Green Racing Project Blog Header Image
  • Craftsbury Outdoor Center Logo
  • Concept2 SkiErg Logo
  • Podiumwear
  • Start Skiwaxes
  • Rudy Project
  • Ibex Outdoor Clothing
  • Mammut
  • Caldwell Sport
  • Sauce Headwear Logo

Archive for February, 2011

The Pilgrimage

28.Feb.2011 by Hannah Dreissigacker

A pilgrim–thats what I felt like as I made the trip out to my first-ever American Birkebeiner.   As I got closer and closer to the start of the Birkie I was joined by more and more fellow pilgrims.  I started the trip alone, flying out to Madison, Wi, where I met up with my friend Zoe. We made the next stage of the pilgrimage together, the almost 5-hour drive north to Springbrook, which is just south of Hayward, where the Birkie finishes.  There we joined up with Chelsea, Ollie, Matt, and Alex, and were later joined by Zoe’s brother as well.  On the day of the race, the numbers grew at a frenetic pace as we got closer and closer to the start. We drove to Hayward, during which time we listened to the Birkie radio station, which played the Birkie song.  It consisted almost entirely of the word “Birkebeiner,”  said faster and faster as the song went on.   It was perfect!  We loaded onto a school bus packed with racers, which took us north to Telemark Resort. Bus after bus after bus unloaded, and the lodge was so packed with people that it was hard to move around without stepping on sleeping master blasters.  Or maybe they weren’t sleeping, but instead just visualizing the course and hoping that this would be the year they’d move up the the 3rd wave, or earn their 25% club pin.  In the midst of the excitement I drastically underestimated how long the line at the porta-potties would take, and sort of ran out of time to warm up.  I grabbed my skis and bag and joined the teeming masses as we slipped and slid down the icy trail to the start. It felt sort of like I was going to battle–the kind of battle depicted in some old movie by a cast of thousands.  It was exciting! It was the peak of the Birkie Fever.

And then we were off, and it was just a ski race, not a battle.  It was the widest ski trail I’ve ever skied on. Fifty kilometers of it.   Also the most spectators I’ve ever seen at a ski race, especially given that it was about zero degrees.  My race went pretty well. I skied with the lead pack for the first 15 k or so, and then just sort of lost touch as we were passing groups of men from the men’s elite wave.  I was a little bummed about this, but really it may have been for the best.  I actually felt stronger in the last 10k than in the whole middle half of the race.  The finish was my favorite part–right down main street in Hayward, with cheering crowds lining the street the whole way!  This was awesome, I had no idea that this many people could be this excited about a ski race outside of Scandinavia!  It really gave me a whole lot of newfound respect for the midwest.  After the race, as I was confusedly looking for my teammates and trying to get warm in a bar, a local elderly couple bought me a hot cocoa, just for being a racer. I chatted with them–they had a summer house in Hayward, but always came up from Chicago to watch the Birkie, just for the excitement of it.  They later bought the whole team a pitcher of beer.

I’m hoping to go back to race the Birkie every year.  Eventually I want to be one of those old lady’s in the “birch leggings” club (meaning you’ve raced at least 20 times), coming back year after year regardless of whether not I’ve been training very much.

Wow, this has turned into a really long blog post.  I apologize!  But you see, I’ve been sitting in the Chicago airport for 6 hours and still have a few more to go, and so I’ve just really been relishing having something to do.

The Best Way to Switch Time Zones

27.Feb.2011 by Chelsea Little

After racing the Birkie in Wisconsin yesterday, I hitched a ride to Minneapolis and flew to Europe. It was a pretty crazy move, one that I am temporarily regretting because my legs really seized up in the car and then on the plane, and I am currently unsure whether I will ever be able to ski (or run, or move) again.

I’m usually really bad at sleeping on planes, but this time it was no problem. I was exhausted! The few minutes I had to wait in between eating the dinner they served us and them collecting the trash seemed like eternity; I just really wanted to pass out.

But I was kidding about regretting the trip – I am definitely sure that I made a good decision! I am currently in Amsterdam waiting for a connecting flight and watching the men’s World Championships pursuit live on TV. Tonight, I’ll be in Oslo, and tomorrow, I will be right there in Holmenkollen stadium watching the races and helping FasterSkier with reporting. Since there aren’t many races in New England next weekend, I don’t have to feel guilty about missing them, and honestly, watching the biggest races in the World in the most packed, electric venue in the world is going to do as much for my love, understanding, and appreciation of the sport and get me more excited about skiing and racing as doing another ski race myself possibly could.

So anyway. I have a lot to look forward to in the next week.

But the last week was pretty good too – I had a lot of fun at the Birkie! I actually felt horrible for the first 10k, and was really slow, so that was a bummer, but after that I had fun, much more fun than last year. And I managed to avoid getting frostbite, which was something of an accomplishment after hearing stories of what happened to some other racers. Regardless of the fact that I seem to be a really poor marathoner – for some reason I’m much worse at marathons than any other race – I am planning on doing quite a few more Birkies.

Elite Sprints

24.Feb.2011 by Chelsea Little

Today we raced in the Birkie Elite Sprints in Hayward, Wisconsin. It was a little bit like the sprints on the Common before the marathon, but only two skiers raced at a time, and the cones were realllllly close to each other. I went in the very first heat, against my former Dartmouth teammate Audrey Weber, and we got tangled up. In the end, I was out after one heat, as were Matt and Ollie. But Alex outlasted us, beating Matt in the first round before losing to Mikey in the next go-round. None of us were in the money but it was pretty fun.

Mikey Sinnott Alex Schulz

Ridnaun, Italy

23.Feb.2011 by Susan Dunklee

Schneeberg Panorama

Towering snow covered peaks and warm blue skies greeted our team as we drove up the Ridnaun valley last Friday to the site of U-26 Biathlon Championships.  Our home for the week is the Schneeberg Hotel, a four star resort complete with a giant spa wing and five course dinners.  Do you know the difference between a Finnish Sauna, a Finnish Sauna Vitarium, a Tyrolean Sauna, and a Climate Sauna, and a Caldarium?  Neither did I, but I’m learning.  The accommodations are amazing, and practically all the teams are staying in this giant hotel.  My only complaint is the party tent next door that plays Oompah music all day and pop music late into the night.

The biathlon venue is literally right out the back door and we’ve hardly had to use our van since we got here.  Our first race was an Individual format, biathlon’s longest race.  Instead of doing penalty laps, each missed target results in a one minute penalty.  I had a rough start to the race, missing 5 targets out of the first 10, but cleaned the rest to end up in the top fifteen.  Racing action continues tomorrow with relays.  My job is to be a super-fan for the day since we don’t have enough women here for a relay team.

“Are we going the right way?  This doesn’t exactly look like the Schneeberg…”  Kudos to Ethan for maneuvering the rickety Czech rental (a stick shift) up mountainside on very narrow switchbacks.  A more amazing achievement: he got us back down again when we dead-ended.

“Are we going the right way? This doesn’t exactly look like the Schneeberg…” Kudos to Ethan for maneuvering the rickety Czech rental (a stick shift) up mountainside on very narrow switchbacks. A more amazing achievement: he got us back down again when we dead-ended.

The Schneeberg

The Schneeberg

Other USBA athletes who have been to Ridnaun told me I had to find a certain shed full of sleds while I was here.  Kelly Kjorlien and I went looking and were rewarded with a ride down the mountainside.

Other USBA athletes who have been to Ridnaun told me I had to find a certain shed full of sleds while I was here. Kelly Kjorlien and I went searching and were rewarded with a ride down the mountainside.

My biathlon teammates had also told me wonderful things about the Schneeberg’s weekly dessert buffet.  Grace and I checked it out.

My biathlon teammates had also told me wonderful things about the Schneeberg’s weekly dessert buffet. Grace and I checked it out.

Local children on their way to opening ceremonies.  I think all the school children in the valley must have played some role in the ceremonies.  The best part was a fairy tale skit featuring a fight scene between knights and very young dwarves.

Local children on their way to opening ceremonies. I think all the school children in the valley must have played some role in the ceremonies. The best part was a fairy tale skit featuring a fight scene between knights and very young-looking dwarves.

This giant groomer can set 4 classic tracks at once.  Ethan and Raleigh scoped it out and discovered that it has a computerized touch screen in the cab.

This giant groomer can set 4 classic tracks at once. Ethan and Raleigh scoped it out and discovered that it has a computerized touch screen in the cab.

On the way to the range, we walk by the Schneeberg’s biomass boiler complex.   The wax cabins are in the foreground.

On the way to the range, we walk by the Schneeberg’s biomass boiler complex. The wax cabins are in the foreground.

Mixing it up on the sidelines of the guys’ individual race with our friendly neighbors to the north.  L to R: Rosanna Crawford, Claude Godbout, Grace Boutot and Corrine Malcolm.

Mixing it up on the sidelines of the guys’ individual race with our friendly neighbors to the north. L to R: Rosanna Crawford, Claude Godbout, Grace Boutot and Corrine Malcolm.

Wynn Roberts grabs a feed from coach Pat Coffey partway through his 20 km.

Wynn Roberts grabs a feed from coach Pat Coffey partway through his 20 km.