Reese Hanneman Blog Banner

Archive for March, 2012

Spring Series 1

Monday, March 26th, 2012

So, Spring Series… I think this year’s edition takes the meaning of that phrase to a whole new level. Most of the sking world in the US has migrated out the Craftsbury, Vermont for the big end-of-season showdown.

.

The weather has been far from ideal. And by that, I mean that is has been just way, way too nice. It’s pretty ridiculous how warm it’s been, and the organizers here at Craftsbury have put in an unreal amount of work to pull off these races.

.

It’s been hot. The snow was melting at an unbelievable rate, which will happen when its above 70 degrees out:

.

Apparently the word “spring” means very different things over here. I went on a jog from our house, found a golf course, and practiced my putt:

.

And the next day it looked like this:

.

Needless to say, there is no snow anywhere. The race loop only exists because of the hundreds, probably thousands of hours of snow-making, distribution, and hard work that the Craftsbury center has put in this winter in anticipation of these events. So the race loop is good. Everything else is not.

.

Warm ups are being done on the gravel road, in running shoes, or a bike if you’re really lucky. This is a little more normal if you’ve been racing in Europe at all, but it’s still a little strange to put skis on for the first time with 30 seconds to start.

.

Sylvan showing how important it is to stay aero while warming up:

.

The racing scene is perfect for this time of year. The competition is intense, but the attitude isn’t. Everyone is a little more laid back, and it’s really fun. In the prologue, Erik and Noah tied for the podium, so what do they do, they share the podium!!

.

This is my first time spending more than a few days in Vermont, and it has actually been quite sweet. It’s good to experience that small town New England living:

.

This includes the inn that we are staying at. Its large, and its got that farmhouse feel to it. The best part about it is the kitchen. Its huge and industrial, so I decided to make a matching pancake:

.

.

The races have been going pretty well, and the conditions have been incredibly impressive considering the weather.

.

Fasterskier has been doing some good articles about the races and the results, and you can check them out here.

WOMENS PROGLOGUE

MENS PROLOGUE

WOMENS 10K

MENS 10K

.

Tomorrow is the classic sprint, which will be crazy. It has gotten cold now, and the trails are mostly just solid ice. Should be fun!!

.

Thanks for reading!

.

Italy – OPA Cup Finals

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

After Slovenia, we drove over to North-eastern Italy for OPA Cup Finals. We stayed in a small town known for its apples, cheese, and Tour de Ski stages. One town, two names; if your Italian, it’s called Toblach, and for the Germans, Dobbiaco.

.

It was right in the heart of the Dolomites, and it was beautiful! Basically, a tiny little classic Italian town nestled down in between these towering rock monoliths:

photo - Lauren Fritz

.

We checked out the town of Cortina, which is a legendary alpine area, and was the start of this year’s Tour de Ski queen stage; the epic 35k skate race started there and climbed up and over the pass and descended into Toblach. But it was a gorgeous town, and you can see why it’s one of the premiere European destinations:

photo - Lauren Fritz

.

It was awesome to get a taste of Italian life:

photo - Lauren Fritz

.

There is so much rich history there, and there were so many things that just seemed so quintessentially Italian:

photo - Lauren Fritz

.

The local skiing situation was awesome. It was a world class venue with world class scenery. One of the cooler things was the stadium and lodge. They had a flat stadium area, and needed a hill to send the sprint course over; they also needed a lodge. So they put two and two together, and built a lodge in the shape of a homologated hill, designed to handle Pisten-Bully grooming and lots of skiers:

.

And apparently, that lodge is a center for all kinds of activities, including rollerskiing. Apparently in Italy, rollerskis are as long as normal skis, including tips, with wheels on the bottom:

.

They did an awesome job working with the low snow levels and hot temps. The racing was really good. It was a super high level of competition, with basically all the best non-World Cup athletes from central Europe. It was a mini-tour format, and it was a good little tune-up for Sprint Series.

.

I got to do my first 3.3k prologue of the year, which went ok. I ended up 30 seconds behind the winner, an Olympic Gold medalist, so that was pretty exciting:

photo - Caitlin Gregg

.

A nice sibling shot here, one Bjornsen cheering on another:

photo - Caitlin Gregg

.

Holly Brooks, right off the World Cup, was having an awesome weekend and ended up winning the whole OPA Finals!! Here, she takes off in the final pursuit start stage, fending off Slovenian attacks and eventually making one crucial attack of her own:

.

For her efforts, she won a massive block of local cheese, and since there was no way she could bring back statestide, our waiter was pretty psyched to get it:

.

The wellness hotel that overlooked the ski stadium had an outdoor pool, which proved too tempting after training on a hot day:

photo - Lauren Fritz

.

All in all, it was a great weekend of racing beneath the shadow of the “Three Needles”:

photo - Lauren Fritz

.

One last night at the Movenpick in Munich, and we were all ready for the States. We lucked out on the free ice-cream bars that they had in the lobby, and may or may not have stuffed out pockets for the drive to the airport:

.

If you ever want to hear a truly epic story, ask Noah about the time he showed up at the US Consulate in Munich 2 hrs before his flight to Boston took off, without a passport. Yeah, he made the flight:

.

.

Now everyone is in Craftsbury for Spring Series. It is proving to be unlike any ski race series I have ever experienced. In many more ways than one. More on that soon, very soon.

.

Thanks for reading!!

.

Slovenia – OPA Cups

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Having never been to Slovenia before, I had the wrong mental image of what it would be like… I had it in the Romania and Transylvania category, and I was kind of expecting it to be dark and creepy.

.

Not at all. It was very Italian feeling, and had some really nice parts. We stayed up at Rogla, which is basically a big skiing and resort complex on top of a big hill (mountain, if you’re from the East), home to the Petra Majdic Ski Center, alpine hills, and some other attractions. We were living in what they call “bungalovi”, or little condos, and had views decent views:

.

The alpine skiing was really quite tame, and the area seemed to cater to kids and family skiing. I have never seen so many t-bars in my life. Erik reaching for one on an evening run:

.

Rogla is a annual World Cup stop, and the venue is pretty sweet. It was a little strange though, to have the post-race athlete recovery area in a construction-zone inside one of the new buildings:

.

Down in the lowlands, there was some incredibly beautiful scenery. We drove through a lot of quaint little villages, a mix of old and new buildings, and agriculture and industry. There was some really beautiful countryside:

.

Erik got all excited when we stopped at this one gas station, because he thought maybe he could buy some new rap CDs:

.

We also got to check out this awesome castle, built high up on these sheer cliffs that  tower above a beautiful lake. IT was an incredibly warm day, and we had fun exploring the ancient fort and all of its walls and perches:

.

While the lake down below seemed really inviting, considering the heat:

.

.

We are now in northern Italy, getting ready for this weekend’s OPA Cup Finals. It’s going to be a three day mini-tour, and the competition will probably be the stiffest yet. However, the US has a large crew of pretty fast skiers here, so everyone is excited to throw down and see how we can do!

.

Thanks for reading!

.

Swiss Cups

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

.

We spent last week in Switzerland, training and racing a weekend of Swiss Cups.

.

To get there, we drove through some parts of industrial Germany:

.

And once we arrived, it was obvious why the area is renowned for its skiing. Groomed trails, both alpine and cross country, wind around and over all kinds of mountains and valleys. We did some pretty sweet exploring, skiing up over passes and onto alpine meadows:

.

And there were plenty of old barns laden with snow:

.

It was a pretty nice set up. We were in a little locally owned hotel that sat basically right on the ski trails. After so many winter months, it was nice to have the sun shining in your windows every day:

.

And the view from our deck wasn’t too bad either:

.

With the longtime owners of our hotel being the only ones working there, we got to hear a lot about Swiss traditions and learn a lot about the area. They were extremely nice, and gave us a little more authentic experience than usual. This included traditional live accordion music blaring during dinner, and a full-on fondue meal:

Gotta love B-Gregg's exquisite form!

.

The race trails were fine, albeit interesting. There were an absurd amount of questionable road crossings in the course, and they dint really seem to care. Apparently, they have special “Warning: Volvo with really old-school skis on the roof!!!” signs, which I guess are enough to warn you:

.

What was really cool to see were all the kids involved with the races. Shortly after we crossed the line, they started running the junior races, with many races happening at once and kids just hammering around all over the place. They were into it, enough that even the little tykes had chip timing:

.

It was a cool atmosphere, especially because of the range of abilities that were all hanging out and watching each other race. We (the older, elite skiers) were racing against many of the Swiss national team, including World Cup podium-er Remo Fischer, and the hoards of kids were psyched to watch and cheer and then get autographs afterwards:

.

For the waxing side of things, we were set up in a barn. Basically, the whole race venue was just in the middle of a big pasture, and everything in sight was for the support of large animals. I was advised not to fill my water belt from here:

.

Small sign, marking a local thoroughfare:

.

Jetliners ripping over the Alps, ferrying innumerable people from origin to destination… unaware of what is going on beneath them.

.

We are now in Slovenia, prepping for this weekends OPA cups, which will be a much bigger show. Probably no barns. Probably no towering piles of cow manure to dodge. Probably way more World Cup veterans. Should be intense/fun!

.

Swiss Air

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

.

After Turkey, we stayed in Munich for one night before making the drive to the Gstaad valley in Swtzerland. This place is supposedly famous as one of the best alpine skiing destinations in the world , and it is obvious why… there are lifts everywhere, and you can ski from town to town, over thousands and thousands of acres (or, should I say, hectares).

.

The village we are in is incredible, with tons of snow, sun, and the Alps jutting up on all sides. I will put up some more pictures and writing from the area in a day or two.

.

But here are these for now. Erik and I have done some exploring on skis, and yesterday we found a sick run with a bunch of little jumps, which we played around on.

.

Me:

.

Erik:

.

Me:

.

Erik:

.

Me:

.

Erik:

.

The races start tomorrow, distance skate and classic. Should be awesome! Ill put another post up soon!

.

Thanks for reading!

.

.