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Posts Tagged ‘skiing’

Slovenia, below ground and above

21.Sep.2016 by Caitlin Patterson

What takes a skier to Slovenia in September, you might wonder? Surely there are other places closer to a home base in Vermont where it would be possible to dryland train on rollerskis or on foot. And Slovenia isn’t known for any of the skiing glaciers like can be found in Italy, Austria, and Alaska. What Slovenia does have, new this year, is an indoor, underground skiing tunnel.

Make sure to check out the previous post on this blog, which went up earlier today, on the GRP biathletes’ experience at Slovenian biathlon national championships. For this post, I’ll focus on the tunnel experience and a few other mountain adventures in Slovenia that the skiers were lucky enough to get to do.

When our coach Pepa found out early summer about Slovenia’s new tunnel, which is located at the Olympic Sports Complex in Planica, she started considering options that would tie the tunnel into our fall trip to Europe. The last two years the GRP skiers have trained for several weeks in Ramsau, Austria, making use of the Dachstein glacier for on-snow sessions. Last year the snow melted out quickly on the Dachstein, so while we did get some good quality sessions on our skis, we finished the camp feeling a little bit short-changed in the skiing department. The guaranteed snow of an indoor tunnel seemed enticing, to make sure we could log quality workouts on skis, especially since Planica is only about a 2.5 hour drive from Ramsau. Thus in 2016, here on September 21st, we’re midway through a camp that combines a speed-and-technique block in the tunnel in Planica with a distance-and-high-altitude block in Ramsau at the Dachstein glacier.

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The Olympic Sports Center in Planica, Slovenia. Our accommodations were simple hotel-style rooms in the building at lower left, and our playground was the mountains beyond, plus the ski tunnel a 3 minute walk from our rooms.

For most, if not all, of the team, this was our first experience with a ski tunnel. It’s a very… interesting… environment, at least this Planica tunnel, which doubles as a parking garage during certain times of the year. The walls are drab grey concrete, and there are concrete columns which the trail winds around… but there are also unusual features to examine, like traffic mirrors and signs in Slovenian, ice-flooded stairways, ice stalagmites growing up from the ground and rime crystals on piping. We skied a single loop in between 80 seconds and 2 minutes, depending on the intensity, which can get a bit repetitious… but it also means that we have many opportunities to work on certain terrain features or transitions, and many opportunities for Pepa, Sam, or Nick to video us for later technique review.  The air wasn’t the freshest, and there was no music playing… but the snow is consistent and predictable, always use-able and often pretty fast, and people could bring in their own headphones with podcasts or music. So the tunnel definitely had its pros and cons, but overall the experience was quite valuable and we put in a quality one-week long speed camp. Below are some photos from our below-ground Slovenian experience.

Tunnel stalagmites, from a low perspective that makes them look extra tall.

Tunnel stalagmites, from a low perspective that makes them look extra tall. We got a few ceiling drips on our heads too, but not all that many. It seemed to be drippier in the tunnel on the days when it was raining outside.

Alex and Heather cruise towards a corner

Alex and Heather cruise towards a corner

Emily on the one uphill of the loop

Emily starting the uphill

Heather in the transition zone, switching from boots back to running shoes for the walk to our lodging.

Heather in the transition zone, switching from boots back to running shoes for a post-ski jog and then the walk to our lodging.

Kait, Caitlin, Ben, Liz focus before a sprint start (Photo by Sam D)

Kait, Caitlin, Ben, Liz focus before a sprint start (Photo by Sam D)

Heather and Ben sprint while wax tech Nick looks on (Photo by Sam D)

Heather and Ben sprint while wax tech Nick looks on (Photo by Sam D)

Liz and Caitlin sprinting on a straightaway (Photo by Sam D)

Liz and Caitlin sprinting on a straightaway (Photo by Sam D)

And then there were the above-ground sessions! Apart from our tunnel skis, fortunately we were able to get out into the mountains for several hikes and runs. Planica is in the Julian Alps, and the mountains are impressive, with steep cliff faces but also trails that bring hikers around to climb-able sides of many of the peaks. Because the skiers and biathletes within our group were on slightly different plans, with the biathletes racing in Slovenian biathlon national rollerski races on Saturday and Sunday (see previous blog post), different groups of us went on a variety of adventures. The trails and peaks that we saw just whetted our appetite for more, and I know I certainly hope to return to Slovenia and this area in particular for future excursions and training! The following photos are from a few of our hikes. (Unless otherwise noted, I took the photos in this post.)

Hiking crew above the Vrsic pass, left to right Caitlin, Nick, Heather, Kait, Ben, Liz

Hiking crew above the Vrsic pass, left to right Caitlin, Nick, Heather, Kait, Ben, Liz

Climbing above the Vrsic pass into the peaks of the Julian Alps

Climbing above the Vrsic pass into the peaks of the Julian Alps

Another view of a deep valley

Another view of a deep valley, Nick and Heather ascending the trail

Fossils!

Fossils!

Peaking carefully over the edge to see the sheer cliff on the other side

Peaking carefully over the edge to see the sheer cliff on the other side

We took brief break from our training routine with a sight-seeing and shopping walk around Bled, Slovenia, which is known for this much-photographed lake and castle

We took brief break from our training routine with a sight-seeing and shopping walk around Bled, Slovenia, which is known for this much-photographed lake and castle

Looking down on the jump complex at Planica from Ciprnik peak

Looking down on the jump complex at Planica from Ciprnik peak

Crazy black salamander or newt from one of our hike/runs. On that particular run we saw dozens of these little guys on a certain section of trail.

Crazy black salamander or newt from one of our hike/runs. On that particular run we saw dozens of these little guys on a section of trail.

Ben celebrates bagging a peak (Slemenova spica, over 6000ft).

Ben celebrates bagging a peak on one of our first afternoon runs (Slemenova spica, over 6000ft – a good climb from Planica at 3000ft).

Coaches and skiers (missing biathletes), from left: Pepa, Heather, Ben, Kait, Caitlin, Liz, Nic

Coaches and skiers (missing biathletes), from left: Pepa, Heather, Ben, Kait, Caitlin, Liz, Nick. Thanks Craft Sportswear for the awesome new custom-designed suits.

This morning was our first skiing session on the Dachstein glacier above Ramsau, Austria, and we were greeted by sunny skies and fast snow. For now follow our Instagram account @greenracingproject, or Craftsbury Green Racing Project on Facebook, for (nearly) daily updates from the glacier – we’ll be sure to get a glacier summary post with photos up here on the blog too by the end of the camp!

Back to Alaska

27.Aug.2012 by Patrick O'Brien

Last summer I was able to join APU and Sun Valley skiing at the Thomas training center on Eagle glacier.  (http://greenracingproject.com/blog/?p=1910).  Getting quality on snow time during the summer months  is a huge asset to any nordic racer, and something still quite novel to life long Eastern skier.  This year I was again hoping get to Eagle glacier for some solid training. After a last minute spot opened up, I hopped on a plane and found myself back in Alaska. The weather last year was a pretty mixed bag. A few days of nice sun, some overcast skiing, and some days where you weren’t sure what direction the precipitation was coming from because you were in whiteout conditions and had no idea where on course you were. Fortunately this year the weather was much more cooperative.  Most days were cloud free t-shirt skiing and when the clouds rolled in hard, low overnight temperatures still made for much harder and faster tracks than the year before.  One thing I learned from my previous trip is to put the largest baskets you can find on your poles.  Racing poles are nice and light, but pretty useless when you are pulling them back out of the snow on every pole plant. Last year may have been slow and sloppy skiing, but this year the tracks were firm enough to delay morning training to allow the boiler plate ice to soften. Overall it was a great camp.  Lots of quality kilometers of training, technique tweaks, seeing how other ski programs operate, and getting to mix it up in intervals with a different group of guys than our normal summer group.  So without further ado, some pictures from my week on snow!

Alpine Air's A-Star helicoptor lifting off

Alpine Air's A-Star helicopter lifting off

And headed up towards the glacier

And headed up towards the glacier

View from the cockpit.  Despite being only a 40 minute drive drom Anchorage, and looking down on Girdwood the facility is still remote.  All food, skis, gear, and even the Pisten-Bullys have to be flown in by chopper

View from the cockpit. Despite being only a 40 minute drive from Anchorage, and looking down on the town of Girdwood the facility is still very remote. All food, skis, gear, and even the Pisten-Bullys have to be flown in by chopper

Passing Alyeska Resort on the way up

Passing Alyeska Resort on the way up

A typical scence looking out from the facility. The training ceter sits on the edge of a 1500 ft drop off. The yellow rope is there for a reason... Somewhere under the cloud cover is Girdwood and the Airport

A typical scene looking out from the facility. The training center sits on the edge of a 1500 ft drop off and the clouds often get hung up on the mountains below. The yellow rope is there for a reason... Somewhere under the cloud cover is the town of Girdwood and the Airport

Keith the main pilot "dropping off" the edge going back for another load of skier and gear. The A-Star kicks up some serious rotor wash. 5 minutes up 5000 ft. A few seconds later and he is back out of sight.  (photo: H Mooney)

Keith, Alpine Air's main pilot "dropping off" the edge going back for another load of skier and gear. The A-Star kicks up some serious rotor wash. (photo: H Mooney)

The view into town on a clear day. In the front of the picture are two of four shipping containers for storing all the maintenence gear during the summer and the grooming equipment during the off season. Everything is bedded on concrete and bolted down to withstand the high winds and heavy snowfall.

The view into town on a clear evening. In the front of the picture are two of four shipping containers for storing all the maintenance gear during the summer and the grooming equipment during the off season. Everything is bedded on concrete and bolted down to withstand the high winds and heavy snowfall.

Meltwater pond in the foreground, trails on the glacier way off in the background. All the water for the facility is pumped and filtered from the meltpond. Electricity comes from a diesel generator. The facility uses composting toilets. All trash is sorted into to two catagories. Burnable is disposed on site and the remainder is flown back into to be disposed of.

Meltwater pond in the foreground, trails on the glacier way off in the background. All the water for the facility is pumped and filtered from the meltpond. Electricity comes from a diesel generator. The facility uses composting toilets. All trash is sorted into to two categories. Burnable is disposed on site and the remainder is flown back into town be disposed of.

The loop starts with a fast 1k downhill from the facility

The loop starts with a fast 1k downhill from the facility. Thanks to a good snow year this winter, even the Bergschrund (the head wall) crevasse hadn't opened up like last year so we were able to ski down and back from the loop to training every day.

Bergschrund from last year

Bergschrund from last year

It was pretty nice some days at the end of the long ski to catch a ride back up the big hill on the back of the PB last year...

It was pretty nice some days at the end of the long ski to catch a ride back up the big hill on the back of the PB last year though...

Great tracks and great skiing

Great tracks and great skiing

Pete moments after some impressive klister grab had him doing a superman across the trail

Pete moments after some impressive klister grab had him doing a superman across the trail

Lots of skiing means big meals!

Lots of skiing means big meals!

A huge thanks to Erik Flora of APU and Craftsbury for making this trip happen! Only a few more months and we will be back on snow gearing up for the race season. Summer has really flown by!

What’s in Tim’s ear…?

22.Nov.2011 by Dylan McGuffin

As you might have heard, there is not an excess of activities here in Mounio. When I’m not skiing or eating or writing blogs, I’ve taken up a small pet project helping my friend Tim with a little problem. There is something blocking his left ear. We are not sure what it is, perhaps a buildup of wax from his flowing locks, or some foreign object that has been lodged inside. Could it be a bug? Or maybe a raisin? I am told that gnomes also make their home in this part of the world, and one could possibly have made a home inside Tim’s head.

Righteous Flow

Righteous Flow

No clues yet, but here are some of the dislodging techniques we’ve tried…

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Conventional ear wax dissolver... No luck.

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Old faithful Q-tip... nothing.

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Oh a dish soap bottle filled with warm water shooting into Tim's ear... yeah that didn't work.

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Really thought this last thing would work…

There has been no luck getting anything out of Tim’s ear thus far. We have determined that it is quite possibly water, but really it could be anything. If anyone has any old tyme remedies or gypsy magic that you think may help, feel free to drop us a line.

Eagle in August

1.Sep.2011 by Patrick O'Brien

This last week I was fortunate enough to join APU and Sun Valley for a week of skiing on APU’s Eagle Glacier outside Girdwood, Alaska. For anyone from the east skiing in the summer is an unusual, almost foreign prospect. The season in Vermont is short, and as a skier you spend more time cross training for your sport than actually participating in it.  While I was dubious about returning to Alaska after my three previous experiences (all involving       -15 F temperatures and inadequate handwear) I was lured all the way here by some incredible pictures of glacier skiing from the USST woman’s camp several weeks prior (http://greenracingproject.com/blog/?p=1817).

A typical day on Eagle Glacier...

A typical day on the Eagle Glacier...

Although the weather for this camp wasn’t as nice as for the woman’s camp, the overcast sky and mix of fresh snow actually made for harder faster conditions which was a nice reprieve from mushy corn snow and disapearing ski pole baskets that we experienced the first day.

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Thursday afternoon classic ski on hardwax

Another addition to the camp was riding the new Pisten-Bully to and from training in the morning. A summers worth of melt coupled with a strong earthquake weeks prior had opened several large crevasses  between the main building and the ski loop. Riding the back of the PB up the big hill to the training center for a waiting meal at the end the long day of skiing was another huge plus!

Falling in one of these suckers would ruin your day!

Falling in one of these guys would ruin your ski!

Some of the ladies enjoying the sun at the end of ski

Some of the ladies enjoying the sun at the end of a ski

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Powder skiing in August? Can't complain about that!

By the end of the week the clouds had fully blown out and we were treated to some pretty spectacular views of Girdwood, Alyeska resort, and the surrounding mountains and snow fields

The training center looking out at the Eagle glacier off to the right

The training center with Eagle Glacier off to the right

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And the town of Gridwood, Alyeska resort and the Turnagin Arm several thousand feet down to the left...

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Hiking down to the edge of the glacier on Sunday morning

Down the scree field

Down the scree field

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Out the ridge towards Girdwood

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Gelso suiting up for the ride down

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And down the moss they go!

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Through the Alaskan Bush

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And back to the van and civilization after 5000+ feet of descending over a few miles!