Monday, July 4, 2016

Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club Training

Being home for a significant portion of the summer this year has allowed me to be involved in coaching with the junior practices which is very fun for me and a blast from the past to return to my junior days with the club and see the enthusiasm and drive of these kids as they train hard and have fun.  It is also impressive to see how the club has grown over the years and to see the momentum which our tiny little ski club from 20 years ago has now gained!

Last weekend I was helping junior coaches Anna and Jake with a rollerski practice.  I arrived at the Center a little before practice started and the parking lot was full of cars as everyone was here for Masters training, Junior Practice, yoga, mountain biking, and all of the other summer offerings.  When I walked into the clubhouse, Anna was going a mile a minute outfitting everyone with rollerskis and poles while simultaneously throwing out reminders for sunscreen, helmets, snacks, and water.  We had two vans ready to load up, taking kids to two different locations depending on their rollerski experience level.  With over a dozen kids already there and more arriving, I made a comment about it being a big showing for practice but Anna looked kind of confused with my statement and replied that actually that a lot of people couldn't make it on that day.  This was even more shocking to me as I was already blown away by the size of the group.  Things sure had come a long way from the days when there were only a few of us at workouts and we would load up the back of Pepa's black Camaro and  race down the road towards North Craftsbury Road or East Albany with Bulgarian music blasting.  Back in those days the club consisted of a handful of families with dedicated parents and kids of similar ages and was led under the very watchful eye of Pepa who had recently arrived in the United States from Bulgaria.  We had practices at the Center a few times a week which consisted of rollerskiing on the Creek Road in East Albany and the North Craftsbury Road, lots of running intervals around Lemon's Haunt and Race Loop, rowing and swimming in the lake, sweaty circuits in the little rooms in the basement of Cedar which are now used as the TV room and Pepa's testing lab, jumps up the hill followed by pushups to exhaustion, and a variety of other weekend hikes and group family adventures.  The rest of the time Pepa gave us a training plan which we viewed as ridiculously hard and just assumed it was a joke which was impossible to actually complete.  But despite Pepa's craziness, spending time training with my CNSC teammates was often the highlight of my summer and developed friendships as well as a love for being active and outside which I still cherish today.

Being part of the club today constantly reminds me of my time as a Craftsbury junior and BKL athlete and also amazes me with how much the club has grown and flourished!  The kids are still out training hard and doing many of the same workouts that we used to do.  They unfortunately cannot buy Biggy Iggy ice cream sandwiches and Doritos in the Touring Center after practice but now they have a whole clubhouse to themselves after the addition of the new Touring Center.  The ski trails all have same names but now there is access to homologated loops with snow-making in the winter time and so many more kilometers of singletrack to escape onto in the summer.  In addition to Pepa's coaching there are a three junior coaches, a masters coach, and GRP athletes helping out.  Every week there are 10-12 separate training sessions going on as well as two BKL day camps, and several overnight junior camps.  It makes me incredibly proud to see the success of CNSC skiers in the winter as well as the energy and excitement which buzzes around the Outdoor Center throughout the year!

Here are a bunch of photos from CNSC from the past and the present.

CNSC Juniors rollerskiing for summer training!

Before the days of neon rollerskiing shirts but we were still looking pretty flashy!

But maybe still using the same skis?  I found my old Ski Skett Fire rollerskis with the ripping fast green wheels in the pile of club rollerskis.
Junior practice earlier this summer

Jumps up the hill are still a staple of junior training

But closer look shows that Anna and Jake are leading the way and most likely are still masters of this workout after the time that we did jumped, hopped, and bounded up the hill 90 times in one of Pepa's crazy workouts 

CNSC training on the hill before the wood chips were laid down and it was named Chip Hill

A big group before the start of summer training with Pepa (from L-R Alex Schulz, Sten Kaeding, Ethan Dreissigacker, Isaac Noyes, Emily Dreissigacker, Hannah Dreissigacker, Anna Schulz, Ida Sargent, Elsa Sargent, Kit Wright, Pepa, John Brodhead)

BKL Devo practice in the gym with Audrey last week
Good friends on a summer training camp in Italy (Ida, Elsa, Hannah, Emily)

And happy junior girls skipping down the dirt roads (Callie, Avery, Phoebe, Ani)

A new addition is Mountain Bike Club which Ollie started this summer and over 30 kids can be found riding bikes on the Center trails every Monday afternoon.  

Pepa was always convinced we would get injured biking and we were thus not encouraged to ride so it's great to see these kids ripping the trails and learning skills.
Video review in Pepa's house.  Pepa used to live above the old Touring Center which is now the coaches office in the clubhouse so once again training and club activities have come full circle.

Taking our Nordic skis up to Tuckerman Ravine in 1998 (and also proof that I was once taller than Ethan)
The snow-making system at Craftsbury has made skiing at home possible so the juniors don't have to travel for early skiing but that unfortunately makes the Silver Star training camp non-existent now.

We had training camps a couple times a year where we would spend a few days at the Center eating lots of dining hall food,  raising terror in Cedar, and training more than we thought was imaginable, Here's a photo from a Christmas training camp.
The end of the season CNSC potluck this year which took place in the new AC was a lot bigger and more elaborate than this one from many years past taking place in the dining hall but it was fun to be able to attend this spring and connect with so many community members that are excited about Nordic Skiing!

Craftsbury Nordic trading cards featuring Elsa, Kit, Isaac, Emily, Hannah, and I rollerskiing in East Albany.   It's great that they finally repaved sections of that road that were previously paved when we started rollerskiing there circa 1998 or so
The gang after running a 3000 meter TT on the Peoples Academy track.  

The current stars of the Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club!  It's very exciting to have another fast group of juniors, racing fast at Junior Nationals, highlighting the podium at the Eastern REG camp time trials, and just generally having fun and training hard.  

Friday, June 3, 2016

Bend Skiing!

The US Ski Team coaches set a goal of 100 hours on snow for this summer training season and after just one of our four camps, we are well on the way to achieving that goal!  While rollerskiing uses similar muscles, the technique, balance, and speed on snow are slightly different so the extra time spent actually skiing will hopefully give our team the edge come the race season.  Thanks to a big winter of snowfall in the Cascade Mountains, we were able to once again start the training year with a camp in Bend, Oregon.  There was plenty of snow and probably close to 20kilometers of trails open and we saw a big variety in conditions from frozen corduroy to new falling snow to deep, soft, slush.  This camp had a big volume focus with several hours of skiing each morning at Mt. Bachelor and then afternoons spent mountain biking, running, and hitting the gym in town.  We trained over four hours most days with some days hitting five to six hours!

Summer skiing at it's best! Skating on the Mt. Bachelor trails with Broken Top Mountain behind me (Bryan Fish photo)
Classic drills with Sophie (Bryan Fish photo)
Herringboning speeds-not something that you can practice on rollerskis (Bryan Fish photo)
Mid winter conditions (Flying Point Photo)

And then mid-summer conditions (Liz Arky photo)
Instant technique feedback- Here I am looking at an iPad with Matt to review video and then make changes (Flying Point photo)

Getting faster! (Flying Point photo)
Not every session involved drills, skills, or technique work and the best part of the volume camp was having the opportunity to just go out and ski, and sometimes off piste  We took advantage of some perfect snow conditions one day to cruise across the crust, through higher alpine meadows and up into the bowl on Broken Top mountain.  The almost four hour adventure was an absolute blast with great views!

Heading across the meadows towards Broken Top

Sadie leading the charge!

Heading towards the bowl up in the clouds (Bryan Fish photo)

Almost there!  The guys impressively climbed all the way to the top and then skied down on their skinny skis!

Looking back down towards Mt. Bachelor
Halfway through the camp, we took a break from the ski trails to join elite track and field athletes and alpine skiers also training in Bend for a Fast and Female event.  Bend has a couple great junior programs and it was fun to meet so many enthusiastic young athletes!
Fast and Female ambassadors sharing stories, inspirations, and fears (Flying Point photo)

Going retro!  Thanks to F&F participant and fast Bend junior skier Annie for bringing an awesome polaroid camera to the event to save some memories!
And while I love the opportunity to ski in May, my secret favorite part of Bend camp is probably the mountain biking!  The trails are fast and flowy which is nice break from all the rocks and roots in the East.  My aunt Laurie and uncle Bruce live in Bend so I spent a few extra days with them before and after the training camp and had a blast exploring some other trails and sights in the area.  

Mountain biking on the Peterson Ridge Trail with views of the Sisters mountains

McKenzie River trail ride (Bruce Lakin photo)
Big trees (Bruce Lakin photo) 
Blue pools!
I'm home in Craftsbury now for some Vermont summer training with the GRP.  The heat and humidity was a shock at first but I'm getting my sweat on and loving every moment!  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Craftsbury Racing!

After a long winter on the road, I count down the days until I can spend time at home.  This year that time came a little earlier as Craftsbury was hosting SuperTour Finals and Distance Nationals.  Rather than having an additional week of travel, I was excited to be able to share my home with the top skiers from around the country.  On top of the extra nights spent in my own bed, I felt a huge boost from the home course advantage.  The familiarity of the courses as well as the special feeling of having my family and friends there makes a big difference.  

Here's a recap and pictures of the final races of the season but first it's important to recognize the amazing work of the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.  On a year when winter didn't ever arrive, they put together a world class 3.5km loop.  The grooming and course condition was better than I saw at many World Cups this winter.  The groomers and volunteers all worked tirelessly through the week to put on a very high quality week of racing.  Thank you!

The week started with the GRP girls leading a Fast and Female event.  We had a great turnout and I was impressed with the high energy that all of those girls brought.  We shared stories, had some ski stations on the snow, danced a little and signed autographs.

We had over 80 girls and 20 ambassadors and sunshine for the event! (Reese Brown/SIA photo)

Ski stations (Reese Brown/SIA photo)

Sharing inspiring and embarrassing stories. (Reese Brown/SIA photo)
The races started right after the Fast and Female with an informal Dash for Cash, a 250 meter elimination sprint on a fast icy course with a downhill, icy turn, uphill and then sprint finish to the snow pile.  It was a fun way to wake my body up after an easy recovery week after Canada and it's always a bonus to leave with a little extra cash in the pocket.

Pat showing he's still got it with some fast sprinting! (Reese Brown/SIA photo)
Finishing through the snow pole hole prevented any photo finishes (Reese Brown/SIA photo)
Dash for Cash podium and thanks for tall podiums when you have tall teammates :) 
The official racing started with a 10km individual start skate race.  I was very tired the day before this race but surprised myself with a 6th place finish and less than two seconds from fourth which gave me some new found confidence in distance skating.

I actually had fun racing the 10km skate which doesn't usually happen in that race.  But it was really fun skiing with Chelsea and Sadie and others. (Reese Brown/SIA photo)
First time ever being on a distance skate podium for me! (Reese Brown/SIA photo)
Team Madshus- I've been so happy with my new skis this year and of course a huge thank you to our awesome Craftsbury wax staff this week of Nick Brown, Anna Schulz, Ruth McGovern, Jake Barton, and Pepa.  (Reese Brown/SIA photo)
The next race was a classic sprint on my favorite fast and firm tracks.  Jessie proved her strength once again with fast heat times all day but I was very satisfied with a close second place finish, striding and double poling on hills that I know so well.

Striding up Moss Run in the semifnal.  Racing at home is great because I know all the hills so well and after countless times running, bounding, skiwalking, and of course skiing up them, one more race isn't too hard.  (Reese Brown/SIA photo)
Podium jump shot after the sprint final (Reese Brown/SIA photo)
So nice to have big cheers from Mom and Dad and all the other hard working Craftsbury volunteers
Next up was a team 4x5km team relay with two women and two men on each team.  Unfortunately all the GRP guys were racing at Biathlon National Championships so Caitlin and I teamed up with Tad Elliott and Noah Hoffman from Vail for team Vailbury Green.  We finished second but were unofficial so we didn't get to win the delicious Clothbound Cheddar cheese from Jasper Hill.  Each race featured wonderful local sponsors donating local food which was greatly appreciated during the week of racing!

The final race of year was the 30km US National Championship.  There is no better way to end the season and empty the tank than with a long hard race!  After not doing much distance racing this past winter, I was seeded 35th and a little nervous about starting so far back.  Luckily it was very easy to move up in the pack and I found myself near the front not too far into the race.  Jessie had already gapped the field but I settled into the chase pack with many of my GRP and USST teammates. Having not raced a 30km in two years and also having some spectacular blow ups in distance races this year, I was not sure what to expect.  But I knew every turn, rise and descent on the course so well that I was surprised with how easy it felt and how quickly the kilometers flew by.  Even as it got harder as the race progressed, I reminded myself of the number of times in my life I had skied and ran each section of trail and found an extra boost.  With each lap I felt better and better and had enough energy to make a move on the final lap to finish second.
Skiing with the pack early in the race. (Reese Brown/SIA photo)
Craftsbury green! Our women's team is so strong right now and it will be a fun to carry the momentum into the summer and fall training together.  (Reese Brown/SIA photo)

Leading Caitlin, Liz, and Kait in our chase group pack (Reese Brown/SIA photo)
Post 30km carnage.  It feels good to sit down in the snow after 30km of racing! (John Lazenby photo)
Big post race hugs with my USST and former Burke Mountain Academy teammate Liz who is one of my favorite people to ski with so it was a blast to race 30km with her. (Reese Brown/SIA photo) 

Three GRP girls in the top 5! (Reese Brown/SIA photo)
30km National Championship podium with Jessie and Caitlin (Reese Brown/SIA photo)
We were lucky and raced first with the fast conditions.  By the time the men raced their 50km, the sun was blasting full strength and the snow had turned to thick, slow slush.  They had a long hard endurance test and I was glad to be cheering and not racing.  Here is Tad Elliott racing to an impressive 2nd place finish in the 50km Classic National Championship. (Reese Brown photo)
Finishing the season at home and on a high note was the perfect ending to a long winter.  I swore I wouldn't ski another lap after the race on Saturday but the sun was out on Sunday so Pat and I took out our skis to appreciate the snow for one last time this winter.  But now springtime relaxing and adventuring is on!