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Archive for December, 2013

West Yellowstone Racing

Friday, December 6th, 2013

I left Alaska about two weeks ago to head south in preparation for the season’s opening SuperTour races. While we have had an incredible fall of skiing at home, I was excited to head towards that warm western sun. I went almost down about a week and a half before the first race, with the intention of using that time to let my body acclimate to the almost 7000ft elevation we would be racing at.

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Every Alaskan’s favorite airport view; the Sea-Tac atrium. Let’s just say, you get to know it well…

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I want to give a massive “THANK YOU” to the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska for their incredible support. They have helped make it possible for me to travel to and from out of state training camps and competitions, and I simply could not do it without their help.

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I spent a couple of days in Bozeman, and got to train on some of the nicest conditions I have ever seen at Bohart Ranch. With my longtime Fairbanks bud David Norris:

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photo – PK Kovacs

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Skiing with Maine Winter Sports Center athlete Sam Tarling with the Bridgers behind:

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While in Bozeman, I went to the memorial for ski industry icon Peter Hale. He has been the Madshus rep for as long as I can remember, and probably longer than I have been alive. Even though I have been skiing on Fischer since I was a junior, Peter was always an incredibly nice guy, willing to help out even if it didn’t directly benefit him or his brand. I remember one instance, last year at US Nationals in Soldier Hollow, when my binding needed adjustment just minutes before my sprint heat; I was frantically running around trying to find someone with a NIS key. I asked Peter, and he mumbled something and promptly ran back to his Madshus tent, started tearing through all of his wax boxes until they were all a mess, and found one. He adjusted my binding, wished me luck, and I regretted that I didn’t have time to help him organize everything again as I rushed to the start line.

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It was really cool to see so many people who knew him so well, and to hear all of the crazy stories they had about him. We will miss you Peter!

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After being in Bozeman for a few days, I joined up with the rest of my APU team and headed to West Yellowstone. We settled into the western cabin-style houses that we usually stay in, which are rustic but cozy. And we have a diner chime on the porch…

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The skiing here in West has been some of the best I have ever seen. I bet it was conditions like this that originally inspired people to start flocking to West Yellowstone. We got really lucky with some nearly perfect conditions for the races.

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We started off the year with a skate sprint. It was really cool that the organizers put together a real sprint, with a legit course and full heats. While I didn’t feel especially snappy in my qualifier, it was good enough to get into the heats, and from there it’s a whole new race.

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I would like to serve up  a huge THANK YOU to PDC Engineers, who have been my headgear sponsor for a few years now and will be continuing to support me. They are an incredible Alaskan company known for solving some of the unique design challenges that present themselves in the Arctic climate. I could not do it without their incredible support. I am really, really excited to represent them on my headwear this season!

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photo – Toko

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I absolutely love skiing in sprint heats, and I was excited about going out and giving it everything I had. Because the course was extremely fast and extremely tactical, it took some figuring out. The only way to successfully move on (by finishing in the top two in your heat) was to put yourself in the exact right spot tactically, and to finish the last couple hundred meters with a ferocious kick. In three heats, I was part of three photo finish lunges that ended by crashing across the line and sliding to a stop in the finish pen.

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Heading out of the stadium in my quarterfinal. I am in about 4th place in the black/blue suit, bib #21. I would finish 2nd in this heat to move on to the semis…

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I ended up getting second in the final, which is my best skate sprint result in a SuperTour race ever. I was very happy with it, especially since it is so early in the year and am planning to only feel faster and faster as the season progresses.

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Sharing the podium with my buddy Ryan Scott (3rd) and a new Euro on the scene, Emil Johannsen (1st).

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The West Yellowstone races  and ski festival always happen over Thanksgiving, which is a bit of a bummer that we don’t get to be home with family. But it is always an APU team tradition to make the best of it, and go all out on a traditional style Thanksgiving dinner, with all of the staples.

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Homemade stuffing in progress:

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The second race was a 15k skate interval start. This has traditionally been very much my Achilles heel, but I have worked really hard over the summer to bring my skate game up. I went decently well, 21st, which is my best skate 15k in West ever, but still not what I know I can do.

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My good friend Sylvan Ellefson, who skis for the Ski and Snowboard Club of Vail, had a great 15k, getting third. I took some pics of him for one of his new sponsors L.L. Bean, which I think is one of the cooler sponsors out there. They make some cool stuff, and the logo looks good on Sylvan’s suit:

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After the races and the festival, the town clears out pretty quickly and returns to its winter ghost town status. We hung around for a couple more days, training on the empty trails, and then headed to Bozeman for the next weekend of SuperTours. It is currently pretty cold in Bozeman, but I am hoping the races happen. I will put up another blog soon.

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In other news, I just put up some lifestyle photos from a photoshoot I did with World Champion and U.S. Ski Team member Jessie Diggins. You can check them out here, or click on the picture below:

Jessie Diggins Reese Hanneman 2

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Thanks for reading!

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