I'm back in Vermont now adjusting to the 16 hour time change, remembering what it feels like to sweat in humid weather, eating delicious veggies and berries from the garden, and swimming several times a day. But before I get fully settled into summer, here are a few more photos from winter training camp in the Southern hemisphere.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
There's an old saying the XC skiers are made in the summer. But sometimes, it's best to find winter in summer. Rollerskiing is great but it's not skiing and the time spent on snow, working on technique and logging quality kilometers is invaluable. Every time I start skiing after a few months break, I'm amazed by how awkward, long, and slippery my skis feel. Little stabilizing muscles immediately scream out after being dormant and unused on the stable and firm pavement. The classic rollerski ratchets are gone and it's time to remember how to make wax work again. And of course there is always the pure enjoyment and love of skiing, the blissful feeling of a ski gliding along the snow. For the past few years the US Ski Team has traveled to Alaska in July for some glacier skiing. This year we decided to go to actual winter and so we made the longer southern journey down under to find it. I quickly lost track of the hours spent traveling, especially when we crossed the international date line and jumped into tomorrow. But many many hours later we arrived on New Zealand's South island and all the hours on the plane were immediately worth it. I'm also a competent plane sleeper and was in snooze mode for over eight hours of the twelve hour flight from San Francisco to Aukland, so I arrived relatively fresh and was ready to ski!
We flew into Queenstown, New Zealand and then drove up into the mountains to the Snow Farm, New Zealand's only Nordic ski area. The lodge, where we are living for the camp, is 14 kilometers up a road that serves as a rally race course in the summer time. The switchbacks can be treacherous, especially for those susceptible to car sickness but at the top the landscape opens into an unreal panorama of white rolling hills backed by views of the larger Southern Alps. Apparently it is the best snow year in over a decade so the skiing has been incredible with over 30 kilometers of trails open. The first week was cold and clear and we had a long string of extra blue conditions. Then a front came in with some warmer temps bringing klister conditions for a couple days but the warmer weather was followed by more snow so we should finish the camp off with more hardwax skiing. We live directly on the trails which creates the perfect training environment conducive to large amounts of skiing, eating, and sleeping and not much else. Most days we spend over four hours skiing and logging lots of easy distance. The altitude here is only 5000' which isn't too high compared to many summer skiing destinations so we have a couple time trials and interval sessions built into the training plan each week. There is a small gym up here too but we usually drive into Wanaka, the nearest town, a couple times a week to go for a run and hit up a larger gym. On our off days we've had time to get off the mountain and explore the local area but with this much training it isn't possible unfortunately to head off on any bigger adventures or sightseeing trips. We have four more days of training left here before debarking on the big journey back in time and north to summer. How's that for confusing?
Here's some pictures from the week so far.
Friday, May 29, 2015
You know it's been a successful training camp when lying on hard pavement feels this good! We had places to be and things to do but after a hard set of double poling intervals with the sun finally out, nobody felt like moving!
Monday, March 2, 2015
We skied for the last time this morning in Falun. The fans were gone, the stadium was empty, the banners taken down, and us orphan Americans without a home to easily return to, were the only skiers out on the trails. Another World Champs is finished and it was an incredible knockout week for the US Ski Team. There were strong perfomances in almost every race and then having two American flags raised above the podium was unbelievable and a testament to all the hard work we have put down as a team! Congrats to Jessie and Caitlin for very inspiring races!
Early last week I had my own knockout experience but of a slightly different kind. I was finishing a workout with a few short speeds. The snow was icy and fast and at the end of one speed, I poled between my legs and faceplanted on the snow. The crash knocked the wind out of me but I was initially most concerned whether if anyone had witnessed it or if I could pick up my broken glasses, watch, and other pieces of the yard sale fall without anyone noticing. I finished the ski feeling a little shook up but nothing too concerning. But as the day progressed a nagging headache refused to go away so I mentioned it to the team doctor mostly just hoping to get some Tylenol from the med kit. I had an early flight the next morning to go to Slovenia for OPA cup races the following weekend and I didn't want a headache to keep me awake. Our doctor immediately ran me through a concussion test (which I thought I passed with flying colors but apparently not) and the coaches and doctor decided to cancel my travel plans. Initially I thought they were overreacting as it was just a little headache and I was very much looking forward to seeing my US friends and teammates racing on the OPA circuit as well as some fun and sunny racing in Slovenia that weekend! But within a few hours I was very thankful that our doctor had recognized the early concussion symptoms and the next day was grateful to be curled up in my bed in a dark room rather than trying to navigate airports and travel amidst waves of nausea, dizziness, and throbbing headaches.
A week has now past and I'm slowly emerging from the concussion haze and returning to some very easy training. It has been extremely challenging to go from the feelings of peak fitness to feeling worn out or dizzy after only a short walk. Hours and hours spent hanging out in a hotel room in the middle of World Championships and at first not even being able to read, watch tv, or surf the web have been equally painful. My mom always says, "everything happens for a reason" and I repeat this to myself as I knit, color, or partake in other mindless activities to pass the time. Each day I feel a little more like my normal self and am excited to return to racing. Tomorrow our team is travelling to Lahti, Finland for World Cups on Saturday and Sunday!
Sunday, February 8, 2015
After lots of snow over the course of our first week in Falun, the sun finally came out for a few beautiful days in Falun, Sweden. It was a nice end to the training camp and the perfect energy boost for the last few hard sessions. Tomorrow I travel to Ostersund, Sweden where I will meet up with my USST teammates and race in a World Cup there on Saturday. As they say in Vermont, "the hay is in the barn." It's time to rest, taper, and get even more psyched for the World Champs (if that is even possible)! Can't wait to see what the next few weeks will bring!
Greetings from training camp in Falun, Sweden! I have two full weeks off from World Cup racing before a weekend of World Cup racing in Ostersund, Sweden followed by the 2015 World Championships here in Falun. This is the longest break since the season started back in November. Most of the US team is in Davos, Switzerland but I needed to stay at sea level to prepare for speedy sprint racing so Pepa traveled to Falun to help me train and peak for the World Championships. I am very grateful that she is able to be here during these important last few weeks of preparations!
I wouldn't trade my travel and race schedule for anything but I must admit that the pictures of the skiing at home in Craftsbury this winter have made me a tad jealous. There's nothing quite like a tour around Ruthie's and Sam's! The trails here remind me a lot of home and so I'm enjoying the opportunity to just go out and ski through the woods! The snow conditions are excellent and the sun is even forecasted to appear for our last few days here.
This camp is a great opportunity to train on the race courses, familiarizing myself with all the big uphills and fast twisty downhills. These courses are some of the most challenging that we race on. One hill is infamously named "Mordarbacken" which translates to the Murder hill and climbs steeply from the stadium all the way to the top of the K120 ski jump. Today Pepa skied up it twice and without poles either time so she could get video on her Ipad! So I am not the only one who is in training camp right now. Pepa skis every morning, runs on the treadmill whenever I am lifting in the gym, and walked several miles to town and back one afternoon when it was too snowy for our rental car tires to make the trip.
We're staying in cabins that are just a few hundred feet from the ski trails making it easy to roll out of bed and get ready to train! The cabins were advertised as two bedroom but turned out to be just two rooms with one room room being the bathroom. Each cabin is one room with a couple bunk beds and a kitchen and living area. We're spending a lot of time together but Pepa wasn't keen on being bunk mates. Quick Bulgarian negotiations later and we now have two separate cabins and haven't gotten sick of each other yet.
Along with Pepa's heavy training she has been paying closer attention than normal to nutrition and I've been impressed with her culinary skills. She still doesn't trust anything I cook, preferring to eat salami and Swedish meatballs on those evenings but she has cooked a couple delicious and nutritious dinners of roasted potatoes, sauteed veggies, chicken, salad, and more! I even witnessed her snacking on carrot sticks yesterday afternoon! But don't worry, our freezer is still full of ice cream, our chocolate supply is no short supply, and she unsuccessfully searches for chicken wings every time we visit the grocery.
The town of Falun is only a few minutes away from the ski area so we've had a couple shopping trips to ward off cabin fever. While I can easily stay ahead of Pepa on the ski trails I have trouble keeping up when we start shopping!
And the banners in the city center provide inspiration for tomorrow's training! It's easy to be motivated for the upcoming World Champs when you're surrounded by these images which decorate just about every corner of town! I will be doing solo intervals on the sprint course but "staying ahead" of this pack of Swedes!
Thursday, January 29, 2015
|Opening ceremonies at the Tour de Ski. We surprised the crowd by performing a quick line dance on the stage! This was my first time starting the Tour de Ski and it was a blast! Kikkan's face exhibits our excitement!|
|Once the racing starts it's a whirlwind of racing, recovery, and travel. Here I am racing the 3km Prologue in Oberstdorf, Germany.|
|The first two races were in Germany and then as soon as we finished the second race, we hopped in the van and drove to Switzerland for the third stage. This picture was taken at a pee stop along the way which also served as a sightseeing opportunity.|
|The sun came out for the third stage, a sprint in Val Mustair, Switzerland.|
|My parents traveled to Europe to watch the races and spend some family time together after the races. I was pretty exhausted after all the races but a few relaxing days with my parents was the perfect recovery and a very nice change of pace.|
|It was a short break and then quickly back to racing in Otepaa, Estonia. I first went to Otepaa when I was 15 for the J1 Scandinavian Championships so it was fun to return 11 years later for World Cups|
|Next we traveled to Rybinsk, Russia and our first real taste of winter. We were welcomed by temperatures of -25C so here are my blue faced roommates preparing for a day of skiing.|
|The highlight of the weekend was Liz's first podium. Hard work pays off so congrats Liz!|
|There are two weekends off from World Cup racing so I am currently in Sweden for a training camp with Pepa. Thanks to my GRP girls teammates for the birthday card and American goodies! Good luck in the SuperTour races this weekend in Craftsbury!|