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I just returned from the US after a five week stint in Europe, racing on the Europa Cup circuit with a great group of Americans. I wrote a blog with a few musings, on the challenges of staying mentally sharp while being mid-pack, which is posted on the Woodski Blog page HERE. Its the “Reese Hanneman Checks In from the Europa Cup” one.

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Woodski is also having a March Madness sale, which you can see on that same page. If you havent checked out the new site yet, you should!! It turned out really sweet.

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Now I am in Sun Valley, Idaho for the final week of races of my season. It is SuperTour Finals and the 50k National Championships. I am actually pretty excited to race here.

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After US Nationals in Houghton, I headed back to Alaska for a couple weeks to regroup and get in some training for the biggest trip of my racing season. The skiing in Fairbanks was impeccable, and it was a great place to train.

I also happened to be in town for the Besh Cups, and hosted an open house night at Trax Outdoor Center. We had an awesome turnout, and it was really cool to hang out with so many of the young Alaskan skiers, to share my stories of racing on the World Cup with them and get them stoked on their own skiing.

TRAX Night _ Reese Hanneman _ Besh Cup CCAK

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I got to sign and hand out a lot of my new Allergy, Asthma and Immunology of Alaska posters:

AAICA Reese poster_Final

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My goal of these two weeks in Alaska was to recover from Nationals, and to prep myself for a huge block of travel and racing. The plan was to travel to Vermont for two weeks of a Supertour racing, and then head to Europe to join up with the US Ski Team’s trip on the Europa Cup circuit for five weeks, before stopping in Sun Valley for Supertour Finals and Spring Nationals.

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Craftsbury was an interesting string of races. I went there with the goal of turning my confidence levels around, and to win some races. Racing the World Cup all fall only served to beat me down mentally, and then I didn’t ski well enough at Nationals to reverse that much. I ended up with some decent results, with a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. The skate sprint was the first race of the year where I felt like it was back on my game; I attacked hard and furiously in the A final, but Kris Freeman was somehow able to follow me away from the rest of the pack and nip me at the line. He was skiing incredibly well there and was so strong, which was impressive to see; but it’s hard to know you’re still not quite performing at your best.

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Following Kris Freeman in the 30k classic, on my way to 3rd place behind him and Eric Packer:

John Lazenby photo - Craftsbury 30k Mass Cl

photo – xmatic

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Skate Sprint Qualifier:

Reese Hanneman Craftsbury Sprint 2015 XMATIC

photo – xmatic

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On the podium in 2nd place in the Skate Sprint:

APUNSC Craftsbury 2.6.15 Podium Mens

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From Vermont, I flew to Munich, via an unplanned overnight in London, and picked up the rental van that would be used by the US crew for the next 5 weeks. My APU teammates and I loaded up and drove to Livigno, Italy, a place we picked for our prep week because if it’s relatively low cost and access to skiing.

I had never been to Livigno before, but it turned out to be more than I was expecting. We were primarily there to get in some altitude training and adjust to the Euro time zone before our first races.

Walking from our hostel to the ski trails for training:

RH Insta 1

Instagram: @reesehanneman

 

The skiing in Livigno was amazing, with a good variety of easy touring trails and brutally hard race courses for us to get in lots of kilometers and intervals on. My bud Eric Packer put together this little video with some really sweet high speed shots, that show the area well:

From there, it was a 5hr-turned-8hr drive to Campra, Switzerland when the pass we tried to go through was closed due to avalanches, forcing a long reroute. In a humorous twist, the race venue ended up being just on the other side of the closed portion of the pass. So we drove 150 miles to get three miles further up the road.

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In Campra, I raced a skate sprint and a classic 15k. The field at these EurOPA Cup races is really intense, with many of the top guys being pretty legit World Cup racers. In the sprint I was really happy to qualify in 17th place, only a few seconds behind some guys who have been top 12 on the World Cup this year. I finished 19th and top American after leading my heat for a while and narrowly missing out in the final drag race. The 15k was one of the more bizarre races Ive done in a while; it snowed so much overnight and that morning that there were hardly any tracks, and it was just incredibly soft and every hill was a pile of herring-boned mush. I didn’t have a great race, but I fought through the weirdness and had a decent result.

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Next, it was on to Rogla, Slovenia. The ski venue there is way up on top of this wooded mountain, a few thousand feet above anything around it. This makes for some diverse weather; down in the town of Zrece where we stayed, it was warm and springy, while the ski area was absolutely buried with snow.

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Exploring some ancient castle ruins, high above the towns that have dotted these valleys for thousands and thousands of years… doing my best Usain Bolt pose:

Instagram:   @reesehanneman

Instagram: @reesehanneman

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Lex providing us with some foreboding harmonica music, adding to our imagination of battles waging and injured soldiers:

Engine Room-3933

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And then twenty minutes later, up at the ski trails:

photo (1)

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First race was a skate sprint. I had another pretty good qualifier, in 12th, which was a good sign for my speed. My quarterfinal was the single most physically aggressive heat I have ever been in. I have never been pushed, shoved, and stepped on that much in a race. I had a fast start, getting out and slotting into 2nd place, only to have someone to the side of me who also wanted to be 2nd skate right on top of my skis, causing both of us to get tangled and contort into ridiculous poses in order to save a crash. Now I was last, and hammered the next flat section and gradual uphill, passing half the guys and getting into third, only to have my poles stepped on and be pushed way outside on a hairpin corner, putting me last again. Anyways, this continued on for the whole course. On the final hill, I tried multiple  avenues to make passes through the pack, but got so shut down on every one, coming to a stop on the last one as the Italian an Austrian guys shoved each other into my way. As I finally crested the hill, I open up to max throttle and was able to surge from 6th to almost 2nd, coming within a boot length of advancing.

Coming into the final climb, I was in 6th, looking for somewhere, anywhere, to make a pass:

photo - Sabina Gostinčar

photo – Sabina Gostinčar

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And then stuck in traffic on the final climb, in last:

photo - Erika Flowers

photo – Erika Flowers

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And then turning on the jets to pass most of the guys, and coming within a boot of that German guy:

photo - Erika Flowers

photo – Erika Flowers

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The 30k classic featured some really variable snow conditions and it got quite a bit warmer from the start to the finish, which made for some almost impossible waxing. Our techs did a really good job considering the condtions, but my skis were quite slick and so I ended up double poling a lot of it. I was happy to finish 20th place.

photo - Sabina Gostinčar

photo – Sabina Gostinčar

photo - Caitlin Patterson

photo – Caitlin Patterson

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On Monday, we packed all up again and drove to Austria, and the famed xc ski valley of Ramsau Dachstein. It is just up from Schladming, which is home of the famous Nigh Slalom World Cup, where Austrians by the tens of thousands riot when their countrymen and women don’t win. We have been here training for four days…

While here, I have been given the opportunity to guest host the National Nordic Foundation’s Instagram account, trying to add my own flavor through photos that I post… Heres one of my favs so far… I got this of my team mate Scott Patterson training here in Ramsau:

Instagram:   @gonnf

Instagram: @gonnf

To see more of the pics, check it out HERE. Give em a follow for more!

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One thing that Ive been spending a good deal of time on is the Europa Cup Challenge, an athlete led fundraising effort put together by my APU teammates and I. We qualified 11 APU athletes to be a part of this US Ski Team Europa Cup trip, and so decided to band together with a unified effort to try and offset some of the costs that we each have to pay. This Europa Cup trip is one of the steps on the path to being internationally competitive at the Olympic and World Cup level; as Im sure many of you have seen, it takes quite a bit of racing in Europe before you can make the jump from top US skier to being a contender on the World Cup. That’s the role of this racing circuit.

We want you to know that YOU are an important part of the system. There are coaches who put in incredible long, dedicated hours and are away from their families to guide the athletes. There are the wax techs, who travel all winter and stay up all night and get up at insane hours to prep our skis. There are us athletes, who push our bodies into exhaustion through an endless string of hard workouts every day, all summer and fall and winter… and then THERE’S YOU!!! You, who bring passion and excitement and support to it all; you motivate us to want to do well, and get us to where we need to go.

 

 

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If you enjoy seeing young Alaskans, and Americans, challenge convention and dare to put in the work to be the best they can be… I urge you to consider pitching in and being a part of our team. Weve got some pretty cool stuff going on, as well as more details about the racing and the financial aspect… SEE OUR SITE HERE!!

Thanks so much!!

We have one race in Austria this weekend, and then head to France for the big final three-race weekend of the EurOPA Cup Finals. This is going to be one of the most intense weekends of racing of my whole season, as the field will be stacked with many of the best guys in Europe, plus our strong Team USA contingent.

After that, I will pack everything up and fly not home, but to Sun Valley, Idaho for Spring Nationals and SuperTour Finals. Im probably going to be really enhausted at that point, so I hope I can find some more spark for those final races.

Thanks for reading!!

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Last spring, May 2014, I sat down with my coach Erik Flora (a man who needs no introduction) to plan my attack on the 2014-15 ski season. My big goal was to make the World Championship Team that would race in Falun, Sweden in February of 15. By winning the SuperTour overall, I had secured start rights on the World Cup from the start of the season this November until Christmas. At that time, I was ranked 4th amongst US men in sprinting on the USSA points list, which would give me an extremely strong case to be on the World Championships team.

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Basically, it came down to two options:

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If I turned down the 9 World Cup races, and instead stayed in the US racing SuperTours, I would very likely maintain my points standing and secure a spot on the Worlds Team. I had won both major classic sprints last season, including US Nationals and Spring Nationals against the US Ski Team members, and been first and second in those qualifiers.

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The other option was to accept the World Cup starts in November and December (called Period 1). Fewer men would get this opportunity this season than would get named to the Worlds team, and the chance to race in a significant number of World Cups is a pretty rare opportunity. However, the points on the World Cup are not as good, and so I would risk being overtaken by those racing back in the US where the points were better. No US male has ever gone to period 1 and done well, either there or the rest of the season. Ever. There’s a reason it’s called “the Curse of Period 1”. I knew that, and somehow I hoped I could be different.

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It was a tough decision; take the chance at really deepening my experience as an elite skier in exchange for potentially making a championship team.

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I could have taken the conservative route; part of me wanted to. But I didn’t. I went for it. I went to the World Cup to better myself as an athlete, to really put myself out there.

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Davos 15k - Fasterskier photo

Davos 15k – Fasterskier photo

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It was a big gamble. When the official announcement of the US Worlds Team is announced in the next few hours, I anticipate that I won’t be on it. I think I lost the bet.

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I am very disappointed, but I am content with the decision I made. It’s actually quite difficult to hit that home run right when you need to. I threw myself at it, in the very best way I could, and although I didn’t achieve some of the numbers I wanted, I have never learned so much. The experience I have gained through this has been worth it. I believe that I got more out of racing a month of World Cups than I would have at one event at Worlds, although after being 31st on the Worlds Sprint course last season, I would love another crack at it.

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Now I will focus on what lies ahead. That’s all we can ever really do, right?

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Thanks for reading. Check back soon for some exciting news!!

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Next stop after Lillehammer was Davos, Switzerland. Before this trip I had never ventured to the fabled land that is the Sertig Valley, where Davos nestles. If you’ve ever been around World Cup skiers, you’ve probably heard them rave about this place. And for good reason; its famous for its sun and snow and lots of skiing.

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We drove from Zurich and arrived at the Hotel Kulm late at night:

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After three weeks way up north, hardly ever seeing the sun, it was awesome to wake up to the sun drenched Alps out my window:

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Looking down valley:

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Lapping through the stadium and its golden warmth with Andy:

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The transit system here is sweet. You can take the busses from the hotel to town, to skiing, to the gym, the store… and then a train if you want to go further:

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Taking the bus back up to our hotel:

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And towards that great selection of local dairy delicacy:

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The glowing rays didn’t make landfall everyday… a reminder of how high we are; cloud country:

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One tradition that the US Team has maintained for many years now is an inter-team secret santa / poetry slam. Everyone writes a poem for, and supplies a gift for the individual they happened to draw out of the hat. It is one of the more entertaining team activities I have ever been a part of. Whitcomb reading his incredible interactive poem/gift:

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Checkin out the stadium from the high point of the sprint course. It takes them a couple of days to get it all assembled into its final form:

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Slow Davos morning:

A slow Swiss morning. + #swissalps #nutella #teatime #davos #klosters #hotelklum

A photo posted by @reesehanneman on

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Running through muddy farm fields:

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After the brutal three-race tour in Lillehammer and the travel to Switzerland, I got a cold. It was the same one that has been circling around through the team for weeks. I felt pretty bad for a day or two, and wasn’t planning on racing on this weekend, because racing while sick is never a good idea, and you have to look longterm to protect your health. I woke up Saturday morning feeling ok, so I decided to give it a go.

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Long story short, by body was rocked, and I didn’t really even have a chance to perform very well either day. I gave it my best, but unless youre just totally “on” here, youre gonna be spit out the back. You can read more about my performances and my feelings HERE.

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15k classic.

Reese Hanneman racing in the Davos WC this am #TokoProfiGloves

A photo posted by TokoUS (@tokous) on

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Needless to say, putting my body through those efforts gave the cold a chance to take hold, and I have felt horrible since. But that’s just the name of the game sometimes.

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I changed all my tickets to head home on Monday, before the cancelled La Clusaz races were reinstated to Davos. However, with the state I was in, we thought it would be more productive to head home and let myself recover from this insane block.

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So I am back in Alaska now, trying to heal and to let my body climb out of the hole that I dug, both recently and more long term.

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There is a lot of season left. Like, a TON of races. So although the first three weekends didn’t go as well as I hoped, or even as well as they could have… it was still a very productive trip. There were many positive things that still outweigh my poor results.

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For a more in depth look at my results, and thoughts about training and preparation and the intense game that is the World Cup, read THIS ARTICLE/INTERVIEW.

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Thanks for reading!

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After the opening weekend in Ruka, we drove, flew, and drove our way to Lillehammer, Norway. While Ruka was pretty sweet, it’s hard to describe the excitement of racing World Cups in Norway. It’s the mecca of xc skiing; they bleed it, and it was invented here. Racing in the Lillehammer stadium, site of the 94 Olympics, is like playing at Fenway Park; staring up at those almost unfathomably large climbs like looking at the towering Green Monster wall as you walk to the plate.

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And in the same way, you just know when youre there. Skiing dominates even the first views of town:

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I think people would be very, very surprised at how difficult these World Cup courses are. I am speaking as someone who has seen both sides of the coin; I have won races, SuperTours, US Nationals, on courses that I used to think were challenging. Hermod’s, Telemark, Switchback, Wall Street, Elliots… these hills that used to capture my awe and scare the daylights out of me would barely get you out of the stadium in Lillehammer. It’s hard to really have a realistic grasp of how big these World Cup hills are unless you have skied up them.

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Because of this, our first couple days here we headed up to Sjusjoen to do some easy skiing. Sjusjoen is a famous skiing destination, the high rolling hills speckled with cabins and buried in snow. There are hundreds of kilometers of trails that turn into thousands, going farther than you could ever possibly ski.

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Even when youre skiing easy, its hard not to get amped on Sjusjoen. Simi was stoked:

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Riding our provided coach back down to town:

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The hotel that we stayed at, along with pretty much every other team as well as the throngs of media, timers, officials, and organizers from FIS, was incredible. It had one of the largest floor plans of any hotel I have ever seen, and had an incredible feel of old grandeur.

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Just a section:

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Around every corner, down every staircase and through every hidden door, there were unexplored wings full of amazing rooms:

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Another morning bus ride up to Sjusjoen:

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Cruising through the almost otherworldly morning winter lunarscape:

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A quick video clip of the ladies kicking and gliding:

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J Diggs, stoked and smiling like always:

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While we were here, Sadie presented her senior project. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Sadie and how she manages to ski at such a high level and study at the same time, a feat that is made possible by the opportunities and flexibility at Alaska Pacific University. She presented from one of the local schools here in Lillehammer, and it was streamed live to family and friends all over the world, including her professors back in Alaska. We all gathered in one of our hotel rooms to watch and cheer her on:

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Mornings in the woods behind our hotel:

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Norway is the only place I have ever been where you can eat salmon 3 meals a day. It’s like being back home in Alaska. This, right here, is Norway on a plate:

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Lillehammer is an incredibly quaint, cute, cozy little town that gently slopes away from a lake. Candles, wreaths, and glowing stars illuminate every window of every little house. Mainstreet is a bustling little strip of holiday cheer, bright storefronts and delicious aromas:

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Liz being her usually beaming self:

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Like I mentioned last post, we were super lucky to have Pete Dickinson volunteering his time to be here as our team physical and massage therapist. He was incredibly hard working, and was a major asset to our team. Erik messed up his hand in a big crash earlier this fall, the same crash that saw Scott Patterson take a broken ski through the leg… and so Pete was working a little magic on Eriks hand:

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We had a mini tour this weekend; three days of racing in a row, each an individual event but all of the times adding up cumulatively. Skate sprint on Friday, Skate 10k on Saturday, and 15k Classic pursuit start on Sunday.

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Without going into too much detail, I had a pretty tough weekend. To be honest, I am struggling to find my form, and I’m not sure why. There are many, many factors, and I am sifting through them all with my coach Erik Flora and the rest of the US Ski Team coaches to try and find a solution.

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The thousands of fans out along the side of the trail chanting “U-S-A!! U-S-A!!” might have been the only thing getting me up these hills. Nearing the top of one of the biggest climbs I have ever seen:

World Cup Lillehammer Cl 15k - Matt Whitcomb USSA

photo – USSA/Matt Whitcomb

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In Fridays sprint, we struggled as a team. A lot of America’s top sprinters were considerably further back than normal. How far off? Andy Newel ended an absolutely unbelievable streak; Friday was the first World Cup sprint in NINE YEARS where he hasn’t qualified for the heats (top 30)!!!!! I am almost certain that this kind on consistency, in skiings most crazy event where the smallest margins are of huge importance, is completely unmatched by any other athletes. This is an incredible testament to Andy’s amazing sprint skills and speed.

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Evening jog with Andy to shake the legs out:

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I am really hoping that after two weekends of racing, my engine starts to warm up and come alive. I know there is a lot more snap and power in there somewhere. I just have to let it show itself. I need to just believe in all the training I did this summer and fall.

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Yesterday was spent traveling; bussing, flying, and bussing to Davos, Switzerland for the next weekend of racing. I am excited to see if I can do better.

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Early last week, we made our way south from way, way up north in Muonio, Finland. How far up north? It’s pretty common to see reindeer on the roads, that’s how far:

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On our way, we had to stop again at the airport in Rovienemi to drop off our rental vans and get on the shuttle provided by the World Cup; it helps us save money. I noticed that they claimed to the official airport of Santa, but I think the residents of North Pole, Alaska and the Fairbanks airport might have something to say about that:

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When we did arrive, I was amazed at the bustling little resort clustered at the top of a massive hill. Walking to dinner:

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They use a different kind of ammunition to shoot their signs here:

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I am incredibly lucky, and grateful, to have Bryan Fish over here waxing my skis for me. He actually volunteered a week of his own vacation time to come over the week before the first races while we were in Muonio, to help wax and test my skis. I am always amazed at how much time, and skill, it takes to prepare an athletes skis at the World Cup level. When you’re dealing with this many different types of snow, every range of temperatures, so much travel, constant packing and unpacking, and the sheer number of skis… it would be absolutely impossible without someone who really knows what theyre doing. Also, a big, big thank you to the National Nordic Foundation for helping cover some of Fish’s expenses. The combination of these two awesome things is allowing me to have competitive skis here on the World Cup. Thanks Fish!!

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The waxing at this level always amazes me. The snow is often so weird, and so variable, that the intricacies of the wax application is so far beyond me… especially in kick wax. One tool that our US techs use to try and help them is this sweet, high precision device that measures camber height along the length of the ski under a given load:

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The stadium fanfare starts to take shape against the snowy forest:

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Its dark for a majority of the day here…

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Although when a snowcloud engulfs the resort, the lights from the jumps and the alpine hill keep it bright as day, even late at night:

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Being the opening weekend, the media was going nuts here. I thought this mobile production studio, with this sick pop-out glass area for the talkshow hosts to sit in, was pretty slick:

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And the jumps are a constant presence, looming over it all:

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It is exciting to have four Alaska Pacific University team-mates here at the World Cup. I am honored to join Erik, Sadie, and Kikkan here, and to hopefully learn from their success:

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My first race of the year, and also the first World Cup, was a classic sprint. It was a really hard course, with one pretty solid climb and then one climb that was probably one of the biggest, at least the steepest, I have ever seen in a sprint. I was really excited for it, as it played to my strengths. I did everything as I have in the past, at all my good races. I was feeling ready.

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I had an ok qualifier. I ended up 67th, six seconds from making the top 30 and moving onto the rounds. I skied the course well, but unfortunately I just didn’t quite feel like I was firing on all cylinders. However, there were some Americans doing really well. Ida Sargent had an awesome day, going all the way to the A final and finishing an absolutely incredible 5th!! Simi and Andy both made the heats and skied well in their quarterfinals, but weren’t able to move on.

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Heres Andy following Alex Harvey into the final 100m:

photo - Toko

photo – Toko

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The next day was a 15k classic mass start. The over-riding theme of this race was figuring out the pacing. Each 5k lap incuded three massive climbs, all of them so steep that staying in the tracks was nearly impossible. When you tried to ski up them, you were just holding on for dear life with every kick, trying not to slip and start sliding backwards. Crampons might have been handy…

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In the start pen:

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On live Eurosport television all over Europe:

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This race was again, just kind of barely okay. I skied decently well for the first lap, but just could never really turn it up. I also crashed on the last lap on the exact same spot where Noah Hoffman broke his fibula in a big wreck. I think these two races actually went well for me, considering it was the first time I had worn a bib in a long time, and they were actually on par, if not better than, how I started off last season.

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FIS is going to be making some sweet, behind the scenes videos this season. This is their first one. I am really impressed; I have always thought that the sport of cross country skiing is really poorly portrayed in videos, and that there is so much more potential to show how intense it really is. THIS VIDEO HAS SOME SICK SHOTS, INCLUDING DRONE FOOTAGE!!! This is a strong start. It really gives a good feel for what the World Cup scene in Ruka looks like. I am stoked to be featured in this video, 2:36 into it:

I tried to embed this video, but it wouldnt let me. CLICK HERE to watch it on the FIS YouTube channel.

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Lifting the night after the race. The weight room didn’t have a weight belt, so I had to make one by using a tricep rope attachment and a rubber jumprope:

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Andy Newell has celebrated a lot of birthdays here in Ruka/Kuusamo over the years. This year was no different; we found an awesome little spot for a dinner party:

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From Ruka, I rode on organization transport for a couple hours to the city of Oulu, and then flew from there to Stockholm, and then to Oslo… as we were coming in, we flew through a couple cool, very separate layers of clouds:

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From Oslo I drove a couple hours to Lillehammer. We are looking forward to the three-race mini tour here this weekend!

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As always, thanks for reading!!

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Reese H Instagram Button

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After a really long travel day, flying Anchorage-Seattle-Reykjavik-Oslo-Helsinki-Rovaniemi and then driving north for a couple more hours, I finally arrived in Muonio with the rest of the US Ski Team. I had heard many horror stories about how dark and cold it was going to be here, but I figured that my 20+ years in Fairbanks would serve as best of preparation as anyone could ever hope for. Muonio is far north of the arctic circle, futher north than Kotzebue, Alaska.

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But yes, it is dark… walking to breakfast at 8:30am:

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But the dusky mornings are awesome. The trails and accommodations are on the north side of a big hill, and so I literally haven’t seen the actual sun with my eyes for over a week now. But that makes the orange morning glow that much more welcome. Erik B crusing:

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Noah and JP (Noah’s and Sadie’s wax tech) testing some skis:

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And then by the afternoon, its very dark again. Luckily, they have a great lighting system on the trails here. Heading to the second training of the day:

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Local flavor:

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The hill, trails, and village we called home for this week, as seen on the restaurant wall (with authentic fishing nets):

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The village itself is gorgeous. Like a little winter wonderland:

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And it feels like it out on the trails too. I am proud to be rocking the new Stars-and-Bars suits of the US Ski Team this winter:

photo - Matt Whitcomb/USSA

photo – Matt Whitcomb/USSA

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Sophie has been killing it. She broke her elbow (for the second time) this fall, and so has been training like a boss with one or no poles:

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When in Finland… Toko gloves drying in the sauna:

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Fresh snow in the morning… theyre set up to handle it:

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We have been incredibly lucky to have Pete Dickinson from Winthrop Physical Therapy here with us. He is an incredibly skilled PT, and has been really awesome at keeping me from getting too tight and sore, especially with all the travel and hard workouts. Pete, Erik, and I:

photo - USSA/Matt Whitcomb

photo – USSA/Matt Whitcomb

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Sadie and JP cruising through the white land:

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You know you’re way up north when you get some good northern lights… We had a couple pretty good shows. Jesse Diggins contemplating the universe:

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Now, we pack up and drive south to Kuusamo, which is where the World Cup opener is this coming weekend. I am extremely excited to start my first races of the year here, against the very best in the world. I will race the classic sprint on Saturday and a 15k classic on Sunday, on what I hear is one of the hardest courses in the world.

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Thanks for reading! As always, you can check follow me on Instagram to see the updates I post in-between blogs:

Reese H Instagram Button

 

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I would also like to take this opportunity to give a huge thank you to the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska for their amazing support. I am extremely excited to have them as my headgear sponsor for these World Cup races. Also, Alaska Childrens Eye and Strabismus , the Alaska Club, Girdwood 2020, and PDC Engineers have been instrumental in getting me to this point. They deserve a lot of credit for the way they have been so involved and supportive.

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Check back for more soon!

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There are the pretenders… and there are those who do it for real.

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The National Nordic Foundation does it for real.

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I mean that in the sense that, in life, there are always going to be those entities who focus on what is essential and lots of those who will focus on what isn’t.

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The NNF focuses just on whats essential. They make it happen. They fund the most important part of US skiing development; ironically, the part that the US Ski Team doesn’t fund; the up and comers. The harsh reality is, there will be no good American skiers to cheer for in the PyeongChang or Beijing/Almaty Olympics, or any Olympics after that, unless todays juniors can see any reason at all to dedicate themselves to elite cross country skiing.

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There are two main obstacles that stand in the way of every single person who aspires to fulfill their potential in skiing; training, and finances. The training will be hard, it will be deeply exhausting, it will be painful, and it will break you. Many times. Theres no way around that. And still, the money side is still even more difficult. It just costs so much money to represent the United States at international competition.

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That’s there the NNF comes in. They are knocking the top off the financial wall that stands between us and medals.

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Personally, the NNF has been involved with my development for quite a while. It’s not always a lot, but just enough to make it possible.

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I remember my first World Cup. It was 2010; I had gone to World Juniors once before, and was on my way back from my first year at Under-23s. I had made the Nations Group for the World Cups in Canmore, and couldn’t possibly have been more nervous. I couldn’t believe that there I was, the same kid who couldn’t crack the top 50 at Junior Nationals my first couple years, racing the best guys in the world for the first time:

photo - Phil Bowen

photo – Phil Bowen

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I was dead last. (If you don’t believe me look here)

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If you had told me that 4 years later I would be racing another World Cup, this time many more of them under my belt, at Finals in Falun, Sweden and would ski an entire 15k skate (my achilles heel) with a group of four of the fastest guys alive, I would not believe you.

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But that’s exactly what’s happening in this picture. I am heading up the Mordorbakken (Murder Hill) for the last of many times on one of the hardest courses I have ever seen; in front of me (#34) is Federico Pellegrino, who has been on the World Cup podium multiple times. Immediately behind me (#37) is the Olympic gold medalist from two weeks earlier, Ola Vigen Hattestad (also, ya know, the Sprint Globe winner). Behind him is Eirik Brandsdal, multiple time World Cup winner. And next in the white is the Olympic silver medalist Teodor Peterson:

Reese Hanneman NNF 4 _ Kikkan Randall

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It’s hard to believe. But that’s what makes it cool. That’s what makes the NNF’s support so worthwhile; it allows young skiers like myself a chance. I am just trying to continue that trajectory.

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The NNF is getting in there and making it happen. Funding the parts that don’t get funded, but without which we will have no good skiers.

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We are in the final week of their Drive For 25 event. The idea is to get a lot of people donating a little bit of money each. I don’t usually do these kinds of requests, but I ask that if you like skiing, and you want to see your friends and your friend’s kids, and even some kids that you don’t even know, who are from the same great free country as we are, have a chance to go for their dreams… please make a small donation to the NNF.

NNF button

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I don’t get any of this money. Your donation goes into the pot to be distributed to the neediest areas; you can see exactly where HERE.

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Thank you for your support.

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America thanks you.

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Park City training camp, October 2014 edition, is in the books. Every October, most of America’s elite ski racers convene in the small silver mining town to bang heads and push themselves. This is the third year I have gone to this camp, which is built around a US Ski Team training itinerary, and it didn’t fail to disappoint.

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For me personally, these two weeks cap off the real “training season”. From May first until now, the training has been hard and it has been big. This camp, which combines both volume and intensity, also throws a third big wrench in the spokes; altitude. The added stress on your body from living and training at 8000 ft is utilized to stimulate even more aerobic development; your heart rate and subsequently your metabolism are much higher up here than on the great plains of Alaska.

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The Wasatch… watch over you as soon as you land in Salt Lake City:

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I have always been a little bit enamored with the city of Salt Lake. It seems to have its own rugged flavor of Americana; a mix of old and new, classic and hip. Signs of a bygone era:

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The warmth and the mountains… when you come here, you join many others looking for the same thing:

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But when you come here, you are only looking for one thing; the most exquisite, authentic Mexican food in the world. This place has a well deserved cult following and is worth the long wait:

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Mole like you’ve never experienced. Rich and complex beyond description, yet healthily simple.

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Driving up out of the basin to Park City. Into the hills… and the textured blankets of fall colors that cover them:

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Coming from Alaska and having already trained in the snow this fall, training in Park City is like being transported back three months. It is quite invigorating to head out for training and be washed with the golden sun, its warmth bringing that sweat to the surface.

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On the way to training we see many others also making use of their last summer days… and in this case, maybe their last days period:

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The area is known amongst skiers for its long canyon roads, that climb from the Heber valley to any number of high mountain passes. Awesome for intense aerobic training, not so awesome if you happen to like even small downhills in between your big climbs:

photo - Sam Sterling

photo – Sam Sterling

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Nothing but clear skies for 2 weeks. Moon over the aspens:

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Food. Calories. Sleep. These are essential for supporting physical output of this magnitude. So you might as well make it delicious. Eric Packer with his killer curry:

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You cant make a harder workout than uphill ski-bounding at altitude. Experts know that it is the most oxygen expensive form of workout you can do; when its done at high altitude, you have even less in the bank to draw from. I struggle immensely with it; some people thrive. Lex Treinin can go uphill faster than your honor student:

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Nature’s spectral palette:

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All this running in the golden hot sun… gave me a good excuse to bust out my new Oakley Razorblades. This may just be the coolest product ever. Its a remake of the glass that started it all, with modern lenses and technology and timeless style that flies in the face of the modern trends. I feel like I should grow a moustache:

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Up on top, taking in the view:

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Many things about Utah are not like home. Some are good, some are bad, some are… just mildly annoying. Spiky seed pods stuck to everything after a run through the woods:

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And the good… homemade apple crisp from apples picked off of a wild apple tree just hours earlier:

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I am so incredibly thankful for the team that I have. We would never be able to do this alone; my literal teammates and I push each other every single day, every single workout to be better. Fitter, quicker, more powerful… and even just better people. Chelsea Holmes leads Sadie Bjornsen as they hammer Hermod’s, trying to become better than the two standout skiers they already are:

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One huge draw to Park City is the rollerski track. The opportunity for us to train on real ski racing terrain, which is much different than the long, steady grades found on paved roads, is hugely beneficial. Mens crew hammering some double pole speeds up some steep stuff:

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After so many hours every day, so many harsh impacts with the poles, with the feet, in the weight room… things break down. Muscles cramp, tendons get cable tight, knots form. We would never make it this far without the incredible Zuzana Rogers. She and the incredible staff at Advanced Physical Therapy keep us rolling along while we are in Alaska. But beyond that, Zuzana donates her time to come along on training camps like this one, making sure we can get the most out of it. Her physical therapy knowledge, and her skill with deep tissue recovery massage, is beyond valuable:

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Sometimes, all the nutrition and maintenance and PT and eating and sleeping is still not enough. Sometimes you just hit the wall. On the last morning of the camp, we were doing a 2.5 hr, all uphill, L2 skate workout. I was feeling ok; just barely hanging in there after the intense 2 weeks, but hanging in there nevertheless. Until I wasn’t. I went from fine to horrible in about 10 minutes. There was no question about it, I was breaking down. I began to lose clear cognition, I couldn’t maintain any sort of good technique and my pace slowed significantly. It was as clear of a sign as any; my body would take no more. My teammate Lex and I had been skiing together, and we were in surprisingly similar states. So we did what we almost never ever do; we stopped a workout early. We pulled over, ate some food, and put our skis and poles in the car. Then we sat on the edge of a small canyon, overlooking a creek, and enjoyed the nature around us as we hung on (at least mentally) for our lives:

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In all, it was an extremely good camp. The training was great, the weather was superb, my coach was inspiring and selfless as always, and my team-mates were strong. I came here to Park City to push the last two big training weeks of the year, and I did just that. I am leaving extremely tired, with my body right on the edge of brokenness; but one step away. So I accomplished what I set out to do.

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Big thanks to Erik Flora, Sam Sterling, Zuzana Rogers, and Alaska Pacific University for making it happen!

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Thanks for everything Park City! Thanks to the US Ski Team coaches for hosting, and for including us in their workouts. It is inspiring to see the next wave of America ski racers going at it together. Watch out world! Part of our APU crew at the top of a long ski:

photo - Ben Lustgarten

photo – Ben Lustgarten

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Until next fall…

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Thanks for reading. As always, I don’t post as often as I would like to. For near-daily posts, theres always that silly app called Instagram!

Reese H Instagram Button

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The goal with my last blog post was to give a really brief glance into the sometimes unflattering realities of my summer training. Many people whom I talk to personally are often really surprised to hear how much I can struggle as I strive to be a better skier and person; the lack of motivation, the bad workouts, the near-constant suffocating fatigue, and how it all effects my life. It’s not always dark and gloomy, but it’s definitely not always sunny. After I posted that blog, I actually received a lot of messages from people all around the world who said that they loved it, and that it inspired them to hear that from me. Many of them empathized, saying they often felt the same way in whatever pursuit they were focused on; for some it was grad school, others a new tough job, and others their own athletic careers. It was really flattering to hear from these people, and I want to say “thank you” for your stories, which continue to in turn inspire me. No matter what we’re up to, we are all in this together.

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Now back to more superficial, documentary blogging…

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The real massive training blocks sort of ended in August. At that point, it didn’t necessarily get any easier, but the actual number of hours of training decreased a little bit; this slight hourly reduction goes a long ways in brightening my outlook on whether or not I’ll be able to hang on. When training 4-5 hours a day, almost every day, for a month… you are hardly ever more than one quick meal and an outfit change away from having to start another training session. I struggle mentally with always having that impending workout looming on the horizon. So cutting back even slightly, getting one more hour between workouts, can sometimes seem like deliverance.

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Wait, did I say I was just going to do “superficial, documentary” blogging… oops. Now for real.

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September brought a few weeks of higher intensity training and a few less hours, like I mentioned. We started hammering through some pretty serious Level 4 (sustainable race pace) workouts. These are some of the hardest workouts we do, because the pain level is extremely high and the intervals are still of substantial length, often 4-6 minutes, and we usually do anywhere from 4-6 intervals.

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The infamous Potter repeats. This no-outlet road switchbacks up from right from the ocean, and inflicts plenty of discomfort. Our mens crew at the top, 3x12mins race L4:

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photo – Sam Sterling

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I’m really excited to be using Skins compression wear these days… these guys pretty much invented it, and are on the forefront of the compression game. Gimmicky products aren’t really my thing, but I have been wearing the RY400 recovery tights after workouts because I honestly feel like I recover a little faster when I do. I don’t think anyone likes that feeling of your legs just throbbing and aching after a hard workout or race, and so anything I can do to minimize that the better. I’m also really looking forward to wearing the A200 tights and tops under my race suit this winter:

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One day, my lifelong buddy and teammate David Norris and I headed down to the legendary Kenai River for some fall trout fishing. We started really early in the morning, putting into the river in the drift boat at 5:30 am and with beads in the water as soon as the sun rose:

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It was one of those insanely magical days, one that I will probably remember for the rest of my life. For the first three hours, David and I estimated that we probably averaged a hook-up on every other cast. It was almost hard to believe. We were fishing with Keen Eye Anglers, and I couldn’t believe owner Kyle’s mastery of the river. He was finding these subtle spots, and outfitting us with these intricate hand-painted egg-pattern beads. David and I with one of countless simultaneous rainbow landings:

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I visited Goldenview Middle School one afternoon with some of my teammates, to hang out, run with, and talk to the xc running team. It was a really awesome experience; I was blown away by how enthusiastic and engaged the kids were, and also how many good runners they’ve got goin on.

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I had a blast goofing around and going through their warmup routine with part of the team, as David called out what drill we were doing:

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And then we went outside and did a pretty impressive distance run around the Anchorage hillside. It was awesome, and I got challenged to a couple sprints… I think I was just braely able to fend for myself :)

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Afterwards, we talked to them briefly about our own athletic careers, and what it’s like to be full-time skiers. They asked a lot of really good questions, and were pretty stoked:

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Thanks for having us Goldenview!!

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This falltime of year means lots of hard intervals. The idea is to build the aerobic capacity of the body through pushing it at near max effort for many many minutes. Lots of uphill bounding:

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On the recovery week, I got to go on a really sweet adventure out to Hinchinbrook Island, which is one of the two big islands that protects southcentral Alaska, and Prince William Sound, from the Gulf of Alaska and the entire Pacific Ocean. It was in short, amazing. Unreal…

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Flying through the Chugach on our way to the Sound:

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It’s rare in Alaska that you see such rich, blue, clean waves rolling onto sandy beaches:

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Landing on such an extreme, remote island is a pretty raw experience, even before you go very far… and then all you have to do is walk a couple hundred feet and it gets even more real:

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Nothing quite like having gourmet pancakes and all the toppings, as the sun rises over the beach and the blue waves crash in:

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Back in Anchorage, its more intervals. Bounding uphill on a gorgeous day:

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Last weekend I volunteered to lead the high school running races around for Regionals. Lars and I were representing NANA Nordic and I put in a solid 35k of riding in front of the racers. It was fun to see all of the skier kids out there tearing up the trails in their spikes!

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Winter is surely on its way. Weve been getting snow in the high mountains above town for a couple days, and have done a couple long runs with the boys in the high country.

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Ptarmigan hunting on foot, and 4 hr run, all in one:

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David, gaining altitude and freedom:

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I love this time of year, when I can look out my front windows and winters icy grip slowly descending onto the mountain peaks… And when the sunset hits those late evening clouds just right, everything just pops. This photo is almost totally unedited:

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I just got to Park City, Utah for the last big push of the year. I will be here with my APU team for two weeks, focusing on both volume and intensity simultaneously. Coupled with living at 8000ft, it will be a very difficult training camp.

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As always, follow me on Instagram for more frequent photos!

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Thanks for reading!

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