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Archive for December, 2015

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!

Premature Migration

10.Dec.2015 by Steve Whelpley

Birds of a feather flock together, and so the rowers flew south for a spell. Unfortunately, it sounds like we didn’t really run from the harshest of winters, but it has still been a worthwhile training camp so far. While we wish all of our northern, Nordic skiing friends loads of snow, we needed some time on the race course in Sarasota, FL. I’ll dish a bunch of words, and hopefully, a teammate will follow up with a bunch of pictures.

You see the 2016 Olympic trials happen in April for many rowing events. We usually have a race in April, but it is of less immediate consequence than this one. As such, having it take place at the usual venue in West Windsor, NJ, is alright despite the possibility of rougher weather. This year (like the last Olympic cycle) we need a venue that will be rowable beyond a doubt. Additionally, the course in Sarasota will be the future site of the 2017 World Championships. For all these reasons, we needed some exposure.

On top of this, while many of us relish our time cross-training on skis, this year is a critical year. For some of us, it is our first go around and for others it may be our last. I personally don’t want to leave anything to question and want to make sure that there are no wishful adjustments in hindsight. I think the camp is benefiting everyone. It is simply a two week camp, but already feels very thorough and fruitful. For those in team boats, they’re getting an extended and/or earlier start on building rhythm and chemistry. For me, I’m making up for lost time this fall between a torn hamstring and pneumonia (more on that at my personal blog if you can handle my absolute candidness). It may be too hot in Vermont for this time of year, but it is still quite refreshing being down here in 70-80 degree weather. Although hotter temps require some additional cardiovascular and cooling work from your body, it makes limbering up substantially easier.

We have two houses in a subdivision that is between two rowing venues. One called Fort Hamer offers longer distances on tidal, brackish water, while the other, Nathan Benderson Park, is the future site of both our Olympic trials and the 2017 FISA World Championships. The Benderson course has 10 buoyed lanes right now, which is naturally good for practice. People at both sites have been incredibly hospitable. As we near our first weekend and the halfway point, we hope to make the second half as productive as the first.

XC World Cup opening

3.Dec.2015 by Ida Sargent

The 2015-16 race season season has begun!  The World Cup circuit opened last weekend with a mini-tour of races in Ruka, Finland.  I’ve raced in Ruka many times before and love the steep uphills and fast downhills on the course.  I was pretty nervous though before this year and wasn’t sure what to expect after having gotten sick in Gallivare.  My cold lingered for quite awhile and I didn’t feel any improvements until the day before the first race.  Even then, I skied around the courses and tried to do some easy intensity to warm up my body but just felt flat and slow.  Simply skiing up the hills slowly felt extremely tiring and I won’t even try to explain what skiing faster felt like.  I tried to tell myself that I was at least very well rested but it was difficult when basically every skier on the World Cup zoomed by me as if I was in slow motion.  The warmup for the race wasn’t that much better but with each new warmup interval, qualifier, or heat, I gave myself a fresh start and a new focus.  I barely squeaked into the top 30 in 30th but then felt better and better with each heat and I had so much fun racing head to head again with the best women in the world.  It’s a very inspiring feeling to fight for every inch the entire length of the course.  I ultimately just missed the final, finishing just tenths of a second back in third place in my semifinal which put me in 7th place overall.  Last year I finished fifth in this race but I felt stronger and faster this year, a reminder that the results list doesn’t show everything.  The rest of the weekend included more fast and hard racing up the steep hills of Ruka with some solid results all around for the team.

Classic sprinting!

(Noah Hoffman photo from www.noahhoffman.com)

My favorite Finnish meal of mashed potatoes, sauteed reindeer and lingonberry jam.  The picture doesn’t really do it justice but it’s super delicious and was the perfect way to refuel in the middle of the mini-Tour

The day before the races started, I gathered with my fellow competitors from many different countries to show support for the UN Climate Conference which is taking place this week in France. The effects of climate change are very visible to a winter sport athlete.  While we are all responsible for making responsible and sustainable decisions I hope that change will occur at COP21 that will reduce the harmful effects of climate change.  For more information check out this article http://www.fis-ski.com/cross-country/news-multimedia/news/article=international-athletes-want-action-cop21.html

Athletes uniting in the stadium

From Ruka we travelled to Lillehammer, Norway via two bus rides and two flights.  After a couple weeks of darkness, we finally found the sun!  Lillehammer is still quite far north relative to home but compared to Gallivare and Ruka there is so much light!  There is only a short man made loop in Lillehammer for the races which is extremely challenging with literally no flat outside of the stadium.  It’s a great place to do intervals but for longer distance workouts we’ve been skiing in Sjusjoen and Nordsetter where the terrain is a little easier and the conditions have been wonderful!  I forgot my camera the first day but I went for an awesome ski with Noah Hoffman and Brayton Osgood in Sjusjoen who were both more prepared (Brayt even brought chocolate) and took the following photos.

Blue sky! (Brayton Osgood photo)

And SUN!

So much happiness!

Exploring a windblown plateau

Happy December!  Yesterday afternoon we walked around town and checked out the Christmas decorations!  Jessie and I are rooming together this week and have found our holiday spirit blasting the Christmas carols.  This weekend the races are 15/30km Skiathlon and a 4x5km relay.

A Lillehammer store transformed into a gingerbread house