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Author Archive

Slovenia, below ground and above

21.Sep.2016 by Caitlin Patterson

What takes a skier to Slovenia in September, you might wonder? Surely there are other places closer to a home base in Vermont where it would be possible to dryland train on rollerskis or on foot. And Slovenia isn’t known for any of the skiing glaciers like can be found in Italy, Austria, and Alaska. What Slovenia does have, new this year, is an indoor, underground skiing tunnel.

Make sure to check out the previous post on this blog, which went up earlier today, on the GRP biathletes’ experience at Slovenian biathlon national championships. For this post, I’ll focus on the tunnel experience and a few other mountain adventures in Slovenia that the skiers were lucky enough to get to do.

When our coach Pepa found out early summer about Slovenia’s new tunnel, which is located at the Olympic Sports Complex in Planica, she started considering options that would tie the tunnel into our fall trip to Europe. The last two years the GRP skiers have trained for several weeks in Ramsau, Austria, making use of the Dachstein glacier for on-snow sessions. Last year the snow melted out quickly on the Dachstein, so while we did get some good quality sessions on our skis, we finished the camp feeling a little bit short-changed in the skiing department. The guaranteed snow of an indoor tunnel seemed enticing, to make sure we could log quality workouts on skis, especially since Planica is only about a 2.5 hour drive from Ramsau. Thus in 2016, here on September 21st, we’re midway through a camp that combines a speed-and-technique block in the tunnel in Planica with a distance-and-high-altitude block in Ramsau at the Dachstein glacier.

cp-hdrplan

The Olympic Sports Center in Planica, Slovenia. Our accommodations were simple hotel-style rooms in the building at lower left, and our playground was the mountains beyond, plus the ski tunnel a 3 minute walk from our rooms.

For most, if not all, of the team, this was our first experience with a ski tunnel. It’s a very… interesting… environment, at least this Planica tunnel, which doubles as a parking garage during certain times of the year. The walls are drab grey concrete, and there are concrete columns which the trail winds around… but there are also unusual features to examine, like traffic mirrors and signs in Slovenian, ice-flooded stairways, ice stalagmites growing up from the ground and rime crystals on piping. We skied a single loop in between 80 seconds and 2 minutes, depending on the intensity, which can get a bit repetitious… but it also means that we have many opportunities to work on certain terrain features or transitions, and many opportunities for Pepa, Sam, or Nick to video us for later technique review.  The air wasn’t the freshest, and there was no music playing… but the snow is consistent and predictable, always use-able and often pretty fast, and people could bring in their own headphones with podcasts or music. So the tunnel definitely had its pros and cons, but overall the experience was quite valuable and we put in a quality one-week long speed camp. Below are some photos from our below-ground Slovenian experience.

Tunnel stalagmites, from a low perspective that makes them look extra tall.

Tunnel stalagmites, from a low perspective that makes them look extra tall. We got a few ceiling drips on our heads too, but not all that many. It seemed to be drippier in the tunnel on the days when it was raining outside.

Alex and Heather cruise towards a corner

Alex and Heather cruise towards a corner

Emily on the one uphill of the loop

Emily starting the uphill

Heather in the transition zone, switching from boots back to running shoes for the walk to our lodging.

Heather in the transition zone, switching from boots back to running shoes for a post-ski jog and then the walk to our lodging.

Kait, Caitlin, Ben, Liz focus before a sprint start (Photo by Sam D)

Kait, Caitlin, Ben, Liz focus before a sprint start (Photo by Sam D)

Heather and Ben sprint while wax tech Nick looks on (Photo by Sam D)

Heather and Ben sprint while wax tech Nick looks on (Photo by Sam D)

Liz and Caitlin sprinting on a straightaway (Photo by Sam D)

Liz and Caitlin sprinting on a straightaway (Photo by Sam D)

And then there were the above-ground sessions! Apart from our tunnel skis, fortunately we were able to get out into the mountains for several hikes and runs. Planica is in the Julian Alps, and the mountains are impressive, with steep cliff faces but also trails that bring hikers around to climb-able sides of many of the peaks. Because the skiers and biathletes within our group were on slightly different plans, with the biathletes racing in Slovenian biathlon national rollerski races on Saturday and Sunday (see previous blog post), different groups of us went on a variety of adventures. The trails and peaks that we saw just whetted our appetite for more, and I know I certainly hope to return to Slovenia and this area in particular for future excursions and training! The following photos are from a few of our hikes. (Unless otherwise noted, I took the photos in this post.)

Hiking crew above the Vrsic pass, left to right Caitlin, Nick, Heather, Kait, Ben, Liz

Hiking crew above the Vrsic pass, left to right Caitlin, Nick, Heather, Kait, Ben, Liz

Climbing above the Vrsic pass into the peaks of the Julian Alps

Climbing above the Vrsic pass into the peaks of the Julian Alps

Another view of a deep valley

Another view of a deep valley, Nick and Heather ascending the trail

Fossils!

Fossils!

Peaking carefully over the edge to see the sheer cliff on the other side

Peaking carefully over the edge to see the sheer cliff on the other side

We took brief break from our training routine with a sight-seeing and shopping walk around Bled, Slovenia, which is known for this much-photographed lake and castle

We took brief break from our training routine with a sight-seeing and shopping walk around Bled, Slovenia, which is known for this much-photographed lake and castle

Looking down on the jump complex at Planica from Ciprnik peak

Looking down on the jump complex at Planica from Ciprnik peak

Crazy black salamander or newt from one of our hike/runs. On that particular run we saw dozens of these little guys on a certain section of trail.

Crazy black salamander or newt from one of our hike/runs. On that particular run we saw dozens of these little guys on a section of trail.

Ben celebrates bagging a peak (Slemenova spica, over 6000ft).

Ben celebrates bagging a peak on one of our first afternoon runs (Slemenova spica, over 6000ft – a good climb from Planica at 3000ft).

Coaches and skiers (missing biathletes), from left: Pepa, Heather, Ben, Kait, Caitlin, Liz, Nic

Coaches and skiers (missing biathletes), from left: Pepa, Heather, Ben, Kait, Caitlin, Liz, Nick. Thanks Craft Sportswear for the awesome new custom-designed suits.

This morning was our first skiing session on the Dachstein glacier above Ramsau, Austria, and we were greeted by sunny skies and fast snow. For now follow our Instagram account @greenracingproject, or Craftsbury Green Racing Project on Facebook, for (nearly) daily updates from the glacier – we’ll be sure to get a glacier summary post with photos up here on the blog too by the end of the camp!

Alaska summer training with the USST camp

13.Jul.2016 by Caitlin Patterson

Since last Tuesday, July 5th, I’ve been in Anchorage, Alaska. This city is where I attended high school, and where I returned during the summers between my college years. So it’s familiar, though different without my parents here anymore (they’ve relocated to Montana), and it’s great to visit the places and people I know up here. But really, I’m in Alaska primarily to join the US Ski Team training camp – we’ve had a week of dry-land training in town, and tomorrow morning we’re flying up to the Eagle glacier for a week of on-snow training. During this week we’ve fit in quite a few running workouts, classic rollerski speeds, L3 skate rollerski intervals, L4 bounding intervals and strength workouts. And a week of Alaska summer wouldn’t be complete without a few extracurricular evening activities making use of the long hours of daylight. Below is a summary of the week’s activities, in photos:

Catching the guys' interval sessions, after I've finished my own. Skate L3 intervals with speeds/sprints at the end. Enjoyed the opportunity to frame the guys with flowers.

Catching the guys’ interval sessions, after I’ve finished my own. Skate L3 intervals with speeds/sprints at the end. Enjoyed the opportunity to frame the guys with flowers at Kincaid Park.

When you've been away it's easier to notice the details of a place, like the mini AK tundra, as highlighted when blueberry picking

When you’ve been away it’s easier to notice the details of a place, like the mini AK tundra, as highlighted when blueberry picking

Low bush blueberries, not easy to pick but tasty!

Low bush blueberries, not easy to pick but tasty especially by the handful!

Bounding session, great to follow these 3 speedy women - Rosie, Liz, Virginia, me (in pink). Screenshot from USST video clip

Bounding session, great to follow these 3 speedy women – Rosie, Liz, Virginia, me (in pink). Screenshot from USST video clip

Classic rollerski speed session. Screenshot from USST video clip

Classic rollerski speed session. After getting used to the quiet Vermont roads, it was kind of eye-opening to return to the city-scape of Anchorage, where there are so many more cars, intersections, obstacles, terrain. All fun but a little overwhelming! Screenshot from USST video clip

Finishing off a skate interval with the strong women's group. Screenshot from USST video clip

Finishing off a skate interval with the strong women’s group. I’m in the neon tank with the circle-cedar leaf on the back. Screenshot from USST video clip

Powering through the flats in skate intervals. Screenshot from USST video clip

Powering through the flats in skate intervals, myself followed by Virginia (Italian World Cup skier guest of this camp). Screenshot from USST video clip

Becca focuses on the rocky problem during an evening climbing session with Scott and I on the Turnagain Arm near Anchorage

Becca Rorabaugh focuses on the rocky problem during an evening climbing session with Scott and I on the Turnagain Arm near Anchorage. Thanks Becca for hosting me during the dryland section, great company, food, and training!

Scaling the rock

Scaling the rock. I don’t have much experience rock climbing but every time I’m able to dabble in it, I’m freshly hooked to want to climb more!

Scott on belay, and giving us advice about how to figure out a way up the wall

My brother Scott on belay, and giving Becca and I advice about how to figure out a way up the wall

On the top of Wolverine peak near Anchorage

On the top of Wolverine peak near Anchorage. Photo: Matt Whitcomb

Women's camp crew near the start of our ridge run above Symphony Lake

Women’s camp crew near the start of our ridge run above Symphony Lake. Photo: Matt Whitcomb

Rosie Frankowski cruising the ridge

Rosie Frankowski of APU, cruising the ridge on our running OD past Symphony Lake

My brother and I, (not) nailing the jump. Scott decided to pull a best-girl-imitation jump, and I just didn't make it very far off the ground or something.

My brother and I, (not) nailing the jump. Scott decided to pull a best-girl-imitation jump, and I just didn’t make it very far off the ground, or something…

Bounding down the springy tundra towards Symphony Lake

Bounding down the springy tundra towards Symphony Lake

Must cool off! With about an hour still to run, most of us resorted to the head dunk rather than a full swim in Symphony Lake. We swam in a creek once we made it to the parking lot.

Must cool off! With about an hour still to run, most of us resorted to the head dunk rather than a full swim in Symphony Lake. We swam in a creek once we made it to the parking lot.

That’s the week in a nutshell, and now it’s glacier time, can’t wait!

Ski Tour Canada Spectating

10.Mar.2016 by Caitlin Patterson

(By Hallie, not Caitlin)

Last Wednesday, Mike, Casey, Ethan, and I, along with Ollie, Annie, Sam, and Brayton piled into the small Sprinter for an across-the-border spectating excursion. With World Cup racing as close to home as it gets, we made the trip to Montreal to see the second stage of the Ski Tour Canada. After a snowy drive, we pulled into Montreal just in time to see the women take off in their 13k classic mass start race. The course wound through the trees of the Parc du Mont- Royal and some of the sketchier corners led to several large pileups and some broken equipment. After a quick trip to an underground mall, we watched the men’s 20k race.  There was a large Vermont contingent watching the races throughout the whole week, which was really cool!

kait and ida striding montreal

Ida and Kait striding up a hill in Montreal.

After the race, Ollie, Annie, Sam, and Brayton went home, while the boys and I drove with Pepa and Nick to Quebec City. Watching and helping the coaches and techs back up the wax trailer in Montreal reminded me of a traveling circus. There were tons of ski bags and boxes and benches that were all carefully divided between huge trucks that were taking classic equipment to Canmore and skate equipment to Quebec City. After we arrived in Quebec City, we entered the hotel we stayed at armed with a crock-pot of chili, a portable grill, a box of food, and a cooler of more food. Ready for anything!

hotel lobby

Grill, crock-pot, rubber boots. Fitting in nicely.

Thursday was an off day for the races, so we took the opportunity to ski the race course on the Plains of Abraham. After some research, we learned that the Plains are named after a fisherman/ farmer who may have owned the land during the French and Indian War. We were the only ones without athlete or service bibs on, but no one said a word to us as we skied for two hours. The course had a two really steep climbs and it was quite windy the day we skied, making the gradual hills seem hard as well. I got to ski a bit with Annika Taylor, who graduated from UNH last year and is racing for Great Britain now, which was really fun.

With frigid temperatures on the off-day morning, we did some hotel exploration, where we found the outdoor swimming pool, the gym, and the revolving roof top restaurant. Later that day, we had dinner at the roof top restaurant, which offered us a 360-degree view of Quebec City. We could see almost the entire racecourse from our perch! We thought it could be a great place to watch the races if you wanted a bird’s eye view without ever setting foot outside.

restaurant

Restaurant view.

Friday morning brought an action packed skate sprint day. It was awesome to watch Ida in the quarterfinals, and a bummer that she narrowly missed out on a lucky loser. For the qualifiers and quarterfinals, our spectating location was about half way through the course, right across from the imposing city wall. We thought it was a good place for some mid race cheering. For the semifinals and finals, we moved to a slope where we could see the start and the finish, as well as some of the middle parts of the course. There were hordes of people cheering and running around.

ida and wall

Ida cruises by the city wall.

 

kait and wall

Kait in her first city sprint!

Friday also marked the true debut of the Kaitlynn Miller Fan Club, complete with trading cards. We kept the creation of the cards a secret from Kait and she didn’t know about them until two unknown kids came up and asked for her autograph!

kait autograph

Signing autographs left and right.

Saturday was the last Eastern Canada stop of the Tour and was a pursuit start race. It was a beautiful day with bright shiny sun. In the city square, there were picnic tables and fire pits to toast marshmallows and lots of people milling around before the races started. It made ski racing seem like a popular spectator sport!

blue skies and marshmallows

Roasting marshmallows in the sun.

An afternoon race provided the perfect opportunity for Ethan to fire up his grill again. We had a lovely meal of sausages and grilled pizza, our spot marked by the waving American flag.

team america

Flag? Check. Grill? Check. USA jackets? Check. Racers? Almost

We were able to get right next to the course, which was ideal for cheering as well as taking pictures and video.

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The first 18 women started individually based on their time back, while the rest of the field started in waves, either 3:30 or 4 minutes back. This made for some pack skiing and many US girls skiing together.

It was a pretty similar scenario for the men. There were a few nail biting moments when skiers almost got lapped by the leaders- but everyone made it through to Canmore!

fans

So many fans!

Green beginnings at the Supertours

12.Dec.2015 by Caitlin Patterson

If you’re among the curious ranks of friends and family, you’ve probably seen a few skiing race-recaps on our GRP news page – thanks for the interest! (And for those of you who haven’t found it, we post news updates for races by our athletes around the world here: http://greenracingproject.com/news/).  A combined report on the start of the season for skiing World Cups and Supertour is here, and results from weekend 2 are here.

Results never tell quite the whole story, so I’ll take a moment here to share photos and a bit more commentary on the start of the Supertour and domestic race season for Kaitlynn, Heather, Liz, Alex, and myself (Caitlin).  Most of these pictures will focus on the skiing part of our trip… we did do many other things besides ski, like eat nice meals including Thanksgiving dinner together, knit hats and scarves and mittens, read books, go on walks, visit with family and friends, and many other day-to-day small tasks, but most of the daily life escaped getting photographed.  It was great to get to West fairly early, acclimate and readjust to being on snow. But when the races hit, I know I certainly felt like it was a shock to the system, to be back in a bib and racing.  Overall we had some solid results and most especially signs of good things to come, but none of us were overwhelmingly happy with the start, merely content or dreaming of bigger things to come. Driving over to Sun Valley we were concerned about rumors of low snow, but otherwise quite excited for classic skiing and racing at a new and different venue.  We skied up high at Galena Pass once in training, but then due to the dedication and hard work of local volunteers, the race organizers were able to open the Lake Creek trails near town for the race weekend and a few days of preparation leading up to it!   Racing at Lake Creek was great, nice hilly courses and fast descents, and especially for the four of us GRP girls, we definitely hit our stride with classic racing!  We had 3 women in the top 10 each day, and all of us see even greater potential to improve our skiing in the future. The photos below are in a semblance of order from the trip and will walk you through some of the best moments and race days…

Heather, Liz and Kait out on an easy afternoon distance ski in West Yellowstone. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

Heather, Liz and Kait out on an easy afternoon distance ski in West Yellowstone. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

Synchronized skiing in West. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

Synchronized skiing in West. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

Heather with a backdrop of fiery sky. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

Heather with a backdrop of fiery sky. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

In green on the far side, Caitlin and Heather start their quarterfinal heat. Photo: Margaret Hillhouse

In green on the far side, Caitlin and Heather start their quarterfinal heat. Photo: Margaret Hillhouse

Caitlin starting the semifinal of the skate sprint in West Yellowstone. Photo: Kaitlynn Miller

Caitlin starting the semifinal of the skate sprint in West Yellowstone. Photo: Kaitlynn Miller

Alex lining up to start a sprint heat. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

Alex lining up to start a sprint heat. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

The start of Alex's quarterfinal heat - he finished 2nd in this one and ended the day 6th overall

The start of Alex’s quarterfinal heat – he finished 2nd in this one and ended the day 6th overall

Alex nearing the finish line in a heat of the skate sprint. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

Alex nearing the finish line in a heat of the skate sprint. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

Men's skate sprint podium, Alex in 6th

Men’s skate sprint podium, Alex in 6th

Women's skate distance podium, Caitlin in 6th

Women’s skate distance podium, Caitlin in 6th

Smiling if rather tired, after the skate distance race in West Yellowstone, left to right Kait, Heather, Caitlin, Liz. Photo: Margaret Hillhouse

Smiling if rather tired, after the skate distance race in West Yellowstone, left to right Kait, Heather, Caitlin, Liz. Photo: Margaret Hillhouse

Kaitlynn charging at the front of a classic sprint heat. Photo credit: Hank Dart via Fasterskier

Kaitlynn charging at the front of a classic sprint heat. Photo credit: Hank Dart via Fasterskier

Caitlin following Chelsea in the distance classic race. Photo: Fasterskier

Caitlin following Chelsea in the distance classic race. Photo: Fasterskier

Kaitlynn taking a corner during the Sun Valley distance race. Photo credit: Hank Dart via Fasterskier

Kaitlynn taking a corner during the Sun Valley distance race. Photo credit: Hank Dart via Fasterskier

Caitlin rounding a fast corner right on the heels of Chelsea Holmes during the Sun Valley distance classic. Photo credit: Hank Dart via Fasterskier

Caitlin rounding a fast corner right on the heels of Chelsea Holmes during the Sun Valley distance classic. Photo credit: Hank Dart via Fasterskier

Nick, Alex, Anna packing up after a race. Thanks a bunch Nick and Anna for all your hard work testing skis in Sun Valley, and Nick and Ollie in West Yellowstone!

Nick, Alex, Anna packing up after a race. Thanks a bunch Nick and Anna for all your hard work testing skis in Sun Valley, and Nick and Ollie in West Yellowstone!

Alex was really into this truck we saw after the race, and made me take a picture of it for him. I'll let you tell him what was so cool about it...

Alex was really into this truck we saw after the race, and made me take a picture of it for him. Nice truck, but I’ll let you tell him what was so cool about it…

Top 3 in the women's classic sprint, Kaitlynn and Caitlin putting Becca R in a green sandwich!

Top 3 in the women’s classic sprint, Kaitlynn and Caitlin putting Becca R of APU in a green sandwich!

Group hug with Pepa and the girls after a great day of classic sprinting. Photo: Alex Howe

Group hug with Pepa and the girls after a great day of classic sprinting. Photo: Alex Howe

Pepa, Alex, and Anna watching the men's distance race in Sun Valley. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

Pepa, Alex, and Anna watching the men’s distance race in Sun Valley. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

Women's classic sprint podium, Kaitlynn 2nd, Caitlin 3rd

Women’s classic sprint podium, Kaitlynn 2nd, Caitlin 3rd

Women's 10k classic podium in Sun Valley, Caitlin 3rd, Kait 6th

Women’s 10k classic podium in Sun Valley, Caitlin 3rd, Kait 6th

This weekend is off from racing for Liz, Heather, Kait, Hallie and I, as we navigate the crowded snowmaking loop back in Craftsbury, interspersing skiing chaos with running and strength.  Meanwhile, we eagerly await checking in on the results from our teammates who are racing elsewhere – World Cup biathletes Susan, Hannah, Clare in Austria; World Cup skier Ida in Switzerland; domestic biathletes Emily, Alex, Ethan, Mike and Casey in Canmore, Alberta – good luck team!