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Archive for January, 2011

Big Air with BKL

24.Jan.2011 by Hannah Dreissigacker

The last few weeks here in Craftsbury have been wintery and awesome. We got lots of snow, and pretty much every day has been filled with perfect wintery activities, like going for really long skis on grand tour, skiing to lunch, skiing to dinner, skiing in blizzards, skiing in the moonlight, skiing in the sun, and skiing with the Bill Koch League kids.  Last Wednesday, after we’d just gotten a solid dump of snow, Chelsea brought the BKL group over to the hill right in front of our house for jump-making.  Generally when we coach the BKL kids, its obvious that though they will listen to us and do the prescribed workouts if they have to, most of these kids really just want to build a big jump and launch themselves off of it.  The conditions were perfect for it, and Chelsea finally gave in.  I think she’ll probably be their favorite coach after that!

Anyways, None of us could stay inside and watch that sort of fun from through the window, so several more us of joined in.  I was the official video/photographer.  I had a few issues with my camera–the viewing screen is broken so I couldn’t tell when I was starting a video clip or ending one, but I managed to get a few good clips of the kids catching some big air.  And boy did they launch themselves off that jump, and face plant after! One of my favorite techniques was the “go off the jump with your bindings undone so that your skis fly off in mid air” technique. I spent maybe a little too much time figuring out how to use iMovie to make it all into a video. So check it out:  Click here to see it on YouTube!

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in air

Belated Race Report from Europe

23.Jan.2011 by Susan Dunklee

In early January I traveled to Europe to compete in some IBU Cup competitions.  The first weekend was in Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic.  The countryside around Nove Mesto has rolling hills with patches of forests and lots of fields.  Imagine the Creek Road between East Albany and Craftsbury, but add high rise apartments and a few smoke stacks to the villages.  Cross country ski trails crisscross the landscape and connect villages together, much like the VAST snowmobile trails back home.  A couple other CNSC skiers, Ethan and Tara, are currently getting to know Nove Mesto as they prepare for next weekend’s World Juniors for biathlon.  Follow their results here.

Hotel Romantika, our home when we were in Nove Mesto.  All the neighborhood trees were covered in a coat of frost.  From what I hear, it doesn't look nearly as wintry now.

Hotel Romantika, our home when we were in Nove Mesto. All the neighborhood trees were covered in a coat of frost. From what I hear, it doesn't look nearly as wintry now- there is barely enough snow for the juniors to race on.

I struggled a little with my races in Nove Mesto – my skiing wasn’t sharp and I missed a lot of targets.  I was excited to get another chance to race the IBU Cups the following week in Altenberg, Germany.

The Waldhotel we stayed in Altenberg has a beautiful sauna and a very nice restaurant.  They served us goose and rabbit.

The Waldhotel we stayed in for the Altenberg races has a beautiful sauna and a very nice restaurant. They served us goose and rabbit, among other things.

Altenberg also has a network of ski trails connecting all the area villages and we got to venture away from the race trails for some classic ski excursions.  We also explored town.  In addition to the wood carving shops which I have blogged about previously, I also found a shop dedicated  to model trains.  It had shelves of trains, tracks, houses, landscape accessories, and miniature people.  One could buy little street lights, fir trees, pumpkin fields, cemetery gravestones, construction workers, and just about anything else you can imagine.

After several days of exploring the area, it was time to race.

Walking to the range in characteristic Altenberg fog.  On race days, it rained all morning...

Walking to the range in characteristic Altenberg fog. On race days, it rained all morning...

...there was even a stream of melted snow running through the range...

...there was even a stream of melted snow running through the range...

...but the sun came out in the afternoon when the girls raced.  Photo credit: Viktoria Franke

...but the sun came out in the afternoon when the girls raced. Photo credit: Viktoria Franke

At the start of the sprint race, I didn’t have particularly high expectations for myself.  My zero groups were the biggest they’ve been all year and I almost missed my start because I forgot about ski marking and had to do a last minute sprint over to equipment control.  When I left the start gate, I  immediately fell in behind a German girl who was coming through the lap lane.  Knowing that the Germans tend to be very fast skiers, I tried to stay behind her up the first km of climbing and calm myself down.  Sometimes when  I race, I feel frantic and I waste a lot of energy.  Skiing behind somebody who is fast can help me ski fast because I can be more efficient and relaxed.  I cleaned my prone shooting and I knew I was having a good race during the second lap when I got a split saying I was in 5th place.  The only big hurdle left was standing shooting.  I entered the range and prepared to shoot, but then I heard my name over the loudspeaker; it stood out from an otherwise incomprehensible garble of German.  Needless to say, it was very distracting; I’m not accustomed to being in the spotlight at such a big race. I’m glad we’d practiced those sorts of scenarios at training camps over the summer.  I managed to hit four out of five of the targets and held on to a top ten finish.  It was a very exciting day.

Brighter Planet.

19.Jan.2011 by Tim Reynolds

bpgrp

Finding ways to make a professional ski team ‘green’ is a tough job. On one hand we’ve made a commitment to developing young skiers into international competitors. On the other, we’ve also made environmental initiatives and awareness an equally important goal. It’s a difficult position to be in- the Green Racing Project isn’t going to sacrifice racing opportunities just because it may take some jet fuel to get to the start line, but we are also constantly working on ways to counter those rather inflexible decisions. We’ve put ourselves under a public microscope, at least within the skiing community, and the things we do really do draw attention, both in negative and positive ways. Unfortunately for us, the majority of our ‘green’ initiatives, namely projects we’ve worked on at Craftsbury, aren’t seen on race days away from home.

What the green problem really comes down to for us as skiers though, is transportation. There is no way around it. We can’t avoid traveling, though we’ve done what we can to be efficient; the whole team fits in our diesel Sprinter that gets significantly better mileage than our old ski van. Flying is the stickler, and every season there are important races on the west coast and in Europe.

One rather controversial way to minimize the impact of air travel is carbon offsets. We’ve recently joined this controversy in a big way through an agreement with Brighter Planet to offset all of the team’s travel to races for the 2010-11 season- some 110,000 pounds of carbon we are responsible for over the winter. This one is going to give the folks looking through the microscope something to talk about.

It wasn’t an easy decision for the team to make. There has been lots of print about fraudulent offset companies taking money from costumers and putting it directly into their pockets; no trees were planted, no windmills were built. There’s the papal indulgence argument, that carbon offsets are the modern equivalent of what set Martin Luther off a half-millenium ago, a payment for absolution rather than changed behavior. And there’s the criticism of forepayment; the fact that helping build a future windmill isn’t actually offsetting your carbon footprint today. Treeplanting isn’t as effective as they claim. Indigenous land rights are being violated. There’s no regulation in this voluntary market of $700 million per year.

There’s certainly plenty of nay-saying when it comes to carbon offsets. But Brighter Planet seems to stand on firmer ground than the shaky depictions by the media. We know where our offsets are going- directly to financing a wind turbine at the Hanson Farm in Minnesota. While this turbine might not be directly offsetting our travel by this winter, what’s more important is that our investment is leading to additional clean energy production that otherwise would not have been built. Brighter Planet also has complete transparency with their offset projects; the selection process includes a public comment period for those under consideration and annual audits of sales and retirements.

The company started in Vermont with a credit card offering carbon offset points for purchases made instead of frequent flier miles or cash rewards. It seems a just substitution. They also donate a percentage of their profits to the Project Fund, an online community where Brighter Planet members vote on projects proposed by Brighter Planet members. The winning proposals receive a grant to implement their project in their home communities. Craftsbury is looking forward to putting some of our own projects up to the Project Fund and looking into to using their card for team expenses.

While I can’t say that we’ve changed our behavior when it comes to transportation, we have invested in shifting towards a clean energy future. It doesn’t feel like absolution to me- it feels like we’re doing what we can as a relatively inconsequential group of cross country skiers in northern Vermont. We don’t really have many other options. Maybe supporting renewable energy projects now can lead to a better solution to the clean transportation dilemma.

If guilty consciences are voluntarily putting up $700 million per year, imagine what a guilty government might be able to do with their investments. We can only hope that serious investment in renewable energy at a global scale may follow. For those looking through the microscope- carbon offsets aren’t a solution, but they certainly help.

Republished from Vermont Sports January 2011.


Sunset

7.Jan.2011 by Lauren Jacobs

As I mentioned in my earlier post from Roxbury, we’ve been hoping for a good sunset. Tonight, on our last night at Nationals, we got lucky. Here are the results of my very amateur attempts at photographing the beautiful colors. After a good ski this morning that included many laps of the sprint course, I’m feeling really excited about tomorrow’s race!

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