Saturday, May 3, 2014


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:

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.  

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