June Training Block

*Paddy checking in

June is flying by! We are heading into our final day of a big training block here in Stratton. It has been an awesome few weeks with the whole team here in one place working together to kick off summer training. This time of year we have a wide variety of modes and intensities worked into our training plan ranging from all out time trial efforts to four-hour runs on the Long Trail. As we move later into the training year we will have more and more ski specific workouts but for now our main goals are to work on base fitness and keep things fresh and fun. After this training block we have an easier week of training then the team splits off to one of two US Ski Team training camps. One in Villard, France the other in Lake Placid, New York. Stay tuned for updates from the road!

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The SMST2 Team lined up with the SMS Junior team for the first uphill run test of the year. The time-trial features a two-mile uphill course with a nice mix of steep and gradual terrain. Simi and Kyle threw down impressive times and are close to taking down the course record set by Silas Talbot a few years ago!

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Lots of fresh pavement around Stratton right now. Here’s the guys group heading out on Bacon Hollow Road.

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Celebrating Alayna’s 22ndBirthday at Honey Pie! 
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Support System

After I wrapped up spring term at Dartmouth, I immediately headed to Stratton to join the team for training again. The past two weeks have been absolutely amazing, reuniting with my old teammates and getting to know my new ones. My two week “vacation” between spring and summer term has been the perfect time to get excited and focused for the new training year ahead. The team vibe has made me eager to jump out of bed every morning and train hard as one unit, pushing and supporting each other every step and pole plant along the way.

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Only smiles here!
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Getting to know my new teammate Kelsey by being bounding buddies.
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Beautiful views from the SMS gym with Jessie.

These past two weeks reminded how lucky we are to be surrounded by such a supportive community and I am very thankful for that. For the most part, we have been getting positive cheers out the cars driving by, we have juniors hopping in right behind us during intervals, and to top if all off, we have some of the best coaches in the world writing our plans and supporting our incredible training group. I am fortunate enough to have a team that supports both my athletic and academic goals so that I am able to both be part of the SMS T2 team while attending classes at Dartmouth here and there. Even though I was only in Stratton for 2 weeks, these two weeks felt like I was at home and I am proud to call Stratton one of my homes. So thank you to everyone in our community who supports us and cheers us on!

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Intervals are more fun with friends.
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Wooden covered bridges…yup we are in Vermont! 

I am now headed to Dartmouth for my 6th term. Although I am bummed to leave the my SMS team for the summer, I am excited and lucky to be a part of the Dartmouth team!

Finishing a big week!

It’s been an awesome, solid week of training here in Stratton! Now that we’re all back in one place (well, almost, but we get Alayna here tomorrow and then the family will be together), it’s been awesome to get back into a rhythm of regular training. We usually do interval sessions and strength (in the afternoons) on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, a longer over-distance training session on Sunday, and in between we have some easy distance training or speed sessions. Sounds simple, and we like to keep it that way, especially when we’re building up to more and more hours!

 

That face you make when the hurdles are a little bit too close! Jessie, Julia and Kyle led foot agility before strength this Thursday.

A pretty cool thing about our program is that the senior SMST2 athletes lead the juniors in agility warmups before strength a couple times per week. We get to share fun drills that have helped us, make up some new slightly ridiculous drills, and get creative on ways to get better at balance and technique!

Sophie, Simi and Julia led agility warmup on skate skis this Saturday, with some fun partner band pulls!

We capped off this bigger week of training with a really fun roll-run combination workout. We started with a nice flatter double pole that ended with about 25 minutes of climbing up to the AT trail junction and Little Rock Pond.

The girls train double poling their way closer to the swimming pond.

After switching to running gear (and eating a wide variety of snacks, including but not limited to banana bread slices) we ran a loop that went right through Little Rock Pond. Of course, the yearly cliff jumping into the cool water had to be carried out, and we all had some pretty unique styles!

Sophie with “the ninja jump”
Paddy with “the flying squirrel”
Jessie with the “but coach you said to get more forward!” jump
And Simi just making the rest of us look like uncoordinated fools with his sick tricks.

Nobody belly flopped, and we’re focusing on body care now that we have a day off before starting in on next week! And last but certainly not least…a Happy Father’s Day shoutout to all the rad Dad’s out there! Thanks for all you do for us, taking us to practices and races and helping us be better human beings every day.

Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone

*Our new member Kyle Bratrud checks in

I will be the first to admit this is an extremely bland and overused title/theme for a Nordic skiers blog post, but it’s the best way I can describe my current circumstances. After seven great years living in Marquette, Michigan (4 as an NMU skier and 3 with CXC), I packed up everything I owned and moved out to Stratton, Vermont to join the SMST2 team. Anyone who knows me well knows I am not very good at change and that I am very set in my ways and routines. I had everything completely dialed in Marquette and was proud to live the hermit life, so the decision to move out here from a comfort perspective was not an easy one. That being said, I have lofty goals in this sport and over the last few years, I have not met them or felt like I was making the progress I knew I could make. In that regard, from a skiing perspective, this was an extremely easy decision. I have always respected SMS as one of the best clubs in the country and I am extremely excited to begin this new journey. This team is very well rounded, full of sprinters that can help me a great deal, but also strong distance skiers that can continue to push my distance skiing ability. I am super stoked to be apart of a “team” atmosphere again and can not wait to work my burr off every day with these talented men and women. Having been here only a week, I can already tell just how hard coach Pat works and how much he cares about me and that only strengthens the fire inside of me to achieve my goals as a skier. I am stoked to continue to burn that fire!

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Definitely no covered bridges in Marquette. 
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I can get used to this hilly terrain!
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How can you not be happy in a place this pretty?
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Marquette friends visiting. Fire tower views could have been better. 

The Transition

Hours after graduating from the University of Vermont I flew out to Bend, OR to meet my new teammates. I spent three of my college summers training in Bend and after learning I had the opportunity to join the US Ski Team for a camp there, I got really excited to get out west as soon as possible. So I left Vermont at 6:00 am the day after graduation. I’m not saying it was easy… I finished my last round of college finals, sold all of my furniture, completely moved out of my Burlington apartment, welcomed my parents and grandparents to town, sat through hours of commencement speeches in Vermont rain, and said goodbye to some of my closest friends, coaches, and professors, all in a matter of a few days. In the moment, I didn’t have much time to think about how big of a change this was. Now that I have plenty of time to recover after camp in my hometown of Plymouth, MN this transition is really starting to sink in for me.

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Thanks for all the support Mom and Dad!
I’ve never really been one to “sit still”. Throughout high school and college I juggled a heavy academic schedule, a job, volunteering, and participating in or leading multiple clubs. I always did my best to recover between workouts and get plenty of sleep before races, but the juggling required extreme time-management and productivity. All of that being said, my lifestyle is about to flip upside down. I’ve never been able to give 100% of my attention to just one thing before, and the Bend camp gave me a little taste of what’s to come. I’m not sure how things will go but I am excited to enter the unknown and ready to tackle new obstacles.
In the meantime, it has been so nice to spend a little extra time at home visiting with friends and family. My younger brother, Anders, just graduated from high school so a lot of relatives that I haven’t seen in years were in town to celebrate. Anders has competed in the MN State Track Meet the past four years and I had yet to see him race so I was really happy to finally be there for him. He absolutely crushed it getting a Personal Best time and placing 5th overall in the 800m!!
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Sister cheer squad!
Having had little time to spend at home the past four years I’ve decided to stick around for a while longer to catch up with some much needed sibling time. I can’t wait to get back East soon though to join the rest of the crew. I am sure I can learn a lot from them about adjusting to this new life.

Adventures Out West

* Simi checking in.
It’s great to be back in VT, especially when my first steps off the plane were into a relatively dry and incredibly pleasant 60°F. Having just spent the last couple months adventuring back home in Colorado and kicking off the training season in Oregon, I can also say that it was pretty nice to treat my lungs to some oxygen-rich, thick air.
But before packing my summer training bags and flying east, I was most recently in Bend, Oregon at our annual US Ski Team camp at Mt. Bachelor. Bend is one of my favorite camps of the year not only because it is one of the best places to ski, ride, run, climb, and swim in the river (and you can do all those things in one day), but also because our SMS Elite Team joins the US Ski Team for every workout, every day, morning and afternoon. So we can always be sure we have an incredibly strong training crew for every session, and being able to really feel like we are representing our club team as well as our national team at a camp keeps us inspired and proud. The snow situation was marginal while we were there, but that didn’t stop Sue and Rion, who are in charge of the trails, from preparing amazing tracks for us every morning. Bachelor was way below average snow depth all winter, and with unusually warm temps in April and May while we were there, we were losing about 1-2 km of skiing every night (mostly caused by the fact that it wasn’t freezing at night, even at 6,000’). But Rion, the head groomer for the xc trails, worked his butt off constantly pulling fresh snow from the sides of the trails and pushing it onto the track all so we could continue to have great skiing throughout our 12 day camp. Because Bend camp is so early in the year, we mainly focus on training easy volume and getting re-aquainted with the fundamentals of sound technique while on snow. We certainly achieved this, with most of us logging about 50 hours of training (nearly 35 hours on snow) during camp. When we weren’t skiing, you could find us crushing miles on the town’s unbelievable network of single track trails right out our back door, either in our running shoes or on our mountain bikes.
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Working together.
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Who wore it better?
This year’s camp was especially fun and memorable for me since I traveled out about a week earlier than the rest of the team to meet up with my best friend and his girlfriend for a few days of ski touring on some of the Cascade volcanos. Spring conditions were ideal for us. While they were there and before they had to return to their “real jobs”, we skied Broken Top (a peak we usually ski on our xc skis when we go out for a crust ski but ended up not being able to do this year because of the grim conditions during camp) and South Sister, the highest and most massive of the volcanos in the immediate Bend area. Both were excellent skis and we found plenty of perfect corn to make us giddy. After they headed out I had five more days to kill before the team arrived, so I ventured up Mount Jefferson (the second highest peak in Oregon) with friends Jason Albert (xc journalist and all-around bad-ass/great guy) and Akeo Maifeld-Carucci (Bozeman native and Craftsbury Green Racing Project athlete). Mount Jefferson is fairly remote, offers huge vertical, and is a truly amazing adventure. Just before the team arrived I felt the need to satiate my ski touring appetite with one more big day up high. I ended up heading out solo and linking the South Face of North Sister and the South Ridge of Middle Sister. Both peaks were awesome skis with good exposure, and it was super cool linking up the traverse on such a beautiful day.
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Sumitting! 
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I’m incredibly glad to be back in Vermont. Even though I’ve only been here for two days, we’ve already three amazing team training sessions and the vibe within our small crew is positive, organic, and motivating. We can’t wait for Paddy to come down from his home in Lyme to join us in a couple days (he’s a big of a sucker for his mom’s cooking… and I don’t blame him) and for Kelsey and Alayna to arrive within the next week. As we’ve seen in the past, this team is capable of doing amazing things, both on and off the race trails, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it. Thanks everyone for checking in!

Teammates

*Our new team member Kelsey Phinney checking in! 

After a few easy days to absorb the hours of training we put in at Bend camp, I keep reflecting on my excitement to be a part of this team. But more than that, the importance of team and teammates in general. We say we’re better together, but what does that mean in the day in and day out of training?

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Getting in great on-snow training time with new teammates!

It can mean pushing each other to do the extra interval, the longer running loop and the afternoon workout. It can also mean supporting each other’s decision to take it easy if one of us is feeling really run down or tired. Two different instances stand out as embodying the “better together” motto from this year’s Bend camp for me.

One was part way through the week. I got back from a great ski and was hit with a wave of the tireds on the drive back down into Bend. I dropped my backpack on the floor and fell asleep within about 30 seconds of getting into my bed before even making lunch (not something I would usually recommend but man, did I need that nap). This was about the most obvious indication I could imagine that I was overdoing it a little and needed to let me body rest to be able to continue to have a productive camp.

I texted Sophie that I didn’t think I should go on the afternoon mountain bike ride because I needed to take it easy. She wrote back immediately saying that I was being smart and there would be plenty of chances to go mountain biking again later in the camp (which we took advantage of!). With one text, I felt so confident and good about my decision. No shame or guilt for needing to listen to my body. It is really great to feel supported in that way by your teammates!

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Spent some time painting this on my afternoon off.

The other instance was on the last day of camp. We had a combi OD skate ski/run planned and by how I felt waking up in the morning, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through the entire workout. Yet, as we pulled up to join the group of neon clad girls – I was greeted by smiling faces ready to take on the last morning of training camp. We skied and ran at a nice L1 pace, chatting along the way. At one point in the roller ski, I was skiing with Jessie, Alayna, and Sophie, and I realized that we had already been out for more than an hour. When we changed into our running shoes, there was no question in my mind that I was going to be able to make it through the entire workout with the rest of my teammates and other girls at the camp. I was proud of myself and the other girls for closing out a great camp on such a positive note.

 

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Rest stop to hug this old tree on our last morning at camp, photo: Matt Whitcomb.

I am currently driving from Boulder, CO out to Stratton, VT (getting to spend some time with family in Wisconsin as I write this). I don’t know if I can express how excited I am to get to continue to train with incredible teammates and friends once I get out there!

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Family time with my cousin, her new adorable baby, and my mom!

Bend Camp in the books!

*Sophie Caldwell checking in here.

I am currently in the middle of a very long travel day back to VT. We just finished up our first camp of the year, which was our annual on snow camp in Bend Oregon. The USST kicks off their training year with a camp in Bend every May and we were psyched that Pat, Alayna, and Kelsey came out to join. Simi, Jessie and I were staying with the USST and joined by Ben O. for the first week of camp and his USST debut. I think it’s safe to say he fell in love with the Bend mtn biking and we might have to hide his and Simi’s bikes for awhile to make sure they don’t switch sports on us!

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Skate Intervals in Bend (Photo: Bryan Fish).

Bend had a really low snow year, but Mt. Bachelor Nordic did an incredible job of moving snow onto the trails so that we could ski almost every day. Our last day we had a long OD planned and we decided to do a rollerski/run adventure, but every other day with the exception of our day off, we were skiing on snow. It felt good to ski ourselves back into shape after a nice spring break and to remember what skiing on snow feels like. We would usually ski 2-3 hours in the morning and then the afternoons were spent doing strength, running, mountain biking, or resting if needed. We put in a lot of hours and I think we’re all looking forward to a recovery week before kicking things back into gear at Stratton.

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Low snow year in Bend.

Everyone will be trickling into Stratton in the next week or so, and we’re psyched to get into a summer training routine back home. Bend set quite the standard for weather, but summers in Vermont are generally dry, bugless, and a sunny 70 degrees right? Just kidding, a little sweat never hurt anyone :).

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Jessie with some of her gold medal fans! (Photo: Oregon Nordic Ski Foundation).

Springing back into training!

All right, everyone! It’s TRAINING SEASON once again! After a long, fun season and then a nice break and some time off in April, it’s been such a blast getting back into the swing of things and getting back into training once again. I spent the last two weeks of May with my family in Minnesota, and it was great getting to roller ski once again (it feels so strange the first few steps on roller skis! They’re so short compared to skis!). I got to ski over all my favorite loops and interval hills on my old stomping grounds, and go for long runs in the Afton State Park. I was often joined by my high school coach and her daughter, my Mom on her bike, or my high school friends so it was easy to stay excited and motivated, sharing the hard work of training with others.
I was also quite a busy little bee, running around the Twin Cities doing lots of events! It’s been so much fun getting to share the excitement of the past winter with the ski community I grew up with. Seeing the faces of young skiers as they get to hold the Gold Medal is priceless, and also the best feeling ever. You can practically see their goals getting set, their excitement to get outside and get rocking and rolling with their teammates growing.
At the Afton event last weekend! (photo from John Kaul)
The day after I arrived I gave a talk to over 700 employees at 3M, then the next day I went to do a meet and greet at a Slumberland Furniture store. I drove up to Winona to do a big meet and greet with Fastenal, and did a live Facebook feed with MilkBone and my dog, Leo. I did another meet and greet at a local Xfinity store, and then on Saturday the 12th we had the big “Jessie Diggins day” in Afton, Minnesota! There were a couple thousand people there to celebrate cross country skiing, try the new ice cream flavor the local shop named after me, and get a poster. So needless to say…between training twice a day, it’s been quite the busy spring…and that was only the last two weeks!
Campaigning for a MN World Cup!
I had such a blast getting to throw the (ceremonial, of course!) first pitch for the Minnesota Twins team. To be totally honest, my hand-eye coordination is TERRIBLE and I am such a poor throw that my boyfriend Wade took me out to the field near his house in Boston for throwing lessons, because I was so nervous! And I have to say, he’s one amazing coach. Not that I’m biased, of course. But he helped me get the basics so that I actually made it to the plate…against all reasonable expectations I had for myself. I just wanted to do better than 50 Cent’s throw.
The serious face! (photo from the Twins)
Psyched to put on my own jersey! (photo from Erika Flowers)
To wrap up a great visit home, I went to speak to my old High School, Stillwater. It was so fun to come back after eight years, and get to inspire and hopefully motivate the current group of students! It was also such a treat to see my teachers and get to share the medal with them, because after all, they’re the ones who helped me catch up with all my homework when I was flying around the World for ski races all year long!
Students psyched to hold the gold medal!
Speaking to the class
I’d have to say the very best thing that happened out of all my time at home was that I got to help grow excitement and find the right sponsors to partner with the Loppet Foundation as we put in a bid to host the first World Cup event in the USA in 17 years! All the hard work paid off, and just this week our bid was awarded for a race in March of 2020, in Minneapolis at Theodore Wirth Park. I am so, so proud of all the work that the Loppet Foundation has taken on and so extremely grateful to all the companies that are signing on to sponsor the event. More to come on this later, but for now it’s enough to say that it means the world to me that all the junior skiers all over the US will have the chance to finally see their heroes racing right in front of them, at the highest level of racing in the World. What better way to inspire the next generation, than to bring their heroes right to them so they can have a front row seat to the World Cup races?
Right now, I’m in New Orleans for a day with the Smuckers company, before flying on to Bend, Oregon for our first US team camp of the season! I’m so, so excited to see my SMS T2 teammates, my national team teammates, and all the coaches. I really miss everyone when we’re going our separate ways in the spring, so it’s going to be good to get the crew back together. Check back soon for updates from Bend!
Fueling up before a training run with beignets in the French Quarter!

Exploring Other Activities

This is Julia checking in from Dartmouth! The start to the off season/spring term at Dartmouth kicked off with quite gruesome weather, consisting of freezing rain most days in Hanover. In a way the crappy weather in April was a nice way to force some very needed physical and mental rest and recovery after the season. Instead of going out and exercising outside, I dove right into classes and really enjoyed immersing myself in my Design Thinking class. So far this class has been like any other class I have taken so far, changing the way I think about things not only in the area of design, but any aspect of life.

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Lots and lots of brainstorming!
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Ping pong ball rollercoaster of love.
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In the process of redesigning a backpack for student-athletes.

Now that spring has finally arrived, I have shifted back to my normal balance of schoolwork and exercise. I think that the spring is a really good time to just go outside and play. I quickly found myself going to triathlon club practices in preparation for a triathlon race because why not?! I have also been enjoying playing basketball, rock climbing, mountain biking, beach volleyball, and back country skiing.

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Racing a sprint triathlon is really hard!
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The triathlon team is so fun, everyone is so enthusiastic and supportive, cheering every single person on at the finish! 
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A quick trip home on the weekend for some beach volleyball!
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Mountain biking at Burke with the girls crew!
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I was missing the snow so I went looking for some at Tucks! 
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I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to ski Tucks with an amazing group.

With 2 weeks of classes left, the spring semester is quickly winding down. I am looking forward to closing out the term and heading to Stratton in between terms to catch up with the team and train with them for a few weeks!