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Green Racing Project Blog

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.

Ski Camps at Foret Montmorency

14.Nov.2017 by Caitlin Patterson

The whole 2017 Foret team!
Front L-R: Kait, Mike, Ben, Ida, Hallie
Back L-R: Caitlin, Adam, Liz, Nick, Pepa

Most of the GRP skiers and biathletes spent Monday Oct 30 – Thursday Nov 2, and Monday Nov 6 – Thursday Nov 10 at Foret Montmorency. The Foret Montmorency is a skiing/research/vacation facility operated by the University of Laval, and it is located about 1 hour north of Quebec City in Eastern Canada.

Fortunately for us, based in Craftsbury in northeastern Vermont, it’s only about a 4-4.5 hour drive to the Foret. This made it possible to go up north two consecutive weeks, returning to VT for a few days of the weekend and the NENSA Elite Rollerski race at Trapps on Saturday Nov. 4th.

During both 4-day camps, we put a big emphasis on technique and making sure to ski with good body position. Pepa was out on the trailside for every session, capturing video with her iPad for us to review after the ski. This constant feedback loop of ski-video review-ski can be extremely useful for making changes, but it also requires you to stay mentally engaged the whole time for the most benefit.

Camp week 1 included several distance sessions, skate jump skate speeds, classic start practice, 3 minute classic/DP intervals, and a skate time trial.  Camp week 2 included more distance sessions of both classic and skate, 90 second classic intervals, and 3-4 minute hard skate intervals.

Enjoy the photos below. For more media – photos and videos from the camp – look at our Instagram or Facebook pages.

Ida leaves for Europe on Nov. 15th, the domestic biathletes leave for Canmore on Nov. 20th, and the domestic skiers leave for West Yellowstone on Nov. 21st. The winter of racing is right around the corner!

Thin snow, but it still glides! There were considerable numbers of woodchips, sawdust, a few rocks, but at least the majority of the surface appears white.

Ben and Hallie

Ben and Hallie heading out along the white ribbon. This was during camp week 1, and the narrow spot ahead of them is the part that melted out and was no longer skiable in week 2

Mike out for a classic cruise

Ida and Kait deciding, right or left?

It was great to have Ida up at the Foret camps with the rest of us domestic GRP racers, before she heads to Europe on Nov 15th. Photo: Pepa

Liz and Kait during a skate distance session

Adam Martin wins the men’s race at the NENSA Elite Rollerski Invitational. Photo: Gary Solow

Ida Sargent wins the NENSA Elite race for women. Photo: Dave Priganc

Back to the Foret: Adam Martin, the masquerading Swede

Liz and Kait pass the main lodge along the snow loop. Photo: Pepa

Pepa skis along with the iPad, reading to video and offer technique advice at any moment

Ida, Liz, Kait. Photo: Pepa

Dance for the Foret!

Photos by myself, Caitlin, unless otherwise noted. Thanks for reading!

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.