Green Racing Project Blog Header Image

Archive for February, 2016

Rest in the Sincerest of Peace Neil Ulman

29.Feb.2016 by Steve Whelpley

Neil Ulman, a valued member of our Craftsbury community, passed away last weekend.

As I sit here in Palm Bay, Florida, between training sessions on a leap day, I have a lot of mixed emotions as I think of Neil. People often say that when considering a loss. They also often speculate as to how the deceased would have wanted things. Frankly, I didn’t know Neil well enough to draw accurate conclusions on what he may or may not have wanted me to do right now. However, I knew Neil well enough to know that he had a very unique perspective on the world.

Neil attended more fitness offerings at the Center than I ever could have expected. In the heart of winter, he would be at Community Fitness or out on the ski trails as we practiced around him. In the middle of the summer, he would be an avid attendee of Community Rowing. For his age, Neil was an astonishingly eager student always trying new challenges or activities even if it meant attempting pull-ups with a resistance band after not doing pull-ups for years. I guess one thing I know Neil would want right now is more coaching. No matter what realm we were in, he wanted the most informative coaching I could offer. It was almost to the point that it was off-putting to people how sternly he would request input on what he was doing. I could also be certain that Neil would attempt anything he did to the fullest of his capabilities. He would only stop his work for the buzz of the clock, and if he didn’t hear that (which happened), then you had to grab the weights from him.

What some people might not have known about Neil is that he was a very successful and distinguished journalist. Not many could have guessed from his crew neck sweatshirt, hiked up athletic socks, and his hand frequently cupped to his ear that he had traveled the far reaches of the globe to cover stories and experiences that many of us have only read about in works similar to his if not his. I was also fortunate enough to be one degree of separation from an individual who received a very, well-written poem from Neil, a poem that he spontaneously wrote to champion Craftsburian life when moved by a local holiday concert. That is not something everyone takes the time to do.  Moreover, that is not something everyone has the ability to do to such a brilliant degree.  Here is one more recent sample of his writing that is naturally pertinent:

Once, Neil took me up in his plane, a 2-seater Cessna, pictured below.


I am not built for small places. I’m also not built as flexibly physically or mentally as I’d like to be. I was still thrilled to go up in the air with Neil and cover terrain that I knew so thoroughly from one perspective but not from this one. Flying was another area of Neil’s constant quest to learn. As I look at this plane, sure, I remember getting airsick and worrying about how the landing was going to go as I recalled the humble athletic lessons Neil and I worked on during Community Fitness and elsewhere at the Center. At the same time, I just keep coming back to the thought of how such a learned person managed to be such an open student. In the areas where I was the teacher (weights, erging, rowing, stretching, etc.), Neil saw me as an expert for better or worse and somehow confidently trusted me to steer him in the right direction. Not many people have the humility to put his or her experience, seniority, and wisdom on the shelf even if his or her expertise is in a peripheral field.

I realize that the communities of Craftsbury, the Outdoor Center, and the Green Racing Project extend far beyond the geographical location. At the same time, it is from this geographical heart that we form our foundation and identity. Another member of the community took the time to share news of Neil’s passing with me while I’m miles away and for that I am grateful as I am for many other gifts from our neck of the woods. In my limited years of knowing Neil (just four), I can easily recognize what an exceptional human being he was. I am thankful for the opportunity to meet him, coach him, and in turn, learn a new perspective from him. He will be greatly missed by me and undoubtedly many others. For starters, I will make the most of this extra day, this leap day.

The Craftsbury Outdoor Center as seen from Neil Ulman's Cessna.

The Craftsbury Outdoor Center as seen from Neil Ulman’s Cessna.

Rowing with the Gators: Week 1

15.Feb.2016 by Maddie Lips

Week one of our winter southern migration to Florida is on the books! (That is, Week 1 of the GRP Rowing team assembled in full force…some have already been here for a few weeks and are slightly ahead in the uni tan line game).

Singles on Canal 54

Singles on Canal 54



Young Ben expertly carries many oars

For those of us who just arrived, this week was all about settling into our houses, getting in lots of meters, and adjusting physically and mentally to this new phase in our training cycle.

Ben Dann missed the memo that Florida is warm

Ben Dann missed the memo that Florida is warm

C54 Canal...miles and miles of straight, flat water!

C54 Canal…miles and miles of straight, flat water! PC:

We’re training at the C54 Canal out of the Sebastian River Crew boathouse. The canal is incredibly long and straight, making it ideal for long, continuous rows. And although there is the slight chance of getting bored with the lack of turns or scenery changes, the likelihood that you’ll hear a splash as a gator slithers off the shore and into the water keeps us awake! I have yet to see anything larger than a big frog that decided to join me for my row as I launched off the shore this morning, but several others have spotted gators…I’m keeping my eyes open.

"There are gators here?" -Frid

“There are gators here?” -Frid

Our training at this point is a bit varied throughout the squad as different boats train for different deadlines or goals. The men’s pair is on an accelerated plan as their selection event occurs in March in California, ahead of the rest of the squad.


Parker and Andrew adjust rigging in the pair

The women are on a slightly adapted schedule for now as well as we work on selecting the fastest double combination. The quad and Erik had a bit of excitement in their training plan last Saturday as they took on the men’s open division at the Southern Sprints, a large indoor rowing race in nearby Melbourne.

Warming up for the 2k at the Southern Sprints

Warming up for the 2k at the Southern Sprints

Erik took away the win with a 5:57.8, followed closely by Ben Davison with a 5:59.4, both personal bests for these young bucks. It was great to see such a huge event with so many juniors and master rowers, and to remember how big the rowing community is getting!

At the erg sprints, we ran into our friend, Sean Vangerena, who raced in the adaptive event–we last saw him at Craftsbury at the Paralympic IPC NorAm Cup in January…small world!

Sean and his training group, Lay Down or Stand Up! Amazing racing by his whole team!

Sean and his training group, Lie Down or Stand Up! Amazing racing by his whole team!

We’ve also been lucky enough to work with Treasure Coast Crossfit here in Sebastian to get in our strength workouts. In exchange, we’re helping out with their erging technique so they can crush those WODs!

Team photo at Treasure Coast Crossfit

Team photo at Treasure Coast Crossfit

Hugh encourages a Crossfit athlete

Hugh encourages a Crossfit athlete

Lifting at Treasure Coast Crossfit

Lifting at Treasure Coast Crossfit

We plan to do some more collaboration with the Sebastian River Crew soon to assist with their canned food drive and build permanent boat racks…we’re lucky to be getting involved with such a great rowing and fitness community down here.

Other highlights from our adventures down south: a Valentine’s themed team meeting, complete with a shower of rose petals by Troy and Spongebob-themed cards and fake tattoos; a determined trip to the beach on an afternoon off, despite 17mph winds and chilly temperatures (the bundled up Floridians thought we were crazy!); and (Burger) King Troy lays down the law at practice. Stay tuned for more from the GRP Rowers!!

(Burger) King Troy

(Burger) King Troy

Liz gets buried in sand...for warmth

Liz gets buried in sand…for warmth


Eastern SuperTour Photos

15.Feb.2016 by Liz Guiney

The domestic GRP contingent recently wrapped up two weekends of SuperTour racing in the East, the first in Lake Placid, NY and the second (originally scheduled in Stowe, VT) ended up right at home in Craftsbury. Alex Howe and Deb Miller (Kait’s mom) took some great photos during the Lake Placid races and Northeast Kingdom photographer and skier John Lazenby photographed the Craftsbury races. Overall, we had a mixed bag- some amazing results, some that weren’t quite what we were hoping for, and unfortunately a team-wide sickness during the Vermont SuperTour weekend that left a few on the sidelines. However, on the whole it has been a really successful few weeks and it’s also fun to see our Craftsbury biathletes doing so well on the World Cup (Susan 2nd and 5th this weekend!!), and Caitlin making her way on the cross country World Cup (scoring her first ever World Cup points in 25th in Falun yesterday).

I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the racing story! First up was a freestyle sprint in Lake Placid where all 7 GRP athletes  and 2 Craftsbury juniors qualified in the top 30.


Low snow at the Olympic venue, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, meant the races moved to another Olympic venue, the base of the ski jump. This meant lots of vertical, all at once, and then a fun ripping descent and sharp corner at the bottom. Here’s I am in my semifinal heat in the freestyle sprint (Photo Alex Howe).



A very green quarterfinal heat- Caitlin leading out with Emily Dreissigacker (white boots) and U16 Callie Young (far upper left)  on her heels (Photo Deb Miller).



Kaitlynn Miller taking it out strong in her quarterfinal, she finished 13th on the day (Photo Deb Miller).



The first uphill of the women’s A Final, Caitlin in green



Caitlin had a great day in the sprint- winning qualification and 2nd in the heats, all on her 26th birthday!


The following day was 10k classic mass start for the women. Building on her success from the previous day, Caitlin Patterson took the victory and Kaitlynn Miller was 3rd. It was a sunny, klister-y type of day on the jumps, not what one would usually expect for January 31st, but with the climatic curveballs we’ve been thrown in the East this year, any weather is normal weather.


GRP Head Wax Guru Nick Brown always has a smile even with sticky hands! (Photo Alex Howe)



We got to see Hannah, who was in Lake Placid training for her next biathlon World Cup 



Brush it, Anna! Craftsbury Junior coach Anna Schulz having way too much fun. Which makes sense because the Craftsbury juniors are doing so well this year- 6 going to Junior Nationals! (Photo Alex Howe)



Caitlin kick double-poling en route to her 10k classic victory (Photo Alex Howe)


Heather Mooney kicking hard in the sunshine (Photo Deb Miller)

Heather Mooney kicking hard in the sunshine (Photo Deb Miller)


Hallie, Kait, and I at the finish

Hallie, Kait, and I at the finish (Photo Deb Miller)



10k classic women’s podium- Caitlin on top, Kait Miller in 2nd (Photo Alex Howe)

6 days later, we were on to the next SuperTour in Craftsbury. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate at all, and a rainstorm knocked out both the original race site in Stowe, and much of our trail system here in Craftsbury. With two days notice, the crew here did a heroic job putting together a 2.4k course and hosting the entire collegiate, junior, and SuperTour field in the east. Our team was a bit down for the count with multiple skiers coming down with colds in the days leading up to the races, but we still had 3 GRP women and 3 men able to compete.


Hallie Grossman striding to a 13th place finish at home in Craftsbury (Photo Kait Miller)



Biathlete Mike Gibson decided to ditch the rifle for the weekend, here he is in the men’s 10k freestyle individual (Photo Kait Miller)



Hallie and I happy to be done with our 10k classic! As the only healthy members of the GRP women’s team we had to hold down the fort in the 10k. (Photo John Lazenby).



I was happy to land on the podium in the 10k classic- big thanks to Pepa and crew for all-star cheering, and Nick for the sweet skis! (Photo John Lazenby)

For a more results-oriented take on the races, check out the news pieces on the Craftsbury website: Lake Placid here and Trapp’s here .

What’s next? The skiers are scattering to the wind- Heather leaves soon for U23 World Championships in Romania, Caitlin, Kait, and Ida to the Canadian World Cups in March, and I’ll be meeting Heather in Germany after U23’s to race OPA Cups in early March.

A Rower’s Winter in a Nutshell

14.Feb.2016 by Jamie Chapman

After spending more than a year away from Craftsbury training elsewhere, coming back to Vermont to start off the new year was a figurative and literal breath of fresh air. The dining hall coincidentally served my favorites for my first dinner back: salmon, beet burgers, and a newly improved snacks section. The food is fabulous, but my favorite part about Craftsbury is the great group of people. Even with my recent transient visits, it feels like a second family.

Checkout Ben Dann’s interesting approach to the deadlift: The Dann Deadlift

Despite a lackluster snow month in January, the grooming team kept the core trails and loops loaded with snow. I wore a big smile for the entirety of the first few skis there–happy to be sliding around again in my favorite place for winter training. We sprinkled some skiing, weights, and circuits into our erg work during January, offering variety to lots of kilometers on the erg.

The highlight of the month work-wise was getting to work and spectate the Paralympic Biathlon North American World Cup, held at Craftsbury at the beginning of January. It’s one of my favorite things about this place: it’s common to cross paths with world-class athletes on the trails, on the water or in the dining hall. I helped with the biathlon race for sit skiers and visually impaired athletes, who ski with a guide and use a laser rifle equipped with a sound accuracy system that beeps as they near the target. There’s nothing quite as motivating as doing erg pieces while watching sit skiers double pole up the hill past the gym windows. I had a celebrity moment at lunch when I sat with Oksana Masters, an inspiring athlete who has Olympic medals in both rowing and skiing and also cleaned up at the NorAm races that week.

The upper field during the Paralympic racing

The upper field during the Paralympic racing

A few short weeks after arriving in VT, I loaded up my car with team food (gallons of maple syrup, buckets of peanut butter, and other less important items), a few duffel bags, and my boat and trekked down to Sebastian, Florida, where we’ll be training for the majority of the winter. I could not have made it down with my sanity intact if it weren’t for cookies from my Princeton host mom, a CD from skier Liz, and Harry Potter books on tape from Kaitlynn. Stay tuned for updates from Canal 54 as we turn our dry-land fitness into water speed!

Catamounts doing a ski train

Catamounts doing a ski train