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Archive for January, 2015

On the road in January!

29.Jan.2015 by Ida Sargent

February is quickly approaching and I have not written a blog yet this month even though it has been an action filled January!  After a quick count I realized that I have skied in seven different countries this month!  Here’s an update from the start of 2015 on the World Cup. Happy trails and thanks for reading!

Opening ceremonies at the Tour de Ski.  We surprised the crowd by performing a quick line dance on the stage!  This was my first time starting the Tour de Ski and it was a blast!  Kikkan’s face exhibits our excitement!
Once the racing starts it’s a whirlwind of racing, recovery, and travel.  Here I am racing the 3km Prologue in Oberstdorf, Germany.
The first two races were in Germany and then as soon as we finished the second race, we hopped in the van and drove to Switzerland for the third stage.  This picture was taken at a pee stop along the way which also served as a sightseeing opportunity.
The sun came out for the third stage, a sprint in Val Mustair, Switzerland.
Swiss cheerleaders
After the sprint in Switzerland, we drove to Toblach, Italy and raced a 5km classic the next day.  Along with most of my USST teammates, I ended the Tour after that race, but Liz Stephen continued and finished an impressive 5th place at the end of Tour!  Here she is racing the 15km pursuit in Toblach.
My parents traveled to Europe to watch the races and spend some family time together after the races.  I was pretty exhausted after all the races but a few relaxing days with my parents was the perfect recovery and a very nice change of pace.
We spent a few days in Ramsau, Austria after the Tour and I enjoyed my first extra blue days of the winter!  I trained in Ramsau with my GRP teammates this fall so it was fun to return in the winter and explore new trails in a familiar place!
It was a short break and then quickly back to racing in Otepaa, Estonia.  I first went to Otepaa when I was 15 for the J1 Scandinavian Championships so it was fun to return 11 years later for World Cups
I raced a classic sprint and a skate team sprint but the biggest event of the weekend was the tech sprints.  Our team’s goal was top 12 and we finished 11th which also happened to be first place on reverse podium.  It was a blast to cheer for these guys who work hard day in and day out all winter long!
Next we traveled to Rybinsk, Russia and our first real taste of winter. We were welcomed by temperatures of -25C so here are my blue faced roommates preparing for a day of skiing.  Most of the GRP has raced through a lot of cold temperatures this winter so I shouldn’t be complaining but after spending most of the winter with temperatures barely dropping below freezing, the cold Russian air was quite the shock!
The highlight of the weekend was Liz’s first World Cup podium.  It was an inspiring race showing that hard work pays off! Congrats Liz!

There are two weekends off from World Cup racing so I am currently in Sweden for a training camp with Pepa. I’m missing having the rest of the GRP over here as well for this camp but thanks for this birthday card and American goodies!  Good luck in the SuperTour races this weekend in Craftsbury! Pepa and I will be cheering from Sweden!

My first World Cup!

27.Jan.2015 by Clare Egan

I finished my first World Cup biathlon race! I was the 4th leg of our relay team at World Cup 6 in Antholz, Italy.

In the women’s relay event, each person skis a 2k loop, shoots prone, skis another 2k loop, shoots standing, and then skis a third 2k loop and tags off. For each shooting stage, in addition to the five bullets (“rounds”) in the magazine, you have three spare rounds you can load by hand if you need to. If you still have un-hit targets after using eight bullets, you have to ski the corresponding number of penalty laps. Spare rounds and penalty laps take a lot of time so it is best to try to hit all five targets on the first pass! In a typical biathlon race, the top teams have no penalty laps and few spares. On Sunday, however, there was strong gusting wind, and only one team out of 20 finished the race with no penalties. For anyone who is trying to decode the results: Clare Egan 0+3, 2+3 means I used all three spares in prone but did not have any penalty laps, and then used all three spares in standing and still had two penalty laps.

Susan Dunklee on course with a Bularussian

Susan Dunklee went first for our team. She shot 0+0, 0+3 (get it??) and skied the fastest ski time for the first leg, tagging off to Hannah Dreissigacker in 2nd place! Hannah shot 0+2 in prone but then got stuck on the range during a gale-force gust in standing and shot 3+3! She was on the range for almost two minutes, along with about ten other women, just waiting for the wind to die. A normal range time is more like 30 seconds. Hannah tagged off to our third skier, Annelies Cook, in 12th. Annelies shot 0+3, 0+1 and skied us up into 10th place, when she tagged me!

Hannah Dreissigacker with fans cheering on the hill

Annelies Cook tagging me in the exchange zone

I was psyched that I was keeping up with other skiers around me on my first loop. In prone I missed my first three shots! But then I hit my last two, as well as all three spares so I avoided going into the penalty loop. In standing, the opposite thing happened. I hit my first three shots, but then missed the next five, and had to go twice around the penalty loop. I was lucky when I first arrived on the range it was calm enough for me to get those three shots off and have hits. Then after that the wind picked up again and I couldn’t control the rifle. My last lap was hard, because I was alone on course. All the teams behind us had been lapped by the leaders so they were pulled out of the race and not allowed to finish, and all the spectators were already leaving. When I finished, my teammate Susan was waiting for me at the finish line and showed me where my warm clothes were and carried my stuff for me. Thank goodness for good teammates!

The whole World Cup experience was very positive and I am looking forward to racing at World Cups 7 & 8 in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic and Oslo, Norway. I think that I will fit right in.

Me in the finish area, as seen on Eurovision live feed, by my dad in Florida!

“Biathlon Fans Hungary” are also fans of USA!

Stadium at dusk after Saturday’s pursuit

Jumbo screen as seen from the stadium. Susan Dunklee (USA), far right, raises her skis to celebrate her 6th place finish in the pursuit

Spectator tent, post race

Racing in the East

26.Jan.2015 by Caitlin Patterson

The month after US Nationals is a good time for skiers to recharge and refocus, at least the way the racing schedule was designed for domestic US racers this year.  From the last day of Nationals, January 10th, there are not any “major” US races until the very end of January – instead, most skiers returned to their home regions for training, rest, or regional races.  Coming right up at the end of this month, on Friday January 30th, the US Supertour circuit resumes with a series of races here at Craftsbury.  We’re very lucky as members of the GRP that the US racing circuit is being brought to our doorstep, lucky that due to the amazing efforts of staff at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center as well as local race volunteers, we’re able to host two weekends worth of high level Supertour races. It’s actually a big week coming up at the Outdoor Center, more than just Supertours, with our schedule of:

Jan 29 – US Masters National Championship: 10km Freestyle

Jan 30 – USSA Supertour 20k / 30k Classic Mass Start

Jan 31 – US Masters National Championship / Craftsbury Marathon – 25km/50km

Feb 1 – USSA Supertour – Classic Sprint

Feb 6 – Dartmouth Carnival / USSA SuperTour – Freestyle Sprint

Feb 7 – NENSA Eastern Cup / Dartmouth Carnival / USSA Supertour – 10k/10k Freestyle Interval Start

Feb 8 – NENSA Eastern Cup / USSA SuperTour – 5k / 10k / 15km Classic Mass Start

 

Check out http://www.craftsburysupertour.com/ for more information, and come out to watch us if you’re in the area! GRP skiers will be racing on January 30th, February 1, 6, 7, and 8th, while most of the GRP rowers will be racing in the Marathon on Saturday the 31st.

A few steps out the door...

A few steps out the door…

But back to this “in between” zone, since Nationals… Pepa has been attentive to our individual needs, and while we have had some group training sessions, there has also been plenty of flexibility for everyone to choose what will help them be best prepared for this next block of racing.  For some people, like myself, this has meant racing just about as much as possible – and fortunately there are nearly always Eastern Cups or college races within driving distance at this time of year – while for other teammates a combination of racing and intervals has been best, or for others taking a mental step back and visiting family and friends while continuing to train.

We’ve had many spectacular days of skiing here at Craftsbury – blue skies, sun, and impeccable corduroy. Luckily for most of us our training plan involved lots of long easy skis, so we had hours to enjoy the trails.  Liz, Kait and I have skied Grand Tour probably 5-6 times in the past few weeks, in addition to many loops around Ruthie’s and Sam’s Runs.  One recent distance day I skied 52 kilometers over the course of a morning and afternoon session! The weather has been crisp, often bordering on frigid, but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying the skiing, although it sometimes has necessitated toe-warming stops.

Liz, Kait and I out for a classic distance ski... Captured on photo by Andrew.

Liz, Kait and I out for a classic distance ski… Captured on photo by Andrew.

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Sunrise at Craftsbury

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Overlooking Elinor’s house from the ski trails on a frosty morning

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Perfect tracks!

The weekend after returning from Nationals, six of us made the trip up to Rumford, ME for a combined Eastern Cup/carnival, racing a 5/10k skate on Saturday and a classic sprint on Sunday.  We had a fun time racing, even though the snow coverage was rather thin, and our team took many spots on the podium – GRPers on the senior podium as well as Craftsbury juniors on the podium for the junior classes!

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6 from the GRP racing in Rumford

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All three guys skied together during part of the 15k skate

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Pete and Gordon at Rumford

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Alex Schulz in the 15k

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Pete starting the classic sprint qualifier

Pete and Gordon got girled!! Just kidding... Sophie was picking up the medal for her teammate who didn't make it to awards, and she hopped up on the podium too!

Pete and Gordon got girled!! Just kidding… Sophie was picking up the medal for her teammate who didn’t make it to awards, and she hopped up on the podium too!

Last weekend, just for the classic mass start race of UVM carnival on January 24th, Andrew, Gordon and I took a day-trip to the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe.  Although you wouldn’t know it from the coverage of the recent carnival races (http://fasterskier.com/article/taylor-caldwell-shine-at-uvm-carnival/), we three did actually race! (Keeping the focus on the college racers for their carnivals is great, but it seems like it would be worth mentioning that other racers were there, maybe?! Obviously I’m biased as one of those other racers…)  Gordon was 4th, Andrew 6th, and I won the women’s race, ahead of Katharine Ogden and Anja Gruber, other non-carnival skiers.  It brought back good memories of college racing days, sunny home carnivals at Trapps and the festive carnival scene.

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Men’s mass start at Trapps

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Gordon and Andrew early in the mass start

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The lead pack lapping through, with Gordon tucked in behind Paddy Caldwell in the red bib

Thanks for reading! We hope you’ll join us for the Supertour action starting this Friday, either in person or check this blog and our Facebook page for updates!

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Alex Howe and Pete Hegman powering through a recent interval session

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Liz Guiney leads Kait Miller and Emily Dreissigacker in skate intervals

 

 

Biathlon Firsts!!

21.Jan.2015 by Clare Egan

If you read my most recent blog post “My First IBU Cup Race” you know that I was sick and did terribly. But biathlon is all about resilience, and in my second IBU Cup race, in Ridnaun, Italy, I hit every single one of my targets! That was an awesome first!

I had never hit all my standing targets in a race before, so to do that on a day when I also hit all my prone targets was pretty special. And do to it on a day when I really needed to– for my own sanity as well as my goal to qualify for the World Cup– meant even more. I came in 32nd, struggling to ski fast after being sick last week. But the ski speed will come back sooner or later, and in the meantime I qualified for the pursuit, which was my result goal for the day. I also finished within 15% time back from the leaders, which means I met the IBU’s qualification standard for the World Cup.

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L-R Maddie Phaneuf, Me, and Kelsey Dickinson on the way to our race

After Friday’s clean sprint, Italy, I raced in a pursuit on Saturday, and a relay on Sunday. Unfortunately I did not have the same precision on the range, but I felt way better and faster skiing! Looking back on my first IBU Cup experience, there are a ton of things that could have gone better, but I am focussing on the clean shooting biathlon miracle. Here are a couple of pictures from Ridnaun:

A trail of artificial snow in the Val di Ridanna (Ridnaun), Italy
View from the valley

So what now? Based on the results from two weekends of IBU Cup racing, the national team coaches decided to bring both Maddie Phaneuf and me to World Cup 6 in Antholz, Italy. That will be another awesome first for me! We will join US Biathlon Team veterans Susan Dunklee, Hannah Dreissigacker, and Annelies Cook. The US is allowed to start four women in any given race, so Maddie and I will each get one chance to compete. Maddie will race the sprint on Friday, from which the top 60 finishers qualify for the pursuit on Saturday, and then I will race in the relay on Sunday.

R-L: Maddie Phaneuf, Casey Smith and I at Lago Dobbiacco

Maddie and I are the only two female members of the US Biathlon “X Team.” She is one of the top shooters in the US of any age, and one of the best biathletes in the world for her age: last year she placed 4th at World Junior Biathlon Championships. She is only 19 so she is focussing on preparing for another World Junior Championships this year, but she is also getting a taste for the World Cup. After racing well at IBU Cup 4 in Poland, she made her World Cup debut last week at World Cup 5 in Rupholding as a part of the women’s 4x6k relay.

I am keeping super high goals and super low expectations. My outlook for this sport goes beyond this weekend or this season, so every race is good practice for next time. My coaches are putting me on the “fast track”, giving me as much experience as possible at the highest level, and I am just trying to keep up. Of course I am trying to get better as fast as I can, but it just takes time. My first biathlon coach, Algis, said, “How to do you think you get better at standing with a rifle? Standing with a rifle!” People like me, whose lives revolve around trying to do something as fast as possible, are not often patient. Those who are make great biathletes!

My coach, Jean Paquet, and I at Lago Dobbiacco.
Snow and sun in Ridnaun, Italy!