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Norway 2015: Ski-O World Champs Report from Kes

Our author, Kestrel Owens at World Ski-O champs.

Our author, Kestrel Owens at World Ski-O champs. Photo – Greg Walker

Editor’s note: Big thanks to Kestrel Owens for sharing this account of his World Champ Experience.

February 7-8, Travel to Norway
We flew out on an Iceland Air flight from Boston Saturday evening. We met teammates Anna Vogele and Greg Walker in Iceland and flew to Oslo. After grabbing our baggage and going through customs we met Stina Bridgeman who had flown in a before at 9:45. We then drove to Hamar, about an hour away. Perhaps ominously for a bunch of traveling orienteers, we turned onto the highway in the wrong direction! Luckily we got that sorted without too much disruption to our travel.

February 9, Model Event
I woke up early enough to have an easy morning before we left a bit before 12 to go to the model event. The model was good to test out the emit touch free system that we are using at this event. It was also a nice event as it had a good number of trails, though they had been heavily skied earlier in the day. My guess is that the snow is 3 to 5 feet deep. I tried to ski off trail; my skis only went in a few inches though my poles went in a lot deeper. I also tried some off and on trail running, one must be prepared for every eventuality in a Ski-O. Time flew by and and soon it was time to head back, meet more teammates who had arrived that day. We enjoyed dinner and discussed race details.

Adrian Owens consults the map mid-race.

Adrian Owens consults the map mid-race. Photo – Greg Walker

February 10, Sprint Relay
My dad was going to race in the sprint relay with Alex Jospe today, but this was another day of more model event and spectating for me. Originally all the seniors were going to race but when we checked in to the event center earlier in the week we found that we could only have one team, and my dad won the coin toss with Greg to race in the race.

Alex skied the scramble leg for the relay and she had a good lap coming about in about 2 min back, ahead of a few teams including GB, Germany, Estonia, Austria, and a couple others – quite exciting. My dad went out and just was not coming back all that soon,
we started getting worried that he had broken equipment or even part of his body. Because of this we were relieved when he came skiing in with two poles, two skis, and a complete body. After the race he told us what happened: when he was going from control
one to two he was looking at the map from two to three, after executing two to three he realized that he was not in the right place only after doing a lot of searching around for his control in the wrong area that he was in. After he corrected he had used
up a lot of time.

The next legs were pretty uneventful, but as the race was wrapping up, we saw Adrian come over the road, and then, turn around. We were wondering which control he had forgotten as you normally look over the course and sometimes realize you have forgotten a
control. Luckily the control was only the one which was right over the road crossing and down the hill. When my dad came back around (take two) the whole crowd who had been watching the open ceremony, which had just finished, started to cheer for him – encouraged by Alex cheering very loudly. Dad finished and ended up ahead of GB, Slovakia, and Germany who mis-punched and would have finished behind even regardless.

February 11 – Sprint
A leisurely morning gave way to a harried rush to the start line – after doing some warm up I almost missed my race! I was skiing around and Cristina called me over as they were calling my name, and I did not have my map holder on. I had to run back to the car but I made it just in time for my start. My race went pretty good, I made a few mistakes but none were all that bad.

I did quite a bit of just following which ways had the most number of tracks when I did not have to go anywhere specific, only out to a big trail. I did not break any skis and neither did anyone else on the US team though one person Alex was following went
through a little dip going to the spectator control and broke both their skis, luckily the equipment drop was right after the spectator control – though that would’ve done little for the Americans today, as the US team did not put anything in any of the equipment

The whole US Ski-O 2015 team.

The whole US Ski-O 2015 team. Photo – Greg Walker

February 12 – Long
We worked through lots of logistics of travel and equipment to accommodate some early starts. It was a chilly day, and I was extra thankful to have Christina at the start to take warmups right before the race.

My race went well, I felt slow but then it might have just been that it was a long race and you do not want to go super hard all the time. Also I think my wax was a bit warm for the conditions up in the higher elevations. I felt I had an OK race.

It was a rough week on equipment. I generally took more roundabout routes where I would be less likely to break a ski, but I was something of an exception. Greg had a bad crash at one point, he broke a pole and his map holder, he was able to get a pole from
an equipment drop and he was still able to use his map holder as the springy map holding part only broke in such a way that it could still be used in one orientation, he was not happy. Anna broke a ski as well, while skiing down one of the biggest narrow trail
downhill on the map. Alex took a high energy fall on the course that luckily did not break anything, but as she was cooling down one of her skis broke, she thinks that it was weakened by the fall. We also learned the Michael had broken a ski early when he
was skiing around in Sjusjøen area. The total number of broken skis four for this trip, for the US team, though only one happen in race.

As a team we split two cabins rated to: 7 persons, cramped. Even with only five in each one they could have more room. Over what could be called the dining table which has turned more into storage and meal prep space there is a chandelier light which is a bit,
more than a bit, too low for those in our cabin. Everyone except my dad has hit his head on it very hard at least once.

Luckily the setting makes up for the interiors. Our cabins are up on a hill and overlook the city of Hamar, which is very beautiful at night with all the lights on. Sunsets are very beautiful too. They last a very long time. I have also heard that sunrises
are very beautiful, the one I witnessed on the way to the long was notable though not spectacular. I have been asleep when the sun rose the rest of the days.

High latitudes mid-winter makes for some awesome sunrises and sunsets!

High latitudes mid-winter makes for some awesome sunrises and sunsets! Photo – Greg Walker

February 14 – Middle
My race got off to a bad start: my pole basket got stepped on and came off. Luckily Christina was on the sideline and had Micheal’s spare set of poles. They did not have that good of baskets so I traded it out for my spare pole at the equipment drop in the woods. But that grip was for the wrong hand so I got a blister.

Aside from the equipment however, most of the rest of the race I felt good about though I did use the big trail a bit too much. I was happy with my time being about 50% back from the leaders. The races were fun to watch as the Junior men and Elite had two map
exchanges and the Men had three map exchanges therefore we got to see a lot of action at the stadium where the map exchanges took place.

Craftsbury member Melanie Sergiev going for it.

Craftsbury member Melanie Sergiev going for it. Photo – Greg Walker

February 15 – Relay
An early morning as I was the first leg of the junior men’s relay which started at 10:15. Michel was racing second and Melanie third as we could not find another junior boy from another country. I had what felt like a pretty bad race as I had some not so great navigation in the first half of the race. But despite what I felt, I actually did not do that bad.

Michael had slightly better leg then me. Melanie went and at some point fell down, and broke both her poles and injured her knees some. She came in without finishing the course. Anna also mis-punched in her leg, the middle one, so the women also did not get
a score.

When Ari came in from the last leg of the men’s relay he got the thumbs down and was asked to go inside to explain himself. It ended up the computer system was just having problems and he was OK. So the senior men ended up getting a score.

The US Team was not alone in their struggles today: a lot more people mis-punched in the relay than normal, I think this was because of the very confusing trail networks that lead to my navigational mistakes. In some categories if one more team had miss punched
they would have not had enough teams to fill the top 6 places that they were giving awards to.

Overall the trip was a great chance to do a lot of difficult ski orienteering. I found the navigation more difficult than what we had in Estonia last year. I feel like I did not make any major mistakes but but once I decided which way to go my execution was
not always the best as I was having a difficult time reading the map and memorizing which way the trails went. There were a lot of complicated mazes. I skied hard and felt good about my effort. I was skiing in the under 20 age group (rather than the under
17 which is my age group) as I felt the races last year were a bit short and I wanted to try the longer legs. My best race was the Middle distance; 29th out of 42 racers. It was really nice to have Michael and Melanie join me this year on the Jr. team.

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Craftsbury in Danish



Remember last May? Wall Street Journal writer Jason Gay published an article on “Naked Running”, aka running by perceived exertion NOT a million techno-baubles strapped to you. The piece had several quotes from Craftsbury Running Director Lynn Jennings, generally supporting the practice of tuning in and letting go of the technology.

Well, that seems to have gained some traction. It’s cropped up again in a Danish article from the magazine iForm. Check it out by clicking the image above. And if you can read Danish, hit us with the translation.

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Daniel Foty shares his view from above

Craftsbury member Daniel Foty reached out to us after we hosted day one of the VT High School Nordic Ski Champs last month. He was flying overhead in his Cessna 172S, about 2500′ up and shared some cool pics of the day and the topography of Craftsbury. Check out his gallery below and thanks Daniel!

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Craftsbury members represent at Jericho Biathlon series

Bjorn and Adrienne queued at the start

Bjorn and Adrienne queued at the start

Coach Miro has been taking several athletes and parents over to Ethan Allen in Jericho over the course of the winter, contesting the Thursday night biathlon series. The series wrapped up last week and the green did quite well!

Thursday Night Race series Final results of note for Craftsbury:
Boys Sport category (14-16) –
1st Bjorn Westervelt
2nd David Moody
(both boys are racing up, as they’re presently 13)

Girls Sport category (14-16) –
1st Adrienne Remick (13 also, and the only one who had 100% shooting record for the Thursday night race series in all the groups and categories)

Jr. Men Expert category (14-16)
3rd Anders Hanson

Even one of the parent that took part in those race series and took the podium:
Masters’ Men Sport category (41-49)
2nd Matt Moody

Couple of honorable mentions from our club who competed this winter but not frequently enough to qualify for the series’ scoring: Elijah Lew-Smith (another 13yo in 14-16 group), Todd Westervelt, Eric Hanson (all 41-49).

The Craftsbury podium winners from the series

The Craftsbury podium winners from the series

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Faces of the Craftsbury SuperTour

2015 SuperTour FS Sprint, Craftsbury VT Outdoor Center

We can’t believe it’s already been almost two weeks since the completion of the Craftsbury SuperTour, Eastern Cup, and Dartmouth Carnival. Here’s a few of our favorite photos of the weekend from Craftsbury member John Lazenby. One of our favorite parts of the race weekend was the sense of community between skiers of all ages and abilities, parents, volunteers, and staff. This album features some familiar Craftsbury faces: from the racers to the people who made it all possible!

(click on any photo in the gallery to enlarge)

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Craftsbury Juniors at the Silver Fox Trot/Cheri Walsh

You may have seen our announcement over on the COC news section about Craftsbury Nordic Juniors Callie Young, Phoebe Sweet, and Orli Schwartz qualifying for Junior Nationals. All of the CNSC juniors are having a great season! We wanted to share a couple photos of the team racing at the Eastern Cups in Hanover and Holderness over Valentine’s Day weekend.  (click on the bottom photos to enlarge)

Bright and happy Craftsbury Juniors at their home Eastern Cup earlier this season

Bright and happy Craftsbury Juniors at their home Eastern Cup earlier this season

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Craftsbury Junior Biathletes at Lake Placid NorAms

Craftsbury racers are competing near and far this winter: in skiing and biathlon, and in deep freezes and meltdowns (actually we’re still waiting for those). Here’s a short photo report from Craftsbury biathlete Bjorn Westervelt, who traveled to Lake Placid to contest NorAms over Valentine’s Day weekend. He raced on Saturday the 14th along with other Craftsbury and Vermont biathletes, and was coached by Algis Shalna, Danika Frisbie, and Craftsbury’s Miroslav Sergt.

The OTC is so cool!  Thank you Coach Miro and Coach Pepa for great race weekend at NorAms!

The OTC is so cool! Thank you Coach Miro and Coach Pepa for great race weekend at NorAms!

Coaches Miro, Danika and Algis with the Vermont Biathlon Contingency at the OTC the night before the race.

Coaches Miro, Danika and Algis with the Vermont Biathlon Contingency at the OTC the night before the race.

USBA Regional Coach Algis Shalna with the Boys/ Girls. and Youth level Vermont Biathletes after the race!  Notice all the medals for Vermont!  Missing from the photo is Anders who also brought home a gold!

USBA Regional Coach Algis Shalna with the Boys/ Girls. and Youth level Vermont Biathletes after the race! Notice all the medals for Vermont! Missing from the photo is Anders who also brought home a gold!

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Running and Skiing

My 2015 winter visit to Craftsbury turned into something of an ad hoc redux of Run2Ski camps past. I met up with my two friends Patsy and Dave at the Center for several days of running and skiing. We likened it to an After Party where the folks still standing at the end of the night rock on. And so we did. We skied twice a day, we ran in the silent hoar frost mornings, we did yoga with Patsy’s iPhone app and we reveled in the perfection of each meal.

Running camp veterans, Patsy and Dave on the Great Circle Loop. They were fresh off a trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

We had the Great Circle and its fresh powder all to ourselves.

Upon groomer extraordinaire Eric Hanson’s recommendation (previous blog post) we started our holiday with the Great Circle Loop over at Highland Lodge. It was a 10 mile classic ski amidst bucolic Greensboro’s backcountry. We climbed, we dropped, we passed beautiful barns and cozy houses tucked into secret places, we traversed open meadows and glades. I think we might have seen 7 people on the entire ski. Best of all was our feeling of accomplishment as we climbed into our cars to race back to Craftsbury in time for supper. We were rewarded with the old timey Craftsbury Sunday night classic: a full-on turkey dinner.

A pair of brand new skate skis had been waiting for me in Davis’ back office in the old Touring Center for well over a year. I broke them out for their inaugural outing by chasing Elinor around for an hour. Her smooth and balanced technique made me work to keep up with her and it was good to emulate her as she flew along.

Elinor and I had a zippy skate outing together.

After she and I parted ways, I went sightseeing around the Center. The boathouse looked cozy with its blanket of snow. The Duck Blind, my three season living quarters, looked less so.

Lots of beautiful shells in there somewhere.

The wee Duck Blind waits for spring.

For runners who are used to seeing Craftsbury only in the summer, a winter visit is a must. To see the Center in its winter guise, to ski with deer and weasel and fox tracks criss crossing the pristinely groomed trails is to appreciate how fully Craftsbury inhabits each season. I shivered to imagine eating out on the snow-covered veranda and in my mind’s eye could see it all as it will be in just a few short months, golden and beautiful with Big Hosmer stretching out below.

See you again soon Craftsbury!

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SuperTour Mass Start Race Photos

Here’s the last batch of race photos from the final day of SuperTour racing in Craftsbury. The men raced 15k classic mass start, the women 10k, and the U16’s 5k to wrap up a great two weeks of racing here at the Outdoor Center. Special thanks to photographer John Lazenby for providing these great shots and more from the weekend (check out photos from the previous races on his website here).

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A Quieter Side of Skiing in Greensboro

Eric Hanson, Craftsbury Groomer, shares some of the secrets from the Greensboro Trails – a great choice if you’re looking for a lower key experience than our core trails. 

The Craftsbury Outdoor Center maintains 30 km of ski trails in Greensboro plus another 15 km connector trail to Craftsbury Village and the Grand Tour. We took on the grooming of the trails when Highland Lodge scaled down their operations a few years ago to lodging only (rooms available along with use of the kitchen by you or caterer – contact them by phone 802-533-2647 or learn more online).

The Outdoor Center will be bustling this coming weekend with Eastern Cup, Super Tour, and the Dartmouth College Ski Carnival (Feb. 6-8). The races are only using the 5 km Race Course, so skiing out on Ruthies and Duck Pond will be much quieter. But if you want a totally different experience, drive over to Highland Lodge in Greensboro and start your ski there (parking located along the main road). On weekends, a great crew of volunteers keep a fire going in the warming hut. As the photos show, the scenery of Barr Hill and the Great Circle trail cannot be beat with vistas to Mt. Mansfield to the west and Burke to the East. We maintain the trails with a snowmachine groomer and do bring the larger Pisten Bully over occasionally as time permits. The trails are best for classic as conditions tend to be a bit softer and trails narrower, and if there is a wind, the trail might have blown-in snow. We try to have the connector trail well-packed for skating on weekends (but not guaranteed). A large percentage of the trails are in fields, so dress warmly if its windy. When it is sunny and calm however, almost nothing can compare.

Trail descriptions
Barr Hill area– a 2-3 km gradual climb from Highland Lodge for some of the best vistas.

Patmos/Allys Ally – stays a little lower down in the valley – best short ski of 5 km or so.

Easy Rider/Town/Beachhaven – From the top of Barr Hill, 3 km of long downhill descent toward Greensboro Village. Ski to town and go to Willeys Store. Return on Beachhaven along paralleling the main road back to the Lodge (an 8-10 km ski)

Great Circle – by far, my favorite ski in Vermont. 16 km of ups and downs, through fields and woods, where the scene changes dramatically every few kms.

Craftsbury Connector – a 21 km ski to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. Make it about 28 km by skiing the Great Circle counterclockwise first.

Snowmobile grooming on the Highland Lodge Trails

Snowmobile grooming on the Highland Lodge Trails

Narrow, winding trails keep skiers on their toes

Narrow, winding trails keep skiers on their toes

Cutting through open fields

Cutting through open fields

Gorgeous views of Mt. Mansfield to the west

Gorgeous views of Mt. Mansfield to the west

Perfect skiing on a bluebird Vermont day

Perfect skiing on a bluebird Vermont day

View of Burke to the east

View of Burke to the east

Skiers heading out from the lodge

Skiers heading out from the lodge

Eric Hanson, COC groomer

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