School is winding down

Finals week is coming up. I should be studying, but I find that I am making excuses to go skiing as often as I can. Today, instead of finishing up my Spanish homework online, I skied at TDXC in a perfect bluebird day. I did get a small amount of Spanish conversation on the trials, so I think that that counts, right?

I grabbed some video of Elias at ASC the other day and I thought I’d share it. It is a .mov file so you may have to open it with quicktime or something.  :)

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Training with Incline Highlanders

After an incredible week of training and racing in West Yellowstone, I am back to the “grind” on the North shore of Lake Tahoe. It’s not as bad as it sounds though. Now more than ever I appreciate why I moved here: the sun, the lake, and the awesome skiing community, which brings me to the next bit . . .

Today I trained with Incline High School’s nordic team at Tahoe XC. We did some exercises focusing on forward body position (without poles) and another balance exercise focusing on extending glide and transferring weight. We followed this with an easy 40 minute ski.

After about one week of on-snow training, they look pretty good! The athletes are fit from running in the fall, but the transition to skiing can be tricky. They are balanced and coordinated. I look forward to helping  out head coach Kathy Vomund with training and racing in whatever way I can this winter.

Notable Tidbits of West Yellowstone – the sort of thing that makes me smile to think about

It is often easy to get caught up among race bibs and pumping adrenalin in a trip such as the West Yellowstone camp, and fail to remember it in all its glory.  It is these rather prosaic occurrences that made the trip so memorable.

-Parents various chocolate goodies (packed for the kids, pillaged by me).

-The horrified look on Jeff’s face after accidentally dousing my face with wax remover (and the many future instances in which I can use this to my advantage).

-Anonymous’ two massive, probably painful, not-so-graceful diggers.  Champ.

-The peaceful afternoon classic ski away from the crowds of West Yellowstone.

-The moment in a dirty gas station somewhere in Idaho when one of the boys proclaimed to me, after using the women’s room due to long lines, that “Girls  have it so much better, the bathroom’s way cleaner, and [they] even have those shiny little tables to put coats and purses on.”  Note: by “shiny little table” he was unknowingly referring to the diaper-changing table.

-Seeing the kids progress in leaps and bounds over such a short period of time.

-My almost successful attempt to consumer 4 saltines in a minute, more difficult than one might think.  World Poker Tournament watch out…Jeff is a betting maniac.

-The point when I let go of my insecurities about racing and realized that it is all quite simple-just go.

-The incredible amount of food consumed by teenage boy athletes.  By incredible I mean that at each meal the boys ate enough food to feed all the Lions in the Denver Zoo (there are at least 7).

-The girls endurance and perseverance in hostile take over situations- you make me proud.

-The tireless individual who shoveled ALL night outside the Super 8 in Wells, as I laid awake cursing him.  (As it turns out-a torn bill board)

-Probably the best classic skiing that many of the kids have had the privilege to enjoy.

-Hearing Glen and Jeff laugh boisterously from across the noisy dining area.

Thank you to all who helped make this trip happen.  It was an enormous success in my opinion.  We had awesome training and racing.  To Glen, Ben and Jeff- that was wonderful.

Ski Testing

As the ski season begins, many of you may find yourself obtaining new skis for training and racing. Having spent a lot of time testing new/different skis this week here are some tips to help with the process:

1. Ski on your skis  “one and one”. By this I mean if you have two pairs of skate skis, grab one ski from each pair and compare them by skiing on them together. Make sure you try them “one and one” in different conditions/snow types and figure out which skis perform better in different conditions.

2. If you have Fischer classic skis, your wax pocket is most likely going to be as follows: Start in the middle of the ski, and move REARWARD to the first factory notch on the ski (this is the little triangle without a base, on the sidewall of the ski). This is most likely the rear of your wax pocket.  Again from the middle of the ski, move FORWARD to the second triangle notch (on the front of the ski), this is most likely the front of your wax pocket. The design of the camber on Fischer classic skis makes this the prime pocket for MOST of the skis. Wax your skis this way then ski on them, making adjustments in pocket length based on whether you feel the skis dragging, or whether they are slick.

3. Don’t test your skis one time and call it done.  Make sure to continue to ski on all your skis and continually test and evaluate conditions in which they excel.  Some people like to have specific training and racing skis but I think you should almost always make an effort to ski on race skis when training. The more you ski on a pair of skis, the better the feel you have for that pair. Knowing each pair of your skis intimately will serve you well when you need to make a pre-race decision about hat skis to wax for tomorrows race.

Get out and ski.

A little off topic, but just thought I would share a picture I took in the grocery store in West Yellowstone:

For those of you who have not been to West Yellowstone in the early winter, this about sums it up…

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A good start to the season

Hello hello! I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving week has been wonderful. I for one had a great time getting out on the snow and enjoying my first few skis with some awesome athletes!

Over the last three days I led the local Thanksgiving training camp here at home, and it was really great. I hope the athletes had as much fun as I did. For me, it was my first four “real” skis, so it felt awesome to get out there and get things going.

We started off with a double on-snow day on Friday. We took advantage of the new snow and cold temperatures for a nice long classic ski in the morning. We did lots of drills and went back to the basics, focusing on getting our fundamentals right to carry over through the year. We worked on balance, body position, maximizing glide and efficiency and more. I have to say I was super impressed with how well everyone was classic skiing. They looked like they had been skiing for months already! It was great to see. For me, classic skiing felt surprisingly natural and good. Unlike past seasons, I really felt in my element right away, and it made me super stoked for some classic racing. After lunch, complete with plenty of hot chocolate and whipped cream and a little bit of rest, we hit the trails again for a skate ski — my first of the season, but the third or fourth to most everyone else. Again, the focus was on technique, and again I was impressed with everyone’s progress so early in the season. We ended the day with some short relays and a game of ski tag, and I have to say I was not prepared to have to go so fast in order to keep up! I was worked!

Saturday brought a bunch of new snow (as if we needed anymore…?!), and we set out for a classic ski in the powder. It was somewhat of an adventure, but everyone made the best of it, getting in some distance and still putting in some quality technique work, despite blowing snow and chilly wind gusts. We were all relieved to get inside and get some hot pizza, and consume hot chocolate in even more mass quantities than the day before. We were all set to go ice skating at Northstar in the afternoon, only to find that when we got there, there was too much snow on the rink to skate! Bummer! But again, we made the best of the situation, and the athletes got involved in some serious snowplay/ intense snow ball fighting/ fort building out on what is normally the ice rink, but in this case looked more like a mecca of snowplay.

This morning, for our final workout, we did another nice long skate ski, complete with some fun relays. After the mess of snow yesterday, it was great to come out to freshly groomed tracks and blue skies, though the morning was pretty brisk. After some more drills and everyone’s favorite, no-pole skiing, we headed off to get some distance in before meeting back up for some extreme speed relay action. The ladies, myself included, took on the boys in some head-to-head speed action. We couldn’t quite pull off the upset, so we decided to change it up. The boys, always up for a challenge, took us on again in a relay in which they doubled poled and we skated, and we managed to take them down. In the finale, we did a combi relay that consisted of backwards skiing, double poling on our knees (Savannah’s creative suggestion), and frog hops. This time, we REALLY took the boys down, thanks to Savannah’s surprising expertise at the double-pole-from-the-knees technique. It was a fun end to a great weekend.

Thanks to all the athletes for working hard, smiling, and just doing an awesome job. Based on these three days, I think it’s more than safe to say that you guys are going to have an awesome ski season ahead. I can’t wait to watch!

Happy Turkey Day

Happy Turkey Day from beautiful West Yellowstone!  Racing here in West is awesome; snowy and perfect ski weather.  I am, however, slightly jealous that I wasn’t in Tahoe to witness the massive snowstorm.  The great part…the fact that I will return to winter with great skiing without having to do any shovelling, who wouldn’t be excited?

Snowing and Blowing in West Yellowstone

After a long drive on Saturday, we had a really pleasant day of skiing Sunday. On Monday and Tuesday we had the benefit of fresh snow everywhere all the time, overnight and throughout the day. Things were on the windy side. The trails are mostly well-sheltered. Double training sessions each and every day.

Wednesday we had one really gnarly day of cold weather with a high of -1°F. Then temperature dropped by about 10 degrees around lunchtime. Ouch. That doesn’t happen in California. That was our first day that we skied once instead of twice.

I signed up for the classic sprint race (1.5km Thursday) and the skate distance race (15km Friday). I picked these races reasoning that I need to improve at classic skiing and sprinting and that I would probably have my best shot at scoring good points in the skate race. I placed 71st in the classic race, which confirms that I need (a lot) more work in this area. I made a strong effort though and I can’t wait to skate it up tomorrow. Critically, my lungs feel good after racing in the cold weather today. See results for today’s classic sprint and skate sprint.

Sugar Bowl Academy’s Jeff Schloss noted that many of the other athletes suffered more frostbite in today’s race than Far West athletes, which is remarkable because we come from the warmest skiing region in the country. And everyone is healthy after 5 days of high-volume training and racing!

Coming up are the 10/15km skate race Friday and the 10/5km classic race Saturday. Results will be at Summit Timing.