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Archive for December, 2010

La Pyramide, Mt. Saxonnex, Uphill race, 29 December 2010

Friday, December 31st, 2010

La Pyramide is the first uphill night race in the local Mountain Ski Tour series. And it was exactly this type of race and this type of race series that got nina into ski mountaineering racing 6 years ago!

Wednesday night’s race started at the base of of a little ski area called Mt. Saxonnex and climbed 580 meters in total with 80 m of light descent three quarters of the way up where you left your skins on followed by a boot pack and then skinning up to the finish line.

Race Profile for the "La Pyramide" Uphill Race

Nina started out a little slower than usual on this mass start event and tucked in on the tails of a Chamonix club team mate to find her rythm. You may recall that at French Nationals, where she finished 3rd overall, Nina found herself ahead of her whole starting group–the senior and vet women, and the junior and espoir (up to 23 year old) men and women. Changing her tactic worked well as she found herself going back and forth with her teammate who has been climbing better than her so far this season.

Nina arrived at the top of the first climb in second position just ahead of her normally faster teammate, and just behind a climbing specialist. The following 80 meter descent was not that steep, more of a flat, that was skied with skins on. Nina’s x-c racing experience at Dartmouth paid off here(so did all her upper body and core strength training!) and she widened the gap between she and her teammate using efficient striding, double poling and double poling with a kick; here she also passed the climber to move into first place.  After the gradual downhill came a transition to a boot pack and some where along here the climber passed Nina without her seeing–it’s a mass start race with men everywhere passing and being passed, so it can be hard to keep track of your competition. Just in topping out of the boot pack and transitioning to the final skinning section Nina saw that she had been passed and put it in high gear to try to catch up, ultimately finishing only 6.7 seconds behind in 2nd place and winning her category. 

A little frustrating, but overall a great performance. Nina was a fair amount faster than last year on this short course.

 Here are some time comparisons:

La Pyramide:      2009/10:       2010/2011:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1st mens:                28:34                 28:25 (won both years by veteran French National Team member Tony Sbalbi)                                                                                                     2nd mens:            29:53                29:40                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       3rdmens:               30:56               29:41                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1st womens:           38:17                  36:52 (woman both years by the veteran uphill climbing specialist Catherine Juillaguet)                                                                                       2nd womens:         39:38                 36:58 (Nina 2nd place both years–40 seconds faster this year!)                                                                                                                                  3rd womens:          41:47                  37:40

For post race analysis, Nina was a good 40 seconds faster than last year on a somewhat short uphill race course(most are 800 to 1000m up). Catherine, was improved even more–good thing she only races uphill races. Do these results mean the snow conditions were just faster? I don’t think so because if you look at the men’s top 3 (who are all French National Team members), you’ll see some improvement but only by 10 seconds in the first two places. So it is fair to say, Nina is fitter! Follow Nina at the first World Cup on Saturday, January 8th. (

And if you’re in the Chamonix area this January 4th, come race the “Relais des Chamois” ski mo race that Nina and her club are organizing. It is the second in the Mountain Ski Tour series.

Nina on the podium with her pink Merelli skis! 1st place senior, 2nd place overall.

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Nina gets some ink in THE Ski Mountaineering Race Magazine of Italy!

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

In Italy, ski mountaineering racing is really big. Thousands of racers come to the big events and they often host more World Cup that any other country.The sport is often televised and the Italian ski mountaineering National team is managed by the same federation that oversees the Alpine and Nordic teams. The top athletes are professionals often “working for” the Italian Army.

So when Nina was mentioned in the Italian magazine, Ski Alper (formerly Fondo Ski Alp which used to cover nordic skiing as well), that follows all news ski mountaineering racing, I was pretty excited. It’s just a small mention for her podium in French Nationals, but still. Let’s hope for more to come.

Check it out. The magazine is actually pretty interesting especially using google translate to view it in English.

Will this mention get Nina highly needed sponsorship euros?

Michael Silitch

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Podium in French National Championships, 12 Dec. 2010!!!!!

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Third Place and a Bronze Medal in the French National Ski Alpinisme Championships, Individual race  last weekend! Nina had an exceptional race on a course that really suited her strengths. Long with many transitions and lots of long downhill runs on rock-hard “New England” snow. The hard snow also allowed her cross country ski race experience to shine through giving her good grip to stride and glide well on the icy surface. With all Nina’s hard work this summer and fall, her climbing is really coming along too.

Podium for Nina in the French National Championships, 12 dec. 2010

In fact, as she sprinted away from the starting line, on a gradual, but not too steep uphill, she found herself way out in front ahead of not only all of the senior women, but all the junior men who started at the same time. As a young Bjorn Daehlie once said, after being criticised by his coaches and competitors for starting out too fast, then blowing up, “it’s not about starting slower, it’s about finishing faster”, and although Nina was caught by some of the others, she held off a fair amount of the pack.

Nina, on the right with pink chamois on her arms, doing one of her signature lightning quick transitions from skinning up to skiing down. It was a beautiful day above the Orcieres ski area just south of the Ecrins National Park in France.

She was honored to be on the podium with two of the best racers in France, one a world champion. In first place was Laetitia Roux, one of the best racers to date in skimo and summer uphill trail running.  And second place was Valentine Fabre, one of Nina’s teammates in the Chamonix Ski Alpinisme Club.

Kudos to Nina and all her teammates who raced!

Rocketing down the slope and reeling in her competitors. Here Nina is beside Corinne Favre.

The Hardware--Bronze Medal from the French National Championsips!

"Championnat de France Individuel Ski-Alpinisme Chamsuar 12/12/2010"

Kilian Jornet is a Salomon sponsored trail runner and a World Champion in Ski Mountaineering Racing. He won this race.

Some French men transitioning at the summit. It was a beautiful day, cool, clear, but not too cold.

The downhill after the summit transition. The snow was hard and the speed were high.

You can just see the "ant line" of racers skinning up the switchbacks well below in the valley. The terrain was very open and expansive with great views.

A trophy too! "3e Dame Senior 2010"

Check out:

 Laetitia Roux’s blog:

Nina’s site:

Nina’s Club site:

Report by Michael Silitch,

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Ski Mo Season Kick off in the Alps!

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Nina kicking and gliding on the flats

Last sunday, December 5th, my birthday no less, the Mont Blanc Ski Challenge made a very successful debut with over 200 participants!  Not only was it the first race of the French ski mo race calendar, it was in our own backyard, Chamonix, and also was open to everyone! Ouvert a tous! This is kind of a first for French races and something I was really pleased to see!  Sometimes in France and Italy one does not get the feeling that these races are open to everyone, just the real racer types, but in order for the sport to grow, the races must be open to all.  In fact, when I got into the sport while living in Switzerland, it was just this type of race, with a fun and friendly ambiance, that inspired me to do more!


VIDEO/ Training in Italy- Getting Ready for the World Cup Season

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Early Season Training in Cervinia Click on the link for the YouTube video of some early season training in Italy.

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All About the Core

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Side Angle to Push Up with Weight

To Push Up

To push up/ plank

I would not call myself a gym rat, but do love fitness, and always have; I love knowing what is new and innovative in the fitness world. Living in Boulder, Colorado prior to coming to Chamonix, I had every fitness class at my  finger tips, whether was the ultimate spinning class, or  Pilates  or Richard Freemans Yoga Class, or Bikrum’s Hot Yoga class, you name it, they have it. You can find any and every sort of athlete from the amateur to the elite. In Chamonix, it is similar in some ways, as far as athletes and adventurers, but as far as classes and gyms, it is not quite the same We often call Chamonix, the Boulder, Colorado of Europe. As my aunt who spent last winter with us said, everyone is fit, from the kids to the grannies. Well, yes, that is true, there are people in their 60s’s that have lapped me on the trails. More kudo’s to them! Bravo for putting their health as part of their core values.


Training in 3 Countries of Mt Blanc

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

A Favorite Spot!

One of the many great things about living in Chamonix is the proximity to Italy and France and the chance to get a taste of another culture in just minutes. Whether it is through food, wine, cheese, chocolate, on or off  the slopes and trails or just  pure sunshine. We certainly take advantage of this opportunity. Mt Dolant is a nearby peak with its summit in the 3 countries. This our local ski race has teamed up with a Swiss Race and an Italian Race- forming a triology of races: The Mt Blanc Ski Race:This is just a symbol of the harmonious international flair living here is all about. Here are a few photos of my recent travels and trainings in the Mt Blanc countryside.