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Author Archive

Craftsbury Pride and Some Gems from the Past

22.Jan.2014 by Hannah Dreissigacker

After a long hiatus from the CGRP blog, I have returned!  I’ve been inspired to do so by the awesomeness of realizing that I’m going to the Sochi Olympics along with two of my original Craftsbury Nordic Bill Koch League teammates.  Its making me so proud for our little ski program!! (which is growing and growing…think how many future Olympians are among us!)

So with no further ado, I present to you a “blast from the past” of Craftsbury VIP’s.  (Not just Ida, Susan and I…keep your eyes out for Lucas, Anna, and Emily among others!)

Amazingly, Pepa let us girls do her hair into lots of tiny braids!   Left to Right:  Ida, Hannah, Emily, Elsa, Anna, Pepa in the middle.

Amazingly, Pepa let us girls do her hair into lots of tiny braids!
Left to Right: Ida, Hannah, Emily, Elsa, Anna, Pepa in the middle.

The Craftsbury Crew on the road at BKL fest (or maybe its Midget's?) Left to Right: Back: Kit Wright, Lucas Schulz, Elsa Sargent, Susan Dunklee.  Front: Emily Dreissigacker, Luc Broadhead, Hannah Dreissigacker, Ida Sargent, George Kiely.

The Craftsbury Crew on the road at BKL fest (or maybe its Midget’s?).  I think we must have been singing something.  Lucas really takes the cake here. 
Left to Right: Back: Kit Wright, Lucas Schulz, Elsa Sargent, Susan Dunklee. Front: Emily Dreissigacker, Luc Broadhead, Hannah Dreissigacker, Ida Sargent, George Kiely.

Luc, Ida and I hiking up to ski at Tuckerman's Ravine.

Luc, Ida and I hiking up to ski at Tuckerman’s Ravine.

Representing USA at "midgets"--the North American Midget Championships.  (quebecois bkl) Lucas, Ida, Susan, Hannah, Kit, Luc, George, Emily and Elsa.

Representing USA at “midgets”–the North American Midget Championships. (quebecois bkl)
Lucas, Ida, Susan, Hannah, Kit, Luc, George, Emily and Elsa.

The Rollerskiing Lineup. L to R: Emily, Dan Broadhead, Alex Schulz, Ida, Hannah, Elsa, Isaac Noyes, Kit Wright, Luc Broadhead, Lucas Schulz, Ethan

The Rollerskiing Lineup.
L to R: Emily, Dan Broadhead, Alex Schulz, Ida, Hannah, Elsa, Isaac Noyes, Kit Wright, Luc Broadhead, Lucas Schulz, Ethan

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This one doesn’t even need a caption.

Sporting our loot at the BKL festival.   I think Ethan (bottom left with the balaclava) might be my favorite character in this picture.

Sporting our loot at the BKL festival.
I think Ethan (bottom left with the balaclava) might be my favorite character in this picture.

Em, Han, and Ida.  Look, Ida and I used to be the same size!!

Em, Han, and Ida. Look, Ida and I used to be the same size!!  Also note that Ida is rocking the earmuff-only look here.  

I have to say, the Craftsbury Juniors look pretty spiffy in their new green and black suits, but we felt really cool in those NEVT fleece vests that Susan’s mom made too.    And now, to bring us back to the present…today I spent the morning skiing with Ida, Susan, and Liz  at a beautiful place high in the Dolomites called Platzwiese.  Susan and I are training in nearby Antholz, Italy for the next two weeks until we head to Sochi.  Ida is training and then racing in Toblach, Italy, and then heading to Sochi right after the world cup in Toblach.  Liz is training with the U-23 team in Toblach before heading to U-23 World Championships in Val Di Fiemme, Italy.  And Pepa, and my parents were there too!  It was a real Craftsbury Reunion in Italy.

Skiing in the Dolomites!

Skiing in the Dolomites!

wahoo!

I will also be documenting my Sochi adventures on my own blog (previously my art blog):  hannahsartventure.blogspot.com

More European Adventures

14.Mar.2013 by Hannah Dreissigacker

I’ve once again gotten a little bit behind on blogging about my biathlon adventures.

So I’ll try to do a quick catch-up.  (oops, it turned into a long catch-up)

After World Champs I went to Inzell, Germany for the off week before the next World Cup.  Inzell is in southern Germany, near the Ruhpolding biathlon venue, and its a nice little Bavarian town in the foothills of the Alps. I didn’t get the sunshine that I was hoping for in Inzell, but we did get lots of fluffy new snow, hearty Bavarian food, and lots of time to relax.  We skied on the trails that connected the little villages around the valley, and made use of the sauna and hot tub on a daily basis.  I didn’t know what I’d done to deserve such a nice Bavarian vacation!

A cool cow that I visited on one of my skis around Inzell.

A cool cow that I visited on one of my skis around Inzell.

The nice little cabin that we stayed at in Inzell.

The nice little cabin that we stayed at in Inzell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But after that interlude it was back to “business” as I travelled to Oslo, Norway along with the rest of the Biathlon Circus.  In Oslo, all of the athletes from all of the countries stayed at the same big fancy hotel up on top of the Holmenkollen Hill, only a short walk away from the venue.  I once again felt extremely spoiled.  From our hotel we could look out on the entire city of Oslo and the fjord beyond.  The food was delicious and came in huge quantities at an enormous smorgasbord buffet.   I ate smoked salmon at almost every meal and enjoyed all of the fresh vegetables–a food group that both Czech and Bavarian cuisines shy away from.  Meals were crowded, social, and entertaining with all of the world cup biathletes in one dining hall.

The Holmenkollen ski jump is quite pretty--sort of like a sculpture.  I climbed to the top of it one night, and got a nice view of the city.

The Holmenkollen ski jump is quite pretty–sort of like a sculpture. I climbed to the top of it one night, and got a nice view of the city.

The Holmenkollen biathlon venue was perfectly groomed and very fancy, and we got very lucky to have beautiful sunny weather for the entire week.  Who could ask for more!!  But I had to stay focused–I had a race to race.  And I was hoping that I would have more than one race to race–this was my last world cup of the year, and I wanted to be in the top-60 of the sprint so that I could qualify for the pursuit.  After my easy week in Inzell I was feeling rested and ready to go, and I liked the course.  And since I tend to be a solar-charged sort of person, the sunny weather was a good sign for me also.  I was psyched.

In the race I felt good skiing, and I felt like I was getting closer to my real race-gear than I’d been all year.  But on the range things weren’t so great.  I had two misses in prone, and then two more in standing.  I knew that with that shooting it would be very hard for me to make the pursuit.  On the last lap I was getting splits that I was only 10 seconds out of the top-60, and I dug deep and went as hard as I could.  I left it all out there, and when I crossed the finish line I was in 56th place, but I knew that there were still good racers coming in behind me.  And in the end I was in 61st place, only 0.4 seconds away from reaching my goal of qualifying for the pursuit.  I was bummed, but also happy with how I had skied.  It left me knowing that I could do better next year.  For the next few days, I enjoyed cheering on my teammates and going for long skis around the vast Holmenkollen trail network.  Then I said bye to my new biathlon team family–teammates, wax techs, and coaches–and I headed off on my next adventure.

source: Michal van Balkum

source: Michal van Balkum

Norwegian fans lined the course and filled the stadium.

Norwegian fans lined the course and filled the stadium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d decided that after the Oslo world cup, I should take advantage of being in Europe and do something that I’d always wanted to do:  race one of the big European ski marathons.  It was perfect timing because the Engadin, the world’s largest skate marathon, was the following weekend in Switzerland and Nils was already planning on going.  We were a part of a group of Americans doing the race with the help of Tony Wiederkehr, a skiing supporter and an avid Engadin-racer himself.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I was psyched to be continuing my European racing adventure.  Throughout the week we scoped out the 42-k race course and entertained ourselves by people-watching and window-shopping in ritzy St. Moritz.   On the friday night before the race I competed in an exposition night sprint race in the streets of St. Moritz Bad, and I surprised myself by taking 4th and winning enough Swiss francs to bring my trip budget out of the red.  “Sweet!” I thought, bring on this marathon!

 

source: swiss-image.ch/Remy Steinegger

source: swiss-image.ch/Remy Steinegger

But the marathon turned out to be a whole new sort of adventure.  It was sort of like the Birkie, but on steroids, and in a beautiful place with mountains and bright sunshine.  Also the course was flatter and narrower, and there was no separate wave for elite women.  I had been seeded into the “elite A” wave–which, as it turns out, wasn’t really an elite wave at all.  Along with 1,000 others–almost all of them men–I started at the same time but 10 meters behind the real “elite” wave.  Then another 10 meters behind us was the “elite B” wave–another thousand strong.  I had tried to put my skis down early to hold a spot for myself, but then 15 minutes before the start, I couldn’t find them.  Finally I found them but by that time I had no choice but to set them up at the back of the pack.  I looked around for some other women to join, but couldn’t find any.  The start of the race could have been from a battle scene of some epic “cast of thousands” movie set on a frozen lake in a beautiful Swiss valley.  It was an awesome feeling to be in the midst of such a mass of moving, fighting, clashing, skiing humanity.  Only a few meters past the line, I got tripped, and then run over by the elite b wave as I tried to get up.  But my adrenal system kicked in, and soon I was back up and fighting my way along and through like everyone else.  My poles kept getting kicked and stepped on and I remember thinking that I was lucky they hadn’t broken yet, and I was glad that I’d taped the bottom foot or so of them to help protect them. And then my pole broke.  So then I skied with a very short pole for a while.  At this point I resigned myself to being nowhere near the top women, and decided that I should just enjoy the craziness of it all.

source: REUTERS/Michael Buholzer

source: REUTERS/Michael Buholzer

But I couldn’t just give up, and I couldn’t help but be annoyed about the broken pole.  After a few k I got a spare pole from the race service people, but then I immediately regretted it–the pole was 6 inches too long and felt so heavy and awkward compared to my light racing pole.  But eventually I got used to it and I ended up skiing over half of the race with it.  I spent the rest of the race trying to move my way up, while also trying to just have fun and not care about how I was doing–but these were sort of conflicting interests.  Passing was difficult and often frustrating.  The Engadin course has many narrow pinchpoints and the pace would slow to a walk as the huge pack hit the few uphills along the way.  Also, my mostly-male compatriots were taking the race very seriously and did not appreciate getting passed by anyone, let alone a girl.  But I managed to move up some, and also to enjoy myself, and the second half of the race was much less frantic–I got my very own spare pole from Clarke, our wax tech extraordinaire, and the pack spread out a little bit.  I crossed the finish line in a stream of other finishers.  What an experience!

Afterwards I enjoyed sitting in the sun, drinking a beer and watching while thousands of people finished–some of them wearing sombreros or fat-suits, or where’s-waldo costumes.  It was an awesome ski race!

My First World Champs

20.Feb.2013 by Hannah Dreissigacker

I just finished competing in my first-ever world champs in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.  Susan wrote a great blog with a lot of good pictures, but I figured I should add a few more of my own! I really wish that there were a better way to capture or describe the feeling of being in a stadium filled with 20,000 screaming fans, bright blinding lights, and huge jumbo-tron TV screens, as you try to get in your zone and do your final warming up before a race. Its exhilarating!!  I tried taking a few videos from the start pen to give you all a sense of what its like. Here’s a link to the best one, which is of the start of the men’s relay.

Here I am with the mascot monster of Nove Mesto at the opening ceremonies for the biathlon World Champs.  I got to shoot at a fake laser target when our team got introduced and walked through the stadium.

Here I am with a German biathlon fan, who apparently comes to almost all of the world cups.  There are many die-hard fans like this in crazy outfits, though “santa-claus” definitely stands out as one of the real characters.

My sister took this screen shot from the live online footage of the sprint race.  I cleaned my prone shooting, so I came in to standing in a pretty good position.  But then I missed 3 standing shots, which was too many misses!  I was 71st and didn’t qualify for the pursuit.

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In the 15k individual, I had my best world-cup race yet with a 56th-place finish.  Though I was pretty happy with my results and also happy just to be there, racing in World Champs has just made me hungrier to race even more and get better.  It was also incredible to be there when Tim won a silver medal in the individual.  The team has such a hardworking and great group of coaches and wax techs, and to see how happy and proud they all were and to be a part of the celebrating was an awesome experience that really made me want to be a part of more future success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One day Sara and I ran up to this really cool old church that was up on a hill in Zdar nad Sazavou, the town where we were staying.  It was built in the 7th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The detailing on it was beautiful!

There was another type of beautiful art to be found along the path that I went for a short run on most mornings–beautiful graffiti all over many of the old concrete buildings and storage containers.  It made me want to try graffiti art, and added color to an otherwise very gray city-scape.

 

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 Now the team is resting and training in Inzell, Germany for a week before we head to Oslo for another weekend of world cup races.  I’m excited to get another chance to try to put all the pieces together and have a good biathlon race!

 

 

My First World Cup

28.Jan.2013 by Hannah Dreissigacker

I meant to write about my first world cup right away when I was still really overwhelmed with the excitement of it.  But then I didn’t, and now its been about a week.  But it was exciting enough that I shouldn’t have too much trouble getting re-excited about it as I write!

So I left off my last blog after I’d arrived in Antholz, and decided that I was in heaven.

For the next few days, I trained on the world cup course that was a few minutes walk from the hotel, ate lots of delicious food, and watched in amazement as tourists arrived for the races.  Even on training days, people would line parts of the course with their drinks in hand and cheer as we skied by.  They were practicing for the races too!  As we walked back to our hotel after skiing, people would stop us and ask for autographs or photos. I signed my “autograph” on lots of german flags, some guy’s jacket, picture-books of biathlon, programs from the races…you name it!  I learned that if I was in a rush to get somewhere, I should just avert my eyes and keep walking–if you stop to give one autograph, or take a picture with someone, then usually others come up too.  It was hilarious! I wanted to tell them that I wasn’t a famous biathlete, that in fact this was my first world cup ever, but I’m not sure they even would have cared.  I told a few people it was my first world cup, and that just made them get more excited for me.

Lots of distractions!

It stayed clouded in and snowy until the morning of the first race.  Then suddenly the clouds cleared, the sun shone bright on huge sparkling white mountains all around, and the place was mobbed with people.  It was seriously overwhelming!  But I did my best to stay focused–I had to get my bib and leg numbers on, get my rifle checked, zero, warm up, get my skis checked and my timing chips put on, and get to the start on time.  It was just like a normal biathlon race, right?  Except when I went up to the start pen, on one side there were hundreds and hundreds of noisy fans in the stadium seats and on the other side there was a huge jumbotron TV screen showing the live footage of the race.  I started watching the TV, and it was just like watching the race on TV anywhere in Europe…except that it was here…and I could watch in real life.  Except that I couldn’t really watch because I was racing!  I started 86th out of about 100 people, and by the time I started all of the top-ranked women had already finished.

Its exhilarating to race along a course lined with people like this!

For the first lap of the 3-lap sprint race, I was so exhilarated I couldn’t really tell if I was going slow or fast.  I was trying to go out slow–I didn’t want to start too fast, especially at altitude.  I came in the the range feeling pretty good, and before I knew it, I had hit all of my prone targets!  I flew around the next lap feeling pretty pumped–I’d cleaned a stage in my first-ever world cup!  I told myself that I was going to take my time on the standing shooting, not rush, and try to hit the targets.  But once again the standing shooting happened before I really had time to think, but this time the results were not good–I missed 4 out of 5, which is pretty miserable shooting.  I had to ski 4 penalty loops, and then motivate for the final lap.  On this lap I tried to just enjoy being out there in front of so many people, in such a beautiful place.  I got a split that I was in 72nd–well out of qualifying for the pursuit–but at least I could try to have fun.

I ended up 81st on the day–not a great result.  I’d been in 30th after prone, and then the 4 misses in standing had really been a setback.  And I hadn’t skied as fast as I knew I could either.  I wanted to do better next time, and I wished I could have re-done the standing stage.  But on the whole, I was just pumped!

Craftsbury biathletes in Europe!  Susan and I in the stadium after the relay.

I didn’t get to race the pursuit, but I did get to race in the relay a few days later, and I was anchor.  Despite some not-so-great shooting, we ended up 10th, which was the best US women’s relay result in a few years.  I had fun skiing with girls from the other teams, and shooting with them head-to-head, and I was very relieved to not get any penalty loops, though I did use 5 spare bullets to hit all my targets.  But once again, it left me wanting to do better!

After our relay we got to relax and cheer on the men and really take in the scene.   I wish I had pictures of all of the spectators in crazy outfits, but there were just too many of them and I got overwhelmed.  But here are a few more photos!

There were fans everywhere watching the races–including on any roof they could get on!

 

As athletes, we had credentials that let us go on the course to cheer. This was a popular place to watch the races, since there was a jumbotron nearby, and as we walked up the edge of the course to cheer on the men, fans would shove beers at us, or pens and things they wanted us to sign.

 

Annelies and I out cheering with some some of the Canadian women during the men’s relay.

 

After the relay, I poked my head in the party “tent” (more like a temporary building) to check out the scene–lots of people and lots of beer!

 

A view on the way up Staller Pass. The ski trail also doubles as a sledding trail, and lots of tourists hike up and sled all the way back down.

 

Its a beautiful 360 degree view from the top of the pass, which is also the border between Italy and Austria. And there are ski trails up there that are groomed to perfection! One day I skied up as the sun was setting, and then skied around on top of the world as the light faded, and then skied down in the dusk.

Now we’re training here in Antholz for a few weeks, before we head to Nove Mesto, Czech Republic for the World Championships!   I’m feeling very spoiled and lucky to be able to spend time in such a nice place, and I’m excited to try to improve upon my performances at World Champs!