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Posts Tagged ‘US ski mountaineering team’

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!


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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.


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

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 (

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!

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 (

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

Nina on the 2nd downhill on the individual course (photo

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


So that is it from Sicily.  


Next skimo world cup just 1 week away, Lagorai Cima d'Asta, Italy! (photo:

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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




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World Cup Ski Mountaineering Season Wrap up

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Nina at World's in Andorra.

Nina finished the World Cup ski mountaineering season totally psyched. Last year, she was burnt out by the end, but this year she wants to keep on going.

7th place overall in the final World Cup rankings and winning World Cup prize money probably helps a bit. Nina was strong throughout the season, and although wanted to peak better for World Championships, right in the middle of the season, felt a little flat then. However, she did make 10th place in the Team Race in Worlds. Some other highlights were finishing the Pierra Menta, with her teammate, Lyndsay Meyer, for the third year in a row. While this year, it wasn’t a world cup event, it still had the same world cup crowd, so 9th overall and one day in 7th felt pretty good. Nina posted an 8th place in the French National Championships, individual race. Considering France, Italy and Switzerland are at the tip top of the sport, I say “chapeau” or hats off to my wife.

Nina (lower right "USA") at the start of the Grand Beal World Cup in France with two Swiss girls in red behind her left shoulder.

In the end she had 26 race days for the 2010 season and in her 3 year World Cup career has racked up 17 World Cup starts and 7 World Cup top tens and two World Championships selections with a top ten in Andorra Worlds 2010.

Nina winning the Cenise Bargy skimo/xc skate/skimo race with our two sons Birken and Anders sharing in the celebration.

Her favorite win of the season was a regional race, the Cenise Bargy which is essentionally a ski mo/xc biathlon, starting with a leg of ski mountaineering racing (800 meters of climbing then a 500 m descent), then you switch to nordic skating equipment for a 3 km skate, then finishing with a skimo (500 m up and 500m down). The start was right through the narrow main street of the little village.

Team USA, Lyndsay, Nina and Mona stopping the clock at 9h52m in Verbier, after leaving Zermatt at midnight. The Patrouille des Glaciers is the most famous ski mo race of them all and traces the Haute Route.

Her last race of the season was a pretty good one too. The Patrouille des Glaciers starts in the middle of the night on mainstreet Zermatt and after crossing numerous passes and valleys, finishes in Verbier, some 4000 meters of climbing later and over 54 horizontal kms (that’s well over 125 kms if you had a bicycle computer). She and her two teammates, Monique Merril of adventure racing fame, and long time race partner, Lyndsay Meyer finished 4 th overall in the World Cup division and stopped the clock at 9 hours 52 minutes!

Julie, Nina, and Lyndsay sporting their Chamonix Ski Alpinisme Race suits.

Another great memory of the season was starting a ski mountaineering race club here in Chamonix, France. Can you believe Chamonix didn’t have a ski mo club? We couldn’t and approached the town and Chamonix Sports Club. They whole heartedly supported the idea, and with Nina as vice president, we forged ahead. Check us out at:

Nina is already eager to keep training for next year and is taking an “easy” month, without structured training, but still some, ski tours, mountain bike races, running, swimming and strength. June will be back to the sceduled training and then getting specific (roller skiing, glacier skiing and specific strength). Thanks for following us this season. If you have any questions on ski mountaineering racing, please feel free to email.

All the best for a fun summer of training!

And a big thanks to all her sponsors! Especially the nordic ones, such as SWIX poles!!!!!

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Pierra Menta Video of Nina and Lyndsay March 2010

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

From the 17th to the 20th of March Nina with her teammate Lyndsay Meyer, competed in the four day stage race, The Pierra Menta in the Beaufort region of France near Mont Blanc and even closer to a jagged rock peak sticking out of more “pre alp” looking pastural mountains where in the summer cows roam and the famous Beaufort Cheese is made.

Nina and Lynds are both members of the US ski mountaineering team and this is the third time they competed in and completed this “Tour de France” of ski mo racing. Though it wasn’t a World Cup race this year (every other year), it had a World Cup field as it is the most esteemed race in the Alps, unique in its length and supporting crowds–which climb up to the high summits and line the trail ringing cow bells, playing accordians, drinking hot red wine, and cheering madly–a winter version of the Tour de France. Nina and Lyndsay finished a respectable 9th place overall with one day in 7th.

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