day, your skis will help rather than hinder your performance.  As an APU athlete, I have never had a problem with wax during a race.

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Other exciting things:

New Uniforms!

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We look really good this year, thanks to functional and fashionable uniforms from Swix.

Thanksgiving dinner, which is usually a team affair, was held on Sunday because of races before and after Thursday.  Making the whole dinner is a great teamwork opportunity, and this year it was superb.  It’s always nice to share that with great teammates and coaches.

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We are really looking forward to racing tomorrow!

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If you see us on the trails or are in the neighborhood, don’t hesitate to stop by and chat.  We love to talk to people, and are more than willing to answer questions about APU.

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