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Archive for November, 2010

The 4th (and final) West Race

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Yesterday was the last race of the festival here in West. The girls did 5k and the dudes 10k, both individual classic. The tracks actually set up really nice, and it was even what the Alaskans would call “warm”.

The APU ladies had another ridiculous day… They put 5 in the top 8 and also the top 5 Americans. If you want proof of this domination, just check out the main article on the Fasterskier homepage for results. It’s insane.

On the guys side of things, Dengel Spice showed everyone what was up. Bart has been just killing it in training all summer and fall, and we all knew that when he put it all together, he would destroy people. Placing second to Leif, who has proven to be one of the best W Yellowstone racers, is a huge result for the Valdez boy.

I had a decent race, considering how I felt that morning and the relentlessness of the course. The big difference from Fridays skate race was that I felt like I was actually racing, instead of just plodding around with a lactate flood.

Wax master Casey layin down the layers

Me, getting my stride on - (Photo credit Ian Harvey)

The awards ceremony was pretty fun, just to see how many team-mates we had up there. Even though Lars couldn’t make it, there were APU’ers walking up for pretty much every single podium. So sweet. Since there were so many, heres a little montage:

3rd Race in West

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Today were the distance skate races. While my personal race was forgettable and sad, there were some other awesome performances that offset my own result and made it a great day.

It was sweet to see Uncle Lars rippin it up again, gettin second. Talk about a well rounded skier… Probably the best moment of the day was when we all found out that Kate Fitz had won the women’s race. Us boys were kind of milling around the wax table with only a few minutes to start, and you could feel the Stoke-O-Meter go way up. It was so, so cool!

Kate Fitz attacks Telemark Hill as Coach Flora... advises? Maybe he thought she was going out too hard. Apparently she wasnt - (photo credit Karl Schauer)

Pete Kling and Bart Dengel climbing - (photo credit Karl Schauer)

 After the results were finalized, we found out that both of the SuperTour Overall Leader bibs would be worn by APU skiers, as well as the womens Distance Leader. Kate Fitzgerald, Lars Flora (represented here by his brother Erik; and yes, Erik is crouching-he says you’re short Lars!), and Holly Brooks.

Hows that for a haul?

James "The Italian" Southam... those Italians are just so stylish!

1st (and 2nd) Race in West

Friday, November 26th, 2010

The first race(s) of the season are now out of the way, with two sprint prelims going down in West earlier today.

I will just say this; it was very hard. A lot of factors contributed to the overall taxation of the day. However, the altitude-cold-sprint combo came together to inflict incredible pain on pretty much everyone’s lungs. The post race chaos was constantly punctuated by the excessive hacking coming from the racers, and there were many uncomfortable expressions around.

However, it was a great day for the APU blue crew. The aggregate podium, determined from the sum of each racers two times, was 4/6ths APU. Holly won both races, and Lars was second in both. The top-ten in each race was just packed with APU skiers.

Despite the side effects (harsh coughing), it was actually a great day of racing. The stoke is high for tomorrows distance skate races. Should be… fun!

Sadie B leads off the women, with APU ladies dominating the seed.

A light evening jog, in an attempt to put out the fire in those lungs.

Craziness In West

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Wow… things have been slightly chaotic here in West. Actually, let me modify that. The team life, our living situation, and the training has all been really sweet. The chaotic part is happening outside. It is still snowing… some roads are closed, driveways are a disaster, and there aren’t nearly enough shovels. It has also been super windy, which coupled with the intense snowfall, makes seeing anything at all while skiing quite a challenge. Half of our day has been spent trying to time our departure from the house with the passes of the snowplows.

We did quite a Thanksgiving meal last night. Everyone took charge of one food item, and went all out. It was amazing. The level of refinement of each of the dishes was superb, and the whole team was impressed with how scrumptious everyone else’s dish was. I would say it defined a new level of teamwork.

All of us, crammed around the table...

We did some pre race intervals today, which to be honest, felt horrible. But that’s what happens on a 1.8k sprint loop with huge climbs at altitude. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long after we found out the sprints were  postponed until Thursday, which throws only a tiny wrench into everyone’s spokes. Any sort of normal schedule has already been abandoned, so from here, we just take it as it goes.

Trying to run into the house without getting run over by the loader

Gettin to West

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

It’s not too hard to tell that the racing season is upon us. While we haven’t actually pulled on a bib or tripped the wand yet, there are some very good indications that things are about to get crazy.

This fall, I am super excited to be doing my first actual race-circuit assault. Now that I think about it, I have never actually traveled to more than one event at a time, so it will be a little new to me. I have also never been with such a legit crew; it’s cool to be a part of the APU armada. Everything about this team is geared towards better training and faster racing, and it is a large group.

When Thanksgiving is nearing, that can only mean one thing; West Yellowstone. This perennial season kickoff festival has got to be one of the most curious ski events around; just the right balance of cowboy-bootstrappin’ and for-serious competition.

We traveled here a few days ago, and now are getting settled in. It has been snowing pretty much non-stop since we arrived, so there is plenty of that stuff, and its actually kinda soft out there. But the skiing is great, and for now we’re just getting accustomed to the altitude and prepping for the first races on Wednesday.

Swamping the check-in kiosks in Anchorage - (photo credit G. Anderson)

 We made a 3hr stop at the Bozeman Costco to load up on grub for the nine days we would be in West Yellowstone. Needless to say, a ski team of this size will tear through a lot of food, and we almost exhausted their supply of cardboard boxes for packing the food in. It took at least an hour to check out, and our line of carts reached from the cashier all the way to the exit:

Look at that train... the caboose is WAY back there - (photo credit G. Anderson)

We were told that was the longest receipt they had ever seen; taller than some of our team members! - (photo credit G. Anderson)

 The skiing is… really good. This is definately the opposite of the two other years I have been here. I dont think it has stopped snowing since we got here on Saturday. There are feet accumulating outside constantly.

Mark, Brent and Bart breaking trail earlier today

 We are going to do a big Thanksgiving dinner tonight, as its a little tough to do that much work the night before Fridays race. I took a break from cooking the cranberry sauce to make this blog post. Speaking of which, I hope its not burning… better go!

Mark and Brent are in charge of the turkeys and hams. Here, they brine one of the birds in a trash can. Creativity.

Handcrafted, Full Bodied video

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

I finally got this little edit thrown together… It pretty short, but I guess thats ok. Check it out, and let me know what you think! Im going to try and do some more of these in the future.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/8nG3xKopjtE" width="600" height="494" wmode="transparent" /]

Skiing = Birding ?

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

The other day, I got a call from Alaska Air Cargo telling me that I had a parcel to pick up at their huge cargo facility at Ted Stevens International… so I drove over there and found that my friend Nick Hajdukovich had sent me a “FROZEN” box from Juneau, as he is going to college there. Juneau is one of the coolest places in Alaska I would say, but there are two reasons that it is really unique:

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1                     It is the only state capitol in the United States that has no roads leading to it.

2                     It sounds like it has some pretty ridiculous duck hunting.

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 As it turns out, he had sent me a bunch of frozen ducks, apparently because the surplus he had been accumulating was reaching unmanageable levels. For those of you who aren’t from Fairbanks and don’t know Nick, he did not go to college in Juneau for the lack of roads…

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He went there for the birds. You see, my friend is like the Tad Elliot of birding. He is a youngster excelling in an arena that is almost entirely dominated by older “experts”. Tad is 20 and basically won the Birkie. Nick is like 19 and is the dominating force in Alaskan and North American birding. Every time I ask him how many species he has seen, he says something  like “such-and-such-hundred-thousand…” He has traveled all over the world to catch a glimpse of ultra-rare species… He flies out to the most remote Aleutian islands, battling some absolutely insane weather, in hopes of seeing a rare bird that got blown over from Japan. Yeah, I don’t really get it either…

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But in a way, it reminds me of skiing. There is an intense sub-culture of enthusiasts who are essentially invisible to mainstream America. Outsiders can’t even begin to understand why anyone would want to do it (skiing, birding), and the enthusiasts dedicate their entire lives to it. Weird huh?

Thanks Nick!!

Whiz Bang…

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Skiing-related things are happening all over the place!

The last week or so has been one of the “unbelievably busy” variety. It’s crazy how so many things can add up all at the same time, when the week before was relatively chill. I guess it’s got to all balance out in the end…

We have been having some very good training here, the kind where you feel really tired afterwards. Working the body closer and closer towards racing speeds definitely takes some energy.

Then I went to Fairbanks last weekend, which was awesome, since they had nearly 30k of corduroy on Saturday morning. I put in some really solid days of training, and it was great to be home, if only for a few days.

Anchorage is getting its first taste of skiable snow now, which is nice. Hatchers is amazing, but Hillside is sweet because it’s about 10 minutes from where I’m living. We were able to do some hefty intervals there, and it should just continue to get better from here on out.

I’m quite excited about the double-sprint-time-trial that APU is running tomorrow. Since USSA released the schedule telling us what we will be doing in West, we are going to run an identical race schedule tomorrow, with classic and skate prelims separated by only an hour. Should be some serious pain!

I went from this one day:

Kasandra doing some bull-pacing

to this:

Reunion of the 3 FAST-kateers... or 3 stooges more like

and this the next:

Birch Hill's namesake

to this the next:

The APU crew preps for L4 intervals

Ive also been working on a video project… its still in the final stages of preoduction, but I think it should be pretty fresh. I hope to release it within a week or two. So look for it!

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