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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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Craftsbury Skier Peter Harris at the Marcialonga

Our latest installment of blogs from Craftsbury skiers racing near and far this winter: an account from Peter Harris at the Marcialonga, an Italian ski marathon that draws 8,000 skiers every year. Pretty cool!

“Are you going with bare skis” came the question from Peter, the Swede I had just met in the cramped ski room downstairs in the equally cramped hotel we were staying just outside of Cavalese, Italy, one day before the Marcialonga. “Absolutely” I replied as I applied Cera powder to the full length of my classic skis, ironed and brushed it out carefully. I had been considering the question for several days now and had concluded that double poling almost the whole race was the way to go. The lack of snow had forced shortening of the course from 70 to 57 KM. The race directors and volunteers had done the herculean task of applying man-made snow to approximately 40-50 km of the race. The early climbs of the original course were gone and it was a gradual downhill course with exception of a few sharp ups, until the final 2 km climb up into Cavalese. I was going on classic skis because I had not ruled out putting kick wax on for the final climb. I had double poled the full 45 km of the flat Konig Ludwig Lauf last year, so I knew I could do it, if reluctantly.

We had driven down from Ramsau, Austria, where we have an apartment for the month of January, along with my support team, wife Louise and sister Anne, to do what we had done all month, ski a Worldloppet race each weekend. First was the Jiserska, a 50 k race just north of Liberec, then the Dolomitenlauf, a skate race in Obertilliach, Austria that was substantially smaller with only a few hundred skiers. I had no idea the scale of the Marcialonga until we rolled into Cavalese, a gorgeous hillside town above the Val Di Fiemme under the soaring Dolomites. The town was absolutely decked out, the streets teaming with skiers and families, the main street and side street snowed for the finish of the race. The band was playing, the jumbo-tron streaming footage of races gone by. Registration had a huge expo and a bulletin board filled with countless entries. Packet pick up was streamlined and easy with my bib #2145 and chip ready to go. A perusal of the entry list is daunting at least…over 2000 Norwegians, 1200 Swedes, 2100 Italians , and entries from 30 countries in all, including 13 from USA to make up the 8000 skiers.
We had run into our friends and ski partners Leigh and Joanie Mallory and headed back to the hotel. We stopped back through town to watch the elite skiers be issued their bibs in a ceremony so I could see in person my hero Anders Auckland and meet top American Holly Brooks and her husband Rob Whitney. Then out to a great dinner at a quaint little local restaurant in our town of Daiano. We sat next to our Swedish friends from the hotel and tried to placate Peter’s incredulity that we had been issued bibs in the 2000’s and he in the 6000’s!!

Sleep can be fitful in a strange bed the night before a big event and I’m afraid that night was no different. Breakfast at 6:30 definitely felt early but we were lucky enough to have a car ride with our support team to the start area. Leigh and I donned our bibs and loaded into our start pens depending on bib number.

bibsThe starting system was very efficient.  We were loaded into starting pens of waves, where we awaited our starting time.  There was a long wait, as I did not want to be too far back in the pen, so I loaded early.  I was able to keep my warm clothes on and put them in my clothing bag near the final minutes.

Waiting in the pen

Waiting in the pen

The elite wave went off at 9:00 AM, then 3 waves later, at 9:15, we were let into the starting area, where we simply put on our skis and started skiing, with our chip recording our start time as we skied under the banner. No pushing, no shoving, equipment safe! The trail quickly narrowed down to 4 then 3 tracks, but that was enough for traffic to move well, and there were almost always passing possibilities.

The first 5 kilometers or so we went up the valley at a very gradual climb, enough so to really warm up the double pole muscles. We then turned the corner and came down past the start so I could hear the cheering voices of my support crew, then it was time to really settle in to the rhythm of endless double poling. Several times I chanted my daughter Abbie’s mantra to myself: “I can do this all day long!” As a long time ski racer, I am naturally competitive, so I am continually competing the little races that go on all day. I would catch up to a skier, check out his bib, whether he was old or young, and make a decision about how much energy I wanted to expend to pass. At this point in my career I really only care about age group placing, but I am happy to get ahead of younger skiers as well. If I was getting passed by a faster skier, I would always try to jump on and get a drafting ride…sometimes able to stay on for many k’s, sometimes for just a few meters. I was passed by a Swede who looked to be my age and I worked to stay with him for a long time. He was a strong skier who taught me that the middle between the tracks was faster for much of the course. He gradually drifted ahead and I never saw him again.
I was happy to have no calamities during the race. I passed countless broken poles, each time counting my blessings and reminding myself to be cautious. The down hills were mostly quick but always with a turn at the bottom, all with snow skied off down to ice, making for technical challenges. Many of them turned across a bridge across a river, giving me PTSD of the time I skied off a bridge in the Canadian Ski Marathon in 1976. I mostly tried to ski the berm, but that was where most of the carnage was. At one corner I came upon at least 10 skiers in an accordion pile up that I narrowly avoided, complete with a polyglot of expletives. That is an easy way to pass 10 skiers!

During the double pole portion of the course there were two significant climbs that quickly backed up to a line of herringbone skiers, making it easy to sit in and march up them with no wax. I felt awkward doing this, making me think more and more about waxing for the final climb.

I was passed by a haggard looking dude in a baggy yellow race suit. I remember seeing him at the Dolomitenlauf, thinking that he looked skinny enough to appear unwell. Well he was plenty tough today, with a strong double pole, and I sat on his tails for many K. We were mostly skiing with younger skiers, and pleased to be passing them. I lost track of yellow suit at a feed station and did not know if I was ahead or behind him.

By the time I saw the 22 K to go sign, I was having such a good time that I did not want it to end. The course wound through about 4 cute little villages right down their main streets and side alleys, all with countless cheering Italians yelling, “Die, Die, Die”. Only later did I look this up to learn that they cheer “Dai, dai, dai!” meaning “go, go”. But my usual response was, “yes, I am dying here!” By the 5 k to go sign, I was ready for it to be over!
Feed stations were well manned, and warm beverages were welcome. Unexpectedly I had some warm coke before the final climb that gave me a good lift. I had carried a bottle with Gatorade that I supplemented with between stations on gradual downhills.

After a couple of gnarly twisting downhills that went under tunnels I emerged into what had to be the waxing station before the final climb into Cavalese. There was a 20 person line for the klister machine so I quickly passed that by. I pulled off my skis and put a good layer of spray purple klister and jumped back on…it was clear that in the sugary manmade snow there was going to be no kick from this. Two guys pulled me over and literally pulled my skis off my feet and gobbed on a soft white hard wax, probably VR 70. They put my skis back on and away I went (thanks, waxing guys).

The kick was fabulous, but the glide a bit grabby, but it did not matter. The final climb is a series of switchbacks that quickly took me anaerobic. The hill is lined with screaming Italians, but all I could hear was my breathing through the fog in my head. Drool was hanging from my chin as I tried to pass some of the 300+ skiers all on the same march. I passed many, and a few passed me. In the results I would learn that it took me 16:09 to ski the final climb…about half of what it would take the overall winner! From my blackening vision I noted that I passed yellow suit…I guess he was in front of me! All I lived for was the final alleyways that the course would wind through on the way to the finish. Then suddenly I was there, hearing Anne, Louise, and Joanie cheering for me…the only three people in the thousands who would know who I was, or who would cheer in English, and then it was over…a hard double pole across the line and finally a chance to stop moving. I couldn’t stop smiling, from the thrill of accomplishment, and the happiness of being able to be in such a beautiful place, doing the sport with thousands of people who love it as much as I do. It took me one hour longer than the elite skiers, but to me it felt like the race of a lifetime. My age group had 769 skiers, by far the largest group I have ever seen, and making the top 5% felt good!

Down the finishing stretch

Down the finishing stretch

Post-race was a labyrinth of paths leading to a very organized set up of clothing bags, then a ski check-in site, and a luncheon.  I was finally able to meet up with Louise, Anne and Joanie, cheer Leigh across the line and think about celebrating.

Thousands of clothing bags awaiting skiers

Thousands of clothing bags awaiting skiers

After lunch and soaking in the post- race glow, we made an attempt to gather all our gear and head out.  While getting my Worldloppet passport stamped, I got separated from my crew, but did run into Peter, my Swedish friend with the other two Swedes from our hotel.  I had a beer with them and rehashed the race…talking it over with friends is at least half the fun!  The music was playing, the bars were packed with Norwegians partying hard as the sun set over the Dolomites.  It was hard to think about leaving!  While I can check the Marcialonga off my Nordic ski dream list, I know that I will come back.

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Craftsbury in the News: Times Argus and the new Lodge

Times-Argus coverage of the new Touring Center.

Times-Argus coverage of the new Touring Center. Click thru for a more detailed pdf.

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Adrian Owens on World Masters Ski-O Championships

In our latest race report from Craftsbury ski members, Adrian Owens reports from World Masters Ski-O Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland where he was competing last week. Ski-O is a grueling sport, check out his report below:

Adrian Owens with his 3rd place medal from the long distance event at World Masters!

Adrian Owens with his 3rd place medal from the long distance event at World Masters

Lenzerheide, Switzerland hosted the World Masters Ski-Orienteering Championships from January 20th to 24th. The three person US contingent included Adrian Owens from Craftsbury. The finish arena is also Switzerland’s newest biathlon venue and will host one leg of next year’s FIS Tour de Ski. A new format this year provided contests for two medals instead of a single one in the past. The first was a pair of middle distance races for which the fastest combined time of the two days determined the middle distance champion. The long distance race stood on its own. Adrian raced in the 45 to 49 year-old category. Here’s the race report from Adrian:

“I had a pretty clean race going for the first 80%, and was in third place. Then, while skiing a short-cut between two cabins, my left ski tip hit a pile of cinder blocks. The tail of the ski jammed up against the cabin on my right. My momentum bent the ski tip backwards. I felt a little pressure on my left leg and heard a sort of pop. I looked back to see the candy cane shaped ski, glad it wasn’t my leg that broke. After a couple hopping steps to catch my balance in the deep snow the ski popped back straight. I could glide on it when it was flat on the groomed trail, but it would catch whenever it was on edge or in softer snow. So I cautiously completed the course, not wanting to crash hard on a fast downhill. Two racers passed me during my limp to the finish, with the third place time a minute and 9 seconds ahead of me. My fifth place finish time of 26:–minutes.

Despite the broken ski, this race was very encouraging to me because my previous best single race result in the WMSOC was 7th in 2009. I had spare skis along so, I was confident about moving up at least one place in the race the next day.

Day 2 of the middle distance contest went very well navigationally.  However, I think I was skiing over-cautiously on the narrow downhills because of the broken ski the day before, there were several downhill legs in the course. My confidence from the night before wasn’t enough. Instead of gaining a place, I slipped back to 6th for the second day and 6th for the combined time for the middle distance.

After a rest day came the long distance. Straight-line distance between the controls announced as 10 km, and the vertical climb would be a least 230 meters. That would be twice as long as each of the middle distance races. This was an interval start. I started 3rd of 13 men in my category.

I tried to ski fast, and as a result had some sloppy navigation. I was never lost but I did pick some sub-optimal routes. Two racers from my class, from Russia and Finland, who started behind me passed me about halfway through. The final part of the course was a loop down into fields we hadn’t raced in before, followed by a grueling climb to the finish. When I crossed the line the announcer declared me in fourth place. He soon corrected that to 3rd. I waited as the other competitors finished over the next 20 to 30 minutes and was excited to stay in 3rd! I received a small bronze medal in the ceremony that evening. After my long distance race I got back to the hotel in time to watch the women’s biathlon pursuit in from Italy where Susan Dunklee got a lot of camera time on EuroSport TV. This series of races was good preparation for me for the upcoming world championships in Norway.”

Before heading for Switzerland, Adrian hosted two separate weekend ski-o races in Craftsbury as preparation for the other National Team Members. The last was set on maze like narrow “European style” trails. National team members and ski-O enthusiasts enjoyed the challenge of an unknown trail network. All three Jr. Team members raced as preparation for the World Championships that will take place in Norway early February. Melanie Sergiev and Kestrel Owens of Craftsbury will represent the U.S. as juniors.

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