Sculling coaches remember Norm Graf

As we prepare to embark on the 2019 sculling season at Craftsbury, we asked our coaches to share remembrances of Norm Graf, legendary rowing coach and Craftsbury’s sculling director from 2003-2012. Norm passed away last fall at the age of 92.

My relationship with Norm Graf spanned 5 decades. Whether he was Norm or Coach depended on the context of our interaction. Likewise, he inhabited many roles: mentor, motivator, confidant, friend, role model, antagonist, professional foil, father figure, innovator, and keeper of the rowing spirit. Words like these describe not only my experiences with Norm but also the experiences of countless others who were lucky enough to have known him. His influence on the Craftsbury Sculling Program was timely and profound. His character, insights, commitment to excellence, and overall demeanor created an expectation and level of professionalism that has become the standard for the sculling program that we enjoy today. Norm is iconic and will not be forgotten. – Ric Ricci

Norm had this distinctive grace and way of looking at you, seeing you. After a challenging coaching session, he gently took me aside and asked how things were as he’d picked up some quiet body language. That’s when Norm told me that women were tougher than men gave them credit for. The right words at the right time from someone I greatly respected – his words sincere and forthright. Another marvelous memory of Norm – his infectious laugh and laughing so much with him that you ended up gasping for breath, ribs sore. – Maura Conron

Over the span of 20 years, beginning my first year in college running through my late 30s, Norm was a beloved mentor and friend. His influence on my personal and professional development was extraordinary. Professionally, as a teacher, leader, and coach he was exacting in his expectations, uncompromising in his standards, and inspirational in his messaging. Personally, as a friend, (grand)father-figure, and partner-in-crime, he was hilarious in his repartee, joyful in his socializing, and a master at pouring wine. Since his death, I find myself regularly recalling his most-familiar, habitual mannerisms: his dramatic throat clearing before a declaration or command; his tendency to bark names at a shocking volume (I was never Kevin, but rather KEVIN); his Marceau-level pantomiming of an aspect of the rowing stroke; his radiant smile as he shared bottles of his homemade wine; his squinting eyes and a hand covering his belly as he convulsed with laughter. Norm Graf; a man in full.  – Kevin MacDermott

Norm was a magnet. Where he was, I was drawn to. Whether it was the launch, the lawn in front of Tamarack with Pattie, a table at wine and cheese: his presence was a comfort. I was very lucky to receive his mentorship as a sculler, a coach, and a man. Those moments at wine and cheese will stay with me forever. In between socializing with campers, picking right up wherever we left off last, me as a sponge, soaking Norm’s wisdom up, one conversation at a time.  – Ed Slater

What I will always remember about Norm is how gracious he was, and what an attentive host. Making sure that the non-sculling spouses at Craftsbury’s camps were entertained and having a good time was something he attended to without fail. Whenever I went by his room at the Outdoor Center after a long day at the waterfront, he would invariably ask “would you like a glass of wine?” and if he could see or sense more than baseline fatigue he would add “or maybe vodka?” Norm loved dogs, and his own talent for picking up on the moods and difficulties of others and knowing when to offer a kind word, a relevant story, or just to be silent and present for you seemed to reflect a canine sensibility, something that he shared with his black Labrador, Pattie – not that she ever offered any words or anecdotes – they were as well-matched, temperamentally, as man and dog ever were.  – Troy Howell

Looking back on all the good times and years I spent with Norm at Craftsbury – on the water, in the coach boat, or at morning coffee –  I reflect on how he made a strong impact on me as a sculler; he helped me nail down my bladework and “spit the watermelon seed out” to catch acceleration after the release. Every stroke I take on the water has a little bit of Norm’s voice in my ear. When coaching with Norm, and as his assistant director in the early days of his leadership, he was incredibly supportive of my development as a coach and all my professional endeavors. He wanted all his athletes and fellow coaches to succeed. He inspired us to excel, to hold on to the passion of coaching, enjoy all the rowers we work with, and keep the fun in it. Norm filled a very special part of my life. I will think of him often and even ask his advice from time to time. – Marlene Royle

I coached with Norm at COC and Wesleyan. I also raced against his Trinity Lightweights when he was at Trinity and I at GWU. We won the race and received all the betting shirts from other teams but not Trinity. When I got to Wesleyan to coach, I met Norm and told him I never received my hard earned shirt years earlier. A month later I had the shirt.  – Amy Wilton

By far, my stand out memory was the ‘capillary’ speech he gave to the entire Trinity squad in front of Bliss Boathouse as we went into “Training” each Spring… a seemingly endless period of no alcohol designed to expand and preserve our capillaries and aerobic capacity… which we broke with great glee after returning to Campus following the Dad Vail. – Bob Reichart

I always loved Coach’s empathy. Who can forget how when watching an oarsman do an erg piece from a few paces away, he would jerk back at every stroke? It’s no wonder he went home exhausted. He must’ve done twenty pieces a day. – Andy Anderson

Row2k Tribute to Norm

Craftsbury interview with Norm from 2006

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A remembrance of Russell Spring

This past weekend, the Center hosted a celebration of the life of Craftsbury founder, Russell Spring, who passed away last summer at the age of 92. As we prepare to embark on the 2019 sculling season at Craftsbury, we asked Ric Ricci, sculling associate director, to remember Russell’s impact on the sculling program.

Russell and Janet took ownership of the former Cutler Academy in 1975, turning it into what would become the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. They both enjoyed being in the out-of-doors and believed that interaction with the natural world was enjoyable and essential for the development of body, mind, and spirit. Outdoor recreation in Vermont was all about skiing in the winter. But what to do in spring, summer and fall? Russell was aware of rowing as a sport, having spent his undergraduate years at Yale. His original idea was to make the Center available in the spring for rowing teams to train during their spring break. However, this wasn’t a viable idea, as spring training for college teams takes place in March when Hosmer is still frozen! Seeking professional advice, Russell reached out to Jim Joy from Wesleyan and Norm Graf from Trinity. Jim Joy answered the call and while skiing on the lake with Russell, Jim realized that Hosmer would be an excellent sculling venue because the hills along the lake protected the water from wind. In the summer of 1976, Jim Joy ran a two-week training camp for aspiring scullers – which subsequently evolved into the program that we know today. 

Russell was an accomplished skier and instructor. He had limited knowledge of sculling but understood that sculling, like skiing, was most enjoyable when scullers learned good sculling technique. He also saw sculling as a lifelong sport with aesthetic qualities that transcended the competitive arena. Because Russell was not a sculler, he wisely did not try to micromanage the sculling program. However, he was a good judge of people, and because he had taught skiing in Europe, he hired coaches who had good teaching and coaching skills as well as engaging personalities. Russell also paid careful attention to the feedback from the guests and tactfully gave the coaching staff constructive feedback and/or sincere encouragement. 

Russell had outstanding people skills and a high degree of emotional intelligence. Although Russell graduated from Yale, he was not comfortable promoting the traditional elitist connotations of sculling and rowing. To that end, he encouraged a broad range of diverse coaching styles and different ways of thinking about the sport. He also wanted the Center to serve a broad range of men and women with various levels of ability. The Center was not going to be solely for aspiring Olympians! 

For Russell, life was all about the process and the journey. He loved to interact with guests at meals and was eager to get feedback from a variety of people. He was an excellent listener and a keen judge of people. He was an avid reader and loved to exchange ideas. He was a devotee of the philosopher, writer and psychologist Joseph Campbell and on many occasions encouraged his employees and friends to “follow their bliss”. He was fiercely independent, strong in his beliefs and loyal. Always an accommodating, gracious host but also an astute businessman, he believed in the business model that “small was beautiful”. Russell’s work laid the foundation for everything the Center is today, and his legacy is present in all that we do.  

Russell’s Obituary

A 2014 interview with Russell on founding COC

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Snow Storage 2020: Scaling Up

UVM grad student Hannah Weiss gathering data at the snow pit, spring ’19.

UVM Geology professor – and Craftsbury member – Paul Bierman has been working with students and the Center to bring snow storage to Craftsbury, similar to what’s done in Canmore, AB and other Nordic ski venues. UVM grad student Hannah Weiss has recently published a paper on her work in the project which underpins 2019’s efforts to scale the snow saving up to a point that we can cover several kilometers this November. Paul summarizes the paper for laypeople below.

Knocking down the snow piles into the storage pit.

Any of you who have skied around Lemon’s Haunt could hardly have missed the pile of snow in what used to be Wilbur’s pond over the past month. This is next November’s base. If the science pans out (and we think it will – any bets out there?), there will be enough snow left in the fall to lay down a solid base on several kilometers of trail whether or not November is cold like 2018 or warm like some of those unmentionable years before.

Some of you might remember summer 2018’s little snow piles buried under wood chips – those were a test project between UVM and the Outdoor Center. They worked (well, sort of, we still had enough snow in October when the first flurries flew to make a couple iceballs or even a small ice man). But that was not their purpose – rather, they let us test how to store snow effectively in a climate as warm and humid as Craftsbury in the summer. All the data collected last summer are now compiled in a paper that Hannah Weiss, the UVM graduate student doing this work as part of her thesis, just submitted for publication. Read a draft of that paper here.

What did we learn – in a nutshell:
• Three layers of insulation is way better than one or even two. To save snow, cover it with an insulating blanket, then a layer of wood chips, they a space blanket to reflect the bright summer sun.
• Dense snow is way more durable than lighter snow. Lucas, Eric, and Keith have done an amazing job with a new set of energy efficient snow guns that take only pressurized water, not air, to make snow. It’s not the powder that they make up on the soccer fields, no, this is more like solid April crud that falls just above freezing and brings down powerlines. It’s dense, about 5 times denser than the fluffy stuff of January. That’s good for storage because it won’t settle much in the pile and it takes more energy to melt dense snow than the same volume of the fluffy stuff.

Lidar measurements of snow volume.

So keep an eye on the pile this summer. We hope to have a series of temperature sensors live on the web so you can see how it’s doing and we’ll do our best to update the project website with what we learn. And you can send any questions to me and to Hannah.

Paul Bierman, UVM Geology and Natural Resources

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A case for multi-sport training

For many reasons – ease, efficiency, enjoyment – we runners are  inclined to run and only run, opting against the myriad of other exercise programs. No other activity quite compares to the feeling of hitting a rhythmic stride mid-run or relishing a jubilant post-workout runner’s high. I myself have subscribed to the run-only routine for most of my adult life. Though I might mix it up a bit depending on the season, my go-to 6 days a week has consistently been running.

Many seasoned coaches and athletes have spoken of the importance of cross-training and purposeful time away from running. Rationally I always understood this concept, but I rarely sensed sincerity behind the words. To me, it seemed most people felt obliged to encourage cross-training all the while knowing that nothing develops running fitness better than more running. In my view, cross-training inevitably remained confined to the injured-runner’s routine; it wasn’t something a healthy runner devoted much time to.

And yet, I am making an earnest plug for embracing a multi-sport training routine. As with so many things in life, I had to arrive at this understanding through personal experience. Five months ago, I sustained a significant overuse running injury, side-lining me not only from marathon training but also from all physical activity for eight weeks. The shock of this – my first serious running-related injury – was a huge wake-up call. Here was tangible evidence I had pushed my body past its limits and undeniably run too much. At the height of this training cycle, I was running high mileage and sticking to the road as much as possible. Strength work, cross-training sessions, and even trail running grew less and less frequent. At one point I remember finishing a routine 10-mile run, euphoric as always, but aware that my body didn’t feel strong; I felt primed to run fast for long distances, but weak overall. Weeks later, my injury revealed just how weak I was – fit and fast, but frail. I finally understood how running everyday can make you fit but in a very limited and specific way.

Enter center stage: the multi-sport cross-training approach. Since returning to activity post-injury, I have made a point to establish a dedicated strength routine and to mix up my aerobic training. My first month back to exercise was spent gradually re-introducing my body to cross country skiing, spinning, and strength sessions. Cross country skiing is a great low-impact, endurance workout alternative to running and strengthens the stabilizing muscles we long distance road runners so often neglect. Plus, it’s a fun way to get outside and moving in the snow! As for spinning and strength, neither are activities I particularly enjoy, but I can now appreciate their value in developing more complete fitness.

In the following weeks I began running again. As I added in a run of 3-6 miles two or three days a week, I continued cross-training and doing strength. In these first few weeks back to running, completing the rolling six mile loop I had once considered a short easy day was now a significant effort. Most runs felt like a grind, no matter how easy I went. I stuck to my new routine of skiing, running, and strengthening, still genuinely thrilled to simply be back moving. And then on a bright & sunny first day of spring, I ran 8 miles and felt fantastic. Despite running only an average of three days a week for the past six weeks, I felt like my running legs and fitness were coming back

Now, as I gradually increase my mileage and continue skiing as much as winter allows, I can feel myself growing stronger in a full-body, holistic way. Through a more varied routine, I am consistently reminded that working broad muscle groups and changing up the targeted aerobic stimulus has many rewards. I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed significant running speed or mobility. The minimal running-specific fitness I might be missing out on is a balance worth finding for the sake of injury prevention and running longevity.

The takeaway: If you want to enjoy running throughout your life, I highly encourage you to get creative and prioritize cross-training. Find cross-training activities you enjoy, or can at the very least tolerate. Embrace variability and attaining a more holistic, rounded fitness. When you’re itching to skip the cross-training session and just go for a run instead, remind yourself that consistency is the key to lifelong enjoyment of sport, and varied training is essential to maintain such consistency. Hold the long-term vision close when your short-term mindset nudges you to click off more miles. Make it intentional, not out of necessity by injury. I fully believe you will feel your best and run your fastest times off of a multi-sport training approach.

Heidi testing out the ski legs in one of the Center’s weekly Tuesday Night Races!

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Spring-ing back to running!

Creek Road: Still lined with snow!

Spring has officially sprung! Though we still have impressively high snow banks and miles of beautifully groomed ski trail here in the Northeast Kingdom, the Gregorian calendar has spoken: spring is here. And as the sun shines brighter, the days stretch longer, and the roads grow muddier, spring fever is beginning to take hold at Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

I say it at the start of every season: There is something about seasonal shifts that elicit a visceral sense of excitement. These transitions effectively act as nature’s reset button; they offer a welcome change of pace and invite us to switch up our routine. Perhaps you engage in a wardrobe re-shuffling, a switch from warm to chilled breakfast, or a change-up in exercise regimen. For us runners, the coming of each season brings its own character – the post-run swims and sunset adventures of summer; the crunching leaves and cross country races of fall; the frozen eyelashes and clothing layers of winters; the muddy shoes and track races of spring.

As a New England runner, I hold a particular fondness for the start of spring. I smile as fellow runners begin to dot the roads, eagerly emerging from their winter hibernation. It’s as if we can all sense the same call to hit the roads. There is something about the warm breeze hitting your face and the smell of fresh mud that ignites an intense need to get out the door and RUN! Our bodies know it’s the time of year when we can finally shake-off the hat, ditch the wind pants, and abandon the extra warm knee-high socks. Layering season be-gone!

Whether you skied, treadmilled, swam, or plain relaxed during the winter, it’s important to take your time getting back into running. A controlled re-entry is key. A graduated move toward more consistent running is necessary in order to effectively ease your body back and avoid injury.

Here are some basic pointers for a successful return to running spring plan:

  1. Be patient! This may sound obvious, but we all know how tempting it is to jump right back in to running everyday. Remind yourself how “not normal” running 5 days a week has been for the past couple of months. Start with every other day, or every third day. Maybe follow a walk-jog protocol for the first couple of weeks (e.g. jog for 5 minutes, walk for 1 minute, and so on).
  2. Ditch the watch! Don’t expect to hit the paces you were hitting during the peak of fall racing season. Let your body lead the way and go by feel. Don’t let your watch dictate how you feel during – or after – the run!
  3. Give your calves some extra love! If you’re a skier, you know all too well the calf and shin soreness that comes with starting back to run. Budget in some extra rolling and stretching time for your calves post-run, and think about adding some light calf activation exercises to your dynamic warm-up routine. Pro tip: do calf raises throughout the winter! This exercise is simple, doesn’t take long, and will keep the calves worked during lower impact months.
  4. Embrace the spring mud! Mud is your friend; a nice squishy soft surface for you run on. Lace up an old pair of shoes and muck it up!
  5. Be kind to yourself! Remember – your running legs will come back, they always do.

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Craftsbury Running Coach Spotlight

Each month, we’ll be featuring a short interview with one of our summer running coaches. First up, Sam Davis, a USATF Certified Level 2 Endurance Coach, as well as an RRCA Coach.

Sam, at age 23, running the Stowe 8-Miler in 1984

What made you decide to coach runners?
About 15 years ago, I was approached about teaching the advanced marathoning class for RunVermont which puts on the Vermont CIty Marathon. I never really felt that I had anything to offer others as far as how to run a marathon. I decided I needed to start learning as much as I could about the subject, so I began reading all about marathon training. Over time, I had people approach me and ask if I would ever consider coaching them individually. I decided to get formal training training from USA Track and Field as well as Road Runners Club of America and still continue to study coaching. The rest is history!

What is one piece of running advice you wish you could share with your younger self?
I pushed myself all the time when I was young; high mileage and hard workouts, but never learned the value of rest and recovery. I believe I trained too hard without letting up. It’s a wonder I had the successes I did despite the lack of proper rest!

Where is your favorite place to run? (Besides Craftsbury of course!)
Any dirt road! Beyond that, my favorite place to run is anywhere with my wife, Patty or my dear friend and long time running partner, Randy Sightler. To me, it’s all about the company you keep.

Do you have any pre-race superstitions or routines?
I did have a superstition of wearing the same pair of socks to every race I ran. The main routine I have is to find a quiet place to warm up and be alone with my thoughts. I visualize how I want the race to go and it helps me lock into a racing mindset.

When you’re not running or working with runners, what do you enjoy doing?
I have a fairly busy life with work, running and coaching, but I do find time to relax and play piano.

What is the best thing about coaching at Craftsbury Running Camp?
The best thing about coaching at Craftsbury is getting together with folks who have a shared love of running. The bucolic setting provides a great escape from the grind of everyday life and helps to create a greater learning environment for the runners who attend.

Sam chatting with Meb Keflezighi
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2019 Craftsbury Marathon Through our Masters’ Eyes

            This year’s Craftsbury Marathon, held on February 2nd and 3rd, drew more than 500 unique competitors to the festivities. Many of the Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club’s own Masters participated in the two-day long Marathon Festival. This group of athletes ranges from their 30’s to their 80’s and often train under the tutelage of coach (and Marathon Director) Ollie Burruss as well as various guest helpers. This year, I wanted to see what the race was like from a Master’s perspective. I reached out to several of the CNSC Masters to see what they had to say about the race.

Start of this year’s classic marathon (Photo: John Lazenby)

           A little background on my interviewees: Lindy Sargent did the 50k classic race, has participated in the Marathon on and off since the 90s, and is mom to Olympian and GRP skier Ida. Peter Harris did the 33k classic and skate and has done the more than 20 Craftsbury Marathons! Gina Campoli did the 33k classic and has completed the Marathon “countless times over the years starting in the early 80s.” John Brodhead was the Marathon race director for 35 years and raced the Marathon once during his Director tenure when Allison Van Akkeren was his assistant, and has raced it two times since his retirement several years ago, for a total three races.

Lindy and daughter Ida at 2016 Super Tour finals (Photo: John Lazenby)

           One of my first questions to the participants involved exploring their marathon history. Everyone astounded me by the broad range of other marathons which they had completed! Lindy’s first ski race ever was when she was in her mid 20’s and was a 60k from Blueberry Hill in Ripton to Brandon. The race was shortened the next year to 40k due to cold and since then she has become a “Craftsbury Marathon Only racer,” but, editor’s note: Lindy is an avid Tuesday Night Race competitor.

Peter has completed numerous marathons and is a Worldloppet Master, which means he has done ten marathons in ten different countries! Read more about his latest accomplishments over here.

Gina and John completed the Norwegian Birkebeiner as part of their honeymoon in 1984. One of Gina’s favorite international marathons is the Italian Marcialonga, which is in Val de Fiemme, Italy. Gina and John also did a long race many times in the 90’s and early 2000s in Quebec that went from Camp Mercier to Mt. St. Anne (which, according to my research, is about 65k)

Peter at this year’s Marathon (Photo: John Lazenby)

           Then I dove in to questions more specific to the Craftsbury Marathon, such as favorite parts of the course and the weekend as a whole. It seems that the Bohen’s/ Dante’s Loop area is a crowd favorite. Peter explained that he enjoys Dante’s Loop so much because it is “beautiful, skiable, and marks the top of the loop,” while Gina and John enjoy the descent from this spot down the bottom of Ruthie’s.  It was far harder to nail down the least favorite part of the course; I got answers such as “liked it all,” “I have no least favorite part…it is all great,” and “no least favorites, love it all.” I’d say that’s a good sign! Lindy and Peter did both harken back to the “great point to point years.” Lindy explained that after the course changed from point to point to a lap race that she skipped it for a few years, but she “likes the course now.”

John bundled up for this year’s marathon (Photo: John Lazenby)

The atmosphere of the weekend is also sought after and relished. Peter admits that his “second favorite part is visiting with friends after the race about how their ski went, and [his] favorite part is relaxing and recovering afterwards.” John and Gina’s favorite part of the weekend is the skiing, while John added that his is “having someone else be in charge of the race!” 

Gina at one of this winter’s Tuesday Night Races

I wanted to get a sense of what different people did for Marathon training and if they felt most prepared for any particular part of the race. Everyone talked about the great skiing this year and being able to ski a lot. Peter talked about doing “longish” uphill intervals to get ready for the Sam’s Run ascent. Lindy’s definitely elicited a smile from me, when she said “ha, ha – I’m the wrong type of ‘racer’ to ask these questions, I guess!! I actually think I’m more of a hopeful ‘finisher’ than well prepared racer :)” (smiley face and all).

John also discussed the goal of finishing, saying that he was so familiar with the terrain that even without being able to do a lot of long distance training this year, he knew that if he didn’t start too fast, there was a good chance of completion. Gina explained that she has “heart arrhythmia challenges and this was a very long race for me, so I had to go very slow in the beginning and was very happy to just be able to ski a portion without problems.”

Peter, along with Linda Ramsdell and Elinor Osborn after some “longish” uphill intervals in 2016.

I concluded my questioning by asking about next year’s race and if anyone already has plans to participate. Lindy said “I can always promise to start as long as I don’t have to promise to finish,” while Peter said that “unless I am away, I will likely to continue to do the marathon as long as I am able.” Gina and John said that it depends on their schedule and training, though I can imagine it’s likely that we’ll see at least one of them toeing the line next year!

I think that Lindy summed up the weekend nicely by saying “thanks so much for excellent grooming, feed stations, camaraderie, timing, everything!!!” The Marathon Weekend truly is special and a focal point of so many people’s winter season. A big thank you to Lindy, Peter, Gina, and John for being willing to chat with me as I tried to “shine some light on the older generation who loves skiing,” according to Peter.

Lindy is often dons the volunteer bib, so it is great to see her sport the racing bib sometimes too!

Thanks for John Lazenby for sharing some of his awesome photos with us!

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World Masters and Norwegian Birken

During the second week of March, a group of seven intrepid Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club masters made their way to Beitostolen, Norway for the World Masters competition. This is a week-long event, jam packed full of racing opportunities: seven races in seven days for those that dare to start them all! There are hundreds of racers over the age of 30 (the entry age to be classified a master). Most of the races had two or three distances, decreasing with age. This was some competitors first trip to World Masters, while others were seasoned veterans.

World Masters is an international affair.

The series began on March 8th, with 10k and 15k classic races. In the 10k AG10 category (year of birth 1943-1939), John Broadhead was 19th (2ndAmerican). In the AG11 (1938-1934), George Hall was 9th (1stAmerican). Gina Campoli noted that the Norwegians “dominated” George’s age group! In the AG9 (1948-1944) 15k, Dave Hosmer was 47th and Bob Arnot was 49th. In the women’s 15k classic AG7 (1958-1954), Gina Campoli was 18th

George on the start line

            The freestyle races, ranging from 10k-30k came next. In the 10k women’s AG9 race, Trina Hosmer was 1stby 48 seconds. In the men’s 15k AG8 (1953-1949), Peter Harris was 7th(1st American). 

            Racing continued the next day with more classical technique. In the men’s AG10 5k, John was 16th (3rd American). In the AG11 5k, George was 11th (2nd American). In the AG9 women’s 5k, Trina won by 58 seconds. For the longer 10k race, Peter was 12th (1st American in the AG8 class. In the AG9 class Bob Arnot was 44th. Gina explained that the AG9 men’s class was one of the biggest groups and had “really good Russians, Swedes, Finns, and Norwegians,” all traditional Nordic powerhouse nations. In the AG7 race, Gina was 17th

            On the 12th, the racing shifted from individual to relay format. In the M8 category, Peter teamed up with Glenn Jobe, David Christopherson, and David Johnston for 5th place. Peter did one of the two classic legs. In the women’s relay, Trina classic skied, leading the team of herself, Nancy Bauer, Sharon Crawford, and Carol Monteverde to 3rdplace, also classic skiing.

John out for a ski-with perfect technique!

            On the night of the 12th, a foot of snow fell, leading to very soft conditions for Race #5, which was in the classical technique. In the AG10 15k, John was 13th (2ndAmerican). One age class up, George was 10th (3rd American). In the AG9 women’s race, Trina won by an astounding 2:18! The AG9 men raced 30k, where Bob placed 28th

            On the final day of racing, Peter raced to 15thplace (3rdAmerican) in the 30k freestyle event.

Craftsbury crew! (Bob, George, John, Gina, Dave, Trina, Peter).

            Several of the masters continued their European racing tour, travelling to the Lillehammer area for the famed Norwegian Birken Ski Festival. Here, racers travel 54k with a backpack of at least 3.5kg, to remind them of the time in Norwegian history when the infant king was saved. In the women’s 70 class, Trina won by a huge margin of 28 minutes! In the men’s 65 class, Peter was 59th. 

Trina and her winner’s trophy (NENSA photo).

            You can see results from World Masters here and the Birken here.

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BKL Fest Photo Extravaganza

Prepare yourself for an overload of awesomeness. Yes, we know that BKL Fest at Rikert was a few weeks ago (March 2 and 3, to be exact), but we couldn’t resist sharing these photos of our Craftsbury skiers at the festival. We had everyone from Catamounts doing their first races, to 8th graders crushing the costume, hair, and sass divisions. We think you’ll see from the photos that no fun was had by anyone, at all.

Thanks to Dave Priganc for the photos! Click on any image to enlarge.

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Peter Harris Earns Master’s Diploma

The diploma and a list of all the eligible Worldloppet races

At the 2019 American Birkebeiner this February, Craftsbury master skier Peter Harris became a different kind of master: a Worldloppet Master! Worldloppet Masters are the hardy and adventurous skiers who have completed 10 Worldloppet ski races in 10 different countries. The president of the Worldloppet Ski Association was in Hayward, Wisconsin for the Birkebeiner this year and presented Peter with his award.

What is a Worldloppet, you ask? From their website, “the Worldloppet Ski Federation is an international sports federation of cross-country skiing marathons, founded in 1978. The aim of Worldloppet is to promote the sport of cross-country skiing through its various member ski races around the world. Only one and therefore the best race from a country can be a member of Worldloppet. Worldloppet currently unites 16 races from Europe, America, Asia and Australia as full members.”

Peter began working on his Worldloppet Master in 2014 with the Konig Ludwig Lauf in Germany, and completed his tenth race in April of 2018 with the Fossavatnsgangan Marathon in Iceland. A link to his achievement on Worldloppet website is available here. Thanks to Peter for providing awesome photos from his travels. Currently, Peter is in Norway about to race the Birkebeinerrennet (again!), and he has plans to tackle more of the European loppets, including the Tartu in Estonia, the Finlandia, and the Swedish Vasaloppet.

The full list of races he has completed:

Koenig Ludwig Lauf, Germany
American Birkebeiner, USA
Jizerska Padesatka, Czech Republic
Dolomitenlauf, Austria
Marcialonga, Italy
La Transjurassienne, France
Birkebeinerrennet, Norway
Engagin Skimarathon, Switzerland
Gatineau Loppet, Canada
Fossavatnsgangan, Iceland

Race number one, the Konig Ludwig Lauf in Germany, February 2014
Waiting at the start of the Marcialonga, January 2015
Winding through city streets in the Marcialonga
Happy to have the Marcialonga in the books!
End of of the Fossavatnsgangan, the loppet in Iceland, in April 2018
Views from the Fossavatnsgangan, the last race Peter needed to complete his diploma
A line of skiers in the Iceland loppet. And yes- this does make us want to go there!

Congrats to Peter, and we hope his keeps skiing his way around the world!

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