Made it to Finland!

Hey ski fans! Jessie here, checking in from Rovaniemi, Finland! A large chunk of the US team just landed here for a week long training camp before heading to the World Cup opening weekend in Ruka/Kuusamo, Finland. That’s where Sophie, Simi and I will meet up with Andy again when he travels from Beito! We picked Rovaniemi because it’s Santa’s official airport and village. Just kidding! We picked it because they have a great training center here with 9 kilometers of snow (man-made and saved up over the summer) and they have a big sport hotel with apartments and an awesome gym for us to use.

Rooming with Sophie, Ida and Liz!
Coaching my high school team before I left home!

We always fly to Rovaniemi on the way to Kuusamo, so this year, we knew that we wanted to train somewhere with a little more terrain without having to add a lot of travel. It made sense to end our 25 hour travel day right at 25 hours and save the last bus ride to Kuusamo for next week! It’s been really fun for me to finally see the town that we always drive past but never got to ski in. There are lights everywhere because the sun doesn’t come up until 9am, and it’s dark by 4pm. So lighted trails are a must! There are also Santa things everywhere. Our hotel is called “Santa-sport”, and there are photos of reindeer above the door. It’s a pretty cheerful theme!

Liz in our living room. We have to keep the TV on because the internet goes through the TV!

As we adjust to the jet lag, it’s easy to get in a rhythm through training. When it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning I just walk to breakfast knowing that I have to be ready to ski and meet my tech to test skis so I can’t be late. And when I get tired in the afternoon I can head out for a shorter training session to stay awake!

Happy to be on snow!

It’s been really fun to be on snow again, but for me the best part is seeing all my teammates again and having almost everyone in one place to catch up! I’m really looking forward to the World Cup mini-tour we race next weekend: a classic sprint, 10km individual start classic and a pursuit start 10km race. Keep checking in with the blog to see how we’re training and where we’re at!

 

 

Advertisements

First Race Starts

As Erika mentioned in her blog we have been enjoying some epic early season skiing conditions here in Norway for the past few weeks. Cabin living and long skis in Sjusjoen is about as good as it gets but it’s important not to forget why we are here to begin with. To get some early season race starts in!

 

Racing on rollerskis is similar but at the same time it always takes some adjustments to get back to real on snow racing. Technique is a little different, snow speeds and conditions feel different, and sometimes it feels like you are using completely different muscles on snow.  This was the main reason I traveled over to Europe early this year, to make all these small adjustments and jump in the Norwegian FIS openers in Beitostolen.

Skiing for days!

After a week of easier training we were fortunate enough to jump in a time trial with Devon Kershaw and his crew Team Telemark. For me this was the first race type effort on snow and I was grateful for the practice leading up to Beitostolen. The TT was a 12k skate race with a solid group of fast guys to contend with, but at the same time pretty relaxed. Individual start, no race waxing, 8am start, basic and simple.

Amazing cabin sunsets

Erika, Hoff, and I jumped in the TT and I was happy with how it went, but also happy it was a ‘practice race’.  For me pacing distance races is always a little different on snow than on rollerskis because the terrain changes are so much more dramatic on snow.  Real ski courses have so many transitions, short hills, and steep climbing that racing terrain on ski trails can be a bit different than the roads we are used to training on all summer.  It was the perfect practice before the real ‘practice races’ this weekend in Beitostolen.

Doing some intensity

Today we traveled from Sjusjoen to Beitostolen, just a few hours driving North of Lillehammer. Hoff, Annie, and I will all be racing here this weekend and even though the atmosphere was super chill for our Sjusjoen TT things will be a little different come the weekend. Anyone who tells you they don’t get nervous pulling on a bib for the first race of the year probably doesn’t have a pulse. I also think I’ll be super excited considering the circumstances. Last year I really wanted to start the Beitostolen races but came down with an injured elbow and had to sit out, so this year I’ll be even more stoked to toe the line.

The first race for me will be a Classic sprint on Saturday, and realistically one of the most stacked races I’ll participate in during the next month. Norway uses the Beitostolen races as selection for the Kuusamo World Cup and the Lillehammer nations group quota so for a lot of these skiers it’s their only path to the World Cup all season. No World Cup = no shot at the Olympics, so you can imagine that domestic skiers in Norway have been tuning up for this classic sprint.

My goals will be to practice my pre race routine, dial in a good warm up, and hopefully practice some very competitive classic sprint heats before the World Cup in Kuusamo. I can feel my hip-felxors getting sore already! Going to be fun!

Shooshin in Sjusjoen

Loving the snow!

Two weeks ago, Annie, Andy and I packed our bags and skis for the winter and headed to the birthplace of cross-country skiing and brown cheese: Norway! In an effort to log some extra on-snow time before the start of the season, we traveled to Sjusjoen, a small ski town about 2 hours north of Oslo. Noah Hoffman also joined us in Sjusjoen to prepare for the first period of World Cups.  Every spring, Sjusjoen ski organizers save a mansion-sized pile of snow to lay out on the race tracks the following October, thereby guaranteeing early season skiing. We traveled to Norway on October 29th and a massive snowstorm welcomed our arrival. In addition to the manmade snow loop on the race trails, the natural snow opened up an additional 100 kilometers or so of skiing so we’ve been able to adventure to our heart’s delight.

Adventuring with Goob on a snowy Sunday OD

People often ask why Norway is so dominant in the sport of cross-country skiing. One trip to Sjusjoen pretty much explains it. The town is built around Nordic skiing. Perfectly groomed trails crisscross the rolling hills dotted by candlelit cabins, small trees and lakes, and thousands of skiers. On any given Sunday, families take to the trails, trading football for fast ski tracks. Dogs with harnesses whip down the trail towing their owners in hot pursuit while young parents tow children barely coordinated enough to walk, half skiing have falling down the track. Anyone from age 6 onward has pretty much flawless technique. In fact I’m pretty sure the 8 year olds could make an instructional video on par with Bryan Fish’s Level 100 clinic. Perhaps even more impressive however are the older skiers, gray hair, gators pulled up around their calves, slightly bent at the waist and passing you while you stop to drink some water. You usually find the older skiers miles from the nearest trailhead and while they aren’t the fastest skiers out there, they also never stop moving. Like the tortoise they will beat the hare any day.

Fireside recovery

A quick look at your phone shows GPS location for each of Sjusjoen’s two dozen or so groomers. A green track means the trail was groomed in the last 0-3 hours, orange means 3-12 hours, purple 12-48 hours and blue, well, don’t even bother-that trail was groomed two days ago. It’s actually hard to ski less than two hours…an average loop takes 3+ hours and you could easily ski for 8 hours straight without doubling back a single time. Add cozy cabins complete with saunas and wood fires and waffle makers and you are looking at cross-country skier heaven. And as one Norwegian reminded me…its barely even November!

Early morning intervals with some athletes from the local Lillehammer Ski Club

To say we’ve enjoyed ourselves is an understatement. We’ve skied every single day, sometimes twice, and filled our downtime mastering our best Norwegian waffle recipe, trying brown cheese on pretty much everything, making fires and listening to the new Taylor Swift album on repeat. As Annie would say…it’s pure fire. We’ve also been able to join up with a few different skiers in the area for our intensity workouts (even though it has meant starting before the sunrise some mornings). Unfortunately we only have one more day shooshin’ around in Sjusjoen but that also means racing is right around the corner! I’m headed back to Bozeman on Tuesday to get ready for the first SuperTours in Montana while Annie and Andy head to Beitostolen with Noah for some race practice in the Norwegian season opening FIS races. Stay tuned for more!

Stellar sunrises
Stellar skiing
And even more stellar skiing

 

 

Fall tune-up

Early November is a funny time of year. You scrape ice off your windshield every morning, yet there’s still green grass in the front lawn. If you’re not home from training by 4:45 p.m. you get caught in the pitch black dark, yet you’re still out pounding the pavement on your roller skis. Two-session training days are few and far between, yet race season still seems impossibly far away. No time of year is better defined as in-between season than right now. We’re straddling the border between the training year and the race season. In a sense, we’ve done all that we can do and now it’s just up to us to say healthy, recover between race weekends, and cram a bit of training into those rare two week periods when we don’t put a bib on. And there’s a bit of truth to that… that’s how we operate for most of the season. But if you fall into the trap of complacency and you don’t tweak the dials when you have the chance, that’s when you get into trouble. So that’s what we’re doing in our final week at home… we’re twisting those dials to get things just right.

Sophie and Julia after a great workout!

About half of the SMS T2 crew (Andy, Erika, and Annie) have been living the winter cabin life in Sjusjoen, Norway for the last 2 weeks. They’re eating their fill of brown cheese, skiing on natural snow out their back door, and stoking the wood stove stove throughout the sub zero nights. The rest of us (Sophie, Ben, Paddy, Julia, and myself) are in Stratton for a few more days before we head off to the Arctic woods of northern Finland on Wednesday (Ben will join Annie and Erika in West Yellowstone to kick off the Super Tour season). On the Vermont end of things, our last week has consisted of doing lots of “sharpening workouts”. Essentially, a sharpening workout is any session (usually on skis or roller skis), that makes it easier to access your race gear. So it usually consists of very short, very hard intervals that are separated by ample recovery. On Tuesday, we did one of my favorite race prep workouts; 3x8x30 seconds, with a 10-minute set break in between sets. A workout like this allows you to move fast (at race pace or above race pace), which kicks in your body’s anaerobic system, but because it is still a relatively short effort, you’re not taxing your body too much during the interval. The multiple intervals and multiple sets helps your body to maintain it’s aerobic efficiency, which we’ve spent most of the summer developing with lots of easy volume and low-intensity interval sessions. Julia, Sophie, Paddy, and I did this workout at Ball Mountain Dam, choosing fast, rolling terrain so we could really get a feel for the speeds that we’ll achieve during on-snow races in a couple weeks. The second hard session of the week were intervals that simulated a full sprint race. Yesterday was cold and clear as we warmed up on Winhall Hollow Road, choosing to do the session on a stretch of the road that best mimics the classic sprint course we’ll be racing on in 14 days in Ruka, Finland. We “raced” a low level 4 qualifier (skiing individually), and then grouped up for 3 more intervals, each one skied faster and faster, after the qualifier. The point was to get a really hard effort on a course that is very similar to the one we’ll see in Ruka, and practice pacing and tactics. Mentally, it makes a huge difference to get in a hard workout on a course that’s similar to a World Cup course we’ll be seeing soon. Most courses we see in Europe on the circuit are beastly and intimidating, so if we can make it through a tough workout at home and feel like we really attacked the session hard and got a lot out of it, then we’ll show up to the venues in Europe that much more ready to throw down. Tomorrow will be our last really hard dryland effort of the season. Most of the Vermont crew will finish off the week of intensity with a distance time trial (10 km for women, 15 km for men). The primary goal for that workout will be to treat it like a World Cup race effort, practicing everything from a really good warm-up (supposed to be a low of 5°F tonight!) to attacking a long and steep uphill in the last few minutes of a 35 minute race.

Simi and Paddy during intervals

And once all of that is complete, it’s time to start filling the duffel bag with everything we’ll need for the next 4 months! I’d like to think that after doing this for 8 years, I have my packing list pretty dialed, but the truth is that every time I have to face that reality, it takes me 5x as long as it should to pack because I dread it so much. But I do know from the last 8 years that once I’m on the trans-Atlantic flight on Wednesday night, the only thing I’ll be stressing about is whether or not I packed enough Cholula in my bag to get me through another season of reindeer and schnitzel.

Stay tuned to the blog to hear from the crew that will be hunting down deep snow at the Super Tour kickoff in West Yellowstone, MT, as well as those of us that will be trying to survive the dark days and ice fog in northern Finland. Thanks for checking in!

 

 

Ready for the next training block!

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!

We overlapped with the NEG juniors group so we had a few awesome training sessions with them!

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!

Still got some pep after bounding intervals!

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!

Cooling down in the foam pit after strength with Cork and Hazel, our strength coach’s daughter (and mascot)

Happy fall,

Jessie

 

TO GIVE IT 100

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.

The boys hammering in a time trial at Solder Hollow

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:

https://smseliteteam.wordpress.com/fundraising-challenge/

Long snowy trail runs!

If you are on the fence, we’ve put together 100 reasons to support the SMS T2 team below:

  1. Your donation is tax-deductible. ☺
  2. It’s Friday the 13th so you really want good luck on your side
  3. Experience warm and fuzzy feelings from giving a gift
  4. Your donation means we can spend more time training and racing and less time worrying about how to pay for it
  5. Procrastinate doing work and donate instead
  6. Brush up on your tech skills by using our online payment option
  7. Turn our funding frowns upside down
  8. Check something off of your to-do list
  9. Be a part of something bigger
  10. Support the next generation of cross-country skiers
  11. Contribute to our goal of earning the first Olympic Medal since 1982!
  12. We want desperately to keep our Coach Pat-help make that possible
  13. Stop us from sending you annoying emails or posts about why you should donate
  14. The Boobars donated…and everyone wants to be like the Boobars
  15. Insta-fame: Get your name featured on our social media as an official donor
  16. Handwritten thank you note to stick on your fridge
  17. Check off your do-gooder task for the day
  18. Internet fame: Get your name featured on our website as an official donor
  19. Jessie will have more time to work on her amazing dances
  20. Erika will attempt to learn one of said dances
  21. We will actually tell you what T2 stands for
  22. Channel the giving spirit of the holidays in October
  23. More time skiing and training with the junior skiers around Stratton
  24. Contribute to the defending U.S. National Championships Club Relay Team
  25. Empower the youth skiing movement that we promote
  26. Be a part of history when SMS T2 wins a medal at the Olympics
  27. Leave a legacy
  28. Relieve Pat’s dependence on cheap frozen burritos
  29. Learn Goob’s secret to strength room dominance
  30. Help us show up to the start line with faster wax than APU
  31. Make sure Pat doesn’t end up sleeping under tarps on the floor of the wax room (yes—this has actually happened)
  32. Add a few years to Sverre’s life by reducing the level of financially related stress
  33. Add a few years to Pat’s life as well for that matter
  34. Even $3 can buy a coffee for coach Pat-sometimes the difference between a 1st place wax job and a 5th place wax job
  35. Make our skiing dreams possible
  36. Help us defend our title as USSA Club of the Year
  37. You will be better than one in a million…you will be one in one hundred
  38. Help buy Pat a warmer winter jacket that will prevent future bouts of frostbite and pneumonia
  39. Support a group of dedicated and determined athletes
  40. Vermont pride
  41. Help us compete with the best in the world
  42. Positively affect the personal development of youth through sports participation
  43. It takes money to make money: Getting people active could save the US up to $28 billion annually (Link: https://www.aspenprojectplay.org/the-facts)
  44. Were you really going to find a better use for that coin jar?
  45. Spread the love
  46. Support the future of Nordic skiing
  47. Every penny of your donation will go directly to athlete and coach expenses (housing, travel, racing)
  48. Erika will share her famous chocolate chip cookie recipe
  49. Because the second U.S. medal in Nordic skiing should probably come from the same state as the first: Vermont.
  50. Good karma
  51. Endless high fives and hugs from the SMS T2 Team
  52. Tax break
  53. Be a community leader
  54. Give local youth access to train and hang with some of the best skiers in the world
  55. Unlock additional funding for the SMS T2 Team
  56. Every dollar donated matters
  57. You matter and can make a difference
  58. Skipping your daily Starbucks for a week buys a race entry for an SMS T2 Athlete
  59. Because we were able to brainstorm 100 reasons why you should donate
  60. Because one day when we are rich and famous we will always remember the people who made it possible—you!
  61. Because Paddy asked you with a smile-and how can you say no to that ball of sunshine
  62. U.S. Nationals are in Anchorage this year and Vermont is a long and expensive plane ride away from Alaska
  63. Pyeongchang is even further from Vermont-and those plane rides cost $$$!
  64. There’s never been a better use for WAM (walking around money)
  65. More artsy photos and videos from Julia
  66. More Go-Pro footage from Simi and Andy
  67. Because if we get 100 donors then MAYBE Simi will propose to Sophie!!?? SMS Wedding Times2! (Only half kidding)
  68. Fight obesity and invest in youth sports
  69. More cute pictures of little kids on roller skis
  70. Rumor has it that every donation to SMS T2 adds an inch to this winter’s snowpack
  71. Join an incredibly supportive community of donors
  72. Ask any SMS T2 athlete for winter racing/waxing or training advice
  73. A donation to SMS T2 is a vote of belief in our team and our dream
  74. “People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou
  75. Give us more reasons to take jumping photos
  76. We promise not to ask again until next fall
  77. Giving $100 helps us give 100% in every.single.race.
  78. Donate in honor of someone who has inspired you to go after your own goals and dreams
  79. Allow us to S ki M ore S wiftly!!!
  80. Donate because you can
  81. Donating to SMS T2 gives you instant style points-all the cool kids are doing it
  82. Without community support-the success of the SMS T2 team would not be possible
  83. “It always seems impossible, until it is done” –Nelson Mandela
  84. Even small donations make a big difference
  85. “No one has ever become poor by giving” –Anne Frank
  86. Because your donation goes further by unlocking additional funding from T2!
  87. Donating boosts personal motivation so you can get closer to your own goals as well!
  88. Connect with other donors who are passionate about Nordic skiing
  89. Because October is National Positive Attitude Month and making a charitable donation helps boost mood and positivity
  90. Because you are tired of reading this list already and are ready to make a donation
  91. Because Erika asked you nicely with her biggest doe eyes
  92. Because you feel bad for the poor soul who took the time to write this list
  93. Katherine just started college and needs something the smile about during finals-a donation can help
  94. Help grow a love for skiing at the grassroots level
  95. 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.
  96. More $ = more outreach!
  97. Because donating gives a better buzz than a Friday night cocktail
  98. Because the Olympics are only 117 days away…now is the time to show your support!
  99. Because your dollar helps us dig deep when it matters most

100. Charlotte Ogden donated…and she is in high school. Your move…

 

Paddy ripping around the corner in intervals!
Julia and Erika on the run
Hard work, but fun work!

It’s official – we are SMST2 again!

We are proud to announce that it’s now official, and the SMS team is once again the SMST2 team! Thanks to the T2 Foundation for being our title sponsor.

As a team, we have two goals:

  1. Support the quest for international excellence in cross country skiing.
  2. Grow the sport in our communities as well as promote a healthy lifestyle.

The T2 Foundation has a very similar mission of helping athletes achieve international excellence with the funding they need and to inspire and teach kids through sport. As we have the same goals it’s an easy partnership and we’re excited to welcome T2 back!

Andy and Jessie running the kids group through some ski walking drills
Jessie sets an example for bounding technique

Wait, wait, wait…what exactly does T2 stand for? Glad you asked! The T2 foundation was started by a supporter of US Skiing named Tom Karam. Originally called “Team Tommy”, he supported a handful of US skiers who needed help paying for the expenses of racing and travel. In 2008, he turned it into a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with the dual mission of supporting athletes and giving back to youth, and the name was changed to T2.

Andy and Simi coaching some ski walking at an open clinic

 

Another NZ update

About one month ago, while I was running errands at the local hardware store in Manchester, VT, I asked a very nice, 60-something year-old store associate, whose name I could see being Norma, where I might find the travel-sized containers that I could put liquid soap in. I had decided that I spent too many years buying and wasting soap in every new place I travel to, and it finally made sense to me to just take my soap with me, and bring it home if I didn’t use it. But that’s not really relevant to the story. Norma and I got to talking, and she asked me where I was going. I told her I was a ski racer and I was flying to New Zealand for a month long training camp. Norma asked, “New Zealand? Isn’t that pretty much on the other side of the world?” “Yep,” I concurred, “It’s basically as far from here as you can get.” Norma asked me how many hours the trip from Vermont to New Zealand took and I could tell it was hard for her to wrap her head around the fact that a place could be so far away that it took nearly 35 hours to get there. But my conversation with Norma didn’t stick with me simply because she was a very nice old lady. You see, Norma had never been on a plane before. She had never travelled outside of Vermont, New Hampshire, or New York. She educated me that in a week’s time, she would be flying from Albany, NY to Atlanta, GA for her granddaughter’s wedding. Just from my 5-minute conversation with her, I could tell that getting on her first plane to travel someplace further than she had ever been before, was probably one of the most exciting things to happen to her in a long while.

The crew up at one of the huts.

After you do something for long enough, no matter how out of the ordinary or unique that something is, it has a tendency to lose its shimmer. This is my 7th trip to New Zealand in as many years. Even though it is still just as stunningly beautiful as the first time I came down here almost a decade ago, the novelty of flying half way across the world and implanting yourself squarely into winter in the middle of August has certainly faded. Talking to Norma that day in the hardware store reminded me of just how lucky we are as ski racers to have the means of stepping onto an airplane on a continent in the northern hemisphere and stepping off of that airplane 15 hours later in a world transformed with snow squalls, glaciers, and 12,000-foot-high peaks. Needless to say, I’ve done a pretty good job this entire trip of reminding myself of how fortunate I am to be living a life in which the most extraordinary experiences present themselves to me and my teammates on a daily basis.

Fording a river in the Matukituki valley

Our camp down under has been incredible this year. We arrived to bluebird skies and cold temps. When you combine those conditions with the fact that they have been getting hammered with snow all winter (June-August), it makes for incredible training and living conditions at the Snow Farm. Over the three-week period that we’ve been here, we’ve seen the entire spectrum of weather. We had some great spring klister skiing for about 5 days, complete with a day of crust skiing that was hands-down one of the best ski adventures I’ve ever been on. Warm, sunny spring days quickly turned back into winter, when a massive low pressure system hit both islands a week ago. For the last six days, it’s been nuking snow and hammering wind. It always amazes me how quickly the seasons change up here, often out for order. The team is doing wonderfully. It’s been really fun having Sun Valley, Craftsbury, Stratton, and a big chunk of the national team living and training together in one place. We’ve all been feeding off of each other, both on and off the trails. The camp has primary been a volume block, but we’ve certainly taken advantage of some good opportunities to go hard too. With three FIS races coming at the end of our camp, the SMS elite crew capitalized. Jessie took the win in both the 5 km skate and 10 km classic races, with Soph racing to an extremely impressive 3rd in the 5 km skate. Ben and Sophie shared the podium on the sprint day with each of them winning their races. Ben was especially impressive, choosing to double pole the qualification and all of the heats, putting on a show in the last 100 meters of the final to walk away with the BIG W. I skipped the FIS races because I was fighting off a virus for the majority of the week but I was able to take the win in the 42 km Merino Muster (part of the World Loppet series) last weekend. I guess now that I’m 30 years old the longer races suit me better anyway!

Doing speed work (photo by Matt Whitcomb)

Tomorrow marks the end of camp for most. Jessie, Soph, and Julia will fly back to the states, while Ben and I stick around for a few more days of kiwi adventure. Ben will travel up to Auckland tomorrow and is planning on checking out the North Island for a few days before he fulfills one of his most sought-after goals of going to an All Blacks rugby game against South Africa next weekend. I will stay down an extra week in hopes of finding some ski mountaineering around Wanaka. I had grand ambitions to get out into the high country for some big adventures, but the weather has definitely put a damper on that. Avalanche conditions are high, and to find the closest low-angle tree skiing you probably have to get on a plane to Japan. But I am still planning on poking around in the backcountry with a good friend of mine, and regardless of what we find, we’ll have a grand time. And of course we will keep things very safe (in case you’re reading this, mom). Thanks for checking in, and hope to see all of you back in Vermont soon!

Making the most of the summer

Summer time in Stratton is flying by. For most of the team the summer is officially over with an abrupt transition from hot humid days in Vermont to cold blustery ones in New Zealand. Andy, Pat and I will be holding down the fort here for the next few weeks along with the Stratton junior and development teams.

Working on some classic technique drills with the junior and development teams in Stratton

 

Last week most of the team enjoyed a much-needed recovery week after a long block of hard training. Recovery weeks are easy to overlook and “cheat” by adding in extra hours of training here and there. But, if executed correctly, a true easy week will help you absorb the last months of training and bring your energy up. The highlight of the week for me was my sister’s wedding back in Lyme, NH last weekend. The couple had already been officially married in London last April but wanted to have a celebration with family and friends in the US. It was a blast having both sides of the family together in one place and having a cross country skiing free weekend.

View from the Dartmouth Ski Way

Now the crew here in Stratton is taking full advantage of the last few weeks of summer training. The next two weeks we are focused on intensity with lots of high quality intervals sessions in the training plan. I’m excited to jump in the Race to the Top of Vermont up Mount Mansfield this coming weekend – should be a healthy dose of Type II fun!

Working on skate technique during a set of hard intervals
Technique work with the SMS juniors

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Cross Country Skiing

Once a year, SMS hosts an annual summer training camp for junior and Bill Koch League skiers from around New England. “Camp Week” kicks off with the BKL crew, a rambunctious bunch of 8-13 year olds who have a seemingly endless supply of energy. After four days of games, roller-ski practice and mountain adventures the BKL crew heads home and older junior skiers arrive for four days of hard training, time-trials and technique work. This year’s camp coincided with a big week of training for most of the Elite team but we were able to jump in a few workouts with the younger crew and hosted a Q&A and small group discussion with each of the groups. The Q&A is by FAR one of my favorite things we do at the camp. It’s like an episode of Kids Say the Darndest Things (except without Bill Cosby creeping around).  We basically let the kids ask absolutely anything they want…they can ask about skiing, school, relationships, training, racing, eating, hobbies, anything. Most of the time the kids are too shy to really grill us with questions or more often they just decide to tell us stories instead. But every once in a while, you get a real gem. Below is a breakdown of some of our favorite camp questions from the next generation of ski champions and a few of our answers (Full Disclosure: I was in a Q&A group with Jessie so most/all of the responses are from the two of us).

BKL Discussion Group
  1. Most asked question:Q: What do you eat for breakfast?

A: I think I’ve actually been asked this EVERY SINGLE YEAR at “Camp Week.” Apparently our noshing habits are fascinating. My answer? Power oats: oatmeal with pumpkin, an egg, cinnamon, maple syrup, granola, peanut butter, banana, blueberries, and Greek yogurt.

Also coffee is a must
  1. Most useful question: Q: How do you recover between workouts?

A: This was one of the best questions I received this year. Jessie and I both responded with a few ideas. Eating a mix of protein and carbohydrates within 30 min. of a training session (i.e. banana with peanut butter). For a week, try to eat something within 2 minutes of your workout! LOTS of water. LOTS of sleep. Naps when possible. Foam rolling and massage. Yoga. Vitamin C. Active recovery-spinning or jogging for 15-20 min.

Post workout natural ice bath!
  1. Best race question:Q: How do you stay focused during a race?

A: Everyone has different strategies for this but Jessie and I both liked to pick a physical technique cue to help us refocus during a race. This could be something as simple as swinging your arms, crunching down on your poles or even just remembering to breath!

  1. Best training question:Q: How do you warm-up for a race?

A: With music, lots of jumps, some L1 a little L3 and even little less L4 plus some running around, changing of clothes, going to the bathroom and more jumping.

  1. Best travel question:Q: What’s your favorite place to ski?

A: Tie between Bozeman, MT and Sjusoen, Norway.

  1. Best historical question:Q: How old were you when you started skiing?

A: Me: 11 Jessie: since she could walk!

  1. Most personal questionQ: Have you ever been injured? How did you deal with it?

A: I broke my elbow in the fall of 2015 and honestly didn’t deal with it very well. After it healed I was able to gain some perspective and realize what a small part of my ski career that 8 weeks was and also recognize the opportunity I had to focus on other things in my sport like mental strength while I was injured.

Sophie and Anne fielding questions from the juniors
  1. Most unusual questionQ: “What if you don’t like people cheering for you and it makes you sad/slower/nervous?”

A: Although I love cheering and feed off of it during races, I actually used to hate it when I was younger. I think I even told my dad that before races I didn’t want to see or hear him because I needed to “get in the zone” and he wasn’t allowed to cheer for me during the race. Although you can’t tell all of the fans to stop cheering during a race, remember they are out there because they all want to encourage you and are psyched to see you pushing hard and skiing your best! Try to reframe “cheering” to make it motivating. Every time you hear someone cheer, pick up the pace so you won’t have to listen to them anymore or use the cheering as a cue to refocus on your race rather than worrying about the people on the sidelines.

  1. Best non-ski questionQ:What do you do in your free time?

A: I like to get outside as much as possible! Hiking with friends, fishing, swimming, kayaking, anything outdoors. Jessie and I also share a love for baking and cooking so that’s a fun way to unwind as well.

Hiking with friends!