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.