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Author Archive

Confessions of a Beginner Biathlete

12.Jan.2016 by Emily Dreissigacker

As you may or may not know, I was named to the US team for IBU cups 4, 5, and 6. We spent this past week in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic for IBU cup 4 before making the long trek to Ridnaun, Italy where IBU cup 5 will kick off on Thursday (For those of you who don’t know, IBU cups are kind of like the minor league of biathlon. A step down from World Cups). This being my first international biathlon experience, as well as my first full season doing biathlon, it has really been a learning experience. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned so far.

The stadium in Nove Mesto.

The stadium in Nove Mesto.

Carrying a lot of skis at once isn’t just a skill, it’s an art form (and something I am terrible at). The first day of ski testing I made two trips to carry my skis. Then Han taught me “the fan”. I finally got it down with two pairs and was feeling pretty good about myself until I saw a wax tech carrying a fan that had at least five pairs of skis! Impressive!

 

If you wear your athlete bib over you warm up vest you look like a newb. On official training days you have to have your bib showing to shoot. The first day I made the mistake of putting it over my vest. Don’t worry, I was quickly informed by Coach Jean that this made me look like a newb and was able to correct my mistake.

 

If the wind flags are doing different things, look at the one closest to the targets. In our first race there was a pretty good wind during zero. When I came in to shoot prone during the race, the far wind flag was calm while the close wind flag was still blowing. I didn’t take clicks and all my shots were low and to the right. I missed two so it could have been worse but still, lesson learned.

 

Wearing your drink belt in front isn’t dorky, it’s just practical. When you have a rifle on your back it really just makes so much sense to wear your drink belt in front. Plus, everyone’s doing it so you actually look kinda weird NOT doing it.

 

There are a lot of biathlon fans in Europe. The stands at the stadium in Nove Mesto looked like a football stadium. They weren’t quite full for our races but there was a lot of cheering going on. The Hungarian fan club was there and they love the Americans. They would start chanting my name when they saw me. I’m not gonna lie, it made me feel pretty cool.

 

The fancy hairstyles you see watching the women’s World Cups aren’t just for looks. Turns out it’s pretty tricky to find a way to wear long hair so that it won’t get caught in your harness and will also keep your headband or hat from sliding off the top of your head. I’m still working on this one.

 

Orange and Purple aren’t just for Clemson. Adidas took some artistic liberty with “red, white and blue” so this year’s US suits and gear are all purple and orange. I still think orange is my worst color but I do like the purple! And now I have lots of good hunting season clothes.

 

Czech food is everything you’d expect it to be. And by that I mean chicken, potatoes, more chicken, and more potatoes. But if you go to the grocery store you can buy just about one of everything for less than 10$ US.

 

Italian food is everything you’d expect it to be. And more. We went to dinner after our 10 hour drive from Czech. The waiter comes out and says, “For our first course we have homemade ravioli with bacon. Is this ok?” Yep I think that will be ok.

Looking down towards the stadium in Ridnaun.

Looking down towards the stadium in Ridnaun.

Better Late Than Never

17.Jun.2015 by Emily Dreissigacker

This past February, after almost ten years of rowing, I decided that I wanted to switch to the ski team. In retrospect I think it was a move that was a long time coming, going back even to my first winter after graduating college, when I put my single on the roof of my car and drove out to southern California. Initially I was so excited to be going on an adventure, for the beach and palm trees, the sun, the rowing in January. And then, against all odds, I was miserable. I longed for big fat snowflakes, cozy fires in the woodstove, and of course the skiing. I came home to Vermont for the summer and all seemed right in the world again. But rowing had lost some of it’s magic for me. It was starting to feel more like work and less like fun. Winter rolled around and we started skiing for cross-training. It felt like freedom.

 

At this point, competing at the Olympics had been a dream of mine for so long that it felt inextricably entwined with who I was as a person. I could feel it slowly but surely slipping out of my grasp and yet I couldn’t let go. I thought about quitting, but there was always something pulling me back. Don’t get me wrong, I loved racing. I loved racing against my teammates in practice, I loved lining up side by side for a 2k or blindly pushing myself past all reason in an interval start. But the training, the whole process had gotten stale. I felt like I was slogging my way through each steady state workout, counting down the minutes rather then enjoying the time I had. Meanwhile, I jealousy eyed the skiers leaving each morning for what looked to me like exciting adventures. They got to go biking and hiking and running and rollerskiing (yes, I was jealous of rollerskiing)! But it never really seemed like a viable option to me. I was a rower.

 

It all changed when I cut my finger on the wood splitter this fall. It sounds worse than it was, but it did sever the tendon on the back of my finger. I had surgery at the end of November and had to wear a splint on my finger for 8 weeks afterwards. With my splint, I couldn’t bend my finger to hold an erg handle but with good pole straps I was able to ski. I finally started to realize just how unhappy I had gotten with rowing and began to entertain the idea of switching sports. My finger was good to go at the end of January and I somewhat reluctantly began trying to get back into erging. Incidentally, this coincided almost perfectly with Craftsbury hosting two weekends of Supertour racing. The big turning point for me was making the A final of the classic sprint. Admittedly it was a smaller than usual field but it definitely helped me see that switching to skiing wasn’t an entirely unrealistic idea. From there it really snowballed. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how badly I wanted it, until I couldn’t sit through even one more rowing practice.

 

Now I am happily almost two months into my summer ski and biathlon training (I’m following in both my siblings’ footsteps and giving biathlon a try too!). Most days practice still feels like the exciting adventures I envisioned but there are frustrating practices too. There are times when I feel so far behind everyone else that I may never fully catch up, times when I finally think I’ve got V2 down only to be told it looks exactly the same as before, times when I can’t seem to hit a single target. But through it all I’m happy because I’m doing what I love.

The GRP girls with Pepa in Sun Valley at Supertour finals

The GRP girls with Pepa in Sun Valley at Supertour finals

A Tour of Lake Hartwell

12.Apr.2013 by Emily Dreissigacker

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1. “The Course”: This is Clemson University’s course. It’s a full six lane, buoyed course that ends right at their boathouse (where we launch). Luckily for us, all the college crews are off the water by the time we get on so most mornings we have the course all to ourselves. Unluckily for us, prevailing wind seems to be a 10-15mph cross wind. Still, “The Course” is a favorite for both race pieces and steady state, especially on the calmer mornings.
2. “The L”: This refers to the stretch of water that hugs the shore along the last 500m of the course and veers away from it in an “L” shape. It has frequently been some of the only flat water to be found due to the allegedly abnormal windiness. “The L” is not particularly enjoyable to row and is usually a last resort.
3. “The Neighborhood”: This stretch of water got it’s name because it leads to our GRP home(s) away from home. While this tantalizingly flat water may be just a stone’s throw from our front deck, it is a solid 8k row from the boathouse thus lending itself only to longer excursions.
4. “Past the Neighborhood”: Not the most original name, but this is actually the main body of water. The majority of Lake Hartwell is off this map past “The Neighborhood”. It is commonly used for excursing (Coach Roock’s new favorite word) and one could in fact row to Georgia from here. That being said the motorboat traffic can be heavy at times, especially as the weather is starting to get up into the 70s.
5. “The Middle Finger”: Undoubtedly the most creatively named area of the lake, the middle finger is a favorite location for an easy swing row on a moderately windy afternoon. It is usually pretty sheltered and doesn’t have a lot of boat traffic. The only downside is that it’s just over 2k long.
6. “The Crossing”: I’m not sure that anyone else actually calls this area the crossing but that’s what I always think of it as. It is a very open and pretty short stretch just past the railroad bridge. Though short, it can be a very treacherous piece of water when the crosswind picks up. However, on many windy days one must attempt to cross this section in hopes of reaching the more protected waters of “The City Course” or “The Wakeboarding Spot”.
7. “The City Course”: The second buoyed racecourse is owned by the city of Clemson, which hosts many college crews during their spring breaks. Though only three lanes wide, “The City Course” is much more protected than “The Course” and is thus a go-to for afternoon pieces or technique work.
8. “The Wakeboarding Spot”: While it doesn’t seem quite wide enough to be ideal for wakeboarding it does boast an actual wakeboarding jump. (AKA: the mystery UFO). Pretty much guaranteed to be flat, this area of water has great potential other than the increasing likelihood of wake boarders due to the sunny weather.
9. “The S Curves”: A rare spot for us GRPers, the S Curves were actually named by Clemson Rowers. The few times we have ventured up them I was lucky enough to be sitting stroke seat of a double and therefore had little responsibility as far as steering. It is another good location for long excursing, but perhaps not as good as “The Neighborhood” or “Past the Neighborhood” for mindless rows due to the winding nature of it.

X-treme Baking

26.Mar.2013 by Emily Dreissigacker

As you may or may not know, one tends to have quite an abundance of free time on training trips. This weekend Becky and I decided to take full advantage of our teammates birthdays’ as an opportunity to waste a little time baking. We did not, however expect it to turn into quite the production that it did. Blame it on too many episodes of cupcake wars or our combined perfectionism but 6 hours, 5 batches of frosting, 2.5 bags of confectioner’s sugar, and an undisclosed amount of butter later we unveiled the finished product, two perfectly frosted cake bricks, complete with GRP rowing themed fondant decorations. What’s a cake brick you might ask? It is a cake that is shaped like a brick. We invented it. Having limited cake pan options in our two rental houses we were forced to improvise somewhat and make one giant sheet cake in a hotel pan and then cut it into 4ths. Two layers might seem like a normal number of layers for a cake to have, but these were not normal layers. Each layer was approximately 2.5” thick, so total cake height was around 5”, yet the cake width was a mere 4.25”. Yes we measured.

About two hours into this undertaking things were moving along smoothly and the end was in sight. That is until John remarked that the leftover cake scraps would make a good boat. As you can imagine things escalated from there and before I knew it I was whipping up a batch of homemade fondant, which I actually don’t know how to make at all. Not to mention the fact that we were missing about half the key ingredients. We ended up with a sugary lump of play-doh that we were able to dye a variety of colors but most importantly empacher yellow for Steve’s boat and green for the GRP cedar leaf logo.

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