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Archive for November, 2012

Go USA!!

27.Nov.2012 by Ida Sargent

What a weekend and what a start for USA XC on the World Cup!  It’s inspiring to be a member of this team as records are set and the the bar is raised.  This past weekend was the opening World Cup in Gallivare, Sweden and was a very historic weekend for our team.  Saturday was a 10 and 15km skate and Kikkan scored the first US World Cup distance podium since 1983 with a 3rd place finish.  Then on Sunday the US ladies reached the podium for the first time ever in a 4x5km relay!  It was a weekend of tears. laughs, and cheers for us all!  I personally raced in the 10km skate and while my 53rd place finish doesn’t look great on paper, it was my best ever distance points in a World Cup race which means that my percent back from the winner was less than ever before, which was surprising as distance skate races are the biggest struggle for me.  I’ve never found efficiency or flow in skating over longer distances the same way I can in classic skiing but I’m not giving up yet.  I’m focusing on making small improvements so it’s encouraging to be closing in on Marit Bjoergen and other World Cup giants.

US ladies on the podium! WOW! It was amazing skiing!

The relay socks prevail again! We started racing in these in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic last year and they still have their charm. With the socks, face paint, and glitter, it’s obvious there is a lot of spirit on the team!

I had fun cheering them on while wearing pink sequin suspenders. Here is Liz chasing down team Norway.

Northern Sweden sunset at 1:30pm.

We stayed in cabins which were part of this hotel and were close to the top of the alpine mountain and a 15 minute uphill run from the race courses.

Gallivare is the home of Swedish Nordic superstar Marcus Heller so the stadium is named after him and he put on a good show this weekend collecting two silver medals.

It’s exciting to be back on the World Cup, to see all the other countries, and experience all the fanfare that accompanies the big show. Lots of ski testing goes on in the days leading up to the races and here is part of the ski depot.

We did prerace workouts together as a team and rocked the black and pink, our colors for this season.

We did prerace workouts together as a team and rocked the black and pink, our colors for this season.

Here’s a shot of the race course as the trail leaves the stadium and heads out on the technical and hard course.

A clear day in Gallivare!

A clear day in Gallivare!

Yesterday we had a long drive to Kuusamo, Finland and are racing at the Ruka ski resort this weekend.  I’m looking forward to getting back at it in a three day mini tour!

Thanksgiving in Sweden

22.Nov.2012 by Susan Dunklee

One reality of being a ski racer is that you are almost never home for Thanksgiving. You have either already begun the racing season or you are chasing after snow in far off places. This year, like last year, I am spending my Thanksgiving holiday in Östersund, Sweden.

To Americans, Thanksgiving is one of the most important holidays of the year. It is a time to spend with family and dear friends, eat lots of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, and reflect on everything you have to be thankful for. I also like it because it is one of the least commercialized holidays in America.

I am thankful for my supportive family back home. They all raced in the Turkey Trot 5 km run in my hometown of Barton this morning; it is a family tradition. Then my parents, my brothers, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, family friends and sometimes cousins get together for a giant dinner. When I am on the road I try to call them on Thanksgiving around dinner time and they pass the phone around the table to I can say hi to everybody.

I am also thankful for my other family- my teammates, coaches, and our staff. I got to celebrate with some of them this year. The wonderful staff at Camp Södergren where we are staying heard about the holiday and cooked us a Thanksgiving feast.

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There was turkey, squash, brussel sprouts, green beans, and lingonberry sauce (Sweden’s version of cranberry sauce)

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There wasn’t pumpkin pie but there was apple crisp and carrot cake for dessert

I don’t think the other teams staying here (the Japanese and the French) quite understood our excitement about dinner tonight.

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Sara and I bought some wine to celebrate…

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…And share with our team

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Happy Thanksgiving!

GRP Limelight: Lynn Jennings

20.Nov.2012 by Steve Whelpley

GRP Limelights occur monthly and showcase members and/or people closely associated with the GRP Rowing & Skiing Teams.

Lynn Jennings was one of the first people I met at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. Little did I know that the woman, who came out from the faded Duck Blind to find her dog, Towhee, staring at my dog, Tanka, was a current American record holder, a former world record holder, a medalist at the Olympics, and soon to be a course record holder at the Head of the Charles. All I knew then was she had an impeccably trained dog, a personable air about her, and a contagious smile.

In addition to her work on campus as the Running Camps Director, Lynn spent every day of the fall training with us and consequently became an honorary member of the Green Racing Project Rowing Team. She listened to every one of Coach Roock’s pre-row talks with the same sense of determination and dedication as every other rower in the group. She rowed with the focus of a first year walk on in college, striving to make the varsity. You never would have guessed that rowing was Lynn Jennings’ second sport.

So why do these two anecdotes matter? For starters, you can see Lynn’s athletic versatility and how the components of being a champion in one sport can lend itself to another. Lynn Jennings is already a champion in the running world. She won gold at the World Cross Country Championships in ’90, ’91, and ’92 (only two other women in the world have ever done this). She took bronze in the 10,000m race at the ’92 Olympics. In 1990, she set the world record in the 5000m indoor run. However, as of October 20th of this year, Lynn Jennings is also a rowing champion, winning the Women’s Grand-Master Single and setting a course record in the process. Granted, Lynn has rowed for about six years now with some regularity. Nonetheless, she beat out knowledgeable locals and Olympians in the sport to win in an athletic second language. When you meet such a person, one wants to take note of what makes him or her a champion.

Secondly, it’s relevant because of how she approaches her life. I may be sentimental or romantic, but I have high standards for the people that I revere. There are plenty of sports’ heroes in the history of the world, but there are few that do it without compromising integrity. This may sound heavy-handed, but in this day and age, many of our sports figures fall short of even relatively loose moral guidelines as they produce headlines about drug abuse, doping violations, infidelities, and misdemeanors. For me personally, Lynn epitomizes the ideal champion. She is highly competitive and extremely dedicated. She pours everything she has into each practice, making her a great student of whatever sport she does.

The amazing thing is that, while having these critical qualities, she still manages to maintain an upbeat and optimistic attitude. Granted, different people have different motivations. Some flourish with positivity, while others get their kicks from negative spurs. What’s remarkable about Lynn Jennings is that despite the perpetual, competitive fire that burns within her, she is not only a good sport immediately following any competition or practice, she is a downright peach. While I personally appreciate the challenge of countering an overly competitive lifestyle with a certain amount of levity, I am humbled by the grace with which Lynn balances her ambitions with her kindness of heart. In my opinion, her unique combination of being both a champion and an admirable, endearing person puts Lynn in the upper echelon of both competitors and people in general.

After the Head of the Charles, we bid a temporary farewell to Lynn Jennings. However, the GRP anxiously looks forward to the annual return of our running champion, rowing champion, and our teammate.

And a new season begins!

20.Nov.2012 by Ida Sargent

I was a bit nervous about returning to Muonio this year after getting burnt out on the darkness and Arctic living here last November when the snow was very scarce.  I was at my breaking point last year and didn’t know if I could ski another loop in the dark around the short, icy, and dirty loop.  But at the same time, as I packed my bags in Craftsbury last week, I was excited to be back on the road and to start the season so I pushed aside last year’s memories and got excited for a new season and a new start!

After about 30 hours of travel we arrived in Muonio, Finland, a small town which is about 250 kilometers north of the Arctic circle.  Our team was staying in little cabins on the trails at the ski area Olos.  We got out of the van, tired and jetlagged, and we were greeted by a great show of northern lights in the sky.  I tried to capture them but the shutter speed on my camera was a bit too slow for a good photo.

While 2011 was one of the worst years of early snowfall across Lapland, 2012 is shaping up to be one of the best.  There is lots of snow here and the skiing was great.  It was fun to explore lots of new trails that I never even knew existed and the tracks and snow couldn’t have been any better.

We had a few days of training and adjusting to the time change and then racing began.  This weekend was just warmup races for the team as we prepare for next weekend’s World Cup races.  But these races were still very legit and are known as some of the largest FIS races in the world.  There were over 500 entries every day including National teams from Finland, Russia, Poland, Germany, Japan, and probably some others which I have forgotten.  The first race was a classic sprint on a very hard a technical course.  I didn’t really know what to expect as I had been having trouble sleeping and getting over the jetlag all week.  I just focused on skiing relaxed and smoothly and was very excited to see that despite a horrible transition that caused me to come to a complete stop in the finishing area,  finished 5th!  The afternoon brought the heats and it was really fun to ski with these really fast women.  I felt strong through most of the heats and ultimately finished 6th, racing against ladies who commonly finish in the top 10 of World Cups, a place I hope to someday land.

The next day was a 5km classic which I was very excited for as it’s one of my favorite races.  Unfortunately it ended up being a very rough race for me as I battled some lingering stomach issues (complications of interesting Finnish cuisine?) and wasn’t ever able to get the same race feeling I had felt the previous day.  Still it was great to have another race and blow out some cobwebs.  Finally on Sunday, there was a 10km skate which I skipped but had a lot of fun cheering the on the other girls.  Liz, Holly, and Jessie all skied really well and finished 2nd, 7th, and 9th!  We finished the weekend in style by watching Skyfall, the new Bond film, in an underground theater in Olos which none of us oreviously even knew existed.

Here are some photos of the week in Muonio.

Remember this from last year?

The skiing is a little nicer this year. Here are Kikkan and Liz skiing the first day we arrived.

Here we are skiing in the middle of the day. The sun never seems able to quite rise above the horizon so it’s a constant sunrise/set.

A view of Lapland from our cabin

Our cabin was quite cozy. Liz slept in a loft which wasn’t tall enough for her to stand up in.

Finnish cuisine involves lots of potatoes, root vegetables, reindeer, berries, and salty oatmeal.

Last year Clare visited the middle school in Muonio and since she wasn’t returning this year, she set up a visit for our team. We talked to the kids about where we are from in the United States and then answered questions like, “What is your favorite fast food?” and “Are there polar bears in Alaska?”

Racing in the heats next to Kowalczyk

The course was very interesting and had a herringbone finish as you sprinted up the base of the alpine line to cross the line.

I was very happy with the start to the season! Also this picture was taken directly after the race but the lights had already come on and the darkness was setting in.

It was fun to see lots of great racing by the US team this weekend. We’re ready to go! Here is Liz on her way to a 2nd place finish in the 10km skate