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Erich skating strong in the final Besh Cup race of the season in Fairbanks.

With two wins and two other top three finishes in Alaska’s Besh Cup Junior Olympic Qualfying Series, FAST’s Erich Hoefler was the overall Besh Cup Points winner for J1 skiers in Alaska. Hoefler will ski for Team Alaska at next month’s Junior Nationals in Soldier Hollow, UT.



Logan, the last of FAST's first generation cruises to an OJ victory at Besh Cup 2 at Chugiak.


Meanwhile, Logan Hanneman, who now skis for the UAF Nanooks for most of the year but also for FAST on Besh Cup weekends, pre-qualified at US Senior Nationals in January. Before Junior Nationals however, Hanneman earned a spot on the World Junior Championships in Ezurum, Turkey. Championship racing in Turkey, how cool is that?

Congrats Guys!

The team was lean and mean this year, with just a handful of skiers donning the maroon and white.

J2 racers Tristan and David kick up some snow in Fairbanks.


Mikko, a J1, strides in Saturday's tough 10K classic race.


Jesse a J2 racing hard at Besh Cup 4 at Homer's rugged and rustic Lookout Mountain trails.


Coach gets into the masters mix at Besh Cup 6.

All Photos by Karl Kowalski (http://thekowalskis.zenfolio.com/) great pictures!


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Erich skis to a solid 6th in J2 A Final.

FAST flew down with a small but strong crew for Besh Cups 3 and 4 in Sodotna last weekend.  Leaving Fairbanks at -38 was easy and landing in Kenai at +22 on Friday was even better. The 3″ or 4″ of fresh snow made for some hard work on Saturday’s sprint, but trails were firm by Sunday.

Waxing so furiously that we're a blur.

The loyal opposition, APU, waxing in Darth Vader masks.

Mikko double poles on the flat in the qualifiers.

Tristan in J3 A Final

Skiers scramble up the headwall in J3 A Final.

Erich prepares for J2 Semifinal.

Game face on, Kuba readies for his semi.

Kuba takes 4th, best classic finish yet!

The end result for the weekend, Mikko did not qualify in the sprint and we later found out that he had mono. So there’s next year.
Tristan had his best two Besh races as a J3 and was 4th in the classic sprint and 4th in the 3K freestyle.
Meanwhile, Erich and Kuba improved mightily on last year’s classic sprint results, when they barely made the B final. This year’s 6th and 4th respectively were very solid. And the best was on Sunday when Erich eked out a 2nd place in the 5K freestyle, just 0.7 sec (a ski length) ahead of Kuba who was 4th. Tight race!
Great trip and a nice respite from the deep freeze. Now that things are warming to humane temperatures (about  0 +/-5 degrees), we are looking forward to Besh 5 and 6. Nothing like home turf in the cold and on the hills.

May the FAST skiers soar like eagles for the rest of the season!

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Highlighted by David Norris’s (now with UAF) 3rd overall in the 15K classic and a couple of leading J1 sprint efforts by Logan Hanneman, former and current FAST skiers had another outstanding week at US Senior Nationals.

Logan will be racing on the Scando team for the second year in a row, and David has moved up from the World Junior team to U23s. Meanwhile, Reese Hanneman (now skiing for APU) made his second consecutive U23 team.

We’ll be tracking and cheering for these guys over the next month. Meanwhile, Congrats on a job well done!

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It’s a rebuilding year, but FAST made yet another strong appearance at this month’s Besh Cup 1 and 2 races in Anchorage, led by Logan Hanneman’s double win for J1s, and top 10 overall in the 1K sprint and 16K classic races (Logan photo by Carl Kowalski, others by FAST)

Erich sprinted into the sun in the J2 semi and placed 6th in the final, and skied a solid 4th in the classic race.

Mikko made his Besh Cup debut and was 14th for J2s in the classic.

Joe (top), also making a Besh Cup debut was the youngest and smallest FAST skier, took 7th in the J3 classic. 

Tristan (middle) scored two top 10 finishes for J3s.

Kuba (below) controlled the J2 sprint final to the final meters and finished 2nd! And he improved on last year’s classic results and took 6th.

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In case you’re wondering what went down at the Alaska State XC meet last weekend. The young West Valley team more than held its own and finished as runner-up to a powerhouse team from Service High School.

Here’s a link to the full story, including the chip timing fiasco in the girls 4A race. http://www.adn.com/2010/10/02/1482885/girls-cross-country-championship.html

True to his name, senior James Leder (FXC but we still like him :-)) fought off an injury and held on for 2nd place to skier-runner Silas Talbot of Service. Summer-trained FAST skiers Kuba Grzeda was 7th, Peter Noon 21st, Mikko Sayre 26th and Erich Hoefler 28th (and all J2s) helped West Valley edge Kodiak for second place!

Kudos to these runners, as well as West Valley’s 6th and 7th runners on the day, Ian Patrick and Neill Toelle. Also, coach Dan Callahan and the West Valley coaching staff did a nice job bringing the runners along this fall. It takes a village to raise good skiers and runners.

Cross country is winding up and some of the kids are taking an easy week while Kuba is gearing up for the Concordia Invitational in Portland, OR.

Meanwhile, for the second day in a row some snow has fallen. We’ll be skiing soon. Well, Peter is a snowboarder (2010 Arctic Winter Games Bronze medalist and probably the skinniest snowboarder north of the 50th parallel), and although we do hold that against him, we’ll look forward to seeing him next summer for base/dryland training. 

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This has been an exciting cross country season in Alaska’s Interior, and some of the best individuals and teams in the state are from Fairbanks and nearby communities. Most of the top runners here have strong backgrounds as skiers. Last weekend four young athletes (a freshman and three sophomores) who trained with FAST over the summer asserted their presence at the Interior Regional Championships.

Lathrop has been the top boys team in the region both this year as well as last season. But on Saturday, West Valley broke through and placed five in the top seven.  Here are the four!

But not to be totally outdone by the “older” peers, the newest FAST members Sam and Tristan dominated the middle school circuit this fall, going 1,2 in all races and winning each race by a large margin.

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This is a big transition year for FAST, with founder and coach Bill McDonnell settling into Anchorage with his family, Reese skiing with APU, David running and skiing for UAF, and Werner running, studying, and living it up on the Wasatch Front. That’s a tough act to follow, as those guys carved out an impressive legacy with their Fischer’s over the past five years.

FAST is onto a youth movement. Thankfully, however, we have the ever powerful Logan and dynamic Wyatt as returning veterans—if you count a second year J1 and first year OJ as grizzled (Wyatt could grow a beard on a good week)—to continue setting a high standard of excellence. And certainly  we’ll see old man Tyson, skier emeritus at 25, skiing in the maroon and white. Meanwhile last year’s JO qualifiers as J2s, Erich, Ema, and Kuba will be back as the core group of up and comers.

Even though a lot has changed we will continue employing FAST’s simple training and racing philosophy. There are no shortcuts to skiing success and FAST athletes need to work hard and consistently. The program also requires self-reliance from the athletes. As Bill likes to say, there is no hand holding here. We meet several times a week during the summer and in season, but much of the skiers’ training is on their own, or better yet they arrange frequent training sessions with each other when we do not meet as a group. The athlete’s choose their level of commitment, not parents, not coaches.

Moreover, based on last year’s experience, perhaps the most seamless aspect of this transition is that Bill and I have been on the same page when it comes to workout schedules and periodization to ensure that the skiers are ready at the right time.

I am looking forward to the upcoming season and to continue carrying the traditions of the first generation to this younger group of FAST athletes. And I look forward to continued interaction with Bill and the recent graduates, even though we are scattered about. So as we transition from our short summer and fall toward six months of winter, I’ll just reiterate Reese’s final blog post from last June, FAST is for life!

Finally, these guys set a heck of a standard. I am both honored and humbled to be part of FAST and will enjoy seeing the continued success of FAST skiers.

So let’s get skiing!

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It has been a while since I last posted. I think that the last time I put something up, it was documenting Canadian Nationals. Bad me… But lots has happened since then.

Its amazing how things go… Towards the end of this race season, I started considering my athletic options. For some reason, I just felt a need to do something different next year. David was also simultaneously pondering his future as an athlete/student.

As for me, I went with the only option I thought might be better than my current situation. I am excited to officially say that I am joining up with APU for next season, and will be part of their Elite Team. The biggest difference between APU and FAST is the level of professionalism. I was doing so much of my training on my own here in Fairbanks, and I think that it will be great to have such a huge mass of coaches and athletes to push me to hopefully world class levels.

David has signed on to ski for UAF, a decision I think was motivated by wanting to be able to focus more on training. When you are as fast as he is, you should have everything paid for, allowing you to only have to worry about your preparation.

But I know that we both feel the same way about the club and coach that has helped us get so far already. The lessons and knowledge that we have gained from being on FAST will be the base that we build (or hope to build) our ski careers on. One of the best things our coach Bill McDonnell taught us was that its not complicated; train a lot, and then some more, and you will be fast.

So this is not at all the end of FAST. Some of us are just moving up to take on bigger battles. But we will always be part of the Fairbanks Alaska Ski Team.

I (Reese Hanneman) will be starting up my own blog here on Fasterskier, and I will try to get the first post up very soon. I am going to make a distinct effort to make posts on it more often than I did on this one. Check it out!

FAST For Life! David and Reese; parting ways, for now. Tour of Fairbanks TT

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Whitehorse is an interesting settlement… I say settlement because it still has that wild, tough, Western feel to it. While the weather was exceedingly nice for the week of races, it is obvious that it can be harsh here. It is, afterall in the middle of the desolate Yukon territory, the only significant town for who knows how many hundreds of miles.

 But luckily, there are still signs of refined class here, like this joint (pun intended):

And there are also signs of totally unrefined, raw-edged, boonie stomping. Who carries dog sleds around on their Subarus?

Yesterday was the final races of the Canadian Championships, the mens 50 and womens 30. While neither Tyson or I raced, we did get quite a workout in feeding some racers. Here, the mens lead pack deals with the first go-round of The Scoop, one of the higher speed turns I have seen:

Tyson and I were feeding Brent Knight, who showed his amazing distance skiing by protagonising the lead pack that shelled Kuhn, Goldsack, Grey, and other headliners. It was a little confusing with Canadian Brent McMurtry also in there, with nearly everybody yelling for one Brent or another. Luckily, he was in the monotone blue, and ended up with a solid 6th:

I did notice one peculiar paradox there at the race venue. While the parking facilities were some of the best I have ever seen at a major race, the actual skill of those doing the parking left much to be desired:

Ans yes, it was parked like that all day.

One of the highlights of the trip was the suit that Rhonda Jewett was rocking in the 30k. I would say that this is in my personal Top 2 Suit Designs EVER!!! category. I dont know what suit is in the second spot, but it can’t be better than this one:

As we began our drive back to Fairbanks, another realization came to me. The gas pumps in Canada are archaic!! Some of them have huge signs saying “SELF SERVE”, but this just means that there aren’t actual human attendants who literally pump the gas by hand (as we did experience a few times). After nine days spent in Canada, not once did we NOT walk inside to pay for gas. Just a thought. This was the most advanced pump we saw there:

Oooh, digital readouts! Fancy!

And with that, our trip to Canadian Nationals comes to a close.

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Last night, we got a free tour of the Yukon College to go along with the pasta dinner they provided us. While it is hard to be critical of anything that is free AND offers food, this was just too rediculous… the hyper-zealous tour guide was a little too into showing us un-interested skier brats the “ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS FACILITIES THAT THEY HAVE HERE”… Im pretty sure my inner city (if Fairbanks has an inner city) high school had way more tricked out “facilities”, and about 100 times the students. But during the tour, I found what I am going to name my first-born: 


“Little Johnny, little Billy, meet Unikkaaqatigiit”


 The tour guide suggested that we all visit the school bookstore, because they were having a 30% off sale. I was delighted to find that they have a great selection of water for sale:

Today was the fourth race of the week. 

Final race of the season? Check… It was weird lining up for the skate sprint today here in Whitehorse, knowing that it was my last time sporting a bib for the season. It seems like just yesterday, or at least the day before, that I ABSOLUTELY COULDNT WAIT TO GO TO YELLOWSTONE!!!!!!! 

Today I found myself thinking “okay, this is the last one of the year, so this is for all the marbles”, which is dumb, because like it or not, its always for all the marbles! Yes, even a local town race with seven other racers and actual paper bibs, is for all the marbles. Tyson and I ended up hitting the wax dead on… Ok fine, it was a skate race, and it was fresh snow, and Toko wax has an insane working range… but hey, I felt significant having “tested” (one color of JetStream), found it to work great, and applied it myself!!! 


Yeah, Im pretty much a wax master… check out our sweet custom sign! And yes, that is a Punisher skull


Points of interest on the day included: 

A two lap, spiraling sprint course that GPS’ed out to be exactly 1000 meters… 

I was told after my prelim that at lap one, I was in a 8-way tie for 33rd (qualified 2oth)… 

Chandra Crawford raced her heats in her full warmup kit… 

Pete Kling making the most erratic maneuvers I have even seen… 


As it played out, Tyson and I both got 2nd in our Quarters, and then I just missed the A-final with a 4th in my Semi. So we were both in the B-final, and I ended up 9th overall and Tys in 11th.

So far, the weather has been great and the trails super. They actually have some big (ger) hills/mountains here, and the landscape hovers around treeline.

A few more days here, and at least one more blog post, so check back!

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