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Archive for the ‘Race Reports’ Category

GRP Ski/Biathlon Results 2014-15

7.Mar.2015 by Gordon Vermeer

Hey folks, iiiiiit’s back! Want to keep track of how the GRP Ski & Biathlon Team is doing this season? Check back on this blog. I’ll be updating this same post frequently throughout the season, and re-posting it to the top of the blog roll every once in a while. With comments or questions or complaints, shoot me an email at gordon.vermeer@gmail.com. Most recent week on top. –Gordo

 

WEEK OF MAR 2-8

 

Konitolahti, Finland (IBU World Championships)

Thursday Mixed Relay: USA 8th (including Susan and Hannah)

Saturday 7.5k Sprint: Clare 40th (2+2), Susan 42nd (1+2), Hannah 61st (4+2)

Sunday 10k Pursuit: Susan 34th (1+1+2+2), Clare 52nd  (1+1+3+2)

 

Lahti, Finland (FIS World Cup)

Saturday FR Sprint: Ida 43rd, Caitlin 51st

Sunday CL 10k: Caitlin 50th

 

Bretton Woods, NH

Saturday 42 CL Marathon: Gordon 1st, Andrew 3rd, Pete 6th

 

Eisenerz, Austria (FIS Race)

Saturday 7.5k CL: Liz 11th

 

 

WEEK OF FEB 23-MAR 1

 

Rogla, Slovenia (Alpen Cup)

Saturday FR Sprint: Caitlin 14th, Liz 21st

Sunday 15k CL Mass Start: Caitlin 9th, Liz 20th

 

 

WEEK OF FEB 16-22

 

Falun, Sweden (FIS World Championships)

Thursday CL Sprint: Ida 29th

 

Hayward, WI (American Birkebeiner)

Saturday 50k FR Marathon: Caitlin 5th, Kait 18th; Andrew 21st, Gordon 23rd

 

 

WEEK OF FEB 9-15

 

Oslo, Norway (IBU World Cup)

Thursday 15k: Susan 11th (0+1+0+1), Hannah 33rd (0+3+0+0), Clare 82nd (1+1+1+3)

Saturday 7.5k Sprint: Hannah 16th (0+0), Susan 69th (3+1), Clare 91st (2+4)

Sunday 4x6k Relay: USA 18th (including all 3 ladies)

 

Oestersund, Sweden (FIS World Cup)

Saturday CL Sprint: Ida 41st

 

Hanover/Holderness, NH (Eastern Cup)

Saturday 10k FR: Gordon 2nd, Pete 3rd, Andrew 5th, Alex S 30th

Sunday 10k CL: Gordon 2nd, Andrew 3rd, Alex 4th, Pete 5th

 

Middlebury, VT (EISA Carnival)

Saturday 5k FR: Liz 7th

 

 

WEEK OF FEB 2-8

 

Craftsbury, VT (SuperTour Weekend #2, EC, EISA)

Friday FR Sprint Ladies, Men: Kait 6th, Caitlin 8th, Emily D 29th; Alex H 9th, Gordon 17th, Alex S 21st, Mike 25th, Pete 28th, Jake 40th, Ethan 47th

Saturday FR Individual 10k Ladies, Men: Caitlin 7th, Kait 11th, Alex H 6th, Gordon 14th, Pete 24th, Andrew 30th, Jake 37th, Alex S 76th

Sunday CL Mass Start 10k Ladies, 15k Men: Kait 4th, Caitlin 5th, Emily D 14th; Gordon 2nd, Andrew 9th, Alex H 13th, Pete 15th, Alex S 21st, Jake 22nd

 

Jericho, VT (Biathlon NorAm)

Saturday 10k Sprint: Ethan 1st, Mike 2nd

Sunday 12.5k Pursuit: Ethan 2nd, Mike 3rd

 

Nove Mesto, Czech Republic (IBU World Cup)

Friday Mixed Relay: USA 7th (including Susan and Hannah)

Saturday 7.5k Sprint: Susan 9th (0+1), Hannah 39th (0+2), Clare 73rd (0+4)

Sunday 10k Pursuit: Susan 18th (2+0+1+2), Hannah 41st (1+2+3+2)

 

 

WEEK OF JAN 26-FEB 1

 

Craftsbury, VT (SuperTour Weekend #1)

Friday CL Mass Start 20k Ladies, 30k Men: Caitlin 1st, Kait 5th, Liz 8th Emily D 10th; Andrew 9th, Gordon 10th, Pete 14th, Alex H 16th, Alex S 17th, Jake 18th

Sunday CL Sprint Ladies, Men: Liz 2nd, Emily D 6th, Kait 8th; Alex S 9th, Gordon 10th, Alex H 13th, Ethan 15th, Andrew 17th, Pete 21st, Jake 22nd, Mike 27th

 

 

WEEK OF JAN 19-25

 

Rybinsk, Russia (FIS World Cup)

Saturday FR Sprint: Ida 13th

Sunday 15k Skiathlon: Ida 35th

 

Antholz-Anterselva, Italy (IBU World Cup)

Friday 7.5k Sprint: Susan 8th (0+1), Hannah 60th (1+2)

Saturday 10k Pursuit: Susan 6th (0+1+0+0), Hannah 42nd (1+1+1+1)

Sunday 4x6k Relay: USA 12th (including Clare, Susan, and Hannah)

 

Stowe, VT (EISA Carnival)

Saturday CL Mass Start 10k Ladies, 15k Men: Caitlin 1st; Gordon 4th, Andrew 7th

 

 

WEEK OF JAN 12-18

 

Rumford, ME (Eastern Cup)

Saturday FR 5k Ladies, 10k Men: Caitlin 1st, Liz 4th, Kait 10th; Gordon 7th, Pete 10th, Alex S 42nd

Sunday CL Sprint: Pete 2nd, Gordon 3rd, Alex S 7th; Liz 1st, Kait 2nd, Caitlin 3rd

 

Otepaa, Estonia (FIS World Cup)

Saturday CL Sprint: Ida 43rd

Sunday FR Team Sprint: Ida (with Rosie Brennan) 6th

 

Ruhpolding, Germany (IBU World Cup)

Wednesday 4x6k Relay: USA 19th (including Hannah and Susan)

Friday 7.5k Sprint: Susan 26th (0+1), Hannah 77th (2+1)

Sunday 12.5k Mass Start: Susan 16th (0+1+0+2)

 

Ridnaun-Val Ridanna, Italy (IBU Cup)

Friday 7.5k Sprint: Clare 32nd (0+0)

Saturday 10k Pursuit: Clare 45th (2+1+3+2)

Sunday Mixed Relay: USA 22nd (including Clare)

 

Hochfilzen, Austria (Biathlon)

Friday Sprint: Mike 7th, Ethan 11th

Saturday Individual: Ethan 6th, Mike 9th

 

 

WEEK OF JAN 5-11

 

Houghton, MI (US Nationals — cont’d)

Tuesday CL Sprint: Gordon 16th, Alex H 20th, Pete 50th, Alex S 57th, Andrew 108th

Thursday CL Mass Start 30k Men, 20k Ladies: Andrew 17th, Gordon 20th, Alex H 30th, Pete 32nd, Alex S 55th, Jake 66th; Caitlin 2nd, Liz 6th, Kait 13th

Saturday FR Sprint: Caitlin 8th, Liz 10th, Kait 25th; Alex H 17th, Gordon 23rd, Alex S 27th, Jake 38th, Pete 42nd, Andrew 60th

 

Val Mustair, Switzerland & Toblach, Italy (FIS World Cup Tour de Ski — cont’d)

Tuesday FR Sprint: Ida 56th

Wednesday CL 5k: Ida 46th

 

Oberhof, Germany (IBU World Cup 4)

Friday 7.5k Sprint: Susan 21st (2+1), Hannah 37th (0+2)

Sunday 12.5k Mass Start: Susan 27th (3+1+1+3)

 

Duszniki Zdroj, Poland (IBU Cup 4)

Saturday 7.5k Sprint: Clare 77th (2+3)

 

 

 

WEEK OF DEC 29 – JAN 4

 

Houghton, MI (US Nationals)

Sunday FR Individual 15k Men, 10k Ladies: Gordon 18th, Alex H 34th, Pete 58th, Andrew 71st, Jake 85th; Caitlin 4th, Liz 18th

 

Oberstdorf, Germany (FIS World Cup Tour de Ski)

Saturday 3k FR Prologue: Ida 58th

Sunday 10k CL Pursuit: Ida 40th

 

 

 

WEEK OF DEC 22-28

(none)

 

 

 

WEEK OF DEC 15-21

 

Grand Rapids, MN (IBU Trials — cont’d)

Tuesday Mass Start 12.5k Ladies, 15k Men: Clare 4th (2+0+4+3), Liz 5th (1+1+3+4); Mike 7th (2+1+4+2), Ethan 8th (2+1+2+1)

 

Middlebury, VT (NENSA Eastern Cup)

Saturday Individual CL 5k Ladies, 10k Men: Kait 4th; Gordon 2nd, Andrew 5th, Alex H 6th, Pete 7th, Alex S 10th, Jake 11th

Sunday Mass Start FR 10k Ladies, 15k Men: Kait 4th; Gordon 2nd, Pete 5th, Jake 7th, Andrew 8th, Alex H 12th, Alex S 17th, Ethan 32nd

 

Davos, Switzerland (FIS World Cup)

Sunday FR Sprint: Ida 29th

 

Pokljuka, Slovenia (IBU World Cup 3)

Thursday 7.5k Sprint: Hannah 17th (0+0) (World Cup PB), Susan 19th (1+1)

Saturday 10k Pursuit: Susan 28th (0+1+1+3), Hannah 56th (2+2+0+2)

Sunday 12.5k Mass Start: Susan 22nd (2+1+1+0)

 

 

WEEK OF DEC 8-14

 

Hochfilzen, Austria (IBU World Cup 2)

Friday 7.5k Sprint: Susan 29th (1+1), Hannah 78th (1+2)

Saturday Relay: (no American team)

Sunday 10k Pursuit: Susan 27th (0+0+2+2)

 

Davos, Switzerland (FIS World Cup)

Saturday CL 10k: Ida 47th

Sunday FR Sprint: Ida 16th

 

Grand Rapids, MN (IBU Trials)

Saturday Sprint 10k Men, 7.5k Ladies: Ethan 4th (1+1), Mike 7th (3+1); Clare 4th (1+3), Liz 6th (2+5)

Sunday Sprint 10k Men, 7.5k Ladies: Mike 6th (3+2), Ethan 11th (2+5); Clare 2nd (2+1), Liz 5th (2+4)

 

 

WEEK OF DEC 1-7

 

Canmore, Alberta (Biathlon NorAm)

Saturday Sprint Ladies, Men: Clare 2nd (0+3); Mike 6th (2+1), Ethan 11th (0+2)

Sunday Mass Start Ladies, Men: Mike 7th (2+1+2+2), Ethan 8th (2+1+1+2); Clare 1st (0+0+2+2)

 

Bozeman, Montana (SuperTour)

Saturday CL Sprint Ladies, Men: Caitlin 3rd, Liz 7th, Kait 8th; Gordon 15th, Pete 20th, Alex H 23rd, Alex Schulz 31st, Andrew 38th, Jake 43rd

Sunday CL Mass 10k Ladies, 15k Men: Caitlin 4th, Liz 7th, Kait 9th; Alex H 22nd, Andrew 25th, Gordon 26th, Jake 29th, Alex S 40th, Pete 42nd

 

Lillehammer, Norway (FIS World Cup)

Friday FR Sprint: Ida 52nd

Saturday FR 5k Individual: Ida 79th

Sunday CL 10k Pursuit: Ida DNS

 

Oestersund, Sweden (IBU World Cup 1)

Thursday 15k Individual: Susan 21st (0+2+0+1), Hannah 86th (3+0+1+3)

Saturday 7.5k Sprint: Susan 41st (1+2), Hannah 81st (2+1)

Sunday 10k Pursuit: Susan 19th (0+2+1+0), Hannah did not qualify

 

 

WEEK OF NOV 24-30

 

Kuusamo, Finland (FIS World Cup)

Saturday CL Sprint: Ida 5th

Sunday CL 10k: Ida 51st

 

Oestersund, Sweden (IBU World Cup 1)

Sunday Mixed Relay: USA (including Susan) 7th

 

West Yellowstone, Montana (SuperTour)

Friday FR Sprint Men (Qualifier), Ladies: Alex S 14th, Alex H 22nd, Gordon 28th, Pete 34th, Andrew 45th, Jake 48th; Caitlin 8th, Liz 29th, Kait 30th

Friday Individual Ladies 10k, Men 15k: Caitlin 4th, Liz 14th, Kait 38th; Jake 33rd, Pete 35th, Alex H 39th, Gordon 41st, Andrew 45th, Alex S 58th

Rogla OPA Cup racing, and other scenes of Slovenia

4.Mar.2015 by Caitlin Patterson

Liz Guiney and I traveled to Europe early last week to join the US OPA Cup group and gain experience racing in competitive European ski races.  The OPA Cup (also known as Europa Cup or Alpen Cup) is the central-European equivalent to the US Supertour – it’s a race series that spans the entire winter, where the fastest non-World Cup German, French, Italian, Slovenian, Swiss and Austrian (and maybe a few other countries…) athletes compete ranking points that can give them World Cup start spots, and for general recognition.  Since these races are in Europe and relatively close to much of the World Cup circuit, many racers will bounce back and forth between World Cups and OPA, depending on whether they’re racing well and if their country has spots for them in the World Cup.  So when athletes from guest nations, such as the USA and Canada, show up to race, we have the opportunity to test ourselves against many experienced racers, but with the potential to actually do well and build our confidence, helping us develop to be the level of skier who can compete on the World Cup. The US Ski Team has put together an organized trip to travel around and race many of these OPA cups in February and March, and Liz and I were fortunate enough to have good results at US Nationals in January that allowed us to qualify for the trip.  Although it would be great if anyone who wanted to race could make the trip, unfortunately resources are limited, logistics get complicated with more people, and as a “guest nation” the US is only allotted one tiny wax cabin at the venue, so this year there was a stringent criteria set up for determining who could attend the trip.  Thank you to NNF (the National Nordic Foundation) and the Craftsbury GRP for supporting our skiing development through this trip!

Liz and I in our US gear after a session of classic intervals

Liz and I in our US gear after a session of classic intervals

So, with that background of why we travelled all the way to Europe for a few ski races… Last weekend’s OPA races were in Rogla, Slovenia, so Liz and I flew from the US to Ljublijana, Slovenia.  From Ljublijana it was about a 1.5-2 hour drive to Zrece, a town in the valley below Rogla where we would be staying.  Past years the US athletes had apparently been able to stay up “on the mountain” at Rogla itself, but this year it was some kind of European holiday and the organizers of the event preferred for us to stay down in the village.  It was actually pretty nice, the village had no snow at all, great for afternoon jogs, and the 40-50+ F weather was the warmest I’ve had since the fall.  We did have to take a horribly twisty road up and down from the venue to ski each day, but at least at the top there was plenty of snow and sun shining through on a few days!

Each morning we skied in Rogla, and then generally hurried down to watch skiing World Championship races from Falun, SWE on Eurosport. Down in the town of Zrece, we went on afternoon jogs, one of which included an excursion up the hill to a few churches, wandered to the grocery store for snacks, and visited really cool castle ruins just 7 kilometers away from our hotel!  And then, before we knew it, it was the weekend and race time – skate sprint on Saturday, classic 15k and 30k mass starts on Sunday.  The races went well, but not perfectly – definitely a learning experience for me, about not hesitating, ever, in a sprint race, and about how to ski with minimal kick during a hilly 15k (take advantage of the  downhills, and run the uphills).  While the results, numbers-wise, were not quite everything I was hoping for, I was very happy with my effort and race feelings! To do a 1.2k skate sprint just one week after the 51k Birkie, and feel snappy and awake, is a feat in itself for me.  Now I’m on to Lahti, Finland to race in the World Cup this weekend! It’s an exciting time for GRP skiers, with the World Cup biathletes (Susan, Hannah, Clare) about to start their World Championships, Ethan racing in the IBU Cups in Canmore, Ida and I here at the skiing World Cup in Lahti, and Liz racing this coming weekend in Austria.  Check back for more stories coming soon, and enjoy the photos!

For further reading about our experiences, check out Liz and my personal blogs, where we’ve been posting additional stories and pictures about our trips: elizabethguiney.blogspot.com and caitlinpatterson.blogspot.com

Also, I wrote about the classic mass start races at OPA for NNF, which you can read here: https://www.nationalnordicfoundation.org/2015/03/caitlin-patterson-slovenian-opa-cup-day-2-classic-mass-starts/

Liz Guiney and Chelsea Holmes skate through mashed-potatoes snow a few days before the races in Rogla

Liz and Chelsea Holmes skate through mashed-potatoes snow several days before the races in Rogla

Through the woods to the church

Through the woods to the church

An afternoon jog into the woods and up to a church on top of the hill

An afternoon jog into the woods and up to a church on top of the hill

Church on the hilltop above Zrece

Church on the hilltop above Zrece

Looking down into the valley in Slovenia where we stayed

Looking down into the valley in Slovenia where we stayed

The Konjice Castle ruins, nestled in the hills above the town of Slovenske Konjice, which was only about 7km from the village of Zrece where our OPA group stayed

The Konjice Castle ruins, nestled in the hills above the town of Slovenske Konjice, which was only about 7km from our hotel in Zrece

The central courtyard of the castle, complete with green grass

The central courtyard of the castle, complete with green grass in February!

Arrow slits overlooking the valley

Arrow slits overlooking the valley

One of the newest parts of the castle

One of the newest parts of the castle

Liz on the castle walls

Liz on the castle walls

Cavern, with lock-able gate, under the castle

Cavern, with lock-able gate, under the castle

Lead men's pack descending on the 2nd lap

Lead men’s pack descending on the 2nd lap of 6 during their 30k mass start classic race. Look closely to see the stars-and-stripes USA suits – my brother Scott Patterson is 4th from the top, and Eric Packer is 2nd from the top, they ended up 10th and 13th place.

The lead pack of men early in the race

The lead pack of men early in the race

Bryan Fish and GRP alum-now coach Pat O'Brien prepare to give feeds to the men in the 30k classic

Bryan Fish and GRP alum-now coach Pat O’Brien prepare to give feeds to the men in the 30k classic. Pat raced in a “wax tech relay” on Saturday, and though I didn’t see it myself, apparently he threw down some impressive super-speed turnover

The junior men's race passing by a tracked snow vehicle

The junior men’s race passing by a tracked snow vehicle

Lex Treinen loops through the fields

Lex Treinen loops through the fields

Feeding and cheering

Pat O’Brien feeding and cheering, as Reese Hanneman passes by in the 30k

Miles Havlick and Eric Packer collecting feeds during their 30k

Miles Havlick and Eric Packer collecting feeds during their 30k

Liz and Becca Rorabaugh

Liz and Becca Rorabaugh enjoying the sun and spectating

Behind the Scenes at the Birkie

3.Mar.2015 by Caitlin Patterson

 

The GRP Birkie crew, from left - Gordon, Andrew, Maggie, Phil, Caitlin, Kaitlynn (missing Steve)

The GRP Birkie crew, from left – Gordon, Andrew, Maggie, Phil, Caitlin, Kaitlynn (missing Steve)

It’s been nearly 2 weeks since the American Birkie (and believe me, that time has flown by!). Before it gets too late and irrelevant though, I wanted to share a few behind-the-scenes photos from our GRP Birkie trip this year.  Four skiers made the trip, three GRP rowers, and coaches Pepa and Nick.  Most of us drove to Hayward, WI from Craftsbury, VT, a relatively unmemorable 2 day drive that actually passed fairly quickly, at least for me.  Maybe that had something to do with enjoying my reading and knitting projects, and also with the fact that I knew I would be flying out of the midwest afterwards, not having to repeat the drive in a few days going the other direction like many of my teammates did.  We did have a few issues during the trip…most notably related to the plumbing in our rental house and a brief “run in with the law” – but we grinned and groaned and laughed our way through that, in addition to the 51k race, and it was overall successful and a great trip!

I led the way results-wise with a 5th place finish in the Elite Women’s race, very happy to be back on the podium of top-6 and in the prize money! My teammates did impressive things behind the scenes in at the Birkie too — Kait fought back from a massive bonk early in the race, able to finish strong and pass people by the end.  Maggie, Phil, and Steve completed the astounding feat of racing 51k in their non-primary sport, and racing it quite fast at that, with Phil and Steve finishing within 40 seconds of each other after skiing the race separately!  Andrew successfully did everything he could to avoid muscle cramps during the race, then threw in a big finishing sprint and lunge, passed several people, and cramped about 5 feet after the finish line – perfect timing! (He did in fact have to be physically carried beyond the finish, as he could not move his legs for a few minutes.) And Gordon was a great teammate in addition to racing fast – when the pack he and Andrew were with caught me on the lake, he let me into the drafting line in front of him – and he kept our Birkie spirits (and fever) high and outlook positive in the days before the race.  And thanks to Pepa and Nick too for all their work testing and preparing skis, giving advice and encouragement, and then feeding and cheering along the course during the race!  Be sure you’ve read the news recap of the Birkie week here with full results details for the GRP, and enjoy the pictures.

Kait and Maggie in front of the bridge, complete with face tape that protected our skin on a cold ski

Kait and Maggie in front of the bridge, complete with face tape that protected our skin on a cold ski

Previewing the bridge that we would need to climb on Birkie day

Previewing the bridge that we would need to climb on Birkie day

Looking down towards the finish, 2 days before the Birkie, from the top of the new bridge

Looking down towards the finish, 2 days before the Birkie, from the top of the new bridge

Shadows on the bridge

Shadows on the bridge

GRP guys enjoying a pre-race ski

GRP guys enjoying a pre-race ski

Delicious spread of burrito fillings, complete with homemade tortillas - thank you Maggie and Phil!

Delicious spread of burrito fillings, complete with homemade tortillas – thank you Maggie and Phil!

This policeman looks kind of angry here, but he was actually very nice, and we got off with a warning... (Friday morning, fortunately not Saturday)

This policeman looks kind of angry here, but he was actually very nice, and we got off with a warning… (Friday morning, fortunately not Saturday)

Andrew shows off his physio tape before the Birkie - it helped him prevent arm cramps during the race!

Andrew shows off his physio tape before the Birkie – it helped him prevent arm cramps during the race!

Birkie morning

Birkie morning

Kait and I tied strings to our GUs, taped the strings to our bibs, and put the gel packets down our sports bras.  Keeps the GU warm, and the string made it easy to pull out - successful feeding strategy that i'll be using again!

Kait and I tied strings to our GUs, taped the strings to our bibs, and put the gel packets down our sports bras. Keeps the GU warm, and the string made it easy to pull out – successful feeding strategy that I’ll be using again!

Take your enthusiasm to the fields and write it out...

Take your enthusiasm to the fields and write it out…

Thank you cake from the rowers - thanks for joining us, and for the cake!

Thank you cake from the rowers – thanks for joining us, and for the cake!

Telemark Turns and Half of a Pinecone

21.Jan.2015 by Susan Dunklee

“Don’t forget to also have fun, Susan.”

These were my father’s parting words of advice when I left Vermont after the holiday break and headed to Oberhof, Germany to continue the biathlon season. Over the years, I’ve noticed that my dad intuitively understands what motivates me to compete. His comment, and the fact that he felt the need to make it, caught me off guard. What was he seeing that I wasn’t? Of course I’m having fun, aren’t I?

But at practice a couple days later, I found myself wondering. It was “Oberhofing” out, a combination of freezing rain, fog and biting wind. After just a few minutes of skiing, I was shivering, encased in a shell of ice. As I lay down on the sopping wet shooting mat and struggled to load a magazine with numb fingers, the question began to creep in: why am I doing this?

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Lots of rainy weather: I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned my rifle so many times before in a two week period.

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Lowell racing in rainy Ruhpolding. (Photo: USBA/NordicFocus)

The rest of that week I continued to struggle. On race days, I went through the motions and did my normal routines, but it felt like a difficult chore. It wasn’t simply the uninspiring weather that threw me into the funk. I felt burnt out going into Christmas after racing while sick and probably didn’t give myself enough time to recover. Plus, while my results so far this season have been solid, I wasn’t living up to my own high expectations. Despite putting forth my best effort everyday, I didn’t come away feeling satisfied. Clearly something was missing. Biathlon turned stale because I was forgetting one of the key ingredients: fun!

And so the next World Cup week became a quest to find the fun again. Along the way, I looked for inspiration from my teammates, our staff, my competitors, and the thousands of Ruhpolding fans.

For the first day of training at Ruhpolding, I came up with two unusual goals and shared them with my coach. I felt a need to be a little goofy and creative, and to spice up my normal routines.
Goal One: Incorporate some telemark turns into the training.
Goal Two: Find an object somewhere at the venue and bring it back to decorate my hotel room; something that might make me smile when I see it.
Mission accomplished: I curved some big sweeping tele turns down the Fischer-S hill and rescued a chewed-up half of a pinecone from the middle of the ski track. It wasn’t the prettiest looking pinecone (or šiška as Gara our Czech wax tech called it), but interesting nonetheless, and a reminder that perfection is grossly overrated.

The best part about racing at Ruhpolding and Oberhof is the ambiance. Few other stadiums attract such huge crowds of passionate, drinking, singing, flag-waving fans. It’s a scene. They arrive hours early so they can find a good spot to watch and they’ll brave any sort of weather. Their enthusiasm is contagious and racing along the fan-lined fences is like skiing through a tunnel of pure sound. It’s easy to find zen-like mental focus when you can’t even hear yourself think.

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Ruhpolding’s stadium has capacity for over 13,000 people.

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Thousands more line the course. Photo: Hannah Dreissigacker

One evening, I was hanging out with the women’s team and we were chatting about various things we were each struggling with. Annelies came up with an idea to do some art therapy together. We started with a blank piece of paper and took turns drawing for 30 second bouts until we filled it up. Here’s what we came up with:
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Perhaps my favorite moment from the week came during the men’s relay. Heading into the first exchange, Team USA was leading thanks to an incredible performance by Lowell. The TV cameras zoomed into the the second leg athletes waiting for the tag off. Our youngest guy on the the team, 19 year-old Sean, stood there grinning from ear to ear.

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He was about to be tagged off to in the lead with the fastest guys in the world chasing after him. These guys were much older, stronger, and certainly more experienced than him but he was welcoming the challenge. In Sean’s smile, I recognized an attitude more important than results can ever be. It was the same spirit that brought me so far in biathlon in the first place, but one I had misplaced recently. It was a perfect reminder of what I really should be striving after.

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Competing in the mass start at the end of the week and feeling back on the right track (photo: Hannah Dreissigacker)