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Green Racing Project Blog

Week Until Rowing World Cup III

5.Jul.2015 by Ben Dann
Johnny squaring up for a swim

Johnny squaring up for a swim in the Rotsee

Hi Everyone!

It’s Ben here from the Senior Men’s Double Sculls.  Today is Sunday, July 5th, meaning social media back in the States is a bit sluggish following the turmoil of Independence Day festivities.  I’m taking advantage of this ebb to update those interested in the progress John and I have made in the past week.

Yesterday, John and I along with our recent training partners, Julie Nichols and Ken Jurkowski, left our Sarnen training setup to move to the Rotsee lake, home of 3rd World Cup.  Our apartment is a stone’s throw from the water, reminding me of the common theme for this trip: finding paths of least distraction and logistical hassle.  Swiss National Championships are taking place as I type, an interesting spectacle to behold as juniors, national team members, and masters crews compete all at once. We strolled down this morning to watch our Swiss friend, Peter Guggenbach, compete in his masters race (third place).  Good news, the water is as gorgeous as ever, as is the brand new 8-lane course installed last week.  It seems almost surreal wandering the path following the course; bleach-white bouys dot a placid glass surface where the world’s best flock to compete.  This lake will be our temple and our altar on which we will have to offer our best next weekend to take the next step – qualifying the double for World Championships (7th or better).

The trip has been productive so far.  Replete with video analysis, tests of speed on flat water and rigging refinement, John and I feel like we have made progress and cut some of the inefficiencies we have been humping around.  It has been a valuable experience changing settings and absorbing wisdom from two of the most experienced Olympic scullers our country has known, Julie and Ken.  Both have been to two Olympic games in the lightweight woman’s double sculls (once as an alternate) and the heavyweight men’s single scull respectively.  They have seen everything happen during an Olympic cycle, and through ups and downs, retained self-sufficiency and resourcefulness (not surprised MacGyver is a popular choice on our TV).  Julie is acting as coach for Ken in the single and honorary coach for John and I in the double.  We are a week away and already Julie is asking for our race day schedules and other race day protocol.  Like woah, I’m not used to this sort of planning at all!  Her approach to racing is a healthy reminder to think ahead and be prepared, making sure nothing gets in the way of performing to your full potential on race day.  I have thought of this whole trip as an exercise in carefully preparing and making informed decisions regarding racing, and I am hoping to come out with more maturity as an elite racer.

I am sorry to hear that it’s been so rainy in Vermont, especially since Switzerland has been experiencing a country-wide heat wave.  The water in Sarnen read 30C yesterday, just a few degrees cooler than the air.  Swimming is the only respite from the heat, and daily swims have become part of our recovery.  Typing about swimming makes it hard not to go now so I’ll wrap up.

I can speak for everyone here expressing our excitement to race against the world’s best this weekend.  Our boats get in on the Swiss trailer tomorrow, and then it’s time to ‘hone our blades’ and get to work.

Tschüss,

Ben

First Impressions

29.Jun.2015 by Heather Mooney

I’ve only been at Craftsbury full time for only two weeks now, and I am so happy to already feel like I have a new home. I knew nearly everyone on the ski side of the team before coming, had known Pepa since I was a young junior, and had been to Craftsbury on countless races trips and training camps, but I still didn’t know what to expect in moving here and joining the GRP. I knew about all the pieces but had no idea what it would feel like putting them all together.

Any question was quickly resolved as I immediately felt at home and welcomed by the team. A big part that contributed to this feeling was a sense that everyone has a place and purpose that is very much their own. I could see everyone contributing in their respective niches. Whether taking care of the animals, working on trails, working in the garden, or collaborating on the new cabins etc, it was immediately clear to me how each individual does have a purpose besides strictly athletic ability.

In racing, we often share similar goals, we all want to be really fast, and it’s easy to feel like we’re all competing for shares of the same thing, whether it is on our own team or nation-wide, trying to get spots on trips, the national team or the world cup. There’s only so much of the pie and if you have some of it, then somebody else has less. But by way of the work we do in return for our spot here, it is pretty cool to see how each person’s unique interests and abilities work together to make the Craftsbury “pie” bigger and better for everyone, rather than competing for space.

My biggest apprehension in coming into life as a “professional” athlete was the balance of being able to focus on getting faster, without it over consuming me as a person. Upon beginning life on the GRP, it has been reassuring to see right away my teammates’ strengths and interests outside of training, and the mutual importance of those aspects of them. Seeing the rest of the team appear so well balanced in their other contributions to the Outdoor Center has been inspiring to me, hoping that I too can develop my place and add to the balance as they do.

Having the built in opportunity to contribute to something else here is more than a safety net to mental sanity, but rather feels like a driving force that’s really unique about this team and greater Craftsbury Outdoor Center community. It is a good reminder of how any kind of successful team operates, dependent on the different characteristics that each person brings, contributing to a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts. For that reason, I’m so excited to be welcomed to this team, thanks for having me!

On the training side of things, we’re happily enjoying an easy week, helping with the BKL camp, after several weeks of hard training. Here’s a photo summary of the past week, taken from our instagram posts. Be sure to follow @greenracingproject if you don’t already for a peek at the pieces that don’t make it to the blog.

-Heather

IMG_0739 IMG_0737 IMG_0736 IMG_0714 IMG_0711 IMG_0694 IMG_0689

M2x in Sarnen

27.Jun.2015 by John Graves

Hey all,

Ben and I have been in Sarnen, SUI for the last week following WC 2 in Varese and we will be training here for one more week before we move over to Lucerne for World Cup 3. We have been enjoying the mountain scenery and glassy water while also taking some time to hike around the area. We hiked up to see the sunset on thursday night. Here are a couple of pics.

 

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Ben and I have enjoyed a fairly easy week this week recovering from racing the week before but will now begin to do a lot of hard work in the boat to prepare for WC 3. We were encouraged by our speed in Varese but were not quite able to finish out the regatta the way we wanted. We are eager to fine tune some things and show up Lucerne ready to have a great regatta. More to come as we get closer to racing!

 

John

Better Late Than Never

17.Jun.2015 by Emily Dreissigacker

This past February, after almost ten years of rowing, I decided that I wanted to switch to the ski team. In retrospect I think it was a move that was a long time coming, going back even to my first winter after graduating college, when I put my single on the roof of my car and drove out to southern California. Initially I was so excited to be going on an adventure, for the beach and palm trees, the sun, the rowing in January. And then, against all odds, I was miserable. I longed for big fat snowflakes, cozy fires in the woodstove, and of course the skiing. I came home to Vermont for the summer and all seemed right in the world again. But rowing had lost some of it’s magic for me. It was starting to feel more like work and less like fun. Winter rolled around and we started skiing for cross-training. It felt like freedom.

 

At this point, competing at the Olympics had been a dream of mine for so long that it felt inextricably entwined with who I was as a person. I could feel it slowly but surely slipping out of my grasp and yet I couldn’t let go. I thought about quitting, but there was always something pulling me back. Don’t get me wrong, I loved racing. I loved racing against my teammates in practice, I loved lining up side by side for a 2k or blindly pushing myself past all reason in an interval start. But the training, the whole process had gotten stale. I felt like I was slogging my way through each steady state workout, counting down the minutes rather then enjoying the time I had. Meanwhile, I jealousy eyed the skiers leaving each morning for what looked to me like exciting adventures. They got to go biking and hiking and running and rollerskiing (yes, I was jealous of rollerskiing)! But it never really seemed like a viable option to me. I was a rower.

 

It all changed when I cut my finger on the wood splitter this fall. It sounds worse than it was, but it did sever the tendon on the back of my finger. I had surgery at the end of November and had to wear a splint on my finger for 8 weeks afterwards. With my splint, I couldn’t bend my finger to hold an erg handle but with good pole straps I was able to ski. I finally started to realize just how unhappy I had gotten with rowing and began to entertain the idea of switching sports. My finger was good to go at the end of January and I somewhat reluctantly began trying to get back into erging. Incidentally, this coincided almost perfectly with Craftsbury hosting two weekends of Supertour racing. The big turning point for me was making the A final of the classic sprint. Admittedly it was a smaller than usual field but it definitely helped me see that switching to skiing wasn’t an entirely unrealistic idea. From there it really snowballed. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how badly I wanted it, until I couldn’t sit through even one more rowing practice.

 

Now I am happily almost two months into my summer ski and biathlon training (I’m following in both my siblings’ footsteps and giving biathlon a try too!). Most days practice still feels like the exciting adventures I envisioned but there are frustrating practices too. There are times when I feel so far behind everyone else that I may never fully catch up, times when I finally think I’ve got V2 down only to be told it looks exactly the same as before, times when I can’t seem to hit a single target. But through it all I’m happy because I’m doing what I love.

The GRP girls with Pepa in Sun Valley at Supertour finals

The GRP girls with Pepa in Sun Valley at Supertour finals