The end of the Utah camp ended on a high note for me. First of all, I’m going to Sweden! The Utah rollerski races, along with the Jericho races back in August, served as qualifiers for the first international races of the year. I saved my best race for the last qualifier and hit 90% of my targets. I was named to the team with 5 other US women. Once we get on snow in Sweden during late November, we’ll be divided into different groups- a World Cup team and an IBU Cup team (IBU Cup is the race circuit just below the World Cup). Either way, I’ll be racing in various places in Europe until Christmas.
Our last day of training in Utah was another reason I flew back east with a smile. We (US biathlon team) got to hike Mt. Timpanogos- one of my (many) favorite mountains. Timpanogos’s snow covered peak looms teasingly over Solider Hollow. The first few times I went to the Heber Valley, I would gaze longingly at it’s ridgelines but I didn’t get the chance to climb it. It often has too much snow in October. Last year, we finally had the chance to hike part of it, but we had an easy workout on our training plan, and our coaches only let us go to the first saddle. I can’t say I successfully summited this year either, but Laura Spector and I made a valiant effort to run further up. We were within sight of the final ridge climb and then decided to turn around so that our teammates (who turned around at the first saddle again) wouldn’t have to wait for hours in the parking lot. The elusiveness of that summit is intensifying my desire to get there. So next year… Still, it was a spectacular day in the mountains, the type of day that fuels your soul and makes you feel psyched to be alive.
Another reason we had to turn around early is that we had been invited by the US Speedskating team to have dinner with a bunch of the long track athletes and then watch a World Cup (short track) in Salt Lake. Our coaches have been talking together a lot lately, so perhaps in the future, we’ll have some training collaboration between our sports. The World Cup was fascinating to watch. I hadn’t realized how short the short track loop actually is and how nearly impossible it is to pass your competitors. No wonder there are a lot of crashes.
I flew back to Vermont early the next morning and got to see my Craftsbury GRP teammates for a few hours before they departed for a month of skiing in Finland. The team house at Elinor’s is very quiet: Emily Dreissigacker (who is training for sculling races) and I are the only ones here right now. I love the seasonal rhythms of life at Craftsbury. With the colder weather and shorter days we are shifting into winter mode. In between training sessions, I’m working on winterizing the house: pulling out all the screens, installing insulating plastic over the windows, cleaning up the flower beds and skirting the old foundation. It doesn’t seem like there are enough hours in the day to get everything done.
As the race season approaches, I would like to invite the Facebook savvy blog readers to “like” my athlete fan page “Susan Dunklee” on Facebook. (This is something that US Biathlon recommended that we create, and it is separate from my personal private Facebook page.) It’s relatively new and I already have 23 fans- hurray! Basically it is an easy and centralized way for me to keep in touch with all of you and you can post stuff to the wall too. This page will be the most comprehensive and updated resource for tracking my race season and travels. I’ll try to post pictures, blog entries, links to results, and other various things. I’m not sure how much the Craftsbury fan crowd uses Facebook, but if this is something you think the Green Team should do too, please let us know.