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Archive for March, 2011

Into the Tour: Stage One

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Sunday morning was spent watching the women’s 30k, and then yesterday we did some race prep intervals in the early part of the day. The trick with non-racing days is to avoid just lounging around the house like a gluttonous blob. A lot of people think that doing as little activity as possible is the best way to rest for racing, but I have found that it usually makes me feel awful when I do get out and ski.

So we have been taking advantage of the sweet selection of low-quality recreation equipment that our rental house came equipped with. While the waffle bats, ball-flinger-contraptions, and retro downhill skis are nice, the comfort-cruiser bikes have been a big hit. I have been getting in a little ride pretty much every afternoon, and have been having a blast cruising through the snow-covered hills on dry pavement:

While riding, I discovered a strange house that looks like something Batman would live in. It’s just a garage door bunker that disappears into the hill:

The skiing at the venue has been really sweet, although the parking is a little bit crazy. They have been quadruple parking  us on race days:

The margins are pretty small. Pete and Brent checked the clearance on one particular situation, where only a piece of paper could fit between the bumpers:

Today was the prologue. It was basically the most painful race imaginable; basically, twice the length of  a sprint. That means that you have to essentially ski at sprint pace, for longer than your body can handle that pace. It was an interesting experience for me, as I have never actually done one before. Our APU girls especially killed it. You can read about the MENS and WOMENS races on the Fasterskier home.

Holly flying to second place behind Kikkan

And to top off the day, there was an unofficial coaches race afterwards. Nothing like watching a bunch of coaches and wax techs doing a mass start 3k at 6000ft. There was some serious pain out there.

In an ironic turning of the tables, I actually covered the coaches race, and shot this picture of Nat Herz in the finish chute:

He wasn’t too psyched when I barged in and tried to interview him as he hung on his poles gasping for air.

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The Long Races

Monday, March 28th, 2011

So far, it has been pretty great skiing here. While the sun and the clouds have been battling over the sky for the last couple of days, it is a win-win for skiers; its either snowing or intensely sunny. There is certainly no shortage of the white stuff out on the xc trails:

Pete pile-driving right in

They have also done a good job of making the courses very difficult. The 50 and 30k courses had some massive climbs, and we knew that it would take some serious pre-race fueling:

Brent and Lars going for it

Some of the fast Canadians came down, which is awesome and helps to make the races even more competitive. While their blacked-out European rockstar bus is awesome, it can’t even compare to their North American ride:

Yes, McMurtry and Kuhn are in there

The tracks were pretty soft for the men’s 50k on Friday, and intermittent snow showers made for a really slow course. It was a very interesting race, and I got to be a part of a unique team tactic that has never really happened in US skiing. There’s a great report from the race, including my little stunt, here. It looked like an extremely tough race, and major props to the guys who gutted it out to the finish.

Lars taking it in, despite rampant full-body cramps

The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation is doing a great job of putting on these races, and guru Rick Kapala can be seen zipping around the venue constantly. But as you know, you have to be a little crazy to do great things, and some people aren’t afraid of saying it:

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day of skiing for the women’s 30k, and a great race to watch.

Some of the APU crew cheering on Sadie (and yes, Brent is strutting his stuff in jeans)

There were some spirited spectators out there, including Liz Stephen in her pink onesie manning a fire pit.

Myself, Mikey Sinnott, and Liz out on the trailside

Everyone is pretty fired up for the mini-tour that starts tomorrow with a skate prologue. It’s going to be fun (and brutal) to have such a variety of races strung together in a row.

Most of the guys team chowing down

Kicking off Sun Valley

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

After everything I have heard about Sun Valley, my expectations for this place were pretty high. As a long time host of the Spring Series races, most experienced skiers have some, if not lots, of experience with this place.

Most of the APU crew got here to Sun Valley, Idaho on Monday, and so far, it has been impressive. There is a decent amount of snow and the sun has been out most of the time. This is definitely the kind of place that can make you soft in just a few days; I don’t think anyone has been outside when the temperature is below freezing yet.

The skiing has been great, although it looks like there is some significant snowfall in the forecast, which could make it soft. Luckily, with the amount of sun that this place gets, it should set up pretty quickly.

Pete, Sadie, Dylan and I enjoying a sunny ski

The only way to the stadium is over this bridge

While the town itself it pretty quaint and ski-resort-ish, the outlying residential areas are sleepy. Apparently, most of the houses are vacation homes, so are almost all vacant at this point. It seems like everything is taking a post-spring-break nap.

But there’s no mistaking it as a destination ski town. There is at least one upscale ski shop on every block, and the number of BMW’s with rocket boxes on them is astounding. And the Subarus… but not just plain, normal ones. If you live here, you have to have a customized Subie:

Here in the "Hello Kitty" colorway...

...and here in the "Electric Pumpkin" colorway.

Being at altitude (shy of 6000 ft), the training load for most of us is pretty low. It’s important to let the body get accustomed to the thin air, so we have done some easy skiing and light intervals. Besides that, we checked out the town to keep from getting too bored:

James and I shrunk ourselves so we could both stand in this chair

Two words: GOLD MINE. The world’s most epic thrift store. Lets just say this; I’ve never seen so many one-piece ski suits in one place:

Myself, James, Jack, and Dylan trying on the selection

Racing starts on Saturday with the men’s 50k. From the sounds of it, the fields are going to be fast and deep, so it should be an awesome set of races! I will be posting blogs throughout the week, so check back!

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