Craftsbury Conversations: Nick Brown

Nick with Caitlin in Falun, Sweden after Caitlin's best World Cup finish

Nick with Caitlin Patterson in Falun, Sweden after Caitlin’s best World Cup finish

Meet Nick Brown,  the GRP wax tech/ski guru for the Nordic ski and Biathlon teams. The interview and article was written by Hallie Grossman and photos were taken by Caitlin Patterson, both members of the GRP ski team

Nick Brown is the GRP ski team’s wax tech and ski guru. Nick has been working with the skiers full time for four years now, and on-and- off before that. When the team is on the road, Nick is there too, whether to local Eastern Cup races or to World Cups. Last year he split his time between domestic races and World Cups, including going to Europe to support Caitlin and to Canada with Kait. Nick is a waxing extraordinaire and has the ability to make really good skis for us regardless of the conditions, which is a huge part of a successful ski race.

Nick and Pepa testing skis.

Nick and Pepa testing skis.

Nick grew up in New Hampshire and attended the University of New Hampshire, before moving West. He currently spends a substantial part of the year in Colorado, but is constantly working on GRP projects. Keeping up with suppliers, placing equipment orders, and planning logistics is a year round task. He also helps his partner, Sara, with her garden design and maintenance business. When not engaged in GRP or garden duties, or waxing skis, Nick likes “picking skis. Or testing wax.” Or putting that all aside, he likes to cook, fly fish and explore in the mountains. When we go to Europe for our annual fall training trip, he is sure to have his via ferrata-ing gear with him, showing how game he is for all adventures.

Before coming to Craftsbury, where “Pepa,” was the reason for his return East, Nick worked at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School. He was part of the math department and lived in the dorms, while spending time outdoors leading backpacking trips and coaching cycling and skiing. Along this vein, Nick noted that he isn’t certain what unites the various work that he done and continues to do, but that he likes “working to remove barriers so people can excel and/ or find open doors.” This fits nicely with what Nick likes most about his job with the GRP: “work hard to help people be their best.” This is evident in everything that Nick does. He constantly strives to make us better athletes and people in general, always lending a hand with skis and a listening ear to whatever we are talking about, whether skiing related or not.

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Wine cap or King Stropharia (Stropharia rugosoannulata for the mycophiles among us) emerging from the bed of chips and straw at HP.

Last May, a bunch of GRP ladies helped with two mushroom projects. One was constructing a bed of hardwood chips, mushroom sawdust spawn, and straw for the King Stropharia also known as wine cap. Last week, the bed produced a few mushrooms. Very exciting!

The logs inoculated in May that have been hiding out in a damp spot at HP. Notice the mycelium pattern that corresponds to the 4” pattern drilled in the logs and filled with sawdust spawn.

The other project was inoculating logs with spawn of shitake, mahogany and oyster mushrooms. The logs at HP are definitely full of mycelium, but not fruiting yet. Amy/Eric and Pam/Bill also inoculated many logs at their places in Johnson and mushrooms are sprouting. We check the logs at HP almost every day…

And this what we were hoping for. Shrooms!

The mushrooms a day later! The big one is about 5” across!

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BIG Squash Harvest

Big truck of gourds

Pam, Andrea, and Katie happy with the first truckloads of harvest while enjoying the rain

It’s Harvest season at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center! Amy Schulz and Pam Japsersohn, the Center’s Farm and Garden Gurus, have been assisted by Katie Black and Andrea Carpentier at this busy time of the year. Winter squash, kale, zucchini, tomatoes, melons, eggplants, and many other vegetables are all grown at the Center and feed its guests year-round. This year, Pam and Amy also experimented with growing mushrooms at Hosmer Point early last spring. Excerpts below are from Amy Schulz:


Pumpkins for decoration and winter soup.

“Friday, September 23rd, a few of the staff did a cross fit session at Ruthie’s. The forecast was for freezing temps on Saturday. So, rain or shine, the million pounds of winter squash and pumpkins had to be harvested! To say nothing of the peppers, and the last of the melons.”

Harvesting 40-50 lbs of pumpkins Amy, Pam, and Andrea.

Harvesting 40-50 lbs of pumpkins Amy, Pam, and Andrea.

How many miles of carrying a 40 lb bin of squash did Andrea do? That would be 4 miles. Yes, 4 miles. Pam, Katie and Amy had to work hard to keep up!

Amy giving notice that we will be eating lots of spaghetti squash...Katie’s truck full to the brim.

Amy giving notice that we will be eating lots of spaghetti squash…Katie’s truck full to the brim.

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Craftsbury Rocks Race to the Top of Vermont!

Last Sunday, a group of Craftsbury juniors made the trek to Stowe to compete in the annual Race to the Top of Vermont. The race winds its way up the Toll Road on Mt. Mansfield, gaining over 2500 vertical feet in the course of 4.3 miles. It’s an uphill course that tests the determination of even the fittest competitor.
The Craftsbury juniors had awesome results in both the bike and run categories, taking many top honors in their respective age groups. In the 14 and under male run category, Bjorn Westervelt took first place in a time of 44:43, which put him in 23rd place overall! Brian Bushey took 2nd in 14 and under, and Cormac Leahy took 4th. In the 15 to 19 male age group, Matthew Lawlor took 4th place, and 16th overall.
In the 14 and under male bike category, Craftsbury swept the podium, with Trey Jones taking the win and 47th place overall, followed by David Moody in 2nd, and Trey’s brother Owen Jones in 3rd. Alan Moody and Sage Grossi finished 5th and 6th.
Enjoy some photos from the day!


Craftsbury bikers ready for the gun!

Junior parent Matt Moody grinding it out on the road.

Junior parent Matt Moody grinding it out on the road.

Trey Jones with plenty of energy to spare! Popping a wheelie near the top

Trey Jones with plenty of energy to spare! Popping a wheelie near the top

Owen Jones holding off a pack

Alan Moody holding off a pack

Junior parent Richard Bushey cranking

Junior parent Richard Bushey cranking

Another shot of the junior boys at the start- this one was featured on the RTTOVT website

Another shot of the junior boys at the start- this one was featured on the RTTOVT website

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National U16 Camp

Editor’s note:  Last month, Craftsbury junior skiers Phoebe Sweet and Callie Young attended the National U16 Training Camp at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. Here’s an account of their travels and a few photos, too.

During the last week of July, we attended the National U16 camp in Duluth, Minnesota along with nine other New England skiers and about 40 other U16s from all around the country. To qualify for this camp you must be ranked top 20 in the country from your results at Junior Nationals. Each region gets a discretionary boy and girl pick as well. The week started for us with a fun afternoon shopping and overnight in Boston then an early morning to catch our 7:00 flight. After the flight and a long shuttle ride, (made bearable by a stop at an awesome bakery) we arrived at the St. Scholastica college campus to get settled in for the week.

The first day we had an easy skate roller skiing workout where we focused on technique followed by a tough strength test in the afternoon making us sore for many days to come. The next day we hopped in vans and headed to Spirit Mountain for a challenging uphill run rest. The test was difficult but Minnesota’s mountains are quite different from those we are used to here in Vermont! Even driving to the highest mountain nearby, the ~1.7 mile course contained more flat sections than we are used to at Elmore. The following day we headed to a bike path north of Duluth to classic ski with a focus on double poling. The workout included a technique station and some speeds where we had the opportunity to go head to head with new people. It was really cool to do speeds against people we will be competing with next winter at JNs!  The second workout of the day was agility and coordination drills lead by U.S ski team development coach Bryan Fish followed by a fun afternoon of field games and tug of war. A favorite workout for both of us was a skate sprint simulation where we raced an untimed prelim, then self seeded ourselves into heats where we raced against two other athletes we may not have gone head to head with before.

Some more relaxing afternoons included cliff jumping in Lake Superior, paddle boarding, and exploring downtown Duluth. Nearly every evening we had presentations on topics ranging from basic trainings strategies, collegiate skiing, and even a presentation from Jessie Diggins. It was very cool to have Jessie come for a day! She joined a roller ski and gave an evening talk about her experiences racing from Junior Nationals up to the World Cup. She emphasized how much of a role psychology plays in how fast you can go in a race which is definitely something we will both be thinking about going into next race season! The week as a whole was an awesome experience training in a new place, meeting new people, and learning more about our sport.

Some of the girls on the long run/hike

Some of the girls on the long run/hike

The scenery in Duluth was much different than the Long Trail

The scenery in Duluth was much different than the Long Trail

Everybody at a waterfall after a long rollerski

Everybody at a waterfall after a long rollerski

Pullups! Photo from

Pullups! Photo from

Callie during the uphill running time trial

Callie during the uphill running time trial

Phoebe during classic drills

Phoebe during classic drills

Time for a swim in Lake Superior!

Time for a swim in Lake Superior!

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Hilltop Cabins are Open!

Our Hilltop Cabins are now open! We’re excited to share these new accommodations with Craftsbury Outdoor Center guests. Enjoy the gallery below, which showcases the insides and outsides of the cabins.


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West Hill TT Round Two

Sunday dawned cool and clear, a perfect day to run as fast as possible up a steep hill. Twelve members of the masters crew (including a few first timers!) took to the slopes of West Hill for the second time trial of the year.

Every runner who ran in June improved on their previous mark for the year. Of the returning runners, five set new personal bests. Congrats to Judy, Patrick, Sung-Hee, Lindy, and Linda (and props to Dick who was 5 seconds off his best time). Special thanks goes out to the GRP’s Mary O’Connell for assisting with timing.

Runner .6mi Time 1.1mi Time
Lindy Sargent 7:19 12:34
Judy Geer 7:35 12:53
Dick Dreissigacker 7:34 12:58
Patrick Kane 7:45 13:01
Trina Hosmer 7:21 13:10
Linda Ramsdell 8:02 13:59
Ken Walker (no poles) 8:18 14:17
Sung-Hee Chung 8:27 15:15
Anne Galloway 8:57 15:27
Kathyrn Prentice 8:50 15:48
Dave Hosmer 9:25 17:05
Elinor Osborn 11:25 20:05
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Mia Zutter named to US Paralympic Development Team

In early June, Mia Zutter was named to the US Paralympic Development Team. Mia is a 16 year old visually impaired skier from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. This young athlete came to Craftsbury in January to compete in the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) Nordic Skiing Continental Cup and US Paralympics Nationals. I had the opportunity to ski with Mia as her guide in two of the races: a classic sprint and a biathlon race. Two other Craftsbury community members, Linda Ramsdell and Peter Harris, were also Mia’s guides. The responsibility of the guide is to provide verbal direction to the skier as they navigate the course. Mia has limited peripheral vision, so our job was primarily to warn her about things directly in front of her, such as a classic track coming to an end.


Learning the ropes of guiding from BethAnn before Mia and I’s first race together (John Lazenby photo)

Throughout the entire week of racing, Mia was consistently near or at the top of her race category. Her exemplary performance in Craftsbury, as well as the potential that the National Team coaches saw in her, qualified her to compete at a World Cup test event in Finesterau, Germany in late February. In addition to racing at the World Cup, Mia continued to do well on the Wisconsin high school circuit. Due to her strong results on international stage, Mia earned a spot on the US Paralympic Development team. Next year is a big year for the team, including World Championships and Olympic test events, as well as World Cups in Finland, Ukraine, and Japan.


Warming up with Mia (John Lazenby photo)

Being a guide was a completely new experience for me. As a junior, I saw sit ski athletes racing in Rumford, Maine during Senior Nationals but that was the extent to which I had been exposed to Paralympic racing. When the IPC races were set to come to Craftsbury, I planned on being part of the timing crew for the week of racing. This seemed like a big enough responsibility, being a back up timer for a national championship! On the second day of racing, some scheduling conflicts pulled one of Mia’s guides away from skiing with her, and one of the US Team coaches, BethAnn, asked if I would like to ski with Mia. The race was the next day, so I didn’t have much time to think about the task that lay ahead – if I had, I certainly would have been more nervous. The first race I did with Mia was a classic sprint. We skied together for about a half hour before the race began, with BethAnn in tow to make sure everything was running smoothly. BethAnn provided pertinent coaching for both Mia and me in the short amount of time we spent skiing together.

In the same fashion as any cross-country sprint race, there are multiple rounds of racing, but due to the limited field size of these races, Mia did a qualifying round then proceeded directly to the final. Throughout the race, I had to be alert to the other skiers around us, terrain changes, and track changes. I spoke through a microphone with a speaker attached to my back for Mia to hear.

Near the end of the final, my enthusiasm and cheering got the best of me when we almost passed the competitor ahead of us and I temporarily paused my verbal instructions and it was all replaced by cheering. I apologized to Mia afterward, but she graciously assured me that it really was okay.


Approaching the finish in the Biathlon Spring (John Lazenby photo)

Friday brought the next day of racing: biathlon. Both Mia and I were complete biathlon novices. Visually impaired athletes shoot with an auditory rifle, where the tone of the beep changes when they are on target. This was a biathlon sprint race, so racers skied a loop, shot once, skied another loop, shot once more, then skied one final loop. As with all biathlon sprints, this race was 7.5k, which was Mia’s longest race to date. This made the race an entirely new experience for Mia, as pacing became a much larger part of the game, as well as shooting.

Being a guide for Mia was yet another reminder to me about the multifaceted aspects of the ski world, as well as the welcoming nature of the Craftsbury community. It was amazing to see so many community members come out and cheer on these high caliber athletes as they challenged both themselves and each other. Though I was only there for a small blip in Mia’s ski career, I am immensely proud of what she has done thus far and can’t wait to see what she does in the future, especially as a newly minted member of the US Paralympic team.

mia shooting

Mia on the range, shooting with an audio rifle (Mike Zutter photo)


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2016 West Hill TT Round One

This past week kicked off the 2016 summer training season for the Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club masters group. After easing in Wednesday with a light version of our traditional circuit strength, the crew assembled at the foot of West Hill Road this morning for the year’s first pole running time trial. We had our largest group yet. Results are below:

Runner .6mi Time 1.1mi Time
Peter Harris 7:00 11:59
Lindy Sargent 7:043 13:12
Judy Geer 7:53 13:18
Patrick Kane 7:59 13:21
Dick Dreissigacker 7:58 13:42
Linda Ramsdell 8:17 14:06
John Brodhead 8:32 14:56
Carol Van Dyke 8:35 15:05
Elinor Osborn 11:46 21:04
Gina Campolli (bike) n/a 13:05
Dave Sargent 7:41
George Hall 9:38
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Craftsbury Skiers Podium at Ski-Orienteering Championships

Head to head:  2 generations of Owens compete in the long distance race at US Ski-O Nats.

Head to head: 2 generations of Owens compete in the long distance race at US Ski-O Nats.

Editor’s Note:  big thanks to Allison Van Akkeren for sharing this race report and photos with us.

On the weekend of March 11-13, Adrian and Kestrel Owens were joined in Presque Isle, Maine by Melanie Sergiev to vie for North American championship titles in Ski-Orienteering (Ski-O) and potential starting spots on next year’s US team. They competed with 40 skiers from Canada and the United States in a different distance race each day, all of whom were greeted by good conditions in Northern Maine. The three Craftsbury skiers had never skied at Presque Isle before, and like the other racers were not allowed to see or ski on the trails before the races.

Friday afternoon’s warm, soft snow was the setting for the Sprint with an interval start. The sprint was just under 3 miles in length at a minimum, but the exact length depended on the route each skier choose for themselves to most efficiently reach each control point on the map in the specified order. The map was handed to each racer 15 seconds before the start. The men had a slightly longer course than the women.

Adrian Owens was fastest among men, 16:19. Second place was Jonis, a Lithuanian skier (he was a top contender each day, but was not eligible for the North American titles), with Kestrel third in 17:34 (Kestrel raced as a senior for better points). Other US and Canadian racers filled in the senior men’s field. “It was a dense trail network with lots of junctions and cut-throughs that came up faster than I could read the map sometimes”, Adrian said. “I skied one short cut through the woods, and later took off my skis to run a steep downhill through brushy woods between trails.” Kestrel described the closely packed trails as “spaghetti” making it hard to tell which trail you were on. “The sloppy snow made for slow skiing”, he added.

Melanie (also racing as a senior) finished her Sprint race in second place 16:55, behind Alex Jospe 14:43 of Watertown, MA who has been on the US team since 2007. Other Senior team racers finished third and fourth.

The snow froze overnight into a firm crust, but it was softening again in the Saturday morning sun when the first starters got their maps and headed out on the trails. Kestrel decided to race one category down for the long distance which was advertised to be at least 22 kilometers for the senior men. His 17 km course was shared with the senior women, and he was 20 seconds faster than Alex Jospe, who was once again the fastest women. Melanie slipped to third woman behind Anna Voegele of Truckee, CA. Kestrel said he felt really good skiing, “but purposefully slowed down after a fast start to pace myself.”

In the men’s long race Adrian was fastest again 1:16:46, edging out Jonis by 27 seconds. Both the senior men and senior women courses required three maps. The route on the first map ended at a map exchange area where a second map was picked up for the continuation of the race. “That kept us guessing on how much farther we had to go, but also allowed for a longer course”, Adrian said. “By the third time leaving the biathlon stadium area I was starting to know the trails pretty well.” The third map ended up being a much shorter loop than the previous two.

The crust was harder on Sunday and did not soften up during the wave start Middle Distance races. The main trails were machine groomed but the smaller trails were pure ice. Kestrel lined up with the senior men, including his father Adrian. The course was set up with “route forking” and two maps so while each athlete would end up skiing the same total distance, they wouldn’t visit the controls in exactly the same order. “The forking right from the start was good to make you do your own route finding instead of being able to follow people,” explained Kestrel. “But many legs brought the racers back together for head-to-head racing. You could see how you were doing.”

Kestrel had a good start and was in the lead for the first six controls, until the Jonis passed him with a better route choice to the seventh. Adrian trailed and lost contact due a map reading error going to control 10 instead of number 5. “Once I realized the mistake the best correction I could make was bushwhacking through about 300 meters of forest, and lost almost a minute”, he explained after the race. “I skied extra hard after that and eventually caught up to Kestrel, but could not pass him on the narrow trails near the finish.”

Kestrel said, ”when I saw how short the second map was and my Dad so close behind me, I skied it at full sprint.” Jonis finished in 37:47. Kestrel grabbed the North American championship gold with a time of 38:41, while Adrian had to settle for silver in 39:03. “I am really proud of Kestrel for coming in ahead of me in big race”, admitted Adrian.

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