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Archive for December, 2011

Rogla in pictures

23.Dec.2011 by Ida Sargent

The last weekend of Period 1 World Cup racing was in Slovenia.  We had once again heard rumors of no snow and those rumors proved to be true when we arrived Wednesday evening to a heavy warm rain in Zrece, the town where we were staying for the weekend’s races.  The venue was in Rogla, a resort village in the mountains and about a 30 minute drive up a steep, twisty mountain road.

Due to the lack of snow, we were told that the course wasn't going to be open on Thursday so all of the athletes stayed in town and went on a rainy team run.  Keeping the running muscles ready has continued to be valuable this winter.  The coaches went to the venue that morning to set up the wax cabins and check out the conditions.  This picture was taken from one of the better sections of the course.  Apparently the ground was muddy and unfrozen, the stadium was completely bare, and there were a handful of old tractors slowly moving snow onto a narrow ribbon of trail.

Due to the lack of snow, we were told that the course wasn't going to be open on Thursday so all of the athletes stayed in town and went on a rainy team run. Keeping the running muscles ready has continued to be valuable this winter. The coaches went to the venue that morning to set up the wax cabins and check out the conditions. This picture was taken from one of the better sections of the course. Apparently the ground was muddy and unfrozen, the stadium was completely bare, and there were a handful of old tractors slowly moving snow onto a narrow ribbon of trail.

On Friday morning we went to the venue to ski and this was what we saw...not much!  The weather was nasty on the top of the mountain.  It was foggy, sleeting, and blowing over 50mph.  The course was all out in the open so planting my poles into the crosswinds sometimes proved impossible and I landed on my face a few times.  The waxing was just as tricky and we were struggling to find anything that would kick on the icy tracks but not completely catch and grab in the windblown snow.  It was not the most ideal prerace workout.

On Friday morning we went to the venue to ski and this was what we saw...not much! The weather was nasty on the top of the mountain. It was foggy, sleeting, and blowing over 50mph. The course was all out in the open so planting my poles into the crosswinds sometimes proved impossible and I landed on my face a few times. The waxing was just as tricky and we were struggling to find anything that would kick on the icy tracks but not completely catch and grab in the windblown snow. It was not the most ideal prerace workout.

Our hotel proved to be just as interesting.  It was a combination between a Slovenian four star hotel and a nursing home.  Everyone staying there was either a World Cup skier or 85 years old and in a wheelchair.  It was a really nice big hotel with spacious rooms and a spa center, but everything wafted of an old folks home.  They provided us with these super fuzzy bathrobes which Liz is modelling and were even more often worn by the packs of elderly people walking with walkers down the hallways.  Also being located in Slovenia wine country, at 1.10Euro per glass, it was cheaper to order wine than water with dinner.

Our hotel proved to be just as interesting. It was a combination between a Slovenian four star hotel and a nursing home. Everyone staying there was either a World Cup skier or 85 years old and in a wheelchair. It was a really nice big hotel with spacious rooms and a spa center, but everything wafted of an old folks home. They provided us with these super fuzzy bathrobes which Liz is modelling and were even more often worn by the packs of elderly people walking with walkers down the hallways. Also being located in Slovenia wine country, at 1.10Euro per glass, it was cheaper to order wine than water with dinner.

Saturday brought my first ever World Cup mass start race.  I had previously scrambled in a couple relays and done a pursuit start but this was my first mass start race and it was a 10km classic, one of my favorite races so I was super excited.  I was seeded 49th so towards the back of the field and I just wanted to stay out of trouble and move up through the field.  I think I succeeded in both goals but the second one perhaps a bit too quickly.  I moved up about 30 places in the first couple laps and was surprised to feel that it didn’t even feel that fast.  I think the effort must have been masked by the adrenaline though because the last lap and a half were really tough.  I was still in 30th with less than a half kilometer to go when a group of girls passed me and proceeded to put close to 15 seconds on me before the finish line!  Yikes!  I’m glad the race wasn’t any longer than it was!  I finished a little bummed in38th but it was my second best distance finish.

Saturday brought my first ever World Cup mass start race. I had previously scrambled in a couple relays and done a pursuit start but this was my first mass start race and it was a 10km classic, one of my favorite races so I was super excited. I was seeded 49th so towards the back of the field and I just wanted to stay out of trouble and move up through the field. I think I succeeded in both goals but the second one perhaps a bit too quickly. I moved up about 30 places in the first couple laps and was surprised to feel that it didn’t even feel that fast. I think the effort must have been masked by the adrenaline though because the last lap and a half were really tough. I was still in 30th with less than a half kilometer to go when a group of girls passed me and proceeded to put close to 15 seconds on me before the finish line! Yikes! I’m glad the race wasn’t any longer than it was! I finished a little bummed in38th but it was my second best distance finish. Fischer/Nordic Focus Photo

Sunday brought a really big first for me as I scored my first World Cup points and skied in a quarterfinal!  I just squeaked into the heats with a 30th place qualifying place!  Making the heats had been my goal for this trip so it was awesome to do it in my last race here.  I was pretty ecstatic and couldn’t stop smiling or running around.  I went into the athlete lounge to grab a snack and relax before the quarterfinals and found an espresso machine.  So after hitting that up, my excitement level was seriously high.

Sunday brought a really big first for me as I scored my first World Cup points and skied in a quarterfinal! I just squeaked into the heats with a 30th place qualifying place! Making the heats had been my goal for this trip so it was awesome to do it in my last race here. I was pretty ecstatic and couldn’t stop smiling or running around. I went into the athlete lounge to grab a snack and relax before the quarterfinals and found an espresso machine. So after hitting that up, my excitement level was seriously high.

In my quarterfinal I got a good start and was sitting in 2nd.  I was content following but I guess I should have been more aggressive because I let up for just a moment and all of a sudden was in 6th place.  It happened so quickly and made me immediately realize that this was a different level than anything I had experienced before.   I tried my best to move up but with a twisty section and then a narrow hill, passing was tough.

In my quarterfinal I got a good start and was sitting in 2nd. I was content following but I guess I should have been more aggressive because I let up for just a moment and all of a sudden was in 6th place. It happened so quickly and made me immediately realize that this was a different level than anything I had experienced before. I tried my best to move up but with a twisty section and then a narrow hill, passing was tough.

I outsprinted one woman in the lanes and ended up 5th in my heat and 25th overall .   Those two and a half minutes of racing were so incredibly fun and made all the tough qualifiers I had done earlier this winter totally worth it! I can't wait to do it again!

I outsprinted one woman in the lanes and ended up 5th in my heat and 25th overall . Those two and a half minutes of racing were so incredibly fun and made all the tough qualifiers I had done earlier this winter totally worth it! I can't wait to do it again!

It was another great weekend for the US team with 8 top 30 finishes and six personal bests in the specific discipline.

It was another great weekend for the US team with 8 top 30 finishes and six personal bests in the specific discipline.

This is the sunset from my last night in Europe.  Now I’m back in Craftsbury and very psyched to be home!  The crew here has done an amazing job getting the snowmaking system up and running and the skiing is really good.  I have a lot of experience on short manmade loops of snow now and I think this is the best one yet!  We are still doing our snow dances, though, with hopes for a white Christmas!

This is the sunset from my last night in Europe. Now I’m back in Craftsbury and very psyched to be home! The crew here has done an amazing job getting the snowmaking system up and running and the skiing is really good. I have a lot of experience on short manmade loops of snow now and I think this is the best one yet! We are still doing our snow dances, though, with hopes for a white Christmas!

When the snow finally came

22.Dec.2011 by Ida Sargent

We traveled from Dusseldorf back to Davos with rumors that it was actually snowing!  I was hesitant to believe it as it was pouring on the drive from the Zurich airport but when we climbed out of one of the upper tunnels on the drive, big fat fluffy flakes were falling.  Snowflakes in the air and accumulating on the ground!  It continued to snow for the rest of that day and then a few days later.  At first it was just enough to cover the mountains and ground giving an actual wintery look to the landscape but soon it was enough that we were no longer reliant on the manmade snow and we were able to venture out from the short training loops.  The day after the races in Davos our whole team along with the Canadian team headed out away from the stadium and up one of the valleys.  Kikkan had a portable speaker in her waterbottle holder and was blasting Christmas music as we skied along.  When we got to the end of the groomed trail, we continued on, first following ski tracks of others, and then breaking our own trail.  Powder…what is this stuff?  One 3 hour loop?  That’s almost overwhelming.  After a tough weekend of racing the ski was exactly what I needed and put the spring back in my step.  Spending the morning outside tromping through lots of fresh snow and cutting fresh tracks with my teammates and friends reminded me of how much I love the sport and how lucky I am to be here living this lifestyle.

Looking up the valley towards Davos

Looking up the valley towards Davos

The girlies striding up the hill with Christmas carols in the air

The girlies striding up the hill with Christmas carols in the air

Liz on the way back down

Liz on the way back down

Making friends

Making friends

This is the view from the stadium on race day.  It doesn't get much better than this!

This is the view from the stadium on race day. There were lots of Swiss fans with barrel sized giant cow bells

Feeling really lucky!  It doesn't get much better than this!

Feeling really lucky! It doesn't get much better than this!

Craftsbury Livin’ in Photographs

17.Dec.2011 by Hannah Dreissigacker

I’m actually in Minnesota right now, not Craftsbury–it’s funny how I always feel like I don’t have any time to write blogs when I’m in Craftsbury–but here in Grand Rapids, MN there’s plenty of time for things like that.  I’m a little bummed to be missing out on the excitement of the big opening Eastern Cup back on the home turf, but I’m racing some biathlon IBU cup trials out here and hoping to qualify!

Some of these pictures are a little old now, but they’re all from our last few weeks in Craftsbury after getting back from Finland.

Clare skiing in the sunset on Murphy's field after the awesome Thanksgiving Blizzard that brought us mid-winter-like conditions for a few days!

Clare skiing in the sunset on Murphy's field after the awesome Thanksgiving Blizzard that brought us mid-winter-like conditions for a few days!

Our new friend Mo (after her sweet mohawk), the grouse.  Mo has been hanging out around the house, and followed us the entire time we stacked wood and did other things in the yard.  She even followed me down to the range and hung out while I had shooting practice!

Our new friend Mo (after her sweet mohawk), the grouse. Mo has been hanging out around the house, and followed us the entire time we stacked wood and did other things in the yard. She even followed me down to the range and hung out while I had shooting practice! As you can see, the snow melted...

Our beautiful completed woodpile!  Its a good thing Pat was there, or we might not have made it perfect.  Now we just needed to get the woodstove installed!

Pat an Nils put the roofing on our beautiful completed woodpile! Its a good thing Pat was there, or we might not have made it quite so perfect. Now we just needed to get the woodstove installed!

Pat tried out Pepa's gypsy cough remedy (which all the other Bulgarians swore by too)--put honey all over your chest and cover it with a paper bag.  Then soak a sock in whiskey and put that around your neck.  Pepa was on his case until he tried it--but I think he was actually supposed to sleep with it all on, instead of hang out and read Cosmo (thats right, caught!) for half an hour.

Pat tried out Pepa's gypsy cough remedy (which all the other Bulgarians swore by too)--put honey all over your chest and cover it with a paper bag. Then soak a sock in whiskey and put that around your neck. Pepa was on his case until he tried it--but I think he was actually supposed to sleep with it all on, instead of hang out and read Cosmo (thats right, caught!) for half an hour.

It finally got cold enough for snowmaking, and they fired up the guns!

It finally got cold enough for snowmaking, and they fired up the guns!

Proof that we can go out (near) Craftsbury! Claire's in Hardwick had a "Glitter Ball", and we stayed up past our bedtimes to go!  The boys came too, but they weren't as glittery...

Proof that we can go out (near) Craftsbury! Claire's in Hardwick had a "Glitter Ball", and we stayed up past our bedtimes to go! The boys came too, but they weren't as glittery...

The snowmaking crew was able to make huge piles, and then spent several days spreading it around a 1.5 k loop.  Here Pepa's overseeing.  Pat and Dylan drove truckfulls of snow all day.

The snowmaking crew was able to make huge piles, and then spent several days spreading it around a 1.5 k loop. Here Pepa's overseeing. Pat and Dylan drove truckfulls of snow all day.

Pat works on rigging up the stove insert for our nice-looking but very inefficient fireplace.

Pat works on rigging up the stove insert for our nice-looking but very inefficient fireplace.

And now we have a wood stove!!  HUGE thanks to George and Charlotte Hall, who gave us the stove!

And now we have a wood stove!! HUGE thanks to George and Charlotte Hall, who gave us the stove!

City Sprinting

15.Dec.2011 by Ida Sargent
The ribbon of snow with Dusseldorf's impressive architecture in the background

The ribbon of snow with Dusseldorf's impressive architecture in the background

This winter I’ve become accustomed skiing on a ribbon on snow threading through the dry woods.  First it was Muonio.  Then it was Sjusjoen which was closely followed by Kuusamo.  We flew to central Europe and skied in Davos and Pontresina on more manmade loops.  Since I had only skied on short loops raised a foot or so off the snowless ground, arriving in the city of Dusseldorf, Germany to find a 750 meter loop of snow on top of the city streets seemed rather normal.  This was my first experience racing a city sprint and it was awesome!

On Friday afternoon and evening snow is trucked into the center of Dusseldorf from an indoor alpine ski run near the city.  With warm rainy weather the snow starts melting about as soon as it is laid down so they wait until the last possible moment.  The course isn’t open for preview until the morning of the race and even then it’s only open for a short inspection period so we didn’t even travel to Dusseldorf until Friday afternoon.  We checked into our hotel where all the other teams were also staying and then went for a run along the Rhine.  A lot of teams had brought rollerskis and were rollerskiing the afternoon before the race but my rollerskis are tucked away in the basement of Elinor’s house and will stay there until the spring.  .  The course was fast, icy, narrow, and flat and was bordered by the Rhine on one side and the city of Dusseldorf on the other .  There is one small bump in the middle named “Mt. Dusseldorf” which has an elevation of approximately three or four meters and the rest of the course is flat.  I was expecting it to be pretty slushy but it was actually very hard and icy.  Saturday the snow was relatively clean but the wear and tear of Saturday’s racing as well as the pollution of city life had played its role and Sunday’s track was noticeably blacker.  Saturday was a individual skate sprint while Sunday was a team sprint.

Skiing around the loop during Saturday morning’s inspection period was incredibly fun.  It was packed with skiers and wax technicians hammering the narrow course while fans began to line up around the edges.   The smell of Gluwein was strongly wafting through one turn of the course and there were cafes, bars, and lots of music everywhere.  I couldn’t wait to race!  Unfortunately I was a little too excited and tripped the want early, waited like a deer in the headlights staring at the screen while the starter said something to me in German, and the sprinted out of the gates frantically a few seconds later.  I skied as fast as I could but the race was over before I knew it and you can’t give up a few seconds just standing there in a sprint that is well under two minutes.  I was pretty frustrated with myself but it was exciting to watch a lot of aggressive skiing on the fast and narrow course.  It was a great day for the American women with Kikkan winning her first sprint of the season while Chandra Crawford from Canada placed 4th!  Sunday was a team sprint and I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had only done this event once before  when I was a junior in high school.  I partnered with Holly Brooks and skied the first leg in our semifinal heat of twelve teams.  We messed up our first tag, lost contact with the lead group, and just missed qualifying for the finals.  I did a running cooldown from the race through the busy Christmas markets and then returned to the course to watch the finals which Sadie and Kikkan were racing in together.  It was another exciting race with an amazing finish as Kikkan moved up from 9th to 2nd during the last leg!!  It was so inspiring to see two teammates on the World Cup podium!

As soon as the race was over the plows showed up to clear the city streets and we headed back to Davos, Switzerland for some more training before the next weekend’s races but I’m looking forward to coming back!  Here are some pictures from the weekend.

The course alongside the Rhine

The course alongside the Rhine

With the snow melting quickly, course access was limited and only a small part of the warmup was done on skis.  Thanks to Concept2 for providing SkiErgs for athletes to warm up on.  It's hard to be ready to ski 750 meters as fast as you can after a lot of running so the SkiErg was a great solution.  Here is Sadie doing some double poling!

With the snow melting quickly, course access was limited and only a small part of the warmup was done on skis. Thanks to Concept2 for providing SkiErgs for athletes to warm up on. It's hard to be ready to ski 750 meters as fast as you can after a loof running so the SkiErg was a great solution. Here is Sadie doing some double poling!

With some aggressive skiing and a strong finish Kikkan scored her first World Cup victory of this season!

With some aggressive skiing and a strong finish Kikkan scored her first World Cup victory of this season!

The team sprint was exciting and chaotic with lots of skiers racing on the narrow loop.  The exchange zone (shown above in one of the men's semifinals) was a maze of skiers, skis, and poles!

The team sprint was exciting and chaotic with lots of skiers racing on the narrow loop. The exchange zone (shown above in one of the men's semifinals) was a maze of skiers, skis, and poles!

The Canadians at the front of the women's final.  It was a great weekend as well for a northern neighbors and realy inspiring to see North Americans skiing so fast!nd

The Canadians at the front of the women's final. It was a great weekend as well for a northern neighbors and realy inspiring to see North Americans skiing so fast!nd

This one definitely gave me the chills! Way to go Sadie and Kikkan!

This one definitely gave me the chills! Way to go Sadie and Kikkan!

Dusseldorf was busy this weekend!  We had fun walking around the downtown section of the city after the race and exploring the Christmas markets.

Dusseldorf was busy this weekend! We had fun walking around the downtown section of the city after the race and exploring the Christmas markets.The busy advent markets featured Christmas crafts, tasty food, and a big selection of Gluwein.