Staying Put

*Ben S. checking in.

Skiing has taken me to 17 different countries and 4 different continents. Almost every year, I live out of a suitcase for close to 5 months. Travel is just an essential reality of our sport. Which is why, right now, it is really quite odd to find ourselves in a summer of stillness. 

The country has, correctly, ground to a halt over the last few months. As we face the reality and magnitude of the pandemic, it has meant that most travel has stopped completely. I haven’t left Vermont since I got here, and even our usual summer training camps have disappeared. As a skier, this has been hard; we’re conditioned for a life on the road, and staying in one place for such a relatively long time has begun to seem strange. It feels, in one sense, like opportunities are passing us by as we hang out here in our homes. Over the last month, I’ve caught thoughts bouncing around in my head like “It should be time to pack a suitcase!” or “We should be getting our skis ready to head down to New Zealand!” But it’s not time to pack a suitcase, and my skis aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

In 2018, the bridges in Montreal shut down and we missed our flight to New Zealand. The wildest travel day I can remember with T2. 

It would be easy to think about this as a bad thing, but for me it’s been a wonderful reminder of the value of continuity in training. As I said, we’re used to being on the move, so it’s easy to forget the value of staying in one place. I flew to Vermont on May 5th and since then I’ve been sticking close to home. Initially I felt a little cooped up, and frankly I still do, but being in one place has provided a lot of benefit. 

Staying here has allowed for an excess dose of one of the building blocks of fitness: repetition. I’ve repeated more of the same workouts, and done intervals in more of the same places than usual, and it’s given me a unique chance to measure my growth against my past performances. When you stay in one spot, you get more data points, and you can learn more about where you stand. 

Staying here has also allowed (perhaps paradoxically) for a little bit more experimentation, which is essential to sanity. I’ve been exploring new places in the Stratton area for my easy workouts, I’ve been hopping on my road and mountain bikes far more than I ever used to. These are things I never would’ve done if I was bouncing back and forth between camps and vacations. Changing up the modes of training has allowed my body to stay fresher and healthier, while also bringing me to new places on the roads of southern Vermont.

Biking to all corners (old and new) of Southern VT with Zak.

So, while I miss travel, I’m thankful for the opportunities a little bit of stillness has provided. Not traveling has felt weird, and will continue to feel weird. But it strikes me that our sport is all about adapting to the changing trail in front of you, and while life of late hasn’t felt quite like business as usual, it has allowed me to learn more about myself and explore some new practices, which is what training is supposed to be all about.

Home is a great place to be.

An Ode to Burritos

*Ian checking in.

A couple days ago I put up an Instagram post with the caption “Big training days mean big burrito nights”. Upon thinking about what to write a blog about I kept coming back to my post and figured why not write a lengthy love letter to my favorite training food, the burrito. As we are in the heart of the summer long volume training weeks, my typical consumption is about 15 BPW (burritos per week) with other meals typically involving risotto, stir fry, pesto pasta, or a special treat of frozen pizza on Sunday nights. I favor making two BIG batches of the burrito contents per week and then eating 2 lunches and 2 dinners off of the remnants. As long as I keep enjoying the routine, I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. 

Burritos have taken their place in my food hall of fame due to their adaptability to all people of different diets. Vegan? Basic rice and bean burritos do the trick. Vegetarian? Add cheese and eggs. Meat lover? Stack it with chicken and beef. Gluten free? Skip the tortilla and make a burrito bowl. Lactose free? Skip the cheese. The combination of toppings are endless. Cilantro, lettuce, salsa, bbq sauce, guac, they all add up to an amazing array of taste. My typical “big” batch of toppings goes as such: 

  • 1 can of black beans and 1 can of corn heated up together
  • 1 box of Spanish rice or some other flavored rice
  • A sauté of 3 red, yellow, and orange peppers, 3 jalapeños, 2 onions, and a can of pineapple chunks (don’t knock it till ya try it, it complements nicely with the heat of the jalapeños!) 
  • 12 eggs scrambled with taco seasoning (again don’t knock it till you try it!)
  • 3 avocados mashed up
  • Cilantro
  • Taco style shredded cheese
  • Generous helping of salsa
  • Barbecue sauce (maybe) 
  • Toasted tortillas

I have been avoiding meat when I can for environmental reasons as well as an experiment to see how my body reacts and feels during training. So far I love it! I don’t hold myself to a strict standard and if my brother up in the Dartmouth area makes burgers and brats I don’t refuse. Thus I label myself as a Sham-atrian or I believe the proper term is Flexitarian. When I am down in Stratton, I have been pretty steadfast in keeping with my regimen. 

Along with inordinate amounts of burrito consumption, the training hours have been stacking up and the team has been vibing along to hard training and good teamsmanship and pushing each other forward during each session. I am truly proud to be a part of this team and its commitment to excellence on the international stage and community interaction and inspiration. 

Photo: U.S. Ski Team/Tom Horrocks

July in Vermont

Hey sports fans, Ben Ogden back again with a little blog post action to keep the fans happy. Not too much has changed since I last posted but it’s as usual I’ve been working, training and living the dream. So here are a few of the more epic moments from the last couple weeks for your visual enjoyment. 

Big tree fell at the boss man’s house… His wife is not pleased! Luckily I was on scene in record time desperately looking for something to do other than the weedwacking I had been assigned for that day.
Thankfully the tree cleanup was a breeze thanks to all the pull ups I have been doing lately.
Gotta keep the old girl running silky smooth at all times. Sometimes that involves an acetylene torch, sometimes It doesn’t. Really depends on the day 

I always like doing what I can myself on my 4runner because I am desperate to learn how to build cars one day. So far I have tackled a handful of little things in and around the rig, but I’m no expert yet. Had to call a lifeline on this header install… Pictured here is a neighbor who knows everything there is to know showing me how the pros operate. 

Gotta start somewhere

Can’t help myself but to involve a little Toyota love in each and every blog post but now it’s back to business… 

Couple a L3 bounding hounds. The dream team was on a rampage out there today, good stuff all around. 

For those that don’t know, local Grove ripper Asa Chalmers bit off slightly more than he could chew on the mountain bike a few weeks back. His ankle is in a handful of pieces but nothing that can’t be healed. Bottom line is he is back from his western adventure a touch early. He is posted up in the old crib scheming how he’s gonna clear that jump next time. This fella is seriously tough though, unfazed by anything. I’m amazed at how resilient and strong willed some people are. Damn inspiring.

Gotta be like one of these fellas. No matter how you try and put it down he just pops back up. Maybe its a metaphor for whats going on out there in the big wide world, maybe it isn’t… Expert writers leave some things up for the reader to interpret, right?


That’s it for now players, keep it real out there in corona land. Don’t forget to tune back into the blog in the near future for an extra top secret look into my new Burlington apartment.

Making Adjustments

*Julia checking in.

Over the past few years, I have learned from skiing that things rarely go exactly to plan. The weather changes, injuries crop up, races get delayed, or a pandemic occurs. We are all currently in a state of making daily adjustments as the local and global situation evolves and I am thankful for skiing teaching me how to be both proactive and reactive to the situations we find ourselves in. The past two weeks have been a bit crazy here, with a potential outbreak in our local area that turned into an odd situation of a lot of false positive Covid tests. Our team made adjustments as the situation around us evolved, finding creative ways to benefit from team training while being safe. I have also been dealing with some injuries, testing my ability to find ways to continue training while resolving my injuries.

Stoked on swimming these days since it is a mode of training that does not aggravate my injuries.
Mixing things up by doing a Peleton core with a friend over Zoom, highly recommend as a fun way to connect with friends and try out new workouts!

Pat has done a great job adjusting our training plan based on the weather since summer in Vermont can throw all sorts of conditions into the mix. Some days it has been really hot so we start practices early, and some days massive thunderstorms light up the sky and shake our houses, so we find ways to delay training or do an indoor core session. Our team has been a big fan of chasing down swimming holes to cool off after hot workouts, luckily in Vermont they are everywhere!

Finding ways to beat the summer heat by post workout swimming hole dips.
OD combi rollerski and run.

Our team is wrapping up a big 3 week training block this week before people part ways and take a mid-summer break to get in some family time, rest, and an opportunity to reset before getting in the second half of summer training.

Copycat Training

*Jessie here, checking in! 
One of the best parts of being on a team is that you don’t have to tackle the hard training sessions alone. You know you’ll drag your tired body out of bed and to training, but then get motivated and inspired by having a fired up group of athletes around you. It’s hard not to get excited to go fast when you have a great group to suffer and sweat with! Besides having the team get me out the door every day, I love having so many slightly different techniques and ways of training to learn from. Every athlete brings something unique to the table, and it’s our job to study each other and see what lessons we can pull from each day. 

Following speedy Sophie in a 15-second all-out effort (Photo: Tom Horrocks)

The other day we did a bunch of 15 second speed stations: race starts, drop-in double pole (where we started at high speed right after tucking down a hill) and gradual striding uphill. Although we’re making an effort to space out from the larger group a little more due to COVID, we can still watch each other and learn from each other’s strengths! I like to watch both the guys and girls to see where I can mimic their movements and, even if my body is built a little bit differently, use my strengths to try and ski the way they ski! 

Taking a turn to lead drop-in double pole speeds with Sophie and Alayna! (Photo: Tom Horrocks

Besides each other, we have….(drumroll please)…our amazing Coaches! Pat O’Brien you already know as our dedicated and hard-working head coach, but Jason Cork (my personal coach and a USSS World Cup Coach) also spends his summers here in Stratton and comes to each training session armed with an iPad for instant video review. Sverre Caldwell has also been coming to many sessions and always has great insight, so we feel pretty lucky to have all these eyes out for ways we can make the most of each training day. 

Sophie and I taking a moment with Cork to review the speed we just finished and adjust a few technique elements. (Photo: Tom Horrocks)

Speaking of trying to be like my teammates, Alayna finally got me out on a bike! For those of you who know me, this is a BIG DEAL, because I’m weirdly scared of biking and don’t do it very often. I have a clunky old trusty mountain bike and decided to finally see what this whole “gravel riding” phenomenon was about. And despite putting away ever-so-slowly up the hills, I absolutely loved it and enjoyed the feeling of spinning my legs during an easy afternoon training session! 

Note: the slightly crooked helmet, mud spattered glasses and big goofy grin!

Now that Wade is working from home, he’s pretty much an honorary SMST2 team member. So he’s been helping out after work hours, keeping me happy and balanced! Literally balanced, in this case, as we’re working on a new slack line balance trick – a game of catch with a water bottle, because your girl here doesn’t happen to have a baseball! 

Playing catch with Wade! (Photo: Alayna)

Ooofdah!

Woof. Things are really heating up! Both in temperature and in our workouts! We started a new block of training this past week and it’s amazing how much of a shock to the system intervals can feel like after taking an easy week. Although, the easy weeks are just as important so we can keep loading the work without burning out later in the year! Sometimes, it’s hard to keep that in mind when everything feels so good in June, but when the sleepy’s start gettin ya in the later months you really know it’s time to back off.

Trying to stay cool and spend as much time as possible in the water during an easy week. And (safely) see some friends!

We’ve been combining all types of training lately: L3 intervals, speeds, strength, biking, running and even “time trial efforts.” This morning, we completed a brand new workout that NONE of us had ever done. Many of us have been ski training for over a decade so when we come across a new workout, it’s exciting! We did 3x5k skate roller skiing at threshold pace with 3-5 mins of recovery between each set, all on pretty rolling terrain. This is a workout that we hope to continue working on in the next few months and when we return to it, we will bump it up to L4 and soon to race effort as we get closer to the winter.

Giggling through every type of workout!

I think we are all stoked for a new “project” to work on, as training can become quite monotonous at times. Although, it was interesting trying to face the balance between staying in L3 during the pace workout vs. treating it like a time trial effort. Sometimes when you’re feeling good, not grinding forward can be the hardest thing! The workout definitely put some of us outside of our comfort zones and required me to take my one nap of the month this afternoon. But it’s a good thing we get to balance all of the hard work with some fun adventures between! 🙂

I’m totally jumping on the biker train with my teammates, I even went for my first gravel ride yesterday and it was SO MUCH FUN!

Rolling Into The Heat

*Simi checking in.

The heat is here! That’s right, we all thought we might get away with a pleasant summer after those first few weeks of June really threw us for a loop with nice crisp days in the 60s and nights in the low 40s (even a few in the 30s!), but now we’re back to good ol’ summertime in the northeast. Nights where you have two box fans blowing directly at your face from two wide-open windows, 8 a.m. workouts where you lose double-digit pounds just from sweating so much, and air so thick with standing water vapor that even when you aren’t riding with a head-wind you still feel like you’re barely creeping along as you try to knife through the 95% humidity. But it’s good… it makes you appreciate those seldom mid-summer days when the air is clear and dry enough to actually see the mountains on the horizon, and it even makes you look forward (just a little bit) to those chilly fall evenings when eating dinner by the fire actually sounds like a great idea. So we’re making the most of it… Getting up at the crack of dawn to get our hard workouts in at a smart time before it’s too scorching; shoving ice packs into our running vests for at least a few minutes of relief; and of course increasing our daily ice-cream allotment to 1 full pint/sitting.

The boys on a recent long, sweaty run on the AT/LT

The crew is doing great. We all just have really awesome energy together. Every team workout is quality, we actually look forward to seeing each other every day, and the buy-in from everyone is the most significant I’ve ever seen on this team. I’ve been on my bike a ton… well, my two bikes, actually. I’ve been getting out for some really great mountain bike rides in Landgrove, often accompanied by Benny O and Bill. The single track is in prime shape out there and if you live in the area and like to ride anything that rolls and has tires over 32c, I highly recommend you get out and explore the trails. They just keep getting better and better, and it’s all thanks to some local trail heroes who ask for nothing in return except for people to get out there and enjoy their backyard. Soph and I were actually lucky enough to escape up to Burke/Kingdom Trails for the 4th of July weekend to rip around on the trails up north. We were able to camp with a few friends, enjoy quite a few sweaty hours of shredding, and laugh at stories around the fire afterward. To me, that felt like the perfect way to celebrate our country… I definitely don’t need fireworks and flags to feel like an American. But the bike I’ve been putting most of my miles on is a new (to me) Cannondale SuperX cyclocross whip that rips on the gravel, road, and even single track. Talk about a one trick pony! Last week I had the good fortune to ride with some of the team during a 200 mile mostly-gravel ride I had been scoping. Soph, Katherine, Pat, and Ian all overlapped on some it, with Pat and Ian riding 115+ miles and Soph and KO riding with all four of us during two of the day’s biggest climbs. It was a pretty freaking awesome ride, and man did I pick a great day for it. It was warm but not hot, relatively low-humidity, and just pretty much like one of those New England days like you see in the photo on a college brochure. I looped from Peru, back to Peru, on a route that took us over to New York, down to Massachusetts, and up an awful lot of hills (the total ride was 208 miles and climbed about 24,000 feet). It was just so dang cool to see so many roads that I would normally have never seen, and to be able to share a lot of it with teammates, our coach, and of course my wife was pretty awesome to say the least. I followed that long trek up with a 110 miler today that touched on some of those same roads but also hit on some classics like Kelly Stand Road from Arlington up to Stratton and the Coleman Hill Rd/River Rd combo in Winhall. So needless to say, I’m getting the most out of my new two-wheeled buddy.

The Shredder rigged up for a long one
Psyched to getting close to home (and food)!

So it’s more of the good routine here for the next little bit. We just started another 3 week focus block (our new strategy this summer- because we won’t have any training camps- is to do 3 weeks focused training as a team, and then take 1 week of chill on our own training). It’s a great new way to be doing things, and it seems to be working really well for everyone’s psyche and morale. Thanks for checking in and see you back here in a month!

Exploring on Two Wheels

*Sophie checking in.

We’re back into the thick of summer training with an awesome crew. Everyone has been here for more than two weeks and it’s been great to be able to push each other as a pod and get back into a good training routine. When I haven’t been rollerskiing and running with the team, I’ve really been enjoying doing some exploring on the gravel bike! Gravel biking was a fad I had heard of, but hadn’t personally tried until this summer. My friend, Kate, has very generously been letting me borrow her gravel bike while she popped her baby out this summer and I’ve been having a blast exploring a bunch of the local roads that I didn’t even know existed until I started exploring on a gravel bike!

The mountain biking can be pretty adventurous as well!

My crazy husband is so obsessed with gravel biking that he mapped out a 200 mile loop last week and was out for over 15 hours! Katharine and I had the pleasure of riding about 15 miles with him and Pat and Torch both hung for about 100. I wish I could tell you he’s been sleeping since then, but the scary thing is that he has been just fine. Maybe he will write down the play-by-play for you in a future blog post. Nut job!

Simi (and Pat) during the big ride

I’ve found biking to be a really nice low impact way to train in between roller skiing and running sessions and while it’s sometimes hard to keep mountain biking easy, it’s super doable to keep gravel biking at a chill pace. We have a recovery week this week before we hit three big weeks of training. With postponed and cancelled camps, we are going to look at these next few weeks as a camp at home and try to get in some good, focused training with our group. Everyone is looking strong and I think we’ll come out of it tired and even stronger!

Stay safe and healthy!

Returning to Normal?

*Ben S. checking in.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a great deal of news about the return of professional sports. In England, Germany, and even New Zealand, we are seeing professional sports leagues return to the fold. Here in the United States, we are starting to see the same thing. We are roughly 3 weeks away from the return of the NBA, with other leagues in hot pursuit. My guess is that the American public will eat up this return to sports with both hands and a soup ladle (I know I miss summer sports desperately) but I am wondering what these returns will mean for winter sports, like nordic skiing. 

Holmenkollen 2020

We all want everything to be normal. We want to train, and get strong and fit, get on a plane and head out into the winter to put on a bib and charge out of the starting gate like drag racers. But each one of us also knows that things are not normal. We can train, and get strong and fit, but that part about traveling around the world to put on a bib? That’s a little more up in the air. Right now Norway, the country who was scheduled to host the first World Cup weekend of the year is closed to outside visitors, and will be until January 1st. Things seem bleak. However, as professional sports return around the globe, it seems like there might be a little bit of hope. 

While it would be crazy to expect a normal winter, moments like the return of soccer in Europe, and rugby in New Zealand seem like proof that there is a chance for a semblance of normalcy when the snow falls. The reason I care about their return is because they serve as examples of the delicate balancing act all of us are undertaking right now. Life has greater risk right now, how can we manage it, as best we can, while still allowing life to go on? 

Managing risk (Photo: @maddiemeyer2 and @gettysport)

No two leagues, or people, are going to answer that question the same way, but what’s exciting to me, is that those who have managed to restart their lives haven’t done anything crazy. The return of professional sports around the world has been guided by small, sensible choices. Things like holding competitions without spectators, bowing to the public health laws of host cities, and enforcing strict quarantine for traveling athletes are relatively simple, and they’re steps it would be easy for FIS to take. They haven’t made these leagues 100% safe, but they’ve allowed competition to return. 

As we sit here in Vermont, I’ve been proud to see the way our Coach and team has taken those same steps. We’ve kept our pod isolated, listened to Vermont health laws, and regulated travel, and things are … shockingly normal. We’ve made small, sensible choices and seen it pay off in our bubble. Witnessing those choices pay off for athletes at home, and now athletes around the world, gives me hope that when the snow does fly this winter, there’s a chance we might be able to put on a bib and ski race again. 

Small, sensible steps all add up (Credit: @maddiemeyer2 and @gettysport)

Katharine’s Poetic Update

Summer in Vermont is hot and sticky

But sweating with friends makes grumpiness tricky

Some of my teammates say that the heat is ikky

If she could jessie would rollerski nakey

One of those sticky interval sessions (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Last week I started remote summer school

I am in a class about video art which is cool

and another about disability representation rule

classes are good but too much zoom can make anyone drool

“Class photo” from fall term

We’ve just finished out a big training block

After the off season it was a bit of a shock

But all the long workouts fly by when you talk

Today there’s no training but maybe a walk

View from the deck at my boyfriend’s house in Norwich, VT

Being back with my teammates is pretty great

Intervals are way better with one’s best mate

Following smooth technique makes my heart palpitate 

And they remind me not to stick my pole in a grate

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The only downside of the past few weeks 

Is that when I run my left foot, it shrieks

My big toe tendon feels like it was pecked by many beaks

But it’s getting better through poking and other techniques

I can’t do much jumping because of my foot but these lil baby grasshoppers sure can!

When I can’t run, I get to ride bikes

Now I like pedaling as much as going for hikes

I like trails, dirt and pavement but not turnpikes

It’s fun unless I go on accidental hunger strikes

In July I get to start mentoring for Little Bellas

We’ll go out and ride because bikes aren’t just for fellas

I hope that we will sing on-bike acapellas   

And that we don’t have to bring umbrellas

Wearing my Little Bellas jersey on a recent ride. 

That’s all that I have to report in rhyme

For a nap, into my bed I’ll now climb

To make the hours pass faster before it’s snack time

After that I plan to sip on a margarita with lime

*me drinking my margarita* (just kidding! it’s actually simi drinking water at mile 90 of a 212 mile bike ride on Friday)