VT3 Photo Gallery

We were stoked to host the VT3 last weekend! Thanks to all the racers who came out to ride, especially those who bucked up and raced all three days in Hardwick, Victory, and Craftsbury. Also big thanks to our sponsors: Victory Hill, Kona Bicycles, Julbo Eyewear, The Jay Cloud Cyclery, and EFTA. Finally, thank you to Bart Timing for timing and results, and Chris Williams for photographing (all images below are his).

Click on any image to enlarge.

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A week in rural Alaska with NANA Nordic

At the beginning of April, Green Racing Project skiers Mary O’Connell and Liz Guiney (myself) spent a week in Northwest Alaska with NANA Nordic. Every year NANA Nordic (and its affiliate Skiku) sends hundreds of volunteer coaches, hailing from Alaska and beyond, to native villages in northwest Alaska to coach cross country skiing. Getting the opportunity to share our favorite sport with a village-full of Inuit kids and adults was truly an amazing experience.

While Mary and I both coached the same week in the NANA region, she spent her week in Kiana, while I was several hundred miles more inland in Ambler. We couldn’t possibly cover all of our experiences from the week in one blog, so here are a few of our stories and photos.

Day One (Sunday): Mary spent all day flying from Vermont to Anchorage, which is no small travel feat! Liz finished her final race of the season, a 30k at Spring Series in Fairbanks, then later that day hopped on a plane to Anchorage. We reunited at baggage claim in the Anchorage Airport, took a short shuttle ride to a nearby hotel, and promptly collapsed in the nearest bed.

Day Two: 

Liz- 4 am wake-up! We didn’t get to enjoy our soft hotel beds for very long, as we were off to the airport again, this time to fly to Kotzebue. In Kotzebue (or Kotz, as the locals call it), Mary and I parted ways and I hopped on a small bush plane to Ambler. Almost as soon as I landed and made it to the school I found myself with skis on my feet and coaching the PE classes. To be honest, I don’t remember much from the first day. It was a whirlwind of learning names, forgetting names, and asking names (yes, we coached 75 different students over the course of the week, not to mention the countless teachers and community members we met). I also tied boot laces, cringed at a few hard crashes, taught kids how to “walk like a duck” up hills, and played Wolves and Caribou (that’s the Alaskan version of Sharks and Minnows)

Kindergarten, all lined up and ready to go!

Our schedule for the end of the week. Coaching at NANA is no joke, one day I spent almost 10 hours outside with boots on my feet! This schedule doesn’t include after school skiing, with starts at 3:30 pm and goes until the kids get tired. Hint- the kids never get tired.

Mary – I arrived in Kiana along with another coach for the week and, like Liz, immediately started teaching the 5th and 6th grade PE class. During the entire travel day(s) to Kiana, I was getting increasingly more nervous about what the week was going to hold. I had only been to Alaska once before, and had definitely never flown on a bush plane (for some reason, motorized travel is one of my only fears). But the moment I started skiing around with the kids, learning their names and little bits about them, I realized that I was in for the best experience of my life. We spent the day to introducing each grade to skiing through games and going on tours around town. By the end of it, I was exhausted, but so excited for the remaining four days.

Teaching Kevin, Zada, and Gazara (K and 1st grade) how to ski!! The tips of Kevin’s hair are dyed silver, and he came to every after school ski (the only one of his age group!) Breighton (in the background) was our high school helper all week – and he was great!! He is really good at skiing and good with the kids. Thanks for the help, Breighton!

Day Three:

Liz- My second day in the village was a little calmer, as I had my bearings and a good idea of how the day would flow. During PE hours, I had an awesome ski with the fifth and sixth grade girls up to the airport where we watched bush planes fly in from overhead. The best part was that in this age group, the girls skied way farther and faster than the boys did. I’m all about female power. After school, we had every usable boot, ski, and pole checked out, and we took the entire group out on the frozen Kobuk river to ski towards Shungnak, a village 30 miles away. One of the pre-K boys who was very new to skiing made it down on the river as well, and it took over an hour of coaxing, towing, and taking skis on and off to make it back to the school. Happy to report that there were no tears!

A sassy group of girls on our after school ski, with the Brooks Range in the background

Mary – This day seemed to be the longest one. I think the effects of the first day were catching up with me, and our coaching group was still nailing down the perfect system of handing out skis, boots, and poles all day long. We set up a tricky downhill slalom/obstacle course for all the grades, and it was awesome to see so many kids send it through the gates, and many others just get better and better as the hour went on.

Slalom

The after school group skiing was definitely the best part of every day. We would have 15-20 kids of all ages show up, motivated to go adventuring to some place new. Like Liz, we were able to ski on the frozen Kobuk river quite a bit; also known as the “ice road.” Kiana is about 25 miles from the Noorvik Village, and without fail, every day the kids wanted to ski to Noorvik. In fact they talked about Noorvik ALL THE TIME. We couldn’t figure out what was so special about Noorvik, until a teacher told us it translates to “a place to go.” Well, aha, that’s why they always wanted to go there. I can’t say that we ever made it to Noorvik, but we sure tried. And the views never disappointed.

Attempting the ski to Noorvik after school. I couldn’t get enough of the after school adventure skis. Reminds me of all the times that led me to fall in love with the sport.

Smiling Kaley, happy to be out skiing in the sun!

It was Caitlin and Courtney’s (high-schoolers) first time on skis this week, but they showed up every day and were so eager to get better and learn something. I enjoyed starting the days with them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Four:

Mary- My fellow coaches and I scouted out a neat little loop on the back side of town, weaving through the trees and down the hills. We tried to take each group out for a ski around the loop for something new and different. And depending on how much time was left, I taught all the kids how to play Stones (a Craftsbury junior favorite!!). I had a blast playing the game with the kids, and I think most of them enjoyed it too. Games are such a good way to get kids better agility practice on their skis, and Stones is the perfect game, because it’s almost never ending usually everyone is a winner! My favorite part of the day had to be taking the Kindergarten and 1st graders out for a ski. I was with the faster group and I just skied behind the kids videoing the whole way. I’m not sure I had even put on skinny skis when I was that age, and it is tough to navigate those things!! But every time one of the fell down (which was probably more than you might guess) they would just pop right back up no problem.

K and 1st graders out for a ski tour. This group was awesome, and despite spending more time on their bums then on their skis, they were always eager to go further!

Playing Stones ALL DAY!!! Good thing I get so much practice with all the Craftsbury Juniors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The after school group destination for Wednesday was the West Lake Ridge. I think we got a bit lost on the way, but nonetheless had a great time exploring some snow mo (snowmobile nomenclature) trails in the warm sun. One thing I appreciated throughout the week was the amazing skiing we were able to do, despite not having anything resembling a grooming machine. With the very dry snow that falls, the snow mo’s pretty much create a perfect trail to ski on.

After school ski out to West Lake with a fun, motivated, and happy crew. We had to take a quick break in the sun before skiing all the way back to school.

And Kiana had some incredible trails!! Lots of rolling hills down to creek beds and rivers, up hills to see incredible views, and weaving through the forest. I learned where all the best berry patches exist in the summer and where all the good hunting spots are. You can ski on the Village roads as well, but those tend to be a bit icier and less forgiving when the kids inevitably fall. As a side note, I always encouraged kids to fall, because that’s part of the game. Many of the kids would show up so scared to fall down, having been told in the past “don’t fall, don’t fall,” buy hey, even I still wipe out when I’m skiing. Not even on cool downhills or anything. It’s important to just know how to get back up!

As most people know, I really love selfies. And using them to get the kids to keep skiing was very useful. The #selfie is culturally universal 🙂

Liz- Wednesday was pretty similar to the previous day, with a few notable exceptions. We set up a dual slalom for a few of the PE classes to work on cornering and no-pole skiing, then did a few fast and furious relays. A great achievement of our day as coaches was using our 30 min lunch break to both make and eat our lunch as well as throw together a caribou stew to put in the crockpot for dinner. After another 10 hour day on skis, it was one of the more delicious things I’ve ever tasted. After dinner, my fellow coaches and I ventured over to the tribal council building, where we heard there was a dart competition going on. With a little more digging, we found out that the darts were actually a way to bet on the Kobuk 440, a sled dog race that was coming through Ambler over the weekend. We felt like we might fit in with the locals a bit more if we threw some darts, although I can’t say our hit percentage was very high. I became the crowd favorite after landing two darts in the floor, one in the rafters, and, shockingly, one in the dart board (although not on a musher’s name, which was the ultimate goal).

Fresh caribou meat that one of the teacher’s aides gave us. We found a few hairs (typical of fresh game meat), but overall it was delicious

Slalom with the middle schoolers

Day Five:

Mary – As the final day of skiing before Friday’s big races, we set up a team obstacle course/station race. Each team had to complete an activity on skis before moving to the next challenge. Then the first team done with all four stations won!! This was pretty fun for coaches to come up with the ideas, and then to watch the kids really test themselves and see that they were capable of much more than they thought on skis.

Obstacle course/station day with the second graders. Getting kids to pose was always entertaining.

After school, the 7th and 8th grade boys wanted to ski to the Old Village. I had yet to ski here, but the rule was you couldn’t be younger than 12 to go because of a downhill that was out there. I was a bit skeptical to just be following these boys to some downhill I’d never seen and once we got there, I made all the kids go down the hill before me so I knew what I was getting into. And it was so much fun!! It’s probably no secret that downhills are my strength and I absolutely love going super fast. I think I get that adrenaline rush need from my Nordic Combined days. At the bottom of the hill there was a jump, or a “fly”, which I really couldn’t avoid. (Though I don’t have any pictures so I can’t prove it). After I hit the fly, the boys decided they had to too. Not everyone landed, but there were no injuries and only laughs.

Afternoon ski with the 7th/8th grade boys out to the old village. The skiing in Kiana is absolutely incredible!

The rest of the ski was beautiful, one of those skis where you remember exactly why you ski. For me it is because of  the challenges I face and push myself through every day, the things I learn about myself, the cool places I get to travel to, and the people and communities I meet along the way. I felt like all of that was summed up into this one ski.

Liz- Usually race day happens on the last day of NANA Nordic, but because we knew the Kobuk 440 would be coming through town on Friday, Thursday was our race day!! We made it super official with bibs, course marking, and prizes, which were either NANA Nordic buffs, or GCI gloves, depending on the age group. We encouraged everyone to participate, even if they didn’t think they had a chance of winning, just to show that racing isn’t all about who wins or loses, and it’s important to cheer for everyone as they finish! The most exciting race of the day may have been the pre-K/kindergarten sprint drag race. Anaya, the clear favorite, had a tangle out of the start, and she and Clara battled it out and eventually tied. Phew.

Because we wanted some of the older kids to do a longer race course, but didn’t have a lot of time to set up a long course, we did their race scavenger hunt style. They started near the school and had to ski out and find one of the coaches, pick up a bean bag from them, and then return it to the start first. This made for interesting spectating because it wasn’t necessarily the fastest kids who would find the coach first! They had to be smart and good about their route finding too. I also got a big kick out of seeing who won each age group- in the high school race, one of the older high school boys who hung back in every practice was way out in front for the race and won by minutes. Some of the parents came out to cheer too, which was great for us as the locals got to see what the “skiing people” had been doing in PE classes all week!

After school, we had probably our shortest ski of the week since we finally accomplished a big goal- tiring the kids out! It was a beautiful day though, and I loved leading a group of girls out to “tundra”, where they usually didn’t go. They warned me to look out for bears and moose, but luckily we escaped without seeing any big wildlife.

Pre-K/Kindergarten was the cutest race of the day

After school. It was so fun to see these two get excited about skiing, and I hope they continue to ski even when NANA isn’t in town

Day Six:

Mary – RACE DAY!! During each PE class on Friday, we held a race for the kids. Each of them got a race number before taking a group picture, then we’d explain the course to them, give about five minutes for warm up, before saying “READY, SET, GO” for the 1st annual Kiana Kalamity. It was pretty inspiring to see lots of kids really go for it during the race and finish totally exhausted or as they like to say “I’m croaked.”

The podium on race day- looks like the red team from Kiana swept it.

Serious faces on the start line!

 

Go, go, go!!

And even more inspiring to watch the kids who could hardly go 50m without face planting on Monday make it around the entire course and surprise all the coaches. The race of the day went to a 4th grader Lucy who would ski with the slowest group every day (she was there everyday, however) go from the gun and battle a a close race to take away second. And the hug I got from her after felt really special. My greatest achievement of the day was learning nearly every kid’s name (close to 70 kids!), and racing in the 7th and 8th grade category and just barely squeaking away with the win. (The 7th/8th grade course was the longest/most confusing so they needed a pacer). Upon completion of the races we handed out our crafty prizes, and then packed up all the equipment to catch our afternoon flight back to Kotzebue.

Mary (L) on the frozen runway, with the plane about to take off

Liz: With our race day out of the way, Friday was actually a pretty easy day. Most of the kids were checked out of school so they could watch the Kobuk 440 dogsled race come through town, and help with the race (each town supplies food, water, lodging, and dog bedding for the mushers).

Because we had a little extra time, we quickly inventoried skis and poles and tried to fix any broken equipment. We also found a brand new wax box and iron in the school’s supplies, so we got inspired to teach the Ambler nordic coach how to wax the skis there. The only problem was that we had no wax bench, so the afternoon project became creating a bench out of materials in the wood shed. A maintenance worker hopped in on the project, and between my descriptions, his creativity, and the nordic coach’s carpentry, we got a somewhat workable version of the wax bench and were able to get through the fleet of skis there. This was great, since some of the kids were complaining that their skate skis wouldn’t slide- they were collecting snow on the base, which obviously puts a big damper on skating!

We still got out for after school skiing, and got to watch mushers come through all day, which was a really cool experience for me. Here, two teams are heading out from town onto the Kobuk River after coming through the checkpoint

All week I pulled kids around town, so by day 5 I told them that we would switch off, and they could pull me! Of course, I had to give them a little help

Day Seven:

Mary – I flew into Kotzebue Friday night and spent the night with the Kotz NANANordic team. It was cool to see another village and the NANANordic set up. Kotz is much much larger than Kiana, so the team there was twice as big as mine. The principal of the elementary school had us over for a pasta dinner with caribou meat sauce. His wife prepares all the meals for her brother, John Baker, an extremely successful musher, while he is out racing the Iditarod. I enjoyed learning about that a bit while there! On Saturday, Liz flew in to meet me and we joined Rosie Brennan and some other local people on a sweet adventure. Snow mo’s drove us about 10 miles across the ocean to the base of some mountains near Sheshalik and we skied back following small tree branches as markers. It was definitely unlike anything I’ve ever done to ski on the ocean, and if my V2 isn’t perfect by now, then I’m probably at a loss…

Skiing across the sea ice, with Kotzebue far far in the distance!

At the end of the week I was physically exhausted. After being on skis for almost 9 hours a day for 5 days with a short lunch break, tying countless number of shoes, and passing out equipment all day long, my body was tired. But emotionally and mentally, I’d never felt more spirited. I think I can only remember two instances of tears (not from me, the children), and had to do little coaxing to get the kids to ski up the final hill, which was truly inspiring. The kids and the rest of the community members we met were so kind and welcoming to us, so eager to learn, and motivated to continue skiing once we departed. I do hope I get the opportunity to return to Kiana, or any other village for that matter. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Beautiful sunrise every morning on my walks/run to get the day started!

Liz: On Saturday morning, I hopped back on a plane to get to Kotzebue. Unlike our flight in, this flight had perfect, clear weather and we could enjoy the beautiful views of the Brooks Range all the way to Kotz. It was awesome to meet up with Mary and the other coaches, trade stories and do a little skiing on our own. After the week of coaching, I was perhaps the most physically exhausted I had been in a while, including after the race season. However, like Mary, I was also inspired and invigorated. Trips like NANA Nordic just reinforce my belief that it’s love of the sport that got me involved in nordic skiing in the first place. While I spend most of my time training and racing, it’s also important to share that love with other people, because it validates what we do. Watching kids go from total frustration at the beginning of the week to figuring out that they actually can ski, and their skis can take them new places, is insanely rewarding. The best was looking out the window after our ski program was done for the day and seeing groups of kids skiing around town, going from house to house, stopping at the store, or just enjoying the trails. As they gained confidence, it was really fun to actually go out for longer skis with them, and just chat while we skied- not that different from when I work out with my friends or teammates back home! I hope to get back to coach at NANA again in the future, in the meantime I will be eagerly awaiting the newest crop of skiers and racers from Ambler, there’s some big potential there.

View from my seat on the flight out of Ambler. It’s nerve wracking to be in such a small plane at low altitude, and be able to see the pilot, cockpit, and controls, but once I got over my nerves, it was one of the coolest flights of my life

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Liatoppen Biathlon Festival Race Report

Craftsbury Junior Bjørn Westervelt (above) traveled to Norway at the beginning of the month, and mom Karen shared this trip report and photos with us. Congrats on the competition, and thanks for giving us a bit of a peek into your experience!

These are photos from Liatoppen Biathlon Festival in Norway March 31-April 2nd. Bjørn Westervelt, Tim Cobb, (EABC) and Ethan Livingood (Jackson Biathlon) were
the New England contingent who joined 4 other U16 biathletes from across the USA to compete in the largest youth biathlon festival in the world. Twelve hundred U16 athletes from Norway, Sweden, France and the USA participated in 3 days of competition. The
first day of competition was a relay, the second day was a sprint and the third day was a mass start.

Ethan joined forces with 2 Norwegian biathletes and won the heat on the first day of competition. Bjorn had his best race of the weekend during the sprint and placed 13th out of 84 biathletes tying with an athlete from France and leading the USA boys team. Tim lead the way during the mass start and placed 38th on the third day. It was a fantastic performance all around by the U16 USA Team!

This was the 30 year anniversary of the Liatoppen Biathlon Festival. The event was very well organized and did a great job promoting youth involvement in the sport of biathlon. Biathlon legends Ole Einer Bjorndalen and Tarjei Bø were at the festival signing hats, cheering the youth on, and inspiring young biathletes from around the world.

 

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Post-winter Ski Care with GRP Wax Tech Nick Brown

GRP wax tech Nick Brown on the glacier last fall. Photo – Caitlin Patterson

Happy Spring! We’ve finished up the last races of the season, but we are also in the process of meeting with ski company reps and starting planning for next year already! This is a great time to sit down and as as you review your training from this year and think about next year’s goals, do the same with your equipment. This is the time of the year when things are still fresh in your mind, and there is time and space to deal with a lot of things that we just don’t have in the fall.

When did your skis work really well? When did they work less well? Are there conditions for which your skis just didn’t seem to work? Skis that got used / scratched up and will need a re-grind? Make some notes – maybe even on some masking tape on the skis themselves! That way you will remember in the fall that ‘this pair of skis never worked for me’ (sell it to someone who it may work better for!) or ‘these skis didn’t kick right – review’ … ‘these need a new grind’ … etc.

Do you need/want to special order equipment? Looking for something in particular? Some retailers take special orders and spend time over the summer searching out specific skis for customers. If you are just looking for a new pair of skis, make that note so you can remember in the fall exactly what was on your wish list, before those conditions come (and those skis are sold out!). Were you yearning for a pair of the new waxless “skin” skis, or a pair of off-track cross country skis? Or maybe you are just ready to upgrade to a new pair of race skis, whether you are actually racing, or just want the weight & performance advantages of race gear.

Why might you want more skis? That depends. For many people the one-pair quiver, or one each skate and classic can be fine. The simplicity (and cost savings) are important parts of enjoying the sport. For others, adding a pair or two of skis could really enhance their enjoyment of the sport. If you want to expand your ski selection, here are my thoughts.

Start with “universal” skis you are happy with most of the winter. If you are replacing your one pair, or this is your first time shopping, I would look for a good “universal” skate ski and/or a good mid-range versatile hardwax ski for classic. Start with one ski per technique. If your preference trends towards classic skiing, consider the benefits of having a Universal / hardwax ski, and a klister ski. A true klister ski can make a world of difference in icy / grainy / wet conditions. They are built to glide faster in the wet conditions, and keep the klister away from the snow, while staying easy to kick. Better in every way! Klister skiing might become your new favorite conditions!

If you are looking into expanding your skate skis, I would look in the other direction from your “universal” skis … consider adding a “cold” ski. While some years it seems like we have increasing warm and wet conditions, “universal” skate skis still work pretty well in most of those conditions. When we get those cold snaps and the snow feels like velcro, a pair of dedicated cold skis makes a big difference. It won’t make it magically fast, but it will be a bit less-slow, and a lot more enjoyable! In the end the goal is to keep getting out and skiing, and having fun, which is after all why we have skis! Make some notes now so you know what to look for in the fall!

Also review your wax box and make some notes there too! What are you missing? what did you use up this year? What did you wish you had? Need new brushes maybe? Some things to think about – have some cold wax, and a brush that works for it? If you classic ski on waxable skis, do you have a range of hardwaxes and klisters? You don’t need a ton of waxes, not even every wax in a brand, but a good range of waxes you know when and how to use. If you ski at the outdoor center, you can always stop by the shop to refill if you find you are missing the wax of the day. Looking to expand your selection of tools or waxes ahead of time? With some time and planning you can shop around through some more options. Without planning ahead, this can quickly become overwhelming. Ask around and see what other people like. Make a plan and happy shopping!

Two more things. Even if (for some reason) you don’t want to think about skis now: 1) make sure your existing skis have a coat of wax on them for storage! Put it on now, scrape and brush in the fall. AND 2) take your wax box, or box full of wax, and put it somewhere cool for the summer. Maybe make sure all the klister tubes have tight caps on them, and are stored beneath/separately from your glide wax. If you want to be really safe, I have heard of people storing it in their freezer.

Thats it! Make some notes now so you can actually remember that “unforgettable” thing in the fall!

Have a great spring!

Printable Checklist:

____ All skis travel waxed

____ Make notes about skis

____ Make notes about wax box

____ Put wax box somewhere cool and take klister safety precautions.

____ Find bike season notes from last fall …

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All things skiing, school, and determination, with Dan Cnossen

Dan won the Men’s 10km cross country ski distance event at the Olympic test event in Pyeong Chang earlier this month.

Navy SEAL officer. Olympic athlete. Harvard grad school student. Just a few activities that demonstrate the breadth of Dan Cnossen’s abilities and interests. Dan Cnossen grew up in Kansas, graduated from the United States Naval Academy, and was deployed in Afghanistan in 2009 when an explosive device cost him both his legs, amputated just above the knee. Determined to come back from this injury and progress daily, he ran a mile exactly a year after he was injured. He then picked up cross country skiing and has been competing in that discipline and biathlon since 2011. Last year, Dan began his master’s program at Harvard graduate school, currently enrolled in the John F. Kennedy School of Government working towards a degree in public administration. This program will be completed at the end of next year, the same year the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games are taking place in Pyeong Chang, South Korea.

Dan spent his second consecutive weekend at The Craftsbury Outdoor Center earlier this winter, after competing in the Craftsbury Marathon and placing 2nd in the 12k race the week prior. I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with him about his goals, ideas, and beliefs. We also discussed how places like the COC can accommodate adaptive skiers and make the training facilities the best for all. I learned a lot about Paralympic skiing, adaptive sports in general, was certainly inspired by Dan’s attitude and motivation, but it was equally great to chat as athletes and competitors.

I am a full time cross country skier, a professional. To reach this level, I’ve had to be diligent in my training, my nutrition, my recovery – and still have to dial these in further to continue to progress. I have to be competitive and motivated every single day to reach my goals. I have to target my weaknesses and work to improve them. And while it can be hard to explain, yes, even full-time training sometimes gets a bit boring, and I have to find ways to remain engaged, happy and healthy. It was great to swap ideas on all these topics with Dan, and learn how he’s approaching the same training stresses. There is nothing that separates what he does and what I do, except that he does it sitting down.

The first time Dan tried a sit ski, he had a “miserable” experience. The technique and strength required to move your body around on skis, while sitting in a chair, is quite impressive, and the balance sensations are unlike anything one would have tried before. But Dan knew that it would be worth it, and that eventually, with time and dedication to a training program, he would figure it out and succeed. Well succeed he did. Just last year, he placed 5th, 6th, and 7th at the IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships. And in the 2014 Paralympic Winter games he placed 6th and had 4 other top 15 finishes. In that same year, he also claimed three first-place finishes at the US Paralympic Nordic Skiing National Championships. I asked Dan what his goals are for the next couple of seasons, and what he views as his most impressive results. His answer? “I don’t like to think about the results. I just want to train to the best of my ability, stay happy and healthy, and control what I can control.”

In fact, realizing that he doesn’t care about results is what he believes is his greatest success. It’s about being in the “zone” during the race and skiing hard. Getting too caught up in the results causes an increased focus on what others are doing instead of what is most important for him. I like it: concentrating my energy on everything that I can do to be the best skier, and not worrying myself with others, the weather, the course, etc. Instead, treat every race as an individual time trial, and likely the results will work them self out.

While Dan competes in both skiing and biathlon, his primary focus is on cross-country skiing. Most Paralympic Nordic skiers compete in both biathlon and cross-country due to their immense similarities. But it does take a huge amount of extra time and focus to learn how to shoot and be competitive in a race, so for the sake of already limited time, Dan finds it easier to just focus on training for skiing. There are four different events that Paralympic skiers compete in: a ski sprint, multiple individual biathlon races, and multiple individual cross-country distance races ranging from 5k – 20k. The cross-country 10K is his favorite due to the longer distance and endurance required. “It’s harder to train for sprints, and there is so much unknown; I prefer the distance endurance based races.”

In Para Nordic skiing, there are 3 different categories of racers: standing, sitting, and visual impairment. There are then subcategories for many of these. For instance, in the sitting category, there are a range of levels depending on how much “trunk control” one has, that is at what level the individual doesn’t have use of their legs and how much core there are able to activate. Standing and visual impairment categories are also subdivided. Depending on what level one is in, there are percentage time deductions.

This is a topic in the world or para skiing that can be extremely controversial. In a sprint race, for instance, a sitting competitor without much core will not be at as much of a disadvantage due to the very short course. Then that individual’s time deduction may make it harder for someone like Dan, with no time deductions, to compete against. However, the rules are set to try and make it fair for everyone, and consider all sides, which will inevitably lead to some controversial opinions. Kind of like the 83% pole height rule in cross country skiing classic races. (I asked Dan about this, and while Para skiing doesn’t have an equivalent rule, he said that having longer poles while sitting down, isn’t going to help you at all.)

Skiing is a difficult task to master. Doing it in a sit ski is even harder. It’s a movement that is very unique, but that shouldn’t discourage anyone from trying it out. “Sit skiing is an amazing way for impaired individuals to get outside in the winter” Dan tells me. Running, or even just going somewhere in a wheelchair is extremely difficult in the snow. And being able to ski is a cool experience and achievement. When I asked Dan what advice he may have for someone just starting to sit ski he said that “sticking with it, staying positive, and knowing that the body will adapt quickly” is important. The reward once achieved is so much greater than that of anyone learning to ski fully body abled, because the obstacles overcome to get there were that much harder. And like cross country skiing, Para skiing can be a lifelong sport, something that Craftsbury Outdoor Center greatly values. He believes that after 2-3 years one should start to feel very comfortable sit skiing, and that trying to connect with others is helpful. There are more and more places starting to pop up as centers for all skiers, and some teams starting to integrate full body abled athletes and Parathletes. One such place exists in Winter Park, CO.

There are things that places like the Craftsbury Outdoor Center can do to make sure the facilities accommodate anyone who wants to get on the snow. One of the most important things being the accessibility to skiing. “The Center has been super helpful in allowing me to store my sit ski in the fitness center so it’s right next to the trials, and then I can leave my stuff on the deck which is also very convenient.” Things like ramps to and from the dining hall, fitness center, and cabins would be a nice added convenience for those that are in wheelchairs. Bathrooms and showers should also take special consideration when designing. More space and accessibility would make them more functional for individuals in wheelchairs. As far as a training facility goes, Dan believes Craftsbury has everything he needs. The food, skiing, and weight training are all in the same location, and all elite level quality. Something that I couldn’t agree more with. This is by far the best place I have ever encountered for full time training. And it benefits those that are not elite athletes as well! With “amazing food, cozy accommodations, and fantastic grooming”, Craftsbury is a great place for anyone to visit.

Like most athletes find, having something else to focus on during the day aside from training and sport, is a helpful and constructive way to pass the time and stay motivated. Lots of people turn to school. Dan found that he needed something else to do aside from training and decided that going to grad school would be perfect. He is now in a three year program at Harvard and lives and trains in Boston during the school year. He has set up his schedule so he only has class Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then can have long weekends to focus on training, often times somewhere besides Boston/Cambridge. While school is nice because of the mental stimulation, it’s also difficult because you don’t necessarily have a team, or the fact that you are an athlete as an excuse. Not that he needs excuses, but sometimes it’s difficult for professors and other classmates to understand the demands of a full time athlete.

For the rest of this season, Dan is focusing on school and training. Besides the pre-Olympic World Cups later this year, every Tuesday night he is participating in the weekly race series hosted in Boston around the Leo Jay Martin golf course (Weston Ski Track) there. He enjoys mixing it up with both skate and classic skiers there. Classic races are nice because he is more similar in time to them for more comparable competition, but skate races have their benefit as the larger personal space bubble gives him more practice for close proximity to other skiers and maneuverability. And when school is over, it will be time to start cross training. Dan’s favorites include strength training, running, and surfing. The upper body movement are essentially the same which make it a great way to practice, with the added benefit of extra balance. He will spend most of the summer in Hawaii and Indonesia. If my training could correlate that closely with surfing, I don’t think I would mind spending some time on the beach.

Dan’s primary focus thru all of this is his strength to weight ratio. Like skiing, and most endurance sports, one needs to be strong enough to get their body around a course, so having a strong but lean body is important. It’s a hard balance to achieve, but something that Dan believes he has finally started to master.

After talking with Dan for a while, I asked if I could follow him around skiing and get some video. We cruised around the flats and gradual uphills for a bit, I told him about the Green Racing Project’s max speed contest that we have every day, and he immediately was down to participate. So we went down Kirby’s together and I was more than impressed with how fast he was able to go, and how easily he could navigate the corners without being able to step around, and push off one foot. Check it out for yourself! We hit a max speed of just over 40km/hr (that’s pretty fast…).

 

I really enjoyed hanging out with Dan for a day, and then seeing him out on the trails multiple times after that. Spending time talking to another athlete with a slightly different perspective is always eye opening, humbling, and motivating. I think I can speak for everyone at Craftsbury in wishing him the best of luck this next season. We look forward to cheering him on at the 2018 Games!

 

Posted in Biathlon, Campus and Facilities, Skiing, Training | 1 Comment

CNSC Juniors at Rikert Eastern Cup Gallery

This gallery contains 22 photos.

Last weekend, many of the Craftsbury juniors went to Ripton, VT for the third weekend of Eastern Cup racing at the Rikert Nordic Center. Craftsbury racer Claire Ellis shared a number of pictures with us and they do a wonderful job … Continue reading

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Craftsbury Marathon Training Plan: The Taper

It’s Marathon Monday again, which means that we’re bringing you another race related blog, this time focused on tapering! It’s only five days from the Craftsbury Marathon, and while training is important, at this point one thing you can do to significantly improve your performance is rest. Going into a big event well rested with a bit of speed can be the magic ticket to feeling good in that race.

In general, you want to lower your total volume in the week before a big race so that you’ll feel fresh come race day. Adjust this volume depending on how much training you did the week before, and how you feel energy wise on a day to day basis. Make sure to keep some intensity in your plan, as you want to feel rested, but not flat!

Try this Marathon race week plan from Green Racing Project ski coach Pepa Miloucheva:
Monday: OFF
Tuesday: Easy distance with accelerations (60-90 min total)
Wednesday: 30-40 min of speedplay (L2-L3). Speedplay is similar to natural intervals in that you will pick up the pace to Level 3 on the uphills, and then relax to Level 2 on the flats and downhills. Do a short L1 warm-up and cool-down before and after.
Thursday: Easy distance
Friday: Easy day- this could be 30 min of skiing/testing skis/or even a full day off
Saturday: Marathon Race day!
Sunday: Go for a nice ski, or enjoy the company of your recliner for the day. But you’ll feel better if you’re able to get out and move around a bit, even if it’s just a walk.

 

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Callie’s take on an eventful Nationals in Utah

For the past week, Alex, Phoebe, and I have been in Utah for US Nationals. As a side effect of not needing to qualify to attend, it is a great chance to compete against a huge field (including a lot of Canadians). After landing in Salt Lake City, Phoebe and I headed to the rental house, while Alex who had been out for longer rejoined us the next night. Our rental house was quite entertaining with a lot of great decorations!

One of the great decorations in our house. It can be worn as a mask!

Our first race of the week was a 10k skate on a challenging 5k course. When we woke up in the morning it was so cold that the race directors pushed back start times by an hour in the hopes that the temperature would rise above the legal racing temp. It was an individual start with Alex starting first, then Phoebe, then Callie. The course had two major climbs as well as some fast descents making for a tough race. Since Soldier Hollow’s base elevation is around 5,463 ft the altitude can make for hard conditions for those who aren’t used to it so all three of us skied the race very conservatively in the hopes that we would have something left in the tank for the finish. Though this made for a slower race pace than any of us are used to everyone finished satisfied with their effort. Overall Alex finished in 104th, Phoebe in 160th and Callie in 169th. In the end this race was a great experience for learning how to pace and race at altitude. It was also very helpful in determining how hard we would be able to push in the classic sprint the next day.

The classic sprint on Sunday was a great experience and a lot of fun but none of us felt like we had an awesome day, and we did not make it past the qualifier. Alex placed in 121st, Phoebe in 168th, and Callie in 174th overall.

On Monday we enjoyed an easy ski and preview of the 2.5k and 3.75k race course in the rain – a drastic weather transformation from last week. While the courses were not nearly as hilly as the previous distance race, they still contained a considerable amount of climbing and some very technical downhills. Later that day we found out that the distance of the mass start had been increased from 5k to 7.5k meaning that we would use the 3.75k course, which we were all pleased about at the time.

Later we embarked on an epic journey to Park City where we ate some ice cream and perused a cowboy store, sock store, and a fur store (with a jacket at the low price of $140,000). As the snow began to pick up, we realized that it was time to leave. But on the way home we decided to pick up some ice-cream, inspired by the amazing ice-cream we had eaten earlier in the day. This, however, proved to be a terrible mistake.

As we attempted to leave Smith’s we realized that the pavement had turned to a sheet of ice, something that our box van from California was not equipped to handle. As we sat in our van we feared that our ice cream, the whole reason for our extra excursion, would melt. But after watching other cars skid around the road, some direction of traffic around us, and some discussion, we decided it would be best to wait out the storm. We backed the van back into the parking lot, and decided it would be best to stow the ice cream under the van for safe keeping and refrigeration. Since it appeared the end of the storm was not in sight, we walked over to a nearby pizza shop to get some dinner.

After a heated game of UNO (that never ended), and some great pizza, we glanced outside to notice that the snow had slowed. We decided to embark on the journey back home (luckily our race wasn’t until 3:00 the next day). Returning to the house after this epic adventure we enjoyed some very soft ice cream.

Enjoying our never ending game of Uno while stranded in Park City

On our last day, we geared up for an epic mass start 7.5K with 150 other racers! For all of us, it was the biggest mass start we had ever been in and were all really excited. We didn’t start until 3:00, so we got to sleep in, then determined not to be lazy, took a few walks and did mobility exercises and watched the live timing as Ben won!!! We got to the race venue and completed our warm ups while testing race skis then entered the chaos of the start pen. When the gun went off, all 150 of us were off. On the very first downhill, there was already a crash causing several people to go down. With so many people and squirrel-y snow, there were crashes everywhere and it was hard to figure out the right mix of being aggressive, and not plowing into the girls that had fallen in front of us. In the end, I (Callie) had my best race of the week in 52nd, and Phoebe and Alex  were happy with their downhill aggressiveness, but didn’t have great races overall finishing 71st and 76th.

Cabin Fever sets in as Callie chases Phoebe around with a bug found in the garage

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

Welcome to Marathon Monday! Here we’ll be posting weekly content relating to the 2017 Craftsbury Marathon, whether it’s nutrition advice, waxing tips, race day essentials, or training plans from Green Racing Project coach Pepa Miloucheva. We’re fired up about the race and want you to be too!
This week, we delve into nutrition with a topic that concerns a lot of marathoners- carbo-loading. Pre-race nutrition can really make or break your race day experience, so don’t go into a big event under-fueled.
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”!

Posted in Skiing, Training | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Craftsbury Conversations: Audrey Mangan

JR coach Audrey Mangan riding bikes with the kids of the Albany Elementary School.

JR coach Audrey Mangan riding bikes with Naomi of the Albany Elementary School MTB School Group.

Glad to share this interview of Craftsbury JR Coach, Audrey Mangan  from GRP Rower Liz Vogt.

Audrey’s unmistakable ever-present smile and friendly hello are a welcome addition to the Craftsbury community. Audrey joined the junior coaching crew this spring and currently lives at the new coaches residence of Ruthie’s. Audrey hails from Honeoye Falls, New York and is a graduate of Harvard University. After college, Audrey coached skiing for the Boulder Nordic Junior Race Team while working as a saleswoman for Boulder Nordic Sport. She then took a break from coaching, and spent time writing for FasterSkier. She realized she missed coaching and when the assistant coach position at Harvard opened up, she jumped on the opportunity to coach again. Though she found the collegiate scene awesome and familiar, she was excited for the move to Craftsbury to gain experience in being part of a more comprehensive program with a wide range of abilities. Audrey said that college coaching is “cushy,” because kids already know how to ski and the teams are generally pretty small. This is quite different than the Craftsbury junior program, which has more than one hundred kids, many who are just learning how to ski. Looking at the bigger picture, Audrey was excited to move to Craftsbury for the community that it offers: a slower pace of life than Cambridge, a woodsier environment, and greater accessibility to the outdoors. Audrey loves being outside and Craftsbury is the perfect location for such a place.

Audrey fits in seamlessly with the Center and the way of life around here. Her favorite part about working at the Center is that “everyone here is deeply invested in the mission of the Center and is willing to go all in and pitch in whenever help is needed.” She loves supporting kids in pursuit of their goals, especially the younger ones, who are “so stoked” and exhibit “unbridled enthusiasm,” because “they don’t know to be self-conscious yet.” Audrey is often seen running around with the little ones, playing games, teaching rollerskiing, and just having a good chat. After a summer and fall of training, she is excited to see what the kids can do once the snow flies (and sticks!). She admits that it can be scary not knowing that the winter holds, but it is always something to look forward to. Her idea of “having fun” is pretty similar to what she does for work. She likes to explore new trails and go on adventures with friends. She started mountain biking this summer and was thrown right in to instructing as well, which was a fun new challenge.

Coaching in Craftsbury is certainly not what she thought she’d be doing ten years ago, but also is not very surprised. She said all the components were there, but this is not the path she was expecting. And in ten years? Audrey doesn’t know, but she wants to still be involved in skiing, whether for work or for fun. She is “psyched” that she has “no idea.” Ski coaching is a notoriously awesome and rewarding, but tiring job, where off days are rare. But the day I interviewed Audrey, she didn’t go over to the Center all day! She went for a wonderful run, built a fire in the new woodstove, and sat in front of it drinking kombucha and writing training plans with Anna.

When asked what the biggest challenge in her life was, Audrey replied “leaving the house in the morning not accidentally dressed in the same outfit as Anna.”

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