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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can see results from World Masters here and the Birken here.
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.
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
Congrats to Peter, and we hope his keeps skiing his way around the world!
We were really excited to see a number of Craftsbury and/or Craftsbury affiliated skiers crushing it at NCAA’s at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT on March 6th and 8th! There are quite a few CNSC alums skiing at the collegiate level in the East right now, as well as athletes who have trained with the GRP Summer U23 program. Former CNSC skiers Alex Lawson and Avery Ellis, both sophomores, made the NCAA team for Middlebury. We also had 2018 Summer U23 athlete Evelina Sutro representing UVM, 2017 U23 Summer athlete Lewis Nottonson skiing for Middlebury, and 2016 U23 Summer athlete Gavin McEwen representing Dartmouth. To see full results, check BullittTiming. Congrats to all the athletes for great performances, keep making Craftsbury proud!
At the essence of
every biathlon race is a singular challenge for the athlete: that of
steadying the mind and body amid the most difficult physical
conditions in order to shoot five targets with a competition rifle.
No matter the race format, when an athlete enters the range he or she
must calm the mind and focus on closing the five targets which stand
fifty meters downrange. While shooting accurately and skiing fast is
always important, some race formats place greater value on ski speed,
while others emphasize accuracy, and still others stress shooting
speed. Each race format is different in its own way and uniquely
challenges the mind.
The following are
the seven competition formats contested on the International Biathlon
Union (IBU) World Cup:
About the Individual:
The most traditional
of the biathlon events, the Individual format is the longest of the
biathlon races: a 15k competition for women and a 20k competition for
men. Athletes ski five equidistant loops and enter the range to shoot
five shots at the end of each of the first four loops. The Individual
is not merely unique because of its length. Instead of skiing a 150m
penalty loop for each miss as is common in most of the other formats,
a one-minute time-penalty for each miss is added to an athlete’s
finishing time. As penalty laps usually take no longer than thirty
seconds, the Individual places a greater emphasis on shooting
accuracy than do the other formats. The Individual is also the only
four-stage race that alternates prone and standing positions: after
the first and third loops the athlete must shoot in the prone, or
laying, position, and after the second and fourth loops, the athlete
must shoot in the standing position.
The Mental Game:
Individual arguably places the greatest importance on shooting
accuracy of all biathlon events, it is often called “a shooter’s
race”. A better moniker may in fact be “a mental race”.
The threat of a 1-minute penalty makes each of the twenty shots
extremely important, and with added importance comes added pressure.
It is therefore essential to have a strong mental approach to
shooting in such an event. For some athletes, this means focusing on
one specific aspect of the shooting process. For instance, always
remembering to squeeze the trigger slowly, or to breathe
consistently. For others, this means finding a distraction from the
pressure. If you tend to let your own thinking get in your way to
success, try singing “Row, row, row your boat” in your head
and let muscle memory do the rest. Some lucky athletes may not feel
the pressure as much and can successfully focus on each shot
individually, alone from all the others, and without distraction.
The truth is, you
have to try and find what mental process works best for you. Above
all else, you cannot be afraid to succeed. It often takes a risk to
be successful. So go for it.
About the Sprint:
The Sprint is the
shortest individual event contested in international biathlon
competition, at 7.5k for women and 10k for men. The name is
deceiving: this is still quite an endurance event! Like the
Individual, the Sprint is contested in time trail format with
athletes starting in thirty-second intervals. The Sprint is unique,
however, as there are only two shooting stages: one prone, and one
standing. Again, athletes shoot at five targets for each shooting
stage, which appear in a row of five small black dots downrange. As
in all biathlon races, when a target is hit a white paddle flips up
to cover the black target, so that after the shooting is completed
the athlete can see exactly how many missed targets he has. This is
important in the Sprint because, unlike the Individual, athletes must
ski a 150m penalty loop for each missed target. The goal, of course,
is to leave the range with a “clean” target, with all five
black targets flipped to white.
The Mental Game:
Because there are
only two shooting stages, ski speed is especially important in the
Sprint. Faster athletes may be able to make up for a miss or two by
gaining time on the course. And because the Sprint is in a time-trail
format and there is always the possibility that an athlete starting
near the back can knock off another’s top time, athletes must push
the pace from start to finish. To have a chance for the podium, it is
important to have a strong fighting spirit on the course, especially
on the final loop. Don’t let that fool you, though; at the World Cup
level, shooting accurately is still incredibly important. Because the
pace is faster during the shorter Sprint event and the skiing is more
aggressive, it’s especially vital to be able to calm the body and
mind when entering the shooting range. Some coaches refer to this
transition from skier to shooter as “the cut,” where the
mental approach changes from an aggressive, spirited fighter to a
cool, confident cat. Learn to make this switch consistent by choosing
a place or object that you always look at before shooting that
triggers “the cut” in your own mind, and start by taking
deep breaths from the diaphragm and reciting a cue-word to yourself.
“Calm” may be a good one to start with. Regardless of the
exact word or process, find a “cut” that helps you flip the
switch from frenzied skier to steady shooter.
About the Pursuit:
The Pursuit is
unlike any other competition format in that its start order is
contingent on the results of the previous Sprint competition. How
does this work? Well, say biathlete A wins the Sprint, finishing 12
seconds ahead biathlete B and 26 seconds ahead of biathlete C. For
the Pursuit competition, biathlete A will be the first starter with
biathlete B starting 12 seconds behind and biathlete C starting 26
seconds back. The first of the athletes to cross the finish line is
the winner. So by performing well in the Sprint, an athlete is
rewarded with not only a great result in one race, but also an
excellent starting position for a second. The Pursuit is like the
Individual in that it is a race with five skiing loops (but slightly
shorter at 2k each for women and 2.5k each for men for a total of 10
and 12.5k, respectively) and four shooting stages. It is like the
Sprint in that for each missed target an athlete must ski once around
the 150m penalty loop before continuing on the course.
The Mental Game:
With the winner of
the Sprint out front, all Pursuit racers must have a hunter’s
mindset. In fact, the Norwegian word for the Pursuit competition is
Jaktstart – literally, hunt-start. And with four shooting
stages, much of the hunting is done in the range. It may help to
enter the range with the tactically assertive mindset of a hunter.
Worrying about being caught from behind is a fearful mindset that
does no good in a pressure situation such as shooting; the best
athletes focus instead on pursuing what is in front of them, whether
a target downrange or an athlete further up the track.
About the Mass Start:
The Mass Start is
what it sounds like: a race in which all athletes begin at the same
time and the first to cross the finish line is the champion. The Mass
Start is a four-shooting stage race and at 12.5k for women and 15k
for men is slightly longer than the Pursuit. Like the Pursuit, the
order of the four shooting stages is prone after the first lap, then
prone again after the second, followed by standing stages after both
the third and fourth laps. Athletes must ski a 150m penalty loop for
each missed target before continuing onto the race loop.
The Mental Game:
Unlike the Sprint or
the Individual, the Pursuit and Mass Start events result in many
athletes shooting on the range simultaneously. Each athlete is just
one in a line of shooters. In such a setting it can be tempting to
take a peek at a competitor’s target or allow your ear to listen for
the *klack* of an errant miss by an athlete to your left or right. An
experienced biathlete, however, is trained to focus only on her own
target. Think of it as a tunnel: once your head rests on the
cheek-piece and your eye looks through the peep-sight, the tunnel of
vision you now see becomes your entire world. This new world of five
black dots popping from a white background is, right now, the only
thing worthy of your attention.
About the Relay:
The biathlon relay
is contested by teams of four athletes of the same gender. Each
athlete races a mini-sprint (6k for women and 7.5k for men with one
prone-shooting stage and one standing-shooting stage) before tagging
off to teammate, or, in the case of the anchor leg athlete, fighting
to the finish line. The relay is contested in a mass-start format,
with all teams’ first leg athlete beginning simultaneously at the
crack of the starter’s pistol. Unique to relays are spare rounds:
each athlete carries a total of six extra rounds on his or her rifle
stock. After shooting the five bullets from the magazine, an athlete
must attempt to hit any missed target(s) by using up to three of
these “spares.” For example, if an athlete misses her
second shot but hits the other four, she must hand-load a spare round
into the chamber and fire at the missed target. Hopefully she hits,
but if she misses, she’ll need to load another spare. And so on. If
after using three spares the athlete has not yet cleaned the target
and black dots still remain, she must ski one 150m penalty loop for
each target left black before continuing out on course.
The Mental Game:
For the relay, the
addition of spare rounds lessens the consequence of a missed shot.
For an experienced biathlete, loading a spare will usually take
between seven and ten seconds, much less that the twenty-plus seconds
it takes to round the penalty loop (not to mention avoiding the
effort required to ski the added penalty loop distance). With spare
rounds available, much of the pressure of a threatening penalty loop
is lifted, which allows an athlete to shoot slightly faster. However,
the script flips when an athlete gets down to what are commonly
referred to as”pressure spares,” that is, when the number
of spares remaining match the number of targets remaining. For
example if an athlete misses three shots straight from the magazine,
he will already be using his pressure spares. A miss with the first
pressure spare and it means at least one penalty loop in his future.
These are situations where one shot can result in podium or failure
for an entire relay team are some of the most pressure-filled moments
in all of biathlon. To take on the pressure it once again it may be
helpful to focus on the fundamentals. Breathe deeply, aim at the
center of the target, have a slow trigger squeeze, and see the target
close – a hit.
About the Mixed Relay:
The Mixed Relay is
identical to the Relay except that teams consist of two women and two
men, as opposed to four same-gender athletes. Although the IBU has
varied the relay order on occasion, the most common Mixed Relay order
begins with the women (each of whom race 6k) and finishes with the
men (who race 7.5k). As in the relay, each athlete shoots one prone
stage and one standing stage and may use up to three spare rounds per
stage to clear the targets. A 150m penalty loop must be skied for any
remaining target left black.
The Mental Game:
As in the Relay, the
Mixed Relay is a long race with lots of movement up and down the
standings. Some teams may put their fastest athletes first while
others may put their fastest athletes last. Furthermore, teams may
consist of athletes with a range of experience and abilities. Add in
the volatility of shooting and you have a race where no lead is safe.
Even if you are the second leg and are behind by two minutes, gaining
one minute may be enough for the third and fourth-leg skiers to close
the gap on the leaders. Teams can come from minutes behind to reach
the podium; therefore it is important for athletes to remember to
stay focused on performing their best, not on how far ahead or
behind they may be.
About the Single Mixed Relay:
The Single Mixed
Relay is the newest of the IBU events and first appeared on the IBU
World Cup in 2017 and at the IBU World Championships in 2019. The
event is contested over eight total shooting stages and 13.5k by
teams of one female athlete and one male athlete. Like the Mixed
Relay, the start order may be varied. The first starter skis a 1.5k
loop, shoots prone (with three relay rounds available), skis any
required penalty loops at a shortened distance of 75m apiece, skis
another 1.5k loop, shoots standing (again with three spares
available), skis any necessary penalty loops, and then immediately
takes his or her teammate. The second athlete does the exact same
pattern of skiing and shooting and tags the first athlete after their
standing stage. Once again the first athlete goes back out on course,
skiing the 1.5k loop twice and shooting prone and standing after each
loop in the same manner as before. Finally the second starter skis
the anchor leg. Instead of finishing immediately after the standing
stage, he or she races a final 1.5k loop to the finish. In this way
the second athlete races a total of 7.5k while the first races a
total of 6k.
The Mental Game:
With such brief race
loops, many shooting stages, availability of spare rounds, and halved
penalty loops, the Single Mixed Relay highlights the world’s
fastest-shooting biathletes. To excel in the Single Mixed requires a
need for speed: it is essential to practice fast and controlled
shooting if an athlete desires to be successful in such an event. To
do so it helps to minimize unnecessary movements. Focus on keeping
the barrel stable while re-bolting: a biathlete should be able to
re-bolt and keep the sights motionless. This allows him or her to
minimize the movement required to align the sights with the next
target, thus saving time.
In whichever race
format you compete, ski fast, shoot the center, and enjoy the
challenge of biathlon!
Our CNSC juniors finished up the Eastern Cup season with strong results and some fun racing. The second to last weekend was in Ripton, VT at Rikert Nordic and featured individual start skate races and classic mass starts. Then, on February 23 and 24, the juniors ventured to New Hampshire for the Dublin Double on Saturday, and the final classic race at Holderness on Sunday.
Photos from the Rikert Eastern Cup are from Dave Priganc, and from Holderness are from Paul Bierman. Click on any image to enlarge. Thanks for sharing your photos with us! Results from both weekends are on BartTiming.
from Troy Howell, Craftsbury’s Director of Sculling:
I remember thinking when I moved from Virginia to Texas what a profound advantage I was about to have over the vast majority of other rowers in the United States. I’ll be able to row year-round! Think of the mileage! No long blocks of endless meters on the erg, staring at the monitor or the wall behind it! Greatness, until that got a little monotonous and I added triathlons and Crossfit for variety, novelty, and other virtues. Some people might tell you “oh, that’s not sport-specific enough – you’ll get slower if you’re not sport-specific.” That hasn’t been my experience at all, and in fact the opposite has been true: my biggest jumps in performance all seem to correspond to years in which something happened that got me jazzed about training again, even if the source of the excitement was not specific to rowing and sculling.
Returning to the move to Texas/year-round rowing gambit, after fifteen years there, I turned the idea on its head and moved to Craftsbury, where if the original logic held, I would be at a profound disadvantage; back to the extreme winter erg grind, hundreds fewer miles on the water, and between that and aging, becoming ever slower. That turned out to be nonsense too, thanks to 100+ kilometers of Nordic ski trails less than a hundred yards from my office door. In fact, I believe that Nordic skiing has done as much to improve my sculling from 2009-2019 as sculling itself has.
It surprises some people to hear that most of our GRP scullers spend more time on skis than they do on the erg from December through February – even our marketing director raised his eyebrows at me and implied that I was stretching the truth when I put that in the camp description materials for our recent Skiing For Scullers program, but it has been a fact for the vast majority of our year-round athletes since the program’s inception in 2012.
Dan Roock established the tradition in the winter of 2012 by writing only two prescribed erg workouts per week into the training program and prescribing our local Tuesday Night Ski Race series as an expectation. That race instantly became the highlight of the week for nearly everybody on GRPRow, and although most everyone spent a fair amount of time beyond the two benchmark workouts spinning the flywheels of the ergs in our gym, when the weather was anything but foul you could also find GRP scullers skiing for far more kilometers than they erged. And what we found is that when we got back on the water in early March at the outset of our southern training trip, no one had any trouble hitting the splits they expected to see and most everyone felt fresher for having made an entirely different sport a key component of winter training.
So I’m going to get behind three basic ideas and make a few simple recommendation based on them: 1) Something less than twelve months a year of sport-specific training is optimal for rowers and scullers. How much less? Dunno. For our purposes, though, let’s say “a few weeks”. 10-15 has been working like a charm for us here. 2) Every athlete gets more out of training that they’re excited about doing, even if it’s not sport-specific. So by all means, if 5 X 5’ on 5’ rest still excites you, do it up – make it one of your benchmarks. But if you’re bludgeoning your way six days a week through endless erging because you’ve swallowed the sport-specificity argument, flush out your headgear, doofus, and find something else to do that you actually ARE excited about. 3) Trust your training. Once you’ve committed to a basic plan for winter training, whether the plan is traditional, cross-training dominant, or a hybrid with erg-specific benchmarks and another sport playing a key role as I’ve described above, the biggest determinant of the plan’s success will be between your ears. If you think it will work, you’ll get a better result than if you doubt that – which is not to say you can spend the winter playing Call of Duty, or perhaps knitting wool caps, as your training program (good luck convincing yourself to believe that will work).
The final word, then, is well-summarized by something Declan Connolly used to say in his physiology lectures at the sculling camp: “If you want to go faster, you have to go fast.” Get excited. Get outside. Do something else for awhile. Stay in touch with your benchmarks if you feel you need to. And when spring comes, you’ll be ready.
On Sunday, the Mansfield Nordic Club hosted their annual Skiathlon at the Outdoor Center. A skiathlon race consists of a classic leg followed by a skate leg, with an equipment transition in the middle. This sort of race requires adeptness at both skate and classic techniques, as well as the ability to quickly change skis and poles! The youngsters; ‘Lollipoppers’ and 1st and 2nd graders, only had a classic portion, but everyone else from 3rd graders to those in their 80’s did both skate and classic! Lollipoopers raced approximately 0.3k, grades 1/2 raced 1/5k, graders 3/4 raced 2k, grades 5/6 did 3k, and grades 7/8 did 4k. The open races completed 14k. Thanks to Dave Priganc (DP) and John Lazenby (JL) for the awesome photos! Results for the open race and 7/8th graders can be found here.
Thanks to Dave Priganc and Paul Bierman for the awesome photos of our Craftsbury skiers at the Lake Placid Eastern Cup and SuperTour! Day one photos of the classic sprint are all from Dave Priganc, day two of the classic mass start are a mix of photos from Dave and Paul.
Last weekend we hosted a four-day ‘Skiing for Runners’ Camp. Our days were filled with ski clinics, snowy runs, core-warming saunas, and snowshoe walks under the stars. Although the majority of the athletes had spent little – or no – time on cross country skis, they were ready and eager to try it all. During our ski clinics, the coaches introduced technique fundamentals and focused on helping the athletes find a stable and efficient body position on skis. The athletes then practiced one-ski drills, no-pole drills, and downhills as they got the feel for gliding by ski rather than running by foot.
By the final day of camp, many of the athletes opted to venture out onto Craftsbury’s trail system to test their legs on hillier and more technical terrain. It was remarkable to see their progress after three shorts days – a testament to both the attentiveness of the coaches and the good-humored bravery of the athletes! Perhaps most impressive was the group’s collective resolve to take risks, be vulnerable, and try something new.
As runners, we often feel the need to pound the pavement mile after mile, day after day. It’s easy to fall into this monotonous trap, as a disciplined running routine can feel rewarding and reliable. It’s beneficial, however, to mix up our training. The mind and body need variety in order to be challenged and to stay healthy. In many ways, Craftsbury Outdoor Center itself epitomizes the multi-sport training approach; supporting a plethora of endurance programs and encouraging varied training for Craftsbury junior and elite athletes alike.
Skiing for Runners Camp was a great reminder that there is nothing quite as refreshing as a day spent moving outdoors. Though at times the thought of facing the cold may have been daunting, the group displayed an unfaltering determination to adventure in the wintery Northeast Kingdom each day. At camp or at home, the biggest obstacle to winter training is often layering up and stepping out the door. So, take a note from our Skiing for Runners athletes. As the polar vortex continues to sweep the nation, bundle up and get outside! Walk, run, snowshoe, ski, fatbike, or ice skate; it’s not the miles that count, but rather getting out and moving in the world.
The Center is a very busy place, full of interesting people. Our goal for this blog is to bring you more stories from Craftsbury about items that give the Center its texture and unique flair, in our staff's own words. Enjoy!