Friday, July 25, 2014

Fast and Female



Girls ages 9-19 please join us for a Fast and Female event in Stratton, VT on August 10th.  Register today at fastandfemale-stratton.eventbrite.ca.  See you there!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July in VT!

It's the calm before the storm.  That moment on a summer afternoon or evening when you suddenly realize it is really really dark outside.  The wind has picked up and the rumbles are increasing in volume as they creep closer and closer.  Before I'm done typing this I'm sure it will be pouring, clashing, flashing, and banging with a loud cacophony of energy unleashed from the skies.  If you are inside its the perfect opportunity to run outside and dance in the yard (with or without clothes), quickly being drenched to the bone and happily soaked with the warm summertime rains.  And with the force of it's arrival, the intensity quickly departs luckily taking the thick humidity and stickiness along as it passes for a respite of clear air.

I had a moment yesterday where I realized I had just more than a month left of my calm time at home before I launch into the blur and exciting fury of fall training camps and winter travel and racing.  I chose this year to spend a long time at home in one place and it will be about three months in total which is eons for the life of a Nordic ski racer.  I'm thoroughly enjoying being settled in one place, finding almost a sense of consistency and routine in my life.  But don't worry, I haven't become too much of a homebody and have been very busy with lots of summertime training, adventures, and fun.  Here's a much overdo recap of the past month or so.

At the beginning of the month my sister Elsa got married near our childhood home.  It was a really fun weekend of celebrations including jeep rides, swimming, maple creemees, fire works shows, dancing, bonfires, toasts and roasts, and more dancing

Congrats to this beautiful couple
It was a beautiful but windy day and I was very happy to stand by Elsa's side
Eben and I after the ceremony
We had pie for dessert instead of wedding cake and I made my first ever pies to contribute to this lovely spread.
We danced for six or seven hours but took a break to watch this amazing sunset over Jay Peak
It was really fun to see so many friends and family. Here's the Dartmouth Ski Team at the wedding (just missing Kristina Trygstad-Saari)

Last week was the first of our two Craftsbury Bill Koch League day camps which I organize every summer. The Craftsbury GRP athletes coach twenty local kids for a week of mountain biking, rollerskiing, orienteering, soccer, swimming, adventure racing and much more.

Mountain Bike games
Swimming to capture watermelons in the middle of the lake during the adventure race
Rollerskiing with only a few scraped knees despite many newbie rollerskiers
Ropeswinging and pizza to end the week!

And finally we have been training hard logging long hours of rollerskiing, running, biking, and hiking.  Last week part of the SMS T2 team traveled north to train with us for a few days.  It was awesome to show the Annie Hart and Annie Pokorny our training grounds and have some new training partners.  Thanks for visiting and we are looking forward to making a trip to Stratton soon!

Classic speeds with the #annies on a rainy day

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Steamy summer training

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just announced that May was the hottest May recorded across the globe ever ( http://time.com/2917053/may-hot-temperature-noaa/ ) And as climate change advances, I think June and July are following suite.  Summer training is in full swing and as the heat and humidity increase to record levels, we are sweating!.  It's the time of year where I swim three, four, five, or more times a day to escape the hot stickiness.  Visions of lemonade and ice cubes keeping me going on long workouts.  I find the existence of new sweat glands with every workout, pumping out salty sweat from every inch of my body.  Our coach, Nick Brown, brings a plant sprayer (clean of course since we have an organic garden) filled with ice water and sprays us down between intervals.  But we haven't let the heat or humidity get in our way as we train early and late, logging high volumes of training and dreaming of cooler months this winter.

Swimming in the river in Stowe after a long run
Track intervals
Looking out at Camel's Hump from Smugglers Notch
A viewpoint during a recent OD run on the Long Trail
The view from my cottage
A peaceful evening at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center waterfront
Pete Graves, Susan Dunklee, and I leading an Olympic Day event last week
Almost 90 kids participated in an afternoon of sports, fun, dancing, and stories at Hosmer Point.

Friday, May 30, 2014

BEND!



Phew.. I'm tired!  It's Friday night and I have my feet up with a cup of tea, enjoying a relaxing evening after a relaxing day where morning yoga was the main event of the day.  We just finished our first training camp of the new season and the heaviness of my tired legs has settled in inspiring new motivations and excitement through fatigue and sore muscles.  It's funny how that irony plays out in the body and mind of an endurance athlete.  As in years past, the first training camp for myself and my teammates on the US Ski Team took place in Bend, Oregon.  The variety of workouts in such a cool location make this camp one of my favorites.  We took advantage of the late season snow on Mt. Bachelor with long skiing sessions in the morning and then enjoyed the warm weather in town in the afternoon for running, mountain biking, rollerskiing, and strength training.  Mother Nature spoiled us with incredible ski conditions and sunny summery weather.  And after a break for the spring, it was great to get the band back together.  We hit the ground running, fired up and training hard for another season.

A typical day at Bend camp starts early as we race the warming temperatures for fast firm conditions on the mountain before the snow turns to slush.  All of the ladies shared a house and the alarms started ringing around 6:30am.  The first ones up started the coffee and a big pot of oatmeal.  Then a flurry of scraping skis, applying klister, drinking coffee, checking the webcam to see how to dress as the conditions on Mt Bachelor can vary significantly from our houses in town, eating breakfast, and more coffee drinking ensued before we loaded the cars and headed up the mountain.  About 30 minutes later we met in the ski lodge to discuss the workout for the day as well as look at video footage from World Cup races, cuing in on technique visions for the session.  Every morning we skied for two or three hours and thanks to Mt. Bachelor for awesome grooming and trail preparation for us.  After the ski we headed back to town for lunch and had a few hours off to put our feet up before the afternoon session which was usually also a couple hours long.  Then we took turns cooking dinners and each year the bar seems to be raised and from homemade pizza to gourmet burgers to delicious pesto chicken everyone did a great job cooking.  After dinner we had team meetings to discuss goals and the winter schedule among other things and then its off to bed and ready for another day.  Usually we have an off day during camp but this year we powered through ten full days of training in a row, maximizing our time on snow.  So I'm rightfully tired and while my body is ready for some well deserved recovery time my mind is excited about technique changes I made, goals we made as a team, and fun times exploring the trails around Bend.  Here are some pictures from the week

I traveled to Bend a few days before the camp started to visit with my aunt Laurie and uncle Bruce who live in town.  They were incredible hosts who spoiled me with a fun weekend filled with hiking, biking, kayaking, yoga, dancing, and great food.
Exploring the headwaters of the McKenzie River on a lava rock filled bike ride.  

The biathlon team was in town and Hannah and I went for a ride with Bruce.  The mountain biking is phenomenal in Bend with fast and smooth flowing trails and a nice change from eastern roots and mud.

The Oregon edition of Hosmer Lake
There was a lot more snow than last year and the conditions were great for the entire camp.  We even got a few inches of fresh snow on the second to last day of camp.
The focus of this camp was technique and quality time spent on snow.  We switched up the normal routine with lots of drills like skipping on snow and one leg slalom.  We put an added emphasis on downhills, corners and transitions as these are areas to easily gain seconds with smooth skiing.  I definitely crashed more often than I normally do as I challenged myself to glide longer and fully commit onto a ski but when it's warm and sunny, taking a face full of snow isn't the worst thing.
But what goes down must go up and here I am working on my V1 technique
Big smiles after training one day
Frozen yogurt after a team meeting one night.  This is one happy family!
And I got to see my actual family too!  Elsa and Linden drove down from Seattle for Memorial Day weekemd and stayed with Laurie and Bruce.  They spent their days mountain biking and alpine skiing but we met up in the evenings.
This was my fourth trip to Bend and every year I hear stories of incredible crust skiing.  But every year the the conditions or our training schedule has not coordinated and I haven't ventured off the groomed Nordic trails.  It was looking like this year would be more of the same but then on our last day of camp we woke to cooler temperatures.  We excitedly watched as the car thermometer dropped as we drove up to the mountain, calling out each time the numbers dipped.  It was 30 degrees and sunny as we pulled into the parking lot so we hurriedly grabbed our skis and checked out the snow.  YES!  There was a little snow on a thick crust!  It wasn't the fastest cruising conditions but there was a crust so we set off from the Nordic Center, past Todd Lake and up to the bowl of Broken Top.  It was hard work and slow going at times but we found some endless meadows of crust and a panorama of phenomenal view, putting the cherry on top of a great camp.


The crew heading out with Bachelor behind us

Heading up



Sparks Lake in the distance

Todd Lake


Taking some turns on the way down

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Community

It's May and I'm switching gears from recovery mode to training mode but I'm excited to have a couple more weeks at home before hitting the road again for the first training camp of the year.  I just returned from a long dirt road cruise on my bike, riding through Craftsbury, Albany, Glover, and Barton.  Yesterday we took a different tour of Craftsbury, Greensboro, and Hardwick and I'm having fun getting my legs back into shape riding up many of the hills in the Northeast Kingdom!  We found some leg burners, explored some new Class IV roads, and came home spotted with dirt after hitting mud season head on.   It's pretty amazing to live in a place where one can do quite a few different 2-3 hour bike loops leaving from home, without retracing our steps, hitting pavement, or seeing more than a handful of cars.  A couple days ago I got my feet dirty slogging through some new sections of the VAST trail on a muddy run. Its a nice reminder of the rugid rural beauty of the Vermont.  

And when I haven't been exploring the natural landscape of the area, I've been busy sharing stories of ski racing and Sochi with many different members of the community.  The support that I received this winter was unbelievable.  I received encouragement from close friends and family as well distant acquaintances and people I didn't know.  I couldn't be thankful enough for the outpouring of excitement I received from home which came in the form of letters, emails, cards, Facebook messages, artwork from kids, banners around town, and much more.  It was very inspiring and so I have been very grateful to be able to connect with this community this spring and share some stories and experiences. 

The Vermont House of Representatives took a break from their work to honor the VT Winter Olympians on the House floor.  With 19 athletes in Sochi, Vermont had the most Winter Olympians per capita.  Only five of us were able to make it to the state house including Hannah Kearney (Moguls), Susan Dunklee (Biathlon) and myself, Sophie Caldwell and Liz Stephen from the Nordic team.

Governor Shumlin welcomed us in his office and gave each of us the opportunity to say something about Vermont and our time in Sochi.  We weren't expecting to speak but all of us felt very proud to be there and it was easy to find a few words to say about our home state.
The Vermont Natural Resources Council and the National Wildlife Council organized an event allowing the local Olympians discuss how climate change affects us as Vermonters and winter athletes.  We shared experiences of skiing on manmade snow around the world, related how the warmer winters are affecting our winters and spoke for change and action.  To read more about our thoughts, check out this article covering the event: http://vtdigger.org/2014/04/28/vermont-winter-olympians-call-action-climate-change/

Hannah Dreissigacker describing the benefits of a carbon tax.
The Olympic spirit is strong in the local communities and I gave a couple slideshow presentations with Susan and Hannah, sharing pictures and stories from Sochi.  First we talked in the Barton Memorial Building and then at North Country Union High School to the Memphremagog Ski Touring Foundation.  It has been fun to see so much enthusiasm for XC skiing and winter sports.  Thanks to everyone who came out!

Susan and I both grew up in Barton, VT.  It's very exciting for the two of us from a little town in the NEK to compete together in the Olympics and this community has been very supportive of both of us.
My good friends from growing up CJ and Andrew came to the presentation in Barton.  I used to ski with them after school and they were both way better than me at going off the jumps on Nordic skis.  I developed my competitive drive chasing after them on bikes, the soccer and baseball fields, the playground, and the sledding hills.

For me one of the most rewarding parts of the last couple weeks has been visiting schools and joining kids athletic programs, connecting with young students and athletes in the area.  I grew up here and had role models of my own who mentored me and hopefully I can share my love of skiing, the outdoors, and an active lifestyle with some of the next generation.  I visited quite a few schools in the area, ran with the local Girls on the Run program, and have been coaching this spring at Kids on the Move in Hardwick, VT.  The captive audiences and excited kids inspired and fueled me with all their energy!

Burke Mountain Academy winter Olympians, Nolan Kasper, Liz, Trace Smith, and myself who all attended school together.  BMA has one of the strongest communities which I have ever been apart and so it was fun to meet the current students and share some more Sochi stories.

Goal setting with Girls on the Run in Newport.  Last year I was very involved in the program so it was great to run with the girls again, share some more stories, and work through a goal setting activity with them.  These girls were motivated and excited to be active and run!


West Hill Shop Thunderbolts in Putney, Vermont.  The mountain bike trails were a lot drier in southern VT so it was fun to ride some singletrack with these kids

And finally, Happy Green Up Day everyone!  I got a out with a few Craftsbury Outdoor Center athletes this morning to clean up the roads and keep our community looking good.  Hopefully one day there will not be enough littler to need this day but until then it was great to see everyone filling up green bags.  


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sand, snow, and lots of pictures!

For the first time this year I didn't come home at all during the World Cup season.  I stayed in Europe from the beginning of November through World Cup Finals.  It was a long winter with lots of excitement, plenty of highs and new experiences, and some disappointments too so by the end of March I was tired both physically and mentally.  The Olympic season was incredible but the energy and focus preparing for the Games was exhausting and I needed a break.  Time for April vacation!  I was happy to leave my skis behind and Elsa and I headed south to Arizona for some desert time.  It was a classic Sargent sisters vacation which means lots of activity, nonstop action and adventuring and not much relaxing but still exactly what I needed.  The change of scenery and quality time with Elsa was refreshing and despite packing in two or three different hikes and bike rides every day, I felt more energized and recovered with each time.

Sisters trip!  Thanks Els for a a great trip!
The red rocks of Sedona were incredible!

Sedona is famous for vortexes or places where energy connects from the Earth.  I dragged Elsa out on a couple different hikes to vortex locations and was eager to feel the blast of energy but unfortunately it was a little less intense than I imagined.  
Fun to get back on the bike and my butt was pretty sore after over four hours of riding our first day
Can you spot me on the slick rock?
Our next stop was a two day backpacking trip down the Havasu canyon which is on the edge of the Grand Canyon
We hiked 10 miles into the town of Supai, a Native American village which is the most remote village in the lower 48. 
Then we continued down the trail to a series of incredible waterfalls.  Havasupai means blue green waters and that was exactly what we found
Yes!
No thanks! Hiking to the last waterfall involved a scary ladder down a rock face and my fear of heights got to me and I chickened out.
From there we continued on to the Grand Canyon and camped on the South Rim.  We wanted to camp at the bottom of the canyon but we were too late applying for a permit.  So instead we headed out for a one day hike from the Rim to the canyon floor and back up again, 16miles and over 10,000ft of the elevation change.  The Park Service strongly suggested against our plan posting warnings stating "You will persish."
It was fun to look down below and see the trail ahead.
Oooh aahhh
Amazing colors!
We quickly made it down to the Colorado River on the steep South Kaibab trail
My favorite cactus
Elsa set a fast pace hiking out and including snack and lunch breaks and countless photo opps, we were back up to the rim of the Canyon in under 6 hours.  I guess we didn't need to pack the headlamps.

From Arizona, I flew home which was travelling back to winter since there is still lots of snow on the ground in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.  At first I just enjoyed relaxing at home and had sworn I was absolutely done with skiing.  But when the first day of decent snow conditions arrived, my love of skiing shone through and I was hurriedly scraping my skis.

April 12th skiing at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center!
Look at those tracks
The field at the top of Ruthie's Run
I'm sure there will be a few more dirt spots after this recent wave of warm spring weather but there will still be skiing in Craftsbury for a long time to come!
I ditched the skinny skis for some metal edges one day and went on a backcountry tour with my parents. We had a really fun tour skiing on the crust and then through the spring corn as the spring sun warmed the snow. 
My dad has skied almost 70 days this year and he's still going.  He led the pace and charged up the hills. 

Happy Spring!