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Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Wrapping up, and just getting started

16.Apr.2014 by Jamie Chapman

Bam! Just like that, our six weeks in sunny and warm South Carolina are nearly over. On a calm morning, rowing here offers the best of both worlds: a fully buoyed race course for pieces and seemingly endless water in four directions for adventure rows. That’s been the trend: calm-ish mornings and breezy afternoons, good for a little of everything. The winds don’t always cooperate, as we’ve had our fair share of whitecaps and direct crosswinds. Less fun, for sure, but valuable nonetheless.

This weekend we’ll be part of the workforce for the Clemson Invite, one of the few regattas that with which we’ve helped in exchange for the phenomenal hospitality from the Clemson rowing team and weight room staff. This doesn’t seem like enough to thank everyone, so we’ve supplemented with some Green Mountain Coffee, VT Maple Syrup, a little dinner party (burger night!), and GRP gear. Then Monday it’s back north to Princeton to set up shop for NSR I.

I’ve been taking some small-plane flying lessons here, which has been a cool diversion and parallels small-boat rowing in lots of ways. Complete focus, attention to detail, acting with conviction, mutual loathing of crosswinds, and a good mix of adrenaline and fun. Today I went up and flew a vintage 1942 Stearman biplane, one of the Navy’s first trainer planes for WWII. It’s an open-cockpit that can be flown from either seat, so I took my camera up and snapped some pictures while my instructor took the controls.

From bottom left, the boathouse and the second 1000.  From middle left, half of the football stadium and lots of South Carolina.

From bottom left, the boathouse and the second 1000. From middle left, half of the football stadium and lots of South Carolina.

Through the wing, the long straight stretch of water is the buoyed course in its entirety.  Stake boats on left, finish line in front of the boathouse on the right. Looking west.
Through the wing, the long straight stretch of water is the buoyed course in its entirety. Stake boats on left, finish line in front of the boathouse on the right. Looking west.

Another unobstructed view of campus looking to the north.  Racecourse on the right, campus in the middle, mountains in the background.  After the second bridge (middle right of picture), the Seneca River splits.  To the left is the S-curve section, a favorite place for long out-and-backs when it's calm, and to the right is another long winding stretch, usually a calm when it's windy elsewhere.  I call this the City Course or Waterski area, so named for the city-maintained 3-lane course and the waterski jump past a few more bridges.

Another unobstructed view of campus looking to the north. On the bottom left, there’s a super fun looking putting green on the golf course surrounded by bunkers in a tiger-paw formation.  Racecourse on the right, campus in the middle, mountains in the background. After the second bridge (middle right of picture), the Seneca River splits. To the left is the S-curve section, a favorite place for long out-and-backs when it’s calm, and to the right is another long winding stretch, usually a calm when it’s windy elsewhere. I call this the City Course or Waterski area, so named for the city-maintained 3-lane course and the waterski jump past a few more bridges.

 

Mammoth Biathlon

13.Apr.2014 by Mike Gibson

The 7th annual Mammoth Winter Biathlon was great- if you like skiing, guns, and sunshine.

 

The Mammoth Winter Biathlon is the biggest biathlon race in North America (by volume, not necessarily competitiveness), and it is easily the most fun.  I was flown out by the man who puts this race on to help with shooting clinics, act as a range safety officer, and then compete in an exhibition race, hilariously entitled the ‘Uber Elite.’ California – in general – has had a sub par snow year, so instead of hosting the races at the Nordic venue, the race organizers built a range on top of the mountain. It is a little hard to see in this photo shamelessly taken from a Google search, but the range was at Outpost 14 (the white box on the right side of the image).

The dedication and manpower available from the volunteers and organizers was staggering.  Hosting a biathlon race requires a lot of equipment – targets, ropes, shooting mats, timing equipment, sound systems, etc.  Not only did the organizers acquire all of this, they moved it up a mountain – 9500 ft high- and also surveyed and excavated a 20 point shooting range.  I was truly blown away with the passion and excitement for my sport.

Photo Mar 22, 12 11 40 PM

 

Having the races on top of the mountain made for a breathtaking venue, but racing at 9500 ft is challenging.

Photo Mar 22, 1 29 47 PM

Most days I decided to ski up the downhill trails to the venue, but on race day I hitched a ride on the Sherpa.

My race was not my most glorious.  I don’t have much experience racing at that kind of altitude.  Not only is it taxing aerobically, but the lack of oxygen – exacerbated by the the strain of racing – actually begins to impair your vision.  It was a fantastic way to learn how to handle the extremes.

Photo Mar 24, 4 11 05 PM

I have an old friend now living in Mammoth Lakes, so I extended my stay by a few days to see him.  His dad was visiting that weekend, and I was so happy to have both of them cheering for me in my race.

Photo Mar 24, 4 34 54 PM

The three of us went for a relaxing hike/walk up around Convict Lake.  In classic western style, the derivation of the name ‘Convict Lake’  comes from a bloody shootout in 1871 between convicts, escaped from a Carson City jail, and the Sheriff tracking them down.  I’m not kidding.  Apparently there is a movie loosely based on the story.

I spent the next few days running and soaking up some Vitamin D before eventually venturing up to the local XC center.

Photo Mar 27, 2 20 43 PM

 

The trail system isn’t immense, but it was immaculately maintained.  All the trails meander around beautiful lakes, high in the mountain pass.

Photo Mar 27, 1 48 37 PM

 

On this ski, I realized Mammoth is a little mind-numbingly gorgeous.  Monotonously stunning.

Thank you, Mammoth Biathlon, for hosting a tremendous event.  I hope you invite me again in the future.

 

 

Back to Clemson and Back on the Water

27.Mar.2014 by Phil Grisdela

Every year I’m shocked by how fast the spring flies by, especially after the winter of hitting the ergs and ski trails. We’re already almost at the end of March with less than four weeks until our first major test of the 2014 season at the first National Selection Regatta in Princeton, NJ. Hard to believe that it was barely three weeks ago that I hung up my skis for the winter (although with all the snow coming down back home maybe I’ll get a chance to bring them back out!). Here’s a bit of a photo montage from the end of our winter training and the first few weeks on the water in Clemson, SC.

There’s nothing to make you more excited to be done with winter training than a 2k test and a VO2 max test. Our last week in Craftsbury was packed full with assessments to see how effective our training has been. It’s definitely good to see that a winter of skiing can pay off, with some good PR’s and physiological data for the squad.

We got to cap off the winter with a 2k test on the ergs without the mask and then a step test to find our VO2 max, pictured here

We got to cap off the winter with a 2k test on the ergs without the mask and then a step test to find our VO2 max, pictured here

It’s pretty surreal to go down to the boathouse in the winter, seeing the boats surrounded by snow is a bit unusual but definitely gets us excited to get back on the water.

There were boats in there somewhere!

There were boats in there somewhere

Business end of a snowy trailer

Business end of a snowy trailer

Oars ready to make the trip, two of these things are not like the others!

Oars ready to make the trip, two of these things are not like the others!

The drive down to Clemson was actually much the same as last year, for some of us this is a great chance to stop and visit our parents on the way down the east coast.

Gaffney, SC for those who are into House of Cards. For those who aren't, check it out.

Gaffney, SC for those who are into House of Cards. For those who aren’t, check it out.

We also got to watch the thermometer steadily climb on the drive down, by the time we made it to Clemson it was a balmy 70 degrees and sunny, a great way to start the trip.

Those four are helping, promise.

Those four are helping, promise.

We were all pretty excited to hit the water again, even Dan has gotten in on the action once in a double with Steve. From Dan “Getting back in a boat reminded me how simple rowing is, and how much I dislike wake and cross-winds” Preach! Even Steve was optimistic: “If there was a world championships of rowing at a 14….we would stand half a chance.”

Even Dan got in on the rowing action

Getting back on the water means a return to callused hands, a fight which it seems like as hard as you try your hands always lose at first.

Welcome back to rowing!

Welcome back to rowing!

While our hands may be torn up worse than this, it does feel right that the oar grips should share some of the pain

While our hands may be torn up worse than this, it does feel right that the oar grips should share some of the pain

We’re super lucky to be able to row out of the Clemson boathouse where I am currently poaching internet, but it also gives us a chance to help out at some of the college races. I’ve always wanted to help with the stakeboats at the start, these are the people who hold the sterns of the boats before the start and keep everything even. My dad would always do it for our high school races and I had never been on that end of the event. Especially now that we’re in small boats without coxswains, it’s easy to forget how loud and fun the start of a race can be. While our own races are a few weeks away, it was great to get close to the action and remember what we’re training for.

Sunrise stakeboating

Sunrise stakeboating

Craftsbury's Clemson Office

Craftsbury’s Clemson Office

Even on a training trip there’s a little more to it than just the training. We keep busy in between practices at our awesome housing. The house I’m in right now has a foosball table that Kyle Lafferty may be reigning champion of although Peter Graves is giving him a run for his money. There’s also some Jenga and a great movie collection that we’re doing our best to get through (name a movie better than Titanic, so far we can’t).

Passing the time in between practices

Passing the time in between practices

Last year I ended up doing an event for charity in Oklahoma to raise money for childhood cancer research through the St. Baldricks program. While I did it on a bit of a whim last year, it was inspiring to see so many people there for a really good cause. Watching mothers last year shave a full head of hair with their kids who were either cancer survivors or fighters sitting on their lap made me want to do it again this year to help them and others like them. Knowing that I was going to shave my head I enlisted the help of some of the girls on the team here to dye my hair green the day before the event. The before and after are here, check it out:

I'm not going to tell you how long it took to get my hair this green. Thanks for the help Sarah!

I’m not going to tell you how long it took to get my hair this green. Thanks for the help Sarah!

Less Grizzly, still green though!

Less Grizzly, still green though!

We also took a trip to Greenville, SC over the weekend to keep things fresh and see the city. I had never been here before but it really was worth the trip, especially on a beautiful warm day.

Awesome waterfall under a single-sided suspension bridge (say that five times fast) in Greenville, SC

Awesome waterfall under a single-sided suspension bridge (say that five times fast) in Greenville, SC

I honestly can't explain how surreal this was, hula hoop party in Greenville.

I honestly can’t explain how surreal this was, hula hoop party in Greenville.

We’re coming to the end of the third week here, with a little less than four weeks to go until the first NSR. As we’ve gotten through the beginning stages of adapting the bodies to the water and the boats the next few weeks are the real meat of the camp where lineups will get decided and we put the work in to bring the most speed possible on race day. Stay tuned here to catch all the action and enjoy the snow back North!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!