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Author Archive

Ramsau Days

15.Sep.2014 by Ida Sargent

Training camp often implies a certain factor of monotony.  Long hours of training are followed by napping, resting, and preparing for more training.  Distractions are limited to enhance recovery.  Tired bodies lead to tired minds which often don’t correlate with much intellectual involvement.   This past week in Ramsau, Austria has seemed much more like a very athletic vacation than a training camp.  Each day provides new excitement and adventure.  Not once has training felt like a job but instead with each session I feel incredibly lucky to be active and outside in such a beautiful location.

The view from behind our house.  The farmer who is renting to us even brings us pitchers of fresh milk from the cows grazing outside.

Our days usually begin around 6:15 or 6:30am with a groggy breakfast.  The first few mornings were extra challenging as we stumbled into the kitchen fighting the jet lag and the time change and hungrily devoured big bowls of yogurt and muesli with steaming mugs of coffee.  Then we were ready to start the day!  Our commute began with a 10km drive from our house in town to the tram station, switchbacking through green farmers fields along the base of the mountain.  Town is situated at around 1,100 meters (3,700ft) and the tram station is about 500 meters higher.  The real elevation gain happens when we get into the tram and climb straight up along the cliffs to the upper station situated at 2800meters.

I have been impressed with the vibrant green of the pastures but we have had a fair share of rainy weather to nourish the grass.
The tram ascends directly to the top of the peak without any poles.  The first morning I couldn’t tell if my racing heart was from the elevation or my excitement to ski!

From the tram station we walk a couple hundred meters down to the trails, strap on our skis, and start the morning session.  The trail switchbacks tightly across the glacier, packing in 9km of skiing in a small area.  Sometimes these types of loops on a glacier can become repetitive but so far that hasn’t happened and the training time flies by.  Being on snow in the summer is a great opportunity to work on technique, to transfer any technical changes made on rollerskis onto actual skis so I have a focus for each session, a small goal to concentrate my energy toward.  Dachstein glacier is also one of the most popular XC summer training locations in the world so we are not alone on the glacier and are instead skiing our laps with other elite skiers from Sweden, Russia, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Austria, Germany, and Kazakhstan.

Switchbacks across the glacier
Skiing! (GRP Facebook Page photo)
I have been pleasantly surprised with the quality of the snow and grooming on the glacier.  Often glacier skiing can be soft and mushy but they groom almost continuously and the skiing has been excellent with a range of snow conditions.  A couple of the warmer days were slushier but one day it snowed and we had fresh packed powder!
Skiing with the other Ida (Ida Ingemarsdotter from Sweden) during a foggy whiteout powder day (Pepa photo)
Testing new skis! Zach Caldwell, who was in Austria for a trip to the Fischer factory, skied with us one morning and we tested new skis.  I have worked with Zach for a long time and he has helped build my fleet of Fischer skis and also keeps them running fast by dialing them in with new grinds and structures. This morning we had eight  new pairs of skate skis on the snow and there were a lot of fast ones!  (Caldwell Sport photo)

After a couple hours of skiing, we take the tram off the mountain and drive home for lunch and recovery.  We are renting a big house in town with wonderful views and only a short walk into the center of town.  I usually try to get off my feet for a little while after lunch but I’m horrible at napping so I have usually spent my afternoon getting sun on the deck off my bedroom or curling up with a book near the fire on the rainier days.

 

The view from the deck

Our afternoon session is dryland training and usually involves a hike or run in the mountains.  The trail system here is endless and all very well marked which makes it easy to explore.  Some trails climb high into the mountains while others meander through the pastures and even driveways and backyards.  We haven’t seen any private property signs here and instead everyone is out sharing the land and getting their exercise.  We have had a lot of cloudy and rainy weather this past week so we’ve missed many of the beautiful views in the valley but the forecast for the upcoming week looks very promising for some sunny days of training.

A misty OD hike

Gordon, Andrew, and Pete climbing over a pass

Jake descending out of the fog

Skiwalking above town with Caitlin (Andrew D photo)

 

We are taking turns cooking dinners for the team and have been surprising even ourselves with the incredible amounts of food that we consume with every meal.  At first we shopping at the local market but since it sold only small European sized portions, we branched out and found a bulk grocery store for the rest of our shopping.  Containers are measured in kilograms and we still have to shop every few days.  Yogurt is of course the training fuel of choice and we easily polished off a 10kg bucket of it in less than two days!

Ethan sized pan of mac and cheese

And if the daily training days haven’t been exciting enough, we have turned into tourists on our recovery days, visiting the nearby town of Schladming on our afternoon off and the city of Salzburg on our off day.

Exploring Schladming on a rainy afternoon.  The last time I had been in town was for an Alpine World Cup night slalom so it was a little quieter in town this time.

Fresh pretzels are my favorite Austrian treat.  The markets in Salzburg sold so many different flavors of sweet and salty pretzels!

Salzburg

Rooftop views

Life is good and I’m feeling very grateful to have the opportunity to train in such a beautiful place.  I have my fingers crossed and my sunscreen and shades ready for some sunny weather for the next week of camp.

Prost!

Girls Trip to Stratton

12.Aug.2014 by Ida Sargent

In tradition with Vermont’s deep skiing roots, there are now two elite Nordic club teams in Vermont with our own Craftsbury Green Racing Project in the north and the SMS team in southern VT.  Three hours of driving separates our teams making it not possible to coordinate daily workouts together but the opportunity for shorter training camps is a huge asset.  In July Annie Hart and Annie Pokorny along with former GRP skier and now SMS coach Patty O, came to Craftsbury and trained with us for a few days.  Last week, Liz, Caitlin , and I returned the favor and trained in Stratton for a few days.  Creating this larger VT team has been a highlight of my summer.  It was a blast to ski and run on different roads and trails and having a big group of fast women working together created an incredible training environment.  We took turns leading and following, sharing each other’s different strengths. And not only fast skiers these girls are great friends so it was very fun to have time to catch up on summer stories and share our passion for our sport and lifestyle.  Thanks for the SMS team for being wonderful hosts!

VT ladies training group!  We did a speed workout with short 10 second sprints and this huge group of girls allowed us to practice skiing fast in a pack

A morning run over Stratton Mountain on the Appalachian Trail

An afternoon classic rollerski with great views.  There are so many more paved roads in that area than in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont so we were feeling very spoiled with all perfect roads for rollerskiing.

Ooops… this one was a big fail and ended with me on my face in the grass.  Time for more rollerski agility training

Some more lovely VT rollerskiing

On the last day of our trip we took a break from our own training to be Fast and Female ambassadors.  It was a very fun morning of yoga, motivational talks, kick ball (with a slip ‘n slide to home!), team building activities and more with about 40 young girls. In line with the rest of our week, this event’s theme was teamwork which is easy to convey in such a great group.

Partner yoga

Thanks everyone for making it a blast and leaving me inspired by everyone’s energy

Human pyramid

Lots of downward dogs

Holding hands in shavasana

Kick ball and slip n slide! YES!

 

Support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan

4.Aug.2014 by Ida Sargent

This blog post is going to diverge a little from my normal stories of ski racing and training but I wanted to share an opportunity I was able to pursue in my spare time between workouts.  This spring, myself and other local Olympians (Hannah, Liz, and Susan) were able to connect with local VT environmental groups to raise awareness for climate change.  We have kept in touch since that event and I was recently asked to submit a personal testimony for a hearing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Association’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan which is currently under consideration as part of the Clean Air Act.  This plan strives to cut carbon pollution through targeting regulations on power plant emissions and advocating for cleaner energy sources. Of course this plan is a heated issue and I was excited for the opportunity to join the debate.   I would have liked to attend the hearing in person, which was held in Washington D.C last week, but training demands forced me to write a testimony which was read on my behalf.  I was honored to join the ranks of US Senators and Representatives as well as experts from many organizations including the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Foundation, the American Lung Association, the Clean Air Task Force, the American Petroleum Institute, among others, to share my support for this plan.  You can read my testimony at the end of this blog or continue reading to learn more about the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

A beautiful painting of the windmills on the Lowell Mountain Range painted by GRP’s own Hannah Dreissigacker

I previously knew that carbon emissions from our power plants were not strictly regulated but I was shocked to discover that the US does not currently have any limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. This is even more incredulous considering the fact that about 40% of total carbon emissions come from power plants, especially coal burning plants.  The Clean Power Plan sets a standard for the first time ever to limit carbon pollution from our existing power plants.  The stated goal is that by 2030 carbon pollution will be reduced by 30% from the levels set in 2005.  This decrease will occur through the investment in clean renewable energy as well as work in increasing energy efficiency.  The Clean Power Plan is designed to give some control to the individual states, allowing them to find the best solutions for their needs.  A recent study out of Yale University showed that Americans strongly support strict limits on CO2 pollution from power plants by a ratio of almost 2 to 1.  Hopefully this plan will be the catalyst for the change that the majority of  Americans support.

Our potential for growth and advancement with renewable energy is vast.  One energy which hits close to home for me since we now have two wind farms in the Northeast Kingdom, is wind power.  Wind generation increased by 40% in the US from 2011 to 2013. The US Department of energy predicts that with continued wind innovation and advancement, 20% of our nation’s electricity demand could be met by wind technology by 2030. Wind power currently has the capacity to generate the equivalent energy as 60 large nuclear reactors but it’s potential is much larger.  The ground and off-shore potential of this renewable resource is actually over 10 times that amount of of our nation’s current electric consumption!  We have barely tapped into this energy source.  I hope other communities around the country will follow the big lead made by the small communities like Lowell and Sheffield, VT and push for increased wind production in the United States.

Solar is another energy source with potential for growth.  Rooftop solar panels in 2012 cost only 1% of what they did 35 years ago but there is still room to further decrease these costs.  Solar cost are still over 5 times higher in the US than in Germany, the nation which leads the world in photovoltaic installation.  During our winter race season we often drive across Germany, travelling between competitions in the Alps and Eastern Europe.  I am always amazed to see a solar panel on every single rooftop as we pass through, even though the weather is often grey and rainy.  The German government has set a goal to produce 100% of its electricity from the sun by 2050 and they are already taking huge strides in this direction.  As the United States aims to reduce pollution from our existing power plants, solar energy can be a cleaner replacement for our energy needs.

 

Solar panels at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center
Looking out over the Northeast Kingdom, my home and a place I hope we can protect for future generations to enjoy

Here is my testimony which was read last week in Washington:

 

Testimony submitted to:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602)

In support of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Rule

Submitted by Ida Sargent, 2014 Winter Olympian

7/28/14

 

Thank you for the opportunity to submit formal testimony regarding EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. My name is Ida Sargent and I am writing today from Craftsbury, VT  to express my strong support for the  EPA’s historic action to combat climate change by setting limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants.

I grew up in northern VT in a rural area and learned to ski as soon as I could walk.  From the first snow in the late fall until the snow melt late March, I would strap on my skis and ski from my front door, gliding across the snow, exploring the local fields and woods.  I soon became passionate about skiing and used the sport to develop a love of the local landscape as well as an appreciation of a healthy lifestyle.  I have followed this passion to the highest level, representing the United States of America last February at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Competing in the Olympics for Team USA was a dream come true but also part of a long journey and countless hours of hard work.  Along the way, I have seen many changes to our winters and thus the sport that I love.   Every winter the first snowfall happens a little later and the January thaw lasts a little longer.  At home in Vermont, ski areas are becoming forced to expand their snowmaking capacity in order to keep up with the warming climate.  Not only does this create a financial burden for one of the state’s largest industries but also pulls from the joy of being able to actually cross country ski across pristine landscapes which make up the Green Mountains.  This is not just an isolated problem for Vermont or our country.  Last year on the international racing circuit, I competed for the US Ski Team in World Cup and Olympic races in eleven countries and raced on manmade snow in every single one of them.  Lack of snow caused race courses to be shortened to small loops of artificial snow which only perpetuates the problem. 

It’s summer time now but I’m still ski training, with my eyes set on the 2018 Olympics and hopefully snowy winters ahead.  I just finished an afternoon run around on the roads of my town of Craftsbury, VT.  As I ascended the higher hills, I had wonderful views of a wind farm on a neighboring ridge.  I’m proud to be from a community which values Clean Power and look forward to seeing more of these renewable resources across our nation.  The U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a major step this direction. Through targeting carbon pollution, this plan will protect our winters by promoting a future in which we invest in sources of clean energy and less in fuels that pollute our global climate. Placing a direct target on carbon pollution can allow us to reach our potential of utilizing renewable sources like wind and solar and force us all to reduce our energy demand through energy efficiency. 

I have witnessed the changing winters and effects extreme weather fueled by climate change both in my local communities of Vermont and across the globe and I applaud the EPA for taking much needed steps to reverse the course we are on.   Thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences and I look forward to seeing the change which the Clean Power Plan will spark.  I hope to continue to ski across snowy landscapes in Vermont for many winters come and to share my passion of the sport with future generations. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Sincerely,

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Ida Sargent

                                                                                                                                                                                                 2014 Winter Olympian

Learning to ski, right out the front door

 

Here are some additional links and resources.  Thanks for reading!

Steamy Summer Training

3.Jul.2014 by Ida Sargent

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just announced that May was the hottest May recorded across the globe ever ( http://time.com/2917053/may-hot-temperature-noaa/ ) And as climate change advances, I think June and July are following suite. Summer training is in full swing and as the heat and humidity increase to record levels, we are sweating!. It’s the time of year where I swim three, four, five, or more times a day to escape the hot stickiness. Visions of lemonade and ice cubes keeping me going on long workouts. I find the existence of new sweat glands with every workout, pumping out salty sweat from every inch of my body. Our coach, Nick Brown, brings a plant sprayer (clean of course since we have an organic garden) filled with ice water and sprays us down between intervals. But we haven’t let the heat or humidity get in our way as we train early and late, logging high volumes of training and dreaming of cooler months this winter.

Swimming in the river in Stowe after a long run

Track intervals

Looking out at Camel’s Hump from Smugglers Notch
A viewpoint during a recent OD run on the Long Trail

Little Hosmer Pond

A peaceful evening at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center waterfront
Pete, Susan, and I leading an Olympic Day event last week
Almost 90 kids participated in an afternoon of sports, fun, dancing, and stories at Hosmer Point.