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Archive for the ‘Race Reports’ Category

USBA Rollerski Trials and Musings from a Rookie Biathlete

23.Oct.2016 by Kaitlynn Miller

This past weekend all the GRP biathletes, as well as a few of us skiers who are giving biathlon a shot (pun intended), reunited in Jericho for USBA Rollerski Trials. The field was quite small with only 10 women and 13 men competing, but the competition was stiff with the best biathletes in the country toeing the line. These races, along with the trials races in August, are being used to select athletes for a pre-season USBA camp in Canmore. Both days featured a sprint race, which has two shooting stages (one prone and one standing) and is 7.5k in length for women and 10k for men. I always like rollerskiing in Jericho and it’s an added bonus to get to race there. We spend most of our summer on roads, which are not representative of ski trail topography, so it’s quite beneficial to rollerski on a paved track with steep hills and sharp corners that keep you on your toes.

This post will be written from the perspective of someone relatively new to biathlon and will focus on some of what I’ve learned from my experiences. I started doing some shooting two summers ago in preparation for competing in one of the 2015 August trials races. Since then I’ve raced one NorAm last winter and four rollerski trials races this summer and fall. The learning curve has been steep and far from linear. I’ve done countless ski races, but biathlon is really a whole different beast. For starters, there is a lot more to do and remember before you even get to the start line. You have to bring your rifle though equipment check, zero your rifle, remember to load your magazines, and make sure your rifle is actually on your back when you get to the start gate. Even once the race get’s underway there’s still quite a lot to think about. As you enter the range it’s important to make sure the wind hasn’t changed since you zeroed and if it has you must decide whether or not to adjust your sites. In a sprint race, you have to choose your shooting point, shoot, remember how many penalty laps you need to ski, and then correctly count your laps as you ski them (for every lap you neglect to ski you get a 2 minute penalty so you really want to ski the correct number of laps). Unlike in a ski race, where you usually compete on one single loop that you may ski multiple times depending on the length of the race, in biathlon you ski different loops during the same race so you also have to keep track of which loop you should be skiing. All of these things become slightly more difficult to remember when you’re in race mode and your brain doesn’t seem to be functioning at max capacity. However, it goes without saying that the more experienced you are the less you need to consciously think about all these processes and everything becomes second nature. Additionally, the more experienced you are the fewer penalty laps you usually have to ski… I remember being particularly overwhelmed last summer during my first biathlon race and I kept feeling as though I was forgetting something or was about to forget something. I’m happy to say that while shooting is by no means second nature to me and I still have a copious amount to learn, I am considerably more comfortable and confident than I was last summer and I’m continuing to enjoy the challenge of learning something new.

Some of my confidence has come from time and repetition while some has grown from experience and learning. I’m incredibly lucky to have a range in my backyard, awesome teammates who are always willing to answer questions and give advice, and a supportive shooting coach. The more times I take off and put on my rifle the easier it gets and the less I have to think about it. I’ve learned that it is worthwhile to back off a bit coming into the range if it means I have higher chance of hitting more targets. It’s always a bit of a shock to shoot with a high heart rate, but it is slowly becoming less shocking the more I do it. In fact, this past weekend was the first time I’ve felt reasonably comfortable shooting with a high heart rate. I’ve also gotten better at taking my time in the range even when my competitors are zipping in and out while I’m still on the mat. It’s certainly seems counterintuitive to relax and slow down in the middle of a race when you’re trying to get to the finish line as fast as possible, but spending a few extra seconds between shots to get a hit is worth it when each penalty lap takes about 20-30s to ski. For me, being slow in the range and slightly more accurate is better than being fast and incredibly inaccurate. Speed will come with time and practice, I hope. During my first biathlon race last summer, I skied way too hard into the range and then rushed through my shooting stages which needless to say didn’t go so well. While my results from this past weekend weren’t anything to write home about and certainly nothing an experienced biathlete would be psyched with, I was quite happy with some personal bests and that’s what matters at this point. However, my teammates certainly had some notable results which was quite exciting. Susan had a great weekend winning both races by a considerable margin. On Sunday, Emily shot clean for the first time ever and placed second which was awesome! Watching Emily’s improvement as a biathlete since she switched over from rowing has been quite inspiring. In the men’s race, Mike shot very well with only one standing miss and finished 5th. Not everyone had their best weekend of racing, but another thing I’ve learned about biathlon is that there are lots of ups and downs and persistence is a necessity. For a full run down of GRP results you can check out this news piece. And, of course, no blog post would be complete without some photos. Thanks for reading!

Ethan had the top GRP result for the men on Saturday placing 6th (photo: Caitlin Patterson)

Ethan had the top GRP result for the men on Saturday placing 6th (photo: Caitlin Patterson)

Alex sprinting towards the finish (photo: Caitlin)

Alex sprinting towards the finish line (photo: Caitlin)

Mike cleaning his prone stage on Sunday

Mike cleaning his prone stage on Sunday (photo: Deb Miller)

Mike racing along a particularly scenic section of the course. The foliage around Jericho was quite nice this past weekend!

Mike racing along a particularly scenic section of the course. The foliage around Jericho was quite spectacular this past weekend! (photo: Deb)

My standing stage on Sunday

Standing stage on Sunday (photo: Deb)

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Gunnar made lots of friends last weekend! (photo: Caitlin)

Arber OPA Cup

9.Mar.2016 by Liz Guiney

Heather and I are currently in Toblach, Italy, having traveled here after racing OPA Cups in Arber, Germany last weekend. OPA Cups are like the SuperTour of Central Europe, except much more competitive- instead of just one nation, skiers from many nations come here to compete for their country’s World Cup spots. However, skiers have to qualify just to be at OPA Cups, so the fields are small but incredibly deep. Racing here gives us exposure to the style of European racing found at the World Cups, and prepares us to jump into international competition.

So what was racing in Arber like? I’ll give you the run-down, with my five highlights from the trip so far:

  1. Entering the stadium as a gladiator. In order to get to the start on race day in Arber, you have to go underneath the race trail in a dark, slightly slippery tunnel. Then you pop out in the start corral and drop your warm-up clothes. Nothing makes you feel more amped up about racing! And it was full-on battle mode, especially on the mass start day with falls, broken poles, surges, and icy downhills.
    Photos from the 15k mass start, thanks to tech Justin Beckwith!

    Photos from the 15k mass start, thanks to tech Justin Beckwith! Heather is in the middle right, and I’m lower right, following Erika Flowers from SMS-T2

     

  2. Not being “that American”. We’re really lucky on this trip to have Julia Kern as one of the US athletes. Her parents are German and she speaks German fluently. Having someone to communicate helps everything run so much more smoothly. The hotel owner, Georg, took a liking to her which led to many rounds of schnapps during our stay! Several of the more musically talented athletes also wrote a song for Georg and performed it for the whole dining room. It’s great to stay somewhere and feel welcome, and we certainly all left with great memories of the Magdalenenhof (the hotel).
  3. Watching cross country and biathlon, on TV, during primetime! Germany loves its biathlon, and we got to watch the first few races of biathlon World Champs as well as some of the stages of the Ski Tour Canada, on Eurosport, right in our rooms. Watching our teammates duking it out on the big stage gets us excited to take on the Euros over here.
    That's Hannah (Dreissigacker's) head after the sprint race at biathlon World Champs

    That’s Hannah (Dreissigacker) after the sprint race at biathlon World Champs

    4.  Experiencing a little bit of US skiing history. On our drive from Arber to Toblach we went straight through Innsbruck, Austria, so we decided to take a little detour up the pass to Seefeld, site of the 1976 Olympic cross country venue. That’s also where Bill Koch won his silver medal in the 15k classic, the only American to do so. Of course we had to go to the stadium and take a team photo, and soak up some of the vibes from that day.

    Team USA in the stadium where it all happened. Thanks Bryan Fish for the photo!

    Team USA in the stadium where it all happened. Thanks Bryan Fish for the photo!

    5. Being a tourist. Sometimes when we travel as athletes in a foreign country, the most exciting things we see are the race course and the inside of our hotel room. Traveling to Germany a few days before the race, we had the opportunity to walk around Zwiesel a bit and check out the town. Zwiesel is famous for its glassblowing, which used to supply the noble houses of Europe in the Middle Ages. Nowadays, the most prominent feature of the industry in town is a huge pyramid made of wineglasses. We couldn’t tell if they used glue to keep it together or not, either way it was impressive!

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Guessing there isn’t a whole lot of seismic activity in this part of the world. 

 

To check out results from the OPA races, look at www.FIS-ski.com. We’ll try to update again after our races in Toblach- a freestyle prologue, 10k classic individual, and 10k freestyle pursuit starting on Friday. Auf weidersehen/arrivederci!

Heather and Liz out!

Heather and Liz out!

Eastern SuperTour Photos

15.Feb.2016 by Liz Guiney

The domestic GRP contingent recently wrapped up two weekends of SuperTour racing in the East, the first in Lake Placid, NY and the second (originally scheduled in Stowe, VT) ended up right at home in Craftsbury. Alex Howe and Deb Miller (Kait’s mom) took some great photos during the Lake Placid races and Northeast Kingdom photographer and skier John Lazenby photographed the Craftsbury races. Overall, we had a mixed bag- some amazing results, some that weren’t quite what we were hoping for, and unfortunately a team-wide sickness during the Vermont SuperTour weekend that left a few on the sidelines. However, on the whole it has been a really successful few weeks and it’s also fun to see our Craftsbury biathletes doing so well on the World Cup (Susan 2nd and 5th this weekend!!), and Caitlin making her way on the cross country World Cup (scoring her first ever World Cup points in 25th in Falun yesterday).

I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the racing story! First up was a freestyle sprint in Lake Placid where all 7 GRP athletes  and 2 Craftsbury juniors qualified in the top 30.

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Low snow at the Olympic venue, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, meant the races moved to another Olympic venue, the base of the ski jump. This meant lots of vertical, all at once, and then a fun ripping descent and sharp corner at the bottom. Here’s I am in my semifinal heat in the freestyle sprint (Photo Alex Howe).

 

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A very green quarterfinal heat- Caitlin leading out with Emily Dreissigacker (white boots) and U16 Callie Young (far upper left)  on her heels (Photo Deb Miller).

 

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Kaitlynn Miller taking it out strong in her quarterfinal, she finished 13th on the day (Photo Deb Miller).

 

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The first uphill of the women’s A Final, Caitlin in green

 

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Caitlin had a great day in the sprint- winning qualification and 2nd in the heats, all on her 26th birthday!

 

The following day was 10k classic mass start for the women. Building on her success from the previous day, Caitlin Patterson took the victory and Kaitlynn Miller was 3rd. It was a sunny, klister-y type of day on the jumps, not what one would usually expect for January 31st, but with the climatic curveballs we’ve been thrown in the East this year, any weather is normal weather.

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GRP Head Wax Guru Nick Brown always has a smile even with sticky hands! (Photo Alex Howe)

 

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We got to see Hannah, who was in Lake Placid training for her next biathlon World Cup 

 

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Brush it, Anna! Craftsbury Junior coach Anna Schulz having way too much fun. Which makes sense because the Craftsbury juniors are doing so well this year- 6 going to Junior Nationals! (Photo Alex Howe)

 

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Caitlin kick double-poling en route to her 10k classic victory (Photo Alex Howe)

 

Heather Mooney kicking hard in the sunshine (Photo Deb Miller)

Heather Mooney kicking hard in the sunshine (Photo Deb Miller)

 

Hallie, Kait, and I at the finish

Hallie, Kait, and I at the finish (Photo Deb Miller)

 

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10k classic women’s podium- Caitlin on top, Kait Miller in 2nd (Photo Alex Howe)

6 days later, we were on to the next SuperTour in Craftsbury. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate at all, and a rainstorm knocked out both the original race site in Stowe, and much of our trail system here in Craftsbury. With two days notice, the crew here did a heroic job putting together a 2.4k course and hosting the entire collegiate, junior, and SuperTour field in the east. Our team was a bit down for the count with multiple skiers coming down with colds in the days leading up to the races, but we still had 3 GRP women and 3 men able to compete.

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Hallie Grossman striding to a 13th place finish at home in Craftsbury (Photo Kait Miller)

 

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Biathlete Mike Gibson decided to ditch the rifle for the weekend, here he is in the men’s 10k freestyle individual (Photo Kait Miller)

 

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Hallie and I happy to be done with our 10k classic! As the only healthy members of the GRP women’s team we had to hold down the fort in the 10k. (Photo John Lazenby).

 

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I was happy to land on the podium in the 10k classic- big thanks to Pepa and crew for all-star cheering, and Nick for the sweet skis! (Photo John Lazenby)

For a more results-oriented take on the races, check out the news pieces on the Craftsbury website: Lake Placid here and Trapp’s here .

What’s next? The skiers are scattering to the wind- Heather leaves soon for U23 World Championships in Romania, Caitlin, Kait, and Ida to the Canadian World Cups in March, and I’ll be meeting Heather in Germany after U23’s to race OPA Cups in early March.

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!