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Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Spring on the Isle of Skye

28.Apr.2016 by Susan Dunklee

At the end of last April, I found myself down in Hanover competing on Dartmouth’s alumni team for the spring woodsmen’s meet. I ran into a fellow alumna, Jenny, who had also been my high school English teacher. Between bouts of wood splitting, sawing and fire building competitions, we caught up. Jenny and her family were soon moving to England for a sabbatical year. “Would you have any interest in doing a hiking trip in Scotland next year?” she asked me.

Why not?

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Jenny MacKenzie, my English teacher from St. Johnsbury Academy, and I. (Photo: Jenny)

And so we began planning a trip to the Isle of Skye in April 2016. Jenny found a good deal on a rental house near the middle of the island. I looked into rental cars and pondered the challenges of driving on the “wrong” side of narrow roads. We read up on hikes in the Cuillin Mountains and watched Danny Macaskill’s “The Ridge” mountain bike video. We expected we’d have at least a few raw April days where we’d be sipping tea in front of a cozy fire, or local whisky at the neighborhood pub. When one of my long time skier friends, ex GRP racer and also a Dartmouth alumna, Chelsea Little, heard about the trip, she was intrigued. We invited her along too.

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The Old Schoolhouse in Carbost, our home base for the week. The Red Cuillin Mountains are in the background. We explored many different corners of the island during day hikes (Photo: Jenny)

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Chelsea and myself. When the forecast promised a window of good weather early in our week, we decided we’d better seize the opportunity to explore the Black Cuillin mountains, which are very rugged. Although none of Skye’s mountains are very high, they include steep and technical terrain. (photo: Jenny)

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We made it to the top of the ridge but with strong winds and snow, and without proper safety equipment, we decided not to try bagging any Munros (summits).

On another sunny day we tackled the less jagged, but still very steep, Red Cuillins. Over the years Chelsea and I have done lots of hiking together in New Hampshire, Vermont and Colorado. While we deliberately seek out high levels of challenge, we’ve also made scary mistakes which have taught us the importance of risk management. When Jenny steered us towards Mount Glamaig’s steepest face and then launched herself into the air and purposely landed in a scree-ski/slide down the mountain, I was wary. However, upon trying it myself I discovered it felt much more controlled than it had looked and it was a terrifically fun way to descend.

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Jenny’s upbringing as an alpine ski racer allowed her to leave Chelsea and I in the dust. I think she should try the Glamaig Hill Race, an annual competition from the Sligachan Hotel to the top of the mountain and back: 4.5 miles with 2500 ft elevation change. The women’s record is 56:10 and the men’s is 44:27.

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No day in the mountains is complete without a post hike swim.

Much of Skye is a spongy peat bog, including some of the mountain summits we visited such as the flat-topped MacLeod’s tables.

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I’ve always preferred to hike in running shoes rather than boots but they do get wet easily. I had what I thought was a genius idea: wear plastic ziplock bags over my socks to keep my feet dry. I tried it one day and it was terrible. My feet were dripping wet from sweat in no time, plus at the end of the day I was dumping out sheep shit, which had somehow accumulated inside the plastic during the hike.

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We climbed over many fence stiles during our wanders and made friends with a lot of farm animals. These cattle were very curious. It was prime lambing season, so we tried to give the pregnant ewes as much space as we could.

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Wait, which way are we supposed to be going? (photo: Chelsea)

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The Quiraing, a geologic landslip that we explored. It looked like a perfect home for fairies and other mythological creatures. Historically it provided a convenient hiding place for cattle during Viking raids. (photo: Chelsea)

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Another famous landform and easy hike: The Old Man of Storr.

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I haven’t spent much time near an ocean, so our walk to MacLeod’s Maidens was a treat. These interesting rocks are named after the drowned wife and daughters of a MacLeod cheiftain.

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Skye’s “Coral Beaches.” My teammates tell me that I should try a real spring beach vacation one of these years. Does this count? This beach isn’t actually coral; the white color comes from dried out and sun-bleached algae.

While researching Skye on the internet, I had read about several Iron Age souterrains (underground storage tunnels made from rock and covered with sod). We decided to find one. A rough description from the web gave us an approximate location in a sheep pasture. We combed every hillock and hummock looking for the thing then gave up and decided to check out the nearby beaches. But the allure of our treasure hunt brought us back a couple hours later and we finally found it!

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Jenny, of course, had no qualms about wiggling into the muddy hole to explore the inside and we soon followed (photo: Jenny)

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It extended 10 m into the ground (Photo: Jenny).

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Braving a hailstorm and severe winds to check out an old broch (round fort).

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Every glen we saw had ruins of shielings (farmers’ huts) and brochs representing many different centuries. Stones were often scavenged from nearby ruins to be incorporated into new structures, so these sites might include many layers of history.

During the Highland Clearances in the nineteenth century, thousands of crofters were displaced to make room for sheep pastures, leaving villages and shielings abandoned. Many Scots emigrated to America at this time, including a concentrated settlement near Craftsbury.

A short walk from our rental house was the Talisker Whisky Distillery. It opened in 1830 and enabled some displaced families to find work and stay on Skye. We made it back from our daily ramblings early enough one afternoon to catch a tour.

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This list of adjectives in the visitor’s center caught my eye. They are many of the same qualities that make a good biathlete.

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After a week with mostly pleasant weather, we drove away from Skye in the middle of a spring snow storm. The week was over all too soon. (Photo: Chelsea)

Crash Landings and Wooden Medals (or, my first year on the GRP)

27.Apr.2016 by Heather Mooney

Ski racing professionally has been a dream of mine since I was in elementary school. It was the “light at the end of the tunnel” of school, because in that case, it meant I got to be doing my favorite thing, all the time, without the nuisance of homework or things that I knew were good for me but that I didn’t like as much. As a result of many years of built up excitement, I had also built up a lot of expectations for how it would be, what it would feel like, how happy I’d be to be finally “there”. Rather than having to wait through class to go skiing or running afterwards, I imagined that I’d suddenly be able to spend my whole day in the exuberant feeling I had found previously in my few hours of ski practice. Little did I know that it was the context and balance of those other things that buoyed my excitement for skiing so much.

I do not love skiing any less now. I’ve just had a harder time finding my excitement for it this year. Plenty of people counseled me that the transition would be challenging, if only for the reason that I struggle with transitions, but I didn’t believe them. I thought of course I could defy the odds, that for me the first year out of college would be awesome.  I’ve been skiing since I could walk, racing since I was six, keeping a training log since I was 13, and have raced in Europe since I was 16. I’ve been through transitions; I know enough that I shouldn’t have to have another year like my first year of college; I should be “better” than that by now. But, sure enough, I wasn’t, because it was a transition totally different from any of the others I’d experienced. The variables were different, and furthermore, I was closed minded to the idea that it even would be hard. Previously, the only thing that had changed was the format of how I went to school; everything else remained constant. Now, in Craftsbury, my life was suddenly structured by the thing I used to do in my “free time” and the things that used to be the main structure in my life, I now needed to create for myself.

I thought in this new life I was going to need to focus harder and more on skiing, because that’s what I was doing, that’s why I’m here, to get faster. I tried to shut everything out, and push harder. This was my job now, I needed to approach it with a tougher mindset than just a “college kid”. It turns out that was the death of me. I got tired, and frustrated, and had nothing else to turn to, where previously I subconsciously relied on lots of other intellectual things. It took me a whole year of suffering to realize I was missing a basic structuring of my life that made me feel good. I was floundering to find any order whatsoever, one that I had very much taken for granted in the structure that school provided. My life wasn’t school, or skiing, or any one specific thing then, but they coexisted in a way that made me happy.

Now, I was trying to make one of these many pieces, skiing, fill up the whole routine that was my life, discounting the necessity of other aspects. I wanted to become my best at skiing by letting it become all encompassing. But, to my dismay, “that ain’t me”.  To be able to bring myself to skiing with the same enthusiasm that defined me in my career to this point, I needed to stoke the fire elsewhere too, something I totally ignored in trying to fit myself into the “pro skier life” this year.

One of my previous coaches recommended that I just had to hold tight and make it to the end of my first 12-18 months out of college, still happy, still skiing, and I’d be ok. I didn’t really know what he meant by that, and I really didn’t want to hear it, that I was going to be miserable for a whole 12 more months, but I trusted it, since it was a promise that I’d be in a better place eventually, and that sounded a lot better than the prospects of it not getting better. I understand better now, or at least have given my own description to it, that by “then” I’d make it through my own rebalancing. All the pieces were still there; it would just take me a while to reorganize them.

 

Objectively, the year was not that bad. I got to stand on the start line proud in the green suit that was frequenting the podium, I raced at U23s World Championships and OPA Cups, and had some good sprint qualifiers. On paper, it shouldn’t have been any different than the year before. I trained nearly the same number of hours, and even less intensity, I shouldn’t have been as tired and wrecked as I was.

Subjectively, I was seriously struggling. I wasn’t happy. It was obvious in my comportment as I showed up- the one who was frequently late, constantly crashed on her roller skis, and couldn’t make it through a 3 hour rollerski workout. This only added to the frustration, as this wasn’t the me I knew. Having prided myself to this point as one who routinely had my life in order, for the first time in my life, I resembled more of a “shit show”. It took me about until February to have any sense of reordering, and it took all of my deflated self to just focus on what I could control. I made it through the season, and salvaged what could have been a lot worse.

 

So what am I doing about it? What changed from the floundering freshman-at-life that showed up last May, to a self-proclaimed more-sure-of-herself-Heather now? Craftsbury is in an awesome place with world class athletes emerging every where you turn, and I’m excited to be a part of it. I’m excited to feel like I’m making my own life routine again. I’m beginning to find my niche in Center work projects, feeling like my skillsets can be useful in a way that I’m happily absorbed and feel good about for their greater purpose in our small Outdoor Center community.  I am also really lucky to have part time work at Pete’s Greens, a way to use my mind and body in a totally different way from skiing, toward something I believe in, the idea that “Vermont Can Feed Itself”.

 

I started out writing this blog, intending to write about the places I got to race, a summary full of pretty pictures of my experiences of my first year of what I hope will be many living the dream on the GRP. Despite training in Austria, Utah, racing in Montana, Idaho, Michigan, Romania, Germany, Italy, the formative parts of the year for me were the emotional ones. I feel silly that my conclusions of my first year as a “pro skier” are something so ethereal; I would love to be able to say I overcame all these physical challenges and am a changed body with new strength or technique. For me though, it was the emotional hurdles of re-learning the basics of what keep me going as a happy person, recreating a structure that supports my passion for skiing and drive to reach my potential as a racer and person.

The most exciting, (or maybe just best documented), of my many skinned knees this year…

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“Almost, maybe next time.” (Reese Brown). 

 

 

Sayonara, Sebastian!

14.Apr.2016 by Jamie Chapman

Now that we’re settled in Sarasota, it’s nice to reflect back on our time in Sebastian and training at Canal 54. The Sebastian/Vero Beach area began to feel more like a home and less like a training trip by the end as we got to know our neighbors, the right radio stations for the right moods, and a few local groups. Ask anyone on our team, and they will say the number one quality setting Sebastian apart from other training locations is the community. We met Tom Lange and his high school athletes right away and frequently crossed paths at the boathouse; the Sebastian River parents helped us out with excursions to local spots; we connected with an awesome gym, Treasure Coast CrossFit; and the kids at Fellsmere elementary were a fantastic audience for a afternoon of inspirational talks. A BIG thank you is in order to the Sebastian community for welcoming us with open arms. I hope you enjoyed having us as much as I enjoyed being there!

Little people, big ocean

Little people, big ocean

Here’s catching up on a few of those events (see Maggie’s recent blog post for corresponding pictures). Coach Tom of Sebastian River High School Crew organized an informal Q&A in the school’s very nice 700-seat auditorium. After having fun testing the acoustics, we sat on stage and chatted with athletes and parents. Afterwards a few girls asked me about lifting (specifically: “How do I get jacked quads?”) and 2k pacing strategies, which was pretty cool.

Naaa Zvegnaa! A hazy sunrise at Canal 54

Naaa Zvegnaa! A hazy sunrise at Canal 54

Later that week, we set up an afternoon of talks at Fellsmere Elementary. Via contacts from a CrossFitter who works at the school, I met with the principal (Mr. E, as the kids call him) to scheme a program that would be inspirational and motivational for 600+ little kiddos divided into three 30-minute talks. It had been a long time since I’d been to the principal’s office! The visit exceeded expectations on all fronts. The kids were fantastic. When asked, they responded that their heroes were mom and dad, they jumped out of their seats screaming “YEAH SCIENCE!!” when Liz shared her favorite subject (similar reaction for Star Wars, Frid’s favorite movie series), and of course they asked hilarious questions. We brought a boat and oars for them to see and John commentated the quad’s 2014 World Cup race on a big screen, during which Mr. E started a “U-S-A! U-S-A!” chant. Afterwards, many produced autograph instruments—an inch-long blue crayon, a fat pink highlighter, an orange glitter gel pen—and asked for our autograph, often followed by a hug.

In a voice the size of her, one tiny kindergartner told me she too wanted to go to the Olympics, in the same sport as me—rowing! What good is a dream if it isn’t shared? Thank you to Mr. E and Fellsmere Elementary for inspiring and motivating us with your infectious energy, we had a great time.

Treasure Coast CrossFit all gussied up for the party

Treasure Coast CrossFit all gussied up for the party

Our social calendar exploded (relatively speaking) on our last weekend in Sebastian. On Saturday evening, Treasure Coast CrossFit invited us to be guests of honor at a gym-wide party. We’ve met quite a few members through teaching erg classes, so it was great to kick back and relax with familiar faces over a delicious dinner. The following Sunday, a parent on the high school team hosted a little gathering at her popular local hangout, the Tiki Bar. Good weather, good people, and cornhole by the beach—doesn’t get much better!

Liz and Pete enjoying the Sunday afternoon Tiki Bar scene

Liz and Pete enjoying the Sunday afternoon Tiki Bar scene

Stay tuned for updates from Sarasota! Racing begins Sunday with the Men’s 4x time trial at 5pm.

W2x excited about our sweet new units from JL Racing! Thanks for your support JL, we're some lucky gals!

W2x excited about our sweet new units from JL Racing! Thanks for your support JL, we’re some lucky gals!

SuperTour Finals Week

31.Mar.2016 by Kaitlynn Miller

Despite the dismal winter we’ve had, SuperTour Finals was a resounding success and a fun end to the 2015/16 race season for the GRP skiers. It’s always great to race at home with friends and family lining the course! The groomers did an impressive job farming snow and we were able to race on a hilly and challenging 3.5k loop composed entirely of manmade snow. The weather cooperated, freezing overnight, and the many enthusiastic volunteers made the whole event run incredibly smoothly. Here’s a smattering of photos from the week. You can read, in more detail, about the first two races here (the individual skate and classic sprint) and the second two races here (the relay and the 30/50k classic). Also, you can view results here.

photo: Caitlin Patterson

Prior to the races, we hosted a Fast and Female event at the Center. We had over 80 girls in attendance! It was awesome to have so many women from other elite teams (as well as the U.S. Ski Team) help out as ambassadors. (photo: Caitlin Patterson)

photo: Reese Brown

Heather leading some of the Fast and Female participants up teaching hill (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Caitlin Patterson

Hallie and Katrina Howe heading up the “biathlon” station (photo: Caitlin Patterson)

photo: Caitlin Patterson

It was great to have so many Craftsbury juniors participating in the event! (photo: Caitlin Patterson)

photo: Reese Brown

Group shot! (photo: Reese Brown)

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Some of the elite team (and U.S. Ski Team) men hosted an afternoon speed camp for both boys and girls. Here are some participants heading through the snow tunnel in the upper soccer field.

photo: Reese Brown

Also prior the “real” races, was another fun event – the Dash for Cash. Here are Kait, Heather, and Quincy (Craftsbury BKLer) in their quartfinal heat. (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

And Caitlin and Hallie (in the fancy red one-piece) during their quarterfinal (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

Caitlin avoiding some chaos around the cone (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

Ida sending it through the snow tunnel (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

Both Ida and Heather made the final with Ida taking the win and Heather placing fourth (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

SuperTour Finals kicked off with a 10/15k individual skate race. Here’s Caitlin sporting the overall leader bib. (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

The skate race was followed by a classic sprint the next day. Here’s Liz striding up Moss Run in her semifinal (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

Here’s Ida in her semifinal followed by Caitlin and Kait (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

Ida crossing the line in second! (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

So much excitement! (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

Classic sprint podium (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

After a day off, racing action resumed with the team relay. With all the GRP men racing at Biathlon Nationals (which you can read about here), the GRP women had to compete on mixed relay teams.  Liz and Hallie formed the Green Buffalos with Colorado University skiers Petter Reistad and Mads Stroem. Here’s Liz tagging off to Mads. (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

Hallie skied a very strong anchor leg crossing the line in fourth. (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

Ida and Caitlin formed the Vailbury Green Team with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail skiers Noah Hoffman and Tad Elliot. Here’s Caitlin heading out on her anchor leg after being tagged by Tad. They finished second behind APU! (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

SuperTour Finals wrapped up with the 30/50k classic. Here’s the start of the women’s 30k. (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

Heather getting off to a good start (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Deb Miller

Lots of green suits in the chase pack! (photo: Deb Miller)

photo: Reese Brown

Liz leading Erika Flowers (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

Hallie striding up Screaming Mimi (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

In a 9-lap race, there are many opportunities to feed! (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Reese Brown

Craftsbury junior Phoebe Sweet raced the 15k and finished 5th! (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Deb Miller

Heather and Hallie skiing together mid-race (photo: Deb Miller)

photo: Deb Miller

Kait, Ida, and Caitlin at the top of Screaming Mimi (photo: Deb Miller)

photo: Deb Miller

Jumping for joy in the finish corral! (photo: Deb Miller)

photo: Reese Brown

Jessie Diggins won the 30k with Ida finishing second and Caitlin third!! (photo: Reese Brown)

photo: Deb Miller

One last team photo to finish out the season. Thanks to Pepa and Nick (as well as Ruth, Jake, and Anna – not pictured) for their support! Our skis were fantastic all week. Also thanks to Susan for coming out to cheer despite feeling under-the-weather. (photo: Deb Miller)