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Mt. Itasca Junior Biathlon Trials from Anders Hanson

Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club junior Anders Hanson just returned from Mt. Itasca, Minnesota, where he was competing for a spot on the US Youth/Junior World Championships team. Here is his account of the week, including gruesome stories!

This past week I attended the US Junior Biathlon trials in Mt. Itasca, Minnesota. Over the summer I had begun to train for the sport of biathlon and went to several training camps run by Algis Shalna, a Lithuanian gold medalist who has been working with myself and several other local athletes: Matt Forshey, Nathaniel Kuzio, and Chloe Levins, in preparation for the trials. We all arrived in Minneapolis, Minnesota early Friday afternoon, and traveled north four hours by van to the town of Grand Rapids, where we  spent the next four nights. The temperatures were so cold that it felt impossible to get a good warm-up, and most athletes resorted to zeroing as fast as they could, then hightailing it back to the warming hut, where they would try to regain feeling in their extremities before the races began. I have lived in Vermont my whole life, and was of the opinion that I had already experienced every possible form of cold weather that the Northern United States could offer….. I was wrong: Minnesota brought a new meaning of cold to my vocabulary. On multiple occasions I witnessed people trying to blow ice out of their rifle’s rear sights, only to find that their lips had become stuck to its rear aperture, forcing them to rip their mouth away from the freezing metal, leaving pieces of skin still stuck to the rifle, or causing the unfortunate person to bleed all over themselves after unceremoniously parting with a small section of their face. To spare you from the other gory details I will say the venue couldn’t have been better. The course was easily one of the most fun race courses I have skied on, and the cold icy conditions made the trails lightning fast. I was especially impressed with the quality of the trails, considering the fact that Mount Itasca had little more than an inch of natural snow. One of the most challenging parts of the course was a hill called “The waterfall,” This hill could somewhat be compare to the chip hill separating the lower and upper soccer field at Craftsbury, except that it was almost vertical, and about 2 times as long. It was quite a challenge to get up. Chloe won both of her races, and will be representing team USA at the Junior World Championships in Belarus. Matt placed sixth, but probably would have won, if it had not been for his sight freezing, which cost him two minutes on the range. I really had no idea how I would end up placing in these races, and one of the things I learned was that in the sport of biathlon, you can’t get away with just being a good skier or a good shooter. To truly excel at the sport, you must be great at both. This winter and coming summer, I hope to improve my skiing and shooting, so that in future years, I can be the one on the podium.

Anders cresting the steep hill at Mt. Itasca

Anders cresting the steep hill at Mt. Itasca

Chloe Levins, Rutland native, competing in the youth women's category

Chloe Levins, Rutland native, competing in the youth women’s category


Vermonters Matt Forshey and Nathaniel Kuzio also competed in the trials races



Vermonters Matt Forshey and Nathaniel Kuzio also competed in the trials races

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Scenes from the Dec 13-14 Weekend @ COC

A long train of skiers crossing Murphy's field.

A long train of skiers crossing Murphy’s field.

Happy to be able to share some pictures from talented Craftsbury member, John Lazenby. We enjoyed a full winter weekend here at Craftsbury:  hosting BFA-St. Albans high school races on Saturday, a four day Masters’ Camp, some cross training rowers, and our usual full house on a winter weekend. Get a sense of the happenings with our gallery.

(All photos here are thanks to John Lazenby, see his work at

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New Craftsbury Biathlon Coach, Miroslav Segrt

Miroslav Segrt coaching at the IBU cup.

New Craftsbury coach Miro, in action for the Serbian National Team on the IBU cup.

The Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club and Green Racing Project is excited to welcome to the program our new biathlon coach, Miroslav Segrt, who recently arrived in Craftsbury from his home country of Serbia. He will work together with CNSC junior coach Zach Russo and GRP coach Pepa Miloucheva to grow and improve the biathlon program in Craftsbury. We’re very excited to have him on board! Check out our recent interview with Miroslav and make sure to introduce yourself if you see him around the Center.

Okay, first of all, you’re coming to us from a long way away. Have you lived in Serbia your whole life, and what are you most excited about living in Vermont? Any observations from your first couple of weeks in Craftsbury? What is most different about it compared to your home country?

I’ve lived in Serbia (former Yugoslavia) my entire life, most of it in the city of Novi Sad.

I was excited to meet new people and get to know a different culture; then again I was excited because Vermont is considered to be one of the most environmentally-friendly states in the US with lots of woods, lakes and wildlife.

My first observations were that all the people at Craftsbury Outdoor Center were always polite, helpful and excited for getting a new biathlon coach. Also, I was excited to see that the GRP athletes, together with other COC employees are taking environmental responsibility by recycling, composting, and also by growing organic food.

The biggest difference between Serbia and Vermont is that the environmental issues are taken much more seriously here than in Serbia – when speaking of the general public.

Fill us in a little bit on your background in biathlon and the unique skills that you bring to the Craftsbury biathlon program. We understand that you were a competitive rifle shooter in Serbia, what was that like? How did you transition from that to coaching biathlon?

Since the Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo in 1984 I was interested in biathlon. I was only a 3 year old boy at that time, but one of the earliest memories I have is from the 1984 Olympic biathlon race. As I grew up, I tried all different sports such as soccer, basketball, karate, track and field because there was neither skiing nor biathlon within 200 mile radius. Eventually, I took up shooting, took it more seriously and good results came.

I hadn’t forgotten my thirst for biathlon and in 2006 Serbia had its first biathlete, Aleksandar Milenkovic, in the Olympics in Turin, Italy. I made a contact with that biathlete and he invited me to join his team in training. They were lacking in shooting technique and precision so eventually “I took one for the team” and changed my competitive biathlon dream to become a coach of a team that needed one.

The major thing in sport shooting and marksmanship is to realize that the worst rival you may have is yourself, which also refers to biathlon and other sports, not to mention life in general. There’s only you, your rifle, wind flag, and a target, nothing else, nobody else, your mind is set to do just one thing – to hit that center of the target. You try and learn, accept each imperfection, each error, each frustration, and each miss, because they are you at your best, and eventually practice makes perfect, so you will become better and more skillful.

You also have a background in environmental studies, with a master’s in Environmental Engineering. What field did you focus on specifically, and do you have any ideas for what you would like to implement in Craftsbury, if possible?

This year, October 1st, I successfully defended my master thesis in environmental engineering studies regarding a waste management procedure called “Landfill mining” and its application to Novi Sad’s landfill. One interesting thing is that one of the examples in my thesis, among many others throughout the world, came from Vermont, because it was the first state in the US that successfully conducted a Landfill mining project.

I was overwhelmed when I saw windmills and solar panels here, the composting facilities and different recycling bins, not to mention the drainage system in the new building that produces no waste water from the toilets.

Do you have any goals for the biathlon program in Craftsbury for this coming season? What are you most excited to bring to the program?

I am hoping to bring back the “Craft” in the Craftsbury biathlon program (just kidding), referring to precision shooting in biathlon, rifle handling improvement and mental training. I also would like to bring more people, especially kids, to the biathlon program at Craftsbury and to help organize more races of all levels.

This season’s goal is, together with Pepa and Zach, to help GRP and junior biathletes reach one of the USBA teams for this season or next.

Also, I have a dream, that there will be an All-Craftsbury-Women’s and Mixed Relay USBA team for the WC and WCH in the next couple of years or maybe even the Olympics in 2018. I hope that some of you are sharing that same dream too.

And a few less serious questions, but no less important!

Chocolate or vanilla?
Definitely chocolate!

Summer or winter?
I was born on the first day of winter and I’m a biathlon coach, so figure it out. Although winter is my favorite season, I appreciate and enjoy each and every season, including the mud season.

Ice cream or cake?
Ice cream. I would like to try that Ben and Jerry’s ice cream eventually…

Skiing or rowing?
Both! Maybe we’ll organize some kind of rowing biathlon in summer.

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Coach Brett Ely Qualifies for 2016 Marathon Trials

Editor’s Note:  Craftsbury Running Coach Brett Ely has just qualified for her fourth Olympic marathon trials on the merit of 2:41:31 (a top 20), earning herself a tidy payday in process. She generously shared this piece detailing her race and the past year’s ups and downs. Brett has 5 years of service as a coach.

Brett Ely running around Craftsbury Common.

Coach Ely training on the Common.

California International Marathon 2014

I started school (PhD program in Human Physiology) in September of 2012 with the thought that my competitive running days were behind me. I worked on settling in to the life of a recreational runner, but within a few months it was clear that I felt like I was doing just that:  settling. Settling for less than I wanted, and for less than I thought I could be. I missed competing intensely. I missed the camaraderie of being part of a team. I missed having lofty goals and I missed the pride I felt in achieving them. I even missed the heartbreak of a goal or dream denied. So, in the summer of 2013, I reached out to my friend Ian Dobson, coach of Team Run Eugene, about the possibility of joining the team and preparing for a fall marathon. We set our sights on the California International Marathon and began working together toward a goal of running under 2:43 (Olympic Trails B standard). Despite having run faster than that in past marathons, it was a lofty goal when considering I was juggling teaching, research, and my own studies. Sleep, recovery, and mileage all took a hit any time each one of those elements ramped up.

Still, I toed the line at CIM in 2013 confident I could run sub-2:43. It was a cold morning, and from the very first steps I never felt loose or comfortable. It wasn’t a dream day, but I was holding pace and trusting in my ability to keep it together and accomplish that goal. Around 18 miles, my left foot started aching, but I tried not to let it rattle me. My solution to the pain was to embrace it by pushing off as hard as I could each time that foot hit the ground. This worked for about 6 miles and I held on to the pace I needed to run to hit sub-2:43. But somewhere between mile marker 24 and 25, my plan stopped working. I tried to step down and I simply could not bear weight on that foot. My initial thought was “this is the most vivid and bizarre marathon nightmare I have ever had. I’m ready to wake up now.” The rest of that day passed in a blur of X-rays, casting, crutches, some very kind strangers and a very uncomfortable flight back to Eugene. I found out the next week that I would need surgery to repair the fracture in my navicular, and the most optimistic timeline had me missing at least 5 months of running. The week after surgery, I told Ian I wanted to come back and run CIM in 2014, and I’m sure he thought I was crazy but was willing to at least give me a “We’ll see.”

Recovery was long and slow and humbling and hard. There were peaks and valleys and plateaus and I judged my progress (often too harshly) at every checkpoint. It seemed to take forever, but I eventually got to that magical point where I no longer had to worry about injury every step, and could instead transition to actually getting in shape. This fortunately happened just in time to keep CIM a reality. The buildup was short and bumpy at times, but it was by far the most I have ever enjoyed training. Running provided a wonderful release from school, and I was surrounded by positive, supportive teammates at every turn. I ran a workout about two weeks out from the marathon (4x2miles in 11:48-11:40-11:30-11:15) that went better than expected, and I remember remarking afterward “Whoa…this might actually happen!”

The weather was beautiful on race morning at CIM 2014 and the field was deep and talented. I felt strong and fluid for the first 8 miles and the splits clicked by in the high 5:50s and low 6:00s. And then at 8 miles things just plain got tough. And then they stayed tough. I started slowing, but I was still hitting splits below the minimum standard (6:12 per mile) I needed to run under 2:43. I never fell apart and I never felt terrible, but I also never felt good and had a very long grind to the finish line. Once I got to 20 miles under 2:03, I began to relax a bit in knowing that I had a cushion—all I needed to do was not fall apart. I managed to pick it up and start passing a few people, but every step forward was hard-fought. Most of this stretch passed in a fog of discomfort, but there was one moment when things clicked. Around 24.5 miles, I passed the spot I had stood on the roadside one year ago, unable to even walk myself to the finish line. The memory steeled my resolve that there was only one way to erase that ghost: by completing what I could not complete in 2013. I pushed on to the finish, passing two women in the last half mile, and entered the final stretch with the clock turning from 2:40:59 to 2:41:00. I beamed the entire straightaway, and finished in 2:41:31, surpassing the standard by over a minute and securing my spot on the starting line in my fourth Olympic Trials Marathon (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016). I finished feeling incredibly grateful for all of it: the heartbreak of 2013, the work of 2014, and the people who shared in the ups & downs  and supported me every step of the way. I’m so thankful for Team Run Eugene, the greater Eugene running community, the Craftsbury Outdoor Center running community, and the support of friends and family all over the country. Even if I could have done this without you…I wouldn’t have wanted to.

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Recipe of the Month- Excellent Squash Cake

We’ve been on a bit of a squash kick lately, but it’s hard not to when there is so much good winter squash from the garden just waiting to be used up. Adding in pumpkin or another variety of squash helps give this cake the perfect amount of moisture. Try it for a special occasion, or just for no reason at all!

For this recipe you may use cooked acorn, buttercup, butternut, delicate, hubbard, or whatever!

Oven 350°F
Serves 12

4 eggs, beaten
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 ¾ cups mashed, cooked winter squash or pumpkin
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg

Beat together eggs, sugar, oil and squash. Sift together the dry ingredients and mix well into the squash mixture. Spread into a buttered 9” x 13” baking pan and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. This cake is wonderful with a white frosting sprinkled with chopped walnuts.

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Photo Tour of the New Activity Center and Lodge

In case you missed our Grand Opening of the new Activity Center back in October or haven’t visited the Center yet this fall, you might want to check out our digital tour of the new building. We’re really excited about what this building will bring to the Craftsbury community and the skiing/rowing communities at large. Since the opening, GRP athletes and Craftsbury members have already put the gym to good use for strength workouts, erg-ing, CrossFit, yoga, community fitness classes and more.

In keeping with the Craftsbury mission to practice sustainability and leave a minimal carbon footprint, the new building has a number of really cool environmentally friendly features. Check out a few in the photo tour, and look for full coverage soon on our website.

Porch and stairs of Touring Center

Alright, let’s start at the front of the building as you approach from Tamarack. The large central deck connects the two wings of the building. Here, the gym/fitness area is on the left, while the touring center and lodge is on the right.



Moving around to the south end of the building, this is looking towards the doors of the new touring center/lodge.


Air curtain above door

See the long white box over the door? It doesn’t look like much, but it’s actually an air curtain. It activates when the door is open and sends a rush of air down to keep warm or cool air from leaving the building and to keep bugs out. Energy-wise, it’s a good alternative to vestibules or entryways. If you’ve ever tried to open two sets of doors with multiple skis and poles, you’ll appreciate this feature!



Here is part of the main lodge space, adjacent to where the rentals will be. The tables and benches were hand-crafted on site from mostly local wood.


Trombe walls

That very first wall panel that you see in this picture is actually a Trombe wall, aka a passive solar heating device. On the outside of this panel is a sheet of glass with a dark wall behind it. The sun will warm the air between the glass and the wall, and then warm air will flow into the building via the top opening, while cool air will be sucked out through the bottom one.



The kitchen/café area, serving up hot drinks for cold skiers all winter long.


Classroom area in new lodge

Moving forward through the lodge side of the building we reach the classroom area, with fabric dividers that make the space versatile for a number of uses.


Looking out windows from the lodge

View from the classrooms out onto the deck.


Wooden deck of new lodge

This deck may be one of our favorite features of the new building. The perfect place to hang out in an Adirondack chair on a nice summer night.


Earth tube coming up from the deck

That funny looking piece of metal is the intake of our Earth Tube. Using the relatively stable temperature of the ground (it’s buried a minimum of 4 ft. deep) it helps heat the gym in the winter and cool it down in the summer.


Gym hallway

Now, entering the other wing of the building, we see the hallway into the gym. Bathrooms on the left, fitness space on the right.


Composting toilet

Normally we wouldn’t be posting photos of the toilets, but these are composting toilets! The toilets are connected to a composting unit in the basement, where solid waste is turned into compost.


Composting toilet

See that foam inside the toilet bowl? That’s a biodegradable soap, and because of the foam and the way the toilet is set up, each flush only requires 2-4 oz. of water. That’s OUNCES! Even a regular low-flow toilet uses at least 1.5 gallons per flush.


Electric hand dryer

Electric hand dryers are pretty standard eco-friendly features, but this one is especially cool considering that the airspeed at the aperture of the dryer is 420 mph! This one uses filtered, unheated air to dry hands in under 12 seconds.


Gym with cardio machines

Okay, back to the exciting stuff in the gym. Cardio area with rowing ergs, spin bikes, and SkiErgs.


SkiErg machines

A fresh set of 2.0 SkiErgs, which allow skiers to practice both double poling and striding arm motions.


Weight lifting cages

Two out of the three cages for squats, bench press, pullups, and more.


Weight and core supplies

Strength accessories.


Fitness class in session

One of our first CrossFit sessions in the new gym.


Wooden porch with Adirondack chair

Back out on the porch during a beautiful fall afternoon…


Solar panel monitors

A quick trip into the basement to see the inner workings. Here’s the line-up of the solar panel monitors (more on that later).


Composting toilet tank

“What lies beneath” the composting toilets, the tank! Sawdust and stirring make it happen. Surprisingly no smell either.


Outside lodge view and solar panels

Back outside! Here’s the entire building from the upper field. From this picture you can only see a few of the roof solar panels. However, almost the entirety of the roof is covered in panels, over 3,000 sq. ft.


Lodge view from far away

A far-off view, with the Center’s pre-existing solar panels in the field to the right.

Thanks for reading, and we hope that you’ll come visit us and the new building in person soon!

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Recipe of the Month- Pumpkin Bean Soup

Winter squash curing in the new Activity Center basement

Winter squash curing in the new Activity Center basement. Delicata squash in the front, butternut in the back, and pumpkins underneath!

The news from the Craftsbury Outdoor Center garden/kitchen: we just harvested over 1,300 squash and pumpkins! You read that correctly, that is over one thousand little orange, green, and yellow balls of fall goodness. Let the winter squash cooking frenzy begin. Of course, we love all manner of pumpkin desserts, but sometimes you have to think outside the box and go the savory route. We think you’ll love warming up with a bowl of this pumpkin and bean soup on a cool fall day.

Serves 8
2 cups cooked white beans or chickpeas
6 cups pumpkin purée
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger root
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
Black pepper to taste
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
6-8 cups water

In a soup pot, heat the oil and sauté the onion, celery, ginger, and garlic, stirring occasionally. When tender and beginning to brown, add beans, salt, pepper, parsley, and pumpkin purée. Add 6 cups of water and simmer 15 to 25 minutes, uncovered. Add more water as necessary until the right consistency is achieved.

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Eye-Popping Colors and Buttery Sunshine: Final Running Camp

End of September. Jewel colored leaves. Sunshine pouring down like honey. 15 happy runners. Our final running camp of 2014. It seemed none of us could recall an autumn display as drop dead gorgeous as this weekend. Everything we did was tinged with vibrant reds, oranges and yellows surrounding us. The kitchen knocked us out with superb food. We had a clutch of new faces, 4 rollicking Canadian women, 4 returning runners, 3 college buddies 2 old pals and 1 sculler who defected to running camp: a terrific group for the weekend.

Scenes from the non-stop beauty of Foliage and Running weekend camp:

The Ridge the way all Craftsbury runners think of it – misty and beautiful

Lane, Alex and Dan were college teammates who got together for running camp

Irene shows the Matterhorn who’s the boss

Old friends Bill and Mike bend to Coach Melissa’s stretching instruction

Heather is bendy

Mt. Pisgah peak baggers

Elena and Coach Mike savored the hike together

It was so warm we went for a swim after this photo

Returning athlete Patsy runs in from the Ridge Run with Coach Laurie

Coach Melissa with Dave and Ashley after the Ridge Run. This was Dave’s longest run since the Nixon Administration!

Heather, Marcie and Lin are all chirked up after the Ridge Run

Elena takes no prisoners during running camp and she challenged the leaves with her vibrant running kit

Thank you to all the runners who made this summer’s camps so terrific. Lots in store for 2015 – see you then!

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Autumn Running

A monarch butterfly at Lake Willoughby was in torpor, she needed warmer temps to fly

Laura and Nancy are fast friends and came to running camp for a shared holiday

Long time pals, Leon and Sue returned to Craftsbury for the first time in 4 years. Sure was good to see them!

Sweaters and jackets were necessary for coaches Jennings and Larsen-Strecker on Pisgah

Smiling runners on Pisgah

The protected sliver of a beach at the south end of Lake Willoughby was the perfect out of the wind spot for our lunch post-hike

Leon composes a haiku while contemplating the red boat on Willoughby

We had a gorgeous morning for the Ridge Run and Sarah and Anya charged to the finish line

Bernd and Sean stop the Sunday morning traffic on Lost Nation Road after the Ridge Run while Towhee keeps an eye on them

Sandy and Sue are glowing after the Ridge Run 10 miler

Marty and Coach Mike roll in after a sunny 10 miles

Our first autumn weekend running camp had a bunch of new faces, some old friends who returned and Dr. Bernd Heinrich who read to us from “Why We Run,” his classic book on running and evolution.

We felt like primal creatures as we departed from Cedar Lounge in near darkness just a bit after 6:00am for our Ridge Run sojourn. To ascend the Ridge as the sun was rising, to run amidst the mists, to toil up King Farm hill with the sun glinting on our backs was an exercise in simplicity and devotion.  The water stop was self-service this morning – we all ran the loop and Hugo added on another 5 miles for a total of 15.

In classic autumn fashion, we needed tights, hats and mittens on Friday and Saturday and on Sunday morning we were in shorts and t-shirts.

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Videos from our favorite Bulgarian Cinematographer

PM vidsPepa has passed along some of the footage from the Glacier trip. Get a bit of sense of what the GRPers were up to the past month.

Skate Day
Classic Day

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