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As you have probably noticed, the FAST blog trail has been pretty weak since my adventures at the Canmore World Cup. I had missed the first three weeks of the spring semester to be on that trip, which included U23s, and so I had a decision to make when I got back: halt my production of blog posts, or fail four college classes… Using my better judgment (I think), I chose the first one.

Tyson and I drove down to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada (I love how they have three place names in their address) for Canadian Nationals. While the SuperTour final in Maine sounded interesting, it is, afterall, Maine… but really, neither of us could find a reason to fly for ump-teen hours and drive for a handful more to get to THAT middle of no-where, when we could just drive 9 hours from home and get to THIS middle of no-where. So thats what we did.

Here is a picture-documentary of our journey so far.

When you are on the lonely AlCan highway and you see this sign:

followed by this sign:

you know you are in for a crazy ride. Good thing Tyson’s Fit is the sport model with the stiffer suspension, because we still bottomed it out a few times. When we arrived at the border, there appeared to be absolutely no-one there, and we sat by the window for about 15 minutes, consoled only by this sign:

Eventually someone came and asked us some questions. She was extremely skeptical of our story when we told her we were going to Whitehorse for ski races… until we clarified that it was for CROSS-COUNTRY ski races, and then she let us go. But she didnt even stamp our passports!! Talk about short-changed… When we finally rolled into Whitehorse, it looked a lot like Fairbanks in some ways. However, there were some notable differences. The average height of Yukoners must hover somewhere around “midget”, judging by the tables they have:

But as you can see, they can still be considered civilized, due to the presence of at least one SubWay joint. When Tyson finished that sandwich, he went to throw it away, but couldnt find the “garbage”. I mean, I know they are kinda into their French here, but “arbage”?

Also, check out that RECYCLE symbol… maybe they dont recyle at all, based on the non-continuity of their arrows. Besides dinky furniture and odd collection containers, the little kids walk around with monsters on their backs:

Then again, maybe thats not a little kid at all, but an average citizen. The venue here is great; lots of parking, unlimited free food for athletes, tons of waxing space, and a spacious stadium. American organizers could learn a few things from these Canucks. Theres also a lot of flourescent gear around. How about this table-full of retina stimulation:

We totally lucked out with our accomodations, staying with some old college friends of my parents. They provide us lots of food and beds, and last night they brought home all the fixings for some killer pizza. Unfortunately, Tyson thought it would be good to cook one of the pizzas on what is basically a disc-shaped trash bag:

Luckily, I hadnt figured out the oven timer, and so I noticed the dripping plastic during one of my routine inspections. It took a little while to scrape the molten plastic off of the oven rack.

As far as racing is concerned, we have had three so far. Tyson and I were 6th in the Classic Team Sprint on Sunday, after being a little muted by some poor wax choices. It certainly complicates things tremendously when you have to glide wax, test kick, apply kick, test skis, and warm up all on your own. The tracks were really weird, a mix of glazed ice and sugar, and we didnt quite nail it. We held our own, but the top 3 would have been realistic with more experience to pick the right wax.

Tuesday was a 10k classic interval, and we had great skis and pretty good results. I was 23rd, and Tys just nipped into the top 30. Today was a 15k skate interval, on a four lap course. I wanted to ski a steady pace the whole time, and I did that, but was no where in contention. Tyson had a good one, busting into 18th. Also, Brent Knight from APU was 3rd, which was super sweet to see.

Tyson 10k Classic

Reese 10k Classic

Tyson 15k Skate

Reese 15k Skate

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Sorry the posts have been non existent since Canmore. With the Olympics on, it seemed like there was just too much excitement to justify writing about my petty ski experiences.

But heres an update from two team members that are at Arctic Winter Games right now. It was written by Kuba Grezda.

Heya fellow skiers. My name is Kuba, and Wyatt and I are in Canada representing Alaska, the US, and FAST with some sick cross country skiing. Sadly, we didn’t quite make the Olympic Winter Games (Next time though, for sure) but we’re in Grand Priare, Alberta, for the Arctic WInter Games, which should be pretty sick. Tempratures are sweet, rising up to the mid 30’s in the day and mid teens at night: perfect conditions. Snow’s a little lacking, but officials are working hard at making tracks and it’s even supposed to sprinkle on a bit more tonight.
We flew in from Fairbanks Friday night, and have been chillin around town for a few days, scoping out the trails, competition, and food, and they all look pretty sick. The trails out there are short and fast, with some sweet turns. Contrary to what I was imagining, it’s ALL hills: even their stadium is sloped. The cultularily diverse games have brought a ton of sweet athletes from all over the norther hemisphere, and their looking good. I’ve talked to a few Sami skiers that I remember from two years ago, and they ceartnly sound ready to bust out some serious skiing. I have yet to see the Russians from Ya’mal, but they look to be the definitive favorites, least in cross country.
Our opening ceremony starts six thirty tonight, and will last a few hours. I’m pretty sure they will show it on Canadian television, if any one has access. After that it’s off to bed, and to get pumped up for the classic race on Monday: the J3’s have 2.5k, the J2’s 5k and the J1’s are sluggin in out over ten. Wyatt and I will get some sweet pics up as well as keep you posted on the AWG as the week progreses.

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I don’t have much time at the moment, but here’s an overview of my day.

Warming up, I was feeling possibly the best that I have in quite some time. This time of year is weird, because you end up racing a lot and not doing much training volume. A lot of times this ends up making me feel pretty weak and flat, but not today. I could tell that I was going to have an opportunity to throw down a really good race, which would be nice as this was my World Cup debut.

I was remarkably calm and relaxed, considering I was jumping around the holding pen next to some of the fastest men on the planet. I knew that I could go out there and show that I could compete with a lot of them.

And that’s just what I did. I felt smooth and snappy up the first two major climbs, which were really nice striding pitches. Steep, but just glide-able. As I climbed the third and gnarliest hill, I started to feel some pretty intense pain, but was able to open it back up and get moving over the flat section on top. One massive skate push out of the track and into a tuck, and into craziest corner of the course.

And that’s when disaster struck. When skiing the course during warm up, there had been a large section of ice forming on the inside of the turn as the corduroy was pushed to the outside. I had made mental note, and went into the turn pretty wide, deciding that taking the longer route was better than crashing. I guess I didn’t go wide enough. The glacier had now been extended way out into the track, and I just lost both edges and washed out.

As I was going down, I was thinking “wow, I absolutely cannot believe this is happening. I haven’t crashed once all year, and here I am, crashing in my first World Cup race.”

Needless to say, I lost way too much time to have any hope of a respectable finish. I will spare you the emotional aftermath, but I was so bummed. Why now?

The only sliver of light in the situation was that I was skiing well before the crash. Based on how the guy right ahead of me finished, and that I was about 10 feet behind him right as I crashed, and that he started 15 seconds ahead of me, I was skiing between 40th and 50th place. This would have had me just behind the middle of the Americans.

I would have been extremely happy with this result, had that been what actually happened. But as it was, I ended up Dead Last, as someone who crashes in World Cup qualifiers should. So, not a disappointing day, because I was skiing well, but rather a crushing one, because I didn’t get to show it.

Accelerating out of a turn and over the top of the first climb.

Accelerating out of a turn and over the top of the first climb.

Gathering speed for the next big climb.

Gathering speed for the next big climb.

d3

My dad and uncle both suprisesd me by showing up in Canmore the day before my race, and it was so cool to have them here for my first WC experience.

My dad and uncle both suprisesd me by showing up in Canmore the day before my race, and it was so cool to have them here for my first WC experience.

Tad, Noah and I, with Simi and Mikey's moms, cheering on the heats.

Tad, Noah and I, with Simi and Mikey's moms, cheering on the heats.

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So, I got to watch my first ever live World Cup today. The hills were bigger than anything I’ve seen, and watching the best skiers in the world (literally) fly up them five feet away from me made for quite a day. I did a light intensity session aiming at the sprint tomorrow, and skied behind Georgio Di Centa and Pietro Piller Cotrer while they were warming up. It was pretty crazy to be out on course watching later on, while they were racing, and watch those two battling for the win. Turns out, they ended up going 1-2.

Even on top of this, the highlight of the day was seeing my dad walk towards me as I came skidding to a stop between intervals. I had absolutely no idea that he was going to come, so it was pretty surreal to see him here, especially after I’ve been gone from home for so long. Since December 27th, I’ve been home a day and a half.

For the most complete result run down from today, check out the articles on the main page of Fasterskier. It was cool to watch Becca, the only other Fairbanks skier here, ski to a solid result in her first ever World Cup on a ridiculous course. She and I have grown up skiing together in town, so it is sweet to both be here racing our first World Cups together.

Tomorrow when I write a blog post, I will have had lined up in the start pen against the best sprinter in the world. I’m not expecting much, but gonna give it a whirl.

Another stunning day in Canmore.

Another stunning day in Canmore.

This massive boom truck is paarked at the end of the stadium, and the massive camera on the end is lifted way up, to look down on the finish, and send live feed to Europe for Eurosport primetime.

This massive boom truck is parked at the end of the stadium, and the huge camera on the end is lifted way up, to look down on the finish, and send live feed to Europe for Eurosport primetime.

Becca and Nicole lapping through as Kikkan is just starting.

Becca and Nicole lapping through as Kikkan is just starting.

 

Holly was one of the fastest gals out there for a majority of the race.

Holly was one of the fastest gals out there for a majority of the race.

Kikkan following the Sprint star Petra Majdic.

Kikkan following the Sprint star Petra Majdic.

I was chilling behind Di Centa, Cotrer, and Rickardsson during their warm up. Multiple Olympic and World Champs golds, World Cup globes, Tour de Ski and World Cup wins in this picture

I was chilling behind Di Centa, Cotrer, and Rickardsson during their warm up. Multiple Olympic and World Champs golds, World Cup globes, Tour de Ski and World Cup wins in this picture

Bird-man, top US male in 20th. These guys are rediculously fast.

Bird-man, top US male in 20th. These guys are rediculously fast.

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Let’s see, how do I say this? Canmore is amazing. You drive in from Calgary, and the mountains just explode from the prairie, up into the cloudless sky.

Most of the US Nations Group is staying in the Hotel of the Rockies, along with the Italian team. By “most”, I mean APU plus Kuzzy, the Hoff, C Cook, and I. The Sun Valley contingent is somewhere else, the CXC crew is somewhere else again, and the A Team is somewhere separate from them and us. So basically, no one is living together, which seems kinda lame.

Other than that, it’s ideal. Busses between the hotels and venue constantly, 25 degrees (F) and great snow. The altitude is a little bit of a nuisance, and combined with extreme jet lag, could be potentially hazardous to one’s health. But I actually feel pretty good, so that encouraging. The 10/15k skate goes off tomorrow, so I think I’ll go up and watch that, and get ready for my classic sprint on Saturday. Should be unbelievably crazy.

Woke up to this out my hotel window this morning.

Woke up to this out my hotel window this morning.

Part of the stadium. That guy in the German suit leaning on his poles is an Olympic sprint Gold medalist, now coaching; Hetland.

Part of the stadium. That guy in the German suit leaning on his poles is an Olympic sprint Gold medalist, now coaching; Hetland.

Perfect skiing in beautiful weather in a beautiful place.

Perfect skiing in beautiful weather in a beautiful place.

They dont mess around with off-road transportation.

They dont mess around with off-road transportation.

Went for a run this afternoon and had to use our mad intimidation skills to get them out of the way.

Went for a run this afternoon and had to use our mad intimidation skills to get some elk out of the way.

 

Some of the AK crew.

Some of the AK crew.

Most of the AK crew, plus the team doc and his wife. Note the flag. Were planning on putting one up on the pole outside too.

Most of the AK crew, plus the team doc and his wife. Note the flag. Were planning on putting one up on the pole outside too.

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I made it into Canmore yesterday, and boy, does this place live up to all its hype. But enough of that. Heres one last picture collection from Germany. After this, it will be Canmore updates everyday baby!

They had the best athlete care Ive ever seen; unlimited free food, chocolate, and hot drinks in the Athlete tent. Needless to say, it was a pretty popular spot.

They had the best athlete care Ive ever seen; unlimited free food, chocolate, and hot drinks in the Athlete tent. Needless to say, it was a pretty popular spot.

Baller Table; the core support team for Big Red.

Baller Table; the core support team for Big Red.

Just a bunch of average Joes, plus family Northug there in the middle.

Just a bunch of average Joes, plus mom, dad, and littlest Northug there in the middle.

The even have their own family jackets. And yes, I did stock Papa Northug around for a while to take this picture.

The even have their own family jackets. And yes, I did stock Papa Northug around for a while to take this picture.

After fielding requests from nearly the entire team, the restaurant finally starting setting out the "American Sauce" on a regular basis.

After fielding requests from nearly the entire team, the restaurant finally starting setting out the "American Sauce" on a regular basis.

Germans love their beer. They even have candy that imitates it.

Germans love their beer. They even have candy that imitates it.

Until next year...

Until next year...

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I am taking this opportunity to apologize on behalf of certain US team members (ahem…) for their responsibility in getting our hotels internet shut down. Turns out, all that Torrent/Napster/Limewire media sharing that is already slightly illegal in the States is one notch below the death penalty over there. The EU Big Brother must be keeping a close watch, because the internet provider was forced to cut connectivity so no more of this American nonsense could take place. Anyways, it cost me two weeks of college homework and it cost you entertaining blog posts.

Since Nat/Fasterskier did such a sweet job of covering the races, I will let you check out their articles for what went down on the track. I will post some less-racing related pictures from the trip, and hopefully more to come.

Here a little sequence as you drive up from the valley floor to the racing venue:

a1

a2

a3

a4

ultimate Europe ski van... I want it

ultimate Europe ski van... I want it

more snow and better trails than many had seen in central Europe

more snow and better trails than many had seen in central Europe

 

Providing that the internet doesnt get put on lockdown, I will put up a few more Germany posts and then as often as I can this week about the scene in Canmore. Its still a little surreal to be heading towards my first World Cup start, but it should be a trip!

Comments are off for this post

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

final

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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:

 b1

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

 b2

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

 b3

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

 b4

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:

 b5

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

 b6

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

b7

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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?

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