Glacier Camp

10.Aug.2011 by Ida Sargent

14  tough female athletes

4 coaches

2 groomers

2 piston bullies

1 glacier

1 building

7.5 km of groomed trails

26 hours of skiing

3 helicopter loads of food

2 bottomless coffee makers

1 guitar

50+ trashy magazines

2 choreographed dances

These are just some of the numbers that describe my week on the glacier.  After a little over a week of dryland, we drove to Girdwood which is about 45 minutes from Anchorage and then flew by helicopter with all of our skis and luggage up to APU’s Thomas Training Center on the  Eagle Glacier which would be our home for the next week.   There was one building perched on the edge of a rocky cliff and overlooking the glacier.  Bunk rooms filled with upstairs and while the downstairs housed  a big living room, kitchen, and drying room.  We were pretty isolated but we had 7.5km of trails that twisted around the glacier and were groomed just for us twice a day so nobody was complaining.  It was the perfect location for training, eating, and sleeping which was about all we did.  Each day we skied between 3 and 5 hours usually broken up between two training sessions.  The majority of the volume was easy distance but the glacier was only at 5800′ of elevation so it was still low enough to do a few quality intensity sessions.  The morning sessions were usually skating.  It was often pretty fast when we started and then became progressively slower, softer, and slushier as the morning progressed.  Having a pair of skis with a wet grind or a lot of structure was necessary if you still wanted to be gliding by the end of the morning.  Then we classic skied in the afternoon and a thick mixture of red and universal klister was usually perfect.  We had a mix of weather with everything from some fresh snow on our first day to some really warm weather where we skied in shorts and sports bras.  The pictures show a lot of sunny weather but there were also some days where a thick fog covered the trail and visibility was probably less than 15 meters.  Since we put in A LOT of laps around that one loop, the fog sometimes came as a nice mental relief blocking the upcoming switchbacks from view.  The terrain was very hilly which was perfect for striding and V1 which can sometimes be difficult to practice on rollerskis.  The group of girls was also awesome and I really enjoyed training and spending time with everyone.  Having that many competitive women working hard together really raised the level of the camp.  It seemed like every interval we did, there was someone new chomping at the bit and pushing the pace.  During the distance sessions I also tried to ski with as many different people as possible hoping to learn from other’s technique, tempo, and pacing.   It was a really fun week and I want to thank APU for hosting all of us and organizing such an awesome camp.  They are really lucky to have such an amazing facility and to be able to ski so easily throughout the summer.

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Skiing behind World Championship and Olympic medalists like Kikkan and Chandra was just one of the great experiences of he week.

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I felt very lucky to be able to ski in July!

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We took advantage of such a strong group with lots of skiing in a pack

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On the clear days we had 360 degree panoramic views of mountains

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The trail snaked back and forth across the glacier.  We were not allowed to ski off the groomed section because there were lots of cracks and crevasses but what was groomed was probed frequently and very safe

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Thomas training center with the Eagle glacier in the background on the right

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More views of mountains and other glaciers

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Holly Brooks is someone whom I had previously only raced against so it was awesome to be able to train with her too

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It was great to have some familiar faces and old teammates at the camp as well like Sophie

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Jessie Diggins, Holly, and I during a L4 interval.  The tracks got softer and softer with each interval during this workout but we took turns leading and pushing the pace and were able to negative split all the intervals despite the changing conditions.

284320_10150279901949308_509374307_7436846_1921213_nIt wasn’t all training either as we also had a lot of recovery time between sessions to fill.  With such a fun group of women it was easy to keep the atmosphere light.  Here Jessie, Chandra, and Kikkan entertained us all with their amazing dance moves.