The past three summers, the GRP skiers have headed to Europe in September to get on snow, where we’ve had awesome camps in Ramsau, Austria, training on the Dachstein Glacier. However, every year the snow pack in the Alps seems to get less dependable, and with a lighter snow year and warm spring and summer, going to Ramsau wasn’t an option this year. Instead, we ventured even farther afield, all the way to the Southern Hemisphere, where we planned to spend 3 weeks training at the Snow Farm on the South Island of New Zealand.
Only Nick and Ida had ever been to New Zealand before, so we weren’t really sure what to expect from the 30+ hour travel day to get there, or from the time change. It’s a 16 hour difference from the East Coast, which is really actually more like 8 hours in the opposite direction (don’t think about it too hard, it might make your head hurt). We also get pretty spoiled from the Craftsbury dining hall, so what if the food was weird, or the toilets flushed backwards, or we crashed our car driving on the wrong side of the road, or we couldn’t understand all the New Zealand-isms? What does “sweet as” mean anyways??
Well, it turns out that we had absolutely nothing to worry about! Sure, the trip over (Craftsbury to Boston to San Fran to Auckland to Queenstown to Snow Farm) turned us all into temporary zombies. But once we arrived at the Snow Farm and settled into a training routine, everything was truly “sweet as” (according to Urban Dictionary, it means “cool” in NZ speak). The skiing has been awesome, with over 30 km of groomed trails, the views are stunning, the food has been great, and Kiwis are some of the friendliest people around. Staying at the Snow Farm is really convenient since everything we need is right here- gym, dining hall, dorm style rooms, and skiing right out the back door. The first week we did a bit of technique focus, working hard to transfer over rollerski technique to snow. Then we put in a few intensity sessions, and raced the NZ Winter Games this weekend. Finally, we’ll spend our last week here ramping up the training hours, and then travel all the way back to Vermont, where we hear that fall is nearly underway.
As part of the New Zealand Winter Games, we raced three days over the weekend (Thursday, Friday, Saturday). The first day was a 5/10k interval start, then a classic sprint, and finally 10/15k classic mass starts today. Overall, the team did really well in the races, hitting the podium in every race. Ben won the 10k interval start and the 15k classic, and placed 2nd in the classic sprint. Ida was 2nd in the classic sprint and 3rd in the 10k classic, while Caitlin took 3rd in the sprint and 2nd in the 10k. Adam also hit the podium in the 15k classic, battling to finish 2nd. My best result was 5th in the classic sprint, and Kait took 5th in the 10k after being sick for most of our week here. So overall, it was a good start to the season, although we can’t put too much stock into races in September, and we’ll still be training hard through the rest of the fall in order to be ready for the real start of the season in November. Big thanks to Pepa and Nick for braving total whiteouts and 40 kph wind to test and wax skis for us, they crushed it, as per usual!
I’m sure we’ll have another photo update from our last week here. Thanks for reading! If you’d like to check out the complete results from the races, they should be available on www.wintergamesnz.kiwi.