About MG

Far West Nordic Farm Team member. Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Olympic Development Team. Member of: University of Colorado Ski Team 2006-2010, US Ski Team 2006-2009. Far West Nordic/Auburn Ski Club Truckee local.I graduated from the University of Colorado in May 2010 with a degree in Finance and decided to continue my ski career. I am currently living and training in Sun Valley, ID and will be traveling/ racing with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Olympic Development Team for the 2010-11 ski season. I am glad to be named to the Farm Team and am very happy to be able to continue to represent Far West, as I have been given so much by the many coaches and locals within the Far West community.

The American Birkebeiner

For those of you who missed it, the American Birkie was held last Saturday February 26th from Cable to Hayward Wisconsin. This is 50km skate race through the woods in the middle of nowhere with 10,00 other people and is one of the largest nordic events in North America. The thought of 10,00 people on nordic skies racing through the woods is probably pretty foreign to most people from the western US; it is a sight to behold.

Let me give you a taste of the race: The start  for the elite mens field came and went in a farm field at 8:25am under cloudy skis with the temperature hovering near -10 F. Yes, you read that correctly, -10 Fahrenheit. After two hours and 50km the race came to an end on Main Street in Hayward (literally a sprint finish down the main street of town, think Donner Pass Road in downtown Truckee) under still cloudy skis and a temperature of 0 F with a -8 F windchill and light snow beginning to fall. Quite a day as should be expected in the midwest…

Although I paint a less than desirable picture, this race is actually VERY fun. While the weather and location leave something to be desired, the course quality completely makes up for it. The relentlessly rolling, wooded terrain is great skiing. It is like skiing a roller coaster, up and down through pristine woods. There is no skiing like this in the west and it is a refreshing change.

Although there certainly are some odd rules and procedures embedded in the Birkie, I highly recommend bearing the weather and travel to take part in this race. While it might only be in the cards to race it a couple times in your ski career/ recreation, it is well worth your time to check it out.

For those interested, results can be seen here: Birkie 2011 Results

MG

I apologize for the late posting, I had a nice write-up prepared a couple days ago when technology decided it was not going to my day to post…

California in Colorado

The Supertour made a stop in Aspen, CO this weekend for the Owl Creek Chase. For those of you that don’t know, this is a 21km point-to-point skate race. The course is great as the terrain is varied and the final large descent is on the alpine mountain (Buttermilk mountain to be exact). The weather was incredible: Hot and sunny without a cloud in the sky, hence California in Colorado.

Farm Team member Chelsea Holmes placed 2nd overall in the girls race. Here is a link to results: http://milliseconds.com/races/detail/1401/143755

Unfortunately I was still (and am still) recovering from sickness, apparently my immune system is on vacation. I discovered that one of the hardest things to do is watch a race you should be competing in. All I could think about while I stood on the race course, watching my competition have a great time and ski an outstanding race was, “wow, I should be right in there”. Anyone that knows me probably expects that my exact words/thoughts were  a little more vulgar than that, but for print media this will suffice. The fact of the matter is that these were great courses for me and I was very excited to race. It is so fun to be a gamer and get out there and throw down a tactical and explosive race. But, alas, I was forced to sit on the sidelines and watch, all the while keeping myself from throwing a tantrum.

It is really frustrating and difficult to get out and support your teammates racing when you should be racing alongside them, but it is the right thing to do. Standing on the sidelines watching makes you realize how much you actually do love racing and it makes you that much more energized to get healthy and get out on the course to race again.

MG

Back In College… Kind Of

The RMISA races in Soldier Hollow, Utah this weekend provided some great reminiscing about skiing for The Buffaloes. The weather was great and the racing was fun, it was a good weekend.

Fortunately, my skis for the 20km classic mass start on Saturday were a double whammy: very slick when I tried to kick and very slow when I tried to glide. The operative word in those sentences is TRIED. Although this was very demoralizing during the race, as I watched my competitors easily kick and glide their way around the Olympic caliber course, I learned (or relearned rather) a valuable lesson: Hang in there!

While I was forced to double pole up four out of the six major climbs and was repeatedly dropped on descents, I just hung in there and put myself in the “survival mode” mindset. By skiing smart in tactical spots on the course, taking advantage of drafting, and a little down-home determination, I was able to hang on to the leading group and still have a decent result.

In a mass start, “hanging on” to the group, regardless of the situation, is a valuable ability. Keeping that mindset on a tough day will serve you very well.

MG

Canada, Eh?

Here is an anecdote from Rossland, British Columbia:

SVSEF  arrived in Rossland last night (Tuesday night) around 4:30pm. After unpacking the van, myself, Mikey Sinnott and Farm Team member Chelsea Holmes decided to go for an easy jog in the dark to loosen up. We made our way to the race venue (about 1.6km from out condo) and had a look around. Unfortunately it has rained here the past few days. There is still plenty of snow, but it is really hard and icy (this makes for GREAT klister skiing however, which is not unfortunate). Anyway, after looking around the stadium and realizing the skate track was so hard and icy we could run on it we decided to run the 5km race loop, in the dark (there are lighted trails but this loop was not lit). The running was surprisingly good, with only the occasional annoyingness of a foot breaking through the hard crust. I wish I could say we were accosted by a Grizzly bear, but sadly that didn’t happen…

Anyway,  on the farthest part of the loop we saw two people skiing a bit behind us. We quickly ran and hid in the trees next to the course. When the two skiers came  cruising by us in the dark we jumped out and heckled them. We scared them pretty good. Some of you may be wondering if we knew who these people were. The answer is no. We had no idea who we were scaring but it was funny anyway.

This morning (Wednesday) when we arrived at the venue to ski, Jessie Diggins and Jason Cork (athlete and coach from CXC) made a comment about, “some clowns” who jumped out and scared the hell out of them last night when they were skiing. They  suspected Mikey and I were guilty… We subtly confirmed their suspicions.

Surprisingly (or maybe not surprising if you know Mikey Sinnott and I) this is just ONE instance of mischief from the last day and a half…

Races coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Mini Tour. High stakes, should be fun.

MG

In Sickness and in Health…

Ski racing (unlike marriage) is supposed to be done in health only, NOT in sickness….

Here’s a story from this week:

I awoke last Tuesday morning to feel a slight head cold. I took the day off, my second in a row, and thought nothing of it. On Wednesday I could still feel the head cold lingering a little bit, but it was almost non existent; I was on the mend so I decided on a short afternoon jog.  the following two days (Thursday and Friday) I did some easy skiing. Both days my head cold was ALMOST non-existent and was marginally improving. Saturday morning I woke up feeling terrible. My first thought was to call my buddy and tell him I felt terrible and was going to rest instead of train. Against my better judgment, I convinced myself to get up, get out the door and go train. It’s race season, I need to stay on schedule and train. I felt ok skiing.Within an hour after I finished my training session I felt pretty terrible. As the hours wore on, my condition got worse and worse. By Saturday evening I was exhausted with a raging head cold and an achy body.

Today, Tuesday Dec. 7, I am still recovering. I had to cancel my trip to race in Canada this weekend (however I will be able to make it to the races next weekend in Canada) and am still unable to train.

The moral of this story, actually there are a couple, are very simple: Listen to your body, make sure you are healthy, and during race season it is better to err on the side of caution/rest.

First, listen to your body. I am very good with this, however I end up breaking this rule every few years and relearning it. If I had listened to my body (instead of my head), which told me I was borderline sick and needed to rest on Saturday morning, I might not be sick right now. Note this is not an excuse to slack, any good athlete knows when their body is not well.

Second, make sure you are healthy before you begin training or racing again. I am guilty of this in the beginning of the week. I was still a little sick and pushed  back into training too early, before I had fully recovered. This can easily prolong the sickness for weeks as you train at 85% health and continue to have lingering symptoms. It is VERY important to take the time you need to get completely healthy before you jump back into training.

Third, during race season, err on the side of rest. Volume and bulk training is already accomplished, you need to be rested to race well. You cannot race to your full potential if you are sick. Take the time you need to be completely healthy. Don’t force yourself into race situations at less than 100% as this will negatively impact your racing and  prolong your sickness.

Don’t make the mistake I made. If you’re sick, get better, then train and race. Not listening to your body and trying to push it is only going to make you worse off in the long run and frustrate the hell out of you because you will look back and know exactly where you screwed up. I have seen people ruin a half season or more by not obeying these simple rules and having lingering sickness.

Follow these guidelines and your body and, for richer or poorer, you will be well off in your training and racing.

MG

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…

MG

Early Season Tips

With the fresh snow fallen and grooming imminent, here are a few tips to help make the transition from fall training/roller skiing (yuck) to snow (real) skiing:

1. Make sure to refresh the fundamentals before you spend too much time on snow. Check body position- forward lean, hips forward, and knee and ankle drive/angle to name a few. Make sure your fundamentals are in place so you start the season with a solid foundation.

2. Don’t go too hard. It is exciting to be skiing, but simmer down and make sure you are level one. It is very easy to ski a little too hard the first couple times out and get overly tired. Skiing is harder than roller skiing so remember to relax and make sure you are skiing easier than you think you should. Your body needs time to adjust.

3. Make sure to ski easy on snow 7-10 times before doing intervals/intensity (short speeds are okay). Skiing motions and speeds are different than those of roller skiing; your body needs time to remember what skiing feels like. You will be well served to spend some time finding your bearings on snow before trying to put down the hammer.

Go out and enjoy the start of winter

MG