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Archive for February, 2012

Turkey: Unforgettable

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

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Skiing and racing in Erzurum was an incredible experience. Yes, the trails are pretty much groomed like everywhere else, they’re FIS homologated, there are hills, and there are even downhills!! Amazing, I know…

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But it was quite strange to be skiing along an 8ft barbed wire fence and through prickery desert plants:

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And have you ever seen a dead owl? On top of the mornings corduroy?

photo - Logan Hanneman

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The racing here was HARD. People were going to the ends of their physical strength for these results, and there was a lot of pain happening. The altitude, the dusty dry air, the searing 4-minute climbs, coupled together to inflict a lot of damage on people. We were all hacking constantly, and people couldn’t even hold a conversation for an hour or two after their race because of constant coughing. Logs seeking shelter after giving his all:

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Speaking of shelter, our hotel kept us out of the wicked desert winds that whipped across the tops of the mountains. This desolate, ice coated tower sat way up there looking over the whole valley:

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Inside our sauna-like mega hotel, we played a TON of ping pong. There was one road out, and it went straight down the mountain, so there weren’t many walking options. So instead we has table-tennis showdowns with the Norwegians, Swiss, and Aussies:

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It was easy for some people to get lazy and just stay confined to the hotel… but I made sure to get out a lot, and explore the town and interact with the locals. I wanted to see the real Turkish stuff.

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Like people doing their laundry on their apartment balconies:

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Or waiting in the cold for a bus:

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Or sweeping the streets. Check out this handmade broom, constructed from hearty local desert scrub-brush:

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Or the phantoms of buildings from years past, buildings that might have once bustled with commerce, now absorbed into the new growth:

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It was an incredible experience. Like nothing I have ever seen on a ski trip or ever. So many things that were unnatural and uncommon for me, and yet in a good way. They people were incredibly warm and friendly, despite living what most of us would consider to be a tough life.

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I think this picture sums it all quite well… this young boy and old man were working in this old carpet shop, crammed with dusty rugs and soot. There was no one in their shop, and they sat in the dusky silence on one of the countless back alleys, just waiting for someone to come by and have a look. As I walked passed, the boy lit up and waved his arms at me, motioning to me to take a picture of them. I did, happily, and gave him a wave and a smile back. He grinned from ear to ear, and watched me as I walked away down the cobblestone alley, away. I doubt we will ever see each other again. But he will probably remember me… and I him.

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Goodbye Turkey!

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Now we are in Switzerland, which is a lesson in contrasts from last week. More on that soon.

Thanks for reading!

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Turkey: The Culture

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

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Having been here a week now, I can definitely say that Turkey is absolutely the most culturally rich ski destination that I have been, and might ever go to. Going ski racing in what they call Asia minor is not like going to Rumford, or Park City, or even Scandanavia…

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Its intense, its middle eastern, and it all seems so incredibly foreign.

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It is a culture of tea… everywhere you go, in every little shop, they ask you in and offer you tea; if they don’t have it hot and fresh, they will walk across the street and get some and bring it to you:

photo - Logan Hanneman

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The back roads and alleys are crammed full of tiny live-in shops, selling all manner of goods. This man was running his metal cook-ware sales out on the sidewalk:

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Life is raw here… its cold, and there is a huge clash of ancient and modern. Brand new apartments heated with open wood fires. People split and gather firewood in the street:

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And there are whole sections that are abandoned and decrepit:

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There are these huge wild dogs that roam the countryside and the cities, eating trash and scavenging:

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One thing that stands out are the number of mosques. There is one on almost every single street corner, quite literally:

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As well as the sacred religious art  that is everywhere:

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The city is alive, and the markets are crammed full of (mostly) everything you could possibly be looking for:

photo - Logan Hanneman

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We are here for racing after all… I had a blast watching the Juniors yesterday, and they laid it all out there on a gnarly, gnarly, course… Logan was flogging himself on the last few laps, absolutely dying, to hand with his pack. He finished 23rd, which is an awesome result, especially with this incredibly stacked junior field.

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U23 pursuit today, and then Junior relay on Sunday, and we are done… but don’t worry, there will be more blogs!

Thanks for reading!

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Turkey: Sweet

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

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We have settled in here in Erzurum, for the most part… things are really nice here. Our accommodations are top notch, with rooms that are about twice the size of normal Euro hotel rooms (that equals 1/3 of American rooms).

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We are just above town, at the base of the mountains. We look out right onto the ski jumps, which are being used heavily this week by the combiners and special jumpers. Anybody else seeing the Star Wars AT Walker resemblance?

photo - Logan Hanneman

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One of the worst things about this place is that is so DANG HOT!!! No, not outside. Outside, it’s quite cold actually… but I mean inside!!! We haven’t figured out what it is with Turks, but the heat is just blasting in basically every enclosed space. You wake up in the middle of the night, with the thermostat completely off, and you are just sweating like a pig. The dining room feels like a sauna. But the worst is the buses. We cram these big tour buses full of athletes to get to and from the venue every day, and they have the heat on full bore:

photo - Logan Hanneman

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So tons of packed skiers in tons of ski clothes, coupled with baking buses, is not a comfy combo… so we decided to take matters into our own hands and we ride to training:

photo - Matt Boobar

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There are some pretty crazy sights here… things you just don’t see every day in the States. Like these old homes being buried by a landfill:

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Homes interspersed with industrialization:

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Some cool cut-banks, displaying the local geology:

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The races started on Monday, with the Junior Sprints. Us U23’s sprinted in Tuesday, and then the Juniors did their distance classic race today. One thing that is sweet is that Fasterskier sent Audrey all the way here to cover these races… that means, I can just post pictures and I don’t have to write about all the races, because she already has and did a way better job. So to get the scoop on all the races and results, check out the articles on the Fasterskier homepage.

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Corey Stock getting after it in the 5k classic:

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Logan threw down today, fighting the altitude and some seriously long hills to notch a solid 35th.

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As we get more and more acclimated to the altitude here, people are feeling better and better, and I think the performance with start to improve. It should be fun to see everyone turn the heat up a little bit!

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And of course, more blog posts to come…

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Turkey: Unreal

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

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So Turkey… WOW!!! That’s all I can say. Getting to come here for Under-23 World Championships is probably the sweetest ski destination I have ever visited. I don’t know what you think of when you envision Turkey, but for me it brings to mind  of camels, deserts, and twangy traditional Middle-eastern music. So basically, I was wrong on 66% of that.

There are no camels. There is lots of sand, but it is covered by snow.

We are in Erzurum, which is in the central Eastern part of the country. It is very wintery here; there is plenty of snow, and it gets fairly cold at night. However, the sun comes out and the days are just gorgeous.

The skiing is amazing, and the venue is one of the most deluxe that I have been to. Erik Bjornsen put together this super short little vid that gives a feel for the skiing and town:

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It’s hard to describe it here.

So instead of using many thousands of words, I will let the pictures do the talking. My plan is to do a lot of posts from here, since there is just so much… so here we go!

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The old town of Erzurum lies in the valley floor, and the mountain rise up on all sides. The view from up on the ski area behind our hotel is pretty sick:

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Since we are altitude, a lot of the skiing has been pretty easy and slow. But a little bit of it has been pretty fast. Erik B and I layin it down in some sprint training:

photo - Logan Hanneman

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Erzurum is now a university town of roughly 400,000 and it sprawls.  Plenty of open land, but they still build up:

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All of the ski teams are staying in one of three hotels, which are all up on the alpine ski area. View of the city at night from the highest of the three hotels:

photo - Logan Hanneman

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In only four days here so far, I have been blown away by the kindness and hospitality of the locals. We have all heard spooky stories of mistreatment or bad feeling towards Americans in this part of the world. However, we have had an amazing time making friends.  Here I’m with an awesome group of kids that all spoke amazing English, and were so excited to be in a picture with me!

photo - Eric Packer

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We are now on the eve of the first race, with the Junior Sprint going down tomorrow. It will be so fun to see them tear it up, and start the ball rolling! The spirits are high, and we go into this intense week of racing knowing that we can compete with the best.

I’ll try as hard as I can to keep bringing you lots of updates!

Thanks for reading!

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Scando Cup Video

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

The Scando Cups were awesome!! We had a pretty big group over there, and it was an incredibly dense week of high-quality racing… Its not often that you get to race that many times against a field like that, with people that have won World Cups.

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Here is a video summary from the trip… Check it out!

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Over the past few months, Erik and I have been pretty busy with these OFF CAMBER things… We have gotten made fun of a lot, but c’mon people, they are supposed to be halfway dumb!! We wanted to bring you all a new, fresh way to experience the elite ski racing scene. If you want to see the previous editions, you can check them out Here, Here, and Here.

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Look for an update from Turkey very soon!

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Estonia Scando Cups

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

After the races in Latvia, we packed up and drove straight North to Albu, Estonia for what would be the final pair of Scandanavian Cup Races for the year. Driving through Estonia in the late dusk wasn’t exactly the most breathtaking drive; it was mostly cold, and snowy, and empty. But there were a few highlights, which happened to both be in gas stations.

First, apparently they have gender-specific windshield washer fluid:

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But what may be even weirder is this creation… Im not sure how you would classify this piece(s) of food, and if you really want a puzzle, think about this one; how would you actually make something like this, with the layers of ketchup and mustard already encased in the pre-formed bun?

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One of the afternoons, we ventured into Tallinn, which is an incredibly beautiful city, and an awesome mix of new and very, very old. There are a lot of great pieces of architecture:

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And some sweet views from hilltop castle that is almost 1000 yrs old:

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But I don’t think some of these streets would meet code in the US:

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They have what might be worlds fanciest McDonalds. The waiters bring you your cheeseburgers, and they have these giant, heavy, wooden doors as the only entrance:

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There seems to be quite a bit of culture in the city, and Cole was really stoked about one of the latest musicals playing:

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Also, where else can you buy clothing from Bjorn Daehlie and DC Shoe Co in the same store?

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The racing in Albu was great, and I know that our whole group learned a lot and found them to be great racing experiences. For a little more in-depth report of the races, check out the SPRINT and DISTANCE race reports on NNF. The National Nordic Foundation has been essential in making this trip, as well as the upcoming World Junior/U23s, and OPA Cup trips happen, so we are all super appreciative of their support, and for all of you, the ski community, for supporting NNF! You are moving skiing forward!

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John K Dahl and Paal Golberg leading the mens A final.

I am now in Turkey for U23 World Championships, and man, this place is a whole another world! Needless to say, there should be lots of material to blog about, so check back soon for more from the Middle East!

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Latvia Scando Cups

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Wow… so, my blogging record has just been terrible lately. I try not to clutter up the blogosphere with stuff that really isn’t that cool, but that only accounts for a few of the weeks I didn’t post anything.

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But anyways, I got the opportunity to go to Europe with the Ski Team to race Scando Cups, U23 Worlds, and OPA Cups, which I was really excited about. So I came back from Nationals and focused on training in such a way to optimize my results for the rest of the year; this meant boosting the volume and load quite a bit. It was fairly cold for those few weeks, so I spent a lot of time training at the Alaska Club. Their facilities are so awesome for ski training; they have basically everything that isn’t a ski trail, and you can get full aerobic, plyometric, and strength workouts in the same place, in every form imaginable, and as ski specific as you want. Plus, you can work on your horrendous b-ball game on the side like me!

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So now I am over here in the Baltic countries with the US crew that is racing these Scando Cups. It is so awesome to have such a big group of young, fast skiers that want to go battle it out with Europe’s best!

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We started out in Latvia, which is actually much more impressive than you might imagine. Quite a nice place really… but I will leave the storytelling to the pictures. Check them out!!

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Here’s the view from our B&B, looking over the town of Madona. You should see the streets at 7am; tons of people walking to start their day:

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The local sports store has some pretty sweet skis… solid pieces of P-tex that are specifically meant for hunting wild boar. Those must be some pretty slow boars, but yeah… D-Watts, you seeing these?

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The apartment compound down the street is very Cold-War looking… and satellite dish central:

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The local art scene is obviously blossoming though:

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Apparently all those satellite dishes are there so the local population can watch HOUSE; the punk kids even want to graffiti Gregory House’s face on the utilities:

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The food is decent, but if there is one thing I hate, it is Feta cheese. And a few huge bowls of it with breakfast did not made me psyched:

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Although the signage can be a little bit strange… apparently, you can’t have a house, a tree, drive, or play soccer in this area:

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Now, how about this!?? Check out the head timer; SWEETEST BEARD EVER!!!

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The races were pretty good, although the competition is quite intense. We are all excited to be able to race here, and to push each other to get better and better results. It will be exciting to do some more races later this week in Estonia, and I think as we all get more accustomed to the intense time change, the group will just feel better and better!

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Stay tuned for more updates from over here! There will be lots going on, so lots to post about!

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