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West Yellowstone biathlon

After about 36 hours at home after Junior Nationals, I left again on an airplane, later in a truck, to West Yellowstone, Montana, for biathlon North american Championships with Glenn Jobe, Phill Violett, and Britt Cogan. I will admit, the weather here is pretty miserable. Since arriving a 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, I have seen the sun once. On Wednesday, we went out to the biathlon range, about 1.5 km from the parking lot. It was fairly windy and snowy, making shooting difficult. However, we got some good shooting in and regressed to the hotel. That night, we spent about an hour making adjustments to my rifle. I got a blinder from the Altius, the local biathlon shop, but we had to “modify” it slightly. Because my rifle is a right-handed converted to be left-handed, the blinder blocked part of the bolt from going back and forth. Glenn and Phill spent some considerable time cutting away rubber and aluminum from the blinder so that it would fit on my rear sight. We made it work, but at the race we realized that it was preventing the sight from moving down when I went to make a sight correction, so we had to take it off for the race. Yesterday (Thursday) was the sprint competition. For Britt and I, the race was 7.5 km, for Phill it was 10km. The weather was slightly more cooperative. The wind died down significantly, but the snow/rain was ever-present, making seeing difficult. I was slightly intimidated in the start. Because the youngest age class is 17-18, I had race in that class. The person who started in front of me was easily six inches taller than me and the guy behind me was the same. I hit one prone target and one standing target. I didn’t feel super awesome during the race, JNs really took it out of me. Today was another training day and a chance to redeem myself for my horrendous shooting. We started at 9:30 in the hotel room and practiced safe range procedure (taking off and putting the rifle on your back). It was very productive. Afterward, we headed out into the rain to go to the range. We caught a lucky break with the weather today. It had been pouring all morning, but it let up significantly as we headed out. I shot some pretty nice groups when we shot on the paper, and I improved significantly on both prone and standing. I decided not to do more racing this week as I just don’t feel like I’m up for it. Instead, I will be Glenn’s assistant on race days. West Yellowstone is a very cool place and my only wish is for some better weather.

Last Day

So the shaving cream adventure didn’t go super well yesterday. The idea was to put shaving cream all over the door handles and write more stuff on the van with it too. I had just done the main door when three or four of the really big PNSA kids came tearing around the front of the van. I haven’t run as fast as I did in a long time. I got away, but one of them ran straight into Glenn’s parked truck. I heard the clunk but I wasn’t willing to turn around and look.

Today, the team relay went very well. I was on a team with Dylan as the starter, me second, and Peter H. as the anchor. The transition was pretty hectic. Dylan was coming in to tag me, but he was in a big group. Also, there was this one New England kid who kept trying to get between me and Dylan. I finally got around him, but I didn’t see Dylan till he was ten feet away from me. I started double-poling, but after on e pole plant someone cut me off at a 90 degree angle. All I saw was his ski tips and I just ran them over. Dylan finally managed to tag me and I went out. Because of the whole mess in the transition, I got out in 2nd place. However, I was quickly caught. I lost a few places, but not very much time. Peter was able to make up the distance for a 5th place finish. As it turns out, August and Ben had a bet on which relay team got a higher place’ August was betting on myself, Dylan, and Peter while Ben was betting on Katrin, Annika, and Joanne. The prize for this bet was a case of beer. Both of our teams got 5th today, so I’m not sure what happens now.

Junior Nationals have been really good for all of us this year and I am very pleased with my performances. Huge thanks to…

Jeff Ben Joel Ambrose Martin Glenn Alana Kara Mary Ellen Nancy All race staff and volunteers

PNSA retaliation

After I posted my last entry yesterday, Dylan walked in with an interesting story. He had been spending the day with his parents so he stayed at the social a little longer than the rest of us. He said that he was surrounded by PNSAs and taken hostage into one of their vans. There, he was told that they were going to piss in our van and they also took Dylan’s Far West jacket. This morning after training at the venue we mounted a retaliation. We went and found the PNSA van that we had vandalized last night. we were hoping that it would be unlocked and if it was, we were going to mace the interior with a spray can of Old Spice. Unfortunately, the van was locked. However, upon returning to our wax table, we found a group of PNSAs taunting our guys from a distance with the PNSA flag. Patrick and I pursued them, ending in a small skirmish. We eventually called a truce and got our own flag back, but it was completely soiled and had some male genitalia drawn on it. Another strike op has been organized, involving a freshly acquired can of shaving cream and their van at the venue tomorrow.

Skate mass start and flag-napping

Today was the skate mass start race. J2 boys got to go first and we got the best trails. There were a lot of crashes and broken equipment. I counted around five segments of broken poles on the course. Some of them were within the first kilometer, but one was about two feet from the finish line. I had a pretty good start. I was cut off by other racers a few times before I asserted my place more and began to be more aggressive. I made up a few places and caught some PNSA kids. Last night, we as a team made it our goal to be in the top six for Alaska Cup points as well as beat PNSA. Towards the top of the last huge climb, almost straight up the side of the valley and about 1/2 kilometer from the finish, I was dying. However, I had a PNSA skier right in front of me and Mary Ellen to yell at me. I managed to catch him and hold him off for the finish. Far West as a team had an excellent day and we made up significant ground in the Alaska Cup standings. I had a good race and had a lot of fun. After my race, I spent the rest of the time at the venue waving around my Far West flag, fashioned out of Alex’s torn wife-beater and a mop handle. which brings me to the second part of this post…

So as I mentioned, I spent a few hours waving a Far West Far Best flag; At one point, I came across the PNSA kids with their own flag. We critiqued each others banners. Later, as we were packing up to go home, I put the flag in the U-haul. Unfortunately, the PNSA kids ( no one told me that there was a flag-stealing war between us and them) were behind us and STOLE OUR FLAG. We chased them in our van all the way across Heber Valley to their house. They wouldn’t give the flag back, so we went home. As of now, operation Paint the Target is a go.


Operation Paint The Target was a huge success. At the midweek awards/ ice cream social, Peter C. and I sneaked out during the ice cream part of the gathering armed with glass-chalk for drawing on cars (washable). We found the PNSA van that stole our flag and completely covered it with “Far West”, “Far Best”, and a “We worship the mighty Far West”. Afterward, we went back to the party and talked to PNSA kids like nothing happened. Before leaving, all of our vehicles did a drive-by. All of the PNSAs were standing around outside their van looking at us. I am curious as to what their retaliation will be.

Down Time

The past two days have been full of non-productivity when not on snow. Brandon H. and Evan are completely addicted to reality television. They have watched at least 9 total hours (seriously no exaggeration) of Storage Wars, Hoarders, Strange Addictions, and all sorts of other crap. Upstairs in the J1/OJ house, people are watching endless Disney Channel movies and shows. On the other hand, Peter C. and I make far better use of our time: Blackhawk Down and 3:10 to ‘Yuma. Today however we made fairly good use of our time. Myself and several others got up an hour early to ski earlier before going up to Utah Olympic Park, the site of the jumping hills, luge, skeleton, and bobsled courses, and the museum. We got to see a few of the Junior National nordic-combined athletes go off of the 64 meter hill before going to the top of the 128 meter hill and the ice courses. We even got to see a few skeleton competitors rip down the track. We then came back to the main house to eat and wax. How can it take 30 people over four hours to wax one pair of skis each with six different profiles?!?!?!. It took me 15 minutes…

Race prepping

Today has been a pretty mellow day. We went for a nice ski out on the courses, most of us on classic but a few of us on skate skis. The kick was nice and we got to talk to a few people from other divisions. Afterward, we went back to the main house for lunch and waxing. We are all very tired and haven’t done much today after lunch. Most of us have sat around watching television and sleeping. I’m probably going back to sleep after dinner. Tomorrow should be a good race with the OJ men starting at 9, before the J1 guys, then J2 men, J2 girls, and then J1/OJ women.

All of our work culminates

I’m sitting in study hall the day before we depart for Junior Nationals in Soldier Hollow. I am surrounded by my friends, both alpine and nordic. The signs of impending national racing is obvious. In the corner, a pair of freshly hotboxed classic skis awaits packing; there are several bags of gear belonging to alpine racers, trying to cram in a last training session before they leave for their own races. All of us have worked extremely hard. Not just on snow this winter (rollerskiing for nordics!), not just in conditioning sessions in the fall, but in many winters previous as well. All of our hundreds, possibly thousands of hours of training have paid off in the past and helped to show the correct road to where we want to get to. We have all prevailed in the past and we have all come up short at some times, but each and every experience has helped us to move forward. The reason we can do what we can do is because we can build off of our experiences and continue onward to be better than we were in the beginning. We all possess and powerful drive to be the best that we can be and we always strive to be better than we are now. For some of us, this will be their first Junior Nationals. For others, it will be their last Junior Nationals. As a team, we will prevail and show the other divisions that we are a powerful, motivated, and united team of elite racers. All that is left to say is this:

Just Do It

Sam Zabell

SOHO-skate-finishAge: 14
Hometown: Truckee CA
School: Sugar Bowl Academy
Team: Far West
Age first skied: 1.5
Favorite Book: The Pearl
Favorite Nordic Athlete: Kikkan Randall
Favorite Off Snow Sport: Road Biking
Favorite Athlete in that sport: Andy Schleck
Most Memorable Far West Experience:
My favorite experience as a member of Far West was at the 2011 Minneapolis Junior Nationals in the hotel before the dance. We had just had our team meeting in a room off of the main atrium/lobby where the dance would be held. As the other teams filed into the ballroom where the dance would be, we unleashed our cheer of “FAR WEST FAR BEST”. We managed to turn a few heads and show our dedication and team spirit to the other divisions.
Best Racing Experience:
My best racing experiences were at the 2012 Soldier Hollow super JOQ. I think that these were some of my best races of the year and that I learned a lot about what I need to do to race as best as I can, specifically warm-ups. It also showed me what the rest of the J2 field was doing in races and how it worked for them.
If you could have one superhero power, what would it be?
My super-power would be to read people’s thoughts. By having this power, I could know everything about a person including their opinions about themselves and other people. Also, it would be really fun to finish everyone’s sentences for them.
What is something most people can do that you cannot?
One of my abilities that I do not believe others have is my focus and drive to succeed. While on trips, I often feel crushed with homework, but I find ways to invent time to do it all and do it well. Also, being smaller than most of the other athletes in my age class, I believe that I have had to work harder than other athletes to get to the same places athletically. I think that without my determination to succeed and push to work harder, I would not be able to compete with the people that I do.