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Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

A Guest Perspective

15.Oct.2017 by John Graves

Hi everyone, this is Felice Mueller! This morning as John and I hopped in the car to go to practice I said to him, “I feel like we were camping last night, even though we slept in a bed in a really nice house.” Craftsbury has found a way to simultaneously be luxurious, wild, and simple. As we drove in Tuesday night you could look out the window and only see darkness, just barely making out the dark ridge of the mountains and the blinking lights from the windmills. When we got out of the car I was met with the most spectacular display of stars I’ve seen in over a year (since camping in the bottom of the Grand Canyon), and it was only 9pm. But then we stay in this gorgeous farm house, and in the morning drive into the center, where this thriving community exists. We grabbed some coffee with fresh milk, some homemade sourdough toast and jam, and made our way to the brand new fully-equipped gym where we could warm up for our practice. There’s no cell phone service up here, but there’s a physiologist who is operating on the cutting edge of sports science. No gourmet restaurants, but a gourmet dining hall. Simple, but luxurious. Craftsbury is made up of honest, hard work, good food, a Zen-like focus, and a great appreciation for the natural world. I’ve been here a few times and each time I come back, I’m renewed with a sense of awe that this dreamland exists.

It was only my second-time rowing on Hosmer Pond (or is it a lake?) as I set out to launch this Wednesday morning, and I was warned that the conditions I was about to endure were “choppy” for Hosmer. It was windy, but by no means un-rowable. I was even able to work on some technical aspects of the stroke I’ve been thinking about. Despite the “rough” conditions, I was eager to get out on the water this morning, not because I wanted to practice but because I wanted to get warm! Spending the early part of the fall in Florida makes the transition to 40 and 50 degree weather a bit of a shock for the body. It took me 20’ of continuous rowing for my hands to regain control and feeling. I completed three laps of steady state, with a little bit of pressure mixed in, which totaled 17.5k. Maybe it’s because I’m on a new body of water, but the kilometers on Hosmer seem to fly by. I can appreciate the colors of the trees against the sky, the reflection of the water, and the occasional loon call to break up the monotony of a long, continuous row.

After the row John and I grabbed some chocolate milk from the dining hall before going to shower at the center. Once warm and dry, we went to relax in the new ski lodge while we waited for lunch to open. Laying on a bench, I felt grateful a place like this exists. It’s hard to train for the Olympics. It’s hard because it’s physically very hard, but it’s also hard to do financially, and it’s hard to defend the decision to put careers and other interests on the back burner as you go for this one incredible goal. It’s hard to find the support staff you need, and hard to find funding to go compete. Training to compete at the Olympics is a hard, weird thing for people to do for so many reasons, but Craftsbury (The GRP) is making it happen. And it’s not just meeting the basic needs of athletes, it’s providing athletes with the support, equipment and nutrition they need to be their best! It’s really quite extraordinary, and I’m so lucky to be able to experience it for a few days.

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

 

 

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.