Last week we wrapped up the final USST training camp of the year in Park City, Utah. This is one of my favorite training blocks of the year because it brings together some of the best skiers from around the country for 2+ weeks of high quality group training. The camp featured two time trials at Soldier Hollow, several brutal interval sessions and lots of high-altitude runs through the surrounding mountains.
After a successful training camp in Park City most of the team is back in Stratton for one final month of dry-land training before kicking off the season. This time of year the overall volume of training comes down and the intensity goes up. Most of us have specific interval sessions that we are targeting these last few weeks as we make the final touches on our conditioning before the race season.
On Saturday, the ladies hammered out a brutal sprint-specific bounding workout on our trails below SMS finishing with a double pole sprint on the ski-erg. The guys took on the mountain for some longer high intensity intervals up and down the work road. Summer seems to be having a second wind here in VT.. Fingers crossed the weather turns and the snow starts flying soon!
I’ve come a long way since my first days on the SMS T2 team. I arrived in Vermont fresh out of college with a jumble of roller skis and athletic clothing in one hand and a heap of goals in the other. I was pretty sure I understood on a pretty fundamental level what it would take to become the best skier I could be, and I also thought I knew how to do it. Just train a whole a bunch, race really fast, and win all the accompanying medals, money, and lifelong fame. easy.
I was quickly kicked out of this fantasy when I found myself sliding down fifty feet of hot pavement during week one of life has a full time ski racer. To say I was mortified would be an understatement- here I was all set to make the big splash, and instead I was sobbing into a towel as Coach Pat (also in his first week as a full time coach) picked out pieces of spandex from my left butt/hip using a tweezer. I went through about a billion bandages in two weeks, but thanks to Pat’s steady hands, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup from Simi and a reassuring “Walk it Off,” from Andy I was ready to roll.
Later that year, the girls team was doing some threshold (….for some) steep uphill skating up the Stratton Mountain Access road. As you might have guessed, I was not in threshold. About four minutes into what was supposed to be a much longer interval, a asked Sophie between big breaths if it would be okay for me to stop. She turned around, got one look into my sweaty/teary eyes, and told me it would be okay. And yes, I could stop if I needed to.
Skipping ahead, I had just crossed the finish line at US Nationals in second place, for the second time. I was trying my hardest to qualify for the 2016 Tour de Canada, and while second place might have been good enough, the sure fire ticket was winning the race. So while I was happy to be on the podium, I couldn’t help but cross the finish line in a heap of tired tears. But then Erika came running up, put her warm puffy over my cold spandex, and said, “Goob, don’t worry you just got second.” And with that she pulled me up, and then cheered me on as I raced through my first World Cups in March.
Basically, SMS T2 is hands down the greatest team in the world (and as of last year, officially the fastest team in the US). While we all share the same goals of medals, money, and lifelong fame, these aren’t the things that really motivate us or bring us together. It is our shared passion and love for pushing each other to be the best possible versions of our selves. It is an understanding that any individual success is really just a factor of team success. And this leads us to the firm belief that any medal- Olympic, World Cup, Junior National, or Bill Koch League- can not only be attained, but through our collective efforts will be attained.
And so much of this is due to the incredibly community we are so lucky to have. So if you’ve donated to our Fall Fundraiser, thank you thank you thank you. To celebrate this, please consider stopping by for dinner tomorrow evening.
Hey SMST2 friends! Thank you so much for donating and helping us get closer to our goal of 100 donors! If you’re reading this and need extra motivation to give $5, think of this: we’re currently stuck at 69 donors. Help us move past this, please. We only need 31 more people to donate any amount and T2 will make sure we can pay our coach a livable salary! (Clearly, this is a really big deal for us). Thanks for helping us get there!
I’m currently out in Park City, finishing up an altitude block of training. I know that my body is really slow to respond to living at altitude, so it’s important for me to stay here for a four week block. That way, I can adapt and get the training benefits when I come back down to sea level oxygen. Last weekend we finished up our big training block with the US Ski Team and many different clubs coming together to push one another. Team camp was such an awesome one this year and it made me so excited for the season, seeing my teammates training so hard and giving it their all! Everyone is looking great and ready to go. And this is the time of year when the excitement to begin racing really starts to ramp up!
With the team split between flying to Finland for the opening World Cup weekend and headed to West Yellowstone for the opening Super Tour weekend, we will have a lot going on a month from now. But for now, there’s just enough time left in the preparation phase for a rest week after our grueling training camp and one more block of training! It’s important to build a base from May until the beginning of November so that our fitness can last us an entire winter and we will still race fast in March. And looking around at my teammates training their butts off, I feel confident that they’ve built an incredible base!
I’ve been home from Park City camp for just 24 hours and I have a slightly embarrassing secret to tell all of you. I’ve already started packing for Europe. Am I losing it? Going crazy!? It could likely be the case but I can tell you two things that I’m absolutely certain of.
1.) I’m beyond fired up to start the season.
2.) When you’re about to tackle 5 months of travel and racing, it takes a lot of planning.
So this is why I already have my wind briefs folded up, counted out the exact number of socks to travel with, and have already started taping up race skis for the long flight to Norway.
A list of the slightly less obvious things I need to remember include: boot dryer, hand warmers, yack tracks, head lamp, heart rate monitor batteries, pillow, cliff bars, protein shakes, stretching cords, outlet converters, 5 packs of cold ease, 4 bottles of hand sanitizer, 3 bottles of cold FX, 2 packs of ear plugs, and everything in 1 duffle bag under 50 lbs. Phew…
The point I’m trying to make is that life as a skier takes a lot of planning and successful seasons don’t just happen but revolve around a lot of details in order to run smoothly. This is why myself, and the rest of the SMST2 team couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who has donated to our Fundraising Challenge! You are not only helping support our team for the coming years, but are also allowing us to focus on what really matters instead of worrying about if our budget will last the season.
Coach Pat has been on the phone for weeks ordering the appropriate wax, booking reservations, and getting our ducks in a row. Even small donations go a long way and go directly to helping the SMST2 team successfully travel to all the Olympic qualifying races and provide piece of mind as we try to navigate this exciting winter together. Thanks to everyone who has been a part of our fundraising effort!
Now I can’t promise I wont forget my boots to at least one practice this winter, or leave my phone charger in Estonia, but I can promise that thanks to your generosity we can be more focused than ever on making it a historic year. Thanks so much for your support!
After three leg-burning laps up Hermod’s Hill and a few desperate grunts and wheezy groans, I crossed the final finish line of Park City camp. The post time-trial carnage looked like the aftermath of a raccoon-ravaged dumpster…a pile of athletes spread haphazardly across the warming pavement trying to refill empty lungs and muscles with fresh oxygen. The SMS T2 team just wrapped up 2.5 weeks of training with a 10/15km time trial at Soldier Hollow. Despite our various stages of both mental and physical fatigue, we put on our best game face to tackle the final intensity session of camp. For someone who has never watched a Nordic ski race, the action after the finish line may be the most impressive. Completely spent, skiers keel over on their knees, dry heaving, delirious and…if we did our job correctly, 100% spent. The moments after the race are equal parts painful and satisfying, the culmination of hours on roller-skis, intervals up mountains and dead lifts in the gym. The results are a combination of hard work, great coaching and community support. This year we hope to get the support of 100 in order to help us give 100 every time we toe the start line.
In case you missed it, we are thrilled to once again partner with the T2 Foundation as our SMS Elite Team Title Sponsor (yes you can call us SMS T2 once again! Link to Jessie’s “It’s Official” blog…https://smseliteteam.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/its-official-we-are-smst2-again/). The T2 Foundation mission aligns well with our own goals for international excellence and local inspiration and we are excited to work with them again. In addition to athlete support, the T2 Foundation presented our team with a fundraising challenge in order to engage the community and try to match additional team expenses. The goal? Get 100 donors, of any size, to donate to the team and the T2 Foundation (along with a group of generous donors) will cover Pat’s coaching expenses and salary for the year. To date, 34 people have donated but we need 66 more before the season starts in order to secure additional funding. In order to support the team, check out our fundraising page at the link below:
Were you really going to find a better use for that coin jar?
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Every penny of your donation will go directly to athlete and coach expenses (housing, travel, racing)
Erika will share her famous chocolate chip cookie recipe
Because the second U.S. medal in Nordic skiing should probably come from the same state as the first: Vermont.
Endless high fives and hugs from the SMS T2 Team
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Skipping your daily Starbucks for a week buys a race entry for an SMS T2 Athlete
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Because Paddy asked you with a smile-and how can you say no to that ball of sunshine
U.S. Nationals are in Anchorage this year and Vermont is a long and expensive plane ride away from Alaska
Pyeongchang is even further from Vermont-and those plane rides cost $$$!
There’s never been a better use for WAM (walking around money)
More artsy photos and videos from Julia
More Go-Pro footage from Simi and Andy
Because if we get 100 donors then MAYBE Simi will propose to Sophie!!?? SMS Wedding Times2! (Only half kidding)
Fight obesity and invest in youth sports
More cute pictures of little kids on roller skis
Rumor has it that every donation to SMS T2 adds an inch to this winter’s snowpack
Join an incredibly supportive community of donors
Ask any SMS T2 athlete for winter racing/waxing or training advice
A donation to SMS T2 is a vote of belief in our team and our dream
“People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou
Give us more reasons to take jumping photos
We promise not to ask again until next fall
Giving $100 helps us give 100% in every.single.race.
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Allow us to S ki M ore S wiftly!!!
Donate because you can
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“It always seems impossible, until it is done” –Nelson Mandela
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Because you are tired of reading this list already and are ready to make a donation
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Because you feel bad for the poor soul who took the time to write this list
Katherine just started college and needs something the smile about during finals-a donation can help
Help grow a love for skiing at the grassroots level
Unlike in European Nations, ski racing in the U.S. is independently funded with no government support. Read: most of our “funding” comes out of our own pockets and we pretty much live out of Sverre’s basement for 60% of the year. Help us get out of Sverre’s basement.
More $ = more outreach!
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Because the Olympics are only 117 days away…now is the time to show your support!
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100. Charlotte Ogden donated…and she is in high school. Your move…
Ben updates on his thoughts during our annual Park City Camp!
It’s cold in Park City. Not a snatch the air from your lungs cold, but a type that means you’ll wake up to a frost coated front lawn each morning. Of course, all that frost evaporates when the sun creeps up from behind the mountains. It’s not a lasting cold, it’s a warning. In the words of literally every character on Game Of Thrones: Winter is coming.
Yes Jon Snow, we know, winter is coming, which means that skiers everywhere are entering the final stages of preparation for racing season. But what if I don’t feel ready? It’s in this final stage of training that I feel most often the creeping doubt that I might not have done enough. It’s when I get an urge to cram extra training in. It’s something like the fear that enters your brain the night before a final exam.
That feeling of not knowing is why I believe in the power of sport to transport us above and beyond all of the levels to which we so often reduce it. I can frame this upcoming season in terms of fitness, in terms of strength, in terms of results, in terms of recovery — and thinking in all those terms can be helpful and enlightening. All those things will make contributions to what this season will become. But when that perfect race comes and your boots seem to fit just right, it doesn’t feel analytically finite. Maybe that’s just endorphins messing with brain chemistry, I don’t know. But it feels like a miracle that has nothing to do with a training log.
Do you think Alex was counting his yearly hours right here?
But if the racing season can feel so dislocated from preparation, then why am I worried about whether or not I’m ready? Maybe it’s because that the struggle at this time of year isn’t to ready yourself further. Maybe it’s to recognize that you won’t feel ready until you do the dang thing. No matter your natural talent, practiced skill, or earned experience, you won’t know the truth until you toe that first starting line.
That doesn’t mean that training or preparation should ever stop, it’s just that believing this is remarkably freeing. If you can admit that you won’t ever feel totally ready, you don’t have to ask yourself about the specifics. You’re only left with one choice: Do I want to try? Or don’t I? That decision should be much easier to make.
It’s weird to think we’ve already been back from New Zealand for almost three weeks, but it probably passed so quickly because the first week was a blur of jet lag. Traveling to New Zealand is the best jet lag ever, but coming back is HARD. Part of it is probably because we’re tired from a long, hard camp, but generally when we head west we fall asleep early and wake up early (preferable) and when we head east it’s hard to fall asleep and hard to wake up (not ideal). So flying 18 time zones east made that first week back feel a little like sleep walking.
As Jessie mentioned, we had a busy few days with NBC in Stratton mixed with some focused recovery from a big camp. After about nine days at home, went out to Colorado for a quick trip to visit Simi’s family and attend one of our friend’s weddings. I’m skipping Park City camp this year for some low altitude training and a couple months of getting into a routine at home, so it was nice to get my fix of western mountains and dry air in CO. We went for some beautiful runs and hikes and met up with Paddy and his girlfriend, Anne, and hiked Paddy’s 1st (only my second) 14er!
Now I’m pretty much back in Vermont until we leave for Europe in mid November. I was welcomed back from CO with 85 degree weather and high humidity, but the temps have dropped and I must say, the last couple days have been pretty perfect fall weather. I’m looking forward to getting in some solid training and home time before a long winter on the road. Follow the blog to get some updates from the rest of my teammates in Park City!
Happy Fall! Our final week of summer here on the mountain was highlighted by a visit from coaches from all around New England for the L100 and L200 coaches’ clinic as well as two days of filming with NBC Olympics. US Ski Team Development coach Bryan Fish ran the coaches’ clinic and got some of our team involved in the action demonstrating technique drills and agility. It was fun to see so many coaches from around New England here in Stratton.
The visit from NBC was a whirlwind of videoing and interviews. The filming crew was here to get footage for a pre-Olympic feature on Stratton Mountain School and SMST2. One of the video sessions was during a skate interval workout at Ball Mountain Dam with the Stratton high school team. The NBC crew brought out all the gadgets for the workout including a speedy remote-controlled car, a drone, and a fully loaded sprinter van with a massive camera mounted on the roof. It was really fun to see the procedures and techniques used for professional filming.
Now most of the team is taking a breather before heading west for the final training camp of the year in Park City, Utah. Looking at the forecast I think we can expect to have some snowy runs in the mountains and a relatively smoke-free camp! Happy Autumnal Equinox – thanks for checking in.
Going into this training year, I have made recovering from training a primary focus. I’ve been carefully monitoring my resting heart rate and HRV scores, ensuring that I spend at the minimum 8.5 hours with my eyes closed every night, and have been very on top of proper hydration and nutrition. I adjust my training based on these numbers and feelings, and for the most part it has rewarded me with higher quality intensity sessions and an easier time cutting half an hour here and there with the added verification that yes, my body needs that.
However. As I recently discovered in New Zealand, sometimes it is all about finding the right balance of listening to your neuromuscular system and listening to your heart (and sometimes both). New Zealand was absolutely amazing, as I’m sure all of the SMS T2 blog readers have ascertained. There were days when my neuromuscular system was not recovered, but the thought of shortening a session was simply out of the question. Like the crust cruise day, where we skied for 3.5 hours in the morning, and then come evening the light was perfect and the classic skiing sublime…so against my neuromuscular system’s wishes I headed out for the most peaceful classic ski of my life. I paid for it the next day by setting a new recovery low, but then balanced it out with a day of less than 1,000 steps, and the next day popped right back up into optimal recovery.
It is incredibly easy to get caught up in the science and numbers of training. But at the end of the day (in my unscientific opinion), it is how you are feeling about what you are doing that really matters. That’s not to say ignore data, but rather keep it in line with the other things that can’t be quantified. Was the extra afternoon session what I needed physiologically? Probably not. Did it ingratiate me a profound sense of peacefulness and love of skiing? Yes. Will that feeling help me when things get painful? Yes. I’ve figured out how to use data as a helping hand instead of an end all be all, and it has been the best.
It took me until today-8 days after arriving back from New Zealand- to feel like my normal self (and for my recovery scores to put me in a comfortable and safe training zone). Putting that amount of load on my system put me into a bit of a hole, but with the proper encouragement to “relax harder,” I’ve entered into the Fall with a renewed sense of energy and excitement for the season ahead.
I’ve begun my journey west a little earlier than my teammates, but am excited to meet up with everyone in Park City in about a week. We will have another big block of training then, and then begins the big rest before the real deal season begins. Thanks for following along!
After an incredible few weeks of training on snow in New Zealand, most of the SMS Elite team headed back to the northern hemisphere on Monday. Unfortunately I spent most of my last few days in New Zealand sleeping after I came down with Strep throat the morning of the first races. I had a nice view of the trails from my window though and was able to watch the SMS team speed around the racecourse between naps and cups of lemon ginger and Manuka honey tea. By Sunday I was finally up for a walk around the trails and enjoyed a good old-fashioned tromp in the fresh powder and four-foot snowdrifts, taking advantage of our last full day in New Zealand.
We kicked off our travel day Monday morning at 6 AM for an early sunrise ski. After spending fours days sequestered in my room, I was the first one out the door that morning, thrilled to have one last ski on the Snow Farm before heading to the airport. The ski kicked off one of the longest travel days, and by far the longest Monday, of my life. Although we travel a lot as skiers, few of our travel days compare to the journey from New Zealand to Vermont. A breakdown of the day below complete with tips and tricks for long travel:
The 34-Hour Monday
Hour 0- 6:00 AM: Sunrise Ski
Tip: Any sort of light exercise before a long travel day can be helpful for stimulating digestion and stockpiling some exercise endorphins before you are forced to sit still for hours on end.
Hour 2.5- 8:30 AM: Leave the Snow Farm to travel to Queenstown
Tip: I’m a notorious last minute packer (not a trait I’m proud of) and as a result often the last one in the van. I missed the mark yet again this year but find that the more I get organized the night before and the less I have to do the morning of travel, the higher the odds that I get out the door on time. This includes things like packing a lunch or snacks for the plane ride, taping and securing all your skis, and planning your travel outfit for the long flight (maybe that one’s just me J)
Hour 4- 10:00 AM: Arrive at the Queenstown Airport
Tip: Be extra patient and friendly to the airline workers and there’s a good chance they will let those few extra pounds in your suitcase slide.
Hour 5- 11:00 AM: Coffee and snacks
Tip: When in New Zealand, take full advantage of the omnipresent flat whites. Even at the airport the coffee is top notch. Pair your espresso with an orange date scone (one of the best unique New Zealand treats we found) and you’ll be set for the first leg of your journey)
Hour 6- 12:00 PM: Fly Queenstown, NZ to Aukland, NZ
Tip: If you haven’t already, start drinking water! And take advantage of the free cookie on New Zealand Air.
Hour 10- 4:00 PM Fly Aukland, NZ to Houston, TX
Tip: Prepare for a 13+ hours of flight…My top five travel essentials include:
Full water bottle
Noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs
I force myself to sleep (or at least keep my eyes closed for 8 hours) and try to match the sleep/wake schedule of my destination.
Hour 24: 1:00 PM (still Monday…somehow we travel back in time) Arrive in Houston
Tip: Walk around, splash some water on your face, change your shirt. It makes it feel like a new day and fresh start
Hour 27- 4:00 PM Fly Houston, TX to Boston, MA:
Tip: Stay awake on this flight! Read, listen to a podcast, eat something with protein to keep your energy up!
Hour 31- 9:00 PM Arrive in Boston and travel to Vermont.
Tip: Convince your coach to pick you up-it will make the last leg of your trip 100X easier (Thanks Pat!) Also keep drinking water!
Hour 34- 12:00 Arrive home!
Tip: Finally get some zzzs. You may need to take some melatonin to help with the time change. And enjoy being home!