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Archive for January, 2010

Nintendo Games

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

I was shopping  for Wii games at my local video game store, when I ran across this.

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Hit from All Sides

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Sorry for the lack of blogs. The internet company pulled the plug (literally) on our hotel, so we have absolutely no internet anymore. The rumor is that the Kazak’s were trying to hack into the hotel’s accounts and the hotel decided not to risk it. I literally drove up the valley to find internet, so this post comes to you with much sweat toil.

Also, the Junior classic race has happened since I wrote this, but Nat is absolutely killing the reporting over here, so there should be plenty of stuff on the main Fasterskier site. I will try to post whenever I can.

 

Two days, one event down. The Juniors raced their skate sprint on Monday, and the U23s went today (Tuesday). For some reason, the US seems to usually be a stronger sprinting nation, and there were definitely American skiers who had some pretty high aspirations. In the few days leading up to the sprints, the phrases “A final”, “medal”, and even “win” were definitely thrown around, and not by any slouches. With two National Champions and many podium finishers from the sprints in Anchorage on this team, the US brought some serious sprinting heat.

Considering what could have happened had everything gone right, there was the subtle taste of disappointment in the air.

The Junior girls put two in the top 30, with Jessie qualifying in 18th and Sophie in 19th. It was tough to see Digger go down when one of the gnarly Euros basically skied over her boots, but that’s how it goes I guess. The best explanation I’ve heard suggested is that she’s from the Midwest… Neither of them were able to advance out of the quarters, and Soph ended up 24th with Jess in 26th.

The Boys couldn’t quite keep up with our gals, with only Erik Bjornsen making the rounds. There was a double disappointment here; Packman slotted in the dreaded 31st spot, three one-hundredths out, and TK, known for his lead role in the famous “Who The Heck is Tyler Kornfield” article, came down with a nearly decapitating flu the morning of the race and nearly scratched, but made it to   place. Erik tried bashing his way through the pack in his quarter, but the three 180 degree turns leading into the finish didn’t favor anyone but the front two skiers. He ended the day in  .

The U23 women rallied the 42 skier field, throwing all four into the top 20 in the qualifying round. Ida was ripping it, finishing 2nd in both of her heats, which got her into the A final. Rosie and Sadie were both 3rd in their heats, but unbelievably, neither got the Lucky Loser nod. Ida’s amazing performance to get herself 4th in the A final was definitely the highlight of the day, and it was so sweet to see her up on the flower ceremony.

The U23 men had a bittersweet day, which arguably tilted more towards the bitter side. Simi threw down like he always does and straight up won the qualifier, and by over a second!! The German anncouncer was yelling “Sigh-mon Hamahl-ton” all morning, which was sweet; it’s nice to know that the American Skate Sprint champion is the fastest at U23 Worlds too. Now if I could only close those 8 seconds that were between us, I would be fine! Pete Kling showed why he is such a skate sprint heavyweight, squeaking in with 27th place. I was 33rd, about .5 seconds out, and Patty J was somewhere around 38th. This is where the “bitter” part comes in: Simi is leading his quarter, goes into the woods, and a few seconds later, all five except him come flying out. Apparently, his basket got skied over and he pulled his grip right off his pole. “I was left shaftless!” he said, when asked to sum up the fiasco.

Kling-on skied in a pretty tight quarter, where the 3rd and 4th finishers moved on as Lucky Losers:

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The U23 mens A final blazes through the section with all the tight turns:

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It came down to a three way drag, with a Norwegian overtaking the #2 bib Swiss for the win:

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The women’s heats were also tighter than most I’ve seen:

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By far the most exciting part of the day was seeing Ida ski to a 4th place. Here, she and the eventual World Champion ski away from the field:

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Ida blazes in to 2nd place in her semifinal, getting an A final berth:

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After crossing the line, the athletes were swallowed by the media mob: Ida’s bib #4:

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Finland = Funland

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I’m going to interrupt Reese and David’s reports from Germany with an update from Finland. Different part of Europe, different athletes, same Team USA, same objectives.     

 

            It’s amazing how fast time flies when you are having fun. I know that is the classic saying, but it obviously has been tried and trued. So here I am already in day five of my Finland trip with the U.S. J1 team. The team all arrived in Helsinki on Thursday, and then spent a couple of days in the famous skiing town of Lahti. After that we drove north to the town of Kuopio.

            Although that is the skeleton of our trip so far, there were many crazy experiences witnessed along the way. Learning the works of Finland is a long process. One of the first odd things we encountered here were the street signs. It was great watching the coaches try to navigate through downtown Helsinki not knowing what a circle with a horizontal line going through it means. Also, unlike the U.S. where most rental cars come in the automatic option, our big vans turned out to be manuals. Yeah, that pretty much adds a whole new level of craziness to the scene.

            We skied for a couple of days on the World Cup trails of Lahti. One of the most mind-boggling things of this place is the stadium. Where else but Scandinavia do you see a twenty thousand plus seat stadium at a ski venue? Also over here they use an adjustable track setter. This took some serious getting used too, because the tracks are normal on the uphills, but then widen to about a foot apart in the middle for the downhills. This place is on the cutting edge of snow grooming technology!

            Kuopio is really nice, and it is just like home. Nice, cold snow and cold temperatures make it seem that I have not even left home. All these things make everything really easy to adjust to, except for the food. I was reminded that I was in Finland after the coaches made all of us down a squeeze of Caviar. Pretty crazy!

Will Wicherski questions the un-imaginably wide tracks.

Will Wicherski questions the un-imaginably wide tracks.

 

Can you imagine these things full?

Can you imagine these things full?

Calm Before the Storm

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

The relatively relaxed week of preparation that the US team has had here in Germany is about to come to a close. Now that everyone has finally showed up, the athlete count is at 23, and there are about seven or eight coaches. It’s pretty easy to see the level of experience of this support staff, because even with so many athletes needing so many different things, everything has been pretty chill. On any given day, there are skiers doing intervals, testing skis, time trialing, doing over-distance, skiing short and easy, and of course taking the day off. The coaches have been amazing at transporting, waxing, and advising on all of these unique plans, and the athletes have been working alongside one another to get stuff done.

 

With the Junior Sprint opening up the week of racing tomorrow, things will likely get a little crazier from here on out. The stadium is now pretty packed with national teams of all flavors. The big guns like Russia, Norway, Sweden, and Germany have been pulling in over the last few days, and the venue is taking on its World Championship form.

 

Skiing around with other athletes from all over the US, athletes that we don’t normally get to train with, is definitely one of the highlights. It’s sweet everyone ripping around in the high tech red gear, and the Fairbanks crew spun a few laps together:

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The venue is really sweet. The wax cabins (mansions?) are some of the most plush I have seen, and believe it or not, there is actually a small amount of room in ours:

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Any guesses on whos skis these are?

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Settling In

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

So, we on our fifth day here in southern Germany, which is just about enough time to get fully settled in. The weather has been amazing so far, making the skiing really easy. Ok, not easy, but at least really enjoyable. Like I mentioned, the courses are pretty intense; there are basically no flat areas, and the hills are fairly formidable. I’ve never seen a more dynamic loop; the trees along the downhills are padded, and the climbs can’t be strided (strode?) without redlining.

The first race oriented activity was getting our credentials. The US crew pretty much took over the race office and all posed for our mugshots:

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After picking those up, a bunch of the crew headed into Freiburg, which is definitely the biggest city in the area. The closest train station is just a little jaunt away, so we jumped on and cruised on down the valley into a very sweet German city. On the train, Erik Bjornsen found a friend; this energetic little German boy who was engrossed in his picture book:

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The city was pretty typical of Europe, but we still had a good time checking out the streets and shops:

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as well the awe-inspiring church:

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This morning we ran a mock sprint race, just to try to get the feel of the course. Everyone was pretty busy, but it turned out as a pretty beneficial workout. People packed up and headed out with the stoke pretty high:

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Just a few days to go until the first race, and things are lookin good. The big-time national teams are rollin in all over the place and theres a lot of skiing going on, and we will keep the posts coming hot and heavy.

Checkin It Out

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

David and I are here in “Hell Canyon” just outside of Hinterzarten, staying at, believe it or not, a Best Western. Granted, it is not your typical BW, being constructed in typical old-school German style.

We skied at the race venue for the first time yesterday, and wow… if you ski every trail there, it makes a loop of 3.75k total length. Using some higher-level math skills, I deduce that this means an 8 lap course for the U23 Mens 30k two weeks from now. I guess I wont be able to fall asleep in that one.

The course is pretty much either down or up; tuck or stride; rest or hammer. Dave and I chillin near the top of one of the large climbs:

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This area of Germany, and Hinterzarten in particular, is famous for its cuckoo-clock production. So the team loaded up the vans and went to investigate. Like pretty much every town, it looked and felt like your typical 500 year old settlement, with cobbled streets and classic buildings:

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Tyler Kornfield and Erik Bjornsen checking out the goods:

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Hansel and Gretel

Monday, January 18th, 2010

At 1 am Reese and I left Fairbanks for Germany. Overall the travel time from Fairbanks to the hotel in Germany was about 23 hours. Pretty crazy, but luckily I was born with my dads sleeping genetics and slept the majority of my flights.
The whole US team is here together and our hotel is pretty sweet.
After lunch some of us went for a jog around the little town. We got a lot of looks from the locals as we jogged by wearing our nifty matching outfits. At the end of the run this old guy stopped me on the side of the road and asked where the group was from. Then he went on to ask, “do you think you got a chance at these competitions” and of course I said ‘YEAH’. His response to my confident ‘yes’ was a, ‘yeah right’. So I guess we will upset or surprise this local with some sick American results that are to come.
As for now I am just struggling to avoid naps and am waiting to crash around 9 or 10 tonight in attempt to get on the new time schedule here.

Photo to come -going to the venue tomorrow, should be beautiful

Relocation Exploration

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

After Nationals, we loaded up the Challenge Life suburban and headed for home. With David and I planning to leave for Europe within a week or so, we were eager to get home and get some things done after being in Anchorage for over two weeks. There was actual training to be done, cars to fix, and Christmas thank-yous to write. We drove as far as Wasilla, where we were informed that it was 30 below in Fairbanks and advised that unless we wanted to turn into gym rats, we should turn around. Long story short, we ended up staying in Anchorage this last week, where we were able to get a lot of skiing in that would not have happened at home. The Treinen family graciously housed and fed us liek they often do, allowing us to focus on getting in some quality hours.

It was fun to ski on some new trails, many of which I have actually never done. Usually if I am skiing in Anchorage, it is because I’m there to race; nine times out of ten, trail explorations get put on hold in favor of learning race courses. However, with no impending races and plenty of time, we branched out and saw some new territory. Well, new for us out-of-towners anyway. And I was many times reminded why Anchorage is so ridiculously sweet!

We found a sweet rope swing out in the middle of a classic only trail; David goes all Tarzan on us

We found a sweet rope swing out in the middle of a classic only trail; David goes all Tarzan on us

 

I also dropped down off of the Coastal Trail and onto the ice floe for the first time; to beat a dead horse, EPIC!!

Becca Rorabaugh showed me where we could drop down off of the Coastal Trail and ski around on the ice floe, which I had never done; it was, to beat a dead horse, EPIC!! Mountains, ice, and mountains of ice on all sides.

Nationals Rundown

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

A lot has happened since the last FAST blog post. Ok, yeah, that’s inevitable, since I last posted almost four weeks ago. But anyway, a lot of things happening is both a good and a bad thing; it means that I don’t have much time to update the blog, but when I finally get around to it, there should be plenty to talk about. And that “finally getting around to it” time is now upon us.

As most of you probably know, we just finished up with Nationals Championships in Anchorage. About a week prior to the first race, it was threatening to get a little cold in Fairbanks, so some of us FAST athletes loaded up and decided to head to Anchorage earlier than we were planning to. It turned out to be a good decision; the cold came in right as we left, and chased us at least to Cantwell. In tribute to Steinbock Racing’s weak -16 car-thermometer-shot, I offer our own version, AK Style:

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Being in temperate Anchorage was perfect for our race preparation. We were able to ski the courses many times and familiarize ourselves with them. Since the course organizers thought it necessary to route every single race over the same trails, it wasn’t too hard to learn the ins and outs.

The first race on the schedule was the Skate Sprint. Most of us have skied this course many times at Besh Cups, so it was nice to feel fairly comfortable with it. It turned out to be a pretty solid day; four FAST guys qualifying in the top 30 overall, including my high-school-junior-brother Logan. David and I both notched our best Senior National results to that point, with 19th and 14th respectively.

David showed us a little bit of what was to come later in the week, by showin off some manly skiing. He attacked his heats from the gun and gapped everyone; unfortunately, he also paid for it at about 300 meters to go. Here he is leading on the only real climb:

photo credit Bert Boyer

photo credit Bert Boyer

 

 

Of the four races, the 15k interval start skate race was probably the most bland. Bland because we didn’t have any headlining results. But maybe, in a way, it wasn’t so bland, because we all had solid finishes and still weren’t that phsyched about it. Finishing 26th in what is probably my worst discipline seemed great at the time, but by the end of the week, seemed, well, weak.

Things shortly took a turn for the exciting, when the Senior men raced a 30k mass start classic. To steal a phrase from a certain Fasterskier employee, David Norris is a “huge baller”. This is because his points are so good that he actually pre-qualified for the World Junior team before Senior Nationals. And because of this “baller” status, he was able to skip the Junior 10k and enter the mans race. Good thing he did too, because he ended up working over the entire mens field except for James, Kris, and Bryan Cook. Heres a shot of D-Money himself, still a Junior mind you, skiing off the front with the 30k National Champion and the dude who was 4th at World Championships:

photo credit Bert Boyer

photo credit Bert Boyer

 

 

 

When most people consider you a sprinter, it is difficult to talk yourself into a good 30k result. But that’s exactly what I had to do in order to make the U23 World Championship team; this would be only my second 30k ever, and definitely the most critical. As it turned out, I had a really good race, skiing in the pack that was chasing the leaders for a while, and then skiing through some heavy hitters towards the end to end up 9th. The best part was that, with David’s 4th, the two youngest guys in the top 10 were both FAST skiers.

The European travel teams were named based off of these first three races. Each race was scored within the J1, Junior, and U23 categories using the World Cup points system (100,80,60,etc), and then each skiers best two races were kept. Like I mentioned, David was a given for the World Junior team before the week even started. Logan was skiing solid all week, beating many World Junior contenders and finishing in the Top 10 Juniors; all while being a first year J1. He easily qualified for the US Scandanavian Cup team that will be going to Finland in the next few weeks. I was the only one who made things close. Racing insane specialists like Simi, Pete, Tad, and Noah leaves someone like me in the “blah” zone as far as points go. But luckily my sweet 30k gave me the points boost I needed, and I was able to make the U23 World Championship team.

The final race was the classic sprint. David, Logan and I were approaching it with a pretty low-key attitude, since we had already made our goal teams. However, Tyson needed some revenge. David, Tyson and I all made the Top 30, and then in typical fashion, those two got put in the same heat:

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Tyson moved on, and made the B Final, which was actually super stacked. I ended up feeling really good, which was a huge surprise after that 30k. What was even crazier was eliminating some Olympics contenders in the rounds, and making the A Final. By eliminating them, I was actually just sending them to Tyson’s B Final, which he wasn’t so happy about.

But the craziest thing was the A Final; there I was, lining up against the other Top 5 sprinters in the country, and they are all from Alaska! It’s like a Besh Cup final! I have sprinted against Tyler and Eric, oh, probably a bazillion times, and then the Nanooks, who I ski with in Fairbanks a bunch, and then Mikey, whos the hometown sprint maniac. It was pretty tight the whole way:

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Anyways, as it turned out, I was fourth overall, which was mind boggling. That meant that I had to go do drug testing. As soon as I crossed the line, my “USADA escort” locked on and followed me everywhere, and even had to read me some of my rights:

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Because Erik Soderstrom (a Swedish import skiing for UAF) won, that meant I was on the American podium:

 

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Logan just missed the Top 30, and got to do his damage in the Junior heats. He was having some weird stomach issues, and needed a little encouragement:

 

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Even though he felt horrible, he moved all the way through and was in the juniors A Final:

 

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He likely would have won, if he hadn’t face planted himself within the first 300 meters of the course. However, he skied back into contact and couldn’t quite out-lunge Jordan Buetow, who was also sprinting well, for second.

All in all, it was a really great week. Personally, I was jazzed to put together four races that were all good results. If the scenario had been like last year, with only one race being held, I would have been content with any of these four results, and I think most of FAST can say the same.

To cap it all off, I was completely astounded when I heard my name called for the Sprint Team that will represent the United States at the Canmore World Cup. I was absolutely 0% expecting this, so it was a crazy moment. However, it will be the highlight of my short ski career to go and race against the guys we watch on Universal.

All in all, a very successful mission for us. Team FAST has an athlete in all three travel teams (Scando, World Juniors, and U23s). FAST had an American podium and a wicked 30k 4th. And now, FAST is on the World Cup!