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Author Archive

West Yellowstone Week One

28.Nov.2017 by Liz Guiney

It’s normal for the Green Racing Project ski team to start our season in West Yellowstone, Montana, with its kilometers of pristine trails, wildlife sightings, and funky tourist town charm. We even usually stay in the same rental house, so it almost feels like home when we arrive.

However, this year the Green Team from the East had the bad luck of bringing more typical Eastern weather with us! Up until past Tuesday, the day we flew out to Bozeman, we heard reports of tons of snow and great skiing on the Rendezvous trails. The next day, it rained. Then it got warm. Then it rained again, and then it froze! Not ideal conditions for holding a festival for thousands of nordic skiers, much less the planned FIS race. However, the grooming team in West did everything they could, even closing down the race trails for several days, and amazingly, were able to pull off a race on Saturday. Dirt spots, ice patchs, and all.

At this point, I think I can speak for most of the team when I saw that we have a lot of experience dealing with bad conditions. Compared to the Birkie debacle of last season, this was practically pristine skiing. Even though the base got a little thinner every day, we were still able to get in some quality training during our first few days, and prepared ourselves to race. Weather is one of those things that is completely out of our control, and the only thing we can do is keep ourselves from being too stressed about it, and make the best of the situation.

Kait and I striding up the South Plateau Rd the day they closed down the race trails. Up a bit higher, the skiing was actually really nice!

 

After stuffing ourselves with stuffing, delicious roast turkey a la Pepa (boiled neck, giblets, and all), and Nick’s pumpkin pie at team Thanksgiving, we were ready to race. On Saturday, the women raced a 5k freestyle individual start, while the men did 10k. Because we planned to race just 5 days after we arrived, which can be the worst feeling day at altitude, our goals for the race were more process oriented. We planned to practice our warm-up, testing, and wax routine, and to get in a good hard workout. I think we accomplished that goal, although most of the team didn’t have great feeling races. That’s ok, we’ll be refocusing on the races this coming weekend, which are SuperTours and therefore count much more in the scheme of the overall race season. Hopefully by then we’ll be a bit more adjusted to the altitude. However, Caitlin still had a solid result this weekend, taking 2nd by just 0.9 seconds in the 5k, and Ben was also in the top ten, taking 8th in the 10k.

 

Sunrise on race morning

 

Kait cranking a hard effort in the 5k (photo Ian Harvey/Toko US)

 

Caitlin skiing to 2nd place, proving she is a fearless ice queen on a day with fast, luge-like downhills (Photo Ian Harvey, Toko US)

 

Ben and Adam working together towards the finish in the men’s 10k (Photo Ian Harvey/Toko US)

 

Unfortunately, after the races, the bad weather just continued, and the rain pummeled the trails even more on Saturday night and Sunday. We were still able to get in a good distance workout up high on the Plateau Rd the day after the race, but now the SuperTour is a little bit in flux. A storm today delivered a thin layer of wet, sloppy snow, but they’ll need several more inches to pull off the planned skate sprint and classic races. So, we’re in a bit of a holding pattern waiting to see if they can go ahead with the races as planned, or whether another venue will step in. In the meantime, West has lots of coffee shops, and we have a cozy living room with a fireplace and the movie channel, so it’s time to rest up for races, no matter what form they may take.

 

Reunited with Heather! She’s racing for the Bozeman team this year, but it’s always great to catch up with her and do some skiing. Once a greenie, always a greenie 🙂

 

Happy to find some good skiing and mountain views higher up on the plateau. Thanks to Skida and Julbo for keeping up outfitted in headwear and sunglasses

 

Ummm…. not sure how this will go! The plateau road farther down. Amazing what a small loss in elevation can do to the snowpack

Thanks to Nick and Pepa as always for their coaching and wax support. Also, big thanks to our team sponsors Craft, Skida, Julbo, and Polar for providing clothes and equipment for the team as we train and race! Stay tuned for more reports from out West, and make sure to follow the team on Instagram (@greenracingproject) and Facebook (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) for more frequent updates.

New Zealand On-Snow Camp!

8.Sep.2017 by Liz Guiney

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.

A spectacular sunrise over the Snow Farm’s trail system. Because it’s winter here, we get to catch both sunrise and sunset, and they haven’t disappointed yet.

 

Good morning Snow Farm!

 

The infamous “Wanaka Tree”, from our off-day venture down to Wanaka, about 40 min away by car, down a winding mountain pass

 

Exploring some of the trails farther out, this one goes out to the Bob Lee Hut. The winter hut system in New Zealand is really cool, the Bob Lee one in particular is stocked with firewood and has a wood stove, cooking utensils, and a gas stove. (Photo Caitlin Patterson)

 

The warm temps during the day and freezing at night also lent itself to some great crust cruising earlier in the camp. (Photo Caitlin Patterson)

 

We also get to see former GRPers Hannah Dreissigacker and Nils Koons, who are living in nearby Wanaka. Hannah is teaching lessons and coaching at the Snow Farm this winter.

 

Boys heading out on the outer trails, Mt. Pisa in the background (Photo Caitlin Patterson).

 

Most of the GRP group here on a beautiful day. Kait picked up a bout of strep throat during the travel, but she’s doing better now and was able to hop in one of the races this weekend. Big thanks to Craft Sportswear, Skida, and Julbo Eyewear for keeping us warm and outfitted for our training and racing.

 

Adam and Ben working on classic technique (Photo Caitlin Patterson)

 

We love our new Skida patterns and Julbo glasses! (Photo Caitlin Patterson)

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!

Pepa cheering for Caitlin and I on one of the steepest pitches during the 5k (Photo Brian Gregg)

 

Ben on top of the podium in the 10k skate!

 

Caitlin, Ida and I all ended up in the same semifinal in the classic sprint. (Photo Kaitlynn Miller)

 

The start of the men’s final, Ben is to the left (behind the Japanese skier). He skied a smart tactical race to take 2nd (Photo Kaitlynn Miller)

 

Ida powering to 2nd place behind her USST teammate Sophie Caldwell in the classic sprint final (Photo Kaitlynn Miller)

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.

 

Midwest Meltdowns

2.Mar.2017 by Liz Guiney

5 of the GRP skiers, including myself, just got back to Craftsbury after a trip to the Midwest for SuperTours and the Birkie (or rather, trying to race the Birkie). Here’s our update from the races!

We traveled to Ishpeming in a flurry of flights, airport hotels, and one loooong drive across Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The UP is a familiar place to many of the skiers, with Kait and I topping the count  for most trips to Houghton for races (at 5 a piece). Home to small industrial towns, Stormy Kromer hats, Yooper charm, and the infamous meat-filled pasties, the UP can be an interesting place to travel for a ski race, but generally treats us well.

We were lucky enough this trip to stay with the parents of one of the GRP rowers who have a lovely house in downtown Marquette. They own a chocolate shop and two restaurants in downtown Marquette, so we were completely spoiled when they gave us chocolate from their store (Doncker’s, if you’re ever in Marquette definitely check it out!) on the first day of our stay, and then invited us to eat in their restaurant. Midwestern hospitality is real, and we can’t thank them enough for hosting us!

The weekend’s SuperTour races at the Al Quaal trails in Ishpeming went well, despite a bout of warm weather. We raced a freestyle sprint on a two lap course, then two days later a 5k classic interval start. In the sprint, Caitlin, Kait, Heather and I all made the rounds of 16, and then Caitlin and Kait went on to make the four person A Final, where they took 2nd and 4th, respectively. Overall as a team we were pretty happy with the results, but knew that the next race, a 5k classic, was where we could put our striding skills to the test. However, that weekend Ishpeming was in a warming trend, so while we may have started the week on hard wax, we knew it would definitely be getting into the klister/slush/ice zone during race time. Luckily, our wax techs Nick and Ollie found some magic stuff for us to ski on, and our race skis were fantastic. It was really fun to see Kait win her first SuperTour (and probably a big compliment to how well she’s been skiing all year that we didn’t realize it was her first ever win at the time). Caitlin and I took 2nd and 3rd for our first GRP SuperTour sweep, and Mary had a very solid result in 12th.

The lighthouse in Marquette on an afternoon jog (Photo Kait Miller)

 

During race season we do a lot of afternoon jogs, so sometimes we try to switch it up and go interesting places, in this case a nearby lighthouse. We had to duck a rope to get out there, and had a moment of panic when we got buzzed by a drone, before realizing it was probably just taking aerial footage! (Photo Kait Miller)

 

Skate sprint podium on a beautiful day in Ishpeming (Photo Bryan Fish)

 

5k classic podium sweep!

 

A bit of local flavor- the prizes for the SuperTour races were Stormy Kromer hats, which as far as I can tell, are the pinnacle of UP fashion. We’re also standing in front of the pasty stand in this photo

 

Really lucky to have this team on the road!

 

Our hosts in Marquette, including dog Waiska

During our drive from Marquette to Hayward it poured rain, which was around when we started to realize that we might have a problem. Sure enough, the next day when the coaches drove out to see how the Birkie trail was surviving the melt, they found a lot of grey ice and grass sticking up. However, in hopes of a “Birkie miracle” snowstorm, the organizers held off on cancelling the race. We spent a few days in a holding pattern, waiting to see if the forecast would deliver, or if they would just go ahead and cancel. I won’t lie, cabin fever seemed to set in pretty hard during this limbo, and the skiing we did find wasn’t very inspiring! Finally on Friday we heard that the Birkie was officially off. It was such a bummer for the race in general and the Cable/Hayward area, as well as all of the racers. Luckily we were already in the Midwest, but we talked to people who came all the way from Italy and even Russia and didn’t get to race!

Good thing we practice our grass skiing during the summer, this spot would have needed a real miracle to be ski-able!

 

Cheering for the junior Barnebirkie- which was switched to a running race midweek. Still a lot of enthusiastic kids though!

 

If you can’t race, might as well spend some time in the Leinie Lounger (outside the grocery store in Hayward)

 

Just past the high point of the Birkie Trail. This was on Saturday, which was supposed to be our race day, so we could see where the organizers may have had a problem

 

A little bittersweet to stand by the new start in Telemark after not getting to race, but I’m sure we’ll be back soon

 

The Powerline trail was a little thin but actually nice after a dusting of new snow 

What’s next for the GRP skiers? We’re back in Craftsbury now for a few weeks, and hoping the trails survive a similar meltdown here. Ben, Kait, Caitlin, and Ida are all qualified for World Cup Finals in Quebec, I’m heading to OPA Cups in Austria, Mary and Heather will be training in Craftsbury and travelling to BKL Fest, JO’s, and NCAA’s, and then we’ll all reconvene in Fairbanks for SuperTour finals!

West Yellowstone Race Season Update!

8.Dec.2016 by Liz Guiney

Almost three weeks ago, we packed up the GRP trailer and left rainy Vermont, hoping to trade the drizzle for every skier’s Thanksgiving dream- white, fluffy powder in West Yellowstone. Although the opening SuperTours weren’t supposed to be in West Yellowstone, the town was still planning to host a set of FIS races right after Thanksgiving, and the team decided it would be a good opportunity to get in some low-key race starts before the SuperTour season started.

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View of the Outdoor Center in Vermont the third week of November- a little uninspiring but we got through it with lots of rain jackets. Happy to go in search of powder!

 

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Kait thought she might save a little money on a plane ticket out west by hopping in the back of the trailer…

When the team first got to West Yellowstone, cover was a little thin and we felt like baby deer sliding around out on the icy trails, but within a few days the 2-3″ in of daily snow accumulation added up, and the skiing started to get really good. West over Thanksgiving is always a great time, with coaches, skiers, and friends from all over the country getting together on snow for the first time. We only had a few days before the races to acclimate, so we treated them more as training races and took the opportunity to practice race day routine- what to eat and when, how to test skis, warm-up routines, and dealing with pre-race nerves.

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Mary, myself, and Ben enjoying a beautiful ski testing day (Photo Pepa)

 

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We stayed in the “fox cabin” for our first week in West, and they really took their decor seriously. Fox quilts, fox stuffed animals, and about 30 fox paintings on the walls.

Even though our acclimation for the races wasn’t ideal, we still wanted to get in high-quality workouts that would prep us for the upcoming SuperTours. The techs also worked really hard to get us good skis, and everyone had solid races! In the skate 5/10k, our top results were myself (Liz) in 4th, Kait in 9th, Mary 17th, and Ben in 5th in the men’s race. We built on that the next day in the 5/10k classic, with Ben finishing 3rd, Heather 17th, Kait 6th, and I surprised myself with a win. It was nice to have our first races of the season not count towards the SuperTour totals, so we could get our feet under us without too much pressure.

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Kaitlynn going tongue out in the 5k skate (Photo Katrina Howe)

 

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It was a perfect day of classic racing for the 5k. Getting some cheers from the Sun Valley team (Photo Annie Pokorny)

We were hoping to move up to Bozeman for the first SuperTour races the following weekend, but unfortunately they didn’t get enough early snow so they had to cancel. Luckily West Yellowstone jumped in and offered to hold the SuperTour races there, and we were happy enough to stay an extra week if it meant getting to race. The whole team moved to a different rental house and had another week of perfect skiing on the Rendezvous Trails before the races.

Then it was go time! We raced a freestyle sprint on Saturday, on a short and winding course with all V2-alternate and V2 terrain. The whole team qualified for the sprint, so it was a successful morning. In the heats we didn’t do quite as well, with most of the team being eliminated in the quarterfinals. I made the semis but just missed out on the A Final, so by the end of the day everyone on the team was hungry for more. Luckily the next day we had a 10/15k classic individual, and for whatever reason our team seems to be stronger in classic. We woke up that morning to a few inches of freshly fallen snow and much more coming down from the sky, along with a howling wind. It was nothing if not an adventure, but luckily the techs gave us really good skis! The team had our best day of the season so far- Ben took 2nd in the men’s 15k, and Kait and I both made the podium in 3rd and 1st, respectively!

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Recliners+internet+fireplace= all the requirements of a great rental house

 

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Racing in my semifinal heat with some fast ladies

 

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Thanks Coach Pepa! Happy skiers and coach after the classic race

 

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Kaitlynn leading Caitlin Gregg through the snowstorm in the 10k (Photo Fasterskier)

 

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Ben striding it out in the 15k (Photo Fasterskier)

 

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Women’s podium- L to R SMS skier Katherine Ogden in 2nd, me (Liz) 1st, Kaitlynn 3rd

 

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Hitting all the podium spots!

Big thanks to Pepa and to our wax techs Nick and Jake for working super hard to make these races happen for us. The funny thing about race season is that by the time it hits, as skiers we’ve already done most of the hard work during summer and fall training. Our job is to figure out the best way to race fast every weekend, which usually means quite a bit of recovery, mixed with some distance and speed. However, the techs do so much during the week and weekends to give us fast boards, and they definitely nailed it last weekend!

The GRP is now in Silver Star, BC getting ready for the second weekend of SuperTours. Silver Star is a winter wonderland, with frosty trees, endless perfectly groomed trails, Christmas lights everywhere, and colorful houses. We’ll be racing a classic sprint and 10/15k freestyle this weekend. Stay tuned!