Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Training in Stratton

In tradition with Vermont's deep skiing roots, there are now two elite Nordic club teams in Vermont with our own Craftsbury Green Racing Project in the north and the SMS team in southern VT.  Three hours of driving separates our teams making it not possible to coordinate daily workouts together but the opportunity for shorter training camps is a huge asset.  In July Annie Hart and Annie Pokorny along with former GRP skier and now SMS coach Patty O, came to Craftsbury and trained with us for a few days.  Last week, Liz Guiney, Caitlin Patterson, and I returned the favor and trained in Stratton for a few days.  Creating this larger VT team has been a highlight of my summer.  It was a blast to ski and run on different roads and trails and having a big group of fast women working together created an incredible training environment.  We took turns leading and following, sharing each other's different strengths. And not only fast skiers these girls are great friends so it was very fun to have time to catch up on summer stories and share our passion for our sport and lifestyle.  Thanks for the SMS team for being wonderful hosts!

VT ladies training group!  We did a speed workout with short 10 second sprints and this huge group of girls allowed us to practice skiing fast in a pack
A morning run over Stratton Mountain on the Appalachian Trail

An afternoon classic rollerski with great views.  There are so many more paved roads in that area than in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont so we were feeling very spoiled with all perfect roads for rollerskiing. 
Ooops... this one was a big fail and ended with me on my face in the grass.  Time for more rollerski agility training
Some more lovely VT rollerskiing
On the last day of our trip we took a break from our own training to be Fast and Female ambassadors.  It was a very fun morning of yoga, motivational talks, kick ball (with a slip 'n slide to home!), team building activities and more with about 40 young girls. In line with the rest of our week, this event's theme was teamwork which is easy to convey in such a great group.
Partner yoga
Thanks everyone for making it a blast and leaving me inspired by everyone's energy
Human pyramid
Lots of downward dogs
Holding hands in shavasana
Kick ball and slip n slide! YES!

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Clean Power Plan and some Deeper Thoughts

This blog post is going to diverge a little from my normal stories of ski racing and training but I wanted to share an opportunity I was able to pursue in my spare time between workouts.  This spring, myself and other local Olympians (Hannah, Liz, and Susan) were able to connect with local VT environmental groups to raise awareness for climate change.  We have kept in touch since that event and I was recently asked to submit a personal testimony for a hearing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Association's (EPA) Clean Power Plan which is currently under consideration as part of the Clean Air Act.  This plan strives to cut carbon pollution through targeting regulations on power plant emissions and advocating for cleaner energy sources. Of course this plan is a heated issue and I was excited for the opportunity to join the debate.   I would have liked to attend the hearing in person, which was held in Washington D.C last week, but training demands forced me to write a testimony which was read on my behalf.  I was honored to join the ranks of US Senators and Representatives as well as experts from many organizations including the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Foundation, the American Lung Association, the Clean Air Task Force, the American Petroleum Institute, among others, to share my support for this plan.  You can read my testimony at the end of this blog or continue reading to learn more about the EPA's Clean Power Plan.

A beautiful painting of the windmills on the Lowell Mountain Range painted by Hannah Dreissigacker

I previously knew that carbon emissions from our power plants were not strictly regulated but I was shocked to discover that the US does not currently have any limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. This is even more incredulous considering the fact that about 40% of total carbon emissions come from power plants, especially coal burning plants.  The Clean Power Plan sets a standard for the first time ever to limit carbon pollution from our existing power plants.  The stated goal is that by 2030 carbon pollution will be reduced by 30% from the levels set in 2005.  This decrease will occur through the investment in clean renewable energy as well as work in increasing energy efficiency.  The Clean Power Plan is designed to give some control to the individual states, allowing them to find the best solutions for their needs.  A recent study out of Yale University showed that Americans strongly support strict limits on CO2 pollution from power plants by a ratio of almost 2 to 1.  Hopefully this plan will be the catalyst for the change that the majority of  Americans support..

Our potential for growth and advancement with renewable energy is vast.  One energy which hits close to home for me since we now have two wind farms in the Northeast Kingdom, is wind power.  Wind generation increased by 40% in the US from 2011 to 2013. The US Department of energy predicts that with continued wind innovation and advancement, 20% of our nation's electricity demand could be met by wind technology by 2030. Wind power currently has the capacity to generate the equivalent energy as 60 large nuclear reactors but it's potential is much larger.  The ground and off-shore potential of this renewable resource is actually over 10 times that amount of of our nation's current electric consumption!  We have barely tapped into this energy source.  I hope other communities around the country will follow the big lead made by the small communities like Lowell and Sheffield, VT and push for increased wind production in the United States.

Solar is another energy source with potential for growth.  Rooftop solar panels in 2012 cost only 1% of what they did 35 years ago but there is still room to further decrease these costs.  Solar cost are still over 5 times higher in the US than in Germany, the nation which leads the world in photovoltaic installation.  During our winter race season we often drive across Germany, travelling between competitions in the Alps and Eastern Europe.  I am always amazed to see a solar panel on every single rooftop as we pass through, even though the weather is often grey and rainy.  The German government has set a goal to produce 100% of its electricity from the sun by 2050 and they are already taking huge strides in this direction.  As the United States aims to reduce pollution from our existing power plants, solar energy can be a cleaner replacement for our energy needs.
Solar panels at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center

Looking out over the Northeast Kingdom, my home and a place I hope we can protect for future generations to enjoy

Here is my testimony which was read last week in Washington:

Testimony submitted to:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602)

In support of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Rule
Submitted by Ida Sargent, 2014 Winter Olympian

Thank you for the opportunity to submit formal testimony regarding EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. My name is Ida Sargent and I am writing today from Craftsbury, VT  to express my strong support for the  EPA’s historic action to combat climate change by setting limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants.

I grew up in northern VT in a rural area and learned to ski as soon as I could walk.  From the first snow in the late fall until the snow melt late March, I would strap on my skis and ski from my front door, gliding across the snow, exploring the local fields and woods.  I soon became passionate about skiing and used the sport to develop a love of the local landscape as well as an appreciation of a healthy lifestyle.  I have followed this passion to the highest level, representing the United States of America last February at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Competing in the Olympics for Team USA was a dream come true but also part of a long journey and countless hours of hard work.  Along the way, I have seen many changes to our winters and thus the sport that I love.   Every winter the first snowfall happens a little later and the January thaw lasts a little longer.  At home in Vermont, ski areas are becoming forced to expand their snowmaking capacity in order to keep up with the warming climate.  Not only does this create a financial burden for one of the state’s largest industries but also pulls from the joy of being able to actually cross country ski across pristine landscapes which make up the Green Mountains.  This is not just an isolated problem for Vermont or our country.  Last year on the international racing circuit, I competed for the US Ski Team in World Cup and Olympic races in eleven countries and raced on manmade snow in every single one of them.  Lack of snow caused race courses to be shortened to small loops of artificial snow which only perpetuates the problem. 

It’s summer time now but I’m still ski training, with my eyes set on the 2018 Olympics and hopefully snowy winters ahead.  I just finished an afternoon run around on the roads of my town of Craftsbury, VT.  As I ascended the higher hills, I had wonderful views of a wind farm on a neighboring ridge.  I’m proud to be from a community which values Clean Power and look forward to seeing more of these renewable resources across our nation.  The U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a major step this direction. Through targeting carbon pollution, this plan will protect our winters by promoting a future in which we invest in sources of clean energy and less in fuels that pollute our global climate. Placing a direct target on carbon pollution can allow us to reach our potential of utilizing renewable sources like wind and solar and force us all to reduce our energy demand through energy efficiency. 

I have witnessed the changing winters and effects extreme weather fueled by climate change both in my local communities of Vermont and across the globe and I applaud the EPA for taking much needed steps to reverse the course we are on.   Thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences and I look forward to seeing the change which the Clean Power Plan will spark.  I hope to continue to ski across snowy landscapes in Vermont for many winters come and to share my passion of the sport with future generations. 
                                                                                                                              Ida Sargent

                                                                                                                              2014 Winter Olympian

Learning to ski, right out the front door

Here are some additional links and resources.  Thanks for reading!

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


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