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Winter Olympics Recap

7.Mar.2018 by Nathan Lado

We are proud to report that the Green Racing Project had six current or affiliated athletes who raced at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Susan Dunklee, Emily Dreissigacker, and Clare Egan competed in Biathlon. Caitlin Patterson, Ida Sargent, and Kaitlyn Miller represented Team USA in skiing.

 

As members of the GRP we were extremely excited to see our teammates compete in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. Seeing so many GRP skiers and biathletes competing during the games was rewarding on two levels, the personal as well as validating the approach the Green Racing Project takes towards athletic and personal development. As rowers, our training is usually separate from the skiers and biathletes, but we see how hard our ski and biathlon teammates work towards their goals and it is great to watch them succeed. The fact that so many current and former GRP athletes have been successful on the national and international stage reinforces the idea that development of the athlete and development of the person go hand in hand. Watching the GRP Olympians is a perfect reminder to build our athletic selves such that our focus and determination is built up by how we live within our community. This lesson is well timed as we are heading into our last training block before the start of spring racing.

 

With that in mind, below is a summary of the racing as well as backgrounds on each of the athletes who went.  

Susan Dunklee is a Barton, Vermont native who did much of her early skiing at the Craftsbury Outdoors Center. She attended Dartmouth College and graduated with a degree in Ecology in 2008. Although she has been skiing since she was two, she learned to shoot later in life at age  22 for a biathlon development program. Susan has competed in five World Championships between 2012 and 2017, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and recently at the 2018 Open European Championships. In the 2017 World Championships she placed 6th in the 15km individual race and 2nd in the mass start event.  This 2nd place in the mass start earned her a Olympic spot and made her the first American Woman to make the 2018 Olympic Team. In her first Olympic event, the 7.5k sprint Susan finished 66th with 5 misses. In the 15k individual she was the top U.S. finisher, placing 19th with two misses over four stages. Her final two events were relays. In the mixed relay Susan was the first leg of the US team. She used two spares in prone and shot clean standing. She finished her leg in 5th and the team finished in 15th. Susan scrambled in the 4x6k and finished her leg in 2nd, cleaning in prone and using one spare when standing. The team ended up in 13th.

Emily Dreissigacker is from Morrisville, Vermont and learned to ski at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. She raced as a skier during high school but decided to row for Dartmouth College, graduating with a degree in Economics in 2011. During her summers in college, she competed as a rower for Craftsbury’s U23 program and then as a member of the GRP. Due to an injury to a tendon in her hand , she decided to make the switch to biathlon. Emily has had a great 2017/2018 season, including placing 5th and shooting clean at the IBU-Cup in Arber, Germany which earned her a spot on the 2018 Olympic Team.  In the 7.5k sprint Emily finished 51st with one miss. This qualified her for the 10k pursuit two days later in which Emily finished 47th, shooting 80% over 4 stages. In the 15k individual Emily placed 67th with 4 misses. She also was the anchor leg of the 4x6k relay, crossing the line in 13th.

 

Clare Egan began her skiing career in her hometown of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. She started skiing in middle school and was a two-time member of the New England Junior National Team. She attended Wellesley College where she created the ski team and competed as both a skier and runner. After graduating in 2011 from a masters program in linguistics at the University of New Hampshire she joined the Green Racing Project. Clare finished twice in the top-10 in American Birkebeiner 50k and had eight top-6 finishes in the Supertour. After trying Biathlon in 2013, she made the switch and now mainly trains out of Lake Placid with the US Biathlon Team. Clare placed 35th in the Biathlon Spring at the 2017 World Championships. She has represented the US at three World Championships and has been competing for the United States on the 2017/18 World Cup Circuit. She earned her Olympic spot after good performances on the IBU circuit. In the 7.5k pursuit Clare was 61st with 3 misses, barely missing out on the pursuit. In her second race, the 15k individual, Clare placed 62nd with 4 misses.  In the 4x6k, Clare was the second leg, starting in second. She cleaned without using spares in both her prone and standing stages held onto fourth place.

 

Ida Sargent is from the town of Barton, Vermont and has been skiing at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center from an early age. Ida went to Dartmouth College and was captain of the Nordic Team, graduating in 2012. Even before she was done with college, Ida was a member of the Green Racing Project, training and competing in 2009 in preparation for the 2010 U23 World Championships. She joined the US Ski Team in 2011 and competed in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics as well as the 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017 World Championships. At the 2014 Olympic Games Ida placed 19th in the freestyle sprint and 32nd in the 10k classic individual. In the run up to the 2018 Olympics she placed 6th in the freestyle sprint at the world cup in Davos. Pre-Olympics she was ranked 17th in the World Cup sprint rankings, meeting the top 50 criteria for Olympic qualification laid out by the US Ski Team.  During the 2018 Olympics Ida was competing on a still healing, surgically repaired thumb from a January crash. She competed in the classic sprint and placed 33rd in the sprint qualifier, narrowly missing the top 30 cutoff.

 

Kaitlynn Miller is from Elmore, Vermont and grew up spending time in the woods around Elmore as well as skiing for the Craftsbury Nordic Center. Kaitlynn went to Bowdoin College where she skied and studied Biology and Environmental Studies. After graduating in 2014, Kaitlynn joined the Green Racing Project and has raced internationally including at the World Cup Finals in 2017. In the 2017/18 season, Kaitlynn placed 2nd in the classic sprint, 2nd in the freestyle sprint, and 3rd the 20k classic at U.S. National Cross Country Ski Championships and first in the 1.4km sprint at the Super Tour in Craftsbury.  She earned her spot on the Olympic team by the 3rd place finish in the 20k.

 

Caitlin Patterson grew up in Idaho where she was introduced to skiing. She spent high school in Anchorage where she started racing more competitively. She attended the University of  Vermont at which she skied and studied Civil Engineering, graduating in 2012. She joined the Green Racing Project shortly thereafter and has enjoyed success, winning events at the U.S. Senior National Championships and the overall during the 2016 Supertour. Caitlin has had a great start to the 2017/18 season, sweeping all four races offered at the U.S. National Cross Country Ski Championships, the Women’s Classic Sprint, and the 20k classic mass start, 10k freestyle, and freestyle sprint.  This great performance earned her a Olympic spot. Caitlin’s first Olympic race was the skiathlon which is 7.5k of classic skiing followed by a transition and 7.5k of freestyle skiing. She finished the classic portion in 36th and improved on that in the freestyle to 34th. Her second race was the 30k mass start in which Caitlin finished 26th.

 

Der Dachstein 3.0

9.Oct.2016 by Kaitlynn Miller

After a productive speed camp in Slovenia, we headed to Austria for a distance block. This was our third year in a row skiing on the Dachstein glacier and I think it’s safe to say the third time was a charm. We had an incredible streak of weather with eight straight days of sun, making t-shirts a necessity even on the glacier. After skiing around in a dark concrete tunnel for a week, we had to be sure to layer on the sunscreen… While the snow did get dirtier as the week progressed, we were able to ski every day on race skis as long as we avoided some of the sketchier corners. With our primary focus being distance, we logged 2-3 hours each morning on the glacier followed by a strength session or another distance workout in the afternoon. We went on some scenic run/hikes in the mountains and utilized the hilly rollerski track, which also had a biathlon range. For strength, we got super creative in our rental house backyard… We had been doing max strength in Slovenia, but in Austria we switched to endurance strength so luckily we didn’t need massive weights.

Walking down to the glacier (photo: Caitlin)

Walking down to the ski trail from the tramhouse (photo: Caitlin Patterson)

Ants or skiers?! Also, note the helicopter above the mountain (photo: Caitlin)

Ants or skiers? Also, can you spot the helicopter? (photo: Caitlin)

Nick did an incredible job keeping our skis well waxed and cared for (photo: Caitlin)

Nick did an incredible job keeping our skis well waxed and cared for (photo: Caitlin)

Some technique coaching, some waxing, and Charlotte Kalla skating along in the background (photo: Caitlin)

Some technique coaching, some waxing, and Charlotte Kalla skating along in the background (photo: Caitlin)

Skating along in a vast expanse of snowy whiteness (photo: Caitlin)

Skiing in a vast expanse of snowy whiteness (photo: Caitlin)

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Nick and Ethan skating up one of the climbs (photo: Caitlin)

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Women’s train going left, men’s train going right (photo: Caitlin)

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We’re almost in sync! (photo: Caitlin)

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Cornering (photo: Caitlin)

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Heather enjoying some crust cruising (photo: Caitlin)

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Mike striding it out (photo: Caitlin)

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Looking down onto the section of glacier we skied on last year (photo: Kait Miller)

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Selfie from the tram roof on our way down! Don’t worry, there was a railing so we weren’t at risk of falling overboard… Note the tramhouse perched on top of the mountain in the upper right.

One of our favorite camp traditions is double poling up the “Pichl Road” which is a 1,500ft climb over 4.5 miles from Pichl to Ramsau. It’s a bit of a grind, but super good for specific strength and a satisfying workout to complete. This year we all double poled it once and then some brave souls did it a second time while the rest of us skated.

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Skating up the Pichl Road with some nice cows in the background (photo: Pepa Miloucheva)

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Looking up towards the Dachstein from the Pichl Road (photo: Pepa)

Another workout that’s quickly becoming a camp favorite is our 2x6x1 minute bounding intervals. With so many distance sessions, these intervals ensure we maintain some of our top end speed and remind us what lactic acid feels like. This year we were fortunate enough to be living on a downhill ski trail so we had a lovely, steep, grassy slope for our intervals right out the back door!

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Getting a little weird in “flood city” between our two sets of 6x1min lactic-acid inducing bounding intervals (photo: Pepa)

Home sweet home in Austria (photo: Caitlin)

Home sweet home on the ski slope (photo: Caitlin)

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This house, like many others in the area, was dripping with flowers (photo: Kait)

For one of our over distance workouts this year we took the tram up to the glacier, skied for about an hour and a half, and then ran back down to the valley. Like every other day of the camp, the weather was amazing! The trail below the glacier passes through the glacier foreland and it looked like the moon!

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Running down behind the glacier (photo: Kait)

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A chairlift over the moonscape (photo: Kait)

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Team photo in our snazzy new Craft tights! Also, thanks to Skida for the awesome custom headbands! (photo: Caitlin)

After one final run/hike through the mountains we headed back to Craftsbury just in time for peak foliage! We’ll be home for a few weeks before the biathletes and skiers head separate ways for camps in Lake Placid and Park City respectively. For now I’ll leave you with a video recap of the training camp curtesy of master videographer, Pepa. And last, but not least, thanks to Nick, Sam, and Pepa for all the coaching, waxing, and support during the camp (and always)!

 

 

 

 

Slovenia, below ground and above

21.Sep.2016 by Caitlin Patterson

What takes a skier to Slovenia in September, you might wonder? Surely there are other places closer to a home base in Vermont where it would be possible to dryland train on rollerskis or on foot. And Slovenia isn’t known for any of the skiing glaciers like can be found in Italy, Austria, and Alaska. What Slovenia does have, new this year, is an indoor, underground skiing tunnel.

Make sure to check out the previous post on this blog, which went up earlier today, on the GRP biathletes’ experience at Slovenian biathlon national championships. For this post, I’ll focus on the tunnel experience and a few other mountain adventures in Slovenia that the skiers were lucky enough to get to do.

When our coach Pepa found out early summer about Slovenia’s new tunnel, which is located at the Olympic Sports Complex in Planica, she started considering options that would tie the tunnel into our fall trip to Europe. The last two years the GRP skiers have trained for several weeks in Ramsau, Austria, making use of the Dachstein glacier for on-snow sessions. Last year the snow melted out quickly on the Dachstein, so while we did get some good quality sessions on our skis, we finished the camp feeling a little bit short-changed in the skiing department. The guaranteed snow of an indoor tunnel seemed enticing, to make sure we could log quality workouts on skis, especially since Planica is only about a 2.5 hour drive from Ramsau. Thus in 2016, here on September 21st, we’re midway through a camp that combines a speed-and-technique block in the tunnel in Planica with a distance-and-high-altitude block in Ramsau at the Dachstein glacier.

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The Olympic Sports Center in Planica, Slovenia. Our accommodations were simple hotel-style rooms in the building at lower left, and our playground was the mountains beyond, plus the ski tunnel a 3 minute walk from our rooms.

For most, if not all, of the team, this was our first experience with a ski tunnel. It’s a very… interesting… environment, at least this Planica tunnel, which doubles as a parking garage during certain times of the year. The walls are drab grey concrete, and there are concrete columns which the trail winds around… but there are also unusual features to examine, like traffic mirrors and signs in Slovenian, ice-flooded stairways, ice stalagmites growing up from the ground and rime crystals on piping. We skied a single loop in between 80 seconds and 2 minutes, depending on the intensity, which can get a bit repetitious… but it also means that we have many opportunities to work on certain terrain features or transitions, and many opportunities for Pepa, Sam, or Nick to video us for later technique review.  The air wasn’t the freshest, and there was no music playing… but the snow is consistent and predictable, always use-able and often pretty fast, and people could bring in their own headphones with podcasts or music. So the tunnel definitely had its pros and cons, but overall the experience was quite valuable and we put in a quality one-week long speed camp. Below are some photos from our below-ground Slovenian experience.

Tunnel stalagmites, from a low perspective that makes them look extra tall.

Tunnel stalagmites, from a low perspective that makes them look extra tall. We got a few ceiling drips on our heads too, but not all that many. It seemed to be drippier in the tunnel on the days when it was raining outside.

Alex and Heather cruise towards a corner

Alex and Heather cruise towards a corner

Emily on the one uphill of the loop

Emily starting the uphill

Heather in the transition zone, switching from boots back to running shoes for the walk to our lodging.

Heather in the transition zone, switching from boots back to running shoes for a post-ski jog and then the walk to our lodging.

Kait, Caitlin, Ben, Liz focus before a sprint start (Photo by Sam D)

Kait, Caitlin, Ben, Liz focus before a sprint start (Photo by Sam D)

Heather and Ben sprint while wax tech Nick looks on (Photo by Sam D)

Heather and Ben sprint while wax tech Nick looks on (Photo by Sam D)

Liz and Caitlin sprinting on a straightaway (Photo by Sam D)

Liz and Caitlin sprinting on a straightaway (Photo by Sam D)

And then there were the above-ground sessions! Apart from our tunnel skis, fortunately we were able to get out into the mountains for several hikes and runs. Planica is in the Julian Alps, and the mountains are impressive, with steep cliff faces but also trails that bring hikers around to climb-able sides of many of the peaks. Because the skiers and biathletes within our group were on slightly different plans, with the biathletes racing in Slovenian biathlon national rollerski races on Saturday and Sunday (see previous blog post), different groups of us went on a variety of adventures. The trails and peaks that we saw just whetted our appetite for more, and I know I certainly hope to return to Slovenia and this area in particular for future excursions and training! The following photos are from a few of our hikes. (Unless otherwise noted, I took the photos in this post.)

Hiking crew above the Vrsic pass, left to right Caitlin, Nick, Heather, Kait, Ben, Liz

Hiking crew above the Vrsic pass, left to right Caitlin, Nick, Heather, Kait, Ben, Liz

Climbing above the Vrsic pass into the peaks of the Julian Alps

Climbing above the Vrsic pass into the peaks of the Julian Alps

Another view of a deep valley

Another view of a deep valley, Nick and Heather ascending the trail

Fossils!

Fossils!

Peaking carefully over the edge to see the sheer cliff on the other side

Peaking carefully over the edge to see the sheer cliff on the other side

We took brief break from our training routine with a sight-seeing and shopping walk around Bled, Slovenia, which is known for this much-photographed lake and castle

We took brief break from our training routine with a sight-seeing and shopping walk around Bled, Slovenia, which is known for this much-photographed lake and castle

Looking down on the jump complex at Planica from Ciprnik peak

Looking down on the jump complex at Planica from Ciprnik peak

Crazy black salamander or newt from one of our hike/runs. On that particular run we saw dozens of these little guys on a certain section of trail.

Crazy black salamander or newt from one of our hike/runs. On that particular run we saw dozens of these little guys on a section of trail.

Ben celebrates bagging a peak (Slemenova spica, over 6000ft).

Ben celebrates bagging a peak on one of our first afternoon runs (Slemenova spica, over 6000ft – a good climb from Planica at 3000ft).

Coaches and skiers (missing biathletes), from left: Pepa, Heather, Ben, Kait, Caitlin, Liz, Nic

Coaches and skiers (missing biathletes), from left: Pepa, Heather, Ben, Kait, Caitlin, Liz, Nick. Thanks Craft Sportswear for the awesome new custom-designed suits.

This morning was our first skiing session on the Dachstein glacier above Ramsau, Austria, and we were greeted by sunny skies and fast snow. For now follow our Instagram account @greenracingproject, or Craftsbury Green Racing Project on Facebook, for (nearly) daily updates from the glacier – we’ll be sure to get a glacier summary post with photos up here on the blog too by the end of the camp!

Confessions of a Beginner Biathlete

12.Jan.2016 by Emily Dreissigacker

As you may or may not know, I was named to the US team for IBU cups 4, 5, and 6. We spent this past week in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic for IBU cup 4 before making the long trek to Ridnaun, Italy where IBU cup 5 will kick off on Thursday (For those of you who don’t know, IBU cups are kind of like the minor league of biathlon. A step down from World Cups). This being my first international biathlon experience, as well as my first full season doing biathlon, it has really been a learning experience. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned so far.

The stadium in Nove Mesto.

The stadium in Nove Mesto.

Carrying a lot of skis at once isn’t just a skill, it’s an art form (and something I am terrible at). The first day of ski testing I made two trips to carry my skis. Then Han taught me “the fan”. I finally got it down with two pairs and was feeling pretty good about myself until I saw a wax tech carrying a fan that had at least five pairs of skis! Impressive!

 

If you wear your athlete bib over you warm up vest you look like a newb. On official training days you have to have your bib showing to shoot. The first day I made the mistake of putting it over my vest. Don’t worry, I was quickly informed by Coach Jean that this made me look like a newb and was able to correct my mistake.

 

If the wind flags are doing different things, look at the one closest to the targets. In our first race there was a pretty good wind during zero. When I came in to shoot prone during the race, the far wind flag was calm while the close wind flag was still blowing. I didn’t take clicks and all my shots were low and to the right. I missed two so it could have been worse but still, lesson learned.

 

Wearing your drink belt in front isn’t dorky, it’s just practical. When you have a rifle on your back it really just makes so much sense to wear your drink belt in front. Plus, everyone’s doing it so you actually look kinda weird NOT doing it.

 

There are a lot of biathlon fans in Europe. The stands at the stadium in Nove Mesto looked like a football stadium. They weren’t quite full for our races but there was a lot of cheering going on. The Hungarian fan club was there and they love the Americans. They would start chanting my name when they saw me. I’m not gonna lie, it made me feel pretty cool.

 

The fancy hairstyles you see watching the women’s World Cups aren’t just for looks. Turns out it’s pretty tricky to find a way to wear long hair so that it won’t get caught in your harness and will also keep your headband or hat from sliding off the top of your head. I’m still working on this one.

 

Orange and Purple aren’t just for Clemson. Adidas took some artistic liberty with “red, white and blue” so this year’s US suits and gear are all purple and orange. I still think orange is my worst color but I do like the purple! And now I have lots of good hunting season clothes.

 

Czech food is everything you’d expect it to be. And by that I mean chicken, potatoes, more chicken, and more potatoes. But if you go to the grocery store you can buy just about one of everything for less than 10$ US.

 

Italian food is everything you’d expect it to be. And more. We went to dinner after our 10 hour drive from Czech. The waiter comes out and says, “For our first course we have homemade ravioli with bacon. Is this ok?” Yep I think that will be ok.

Looking down towards the stadium in Ridnaun.

Looking down towards the stadium in Ridnaun.