Billy Dutton Uphill!!

The Billy Dutton was what it always is: HARD. No getting around that. Ton’s of fun and some interesting techniques employed: skate, classic, running, tandem skiing (2nd annual tandem champs = Gus and Johannes!). I was able to claim the victory by a few minutes over Franz and Spencer. Hard snow this year made it faster than normal. Thanks to Squaw Valley as well for pulling off an improbably clean and well-covered trail with nearly no snow on the lower slopes.

Thanks to all the great Far West volunteers, racers, coaches, and parents for a great event and outstanding support of the Elite Team all season. Next year we will have tons of snow, I promise!

Tandem Style

Tandem Style

Mammoth Marathon and Walker Rollerskier

Last weekend was the always-fun Mammoth Marathon. Myself and Spencer represented the Far West Elite Team by placing 1-2. This is an awesome race because it’s super scenic, at super high altitude, has super good food at the awards, and provides super nice race bibs (synthetic not paper).

Check out some pics by Mark Nadell : Photos
mammoth-marathon2014_fereday-eusden

Next came came a new challenge: become, in all likelihood, the first person to roller ski at Walker Lake.

Walker Rollerskier

Definitely got some interesting looks from RVers and locals. Surprisingly good pavement though.

 

 

Fundraising Dinner Saturday

The Far West XC Elite Team is putting on a delicious fundraising dinner at TXC this Saturday. See the details here. http://farwestnordic.org/fwnsea/elite-team-dinner/

Please come out and support the Elite Team by letting us serve you a delicious meal.

The Gold Rush is Back!

Way to go Royal Gorge for bringing back the Gold Rush

Elite Team on the Gold Rush Podium

Elite Team on the Gold Rush Podium

for the first time in several years, despite the lack of snow. It was shortened from 50 to 36k, but was super fun nonetheless and a great workout for Franz, Patrick, and me.

With the Great Race and Tahoe Rim Tour cancelled this season because of the historic drought, it was awesome to have at least one of the “big three” California races. Next year we can get them all I’m sure!

Alaska

Pat and I are in Anchorage Alaska for Supertour Finals. We had a 15km Skate race Saturday and I did the Classic Sprint Sunday. Today we skied out across a lake to a glacier on one of the most scenic skis I’ve ever been on. The sprint went fairly well although I’ve now been 32nd in the last 3 Supertour sprints I’ve entered in (the top 30 qualifiers move on to heats). Even though its tough to be so close but not make it to the heats, I’m pretty excited on how much I have improved in sprinting this year. Tomorrow is a team relay, which we don’t have enough people for so Patrick is joining mixed club team. Race Schedule and results are here: http://anchorage2014.com/

 

photo 4

photo 1

West Yellowstone Rendezvous

(Scroll through slowly while listening to this music www.youtube.com/watch?v=yptp1yCCRWk)

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Episode VI

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RETURN OF THE JOHNSON

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A long time ago in a race far far away….

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Patrick Johnson has returned to his home range of Hoth West Yellowstone in an attempt to rescue his friends Spencer and Wyatt from the vile bedbug hoards of Western Montana.

Little does Pat know that the RENDEZVOUS EMPIRE has begun construction on race course warmer and faster than ever before.

When completed, this ultimate weapon will spell certain doom for the small band heros, known as the Far West Elite Team, struggling to restore freedom to the galaxy…

 

 

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If you haven’t already guessed the West Yellowstone Rendezvous race was star wars themed this year. Patrick, Wyatt, and myself made the trek out to Montana for what ended up being an awesome race. Patrick, after winning the race last year, got his name on the appropriately designed event shirt. Apparently the force is strong with people named Patrick.IMG_0405

 

Conditions looked like they might be about as balmy as the forest moon of Endor, but the groomers worked their magic and the sun was shaded by the deflector shield making for a wicked fast 50km. Patrick broke the course record, at just under 2 hours, while I was just a couple minutes behind in 3rd place with Wyatt just behind me in 4th. Our skis were faster than Proton Torpedos with Toko Jetstream Red Powder and Toko Jestream Blue Bloc on top. We owe a huge thanks to all the volunteers. I’ve never seen so many Jedi at a ski race before….

 

We will post race photos as soon as they make it out of the Dagobah System.

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SkirtieBeiner

This photo sums up my birkie:

Thermal blankets are stylish as well as warm

Thermal blankets are stylish as well as warm

I got cold again (like two years ago) and had to add some festive attire. I still haven’t learned just how much colder Wisconsin is than California. Still a great trip and tons of fun. Congrats to Matt Gelso and Patrick Johnson on their great finishes!

This past weekend Wyatt and I ventured out to Hayward, Wisconsin for the American Birkebeiner, the largest ski race in North America. The 50km point to point race serves as a stop on the Word Loppet tour, which means it not only attracts the top domestic racers, but also a dozen or so of the top ski marathoners in Europe. This year was no exception, as I found myself at the start lined up right next to Martin Koukal of the Czech Republic, a former World Champion in the 50km.

Wisconsin was being hit with the cold weather that has been hitting most of the country this winter, and as we lined up awaiting the starting gun, we struggled to stay warm in the frigid single digits and brisk headwind that we faced. But, soon enough the gun went off and we were on our way!

Last year I had a top ten in the race, and I had hopes for another strong finish. However, by about ten kilometers in, I was struggling to keep up with the brisk pace being set by the Europeans at the front, and I soon found myself losing contact with the lead pack of about 15 skiers.

Though dissapointed to not be at the front, I regrouped mentally, and worked to relax and ski efficiently so I could have a strong second half of the race. By then a second pack of about a dozen or so skiers had formed, including several of the top Euros who also hadn’t been able to latch on to the lead group.

I skied in this group for some time, most of the time keeping near the front. Posted behind me for much of this part of the race was an Italian who had been third the previous year. Despite being out of the running for the win he still decided to use the “tricky” psyche-out tactics that the Italia marathoners are notorious for, a combination of stepping on your skis and poles as much as possible. After becomming tired of his antics, I eventually forced him to take the lead, and then did my best to return the favor. Apparently he did not appreciate this and after a few minutes he looked back at me, stared me down for a few seconds, and then motioned for me to take the lead.

birkie

And with that I decided to make a move and break away from the group, as I ramped up the pace and left the pack behind. One frenchmen from the group was able to match the move, and we then skied the remaining 20km together, picking off a few stragglers from the front along the away. I ended up crossing the finish in 14th place (& 4th American), which, though not quite looking for, was still a solid finish that I could be happy with!

My day was not quite done however, as I was met at the finish by an official from the US Anti-Doping Agency, who informed me I had been randomly selected for anti-doping control. It was actually a kind of nice perk, because I was immediately escorted to a warm room where I could change and rehydrate as I prepared to give a urine sample. It was my first time being subjected to a USADA test, so it was very interesting to experience the testing process and see the efforts we make to keep sport clean in this country.

Anyway, it ended up being a great weekend, and I’d highly recommend anyone who loves Nordic skiing to make it to the Birkie at least once. Thank you to Peter Hanson and family for helping me with the transportation and housing which made the weekend possible! And congratulations to former Far West racer Matt Gelso who finished as top American in seventh place!

 

http://farwestnordic.org/eliteteam/305/

Staying Warm

The Far West XC Elite Team owes a huge thank you to Silver Sage Sports Performance, Marmot, and Alpenglow Sports for providing us with team puffies this season. Ben Grasseschi put together the design to keep us looking sharp.

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These jackets are awesome. Last week we did a bit of “field testing” to see just how warm they were……they worked great….

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Makin’ Dough

Blue Toko and Blue Puffies

Blue Toko and Blue Puffies

Patrick and I went up to the Boulder Mountain Tour in Sun Valley, Idaho over the weekend to ski with some of the best in the west and have some fun on real snow. It was a successful day with both of us cracking the top 10 (Patrick 5th, myself 9th) to earn a bit of money. Patrick also won the first preem to claim a bit extra dough. It was a new course this year, with a few more climbs and a few more Ks, which turned out to make it a more fun and interesting race, and probably helped us out a bit since we are from altitude. The Toko blue wax we raced on was excellent as well. Thanks to the volunteers in Ketchum that made it happen on thinner than usual snow.

BMT Podium

BMT Podium