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Archive for October, 2017

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.