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Archive for April, 2011

Movin’ to the County…

26.Apr.2011 by Lauren Jacobs

For those who have not already heard, I will be heading up to “The County” soon to start a job with Maine Winter Sports Center. I’ll be living in Presque Isle but working all over Aroostook County with MWSC’s Healthy Hometowns program. One comment I’ve been getting frequently is, “Oh great! And you’ll be closer to home, right?” Well, no, actually. Craftsbury is a little under 4 hours west of where my dad lives, and Presque Isle is a little over 4 hours north. Maine is a big state. But it’s great to be home!

My two years in Craftsbury were amazing: great people, great place, and great experiences. Even though I’m excited about the adventures to come, I was sad to say goodbye. I’ll miss the people the most, of course. But I’ll also miss the view from Elinor’s kitchen windows, watching the morning mist rise off of the headwaters of the Black River. I’ll miss pre-dinner rows in the double with Chelsea. I’ll miss spring crust skiing on the corn fields off Sam’s. I’ll miss adventure runs around Mansfield and Jay. I’ll miss Pepa feeding us donuts and popsicles during OD rollerskis. There are a many more things I’ll miss, but we’ll leave it at that for now.

Here is a very random photographic retrospective (in no particular order) from the last two years:

Chelsea and I on a jaunt around Jay.

Chelsea and I on a jaunt around Jay.

Quick Quiz: Who is this?

Quick Quiz: Who is this?

Mmmm...pizza.

Mmmm...pizza.

Susan playing beanbag biathlon with the littlest skiers on Kids Day.

Susan playing beanbag biathlon with the littlest skiers on Kids Day.

Magdelana Neuner fans came (with their special jackets) for the Fort Kent World Cup.

Magdalena Neuner fans came out in force (with their special jackets) for the Fort Kent World Cup.

Probably the most beautiful location for a dryland training camp: Tahoe.

Probably the most beautiful location for a dryland training camp: Tahoe.

The Craftsbury boys at the 2011 BKL Fest.

The Craftsbury boys at the 2011 BKL Fest.

Spring skiing on Murphy's field.

Spring skiing on Murphy's field.

Oh yeah, I'll miss the rope swing for sure!

Oh yeah, I'll miss the rope swing for sure!

Sunset over the stadium in Finland.

Sunset over the stadium in Finland.

Thanksgiving dinner in West Yellowstone '09.

Thanksgiving dinner in West Yellowstone '09.

Very cold biathlon race in Jericho.

Very cold biathlon race in Jericho.

Last practice with the BKLers.

Last practice with the BKLers.

One last great ski

19.Apr.2011 by Patrick O'Brien

This past weekend Ida and I headed north to Craftsbury to pick up some stuff from the farmhouse and squeeze in some of the seasons last real skiing. Aside from a 7 hour layover in my own bed before leaving for Sun Valley, I hadn’t been in Craftsbury since departing for Europe the 28th of February. Before we left for Europe, Craftsbury was definitely flush with snow, and from the sounds of the grooming reports the good skiing only got better by the time the Spring Tour rolled around.  I have to admit though, despite all of the snow this season I was very skeptical on the drive up up north. Warm weather and heavy rain this last week made quick work of what snow remained on the ground here in Southern Vermont.  I was sure that Craftsbury would fare the same fate. I was quite wrong though! Despite much of the snow melting off on exposed slopes and in the fields there was still considerable snow-pack on the core trails

Lots of snow still on the core trails!

Lots of snow still on the core trails!

All the snow farming from the fields onto the trails mid winter...

All the snow farming from the fields onto the trails mid winter...

means there is still great skiing into the middle of April!

means there is still great skiing into the middle of April!

Ida sneaking across the downhill on Ruthies where spring melt jumped the stream and flooded across the trail

Ida sneaking across the downhill on Ruthies where spring melt jumped the stream and flooded across the trail

Wilbur's field

Wilbur's field

PB grooming April 15th! Can't ask for much more than that!

PB grooming and fresh tracks April 15th! Can't ask for much more than that!

If your looking for some great late season skiing and are in the area make sure to hit up the COC. The snow is going to go fast this late in the year and there will probably be some bare patches but judging by the amount of snow left on parts of Race Loop, Bailey Hazen, and Lemons Haunt there should be skiing in Craftsbury for a while yet! Ski it while you can!

SV Pics

14.Apr.2011 by Patrick O'Brien
Some belated pictures from Spring Series and Super Tour Finals from my camera (and other albums)
Ida and Caitlin up the Hammer (photo: Ruff Patterson)

Ida and Caitlin up the Hammer (photo: Ruff Patterson)

Tim skiing smooth

Tim skiing smooth (Ruff Patterson)

Hannah starting the climb

Hannah starting the climb (Ruff Patterson photo)

Dilly

Dilly, same climb (Ruff Patterson)

Kikkan leading the train for 10k

Kikkan leading the train for 10k

Hannah chasing

Hannah chasing

Sprint qualifying (photo: Sverre Caldwell)

Sprint qualifying (photo: Sverre Caldwell)

Ida into the finish of the 10k

Ida into the finish of the 10k

Skiing in Park City, pre Spring Series

Skiing in Park City, pre Spring Series

The snow is going fast here in the East but hopefully there is still enough for a few more awesome skis in April!

Mammoth Lakes: Home of North America’s Largest Biathlon Race

6.Apr.2011 by Susan Dunklee

Tamarack

A few weeks ago, I could have told you that Mammoth Lakes sits in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, but that’s all I knew about it.  I wasn’t aware that it receives an average of 400 inches of snow and 300 days of sunshine a year.  I didn’t know that hundreds of Los Angeles residents flock to Mammoth Mountain every winter weekend to ski.  I hadn’t heard that many elite endurance athletes, such as marathoner Deena Kastor, choose to live in Mammoth Lakes for the altitude advantage (town sits about 8,000 ft).  Nor did I realize Yosemite National Park lies just to the west and the town itself sits in one of the largest volcanic calderas in the world with lots of interesting geologic features, such as hotsprings and fumaroles (steam vents).  Sounds like a pretty neat place, doesn’t it?  However, one of the most surprising things that I didn’t know about Mammoth Lakes is that it is home to North America’s Largest Biathlon Race.

The vision behind biathlon in Mammoth Lakes comes from Doctor Mike Karch (right).

The vision behind Mammoth Lakes Biathlon comes from Doctor Mike Karch (right).

Mammoth Lakes’ biathlon program began four years ago under the leadership of Mike Karch and his wife Kim Escudero.  As a National Nordic Combined Team’s doctor, Mike traveled to Europe and experienced Scandanavia’s enthusiasm for Nordic sports firsthand.  He returned home determined to bring that energy to his own community, choosing to start with the sport of biathlon.  First he acquired some rifles and convinced his friends and coworkers (including half the doctors from the local hospital) to try out the sport.  Then they “volunteered” (with a little encouragement from Mike) to help organize what would become an annual event.

Mammoth Lakes biathlon has grown into a popular multiday event.  (Photo credit: Jim Barnes)

Mammoth Lakes biathlon has grown into a popular, multiday production. (Photo credit: Jim Barnes)

In four years, the Mammoth Lakes community has accomplished a lot.  Despite the lack of a permanent range site and a record snow year (600 inches and counting) they constructed a temporary range the day before the first race on National Forest land that was several miles from the nearest automobile access point.  Even with limited range access, 300 participants and countless volunteers (including a construction company to help build the range) signed up for the weekend of clinics and races.  There were race categories for everybody, with separate divisions for kids, beginners, intermediates, advanced, elite, Wounded Warriors, and disabled athletes.  The range itself featured 20 targets with mats, and a fleet of rifles and laser rifles (much of this material was acquired through town and community recreation funds).   With the help of Mammoth Mountain, race organizers secured Ford as the title sponsor for the event.  Versus/Outdoor channel offered to broadcast helicopter footage of the races (although the helicopter was replaced at the last minute with ground cameramen due to weather concerns).  Whit Raymond, the commentator for Ironman World Championships, came to town and brought energy to race days with his announcing.  Mammoth Lakes is a wonderful case study for what can be done to promote Nordic sports in North America.

Since Mammoth Lakes doesn’t have a local community of experienced biathletes yet, Mike invited myself and several other National Team members to fly to town for the weekend, stay with host families, and participate in the elite race.  I didn’t hesitate to sign up.  Immediately following Nationals, and with about four days notice, I found myself on a plane again heading west.

I am very grateful to the Will family (Doug, Sherilynne, and their son Jason) for hosting me while I was in town.  All three are avid runners and skiers,  and became some of Mike's first recruits to try out biathlon.  Jason (bib 33) won the second heat of the elite race.  His father (background in the same suit) also competed.

I am very grateful to the Will family (Doug, Sherilynne, and their son Jason) for hosting me while I was in town. All three are avid runners and skiers, and became some of Mike’s first recruits to try out biathlon. Jason (bib 33) won the second heat of the elite race. His father (background in the same suit) also competed.

The first day of the three day event was comprised of shooting clinics for beginners and kids.  Due to a large snow storm, the clinics were moved inside and the 22 caliber rifles were swapped for laser rifles.

Raleigh Goessling, a Junior National Team member, and I spent a day delayed in the airport.   We arrived in time on Friday to help Altius Firearm’s Marc Sheppard with the day’s last clinic.

Raleigh Goessling, a Junior National Team member, and I spent a day delayed in the airport. We arrived in time on Friday to help Altius Firearm’s Marc Sheppard with the day’s last clinic.

The first scheduled day of racing (Saturday) was also modified due to blustery whiteout conditions.  All the kids, Wounded Warriors, beginner, and disabled athletes had to settle for a ski race instead of a biathlon race.  One of the primary goals of the community is to build a base of local biathletes, so it was particularly disappointing that the kids didn’t get to shoot.  However, everybody still had fun and the day was a grand success.

Sideways wind at the range site on Saturday.

Sideways wind at the range site on Saturday.

Some of the medal winners from Saturday’s ski races:

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Tamarack cross country ski center with about 25-30 feet of base.

Tamarack cross country ski center with about 25-30 feet of base.

The final day of races included the intermediate, advanced and elite categories.  Races were delayed a couple hours so road crews could blast for avalanche control (an almost daily occurence in town) but the delay didn’t seem to bother anybody.  Conditions were still windy, but much tamer than the day before.  The easterner in me was psyched about how sunny it was, although the locals dismissed it as “mostly cloudy.”  I raced in the elite race with my National Teammates, some national guard biathletes, and a few other experienced athletes.  It wasn’t pretty;  racing at 9,000 ft sure hurts on only two days of acclimation.

Thanks to Jim Barnes for this photo

Thanks to Jim Barnes for this photo

Spectators of all ages came to watch.

Spectators of all ages came to watch.  Shuttles throughout the day helped spectators travel the long climb to the stadium.

Several vendors set up tents alongside the stadium and many people bought Mammoth Lakes Biathlon cowbells, T-shirts, and hats.

Several vendors set up tents alongside the stadium and many people bought Mammoth Lakes Biathlon cowbells, T-shirts, and hats.

This competitor was the crowd's favorite.  Wearing jeans, a button down shirt, and no gloves, he competed with a pair of fat touring skis and his own 22 caliber rifle slung over his back.  The entire stadium cheered when he conquered the wind and hit a few standing targets.

This competitor was the crowd’s favorite. Wearing jeans, a button down shirt, and no gloves, he competed with a pair of fat touring skis and his own 22 caliber rifle slung over his shoulder. The entire stadium cheered when he mastered the strong winds to hit a few standing targets.

Setting and taking down the stadium was a logistic challenge, due to deep snow and a several km trek from the nearest road.

Setting up and taking down the stadium was a logistical challenge, due to deep snow and a several km trek from the nearest road.  Mike hopes to find a more permanent range site in the future that the community will be able to train on year round instead of one weekend a year. 

I decided to stay in town several extra days along with my teammate Wynn Roberts.  I had a great time going xc skiing, alpine skiing, sledding, night mountain biking, horseback riding, and exploring some of the area’s geothermal sites.  I hope to make it back in the next few years for future biathlon competitions and some high altitude training.

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Skiing with Mammoth’s junior xc ski team. Wynn brainstormed some fun races and relays.

I try to make it out on alpine skis at least once a year.  Left to right: Jason Will, myself, Jill Morrison (a high school buddy from Lyndonville who now lives in the area) and Wynn.  We finished the day with painful sunburns.

I try to make it out on alpine skis at least once a year.   This year I avoided eastern ice.  Left to right: Jason Will, myself, Jill Morrison (a high school buddy from Lyndonville who now lives in the area) and Wynn. We finished the day with painful sunburns.