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Archive for February, 2011

Suns out, guns out, funs out

18.Feb.2011 by Patrick O'Brien

Over the last month, the skiing here at Craftsbury has gone from really good to incredible. We haven’t gotten any huge storms but we also haven’t had a big  thaw resulting  in considerable snow pack with all of the Center’s core and peripheral trails open and in great shape. Yesterday was one of the first few days that has been well above freezing but none of us were complaining in any way; I don’t think we could have asked for better spring skiing!

Perfect tracks right from our front door

Perfect tracks right from our front door

Dylan, Tim, and I started out for a long skate OD this morning with the goal of skiing all of the Center’s open trails. Temps started out around freezing with the sun starting to climb in the sky and not a cloud to be seen.  In a few hours we were starting to shed layers and the snow was really starting to transform and slow down.  By the end of the ski, it felt way more like a spring day skiing out west than mid February in Vermont! My highlight from the ski (aside from the incredible weather and perfect grooming) had to be racing down Elinor’s field right behind Tim and witnessing one of the more impressive Superman diggers I have seen in a while.  Too bad I didn’t have my camera out for it, but for those of you curious it looked somewhat like this, especially with our flow and shades…

Grand Tour- hour 1

Grand Tour- hour 1

GT- hour 2

GT- hour 2

Cranking out some turns down Elinors

Cranking out some turns down Elinor's towards the house

Although temps were warm and the snow really settled down, there should be enough to last us well into the spring. A great day of skiing up in Craftsbury!

Stockpiled snow in preperation for the 2011 Sprint Tour

Checking out stockpiled snow in preparation for the 2011 Sprint Tour

Beitostolen

18.Feb.2011 by Ida Sargent

After only a day in Oslo part of the US team headed 3.5 hours north following twisty roads along lakes and fjords to the little town of Beitostolen for a week of training and racing.

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Beitostolen is a small resort town with alpine trails and a World Cup Nordic venue.

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It was really nice to see the sun and the mountains after a few weeks in flat and grey Estonia, Finland, and Latvia.

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Here’s the view from our condo living room.

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The Norwegian National Team spends a lot of time training in Beitostolen and we had a chance to race against quite a few of them in some Norwegian Cup races.  The first day of racing was a skate sprint and I ended up 5th in the final despite having led for the first part of the heat.  It was really exciting to be racing in the same heats as Maikan Caspersen Falla, Ingvild Flugstad Oestburg, Astrid Jacobsen, and other Norwegians who routinely do well on the World Cup.  The rest of the weekend racing included a 5/10km classic and a 10/20km skate.  The Americans as a team had a great weekend of racing with 9 or 10 top ten finishes and almost that many top five finishes.  Our cargo van is now loaded with lots of Norwegian glassware which were the weekend’s prizes.

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When the races were finished we had more time to explore the other trails which traverse the higher plateaus surrounding town.  I love the double classic tracked trails that are everywhere in this country.

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The whole team is together now in Drammen gearing up for World Cup races this weekend.  I’m racing in a 10km classic tomorrow and then heading back to Oslo to get ready for World Champs action!

Gatineau NorAms

16.Feb.2011 by Tim Reynolds

Last weekend the GRP crew split between the Dartmouth Carnival in Hanover and Canadian NorAms in the Gatineau.  Matt, Chelsea, Pepa and I lit out for the territories early on Thursday morning to test skis and the race courses for a mini-tour stage race in the Gatineau Park, just north of Ottawa, Ontario.

With three  races on tap, it was a busy weekend with little downtime between racing and prepping skis for the next day.  We were greeted with cold temps and thin snow at the Nakkertok ski club, a funky little operation whose trails mainly wind up and over a single steep ridge, with tough climbs and fast descents.  On Friday, in the 3km skate prologue, the stomach-dropping downhills were almost enough to distract from the leg-burning acidosis that highlights this new and increasingly present race format.  It’s short enough to require precise pacing, but it’s long enough to really, really hurt.  Pepa’s unofficial splits had me finishing a bit higher than either of us expected, but after we found and corrected her mathematical error and confirmed the results on her new best friend and attractive single Canadian coach Eric’s iphone, I had snagged the last spot on the podium for a satisfying 3rd place.

With over 500 starters, Saturday’s skate sprint was an even longer day than usual.  All three of us moved on from the qualifier, to mixed excitement and disappointment from our expressive coach.  Three more pairs of skis to touch up and prep for the rounds is a lot for one tech, but a huge thanks to her for making some fast boards all weekend long and especially in the sprint race.  Matt and I were placed in the same quarter, but with an extremely tight course, most of the decisive moves were made in the start and finish lanes.  Matty wound up 4th and I moved on in 2nd, and again as 2nd in my semi to ultimately finish 3rd again in the A final.  All in all a solid start to the tour.

Sprint Podium: Cockney, Nishikawa, Reynolds

Sprint Podium: Cockney, Nishikawa, Reynolds

With two thirds, I started an unsurprising third in the final stage, the handicap pursuit.  Three days of consecutive racing is a lot; but it’s even more when the final day is a 30km.  With the top ten skiers going out in less than 45 seconds, it was going to be a tight race.  I planned to start easy and hang with the pack I  knew would form behind me.  Well the pack formed, but I didn’t hang.  Only a few kilometers after they skied me in, I got taken out on a long downhill.  While I regained contact after the fall, I’d burned a lot of energy doing it and was definitely feeling the previous two days in my legs.  I had to settle in for a solo 15km, going back and forth with one other guy to finish 10th overall and 10th on the day.  Chelsea had a good showing, moving up a few spots in the overall, while Matty sat out largely due to some nagging back issues he’s been battling the past couple of weeks.

I’ve got to say, I like stage racing.  The Canadians have overwhelmingly adopted the new race format, with 4 of their 5 NorAm weekends going off as mini-tours.  It definitely adds an exciting element of ‘overall’ standings and has breathed life into the otherwise deceased handicap start format in cross country.  I’m looking forward to our own iteration of the Tour format at Craftsbury in mid March! For now though, it’s back to the grind of long easy hours at the Outdoor Center, getting ready for a big month of racing ahead.

Volume week with the boys.  How many hours can you ski in a day?

Volume week with the boys. How many hours can you ski in a day?

Ruhpolding

15.Feb.2011 by Susan Dunklee
Our homebase in Ruhpolding

Our homebase in Ruhpolding

When I was a college ski racer, February felt crazy.  It was the culmination of 6 weeks of winter carnival racing season, in which we raced every Friday and Saturday and missed a day and a half of class every week.  Staying healthy, keeping caught up with school work and making time for ski training required super human time management skills.  Now, as a full time biathlete with nothing to worry about except training and racing, February is a piece of cake.   However, this year there weren’t any February biathlon races on the domestic schedule expect for the World Cups.

So what is a biathlete to do?  If you are Lauren, you make the pilgrimage up to Fort Kent and forerun the World Cup.  (Check out a neat article about the TV test race that she helped out with: http://fasterskier.com/2011/02/19-miles-of-cable-and-one-espresso-machine-how-biathlon-gets-on-television/)  If you are Hannah, you prepare to go kick some butt at the Birkie, America’s biggest ski race.   If you are a US Junior biathlete, you might decide to stay in Europe following Junior World Championships for a couple extra weeks to race in Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic.  Another option is to rent an RV or “Wohnwagen”   for 3 weeks and follow the German race circuit, which is what the Barnes twins and MWSC’s BethAnn Chamberlain decided on.  (Read about their adventures here: http://bambambiathlon.blogspot.com/).  Since I already had a plane ticket to Europe for U-26 Championships at the end of the month, I decided I’d fly over a week early and rendezvous with the Juniors and the Wohnwagen posse in Ruhpolding, Germany.  A weekend of German Cup racing sounded like a perfect tune-up before heading down to Ridnaun, Italy for U-26s.

Juniors Raleigh, Casey and Ethan enjoying a spring-like day from the top of a Bavarian cow pasture.

Juniors Raleigh, Casey and Ethan enjoying a spring-like day from the top of a Bavarian cow pasture.

My friends in the WohnWagen.  Notice the impromtu drying rack they created to deal with Ruhpolding's rainy weather.

My friends in the WohnWagen. Notice the impromtu drying rack they created to deal with Ruhpolding's damp weather.

Ruhpolding is a biathlon Mecca.  Every January, tens of thousands of spectators descend on this tiny town to watch the World Cup.  Biathlon paraphernalia lines the shelves of local shops.  Biathlon is Germany’s most popular winter sport and many of their top athletes live in this region.  As I was traveling in, I had no shortage of people volunteering to help carry my giant ski bag, rifle case, heavy backpack and overflowing tote bag when I changed trains in Traunstein.  They all wanted to know where I was coming from and they wished me good luck in Ruhpolding.

Four Ruhpolding World Championship hopefuls for 2012.  They've got the countdown timed to the second.

Ruhpolding is the site of the 2012 Biathlon World Championships. I'm hoping to be back next year...

With beautiful rugged mountain peaks on all sides, Ruhpolding is one of my favorite biathlon venues to visit.   However, last weekend I understood why the World Cup team nicknamed the town “Rainpolding.”  On the first day of the German Cup races, it down poured.  We went through several changes of clothes and still were drenched and cold.  Nonetheless, it was a successful day of racing.

Dave Gieck flew in from Wyoming to help USBA athletes with race support.  Thanks Dave!

Dave Gieck flew in from Wyoming to help USBA athletes with race support. Thanks Dave!

We competed in an unusual race format: a sprint race with extra relay rounds.  We were allowed to hand-load up to 3 extra bullets to try to knock down missed targets, so very few people had to ski penalty loops.  In addition to the Germans, we had a bunch of Brits, a Norwegian, and a Canadian in our race.  I had some of my better shooting of the season, requiring only one spare round, and I finished 2nd, one second behind my US teammate Lanny Barnes.

Race volunteers at equipment control staying dry inside.

Equipment control volunteers stay dry under cover.

The following day we competed in a mass start.  We rarely get to ski in mass starts at NorAm races at home, and never against an international field, so it was a valuable experience.  I got a little distracted during the first shooting stage when we approached the range in a big pack, and it caused me to miss 2 targets.  I spent the rest of the race playing catch up, but I was able to focus better in the range for the remaining stages.  Lanny had another good day and cleaned her fourth biathlon race in a row- that’s 60 consecutive hits during competition.

The American junior men were put into the senior men’s race for the mass start because they would have made the junior’s field too big.  Craftsbury’s Ethan Dreissigacker had some of the better shooting of the field during both days of racing.  He can be seen here winning the double pole sprint off the starting line in front of German Olympian Michael Rosch (#187).

The American junior men were put into the senior men’s race for the mass start because they would have made the junior’s field too big. Craftsbury’s Ethan Dreissigacker had some of the better shooting of the field during both days of racing. He can be seen here winning the double pole sprint off the starting line in front of German Olympian Michael Rosch (#187).

On Monday, we drove to the town of Schleching to drop off skis at Bauer Rennservice.  Muck Bauer gave us a tour of his ski grinding workshop and sports and shoe store.  Muck grinds all the US team’s skis.  Check out this giant poster of Tim Burke decorating his store.

On Monday, we drove to the town of Schleching to drop off skis at Bauer Rennservice. Muck Bauer gave us a tour of his ski grinding workshop and sports and shoe store. Muck grinds all the US team’s skis. Check out this giant poster of Tim Burke decorating his store.

Watching the Ft. Kent WCs on Eurosport was our favorite entertainment for the first few days.  Now that those races are finished, we’ve taken up puzzling.  Here Grace, Casey and Kelly are hard at work.

Watching the Ft. Kent WCs on Eurosport was our favorite entertainment for the first few days. Now that those races are finished, we’ve taken up puzzling. Here Grace, Casey and Kelly are hard at work.