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31.Oct.2011 by Tim Reynolds

Dearest Green Racing Project friends and fans:

We’ve started a facebook page (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) where we’re keeping a more extensive photo library of the team, as well as a twitter account (@CraftsburyGreen) where you can get more frequent updates about what we’re up to.  Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter so that we can keep you updated!

As always, more detailed stories, news, and race results etc. can be found right here on our blog.

Thanks for reading!

Best from a warm and rainy Finland, albeit with a still solid 3km of skiing.

Rogla Races

8.Mar.2011 by Tim Reynolds

Our first OPA races in Rogla were tough; everyone has been feeling the lingering effects of a long two days of travel which included almost twice as much time in the car as on the plane, as well as slowly adjusting to the 1500 meter altitude.  For all of us, this is our first time racing up high this season and it always takes a little time for us ‘flatlanders’ to remember how to do it.

Pat in the 10km

Pat in the 10km

Rogla is a wild place.  It’s a small resort perched on the summit of big hill in northeastern Slovenia.  The wind howls and snow blows constantly, but unfortunately there was only a few centimeters of it for us to ski on.  The organizers managed to shovel the 5k World Cup loop into decent shape, and the weather cooperated perfectly for the weekend races, a 5k/10k classic on Saturday and a 15k/30k skate mass start on Sunday.  We had 40 degree weather and blue bird skies that lasted until the finish of the 30km, when the clouds immediately rolled in and the sun disappeared.  Our top result of the weekend was Ida in 10th in the classic race.  It’s a small but talented field here, with 15 racers with FIS points under 40 on the men’s side.  If you’re off, you can easily be at the back.  If you’re on though, you can mix it up at the front.  Sylvan (Vail/Team Homegrown) had a solid race in 6th.

Sylvan moving down the hill.

Sylvan moving down the hill.

Everyone is looking forward to the races in Ramsau am Dachstein this weekend, and with few more days to adjust and rest we should be ready to go.

Tim skating the corners Italian style.

Tim skating the corners Italian style.

Gatineau NorAms

16.Feb.2011 by Tim Reynolds

Last weekend the GRP crew split between the Dartmouth Carnival in Hanover and Canadian NorAms in the Gatineau.  Matt, Chelsea, Pepa and I lit out for the territories early on Thursday morning to test skis and the race courses for a mini-tour stage race in the Gatineau Park, just north of Ottawa, Ontario.

With three  races on tap, it was a busy weekend with little downtime between racing and prepping skis for the next day.  We were greeted with cold temps and thin snow at the Nakkertok ski club, a funky little operation whose trails mainly wind up and over a single steep ridge, with tough climbs and fast descents.  On Friday, in the 3km skate prologue, the stomach-dropping downhills were almost enough to distract from the leg-burning acidosis that highlights this new and increasingly present race format.  It’s short enough to require precise pacing, but it’s long enough to really, really hurt.  Pepa’s unofficial splits had me finishing a bit higher than either of us expected, but after we found and corrected her mathematical error and confirmed the results on her new best friend and attractive single Canadian coach Eric’s iphone, I had snagged the last spot on the podium for a satisfying 3rd place.

With over 500 starters, Saturday’s skate sprint was an even longer day than usual.  All three of us moved on from the qualifier, to mixed excitement and disappointment from our expressive coach.  Three more pairs of skis to touch up and prep for the rounds is a lot for one tech, but a huge thanks to her for making some fast boards all weekend long and especially in the sprint race.  Matt and I were placed in the same quarter, but with an extremely tight course, most of the decisive moves were made in the start and finish lanes.  Matty wound up 4th and I moved on in 2nd, and again as 2nd in my semi to ultimately finish 3rd again in the A final.  All in all a solid start to the tour.

Sprint Podium: Cockney, Nishikawa, Reynolds

Sprint Podium: Cockney, Nishikawa, Reynolds

With two thirds, I started an unsurprising third in the final stage, the handicap pursuit.  Three days of consecutive racing is a lot; but it’s even more when the final day is a 30km.  With the top ten skiers going out in less than 45 seconds, it was going to be a tight race.  I planned to start easy and hang with the pack I  knew would form behind me.  Well the pack formed, but I didn’t hang.  Only a few kilometers after they skied me in, I got taken out on a long downhill.  While I regained contact after the fall, I’d burned a lot of energy doing it and was definitely feeling the previous two days in my legs.  I had to settle in for a solo 15km, going back and forth with one other guy to finish 10th overall and 10th on the day.  Chelsea had a good showing, moving up a few spots in the overall, while Matty sat out largely due to some nagging back issues he’s been battling the past couple of weeks.

I’ve got to say, I like stage racing.  The Canadians have overwhelmingly adopted the new race format, with 4 of their 5 NorAm weekends going off as mini-tours.  It definitely adds an exciting element of ‘overall’ standings and has breathed life into the otherwise deceased handicap start format in cross country.  I’m looking forward to our own iteration of the Tour format at Craftsbury in mid March! For now though, it’s back to the grind of long easy hours at the Outdoor Center, getting ready for a big month of racing ahead.

Volume week with the boys.  How many hours can you ski in a day?

Volume week with the boys. How many hours can you ski in a day?

Brighter Planet.

19.Jan.2011 by Tim Reynolds

bpgrp

Finding ways to make a professional ski team ‘green’ is a tough job. On one hand we’ve made a commitment to developing young skiers into international competitors. On the other, we’ve also made environmental initiatives and awareness an equally important goal. It’s a difficult position to be in- the Green Racing Project isn’t going to sacrifice racing opportunities just because it may take some jet fuel to get to the start line, but we are also constantly working on ways to counter those rather inflexible decisions. We’ve put ourselves under a public microscope, at least within the skiing community, and the things we do really do draw attention, both in negative and positive ways. Unfortunately for us, the majority of our ‘green’ initiatives, namely projects we’ve worked on at Craftsbury, aren’t seen on race days away from home.

What the green problem really comes down to for us as skiers though, is transportation. There is no way around it. We can’t avoid traveling, though we’ve done what we can to be efficient; the whole team fits in our diesel Sprinter that gets significantly better mileage than our old ski van. Flying is the stickler, and every season there are important races on the west coast and in Europe.

One rather controversial way to minimize the impact of air travel is carbon offsets. We’ve recently joined this controversy in a big way through an agreement with Brighter Planet to offset all of the team’s travel to races for the 2010-11 season- some 110,000 pounds of carbon we are responsible for over the winter. This one is going to give the folks looking through the microscope something to talk about.

It wasn’t an easy decision for the team to make. There has been lots of print about fraudulent offset companies taking money from costumers and putting it directly into their pockets; no trees were planted, no windmills were built. There’s the papal indulgence argument, that carbon offsets are the modern equivalent of what set Martin Luther off a half-millenium ago, a payment for absolution rather than changed behavior. And there’s the criticism of forepayment; the fact that helping build a future windmill isn’t actually offsetting your carbon footprint today. Treeplanting isn’t as effective as they claim. Indigenous land rights are being violated. There’s no regulation in this voluntary market of $700 million per year.

There’s certainly plenty of nay-saying when it comes to carbon offsets. But Brighter Planet seems to stand on firmer ground than the shaky depictions by the media. We know where our offsets are going- directly to financing a wind turbine at the Hanson Farm in Minnesota. While this turbine might not be directly offsetting our travel by this winter, what’s more important is that our investment is leading to additional clean energy production that otherwise would not have been built. Brighter Planet also has complete transparency with their offset projects; the selection process includes a public comment period for those under consideration and annual audits of sales and retirements.

The company started in Vermont with a credit card offering carbon offset points for purchases made instead of frequent flier miles or cash rewards. It seems a just substitution. They also donate a percentage of their profits to the Project Fund, an online community where Brighter Planet members vote on projects proposed by Brighter Planet members. The winning proposals receive a grant to implement their project in their home communities. Craftsbury is looking forward to putting some of our own projects up to the Project Fund and looking into to using their card for team expenses.

While I can’t say that we’ve changed our behavior when it comes to transportation, we have invested in shifting towards a clean energy future. It doesn’t feel like absolution to me- it feels like we’re doing what we can as a relatively inconsequential group of cross country skiers in northern Vermont. We don’t really have many other options. Maybe supporting renewable energy projects now can lead to a better solution to the clean transportation dilemma.

If guilty consciences are voluntarily putting up $700 million per year, imagine what a guilty government might be able to do with their investments. We can only hope that serious investment in renewable energy at a global scale may follow. For those looking through the microscope- carbon offsets aren’t a solution, but they certainly help.

Republished from Vermont Sports January 2011.