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Scandic World Cup – Photo EPIC

Friday, April 18th, 2014

I can’t believe this. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to get this blog up. I have been fighting with some computer problems that have kept me from being able to edit my photos, and I can’t bring myself to make a post until I have gotten my photos somewhat together. So, this is probably one of the most belated blogs I have ever done… sorry about that. But I really wanted to put it up, because this was a really important trip for me.

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Basically, the short summary is that I got to go race all of the World Cup races after the Olympics. I was given this opportunity because I was the Overall SuperTour leader at that point in the season, and FIS mandates that the skier in this position must be able to start the World Cups. This had been one of my huge goals for the season, to lead the SuperTour and get that World Cup spot.

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So I headed off on an adventure to Scandanavia, for the biggest races of my life!

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Flying all over different continents from race to race involves all kinds of crazy connections. The more connections, the more your bags get handled. The more they get handled, the higher the risk for damage. I was bummed to arrive and find that these two pair of my race skis were demolished:

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I have raced in Europe every season for the past 5 years (at least), and have learned just how hard it is to really be competitive on that kind of monumental time change. Your body is just way too wacked out. So I felt very, very fortunate to be able to head to Norway and week early and stay with my friend Kjell-Christian Markset and his family. They were incredibly welcoming and amazing, amazing hosts. I got to experience some authentic Norwegian living, something different than just hotel life. I have eaten lots of wild moose heart in my day, but never store-bought packaged reindeer heart:

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I was pretty thankful to have my new Suunto Quest watch, because besides from being a slick heart rate monitor, it has a sweet dual-time display that kept me in touch with what time it was back home in Alaska, so I wouldn’t wake up my family and friends at bizarre hours:

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KC and I were in Sjusjoen for a week, training and watching the Olympics. Sjusjoen is basically xc heaven. Trails groomed daily as far as the eye can see, and then much much further. Checking out the map of the region:

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After that week of adapting to the new time zone and body cycles, I met the rest of the U.S. Ski Team in Lahti, Finland. They were coming straight from the Olympics, and it was really nice to see them all after the big show.

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In addition to the Olympic team, my good bud Sylvan Ellefson was also arriving. He got to race two weekends of World Cups because he was the SuperTour Distance leader, and he and I were roommates in Lahti. We were both pretty stoked to be there racing the best guys in the world.

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Sylvan is one of the greatest guys I know. He is very nice, very genuine, and he likes to work hard and have fun. He inspires me my own life, and knows how to keep it fun:

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For some reason, I didn’t take a lot of pics in Lahti. I think it was because it was my first weekend there, and I wanted to make sure I was focusing on the important stuff, which was the prep for my racing.

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Great to see my Aussie homies again:

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Double skate weekend in Lahti made it a little more challenging way to start out for me, but for those races, I held my own. The conditions were tough, with a couple inches of ground up sugar on top of solid glare ice. I just tried to really go about my race routine like I always do, and not try to get all crazy with it just because it was a World Cup.

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I just love being there and learning from our top US skiers. As a dude who is trying to break into the World Cup sprint scene, I have a ton of respect for Andy Newell and his incredible consistency in qualifying over many, many seasons. So also kind of tried to shadow him a little bit and see if there was anything I could pick up from him. Andy getting in the zone before the heats, a mix of chill and amped:

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It was incredible to be there that weekend when Kikkan and Sophie went 1-3 in the sprint, and to see history being made there right before my own eyes. Very inspiring.

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Next up after Lahti was off to Norway for the craziest two venues I have been to; Drammen and Holmenkollen. These are both legendary in the ski-crazed nation of Norge, and I have heard so many epic tales from these races.

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You know youre in Norway when the gas station’s Red Bull display features… cross country skiing:

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Stoked on the morning of Drammen!

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Drammen is one of the most famous city sprints in the world, with crazy crowd turnout for the heats and a beautiful backdrop. The course winds a loop through a shopping district before finishing up the steps of an old cathedral:

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It was a crazy mix of spectators, snow, pavement, and all of the athlete, media, and wax crews. It’s also the only World Cup I have ever seen where the spectators can walk right up next to the start area:

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Riding the provided transportation system to and from the venue:

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Refueling with endless slices of the wonderful, sweet brown cheese:

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After sprinting in Drammen mid-week, next up was the biggest one of all, Holmenkollen. This is like the SuperBowl of skiing, with more fans camping and screaming alongside the course than I could have ever imagined. The stadium is impressive:

photo - Jennie Bender

photo – Jennie Bender

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The Holmenkollen has always been a 50k, and this year it was classic which made me happy. I knew that it would probably be the single hardest race I have ever done; the course is insane, with the longest climbs I have ever seen. And 50,000 meters of it.

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Leaders headed out hot:

photo - Jennie Bender

photo – Jennie Bender

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To be honest, my only plan was to ski in such a way that I could finish. I knew that severe cramping would undoubtedly be an issue on a course of this difficulty and length, and that the pace would be more than I could handle right from the gun. So I just pushed it as fast as I thought I could possibly hold, and just went for it:

photo - Jennie Bender

photo – Jennie Bender

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Erik and Andy skiing together:

photo - Jennie Bender

photo – Jennie Bender

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I ended up having a pretty good race, considering. I made it to the finish, and I was skiing strong the whole time. It can be really, really hard to have the confidence for an effort like that, against the absolute best guys. So now I know that I can handle it, and next time I hope to go faster.

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The grandstands provided an unbelievable wall of noise every time you lapped through the stadium:

photo - Jennie Bender

photo – Jennie Bender

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I have to give a massive thank you to Patrick Moore, who was a volunteer wax tech for the US Team in Lahti, Drammen and Holmenkollen, and who did an incredible job with my skis. He provided as premium of a wax experience as I could imagine, and he nailed my skis every time, which can be very hard when you have never worked with a particular fleet of skis before.

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The next day, all of us guys went out to help support the women in their 30k. For most of us, this meant providing feeds at various points on the course. We had help from Kjell-Christian, who was doing a great job in his role as a team hand:

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It was fun being able to be on course to watch the best ladies in the world. I could stand just a track or two away as they went by. Marit Bjorgen was impressive in her dominance:

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The whole Oslo experience was pretty unreal. You feel like the whole nation is there cheering you on, chanting your name. I have never seen that many people live at a ski race; uncountable multitudes. Oslo is a beautiful city, especially when you get to stay up on the hill:

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After that was all over with, we packed up and rode on a bus all day for Falun. It was an all day bus ride, but luckily we got to stop in the Swedish countryside:

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Falun was a beautiful little town. It was big enough to have some stuff to explore, but small enough that it still felt friendly:19

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Trying to take pictures with my nice camera over all of these places and all of this travel can be risky. I have had a lot of close calls with my camera, and am always scared of it being stolen or damaged. I dropped it really hard into a hard floor right when I got to Falun, but luckily just broke the UV filter and not the actual lens:

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Falun was a little bit different than the first two weeks, because it was World Cup Finals. This means that only the best 50 men and women in the world are allowed to race, and then each Continental Cup leader is too (our Continental Cup is called the SuperTour in the US).

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Eli Brown was waxing my skis this weekend, and he absolutely killed it. He worked really, really hard, and we were a good team. It is hard to really imagine how much time these guys put in; they are testing and waxing all day, every day leading up to the races. I am so grateful that Eli was willing to donate his time to help me out:

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World Cup Finals is a mini-tour, which means that there were three races that all added up into a cumulative “overall” place at the end. The first race was a classic sprint, and I was super stoked for this one. It was on a difficult course that had two big, steep striding climbs, and I knew I was capable of a great race. It ended up going well. I say “well” because it was going really well for most of it, until the last climb. Because I was the last starter, I hadn’t gotten to ski on the course for almost an hour before I started. The game of kick wax is an extremely marginal one, and I didn’t have quite enough kick to really stride strongly up the last climb, having to herringbone over the icy tracks. This cost me a few precious seconds. I finished 31st, one place from being only the third US male to score World Cup sprint points this season. I had been running in the top 20 at points before that last climb.

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It was heartbreaking to get that close, but it also is a lot of motivation for the future. I know I can do it.

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Watching the women’s race from my hotel room:

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The Swedish fans turned out in force to cheer on their idols. They get into it:

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photo – Kikkan Randall

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After the sprint was a 30k skiathlon, and then a 15k pursuit. In both of these races, I had no big expectations. This gave me to freedom to aggressively, because I wasn’t afraid of the consequences. These two races ended up being very, very good experiences for me, because I attacked them like I never have in those two events before. I ended up being able to ski with some very, very good guys, and it opened my eyes a little bit to what I was capable of.

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Skiing in a pack, surrounded by four World Cup winners and Sochi Gold and Silver medalists:

photo - Kikkan Randall

photo – Kikkan Randall

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All in all, it was an incredible month for me. I had a good time, but I also got a lot out of it. I think it might have been the most productive trip to Europe I have ever had. It has given me the confidence that I can make the step up to compete at that level.

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I am incredibly thankful for everyone who has helped me get to this point, and to get to the World Cup. There are way, way too many people and groups for me to be able to them all here, but the really big ones deserve a shout. APU Nordic Ski Center, The Alaska Community Foundation, Girdwood 2020, The Alaska Club, PDC Engineers, NANA Nordic, and The Allergy Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska all deserve more than just this footnote. Their support directly improves US skiing and our communities. So thank you!!

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I also have to give a massive “thanks” to the US Ski Team staff who put in so much time and effort to help support me over there. These guys are overworked and probably under-appreciated, and they are what makes any of this happen. I am very grateful to them for their amazing sacrifices and tireless work:

left to right: Steph Caverhill, Chris Grover, Matt Whotcomb, myself, Eli Brown, Oleg Ragilo, Peter Johansson, and Jason Cork

left to right: Steph Caverhill, Chris Grover, Matt Whotcomb, myself, Eli Brown, Oleg Ragilo, Peter Johansson, and Jason Cork

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Thanks for reading!

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Guest Blog

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

My name is Noah Hoffman; I’m a friend of Reese’s and his roommate here in Falun, Sweden. I’m honored to be doing a guest post on his site.

In all honesty, I don’t get to read many of Reese’s posts on this blog. In a sport where everyone is trying to produce as much quality web content as possible (to help with personal marketing), there isn’t enough time to follow all of my friends’ posts. However, I know from experience that Reese’s photography skills are exceptional. Unlike me, Reese actually knows what he’s doing and takes pride in posting quality shots. At times, I’ve hired him to do small photo shoots of me. He produces great shots for me to distribute to my sponsors. Here’s a really cool shot he took of me on the Eagle Glacier last summer:

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Reese is here at World Cup Finals in Falun, Sweden as the leader of the U.S. Super Tour, and we (as a U.S. Ski Team) are so psyched to have him join our group. He is one of the nicest guys in the world. He is professional, thoughtful, conscientious, laid back and fun. We get several different Super Tour leaders joining our group throughout the season. Each of them brings something slightly different to the group, and Reese stands out as an exceptional teammate. I don’t mean to be writing a letter of recommendation for Reese, but I want to make sure you (his readers) know that he is awesome.

I’ve known and raced against Reese for a long time. We figured out that we both raced at the Junior National Championships in Truckee, California in 2005, but neither of us remembers meeting the other at those races. I believe the first time I got to know Reese was at my first World Junior Championships in Mals, Italy in 2008. We’ve never been super competitive with each other since Reese has excelled more in sprinting while I could not be more of a distance specialist. I do have one distinct memory of racing against Reese. It was at Junior Nationals in Anchorage in 2007 in the 15 kilometer mass start classic race. I was the top seeded skier, starting at the pinnacle of the chevron. No more than 20 meters into the race, skiing at the very front of the pack, I crashed. The entire field passed me. I eventually made my way back up to the lead pack only to crash again, again of my own accord. I made it up to the front a third time and tried to push the pace to drop my competitors. I tried as hard as I could, but I could not drop Reese or his teammate Max Treinen. In the last kilometers I knew I had to get a gap on Reese because I did not like my chances in a sprint against him. True to form, he absolutely smoked me in the final 100 meters, winning by a landslide.

Reese, his awesome brother Logan and his parents Nancy and Karl have put me up on the two occasions I’ve been in Fairbanks for races. They are a wonderful, welcoming family. I keep hoping for spring nationals to return to Fairbanks because I want to live with the Hannemans again.

This World Cup period, starting two weeks ago, marks Reese’s first ever European World Cup experience. It’s been fun to watch him awe at things that seem normal to me. I remember how exciting everything about the whole World Cup “circus” was to me when I first got an opportunity to race over here. I’m jealous that Reese gets to experience that now. Here’s Reese doing a little intensity today before tomorrow’s classic sprint race:

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He’s going to crush it tomorrow.

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Here he is enjoying a trip to town on Tuesday:

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We had a great time bowling as a team on Tuesday night.

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Reese and I had a good battle because we are equally inconsistent.

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Thanks to Reese for the opportunity to write this post! You can follow me daily at noahhoffman.com.

US Nationals; My first National Title and those Olympics

Monday, January 27th, 2014

I just got back to Alaska from Park City, Utah after almost three weeks spent down there for U.S. Nationals. I met my family in Park City on Christmas Eve, and spent a really fun and relaxing holiday season there with them. It was actually quite nice to avoid all of the craziness and holiday party obligations that usually crop up in alarming amounts while at home around that time.

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The weather was amazing, and we enjoy some nice family skis together. Of course, there are those holiday traditions that would make it seem weird if they were absent, so of course we tried to give it some sort of tradition. My parents actually brought our trusty, ancient lefse pan down from home, so that we could partake in our usual family tradition of making lefse. Lefse is a traditional Scandanavian treat, and our process usually goes like this; mom and dad work the pan and the dough, churning out lots of the thin, flaky pancakes, while Logan and I lather on the butter and heap on the brown sugar, folding them over and over again and repeating the process.

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After a pretty chill week, all of the athletes and teams showed up, and it started to feel more like getting ready for a ski event. I moved in my with my APU team, and we had a nice house with one of the nicest morning views I have ever seen in a rental:

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The organizers at Soldier Hollow did an amazing job of blowing tons of snow, just in case, and spreading it into some really awesome courses. The race courses were, without a doubt, the most difficult I have ever skied on in the U.S. The climbs were massive and long, and coupled with the altitude of nearly 6000ft, made for brutally hard races.

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The first race was the 15k classic, individual start. While I have traditionally had better results as a sprinter, I have been working very, very hard on improving my distance skiing over the past training year. So I actually had been looking forward to this race with more excitement than usual, and I knew that I had what it took to do well, even on such a hard course.

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Because of the incredibly big climbs, and the altitude, and that it was an individual start, I had a pretty distinct game plan for the race. I told myself that I wouldn’t go over Level 3 (threshold) for the first lap, and then on the second lap I would force myself to stay in Level 3 on all of the climbs, and then the last lap would be pure pain and whatever I had left. So it was to my amazement that I was getting incredibly good splits on lap one; I was leading, I was tied for the podium, etc… When you hear things like this while consciously trying to ski a very conservative pace, it is a little weird. At first I was like “what!? How am I leading?”. But as it went on and the good splits continued, I knew I would be fighting for the win.

photo - Bert Boyer

photo – Bert Boyer

(Bert Boyer has some awesome pics of nearly everyone who raced at Nationals, and he is selling them with all the money going to NNF. Super cool, thanks Bert! Check them out HERE)

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It ended up going well; I finished second behind my friend and team-mate Erik Bjornsen, who was also the National Champion in last year’s 15k, and ahead of longtime U.S. Ski Team member and mulit-Olympian Kris Freeman, who has been 4th at World Championships twice in this exact event. I was so stoked!! It was a little crazy to think back almost 15 years, to remember Kris signing a poster for little ten year old me, barely tall enough to see over the table he was sitting behind.

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On the podium with Erik and Kris:

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photo – USSA

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The next day was the skate sprint. I had a pretty decent qualifier, considering I lost my pole right out of the start and had to spend a few seconds getting it back on. From the first heat, I was feeling good, and I just tried to relax and see what I could do. Trying to get after it on the main climb in the qualifier:

photo - Toko

photo – Toko

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The heats went well, besides being a little bit nerve wracking after the quarters to wait to be lucky loser. It was actually really sweet, because my brother Logan and I were both in the same quarter, and we were both luck losers from that heat because our heat was so fast, so it was fun to move on together. We would go on to move on all the way to the A final together.

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As with all mens sprint races, there was some contact and some carnage. Torin and Dakota tangled here in our semifinal, which resulted in Dakota going down. It was definitely a bummer, but part of the game when the level gets high:

photo - USSA

photo – USSA

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And then this bizarre frame, where I can only assume Dakota is trying to correct from his tangle, and unfortunately wasnt able to pull out of it. I am at a loss as to how there arent any other skiers visible in frame, because we were all within a few feet of each other:

photo - USSA

photo – USSA

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One of the highlights of the week was racing the A final with my brother. It was so fun to hear the announcer try to figure out what was going on when there kept being two “Hanneman”s in the same heat. I was incredibly proud of Logan getting 5th at nationals, as well as his really good distance results, considering that he had a broken back 4 months ago. He is so, so talented, and had to work very hard to get back to this point after that injury; I know that he is capable of some absolutely world class results down the road. It was fun to share the day with him:

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It was also so sick to see Ben Saxton skiing so fast. Ben is one of those young guys that is just a monster talent, and we had fun racing together in Europe last year. Ben has really put his nose to the grindstone over this past year with training, and it is obvious. He is totally stepping up his game, and will certainly be a threat for many years to come. My second podium of the week:

photo - Toko

photo – Toko

Because the first two races went really well, I decided to skip the 30k skate in order to better prepare myself for the classic sprint at the end of the week. I knew I was in good form, and figured I could do pretty well in the 30. I have been working on my distance skiing, and my skating, a lot. But I also knew I was capable of a big result in the classic sprint, so that’s where I put my cards.

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Watching the 30k was one of the coolest spectating days I have had here in the U.S. 6 laps of that Olympic 5k course, some slowish, new snow, and a hungry and aggressive mens pack all added up to a really epic race. I was so, so happy to see my friend, and ever the crowd favorite Sylvan Ellefson ski a commanding, yet only 2 second win. How was is commanding if it was only 2 seconds, you ask? He broke away solo with over 10k to go, and held off the surging pack to the line.

photo - USSA

photo – USSA

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It was really cool to see him pull it off with so many of his family and fans there cheering. I couldn’t pass up posting this awesome shot of his grandpa congratulating him on just become a National Champion:

photo - USSA

photo – USSA

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Because I had a few days between races, I had to make sure to keep my body sharp. That meant some hard ski workouts, and some running in the afternoons. That mean lots of time to explore the old ranchs of the Heber Valley:

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The classic sprint was the last event of Nationals, and I knew it was a chance to really make a good case for myself. It is certainly quite the tightrope to walk; trying to be intense and focused enough to get the job done, while still staying mentally relaxed enough to execute well. We woke up that morning to a little bit of fresh snow, but the tracks were really well groomed and firm, and the new snow just packed right down.

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The course was longer and harder than the skate sprint course. This time, we went all of the way to the very top of Hermod’s Hill, which is by far the biggest climb I have ever seen in a sprint course. This made it a very, very difficult course, on par with something at the Olympics or World Championships. In qualifying, I tried to go out very hard on the first double pole section, and then pace myself up the first half of the climb before cranking it over top, and then of course taking it home as fast as possible. I felt pretty good, and ended up winning my first ever U.S. Nationals qualifier, which was a good sign for the rest of the day.

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In the heats, I was able to ski off of the front of the pack while keeping a relatively conservative pace, which kept giving me more and more confidence. I was excited, because I knew that if I could turn the screws in the final, that probably very few of the guys would be able to match the pace.

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Based on my observations of how people were skiing in the heats, I knew that my team-mate and winner of the 15k classic Erik Bjornsen would be skiing fast in the final. Based on the course, and the guys who were in the A final, I figured that my best tactic would be to push the pace HARD from the gun, and just try to blow it wide open. So that’s what I did… It ended up working well, and I couldn’t believe that I had won my first U.S. National Championship!!

photo - USSA

photo – USSA

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Erik and I breaking away at the base of the big climb:

photo - Toko

photo – Toko

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Here is a video of the finals from that day. The Mens A Final starts at 1:37 (the order of heats in the video is Mens B Final, Womens B Final, Mens A Final, Womens A Final):

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I was stunned that I had actually put it all together. I ran over to my coach Erik Flora, and gave him what I believe is the first ever hug between us (yeah, he and I were that stoked!!). He has helped me so, so much over the last 4 years to get to this point, and I owe him everything. It was so fun to stand on top of the U.S. Nationals podium!!

photo - SkiTrax

photo – SkiTrax

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There were a couple of cool articles, with some nice pictures,  about my first National Championship. It was really cool to have Fasterskier, SkiTrax, and USSA there covering the event.

Fasterskier: “Hanneman Wins Classic Sprint at U.S. Nationals; …”

USSA Press Release: “Hanneman Takes First Ever U.S. Title”

SkiTrax:  ”Hanneman and Narvshikina Triumph in 1.6km CL…”

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After putting together such a great, consistent week of racing, I was really content. I have never finished on the podium at the U.S. Nationals before; this year, I was on the podium in every race I entered (3). I won my first Nationals Championship, which is a great milestone for me. Everyone I talked to was really stoked and people were pretty sure I would be going to the Olympics.

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While I was not surprised to not get named to the Olympic team, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a teeny bit disappointed. I am mostly bummed that the US Team chose not to fill the quota that they were allowed to bring, as I think it would have been good for the future and the excitement of our sport. I think it would be good for them to show the Nordic community that there is hope for someone who has recently started skiing at a world class level, although maybe that person hasn’t been on the small U.S. Ski Team in the past. I am not even necessarily advocating for myself, but friends of mine like Sylvan Ellefson, Caitlin Gregg, and Dakota Blackhorse-Von-Jess who have shown us this year that they are worthy of that team.

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But it is what it is. Those of us who got very close to making the team, but didn’t, must move on and re-evaluate what we are doing. There is a great short piece written by former U.S. Ski Team head coach Pete Vordenberg about athletes being “on the bubble” and not making the team. I wish I had read this when I was a junior and was so disappointed about not making Junior Nationals, World Juniors, or whatever it was at the time. Read Pete’s article HERE.

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I am so thankful to everyone that has helped to get me to this point; from chubby little punk kid at Fairbanks Junior Nordics who really only wanted to go ski in the Terrain Garden, to a U.S. National Champion. I cannot believe it. I owe so much to so many people, and I cant begin to thank them all adequately. My irreplaceable coach Erik Flora; everyone at Alaska Pacific University for supporting our incredible team and everyone at the APU Nordic Ski Center who works so hard. My amazing personal sponsors for helping me get to these races, and the training camps necessary to compete at this level: The Alaska Community Foundation; Girdwood 2020; PDC Engineers; The Alaska Club; Eye Clinic of Fairbanks; The Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska. My equipment sponsors; Fischer, WoodskiSwix, Oakley, Toko, 2XU, Suunto, and E’Klaar.

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I am very excited though; I am currently leading the SuperTour overall standings, and have a mathematical lock on the Sprint standings, so I will be getting to race a bunch of World Cups this March. I am very stoked for this opportunity, and I am currently in Alaska training and preparing for this next block of my competition season.

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Thanks for reading! I will try to blog more frequently during the next portion of my season!

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Holiday Skiing

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

After the last SuperTour races in Bozeman, I returned home to Alaska for a couple of weeks of training. I got a little bit lucky, as the snowpack had been a little thin up until that point, but it started dumping right as I got back. The skiing got really, really good.

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Basically, my plan was to come back from the SuperTours and take a weekend off from racing, and bump my training volume back up to prepare myself for U.S. Nationals.

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While there, I went out to watch one of the biggest high school races in the state. I remember racing in Lynx Loppet when I was skiing for Lathrop High School, and I remember being so incredibly nervous even though I was way back in the field. It was really fun to see the massive numbers of kids out racing, and all of the community interest. Alaskan junior skiing is thriving!

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Four hundred racers… equals a lot of ski bags. I couldn’t believe the amount of gear out there, it seemed like the entire Kincaid Park was blanketed in ski equipment.

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The highlight for me though was watching my cousin Andrew, who is a freshmen at Lathrop High School, racing in his first big high school race! It was super fun to ski around the course and cheer him on, he was having fun and doing awesome!

photo - Kate Bennett

photo – Kate Bennett

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Another cool thing I did in town was volunteer as a coach for the Lickety Splits Ski Camp. This is an annual camp that was started three years ago by my team-mate Tyler Kornfield, and it is now the largest kids ski camp in Anchorage. I had a great time working with the kids, like I always do, and it reminded again why elite skiers can make a big positive impact on their communities.

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Me (middle, in blue) with my group for the day:

photo - Cole Deal

photo – Cole Deal

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The camp was really well run, and the kids had a blast. We got to try out all sorts of different stations, ranging from purely fun to a little more skills based. They just eat it up.

photo - Cole Deal

photo – Cole Deal

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I was impressed with the turnout. There were something like 120 kids there, and they all wished there was more camp!

photo - Cole Deal

photo – Cole Deal

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The weekend before Christmas were the Besh Cups. I had done a fairly hard 2 week training period leading into them, and was using the races as two hard intensity sessions to finish off my training  block. There was a classic sprint, and a 15k skate. The sprint was fun, although the course was pretty mild, so a few of us double poled it on skate skis. The field was as fast and stacked as ever, which is really cool to see.

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Eric Packer and I leading the A Final…

photo - Charlie Renfro

photo – Charlie Renfro

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He and I had our third crashing photo finish of this season, which after a long period of deliberation by the officials, we never really heard who won. I ended up being relegated to 6th, because of a questionable skating motion around a corner. This was a good lesson for me, because as we double pole more and more sprints, it can be hard to stay on the legal side of that line, with all of the turning and track changes and such.

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The next day was a 15k mass start skate. Since I was just using it as a training session, I decided to make it as hard as possible and try a different tactic than I normally would. I attacked the field really early, and then with Scott Patterson after he worked his way up to me. He slowly pulled away over the next few k’s, but I was able to hold my gap over the big chase pack by myself, which I was really happy about. Eric out-sprinted the rest of the field for third:

photo - Eric Packer

photo – Eric Packer

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It was a fun, laid-back weekend of racing, and it was really fun to have my homies and roommates Erin Phillips and Don Haering waxing my skis. They are both coaches for the APU juniors and devos, and they killed it on my skis. I am really thankful to have an incredible team behind me, whether I am at big races in Europe, World Cups, or just Besh Cups. Erin, me, Don, and Eric Strabel:

photo - Charlie Renfro

photo – Charlie Renfro

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After that weekend, we hosted a big Christmas party at our house, complete with an outdoor ice bar that my roommates built. I was too busy training to really have much of a hand in it, but it turned out so awesome.

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The next day I left for Park City, Utah to spend Christmas with my family and hang out, getting ready for U.S. Nationals which start on the 4th. It was a great, low key Christmas with the family, and we are gearing up for a big week of important races.

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I will put up a blog after all of the races, and for results and race report, check on the Fasterskier homepage.

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Thanks for reading!

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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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Happy Thanksgiving – W Yellowstone Vid

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I personally think it is so good any time we can take a second to think about all of the incredible things in our lives that we are thankful for. Everyone has their own things that they wish were maybe a little different, but in the grand scheme of it all, we have things very good. It’s a little bit too bad that it takes a very commercialized certain Thursday to make us acknowledge the people and things that we are glad to have in our lives, but maybe we can take that attitude to the quieter parts of the year too.

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I am personally extremely thankful for my family, friends, teammates, coaches, sponsors, and for the countless people who have served this country so that we can enjoy and live life with all of those things.

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I am also thankful for really good skiing… like its been in West Yellowstone. I made this short vid of my team-mates and I training here.

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I am also very, very thankful to the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center of Alaska for helping me with transportation down here to these races. They have been a huge help, and I appreciate their tremendous support of my ski racing career. They are an absolutely incredible medical resource, and have been a positive influence in our community for a while.

Alaska Allergy

 

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I will be putting up a much longer photo-based blog soon. Thanks for reading! Happy Thanksgiving!

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November Ski Training

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Since returning from our last altitude dryland training camp in Park City, we have been getting to work here in Anchorage. The weather in town has actually been pretty warm and dry for this time of year, which allowed APU to host a fundraiser run for the National Nordic Foundation.

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If you follow U.S. cross country skiing even a teensy weensy bit, you probably heard of this organization. Basically, the U.S. Ski Team can’t fund hardly anything besides the very top couple of athletes; so athletes like myself, and lot of my teammates, and the next wave of incredibly promising junior skiers, have to fund our own way to World Cup, World Championship, and other international events that we get asked to represent this country at. Long story short, the NNF has stepped up majorly to actually do something about it, and to get some measurable funding to the areas that need it. For example; in 2012, 13 athletes declined to go to U23/World Juniors (which has been known for its high costs); only 1 athlete declined in 2013. This is huge.

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However, the NNF is supported entirely by grassroots donations from people like you, like me, like us. If you’d like to contribute, I’d ask that maybe you contribute to my brother Logan’s page, since he is included in a matching grant challenge for the younger skiers, and your donation would go further that way. I also have my own page here.

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The APU Nordic Ski Center’s Elite Team hosting the NNF costume fundraiser run. From left to right: Sadie Bjornsen (frog), Zuzana Rogers and her daughter (Kikkan Randall), Pete Kling (freaky hairdresser), myself (Alaskan Sourdough), Lauren Fritz (Kapow!), Jack Novak (creep), Lex Treinen (farmer with live chicken), Erik Bjornsen (warthog), Rosie Brennan (piggy), Kate Fitzgerald (viking), Kikkan Randall (mariachi), Thomas O’Harra (nordork):

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We have been lucky here because the skiing at Hatcher Pass has been really, really good. It has been great to get a lot of time in on snow, and we have been trying to take advantage of it, putting in as many hours up there as we can. Winter means cold, and that means it time to bust out my favorite gloves, the Toko Classics. They have made them even better this year, and they are incredibly warm while still being thin enough that the pole strap can stay tight. Not to mention affordable and tough as nails; I have a pair of these gloves that probably have 500 hrs of pole strap chafe on them, not to mention an un-countable number of frozen nose wipes, and they still look like they just came out of the wrapper. I hate it when gloves get holes in them. These are my go-to glove for everything.

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The trails at Hatcher Pass, while not specifically designed for skiing, end up being very much like a homologated FIS course. It’s hard to believe how good they are until you see them. There’s even a pretty big climb in the loop, which is essential for training. Kikkan on “Sochi Hill”.

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We had a post training team brunch at the Cresap’s house, which wasn’t the first but was equally as mind blowing as the others. Linda Cresap goes all out, and there is always a bottomless supply of gourmet everything! Thanks Linda!

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As the winter comes down from the mountains and creeps into town, the last of the easily accessible foraging is about to be buried. Better get it while you can! Always moose in the yard:

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Catching the sunrise in the Matanuska valley on an early morning drive to Hatcher:

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We have had a couple distance time trials up there this past week. It can take a little bit to get into race mode after a long summer and fall of training, so they are good intros into those feelings. The conditions have been literally perfect, which is nice.

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Here I am, classic 7.5k time trial.

photo - Nat Herz

photo – Nat Herz

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Time trials also mean you have to start worrying about skis, and making them fast. But I’m not really interested in stressing out about stuff like wax, so I just used some of that new Toko HF blue, and wow. One layer, blistering fast.

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And when youre putting it on Fischer Carbonlites, you really can’t do much better:

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It has been fun to feel the vibe of the group start to shift towards the excitement of racing. We have a big group, who are all looking to improve upon past performance. The stoke is high! Wonder-coach Erik Flora handing out homade post time trial awards:

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Its been fun to have PK here training with us. He is one of the infamous Aussie trio, and is always up for a good time and hard training. We took a picture, and I told him Id do something Australian and he should do something American. I tried to impersonate a kangaroo; he threw up gang signs. Because everyone knows Australia is overrun with ‘roos and America is overrun with gangs…

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Nothing like some home smoked, wild caught Alaskan sockeye salmon for post workout recovery. Andre deliverin big time:

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Now is just more training, and honing the edge. We have about another 2 weeks in town before heading to Montana for the first SuperTours of the year.

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Also, I made this video of a training session at Hatcher Pass earlier this week. I posted it already, but if you haven’t seen it, here it is again:

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And, as always, for more frequent photos, find me on Instagram (username:   reesehanneman )  http://instagram.com/reesehanneman

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Thanks for reading!!

 

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Skiin’ Hatcher Vid

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Heres a little vid I threw together from training yesterday at Hatcher Pass. The conditions were absolutely unreal, thanks to great snow and Ed Strabel and the Mat Su Ski Club for their incredible grooming.

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Also, big thanks to my friend and fellow ski racer Russell Kennedy for the sweet track. He makes some really rad music, you can check more of it out here under his Z3X name.

Park City Camp – October

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

We just finished up our last training camp of the year in Park City. It was another 2 weeks block, like our camp in August, but this time there were significantly more people there besides just the APU team. Nearly every major club brought their full elite teams, plus there were a lot of individuals there as well. It had snowed a bit there before the camp started, but we were lucky enough to get really good weather.

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Driving to morning training at Soldier Hollow:

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The benefit of this camp was having the top 50-60 skiers in the country all there training together. It brings a whole new set of skills, techniques, and approaches that haven’t been seen when we are all spread out in the summer.

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Erik Bjornsen, Sylvan Ellefson, and myself. Post workout with Team Oakley:

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The falltime colors there were amazing. I loved the contrast here between the foothills and these snowy peaks:

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Homeade pizza:

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A couple minor storms rolled through, leaving small amounts of precipitation, but more impressive were their rainbows:

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A long run on the amazing Utah singletrack:

photo - David Norris

photo – David Norris

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Driving to SoHo again. Mount Timp above the farmland and pastures:

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Horse whisperer Lex Treinen bonds with one of the spectators at a workout:

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Looking over at another 9000ft ridge from our house… quietly waiting. Waiting for that legendary Utah powder to engulf it all. Things were silent this time of year, but they won’t be for long:

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It was a really productive camp. The training was hard, but that makes it worthwhile. I really want to take a second to say a HUGE “THANK YOU” to Zuzana Rogers, who is one of our pt’s from Advanced Physical Therapy. She came down with us to help keep our bodies from falling apart due to the training, and she was an immeasurable asset. Thanks so much Zuzana!

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Also, if you have  one of those smartie-phones and you’d like to see come of my cool pictures that I don’t put on this blog more often, follow me on Instagram. My username is simply: reesehanneman

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Now I’m back in Alaska to ski on snow and make the final training preparations for racing. Yeehaw.

Fall Training and Hunting Season

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Since getting back from our training camp in Park City a month ago, I have settled back into the swing of the real Alaskan fall. For me, that means lots of hard training and hunting season. I worked a trip home to Fairbanks into my training plan, to do some moose hunting with my family. It was really nice to be home and hang out. I hunted hard with my parents for a couple of days, and unfortunately we didn’t end up getting a moose. I wish I had more time to dedicate to hunting, but I needed to get back to training.

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Out on a moose pond with my mom:

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Although we didn’t get a moose, I did end up getting a bunch of grouse, which are incredibly exquisite eating. The bag limit up north there is 15 per day, and this was the first time that I can remember actually limiting out.

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My brother Logan shot a very nice 53 inch bull the week before. He was hunting alone, and called it in by making bull calls with his voice, which is incredibly awesome. I am so proud of him, it was a beautiful animal:

photo - Hanna Gillis

photo – Hanna Gillis

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Training wise, these can be some of the most challenging weeks of the whole year, because the volume of training is still staying quite high, but the intensity comes up. When you combine those things, it makes for some serious load on the body. For the most part, we have had pretty good weather here, which helps you get through all those hard workouts just a tad bit easier. It has been crisp and you can feel the suns power slowly fading; the smell of winter wafts on the wind coming down from the mountains.

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Long threshold session, starting at sea level and finishing very high:

photo - Sam Sterling

photo – Sam Sterling

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Climbing, and more climbing, we go up some big hills, but there are definitely bigger ones around. North America’s highest peak back there on the right; that’s what 20,000 vertical feet looks like at 200 miles away:

photo - Sam Sterling

photo – Sam Sterling

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Last weekend I went fly fishing on the Kenai river for dollies and rainbows. It was a beautiful day on the river, and we were using egg patterns and beads from both a drift boat and the banks.

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My mom with a nice dolly:

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Me fishing from the bank:

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Being so late in the fall, the salmon run is pretty much over, and there are millions of salmon laying on the gravel bars. This makes it very prime eating for the grizzly bears as they prepare for the long winter. Salmon in different forms here; whole carcass, and then after being eaten, bear scat absolutely full of bones and vertebrae:

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My dad and I relaxing after a day of fishing:

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A few days ago, I gave a presentation about goals and myself as a skier to the entire Girdwood Elementary and Middle School, with my teammate Tyler Kornfield. We shared our experiences being elite athletes, and showed pictures about a lot of the things we have done and places we have been. It was actually really fun, because all of the kids were really into it and seemed pretty stoked to hear what we had to say.

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Some new fans!

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And lastly, I did a really cool workout earlier this week where I went for a long mountain run with my .22 tied tightly onto my pack, and got some ptarmigan at the highest point of the run. They are incredibly beautiful birds this time of year, with the pure white bodies and still the camo heads and necks. The weather was calm and just below freezing, and the late afternoon sun set on the peaks. It was a great afternoon workout:

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I will be traveling through the night on my way to Park City for the October U.S. Ski Team training camp, which starts on Monday. It should be pretty hard, but it will be sweet to have so many elite skiers together. I will definitely be posting pics from there.

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Thanks for reading!

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