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Archive for January, 2012

Clare’s first classic marathon, right here in Craftsbury!

31.Jan.2012 by Clare Egan

I was a little nervous for the Craftsbury Marathon, because I had never done a classic race longer than 30km. The four-loop course we did for this year’s marathon totaled around 44km, so I wasn’t sure how I would fare in the final third of the race. My two concerns were food and kick wax (but mostly food).

There were two feed stations on the 11km loop, and my plan was to drink at every one and to eat a gel (does one eat a gel? take? slurp? imbibe? gag?) at least once per lap. I had a somewhat unpleasant product testing experience with the Montana Huckleberry Hammer Gel during an interval workout the week before the marathon, and I was apprehensive that it might be even harder to get down in a race than in practice. But I am glad to report that the opposite turned out to be true. With my adrenaline pumping, I easily gulped the goo and washed it down with a surprise mixture of coffee, flat Coke, and “magnesium fuzzy pill”. As much as I hate to perpetuate Pepa’s gypsy remedies, I may have to subscribe to this one.

So I avoided bonking, but I did have to stop and re-wax my skis! Since all of the women started in the second wave, I passed a lot of men on my first lap. Getting in and out of the tracks on the icy trail wore down my klister, so as I skied by Pepa after completing my first lap, I told her I would need to stop for more wax after my second one. I spent my whole second lap fairly anxious, because Robyn Anderson (who finished second) was using a snazzy pair of Atomic fish scale skis which would of course not need to be re-waxed. When I came in from my second lap, Pepa and Jeremy were ready with the klister, a cork, and the Coke. As I was pulled over, messily globbing on klister, Robyn took the lead! I hastily set out after her, only to fall on my face, thanks to my poor klister corking job. Once on course again, I felt the boost of the Coke and was delighted to have solid kick under foot again. I caught Robyn within a few kilometers, passed her, and never looked back! It was a pleasant second half of the race. When I race the Birkie in less than a month, I will be hanging on to the pack rather than leading the way, which will make it a very different experience. Still, it feels great to have a marathon under my belt…and a win!

Clare craftsbury marathon

Coming down the finishing stretch

Alles gut!

30.Jan.2012 by Ida Sargent

Life is good and I’m feeling very lucky!  I just finished up an awesome training camp in Ramsau, Austria.  A week off from the World Cup was an opportunity to increase the volume and put in a short block of training a midst a busy period of racing.  I couldn’t have asked for a better location either than Ramsau.  We arrived in a blizzard and it was exciting to watch the snow accumulate on already giant snow banks!  A couple days into our stay, the snowstorm cleared and we have had clear sunny skies and absolutely perfect ski conditions.  I found new trails each day and it was hard to not ski for hours on end!  We took a few adventures into Schladming and Bad Ischl, Austria to explore the surrounding area.  I’m very grateful to be apart of such an enthusiastic and supportive team, a close family on the road.  And at the same time it’s exciting to hear reports of the rest of the team skiing super fast at the Craftsbury Marathon, Midwest SuperTours, Biathlon World Cups, and U26 Biathlon Champs.  We’ve got a great thing going!  Tomorrow I’m headed to Russia for a sprint in Moscow and a skiathlon in Rybinsk!  Here are some pictures of the week in Austria.

Waldrand Hotel and Apartmentswas our home for the week in Ramsau and we could ski out the front door.

Waldrand Hotel and Apartmentswas our home for the week in Ramsau and we could ski out the front door.

Liz making some turns in the powder

Liz making some turns in the powder

Chandra Crawford of Canada joined us for the week and was a speedy training partner and a great addition to the team!

Chandra Crawford of Canada joined us for the week and was a speedy training partner and a great addition to the team!

We watched a World Cup night slalom in Schladming

We watched a World Cup night slalom in Schladming

It was hard to see the skiing, though, because there were so many crazy Austrian fans

It was hard to see the skiing, though, because there were so many crazy Austrian fans

My birthday fell midweek and I celebrated with a long ski with the girls.

My birthday fell midweek and I celebrated with a long ski with the girls.

They picked out my outfit which included a crown, Mardi Gras beads, and pink sequin suspenders

They picked out my outfit which included a crown, Mardi Gras beads, and pink sequin suspenders

Another ski in the afternoon, a waffle birthday cake with marzipan pigs, and it was one of the best birthday celebrations

Another ski in the afternoon, a waffle birthday cake with marzipan pigs, and it was one of the best birthday celebrations

When the sun came out this was the view from our hotel

When the sun came out this was the view from our hotel

I wish I could send some of this snow home!

I wish I could send some of this snow home!

There are ski trails everywhere here including through people's backyards.

There are ski trails everywhere here including through people's backyards.

The stadium where we raced OPA cup finals last March

The stadium where we raced OPA cup finals last March

The weather wasn't quite as warm for this trip but there was a lot more snow!

The weather wasn't quite as warm for this trip but there was a lot more snow!

ramsau10ramsau6

The hut at the top of the "Around the mountain loop"

The hut at the top of the "Around the mountain loop"

Auf Wiedersehen

Auf Wiedersehen

Austrian National Champs

30.Jan.2012 by Ida Sargent

On Saturday we raced the 5/10km classic at  the Austrian National Championships.  The race was held at  Rettenbachalm, a little ski area in Bad Isch, Austria which was 15km up a single lane snowy road that bordered a steep drop-off into a raging brook.  It was really fun to experience a different kind of National Championships and one that was much more low-key than the races earlier this month in Rumford.   The field size was still relatively large but only because every Nordic skier in Austria, from J5s to Masters put on a bib. We showed up morning of the race and previewed the course which wasn’t closed during the races, raced and then won some local chocolate which we enjoyed with a hearty lunch of goulash soup.

The stadium at Rettinbachalm

The stadium at Rettinbachalm

Andy Newell and Kris Freeman in a train with some other Austrian skiers.

Andy Newell and Kris Freeman in a train with some other Austrian skiers.

Chandra Crawford, the Austrian National Champion

Chandra Crawford, the Austrian National Champion

Liz sprints to the finish

Liz sprints to the finish

Simi

Simi

Andy striding one of the few climbs that didn't require herringboning.

Andy striding one of the few climbs that didn’t require herringboning.
Men's podium

Men's podium

North America sweeps the women's podium

North America sweeps the women's podium

Otepaa Classic Style

26.Jan.2012 by Ida Sargent

Last weekend we had a classic double header in Otepaa, Estonia.  Saturday was a classic sprint and then Sunday was a 10km classic.  We’ve had a lot of skate races and especially skate sprints this winter so I was excited to switch it up.  Just a week and a half ago we had heard that Estonia was warm and snowless but then a big snowstorm hit and there was so much snow that our shuttle bus from the airport got stuck on the way to our hotel and we had to trek all our luggage the last half kilometer.

On Thursday we previewed the race courses while the snow continued to fall.  I immediately fell in love with the distance course.  It was a 5km lap and every hill was followed by another one that was longer and steeper.  It was one of the most challenging course I had skied yet this year.  The sprint course on the other hand was very flat.  With only one hill and the longest finishing stretch ever, it was time to get the double pole on.  After skiing both courses I was pretty sure that the 10km was going to be awesome and that the sprint race was going to be a tough one for me.  When the opposite happened, it was a great lesson to expect the unexpected.  Anything can happen in this sport.

On Saturday I tried a new approach to the qualifier with a game plan to ski controlled and relaxed and gain momentum throughout the course.  I had done some intervals around the course the previous day following Kikkan and it was awesome practice to copy her intensity throughout the different sections of course.  During the race I imagined her skiing right in front of me and tried to be Kikkan.  It was really helpful and I crossed the line in 27th.  I was worried that I would get bumped back as more skiers finished but my place held and I qualified for the my first ever classic sprint heats.

My strategy for the quarterfinal was to ski conservatively in the pack saving energy for the hard finishing stretch.  I was in the outside lane from the start and came into the hill in last place.  The striding speed felt really slow so I considered passing on the outside but decided to wait.  I soon realized my mistake as we hit the first big hill and the girls took off.  Wow they were fast! I lost contact and but was able to get back on in the last little striding bump.  Then it was back to double poling and I didn’t have the same jets!  I crossed the line last in my heat but with great motivation to see where I need to go.

On Sunday the girls race didn’t start until 3:15 and I wasn’t starting until after 3:40.  It was basically dark by that time.  I was really excited to race and I felt like the morning was dragging by so slowly as I hung out at the hotel, jogged, watched the men’s race and tried not to get nervous.  Finally it was time!  There is a new seeding system this year where they intersperse non-Red group skiers into the top 30 soI was starting between Kristi Lahteenmaki and Marthe Kristofferson with Charlotte Kalla, Therese Johaug, Justyna Kowalczyk, and Marit Bjoergen hot on my heels.  My plan was to start conservatively and pick up pace, catching a ride whenever a speedy skier caught me.  Unfortunately I was very flat and still feeling yesterday’s race.  The hills were longer than I remembered and I never had the energy to catch a ride from the skiers who passed me.  The only redemption of the day for me was outsprinting Kowalczyk in the final 100 meters of the race.  She entered the stadium just behind me and was closing quickly but I was determined to not let her pass me.  We both lunged for the line and I got her by a few boot lengths.  So while she started celebrating her second win of the weekend, I cherished my own victory.

Andy Newell and Alex Harvey racing in the men's semifinal.  Andy narrowly missed a Russian crash in this heat but broke both of his skis in the process and finished 7th on the day.

Andy Newell and Alex Harvey racing in the men's semifinal. Andy narrowly missed a Russian crash in this heat but broke both of his skis in the process and finished 7th on the day.

On Friday night we watched the annual coach/wax technician sprint relay.  This is a big event that everyone takes pretty seriously.  Russia had four teams as well as a service pit.  Tor Arne Hetland raced for Switzerland.  It was a blast to be on the opposite side of the racing and cheering for our coaches.  Here is Erik Flora starting out for the US and just before he got in a big crash with a few broken poles.

On Friday night we watched the annual coach/wax technician sprint relay. This is a big event that everyone takes pretty seriously. Russia had four teams as well as a service pit. Tor Arne Hetland raced for Switzerland. It was a blast to be on the opposite side of the racing and cheering for our coaches. Here is Erik Flora starting out for the US and just before he got in a big crash with a few broken poles.

Estonians love Nordic skiing so even there were tons of fans out and the race was even televised.  Here is our US cheering squad.

Estonians love Nordic skiing so even there were tons of fans out and the race was even televised. Here is our US cheering squad.

Oleg "Blue Steel" Ragilio is an Estonian superstar who used to be Kristina Smigun's wax tech so we are pretty lucky to have him waxing for us now.  Oleg also had the fastest 200 meter splits in the field as he skied the second leg.

Oleg "Blue Steel" Ragilio is an Estonian superstar who used to be Kristina Smigun's wax tech so we are pretty lucky to have him waxing for us now. Oleg also had the fastest 200 meter splits in the field as he skied the second leg.

Matt Whitcomb finished strong for our team in one of his first classic workouts back from back surgery.

Matt Whitcomb finished strong for our team in one of his first classic workouts back from back surgery.