Julia checks in from Dartmouth

While the rest of the team is training in Stratton this summer and heading to camps, I am taking classes and training at Dartmouth this summer! One could say I am doing my “sophomore summer” with the 19’ class I enrolled with, but I am really just starting my sophomore year. I decided to take artistic classes this summer such as drawing and photography so that I can try new things out and spend time in nice air-conditioned rooms 🙂

IMG_0598
My first film prints.
IMG_0602
My first drawing.

So far the weather has been actually quite nice other than the massive rain storm that wiped out a lot of roads and left the trails covered with fallen over trees. Although some of the roads have been washed out or the edges destroyed, the rollerskiing options are great. I have also been enjoying the endless amounts trails the Hanover area has to offer, going on long runs on a different trail every time.

IMG_0592
Green everywhere.
IMG_0607
Studying outside!

I am definitely most excited for our longer run/hikes in the White Mountains because those adventures are my absolute favorite! I am also hoping to make a few trips over to Stratton to seem my teammates and catch up with the team, but I bet I will see them up in the Whites for a run at some point too.

Fairbanks feelings…

Here we are, in sunny and cold Fairbanks, Alaska, ready for the last 4 races of the entire season! The team is excited (especially for the team relay, because of course we are) and everyone has different parts of the week they’re looking forward to and pumped about. Here’s a quick snapshot from the team!

Jessie, Anne, Sophie and Erika showing off the new suits! (photo from Paddy)

Anne: “I’m having so much fun with my fellow food lover Jessie cooking up some tasty treats to fuel us through a big week of racing!”

Paddy: “This is my first time in Alaska – it has been really fun to explore somewhere new and see the ski culture and history here in Fairbanks.”

Erika doing a little ski testing at the stadium!

Jessie: “It’s so fun for me to get to be with my SMS family again and hang out cooking, doing yoga, enjoying the sunshine and catching up in between races!”

Coach Pat testing the last of the skis the day before the skiathlon.

Sophie: “This is my first time to Fairbanks and so far it hasn’t disappointed! It’s cold, but by race time the temperatures have warmed and the sun is shining bright. The race trails are awesome and I’m excited to finish off the season with my SMS teammates.”

Andy: “The weirdest thing thats happened so far? I got sick the day before the first race… thats actually not that weird because it happens all the time at Spring Nationals. It’s a pain in my ass {butt}, but at least I will be able to work on my cheering skills for a few days.”

Erika: “I’m really looking forward to the team relay. We’ve been runner up too many times, this year we can win”

Simi: “It’s great to be in beautiful Alaska for our last races of the season. They’ve had a great snow year up here in Fairbanks, the skiing is probably the best we’ve had all year, and finally being able to spend time together as the SMS family is a great way to end the season. I think everyone up here wants to race fast this week, but the vibe is still one of celebration at the end of a long season and to be able to hang out with so many people in the US xc ski community is an opportunity we only get once a year, so we’re all pretty psyched for that.”

Ben: ”     “.

Julia Recaps Historic World Juniors/U23 Championships

(Thanks to Flyingpoint Road- Steve Fuller- for all of these awesome shots!)

Paddy, Katharine and I have been racing at World Juniors/U23 Championships this past week at the Soldier Hollow 2002 Olympic Venue in Utah! Not only we were racing on home soil, but we also had some historic results for team USA!

DSC_2213.jpeg

The week kicked off the championships with a classic sprint for juniors. I qualified 11th on the day and moved through to the semi finals after a fast quarterfinal heat! In the semi final, I positioned myself perfectly coming down the hill but unfortunately a girl crashed and took me down with her. It was a huge bummer but I still ended up 9th on the day, my best result yet at World Juniors! Lauren, a former SMS post grad also skied to an impressive 20th place! Paddy continued with sprinting the next day for the U23 championship! Paddy placed 18th for the day!

caldwell.jpeg

With such a strong start to the week, Katharine kept the ball rolling on the 5km skate day for juniors. She put up the 5th fastest time of the day, beating her previous best of 6th place two years ago at World Juniors! Paddy crushed the following day placing 9th overall in the 15km skate race!

IMG_9626.jpeg

The last individual event of the week was the skiathalon! I caught a cold mid week and I decided to sit out the race in order to try to get healthy for the relay…but that meant I got to go out and cheer on Katharine as she made history. Katharine reached the podium in 3rd place in the 10km skiathalon, being the first ever junior to reach the podium in American history!!! Wow! Paddy decided to match his place from the previous race, getting into the top 10 once again with an impressive 9th place finish in the 30km skiathalon!!

skiathlon-podium.jpg

But that is not all! Katharine and I were selected for the junior relay team on Sunday for a 4×3.3km race. Katharine, Hailey, Hannah and I have been dreaming about being on the same relay team for 2 years now and we were extremely fired up to get the chance to race together on home soil and hopefully achieve our long time dream of the podium in the relay. I was healthy enough to race which made me really happy. I tagged off to Hannah who threw down an extremely fast leg and then Katharine anchored our relay and brought home the bronze! Once again, history was made with the first ever junior relay podium!

 

16603159_1336566336407176_2244241078527269143_n.jpgThis past was an incredible experience for all three of us and we even had Pat by our side as the junior team coach (he also helped a ton with waxing because we know Pat can’t stay out of a wax room hahaha). To top it off, all three of us qualified for World Cup Finals in Canada this past week and we are very excited to join our world cup teammates to finish off the season! DSC_2263.jpeg

Doubt is Okay (Ben on the First Races of the Season)

Oddly enough Nordic skiers love snow. That’s why the SMS Elite Team endured a cross-country odyssey from the rainy (but not so snowy) forests of Vermont to the snowy (and not so rainy) forests of Montana. Now we’re here in the City of West Yellowstone a town everyone in the ski world seems to know a bit too well, and already we’re here for the second time this year.

Why are we here for the second time in two weeks?

Well, West Yellowstone is one of the few places in North America that is currently offering snow good enough to race on, and thats the reason for our second visit. Initially we were supposed to spend only one week in West Yellowstone and retreat to Bozeman Montana for our first SuperTour Races, but alas, snow is scarce and there are many beautiful -albiet high, dry, and cold- kilometers to ski in West Yellowstone. Which is why we find ourselves in West Yellowstone once again.

But despite having Deja Vu while skiing out on Deja View this morning, being back in West Yellowstone is exciting. We are here to race, and at the start of the race season, I think again about pain, and about doubt, and I look back on something I wrote down in 2012.

The start of the racing season is exciting because it is always so hard to contain your emotions. At the start of a racing season a summer’s worth of anticipation, joy, anger, and fear is brought to bear against the clock. This is because ski racing takes all of the things we feel about skiing and concentrates them into their most potent forms. 

That, I think that is what I would call the “simple” answer to why people get excited about racing. However, I think that if people are completely honest there is another reason.  

Doubt.

After months of hard training, your mind inevitably begins to forecast the future. You wonder, “Will I be able to beat my competitors? Will I be able to beat myself?” This seed of insecurity plants itself in everyone’s mind – whether or not they choose to acknowledge it – and the only way it can be eradicated is to put forth the effort of a race so you know where you stand. It is not the results that really end up mattering. What matters is that question in our minds. What makes a race great is that a race creates a respite from that question. Because it is in a race that a skier acknowledges that question by putting themselves on the line, and in that way they push the question of doubt out of their minds because it is answered for a little while – until it returns, as it does to everyone. At which point, you must race really hard, again.

People may find that explanation hard to believe or scoff at it because it seems to say that we are all too competitive or too insecure, things people tend to speak of with distaste. However, I don’t think that it celebrates those things.  Instead, it celebrates that competitive drive that leads us to race at all. That doubt is what leads us to better ourselves and to test ourselves at all. Without that feeling we would not leave our comfort zones to race at all.

I am not saying that we do not race for fun, because we do. There are few things as enjoyable as a race. However, I believe that what truly makes us excited to race is that question that gnaws at us, asking us what we can do and what we are worth as a skier; that is what makes us look forward to racing. Racing provides both an answer and a respite from that question, and that is why it is both our deliverance and haven. That is why we love it.

Andy reports from Norway (on snow!)

Yesterday I flew from Vermont to Beitostolen Norway in order to get on snow and take advantage of some super competitive early season races here this weekend. The US Ski Team squad was just scheduled to travel straight over to Finland for the first World Cup weekend, but since I will be traveling home for 3 weeks in December this year I opted to fly over a week early and come to Beitostolen.

I flew into Olso in the morning and rented a car from the airport to make the 3-hour drive north to Beitostolen. This summer when I was in Norway by myself I went with the super little, golf-cart style car but this time thought better of it and upgraded to a sweet Mercedes… and I’m glad I did. Not only could I fit skis in, but also Norway has had one of the most epic starts to their winter in years and there is snow everywhere! Awesome for early season skiing but slower going on the road so I’m glad I had decent wheels for the drive. I rolled into town in time for an evening jog before dinner.

unnamed.jpgEven though I’m without US Ski Team support I’m definitely not just flying solo out here either and should have plenty of training partners this week.  Andrew and Cam are in town enjoying the skiing along with several hundred xc skiers and biathletes from around the world. Picture west Yellowstone on steroids. Just about every Norwegian skier in the country will be here which makes for great competition but also a fun chance to catch up with some of my training partners from the Lillehammer training group I joined this summer. After two nights in my current hotel I’ll be moving in with the BNBank team and joining them for through the weekend.

unnamed-2.jpgDay one in Beito didn’t disappoint.  I woke up to some light snow -4C and a perfectly groomed race loop in the stadium.  Andrew is here visiting Cam so although I guess I technically do have a wax tech here we also didn’t travel with any waxing gear. I knocked on the door of the national team wax truck so see if I could jump on a bench and score some kick wax but they of course just grabbed my skies and told me to get the hell out of there, the skis would be done in 3 minutes haha.  Sure enough a few minutes later a perfectly waxed pair of classic skis came out of that fancy truck.  It’s really nice of them to help me out and it just goes to show you how friendly most nations are to one another on the World Cup.

unnamed-1.jpgThe racetrack was in perfect condition and it was great to ski around on some great hard wax skiing conditions. Here in Beitostolen there are a lot of tourist trails that are skiable with the current natural snow but we stuck to the 5k for the most part today. The races this weekend will begin on Friday with a 15k classic, 10k skate on Saturday, and a sprint on Sunday.  I’m not expecting huge things from these races but I’m excited to make a smooth transition to snow and get things tuned up to start off the World Cup season as strong as possible.

Send off for Snow

 

IMG_1052.jpgIt’s go time folks! After a spring, summer and fall of preparation and training the first races of the season kick off in less than two weeks! With any luck (and a little help from the snow gods), the entire SMS Elite Team will be ripping around snowfields on skinny skis by next Monday and putting all that off-season training to work. Before saying our goodbyes to Stratton and packing our bags for the first races of the season, we welcomed the community in and around Stratton to join us for one last hoorah at our annual SMS Send-Off Soiree!

IMG_1059.jpg

Our team is incredibly lucky to have the support of an entire community behind us and we would not exist without their belief in the team and our mission to achieve international excellence and inspire a culture of a cross-country skiing in the U.S. The send-off dinner gave us the chance to thank all of our supporters in person, recognize their role in our success as a team and a club and share some of our highlights since we started the team just over four years ago. From a small team of 6 skiers with only one Olympian, we’ve grown to a crew of 9 athletes, including 4 Olympians and 6 U.S. Ski Team athletes who have worked together to earn 2 World Championship medals, over 10 World Cup podiums and reached upwards of 5,000 youth skiers and athletes in the process! IMG_1061.jpg

The West River Nordic BKL kids stole the show though when they gifted each of us their autographed “athlete cards” complete with personal stats (Gunnar’s favorite food is blueberries) and action photos PLUS a tasty chocolate bar. We are so fortunate to work with these kids on a weekly basis and can’t wait to follow them this season as well. The send-off dinner always gets us psyched to head out on the road and gives us that last bit of momentum we need to hit the trails skiing! Thank you to everyone who joined us for the event and for cheering us on throughout the winter. You make the difference!

IMG_1062.jpg

Simi’s Packing Essentials

It’s always a daunting task to pack your duffel bag for everything you need for  five months away from home, but when you think about it, there are worse things you could be doing.. Really, you just have to make sure you have enough clean underwear, your race suit, your toothbrush, and a warm jacket. You don’t actually need much more than that. But if you’re going to be happy, healthy, and comfy while on the road, you need a bit more. Here’s a list of what you’d find if you unzipped my duffel bag anytime between November through April.

  • 5 pair underwear
  • 5 pair wind briefs (underwear for racing and training)
  • 4 t shirts
  • 5 training shirts (3 long sleeved, 2 short sleeved)
  • 3 pair training tights
  • 2 pair jeans
  • 8 pair socks
  • 3 pair Oakley glasses
  • 2 racing headbands
  • 2 racing/training hats
  • 1 casual hat
  • 2 puffy jackets (1 super warm, 1 medium down)
  • 2 training jackets (1 thin, 1 medium thick)
  • 2 training pants (1 thin, 1 medium thick)
  • 5 pair gloves (3 thin race gloves, 1 race mitten, 1 casual warm glove)
  • 3 pair boots (skiathlon, skate, classic)
  • 1 Aero Press coffee maker
  • Coffee
  • Cholula
  • ColdFX
  • Toiletry kit
  • Teddy bear (his name is Oatmeal)

image2.JPG

So, if you’re planning an xc ski trip anytime soon, follow this packing last and you’ll be sure to be happy, healthy, and comfy during your travels!

Vote for Snow!

Right now, all across the country skiers are getting excited. The leaves have all but left the trees, the sky is getting dark earlier than it should, and the air is starting to get awfully cold which can only mean one thing; snow is almost here.

Skiers love snow. It is the lifeblood of our sport, but what if it didn’t keep falling?

12772091_10153219596266707_7099854834968759855_o.jpg

It’s not exactly a secret that the effects of climate change are directly affecting the glorious 5 month stretch we call “the season.” 2016 was the warmest winter on record, and those above-average temperatures combined with below-average precipitation levels to give us one of the most unsatisfying winters in recent memory.

Every skier has experienced this warming in some way. Whether it’s the fact that spring is arriving almost 2 weeks earlier than it should be, or that there’s nowhere to go and train except on a little hamster loop at your local ski center, this new “normal” for winter is hurting our sport.

If you’re reading this blog you probably love to ski, or you know someone who skis, maybe you’re just a fan. No matter why you’re reading this, you’re probably excited for this upcoming season, and you might be starting to worry about our vanishing winters. So what can we do?

First and foremost, get involved with the outdoor sports community on this issue. Go join Simi Hamilton and Andy Newell over at Protect Our Winters. Or see what Bill McKibben is up to at 350.

Secondly, use the upcoming election to advance the conversation on climate change.

 

This is not meant as an endorsement of any candidate in any race for political office. America will always find a way forward regardless of who sets up shop at 1600 PA Avenue. If the world ends on November 9th it will only be because the Chicago Cubs have become world champions and that Karmic imbalance will have lead to the implosion of our galaxy. But just because we’ll all wake up on Wednesday morning doesn’t mean the election shouldn’t matter to skiers.

It’s been almost 18 months, countless speeches, and 3 full presidential debates without a single, pointed question about climate change. That is like, a gigantic bummer.

National and International action is the only way climate change will ever dealt with. It is the best way to create significant changes in the human behavior that has lead us to our current state. Elections matter because we get a chance to choose who will be making those decisions, we get to choose whether or not our country is going to start discussing climate change for real, whether or not we’ll put climate change forward as an important issue. And it is important. Climate change has the potential to create century long droughts, flood the home of the Cuban sandwich, and take away our snow.

In 20, 40, or 60 years we might not have snow, so take a second and think about skiing. Sport is not the only reason to seek this change, but our passion for sport can be one of our greatest calls to action.

What has skiing given you? Skiing has given me direction. Skiing given me goals and the opportunity to work for them, skiing has also introduced me to many of the finest human beings on this planet. I’m willing to bet many of you feel the same way I do. Skiing is too important to just let go of, we have to let it keep on giving.

So please, before you vote, research your candidates. Go out and google. Find out which candidates in your home are going to help protect your winters. In the words of my very wise teammate Annie Hart “Informed decisions are the best decisions.”

The truth is, there is no magic bullet. We won’t save the world by Wednesday morning. The globe doesn’t have a thermostat we can just turn down. But it’s not hopeless; nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change, and if we do that, what we can do in 2016 is start a discussion that might just save skiing.

pete-leonard

Walking at 104

My first time to Park City (5 years ago…time flies!) I remember walking up the stairs in the morning and being sufficiently out of breath by the coffee maker. So the next day I decided to throw my heart rate monitor on to see what my heart rate was while walking up the stairs.  I knew it would be high- I was guessing around 80 beats per minute (as a measure, my resting heart rate is around 52…or something like that).  To my utter shock and somewhat to my dismay, I looked at my watch and had hit triple digits.  Specifically, 104 beats per minute.  So I walked up the second flight of stairs…and I was at 110.  I was literally training just going up stairs.

i-TJwwC4B-X3.jpg
Striding up some big canyon.  Photo Liz Arky

Welcome to altitude.  Despite its many benefits (namely a natural boost in your hemoglobin count), altitude has a way of literally taking your breath away.  For one, the scenery up in the mountains is stupendous.  Every evening we can’t believe the sunset has once again outdone itself.

IMG_2529.JPG
This sunset is fiery and the norm

But we also have more time to look around because everything moves a little slower at altitude.  The easy skis have to be a little easier, and you have to be extra careful during intensity sessions to not cross the red line.  Because up here there is no coming back.

7A529B8E-9518-4B0A-9974-4D21F84A144B.JPG
Running? Hiking? Walking?  Doesn’t matter, at 9,000 feet everything is training. Erika Flowers Photo.

But since that first trip up the stairs, I’ve finally started to get the hang of altitude.  I’ve had a number of spectacular blow ups the past five years at this fall camp, but this year I think I have things (closer) to dialed.  After finishing up week one of camp, which included some long distance as well as some intervals, I am excited for week two!  We had a time trial on Tuesday (a 10/15K individual classic), and everyone had at least type two fun during the event.  We all remembered what it felt like to have some burning lungs, and couldn’t be more excited to try out the courses on snow this winter.  We have a skate sprint simulation and some threshold bounding left this week, and we will cap it all of with an epic hike of sorts.  Thanks for checking in!

7316CEBD-178E-4733-9687-40E4E2394DAF.JPG
Post 10K smile (grimace?) and helmet hair. Erika Flowers photo.
185790A9-853F-4170-BBE6-9D05D05E63F2.JPG
Mid OD water/snack/pee break.  And you guessed it…Erika Flowers photo
IMG_0460.JPG
🙂

Paddy’s Park City Update

Paddy sends an update halfway through our Park City training camp

Hello from Park City! We just finished up our first week of training at the annual USST camp here in Utah. This is my favorite dryland camp of the year. Park City is an amazing place to visit and the weather this time of year is perfect for logging lots of quality hours with teammates – however I will admit it has been an adjustment waking up to snow and temperatures in the teens most mornings! 

14690853_10100202710054265_6871737545723902036_n.jpg(Morning run on the endless single track with Simi – PC: SH)

For our first week of training we overlapped with the Canadian National Team and collaborated on several hard workouts. It was really fun to mix up the training group and jump in behind some different skiers. One of my favorite joint workouts of the week was a classic interval session at the rollerski track in Soldier Hollow. We started every interval together as one big group of around 20 skiers – it was a great opportunity to practice skiing hard in a pack. 

i-BJSCBx3-X2.jpg(Start of an interval at Soldier Hollow – PC: Liz Arky)

Another highlight of the camp so far was our annual “Speed Camp” – for a full update on the event as well as a “Fast and Female” update visit here

This week we have a big variety of training on the docket with two time trials (mock races), bounding intervals up Guardsman Pass and a 4+ hour run up Timpanogas to wrap up the camp – stay tuned for updates along the way! 

i-QDfZs3C-X2.jpg