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Author Archive

Some more on OPA Finals

21.Mar.2014 by Patrick O'Brien

Some more on OPA Finals. Everyone loves pictures!

Looking towards the stadium. The race course lapped over the access bridge to the start.

Looking towards the stadium in Valdidentro. The race course lapped over the access bridge to the start.

Skiing through the slop on Sunday

Skiing through the slop on Sunday

Heading out on the 3rd lap in the pursuit race

Heading out on the 3rd lap in the pursuit race

Waterskiing!

Waterskiing!

Contrast baths between races. Hot first

Contrast baths between races at our hotel. Hot tub first

Then cold + repeat

Then cold + repeat

There was also sauna and steam room in the spa

There was also sauna and steam room in the spa

And a shower bucket for in between sauna sessions

And a shower bucket for in between sauna sessions

I  wrote a quick race report from Sunday on the NNF page here. Check out the site for some other athlete reports from OPA and other NNF supported trips. Its really cool to see how much this organization is doing to support US skiing. And a huge thanks to the  techs/coaches for all the hard work they put in during the trip and Bryan Fish for pulling all the logistics together and making the trip happen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

OPA

12.Mar.2014 by Patrick O'Brien

When traveling lots as a ski racer you learn that your plans better be flexible.  I can’t say that I was particularly surprised sitting on the plane in Newark when the flight attendants came over the PA with the announcement that there happened to be a large dent in the front of the plane on the preflight check and they weren’t sure if we would continue taking off. Ok I said to myself, I am fine sitting here as long as necessary or even getting off this plane if required. Seems like the front of the plane would be an especially bad place for an dented latch cover that wouldn’t close.  So 3 hours later after some tarmac repairs in Newark we were on our way to Europe! And United was even kind enough to leave the entertainment system turned on as we sat on the plane! Despite our airport running intervals we weren’t able to make our connecting flight to Ljubljana, Slovenia. The upside was that we got 10 extra hours to check out the old city in Zurich.

Downtown Zurich

Downtown Zurich

It had been a little while since I had been to Europe and I had forgotten how convenient their mass transit can be. Our train ride from the airport to downtown was smooth and like a Swiss watch the train arrived and departed the station exactly when scheduled. Slightly different than traveling Amtrak in the States. Walking around downtown Zurich was really enjoyable and helped the time pass till our next flight. Every other store appeared to be either a cafe, hotel, restaurant, or clothing store. After some lunch and really good lattes we started making our rounds checking out the museums and different churches.

The Grossmunster church. Initial construction began in 1100

The Grossmunster church. Initial construction began in 1100 so I guess its pretty old

Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos inside the buildings but walking around and seeing the time and effort that went into the stone work and architecture was very impressive.

St Peterskirche, the largest church clock face in Europe

St Peterskirche, the largest church clock face in Europe

Looking out over the Limmat river with the towers of the Grossmunster in the background

Looking out over the Limmat river with the towers of the Grossmunster in the background

After a long travel day we finally made it to Rogla, Slovenia early Wednesday morning.  The first day we were blanketed with heavy fog and wind, similar weather to my previous time in Rogala but that quickly burnt off and we were treated to some really nice sunny days for the races. Overall, I would have wanted better results but wasn’t surprised when the travel stress and few days to acclimate to the elevation caught up with me.  Racing OPA cups in Europe is often a very different experience from the Super Tours in the US.  While the total competitor size happens to be smaller racing OPA, the overall level of competition is much higher with many more skiers “in the mix”. Many of the top seeded competitors in Rogla were skiers who had just missed out on the top 50 cutoff for World Cup Finals and had come home early. Have an off day here and you can find yourself close to the back of the pack.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any racing photos from the sprint on Saturday or the mass start on Sunday. You can check out the NNF Facebook page for some photos from the weekend and a nice writeup of the weekend from Chelsea Holmes here.

On Monday morning we packed up all our gear and headed off to Italy for OPA Finals in Isolaccia.  On route we stopped in Bled to check out one of Slovenia’s oldest castles.

Entering the Bled Castle

Entering the Bled Castle

 

View out to Lake Bled

View out to Lake Bled

Bled

Bled

Nice views on the drive from Slovenia to Italy

Nice views on the drive from Slovenia to Italy

The venue for OPA Finals

The venue for OPA Finals

IMG_0838

The ladies on the highpoint of the 5k course

Looking towards the town of Isolaccia

Looking towards the town of Isolaccia

Now we are all settled in Italy getting ready for OPA Finals. Racing starts on Friday with a skate prologue followed by a individual start classic race and finally a skate pursuit on Sunday. There is an abundance of snow here and really warm temperatures have made for nice Spring klister skiing. It should be some fast and furious racing for the girls early in the morning and some slower conditions for the guys later in the day. So far I have been putting on lots of sunscreen to avoid turning into lobsterman. More updates to come now that we have some reliable internet at our hotel!

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AK adventures

7.Jul.2013 by Patrick O'Brien

It took about 42 hours but I finally made it to Alaska late on Tuesday night. Wednesday morning Rose and I drove down to Seward for some camping, kayaking, and adventuring. The weather was damp and cool but we were still able to squeeze a fair amount of fun in around the 4th of July.  First we went sea kayaking around Resurrection Bay where we were supposed to camp the night before my flight got delayed on Monday.

I was pretty happy to not have forgotten my rain jacket!

I was pretty happy to not have forgotten my rain jacket! (RB Photo)

Cold water and beautiful scenery

Cold water and beautiful scenery
(RB Photo)

Next to the waterfall was a small hydro plant to power the cabins on the island

Next to the waterfall was a small hydro plant to power the cabins on the island (RB Photo)

After spending the day kayaking and exploring Resurrection Bay we headed back to Seward to stake out a camping spot before 25,000+ people poured into the city for celebrations on the 4th of July.

In Seward they have the fireworks celebration the night of the 3rd for good reason. It doesn't get very dark till early in the morning. Luckily it was overcast making it easier to see the midnight show!

In Seward they have the fireworks celebration the night of the 3rd for good reason. It doesn’t get very dark till early in the morning. Luckily it was overcast making it easier to see the midnight show! (RB Photo)

The next morning we woke up to watch Mt Marathon, the annual running race up and down a very very steep mountain

The next morning we woke up to watch Mt Marathon, the annual running race up and down a very very steep mountain (RB Photo)

This picture is from about half way up. The racers start from the end of Seward in the backround

This picture is from about half way up. The racers start from the end of Seward in the background (RB Photo)

To say the race is crazy is a complete understatement. Race winners summit in a little over 30 minutes, and manage the decent in around 10 minutes

To say the race is crazy is a complete understatement. Race winners summit in a little over 30 minutes, and manage the decent in around 10 minutes (RB Photo)

Erik Strabel, one of the APU coaches demolished the old record that stood since 1981 and did so with some impressive descending skills. My self preservation instinct is far too strong for this sort of an event!

Erik Strabel, one of the APU coaches demolished the old record that stood since 1981 and did so with some impressive descending skills. My self preservation instinct is far too strong for this sort of an event! (Sadie Bjornsen Photo)

Perhaps more impressive than the absolute speed of the winners is the sheer number of people that decide to race. Of course no Mt Marathon is complete without Birdman- a local legend who safety pins his bib through his nipples and has participated in countless races. Crazy!

Perhaps more impressive than the absolute speed of the winners is the sheer number of people that decide to race. Of course no Mt Marathon is complete without Birdman- a local legend who safety pins his bib through his nipples and has participated in countless races. Crazy! (RB Photo)

After watching Mt Marathon on the 4th, our group headed back towards Anchorage for a day of fishing on the Russian River. Corey, one of the APU skiers boyfriends did an awesome job getting us geared up for Salmon fishing and dealing with my pretty pathetic Salmon fishing skills. It took me a couple of hours, and a fair amount of cussing, but I finally got the hang of it and landed some fish! I can only imagine what fishing during a run of 25,000 salmon must be like!

 

Happy man with his fish

Happy man with his fish (Tazlina  Mannix Photo)

The group at the end of the day

The group at the end of the day (Greta Anderson Photo)

Rose was the first in our group to land a fish and really was testing my manhood

Rose was the first in our group to land a fish so the pressure was really on for me to prove my manhood (Sadie Bjornsen Photo)

Corey showing us how its done-and making us look like total noobs in the process

Corey showing us how its done-and making us look like total noobs in the process (Greta Anderson Photo)

An awesome day and great Alaskan experience!

An awesome day and great Alaskan experience! (Sadie Bjornsen Photo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When life hands you lemons

2.Jul.2013 by Patrick O'Brien

Go visit your friends in San Fran!

As a cross country ski racer I spend a fair amount of time traveling on airplanes. The past two summers I have made my way out to Alaska for training trips up on Eagle Glacier. It is an amazing facility and a great way to get good volume training and some quality on snow time during the off season. This summer I wasn’t able to get up on the glacier but instead am headed to Alaska for some dry land training and general adventuring.  While staying in one place for a solid chunk of the training season is important I think it is also beneficial to move around a bit to change up venues and training partners to prevent the mental and physical burnout that can accompany training in the same place for several months in a row.

I have always had a love hate relationship with airline travel. I like going to different locations and don’t regret my travel choices once I am finally there. But despite logging a fair number of hours in airplanes during the year, it never becomes very pleasant. In fact I might be one of the worst travelers I know. I hate sitting for extended periods of time, always feel cramped in airplanes, and am that person that is always pacing and headed straight for the gate like the plane might not be there unless I get there two hours early. I have been trying to become a better traveler since it is a necessary evil in ski racing. Unfortunately for me United handed me some nice lemons yesterday when the plane I was supposed to board was several hours late out of Denver and I found out while en route to Logan. Since Alaska happens to be really far from everything except the Western most tip of Russia I couldn’t catch another flight until 5pm the following day. Not what I wanted to hear but at this point I was faced with two choices. Get really angry, make a scene at check in and try to get the lady behind the desk already having a terrible day to get me on an earlier flight, or try to be the calm travel and accept the fact that I wasn’t going to get to Alaska until 26 hours later than I was planning. Luckily for her (and perhaps everyone in that line) I have really been trying to make good on my vow to stop being quite such a grumpy old man and went with the second option.

So I am in SFO waiting for my flight after a great (and unexpected) extra day in San Francisco. My good friend and former teammate from Dartmouth, John Gerstenberger was kind enough to pick me up from the airport and let me stay at his apartment for the night. We went for a nice run this morning and I got to walk around and checkout downtown San Fran on my wandering journey back to the airport since all the BART trains were shut down from a Union strike. It has been great to enjoy some California sunshine (however brief) after a June that seemed to bring nothing but rain and thunderstorms to the Northeast Kingdom.

So remember when you are traveling and life hands you lemons, try to be nice to the ticketing and lost baggage agents! As bad as your day is going I’ll bet their day has been a bit worse…