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Author Archive

Oberhof: A German Biathlon Mecca

2.Oct.2017 by Hallie Grossman

After wrapping up German Nationals in Arber, we headed to Oberhof for the thing that every winter sports athlete looks forward to: snow! None of us had ever been to Oberhof, so we weren’t sure what to expect. As we neared Oberhof, an Eastern European feel descended upon us. After eating dinner, we clearly decided that we had left “pasta eating Germany” and entered “potato eating Germany.”

Biathlon is popular here. A mini version of the stadium in the tourist info building.

After a rainy day off, where we did some wandering around the town, and eating delicious pastries at a local “backerei,” we were all excited to ski. As the rain poured and the wind whistled around us, we eagerly put on ski clothes, switched from rollerski to snow baskets, scraped our skis and went skiing! The track in the tunnel is a horseshoe shape, with two way traffic. The whole loop took me about eight minutes skiing easy (it probably took the Russians who ripped around the whole time abut five…) but had two short climbs, two longer climbs, and even an icy downhill.  They have a snow making system inside the tunnel, so the snow was clean, plentiful, and awesome.

GRP train in the tunnel.

 

That afternoon, we headed to the range for some (rainy) running combos. It is a 30 point range, as all World Cup venues have, but has massive stadium seating, reminiscent of a football or baseball stadium in the US. It reportedly can hold 11,000 fans.

View of the stadium from a bit of a distance. Definitely doesn’t do the magnitude of it justice.

 

The next afternoon, as the rain continued to fall, we were prepared to spend another session working on our toughness and durability, but were pleasantly surprised when we found out we would be able to shoot in the indoor shooting range. Yup, indoor range. After meandering on a small road above the regular range and ski tunnel for a bit, we got to an 18 point range, with a building next to it, with pavement coming out of either end. We had found the eight point indoor, rollerski ski accessible range. Definitely not something you see every day. It’s perfect for enduring inclement weather.

Dry shooting on a rainy afternoon.

The next day, we were treated to another Oberhof speciality- yet another indoor range! This one was in the ski tunnel! This allowed us to truly practice biathlon in the summer. This range had four points and was situated midway through the tunnel, so it was easily accessible.

Intensity combos all indoors.

We also spent a little bit of time exploring Oberhof’s running/ recreation trail system. I’m always impressed by how many recreational paths many European towns have, as well as how highly trafficked they are.

Oberhof provides a biathlete (or a skier) with all the tools necessary for successful training. Never before have I been to an area with five biathlon ranges (there was a single point somewhere else in town). They even have facilities to accommodate inclement weather, which makes me think the weather often leaves some to be desired (Susan confirmed this).

The biathletes are all now back in the U.S., gearing up for October trials- some training in Craftsbury and others in Lake Placid.

Biathletes take on Germany

12.Sep.2017 by Hallie Grossman

While the skiers are becoming very well acquainted with the Snow Farm landscape, the biathletes stayed in the Northern Hemisphere and are training in various locations around Germany. Some we are familiar with and others are new.

Our first stop was Ruhpolding, where we enjoyed beautiful summery weather for the first few days. Our first order of business upon arrival was picking out a mountain and hiking/ running up it. We then checked out the range and rollerski loop. I thought the loop was awesome, as it featured all very skiable hills, but others deemed it not all that exciting. The coolest thing about the range was the amount of spectators that were in the stands on a random training day- in the middle of the week in the middle of the summer. I continue to be amazed at the popularity of biathlon in Europe.

A happy crew on top of Rauschberg

Didn’t luck out with the sun quite so much on this hike a few days later, but we’re all smiles!

The National Team is here as well, and we have teamed up with them for several training sessions. One particularly memorable one was the L3 rollerski up the Rossfeldstrasse, a sustained climb that took upwards of an hour along the German/ Austrian border. We were greeted by gorgeous mountain views as we neared the top. We could also see the Eagle’s Nest, a refuge of Hitler’s during World War II.

Mike cruising into the mountains

Susan and I cooling down after the long interval

We also did some rainy rollerski combo intervals on the range with the National Team, where it was feeling a bit more wintery. This workout called for breaking out the wool shirts, full race suits, rain pants, and vests.

Shooting time!

One afternoon I heard the sound of clip clopping horse shoes on pavement and polka music outside my hotel room. I went to investigate and turns out it was the annual St. George Day ride and horse parade, where people ride or drive their horses through the streets of Ruhpolding out of town to St. Valentine to be bleesed then parade back in. This tradition of horse owners and farmers asking for God’s blessings of their horses dates back to the 16th century.

Many horses and people decked out in traditional garb.

We wrapped up our time in Ruhpolding with a great hike up the Sontagshorn. In typical GRP biathlon European hiking fashion, it became a two-country-slightly-longer-than-expected adventure, but still really fun!

Really neat waterfall. It rained a lot in the several days before this hike, so the water crossings may have been wetter than usual. Regardless, I waded through the rivers and didn’t try to keep my feet dry.

The view from the top. Snowy mountains in the not-so-distant- distance!

Crossing back into Germany from Austria on the return.

Next stop: Arber. We had all been here during the winter within the past few years, but didn’t know what the rollerskiing would be like. The first day we had a nearly deserted roller loop and range and discovered that the paved section was on the mellowest part of the winter courses. Over the few days we were there, we saw the evolution from quiet training facility to bustling venue packed with racers and fans and sponsors for the Deutsche Meisterschaft Biathlon or German Biathlon Rollerski Nationals, which serve as important qualifying races for the Germans and good (hard) competition for foreign racers. We did two races, a sprint and a pursuit. Both the men’s and women’s fields were deep, with lots of speedy and sharpshooting Germany juniors, World Cup and IBU Cup regulars, and foreigners from Switzerland, Finland, the US, and other countries.

Start of the women’s pursuit. Doesn’t really capture the fans, but there were LOTS.

Emily started in front of reigning World Champ (many times over) Laura Dahlmeier in the sprint! (Picture from Alex’s Instagram).

Bodenmais, the town that we stayed in, is known for their glass. We did some touristing and stopped in several glass shops during our down time. Rumor has it this is where they make the crystal globes for World Cup winners.

Mike’s wise owl friend

We are know in Oberhof for the last leg of our trip, skiing on SNOW! More on that later, but here’s a sneak peak.

Mike in the tunnel

 

 

BKL Camp Week

4.Jul.2017 by Hallie Grossman

Last week, Caitlin wrote a post about a typical “week in the life” of a GRP athlete in June. This post is similar, but with a twist: a week in the life during BKL camp (a recovery/ easy week for some of the biathletes and a bigger volume week for the skiers).

Twice every summer, the junior coaches put together two Bill Koch League day camps for kids 8-12 and the GRP gets to help throughout the week. Last week, 18 eager BKL’ers, some part of our regular crew and some from further away, descended on the Center for five days of fun and training.

Monday

Camp begins at 9am sharp, with name games and ice breakers. Kids then broke into two groups, one heading to the local roads for rollerskiing and the others staying at the Center for some agility practice via an obstacle course. Because kids like competition, there was a competition for the “best cheerer” as part of the obstacle course. Throughout the week most workouts and activities ended with a healthy dose of water time. Kids don’t seem to care whether it’s hot or cold- the water’s always fun!

Playing “World Cup.” Apparently it’s, “everyone’s favorite game.”

Tuesday

Descending Elmore

Hike day! The crew headed to Mt. Elmore for some fire tower views and slippery rock scrambling. The morning concluded with swimming and lunching at Lake Elmore, which was unfortunately cut a bit short because of imminent thunderstorms.The afternoon drew out everyone’s hand-foot coordination skills, with a slightly rainy kickball tournament.

Despite BKL camp being in full swing, the GRP athletes were still engaged in training weeks of varying volumes and other work projects. The weekly Tuesday Night Race (this week at Hosmer Point) still went off without a hitch.

Tuesday Night Race dip at Hosmer Point. It’s wonderful to see the community come together on a weekly basis for this event.

Wednesday

Wednesday morning gave kids an opportunity to shred the mountain bike trails. These kids are speedy! While the campers were biking, some of the GRP did a skate speed rollerski workout. In the afternoon, the group was split in two: half canoeing and half doing biathlon.

Amelia showing us how it’s done on the range, while wearing an awesome pink skort.

Though I have not done a lot of biathlon with the BKLers, it is really cool watching them shoot. They are all supportive of each other and offer bits of  encouragement and suggestions. They do a great job parroting coaches’ snippets of advice to their peers (and I’ve noticed the same thing with mountain biking skills), which shows that kids really are listening and taking in what you say.

Wild strawberries make any uphill journey sweeter.

Thursday

Orienteering in the morning (while some of the GRP did rollerski intervals) then in the afternoon, the groups flipflopped, giving everyone the chance to canoe and do biathlon over the two days.

Rain drops didn’t deter anyone from a spirited relay race.

Friday

Adventure race day! Before the race began, I did a 2k on the skierg as part of our testing regime which happens throughout the summer and fall. With the 2k complete by 9am, it was on to the races!

Here’s a smattering of pictures from the adventure race. I won’t go in to much detail because I don’t want to give any of our secrets away! But know that there was a lot of smiles and planning/ plotting and water involved.

“We are a human conveyer belt”

Lava lava everywhere

Alex working on sight alignment with a camper

Cooperation is key here

Then…pizza!

Rope swinging then make-your-own pizza is a BKL camp tradition. Kids get creative with pizzas of all sorts, including crowd favorites of pesto and sausage then some lesser known treasures like simply garlic and olive oil. This year,  many of us learned what “mochi” are and a few campers got really in to making mini pizzas.

Mini pizzas for days

Hungry kids devouring their creations

Smores!

 

The campers wrapped up their week with a lip sync competition, which is pretty hilarious with a group of 8-12 who have some very different opinions on singing and dancing.

Some were in to the signing. And some were not.

Though the camp was done, the training week wasn’t quite over…

Saturday brought an OD rollerski/ run workout with a roll from East Craftsbury to Lake Willoughby then run over Mt. Pisgah for most.

Rollerskis can take you a long way…(Caitlin Patterson’s camera/ Pepa’ picture taking).

 

 

Three Weeks at Home

28.Feb.2017 by Hallie Grossman

So far this winter, I have split time on the road racing in Canada, the midwest, and Europe and being in Craftsbury. Alex, Emily, and myself took a three week break from the IBU cup and were fortunate enough to have real winter to play in when we returned home. This is the first year that I have raced in Europe, and I can see why people are so excited to spend time across the pond, but also excited to be at home. Though much of January was bleak in Vermont snow-wise, we were greeted with perfect skiing upon our return in early February.

Hard to beat having this out our door.

Last winter, my first living in Craftsbury, was pretty grim in terms of snowfall, and the skiing was confined to the snowmaking loop for much of the time. This made it so I had tons of new trails to explore this year! I think I succeeded in skiing most of our trails, with the final one being a ski to the Common which I finally checked off the list the day before leaving.

A snowy Max’s Pond.

I don’t think a ski or day went by that I was home that I didn’t remark “It’s so pretty!” and feel quite lucky to be able to enjoy perfect skiing every day.

All smiles skiing with Mary!

It was great to see so many people out enjoying and skiing.

A very happy Amy because she didn’t have to be back at work till 10:30!

Hard not to be happy when this is the backdrop to our workouts.

Sun and snow.

Sparkly snow.

We did do some racing as well! We had back-to-back NorAm/ trials weekends in Lake Placid and Jericho.

Emily, myself, and Kait in Jericho (Deb Miller photo).

Lots of snow also means lots of snow removal. We got to do some shoveling that involved playing (carefully) on roofs.

Mary on the Hosmer Point dining hall roof.

Mike and Ethan on the Elinor’s roof. That snow pile was transformed into a snow fortress.

At the beginning of last week, the temperatures began to rise, which brought tons of melting snow and spring skiing conditions (and a thunder storm in February…).

The beginning of the melt. Fast skiing in the morning and slush in the afternoon.

Being at home also means time to spend coaching, both kids and adults. The Catamount crew is always a blast!

Catamounts playing stones. In Tshirts!

After a lovely three weeks in Craftsbury, now it’s off to Finland for me, Emily, and Alex!