New Zealand 2.0

28.Sep.2018 by Kaitlynn Miller

This is the GRP’s second year in a row making the trek down-under for a late summer, on-snow training camp. While last year’s camp seemed hard to beat, this year’s camp was up for the task. The camp was roughly broken into four segments with a three day dryland training stint in town, a largely technique focused period on snow, a short racing period, and last but not least, a volume block. The primary goals of the camp were to transfer summer technique changes to snow and to get in some quality intensity workouts to solidify those changes. The hope is to make our second transition to snow in the fall much smoother allowing us to maximize our potential at early season races.

After nearly 30 hours of travel we walked off the plane in Queenstown and, despite some pretty extreme fatigue and jet lag, it was hard not to feel happy and excited when greeted by towering peaks and crisp mountain air. And John Alexander, a former professional rower who we met through a Craftsbury rowing camp coach, made our lives much easier by generously offering to transport our ski bags to our rental house in Wanaka. While living in town, we focused on recovering from travel and getting in some short intensity before moving up to altitude at the Snow Farm. We also threw in some adventure running, because who could resist?!

Lake Wanaka

Mountainous views from our first adventure run

View from the gym. Ski camp or tropical vacation?!

Spring in NZ = cherry blossoms (had to sneak a flower photo in here somewhere)

While we enjoyed life in town, we were all pretty excited to move up into winter at the Snow Farm. For our first week on snow we focused on making a good transition from rollerskis to skis. This meant a lot of time spent doing video review and focusing on some element of technique for each workout. While many of us were tempted to just go ski our brains out, it was important to not overdue it too early in the camp. The goal was to maintain good energy so that we could ski well and instill the right technical habits. We were lucky to overlap at the Snow Farm with Stratton and the US Ski Team so we were able to combine some workouts and train with each other.

While sometimes it’s necessary to ski on your own to focus on a personal technique change or reach a personal workout goal, there are also benefits to skiing with others. Different people have different strengths and we can learn a lot from each other.

Pepa, with her trusty iPad, keeping a close watch on us

And pricking our fingers to test lactate mid-interval workout

Corey skiing some Merino Glen switchbacks

Liz with the Snow Farm Lodge in the background

Skiers or ants?

Next up was the racing block! Racing opportunities included the famous Merino Muster as well as the New Zealand Winter Games.  These races provided a good opportunity to get in some low pressure racing and work on maintaining our technique, and newly acquired good habits, at high speed. To meet personal training goals not everyone raced every event, but competition was stiff with racers from Stratton, the US Ski Team, and the Japanese National Team toeing the line. You can read the full race reports here:

Merino Muster | NZ Winter Games

Adam (fourth skier from the left) racing the Merino Muster. Is he being caught by a pack of tutu-clad women, or did he just pass them? He placed second overall so that gives you a clue.

Ida (second skier from the right) racing in the NZ Winter Games skate sprint final

Another shot of the women’s final with the Snow Farm’s UFO towering above the skiers

Ben (third from the left) racing in the men’s sprint final

Adam and Ben (front left) in the lead pack of the men’s 15k classic mass start event

Both Adam and Ben landed themselves on the podium in second and third respectively. Apparently blue mirrored lenses were the choice of the day and directly correlated to podium finishes…

And Caitlin and Ida added to the GRP podium crew placing second and third, respectively, in the women’s 10k classic event

A big thanks to Nick for his tireless wax support, not just during the races, but throughout the whole camp

With the races behind us we turned our focus to volume, but not before a day off to recover.

Lakeside relaxing in Queenstown. We also ate some ice cream, did some chocolate shopping, and wandered through the nearby park.

We encountered a real life Merino Muster while driving back up to the Snow Farm. So many sheepies!!

We spent the last portion of the camp focusing on volume which, of course, included some crust cruising as well as some night skis. We were blessed with significantly more sun and snow than last year which meant a greater number of open trails and much tanner faces, complete with raccoon eyes. The incredible weather made the training extra enjoyable. While poor conditions can certainly be good training for mental toughness and adaptability, we do love skiing in the sun, especially when surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery.

Views in every direction

Cruising that crust!

And soaking up the sun!

A behind-the-scenes shot of getting the perfect selfie. In addition to being a great training opportunity, the trip to NZ also gives us the opportunity to rock our awesome new Skida headwear!

The geology surrounding the Snow Farm is quite unique

Zen Ben

It was a Classic Toko Glove kind of day

Summit selfie on Mount Pisa!!

The whole GRP Ski crew (minus Ida who was on a plane)

And that’s all for now! Thanks to Nick and Pepa for all their help, guidance, and logistical management throughout the camp. And thanks to the Snow Farm for the comfy accommodations, gracious hospitality, stellar grooming, and tasty food! Also, thanks to Steve, the Snow Farm manager, for bringing our ski bags to the airport! And last, but certainly not least, a big thank you to Concept 2 and the Craftsbury Outdoor Center for the support that made this camp possible.

Photo credit: Caitlin, Nick, Pepa, Corey, and Kait