2018 Craftsbury Marathon Ski Festival pb Fischer – CL Sprint Gallery

Great day of racing from all our competitors, big congrats to GRP’s Kaitlynn Miller and APU’s Forrest Mahlen, our winners! Thanks to Kris Dobie for the pics, can’t wait to get up and do it all again tomorrow!

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Photos from Tuesday Night Race #2

We were thrilled to have almost 50 racers toeing the line for our second Tuesday Night Race of the season, a 5k classic individual start on Kirby’s Challenge course. Between former GRP skiers, juniors, Sterling College skiers, Craftsbury masters, and more, we had quite the range of ages and abilities. We’ll be holding races every Tuesday night at 4:00pm during the winter season. Results from this week and information about how to enter future races can be found HERE (spoiler:  2018 is the year of pre-reg).

Photos thanks to junior parent Elise Lawson. Click on any image to enlarge.

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Summer Snow Storage Project Update

With ever shorter and warmer winters, a few cross country areas have looked into snow saving as a way to extend the season, or ideally start it much earlier. The idea is that during the winter, a ski area will blow enough snow in a giant pile, and then store it under wood chips all summer. When the temperature is low enough in the fall, they dig the snow out from under the wood chips and spread it out, creating early season skiing opportunities. Here at Craftsbury we’ve been lucky to be the subject of a UVM study to test out the feasibility of snow saving at the Outdoor Center. Read on for an update from the head of the study, Paul Bierman, on the latest on the ground in Craftsbury.

Panoramic view of snow storage off Wilbur’s

From Paul:

“UVM faculty (myself and Yves Dubief), Post-doc (Scott Hamshaw), and undergrad (Hannah Weiss) are testing feasibility of over summer snow storage at Craftsbury. To do this, we installed ground temperature monitors in June and have been surveying potential storage sites using ground based LIDAR – a technique that uses light to measure distance.

We’ve also been building computer models of snow piles to test how they would melt. We use weather data from past summers to drive the models. With scans that take only a few minutes, we can gather millions of survey points and create visualizations of the landscape accurate to the centimeter. We’ll use these to track melt of the snow piles over the summer but as a test, we measured the latest pile over the weekend (editor’s note- this was the weekend of December 9 and 10).  With software analyses, we determined that the pile held 2300 cubic meters of snow. Plenty to cover Lemon’s Haunt!

Our research is supported by loads of in kind work by the Outdoor Center and by the US National Science Foundation (LIDAR unit) as well as the Geology Department and School of Natural Resources at UVM.”

A LIDAR reflector on a tree (orange circle). There are 6 of them around the upper field and 8 around the Wilbur’s Pond Pit- can you find them all?

UVM undergrad Hannah Weiss explaining to CSU skiers how the system works as the UVM crew scans the current snow pile

Setting up to scan the pile with Lucas and the invaluable generator

Scanning the pile as skiers go past

Lucas watching our every move out by Wilbur’s

This is pretty cool stuff! Thanks to Paul and his team for coming out to do some preliminary research. We’re very eager to see the results of the study. In the meantime, make sure to check out the proposed snow storage site on the right as you’re coming through the final S-turns on the north end of Lemon’s Haunt.

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Craftsbury Marathon Nutrition Tips: To Carbo-Load or Not to Carbo-Load?

This is a repost of a blog that we published last year, that explores the concept of carbo-loading. However, with the Marathon coming up, it is certainly still a pertinent topic, and we hope racers find it useful in their personal Marathon preparation.

Psst: like this content and want to see more like it? Sign up for our monthly Marathon eNewsletter here.

From Olympic Rower and Nutritionist Carlie Geer
Inevitably the prospect of a marathon event brings up this question. The answer is, if done “properly”, carb loading can result in a 2-3% improvement in performance. This means that for a ~3 hour event you could improve you time by as much as 3-5 minutes!
The goal with carb loading is to make sure your glycogen stores (energy stored in both the liver and muscles) are maximized. This is important because glycogen is the body’s preferred fuel for moderate to intense endurance exercise. The more glycogen you have stored, the less you will need to rely on exogenous carbohydrates (“feeds”) during the event to keep your blood sugar levels up and maintain your race pace. Even with carb loading, the amount of glycogen you can store will not be enough to get you to the finish line feeling strong if the event lasts longer than ~90 minutes, so even if you do a great job carb loading you will also want to have a tried and true plan for carbo feeds (energy drink, gels or bars can all work) every 30-40 minutes after the first 60-75 minutes.

So how to carbo load “properly”? Carb loading has gone through various phases and lots of studying since its inception in the 1960s. The current recommendations involve not just increasing the amount of carbohydrate(CHO) in your diet for 2-3 days prior to the event, but also, and this is important, cutting way back on your training volume and intensity for those 2-3 days leading up to the event.
While a typical daily training diet might contain 300-500 gm CHO per day (or 50-55% of your daily calories)– depending on your gender, weight and energy expenditure, for CHO loading you will need to increase to more like 400-700 gm CHO per day (7-10 g/kg body weight).
When adding extra CHO, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  1. Avoid too many high fiber CHO’s (legumes, whole grains, fruit) in order to avoid the GI distress associated with a sudden increase of fiber.
  2. Try to decrease your fat intake some, so that your overall calorie intake is not excessive.
  3. Expect a 2-4 pound weight gain because water is stored with glycogen. This is a temporary weight gain.
  4. Just gorging on pasta the night before the race (without the recommended exercise taper and increased CHO intake over several days) will not get the kind of benefits you are looking for. In addition, overeating the night before will likely mean you will wake up feeling too full and sluggish to eat a good high CHO meal and hydrate the morning of the race, both of which are important.

Suggested ways to add CHO (without too much extra fiber):

  • Be liberal with syrup on pancakes/waffles or yogurt, and be liberal with jam on toast or pb/jelly sandwiches.
  • Eat sweetened/fruit added yogurts instead of plain yogurt
  • Increase your portion of CHO at each meal (more of the oatmeal/cereal, bread, rice or other grains, potatoes, pasta).
  • Add a glass of fruit juice if you don’t usually drink juice
  • Snack on CHOs like a baked sweet potato, a banana, pretzels or crackers.

Lastly, don’t forget to plan ahead for those CHO “feeds” during the race. Stick by the rule “never try something new on race day”!

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Fischer Marathon Prep Workout: The Pre-Race Routine

A good warm-up can make the difference between a so-so race and a stellar one. In your early season prep races, try this pre-race routine that the Green Racing Project skiers follow:

GRP skiers racing out in West Yellowstone earlier this season (Photo Ian Harvey/TokoUS)

Sticking to a solid pre-race routine helps you know how your body will feel going into a hard effort like a race or time trial. Playing around with the duration at different intensities is very important to learn how your body responds to your efforts.

Aim to start your warm up about 1 hour to 1:15 before race start time. Do about 15 minutes of easy L1 skiing with perhaps a bit of L2 to test race skis. Usually, the GRP uses this time to pick race skis (the A pair) and finishes their warm up on a B pair. If this doesn’t apply to you, you can start your warm up 1 hour before the start.

After about 20 minutes of easy skiing, or 40 minutes from race start, do one or two 4-5 minute easy threshold intervals to get your body used to creating and clearing lactic acid. Threshold is important to warm up the aerobic system, so make sure to focus on your breathing. It’s easy to go too hard during these intervals because of pre-race nerves, so watch your heart rate and try to go more conservatively than you think. If you feel especially sleepy, crest the hills harder to try and wake up, if you’re feeling fatigued then cut the interval short and just do 3 minutes. Judge by how you feel, don’t make it super hard.

Next throw in a few 1-minute L4 harder intervals. For a sprint, you can do up to 3 of these intervals, for a longer race maybe just 1 interval, and all depending on feel. The L4 pieces are important in order to work up the anaerobic system. Make sure to leave enough rest, at least 3 minutes in between intervals.

After the L4, do a few shorter speeds, around 10 seconds long. Focus these shorter speeds on transitions, cresting hills, and flats. Try to avoid doing these hard efforts on climbs, because it’s easy to get tired that way. These shorter speeds are for your neurological response and warming up that system.

Here is a short synopsis:

  • 1:15 to 1:00 before race, start warm up
  • 15-25 minutes easy skiing and ski testing
  • 1-2 x 3-5 min L3 threshold aerobic warm up with 2-4 min rest in between
  • 5-10 min easy skiing
  • 2 x 1 min L4 harder intervals on transitions with 3 min rest in between, anaerobic warm up
  • 5-10 min easy skiing, change into race top, gloves, and hat
  • 3 x 10 sec fast speeds, neurological warm up
  • Race time!
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Photo Gallery: Craftsbury Nordic Skiers at the Fort Kent Eastern Cup

The Craftsbury Nordic juniors had an awesome weekend at the Eastern Cup in Fort Kent this past weekend. In temperatures barely above the legal limit (it has to be warmer than -4f per FIS rules), they threw down some very fast times and had multiple podium finishes. Craftsbury parent Chris Young shared some photos from the races featuring the mini greenies. Click on any photo to enlarge!

Link to a full write-up and results HERE.

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Fischer Marathon Prep Workout: Ski Specific Strength in Poling and Double Poling

From GRP/USBA Biathlete and Fischer athlete Susan Dunklee

This workout is great for improving core stability, core strength, arm strength, and balance.
These drills are a staple of the US Biathlon Team’s strength training program. However, ski specific strength applies across all modes and distances of cross country skiing and racing. While Susan may use this workout to improve her biathlon performances, marathon racers will also benefit from specific strength and a stronger double pole in long races.

GRP skier Liz Guiney working on specific strength

Time:  ~1 hour including warm up and cool down

You can use either classic or skate skis.
Warm up for at least 20 minutes with easy skiing.
Find a straight stretch of trail about 50-70m long, either flat or slightly uphill for a challenge.
Ski your chosen section of trail once for each of the exercises described below. After each one, ski easily back to the start and give yourself plenty of time to recover (~2 minutes) before starting the next exercise.

•    Double pole with very long cycles, extending your arms well past your hips.
•    Double pole with very short cycles, only move your arms half way to your hips.
•    Double pole alternating 5 short cycles, 5 medium cycles, and 5 long cycles.
•    Single stick poling (striding style poling, just don’t use your legs).
•    Remove one pole and “double pole” using one arm only.  Try to keep your core solid and hips facing forward. (It should feel hard and probably will feel awkward.) Repeat on other side.
•    Double pole balancing on one ski.  Try to keep core solid and hips facing forward. Repeat balancing on the other ski.
•    Double pole balanced on the balls of your feet.  Try not to let your heels touch the bindings.
•    Core-only double pole.  Keep your elbows locked and try not to use any arm muscles.
•    Arms-only double pole.  Keep your core locked and try to use your triceps.

Optional second set: Take a 15 minute break of easy skiing then repeat.
Cool down for 10-20 minutes afterwards.

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Digging into John Lazenby’s Winter 2018 show

GRP Skiers Liz Guiney, Kaitlynn Miller and Caitlin Patterson shot in Quebec City, Spring 2017 at World Cup Finals.

Editor’s note:  We’re honored to host John Lazenby’s photography this winter. If you haven’t seen the exhibit already, make sure to budget time to enjoy the works during your next visit. Images were shot from the ’16-17 season, and feature athletes from juniors to the World Cup, GRP to the World.

We reached out to John, asking him about his thoughts in both shooting the images as well as what guided the selections that now grace the walls of the Activity Center. In addition to this exhibit the photos have appeared on the web site Fasterskier.com and in the newest issue of Cross Country Skier Magazine.

John is a photojournalist living in Montpelier.

“My goal was to capture the action, color, and beauty of Nordic ski racing, and the emotions of the competitors. I was fortunate to be able to work on this near home, at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in 2016 and 2017, and abroad, at the 2017 World Nordic Ski Championships in Lahti, Finland.

Norway’s Marit Bjørgen celebrates a win at 2017 World Champs in Lahti, Finland.

“At Craftsbury, I was able to photograph a broad range of racing, from the national Paralympic championships to local ski racers in the New England Nordic Ski Association’s Eastern Cup races. In Lahti, there were racers from around the skiing world, tens of thousands of avid fans waving their national flags, and a horde of scrambling photographers and television crews.

Ida Sargent of the GRP crushing the NENSA Eastern Cup opener.

“In addition to pure action, I found an array of people and their personal stories, from young skiers at Craftsbury to Vermont World Cup racers like the Craftsbury Green Racing Project’s Ida Sargent, Caitlin Patterson, Liz Guiney, Kaitlyn Miller and Ben Lustgarten, and East Montpelier’s Liz Stephen.

Andy Soule focuses before racing at the IPC cup last January.

“Among the stories: Paralympic skier Andy Soule, an Army veteran who lost both legs fighting in Afghanistan, preparing to race his sit-ski at Craftsbury; Americans Jessie Diggins and Sadie Bjornsen standing on the world championship podium in Lahti in their trademark U.S. team striped socks; the look of anguish on the face of Norway’s Emil Iverson as he struggled to a fourth place in Lahti with a broken pole after a collision 100 yards from the finish; the Canadian women’s team sharing hugs after the women’s world championship relay; Italy’s Federico Pelligrino on his back in the snow shaking hands with a competitor after winning his first world championship.”

The Canadian women celebrating at the 2017 Worlds.

The exhibit will be on display throughout the winter. More images can be seen at lazenbyphoto.com under the Projects menu and at FasterSkier.com. John Lazenby can be reached at john.lazenby@gmail.com.

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Jones Brothers rip it on two wheels.

Although cyclocross may not be our primary sport at Craftsbury, we were proud to see CNSC junior skiers Trey and Owen Jones crushing the New England cyclocross races this fall. Biking is awesome training for cross country skiing, and with the first ski race of the season under their belts at the Craftsbury Opener, we’re excited to see how the Jones’ brothers and the rest of the junior crew do this winter.

Trey Jones navigating a corner during the final race weekend in Warwick, RI

What is cyclocross exactly? It’s a form of bike racing where riders complete multiple laps on a course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills, sand, and obstacles which require them to quickly dismount, carry their bike, navigate obstacles and then remount. The bikes themselves are more similar to road bikes than mountain bikes, in that they lack front or rear suspension, and the geometry and handlebars is similar to a road bike. However, cross bikes usually have a burlier frame than your typical road bike, and have knobby tires to help riders better navigate mud, sand, and rocks.

Owen Jones running with bike on shoulder during a race in Putney, VT earlier this fall

Trey and Owen race for the Barker Mountain Bikes (BMB) Team out of Bethel, ME. They both competed in many cyclocross races across New England this fall.

They most recently wrapped up their 2018 season by completing the last of the Vittoria series, which consists of four venues and eight races.  This is a series which takes place in Gloucester, MA, Northampton, MA, Suffern, NY and Warwick, RI.  Trey and Owen both raced in the Junior Boys 9-14 Division for this series; Trey maintained the leader’s jersey throughout the series and was awarded first place overall for the series. Impressively, Trey was on the podium in all 16 cyclocross races he competed in this season, and won 12 of those 16 races. Owen had a great season finishing in eighth place overall in the series. He is still young for the age group, with two more years left in the division. Link to results can be found HERE.

Mounting and dismounting quickly is a key part of cyclocross. Trey demonstrates during a race in Warwick, RI

Owen cornering tightly during the final race weekend in Warwick, RI

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Fischer Marathon Prep Workout: Singletrack Running with Mindfulness

Workout from Green Racing Project and Fischer athlete Caitlin Patterson

GRP skier Adam Martin practicing his singletrack running in Craftsbury in fall of 2017

Trail running can be a straightforward and nearly mindless workout – just lace up the shoes, find a local trail and go. However if you approach it with mindfulness, it can also be a great way to work on agility and prepare yourself for a winter of cross-country skiing. During my summer of ski training with the GRP, as well as a trip over to Italy to compete in World Mountain Running Championships, I’ve found that cross-pollinating between my approaches to running and skiing has helped me become more adept at both sports. For example, when I’m skiing, I try to bring some running-esque tempo and arm drive into my movements, for example, while herringboning on steep uphills. And when I’m out trail running, I bring to mind the shock-absorbing bent knees and relaxed upper body I use for downhills on cross-country skis to flow around trail running obstacles.

Running on a wide trail or road is very much a linear motion – great for building aerobic fitness, but not so productive for developing balance or the mind-body connection. Aerobic fitness is undoubtedly important for nordic skiers, but in order to make continued progress in the sport it’s crucial to train smart, not just to train hard or high volume. Singletrack running requires pushing off to the side, turning corners, and varying stride length and tempo to accommodate features of the trail – much like the way that navigating ski trails in the winter requires constant adaptation in transitions.

Workout: distance running on singletrack at an easy pace with a few accelerations.

To bring ski-specific mindfulness to your workout, I’d suggest that you visit a trail network with singletrack – narrow running or biking trails that wind closely over and around obstacles like roots and rocks. Select a small section or loop that you could repeat a few times. If you’re not used to running on singletrack, try to choose a smooth section with corners but relatively few tripping hazards. If you’re comfortable on singletrack perhaps choose a more challenging area; make sure at this time of year to scout for snow, ice, and water. If you happen to be running at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, I like to use “Peanut” near the north end of the trail system. Peanut has more lateral corners than hills and relatively few rocks or roots, so that I can work on running efficiently and smoothly without really burning my legs on climbs.

Start the workout by jogging for 10-20 minutes on easy terrain to warm up your ankles and lower leg tendons. Head to the singletrack and jog your chosen segment, to acquaint yourself with the twists and turns and features. Then run the loop or section of singletrack again – bring your pace a little higher for 20-30 seconds, but not in a way that it is muscularly taxing. Instead of expecting to feel muscle burn or to be breathing too hard after this small acceleration, seek efficiency of foot placement and a feel of flowing around the obstacles. Repeat the segment a few times and experiment; perhaps try different foot placements or bring your awareness to the upper body. Here are a few questions to contemplate:

  • Can you get to a point where your eyes and feet are synchronized, where it doesn’t take conscious effort to decide where to put each foot?
  • Are you still breathing well?
  • Is your upper body relaxed? Do the arms stay relatively close to the body and with a stable torso? If your arms do some light flailing or wind-milling when running downhills, that’s ok, but your shoulders should never be pulled up towards your ears or locked in position. From my experience a relaxed upper body is one of the keys to comfortable and fast downhill running.

As I think about how running relates to skiing, I’ve come across a number of helpful similarities:

  • Eyes scan along the upcoming terrain. The distance you’re looking ahead will depend on your speed and comfort with the terrain, but in neither skiing nor running should you ever be looking directly at your feet.
  • Shoulders are relaxed. Make sure the tops of your shoulders are not scrunched up towards your ears.
  • The upper body should not move vertically up and down very much when you’re running. I’ve found that when I run fast and with good flow on trails, it feels like my upper body is gliding along on an even horizontal plane above the ground, not bouncing up and down. For skiing, the upper body is somewhat more crunched over, as the abdominal muscles are engaged to pole. Yet in classic striding, V2, and V1 skating the upper body does stay approximately level, as in running.

What other similarities can you notice across sports and modes of exercise? From running to mountain biking, kayaking to skate skiing, challenge yourself to apply body positions or mental outlooks from one sport to another to teach yourself new ways of efficient movement.

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