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Nina Silitch Wins Gold in Norway-Skimo Sprint Final- Finding Grace in Gold

Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Tromso, Norway Tranquility

Tromso, Norway Tranquility

I returned Tromso, Norway for the final ISMF ski mountaineering World Cup sprint with one objective in mind: to give it my best and feel good about my race.  I had some time before the race to enjoy the tranquility of Tromso, Norway, the 69th lattitude north, almost to the Arctic Circle.

Tranquility of Tromso

Tranquility of Tromso

Click here to see a video of Nina Live before the weekend of racing

Start of the World Cup Sprint 12 noon saturday

Start of the World Cup Sprint 12 noon Saturday

The start of the semi finals

The start of the semi finals

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Striding towards the zone  in the final (photo stephan mantler)

Giving your best does not guarantee a gold. In fact in my family we emphasize giving your best as working your hardest, and facing the challenges of day to day life with a smile, whether it might be spelling words, or training in the rain and wind.

Start Nina on far right

Start of the Finals -Nina Far right

 On Saturday in Tromso city center I felt like I was on home turf and the season came together for me. It is not every day that your legs feel good in a race. Thanks to those who helped me with my training this year and my own intuition, things felt like they came together.

Forging up the finals in the boot pack

Forging up the finals in the boot pack

People often talk  about being in the “zone” whether it is in their work, career, music or in sports where everything feels good and it comes naturally.

Skate section

Skate section

 On this Saturday, I really good feelings in all rounds,  not only my legs, but also even more importantly my heart. I simply had a happy race which is what my 7 yr old always reminds me to have.

 

going for the finish

going for the finish

Going home with a gold medal for a 2nd year in a row means a lot to me. I had a tremendous amount support from my family & friends. I could not have done it with out their encouragement ,

Nina's gold medal finish!

Nina’s gold medal finish!

Particularly my husband who has believed in me from the beginning of this journey we have taken together in the pursuit of excellence.  For me it’s been the journey of getting here that really is the most meaningful and what counts, the sweat, & tears, dedication and now celebration. I  hope that we can inspire others to follow their own dreams.

The Womens Sprint Podium Flower Ceremony Gold- Nina SIlitch USA Silver- Emelie Gex Fabrey CH- Bronze Mirielle Richard CH

The Womens Sprint Podium Flower Ceremony Gold- Nina SIlitch USA Silver- Emelie Gex Fabrey CH- Bronze Mirielle Richard CH

The following video is a small celebration of a big dream.

If you had asked me 20 years ago what I would be doing at the age of 40, I certainly would have never imagined to have pursued excellence in the sport of ski mountaineering at the world cup level. Being committed to a high level of fitness involves flexibility, endurance and strength, just as in life.

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The fitness of life

 I could not have achieved this pursuit of excellence without being a mother. Both go hand in hand and have taught me grace, strength, endurance and flexibility. In the sprint, it is the transitions that count, and to breathe though the transitions makes all the difference, just as in life.

Sharing the local newspaper with xcountry ski star Lars Berger

Sharing the local newspaper with xcountry ski star Lars Berger

It is grace that I can take with me to other parts of my life. This culmination of joint efforts,  the love of sport, passion for the mountains and commitment to a dream has been a true high light for me and my family.  This win is a historical win medal for the United States, as it’s the 2nd gold  medal win in ski mountaineering history for the USA. [editor: Nina has won the only three medals ever won in the World Cup by an American: 2 World Cup golds, and 1 World Championships silver.]

                                   Thanks to so many who helped make this dream a reality.

   DREAM BIG

                &

  Live your life in grace

                   and

Breathe through the transitions! 

CLICK HERE FOR A Little video of  NINA on YOUTUBE of the SPRINT WEEKEND 

Nina post medal Ceremony on the docks of Tromso Port

Nina post medal Ceremony on the docks of Tromso Port

Thank you to my sponsors:

Ski Trab, Swix, Plum, Camelbak, Petzl, WCC, Hammer Nutrition, Pomoca, Texner, Wild Roses, Smartwool, Oakley, Rich

And a big thanks also who helped me with my training this year! Adam St. Pierre

Start of the SkiMountaineering Season in Europe!

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

 

Nina Win's AlpiTigne Sprint

Nina Win’s AlpiTigne Sprint

My  ski mountaineering season kicked off with the first race of the season here in the Chamonix Valley in the 8th of December a little later than the alpine and nordic races in Europe.

Being in a heavy training period I was not expecting super results, but pleased to be not far behind Gloriana Pellisier of the Italian team and World Champion Sky Runner Emilie Forsburg in her debut of skimountaineering. I even took the top step for the Veterans podium and always enjoy racing on my home turf.

Great to be kicking and gliding again!

Great to be kicking and gliding again!

The holidays kicked off with a wonderful visit from my parents who originally gave me the gift and love of skiing, kicking & gliding in my back yard in Vermont and weekend trips up to Bromley mountain & skipping school to ski! (Don’t tell my kids!;-)

Mom & Dad kicking and gliding on the Chamonix Trails

Mom & Dad kicking and gliding on the Chamonix Trails

The boys have been getting out kicking and gliding too in our own back yard, practicing their sprint starts!

A & B practicing their sprint starts just like their mom!

A & B practicing their sprint starts just like their mom!

Anders had a little early season setback…and its working hard to get strong again on my bike!

Anders (6) Training hard to get his leg strong for skiing again

Anders (6) Training hard to get his leg strong for skiing again

We celebrated a special birthday (20 yrs x 2 ) with my family & friends. Thanks to the Albert Premiere for their wonderful hospitality.

Celebrating with friends and family for my 20th birthday x2 :-)

Nice to get dressed up in something other than a skimo race suit!

Our Chamonix Ski Alpinisme Club  organized a womens’ training weekend to help grow the sport of ski mountaineering for women, as it is a very male dominated sport, much like many endurance sports. It was a weekend that coincided with a night uphill race in La Clusaz, home of World Cup x country skier Vincent Vittoz. We had a great turnout for the weekend with over 10 women involved in the training weekend. I particularly liked the race for a good hard training as it had a sprint start on skate skis. followed by a short downhill and transition to uphill w/ skins on.

Getting ready to start at La Clusaz night race

Getting ready to start at La Clusaz night race

 

Click on the following link  video to see the start where I was inspired by Kikkan Randal. I continue to be inspired by the USA womens ski team’s strong performances this year, especially Kikkan approaching her injury with such tenacity!   IMG_0850

Just before Christmas my team ventured down to Tignes for the first Sprint race of the season. The race was a coupe du France and it was great to get in the sprint game again. Chamonix Ski Alpinisme showed a strong performance there taking both men and womens wins overall and 2nd woman. The first World Cup Sprint kicks off in Switerland at the Alpiniski the 24th of January.

Podium Women AlpiTignes Coupe du France

Podium Women AlpiTignes Coupe du France

A couple more weeks of hard training before the season really begins with French nationals on the 6th followed by the first skimo World Cup the 9th/10th of January in the Tyrol Italy.

My Christmas Present! Thanks SkiTrab! So happy to be skiing on the best!

My Christmas Present! Thanks SkiTrab! So happy to be skiing on the best!

Here’s a little slide show of what’s been going on in our world….

From our family to yours, Wishing you a happy & healthy holiday season and a great start to your ski season!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

 

 

 

Fall Training in the Alps

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

 

Roller Ski Training in Switzerland

As we turn back the clocks and try to savor a few hours of morning light, I reflect on the magnificent recent change of season in the Alps. Today, snow dusted our lawn and blanketed the hills. Temperatures dropped to -4 degrees. I am not sure I could live anywhere where there were no changes of seasons. To me, it brings renewed strength, challenge and energy. The change of season is good for our health, to cleanse from the summer months, and bring new energy inside and refocus on what’s to come.  The changing of the leaves, the temperatures, change of sports, energy levels and perspectives. I try to take a deep breath in and out and embrace what is to come.

The family send off before Michael and Birken start their Tour de Suisse

We have had some amazing Indian Summer days this past month.  I spent a good part of September recovering from the CCC, the 100 Km Mont Blanc Ultra Trail I did end of August,, kicking off the school year and enjoying family time. Prior to the start of school, Michael and Birken took a bike trip around Switzerland, covering much of the route he passes on when he guides with Bike Switzerland .

School got off to a start in early September, and the boys were very eager to get back to see their friends.

Start of First Grade -French Style CP

I managed to get in some great last trail runs between the rain storms of September and into the Indian summer days of October.

Holding onto summer trail running just a bit longer…

Come October, I enjoyed more time on the bike, enjoying the cols around Chamonix.

A rainy day at the Chirvathalon Team race

We had bike rides in the rain and shine…..

Birki biking across the Swiss countryside

Indian summer days with fresh snow in the mountains

Steller colors in the Alps on our hike up to the Plan d’aiguille

Our ski alpinisme club hiked up the Plan d’aiguille for a training and social.

Birken made a good effort hiking up to Plan d’aiguille with our Chamonix Ski Alpinisme team

Roller skiing has been a bigger focus this last month. It can be logistically complicated to get up those 800 meter climbs and then get down…

Roller Skiing with Mont Blanc in the distance

One of the highlights for the school children is the local schools’ cross country race. It combines all the local schools, with ages from 1st to 5th grade. It is a great way for the children to value the  importance in working towards a goal in sport and finding the confidence to reach the finish line. Both our boys took part this year , Anders 2nd in his division and Birken 3rd in his.

Anders before the race with his friend

Cervinia opened  mid October.The first day back on snow always feels a bit strange, but kind of like riding a horse….you never forget.. Just my transitions were not lightning fast.

First Ski of the season at Cervinia

What is the winter  season shaping up to be? For me, the big races will start in January with the French National individual race,  then the first World cup kicking off 2nd weekend in January. This year there are 5 World Cup races, including 3 sprints, 2, verticals and 5 individuals. All of these races will holds the same number of points. The World Championships will be held in Pelvoux, France and will include Team. Sprint, Vertical, Individual and Relay. All but the Relay and Team will count towards overall World Cup points.

Michael has joined the ISMF team to help with the growth of skimountaineering in other nations with the ultimate goal of it being an olympic sport one day. The sport must show a presence of a wide range of nations on all continents. We will see this year at the world championships if there are more nations competing.

Line up of the World Cup ISMF calendar 2012

The other big races on the SkiMo calendar will be the Grande Course series. Coming up in November the Grand Course will launch a reception the 2013/2014 courses and they will honor the athletes in the top rankings. I will join the other athletes in this ceremony for my 5th place position.  This year’s Grande Course Races: Pierra Menta, Adamello and Mezzalama. And a new big race is the UltraTrak in Zermatt. I will see how it goes and if I will compete in any of these this year. I find it a lot to balance  the World Cup, the Grande Course and be the best mom I can be.

Realize your dreams!

 

Nina wins a World Cup Sprint in Norway! Inspirations from Kikkan, the sprint star!

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Podium Women's Sprint Tromso, Nina Silitch (USA), 2, A. Figura (POL), 3, E. Gex-Fabrey (SUI)

Winning the World Cup Ski Mountaineering Sprint on April 14th, 2012 in Tromso, Norway is a dream come true for me. It is a culmination of reaching for something that felt somewhat unattainable, committing and believing. When I stepped on the airplane to Tromso Norway and flew all the way up north, across the Arctic circle to the 69thdegree latitude, I had no idea that I was going to come home with a gold medal.

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2nd Ski Mountaineering World Cup in the Sicilian Sunshine!

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

When people think of Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island, they often think of sunshine, sandy beaches, sweet cannoli’s, lemon trees, gelato and La dolce vita, the sweet, slow pace of Sicily.

Pure Sicilian Sunshine (Photo from www.stephanmantler.com)

There is also Mt. Etna, the most active volcano in Europe.  Did you know that the first ice cream came from Sicily? Greeks and Romans sent runners  to the top of the Etna slopes to get some snow, which was then sweetened with Sicilian honey,  nuts and berries.

What you probably don’t think of is skiing, a ski-mountaineering World Cup none-the-less. Well, there is in fact skiing on Mt. Etna!  The locals are also passionate about ski mountaineering on this active, unpredictable volcanic peak. The 2nd World Cup, in a 5 world cup series was held on snowy slopes of Mt. Etna, in the dichotomy of the sea against the snow.  Perhaps we were not so different from the runners of roman times, only we racers were running around in lycra race suits and skis on our feet!

Racers in lycra suit on Mt Etna (www.stephanmantler.com)

The night before we arrived, Sicily received over 2meters  of fresh snow. That is over 6 feet for those of you who think in inches!

Officially "snowed under!"

There was so much snow, not only the access road was blocked, but also the chairlifts.

Officially snowed under (parking lot of Mt. Etna Ski area)

Thanks to a hard, working Sicilian road crew, just like Katy and the Big Snow, (a book my boys love), we were able to get to the race. 

The most baffling thing was that even though it snowed 2 meters, there was no powder!

Sicilian Snow Removal

The snow quickly transformed and condensed to hard pack. Skiing down was like skiing in sand, with a layer snow crystals washing over the hard surface, making a very cool swishing noise. I was stoked I could use my new swix poles with super lightweight baskets! Thanks Swix and Michael for prepping them in time!

More great shots from Stephan! www.stephanmantler.com

There was a real rendezvous of nations here for this race, with the top athletes in ski mountaineering circuit from France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. We were welcomed in an opening ceremony of parade of nations. Friday the vertical race was straight up the slopes of the volcan with a boot pack in the middle. This was a nice change from the  the normal straight up against gravity verticals.

Opening Ceremony of Etna World Cup

Talk about extremes. Two weeks ago when I set foot on the starting line it was -20 C, and I was sporting amour for the cold (hand warmers and mittens) and this time a complete opposite of 14 degrees Celsius. The vertical was for me all about the ‘gitter done attitude adopted from the John Deere roots in my own family.

The fight against gravity with a smile on the World Cup Vertical Race

The vertical was a pure fight against gravity, one of the steeper verticals I have done. I managed to find some  power at the boot pack and kept thinking of Anders message to me to have a happy race and finish with a smile.

from my budding little optimist

Sicilians are on Sicilian time, not Swiss time, much to the dismay of the heavily present Swiss team. It is a refreshing change  to the hubbub of today’s modern pace and one we all can all meditate on in a full breath. Briefings starting 30 minutes late, starts delayed due to traffic mayhem on the access road, no problemo. Tranquillo….just breathe…

A race with a view (photo:www.stephanmantler.com)

Saturday the heat was on and I was ready. Plenty of Hammer Nutrition Heed in my camelbak, check  Sporting my white national team suit to avoid melting in the hot sun! check . Once again, yours truly, finds her pace at the middle of the first climb. This course was not so long (1450m) with2 long climbs, and not so technical up or down so it favored those who are good climbers and difficult to gain much on the descents. I did managed to find my power on the 2nd climb and had some clean and fast transitions, passing 3 WC women, 3 FISI women, finishing 9th overall WC,  in the 82% from the winner, a drastic improvement from last year.

You don't get many downhills like these! (photo www.martinavalmassoi.com/)

Nina on the 2nd downhill on the individual course (photo http://martinavalmassoi.com/)

Adventuring to the top of the Mt Etna Crater with my austrian teammate Veronika after the race was a highlight of the trip, reaching the snow summit and looking out towards the sea  in the distance breathing in the two

Looking out towards the sea

Here are some photos from the journey to the summit.

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The ski down was spectacular! We descended over 2000 meters on soft spring snow, weaving our way through lava rocks along the way and hitched out way back to town.

 Sunshine thoughts from Sicily: 

Yoga in the Sicilian Sunshine

Sunshine strength, fresh -infused new energy,  friendships, pace for a lifetime, relish siestas in the sun, take time to read, balance, yoga in the sunshine, smile .

Mission Accomplished-Finishing with a smile (photo www.stephanmantler.com)

 

So that is it from Sicily.  

 

Next skimo world cup just 1 week away, Lagorai Cima d'Asta, Italy! (photo: www.martinavalmassoi.com/)


The Heat is on in the Alps!

Monday, February 20th, 2012
Staying warm in the winter chill

Arctic temperatures have blanketed the Alps these last 2 weeks, some mornings with the thermometer reading -19 C (-2 F)!  Growing up in Vermont and Maine  these frosty temps are quite common in January. Back then I grew tired of freezing my tail off at the top of a GS course. Not only did I soon switch over to a more aerobic sport , cross country skiing, to keep my engine warm  but also moved to a sunnier state, Colorado. Now I have switched over to another sport, ski mountaineering which keeps my heart and mind equally warm.

Sunshine warms the heart

I have had a little break in the World Cup calendar. Despite the Siberian temps, I have bundled up just like we did when we were kids,and headed for the mountains on my own, with friends and with my family, all heartwarming and important moments to stay balanced.

Enjoying warm winter moments as a Family

Perhaps it’s only in ski towns in France that when teachers strike and there is no school, kids go skiing! These two weeks I took advantage of having some more time to pump up the volume in my training logging more than 15,000 meters of climbing in 2 weeks, but also get out find some new terrain that I had not skied before. I headed out with a friend one day  up the Col de la Floria, a good climb from the valley floor to the top (1440+meters) There was a nice long boot pack at the top and a great steep ski coming down. Another time I explored the, Aiguille de la Gliere Nord, once again a great varied climb, boot pack, with an impressive view to the other side. It is these kind of days in the mountains that bring me warmth and a smile.

Heading to the Hills

I managed to get in some good races as well in these 2 weeks. I squeezed in 2 Mountain Ski tour uphill victories ( Flaine and Les Contamines), both excellent for my own uphill climbing but also really fun ambiance.  I did not have these on my calender but decided to go as there were not only good training opportunities but also a great chance to see another part of the Alps and go with other from my local Chamonix Ski Mountaineering club. The Tour de Grand Veymont in the Vercours region of France was also the CAF (Club Alpine Francais) national championships. This time artic temps prevailed. Mittens and hand warmers were the ticket. It was a gorgeous course, a great sunday out as a club and I came home with the win for the women and the CAF national champion title.

Tour de Grand Veymont & Trophee de Gastlosen

 The Trophee de Gastlosen is the 2nd largest race in Switzerland next to the famous Patrouille des Glaciers, with over 1200 participants. Two years ago this race was a world cup and I raced with my USA teammate and pal lyndsay. It was the first team race of the year for me with 2300 meters of climbing. I raced in Chamonix Club mixed team.  We placed 23rd overall out of 210 teams with a time of 2h53 reaching our goal of being the first mix team and also breaking three hours. It was probably the coldest temps I have ever raced in with the thermometer around -21 C. at the start but the great backdrop of the Gastlosen mountains and the technical climbs and descents kept me moving and made for an excellent day.

 

Warm moments together

Now it’s tapering time for the next world cup which will be held on the active volcano of Mt. Etna in Sicily, Italy. on February 24 and 25th. This volcano has been rather active these past few months so it will surely be an interesting race! See this article for pics and news. Surely the HEAT will be on in Etna.

Staying warm

This is a great time for everyone to slow down, breathe, and rejuvenate together.

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”—

Anne Bradstreet

 

 

 

1st Ski-mountaineering World Cup 2012- Andorra

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Heading for the finish in the vertical race ski mo world cup

As I leave sunny Andorra and head for snowy Chamonix I look around at this beautiful countryside here which I am so fortunate to have had a chance to explore. What I love most about racing in other countries is it gives me a real chance to experience a country more than in the eyes of a tourist.

A map of Andorra to give you a sense of where in the world this little country is

This goes back to some of my earlier jobs in life which allowed me to work abroad, teaching English in China, working in Africa as an outdoor educator and even mountaineering in South America. I feel very fortunate to have had these experiences as a young professional. Surely they have enriched who I am today and given me a global perspective.

The start of the womens vertical race: I always start a little too fast!

Racing in another country allows one to  not only take in the land while racing but also meet the people locally with first hand flavor.

A view of the course track for the individual

On the world cup ski mountaineering circuit it is a fairly small group of athletes( 40 men and 20 women) from a variety of countries – mostly alpine nations. It is nice to say hello again and meet new people to expand horizons even further. The locals in Andorra were welcoming, enthusiastic and put on a great weekend of racing.  It amazes me how this sport grows and grows each year worldwide. With that the levels get higher and higher each year.

The World Championships were held in Andorra two years ago and I was lucky enough to go. This weekend, the Font Blanca, was the kick off weekend of the ski mountaineering world cup with a vertical race on saturday and the individual race on sunday. The vertical, not my favorite event but a good training for me, and I managed to hold my own finishing 12th overall behind some real climbing specialists, and in the 80th percentile behind the winner. I had no idea I had placed 2nd in my new age category!

Map of last 2 climbs

The individual race was really what I was looking forward to. It was a technical course on profile with 1380 meters of ascent, 4 climbs , with 2 boot crampon sections and some fun couloirs to descend.

Sr. Men on the crampon section

For me, all of my favorite things in ski mountaineering. I was pleased with how I felt, each climb a little stronger, trying to stay consistent and focussed throughout the course. Hammer Nutrition Heed provided me with consistent energy throughout, a perfect energy for a race just under 2 hours. I ended up with a personal best for me with a time in the 80th percentile of the winner and an overall 9th place out of a very strong field of women. Results can be found here. 

View of technical section of course

Staying consistent and focussed outside of the race is equally, it not more important. All parents know that this applies to raising children but also to oneself in following a path or a dream.

Having fun with the boys who remind me each day I must be consistent.

So,now it’s back home to my boys who keep me motivated on and off the race course, keep me focused on being the best mom I can be, keep me consistent with what is important and keep my dreams alive!

Searching for Snow in Europe!

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Skiing Breithorn Face

Here in Europe things are a little thin, but not in Italy! I headed over to do some early season training in Cervinia last week. I had a chance to ski a 4000 meter peak, The Breithorn,  from the base of Cervinia to the summit with a few members of my ski-alpinisme team in Chamonix.

There is nothing better than sunshine, good snow and making some great turns with my boys!

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Fall Family Training Camp in Mallorca

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Enjoying the great roads for riding here in Mallorca

Many teams head to find snow right about now, my family headed for sunshine and the sea. As the end of the guiding season in Chamonix hit, we headed for our fall family training camp in Mallorca, Spain in order to wind down from the summer and gear up for the ski mountaineering season here in Europe.

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Ski Mountaineering World Cup Season Continues

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Pierra Menta 2010- Nina still managing to smile during the 4 day stage race: climbing 10,359 meters & skiing close to 100km

While most of you Fasterskier fans have probably finished up your last races of the season and are getting ready to put the skis away til next winter, the ski mountaineering season is still in full swing, with still 3 big world cup races left, the final one the famous Patrouille des Glaciers,  a high altitude, long distance team race. The past 2 months have been busy with a flury of World Cup races and World Championships, followed by the famous French stage race, The Pierra Menta a.k.a. The Tour de France of Ski Mountaineering.

The ski mountaineering season is long, beginning mid december and ending end of April. It is a bit of a personal jigsaw puzzle figuring out how and when to peak and fitting in all the pieces of one’s life: work, family, kids, racing, training, eating, sleeping and staying healthy all winter long. Coming soon I will share some highlights from the previous races and hope to share a little more about the sport itself so perhaps you can give it a try next season! In the meantime, enjoy the YouTube video of the Pierra Menta- We finished 9th place overall and had one day in 7th!
This gives a taste of the Pierra and all it’s glory!
Coming Soon!


Individual World Cup Mt Etna: Sicily (yes the mediteranean island off of Italy)

USA TEAM-Ski Mo World Championships

Ski Mountaineering World Championships 2010: Andorra:

Nina in a transition at the World Championships

The Pierra Menta 2010: Tour de France of Ski Mountaineering:

Nina in the Pierra Menta with Mont Blanc in the background

Pierra Menta: The Tour de France of Ski Mountaineering- 4 day Stage Race