A guest at the annual meeting, the five-time Olympian and current U.S. Nordic Combined Team skier had been given the floor to speak on behalf of his sport and its sustainability in the U.S. What he said was moving enough that it persuaded the board to give U.S. NoCo $150,000 dollars for the next two years, amending its July 31 defunding deadline — in which the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) initially planned to cease team funding for nordic combined.
Demong could not be reached for comment and U.S. Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett wasn’t at the meeting in Park City, Utah, but the outcome was a big deal, Jarrett explained on the phone last week.
“I think they realized that they made a perhaps a hasty decision,” Jarrett said. “… It sounded like all the trustees were not necessarily aware of the way the decision was made and the actual facts involved. They were really ill-informed with what we have in the pipeline…”
He added that, at the end of last season, USSA did not ask him to prepare a presentation or explain where his team stood for the next four years.
“They didn’t give us a chance to show that we have this many U16s and U18s and U20s in our pipeline and that our sport is alive … and on a per-capita basis we’re doing a lot with our athletes,” Jarrett said. “… To be honest, even if we won a medal in Sochi, this same thing would’ve happened. I think it was done before Sochi and they just looked at it, that Bill was probably going to be finished and Todd [Lodwick] was finished … and they just classified us as nothing. I don’t know that for a fact; that was just my gut feeling that was going to happen.”
On Aug. 12, USSA CEO Tiger Shaw sent an email to nordic-combined stakeholders regarding the outcome of the trustees’ annual meeting. He signed it, along with USSTF Vice President Trisha Worthington and another trustee, Greg Boester.
“This spring we had to make many tough funding decisions as we evaluated our sport allocation along the guidelines of the 2010 Strategic Planning Committee adopted following the 2010 Games in Vancouver,” the email began. “This resulted in our decision to reduce funding for the nordic combined national team to a level far below that of the 2014 Olympic season, despite the previous success of that team four years ago…”
Jarrett said he would challenge every program under USSA’s umbrella to prove they have the depth to continue performing at the USSA’s ‘Best in the World,’ medal-potential standards, should they lose a couple athletes to retirement, injury or something of that nature.
“Almost every program within USSA isn’t as deep as you think,” he said.
“… We have been seeking ways to help bridge this sudden gap in funding and to help the nordic combined community with an alternative funding model,” the email continued. “To further this effort, the USSA and its foundation have agreed with Billy Demong, his teammates and the nordic combined community to forge a partnership.”
That involved USSA fronting the team $150,000 for this season (and committing to the same amount next year) in exchange for 15 Gold Passes, valued at $10,000 apiece. USSA aims to sell 450 of these passes by the end of the fiscal year (April 30, 2015) to go toward its general fund. The passes are fully transferable and provide lift access to more than 250 U.S. ski resorts, and 85 percent of their total cost is tax deductible.
U.S. Nordic Combined must sell its 15 passes by next spring to donors the foundation hasn’t previously reached out to. So instead of just asking for money, like it has been, U.S. NoCo will have something big to offer supporters in return.
“As far as I know, this is the first opportunity where [USSA has] allocated a certain number of Gold Passes to a program,” Jarrett said. “… We’ll see if it works. In light of everything that’s happened, the whole fundraising-revenue paradigm at USSA is perhaps going to be different and probably change for a good thing, but I think there will be some growing pains involved in that. This is certainly a great opportunity for us in light of our situation.”
As of Aug. 29, Jarrett wasn’t sure how many Gold Passes his program had sold — maybe one, he said. Mostly parents in nordic-combined’s core community were heading up the effort.
If they sell more than 15 passes, the remaining funds go to USSA’s general fund. Jarrett wasn’t sure if they could revisit the agreement next year and seek more than $150,000 if they exceed USSA’s fundraising expectations.
“It’s generous for USSA to provide us with this opportunity if they have 450 [passes] to sell,” Jarrett explained. “…That’s taking money out of the general fundraising.”
In terms of what kind of difference those dollars will make, Jarrett said it’s huge. His position had already been secured, but the extra money from USSA ensured that the team could keep coach Greg Poirier and hire a Continental Cup coach and service technicians for the coming season.
“It was a real shot in the arm at the very last minute because Greg’s salary was set to end on July 31, so it was a big deal right then,” Jarrett said. “Really, when you’re starting at zero, $150,000 is a big jump on it to get things going.”
“It was a real shot in the arm at the very last minute. … Really, when you’re starting at zero, $150,000 is a big jump on it to get things going.” — Dave Jarrett, U.S. Nordic Combined Head Coach on USSA’s recent two-year financial agreement with his team
At the same time, it doesn’t come close to matching U.S. NoCo’s roughly $600,000-dollar annual budget. By now, Jarrett needs to have plane tickets booked and travel logistics locked down for his team, which starts its international season in November.
“The question that we’re all struggling with now is, what kind of risk are we willing to assume to get things going?” he said. “If we wait until we get it in the bank, it’s going to be two months too late.”
The money from USSA will cover the team’s entire staff salaries and some travel expenses, minimizing the risk factor, he added. The rest of its budget will have to be self-raised, which the team and its community are working on. U.S. NoCo partnered with USA Ski Jumping this summer in an effort to collaborate on fundraising and sponsorships, but the partnership is new and funds remain separate.
In mid-October, after U.S. Nordic Combined Championships from Oct. 11-12 in Lake Placid, N.Y., 17 athletes and four coaches with the team will travel to Europe for their first overseas camp of the season. First, they’ll first compete at Swiss nationals and later train on the jumps in Oberstdorf, Germany. Most of the athletes will be paying their own way.
“It’s really only the ‘A’ team that’s 100-percent fully covered,” Jarrett said. “There’s definitely self funding going on, almost from the top down.”
He explained they asked most of their athletes to put down the money they’ll need to cover their individual costs for the season. If fundraising goes as planned, they’re hoping to give as much of that back to them as possible.
But $10,000-dollar ski passes, with additional incentives like invites to work out with Olympians and a VIP tour of the Center of Excellence, can be a tough sell.
“At first it sounded like these were going to sell like hotcakes,” Jarrett said. “… But not everybody can afford to do that.”
He pointed to the USA Ski Jumping website as a means of donating any amount (email email@example.com to learn how to donate directly to nordic combined) and USSA’s website to find out more about the Gold Pass.
“No amount is too small,” he said. “We want people to donate with the thought, what can I do every year for the next four years? … like an annual giving to nordic combined.”]]>
August 28, 2014. Coon Valley, WI. It’s time to say goodbye to order minimums for custom ski racing suits. Borah Teamwear is now offering their newest design platform, Individual-Custom, in hopes to provide high-quality custom ski suits to everyone, even those without a specific team affiliation.
The platform allows users to pick unique ski suit designs, change up to three colors, select a thread color and order just one custom ski suit right there on the spot. Best yet, Individual-Custom suits are precision-crafted and made-to-order in just five business days, shipping directly from the company’s headquarters in Wisconsin. Only Borah’s ever-popular Pro XC Suit is available for Individual-Custom, with the Women’s Pro XC Suit model to debut in early-September.
“Made in the USA is the only way we’re able to offer such a service,” said Raven Stevenson, Borah’s Production Manager. “We have 100 percent control from the website to the shipping dock, as we need to ensure not a second is lost. When you’re attempting to manufacture a quality customized product, in a quick and efficient way, control of all variables is the name of the game,” added Stevenson.
Why such a big deal? Historically, most custom apparel companies, including Borah, have required a minimum order quantity to even start a custom design. These minimums ranged anywhere from 5 to 15 units per style. Worse yet, customers would have to wait as long as 3-4 weeks once their design was approved for production and delivery!
“For so many years we’ve had to turn customers away that couldn’t meet our minimums, said Ben Wizner,” Borah’s Marketing Director. “There had to be a solution, and one we could use to enhance our product offering at the same time. “Individual-Custom is the perfect mix of popular products with a touch of truly custom flair,” added Wizner.
In addition to Nordic, Borah is launching the Individual-Custom platform across all sport categories they serve, including cycling, running, triathlon, alpine ski, and corporate wear. Further expansion within the platform will include additional product styles to choose from in each sport category.
In business since 1997, Borah Teamwear has grown to become the premier manufacturer of high quality custom sublimated active apparel; including cycling, Nordic, alpine, triathlon, running and corporate. All of Borah’s products are 100 percent precision-made at the company’s headquarters in Coon Valley, Wisconsin, where the latest technological advancements in apparel production are utilized.
Australian cross country skier Callum Watson was looking towards a bright future: after competing in his first Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, this winter, he and teammate Phil Bellingham decided to take the plunge and join a team in Falun, Sweden, to try to take their skiing to the next level.
“We accepted the offer to join Dala Sports Academy where we began working with our new Coach Mattias Nilsson,” Watson wrote in an email to FasterSkier. “During the European Spring I made some amazingly rewarding progress in many areas resulting in some results that showed a lot of promise. Finally I had the confidence that I was on the path to achieving my goal of a top 30 on World Cup which I am regularly told I have the potential to reach.”
He returned to Australia to compete in his country’s national championships, as well as make some money teaching skiing to fund his own career. But there, disaster struck: in the semifinals of the championship sprint, Watson collided with Swiss racer Simon Hammer and what happened next is practically unheard of in the cross country world. Hammer’s ski slipped in between Watson’s ribs and punctured his lung, which immediately collapsed.
“It was almost like slow-motion as I saw the ski go straight into the top of my chest,” Watson wrote. “I knew that I had been hit hard, however as I tried to get up, I felt burst of air gurgling from where the ski had hit. I immediately knew what that meant but couldn’t quite believe it. As I began to cough, more air could be heard passing through my chest and suddenly I went into panic with an overwhelming inability to breathe.”
Watson explained that he had clipped skis with another competitor and fell in front of Hammer, who had no choice but to ski into him. Still, the outcome was pretty shocking: as skiers we take it for granted that while we might get cut or bruised, cross country skis — lighter and duller than their alpine counterparts – don’t have the capacity to cause major internal damage.
“Snow conditions were good and no-one was at fault, it was just a race incident that resulted a collision and freak accident,” Australian national team coach Finn Marsland said.
While Watson said that at the time it felt like the ski patrol took an “agonizingly long time” to arrive, they actually responded very quickly considering his location. There also happened to be a trauma doctor among the spectators, and Watson’s brother Ewan and another helper tried to keep him calm, which he said probably “prevented me from passing out.” But Watson was still in critical condition. He was sledded down to Falls Creek Medical Center before being stabilized and sent on a helicopter to Melbourne, where trauma specialists could get to work.
“I’m not sure what the chances are, but unluckily the ski had managed to penetrate between my ribs, punctured through the chest cavity and into my right lung causing it to quickly collapse,” Watson wrote. “With a strong dose of various drugs an emergency chest tube was put in place to stabilise me. The drugs put me in a different world but I was still conscious for the whole procedure and was one of the toughest things I have ever been through.”
Unfortunately, that was nothing compared to what still lay ahead.
The original chest tube worked by using suction to create negative pressure in the lung and hold it in place during healing. But after four days, the seal began to leak. As the lung collapsed again, Watson was in excruciating pain. He described the prep work for replacing the tube as the most excruciating thing he had ever experienced: “by far the most traumatic experience of my life and was far worse than the original accident.”
After several days, it became clear that despite the second tube being bigger, it also had not allowed the lung to seal and begin to heal itself. So Watson headed in for surgery. He now feels like he’s back on track.
“I didn’t know how much pain I would be dealing with when I woke up, however I was very happy to find it was minimal compared with the previous ordeal!” he wrote. “The ski created a hole which was around 1cm long and 2cm deep into the lung. I sit here now in the same hospital bed 12 days after the accident and now I am waiting for the 3rd chest tube to complete its work by draining the remaining fluid and air from my chest. The prediction is that I will have the tube out either on Thursday afternoon or Friday and should be out of the hospital by Saturday or Sunday if all goes well.”
While Watson was reportedly in low spirits in the week following the crash, he’s feeling better now. A well-liked World Cup athlete, his sunny approach to life was apparent in his explanations of how he’s dealing with his situation.
“The small length of this suction tube [confines] me to the inside of this small area in my ward,” he wrote. “I have a tube stuck in my chest, it hurts to breath whilst moving and standing up is a painful challenge. I can feel myself wasting away and therefore should feeling like the most depressed and lost soul around, but somehow I find myself always smiling thinking positively about the future and even laughing! …There I have to say that my family, [girlfriend] Teresa and coach Mattias have been amazing through this period and that along with so many visits and kind messages from fellow athletes and friends have been what has gotten me through this horrible experience.”
Encouragement from his coach has played a big role, too.
“My coach believes even with the recovery time required from such an injury, I will be able to ski much faster than I ever have and should keep my eyes positively focused towards my original goals set for this World Cup Season and World Championships in Falun,” Watson wrote. “I have the determination to get myself back to racing at the level I was before the accident and am confident in my coach’s positive approach in what I am capable of.”
But besides the months of recovery time he’ll be forced to take, Watson faces an additional huge challenge: money. He has to pay for the helicopter flight, which he says puts himself in an “impossible financial situation.” In addition, his income was coming from coaching, which he won’t be able to do while he’s in recovery. That cuts off any incoming funds he might have generated.
Watson, his family, and Marsland have worked to set up a fundraising page to help pay the costs of the medical rescue and allow the racer to get back to his career: racing. The goal is to raise $20,000. The GoFundMe page, called “Help Rebuild Callum Watson”, can be found here.
“I am grateful for any support that can be given as I feel I am far from finished as an athlete but have unluckily landed in a position where I cannot continue without the generous assistance of others,” Watson explained.]]>
On the heels of the leaked UN climate report outlining the imminent affects of manmade climate change, the organizers of the 2015 FIS Nordic World Championships in Falun, Sweden announced August 27 that the culminating event of the 2014/2015 ski season has received the ISO 20121 certification of sustainability.
Falun2015 will be the first FIS Nordic World Championship to receive designation in the certification’s history.
What is ISO 20121? According to the certification’s website, “the ISO 20121 is a management system standard that has been designed to help organizations in the events industry improve the sustainability of their event related activities, products and services.”
While the certification stresses the importance environmental friendliness, the requirements to receive the designation go far beyond being “green.”
Based on the sustainability plan for the 2012 London Olympics, the ISO 20121 promotes sustainability through financial stability, social responsibility, and a reduced environmental footprint.
For an event such as Falun2015, organizers must submit a plan that demonstrates strong financial, social, and environmental standards.
Falun2015 made the cut.
As organizers continue to prepare Falun for one of nordic skiing’s biggest events, the certification will help guide them in a sustainable fashion.
“The standard helps us set clear environmental and ethical requirements on the handling of transportation, waste and energy. But it also assists us in the management of other products and services, such as food and beverages. It is important that our suppliers and cooperation partners also follow our policy for sustainability,” Sven von Holst, CEO of Falun2015 said in a press release.
The SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden estimates that roughly 500 million will tune into the 2015 FIS Nordic World Championships and that 200,000 people will attend the event.
According to the institute, the large audience means that Falun2015 has a chance to have large impact in terms of its ability to spread awareness about sustainability.
The ISO 20121 website says that the main benefit of the certification is that “it will enable an organization to differentiate itself in the marketplace and hence improve their chance of winning new business.”
The 2015 FIS Nordic World Championships will take place from February 18 through March 1 and will feature ten days of cross country skiing, seven days of ski jumping, and four days of nordic combined competitions.]]>
Editor’s Note: The ‘From The Pack by Fischer series’ features profiles about talented-and-intriguing junior and collegiate racers in the U.S. and beyond. While nordic sports are certainly not the largest, there are still thousands of great stories that most of us are not familiar with. We will be picking athletes out of this pack to write about; nominations for outstanding or interesting nordic skiers can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “From The Pack.” We are looking for unique stories, not necessarily the fastest skiers. Nominations should include a brief explanation of why we should profile the athlete.
Moving up fast in the Canadian nordic-ski scene is Montreal’s Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier. After placing 14th in the 10-kilometre classic at Junior World Championships in February in Val di Fiemme, Italy, and winning the 20 k skiathlon at the Canadian Junior Championships last season, the 19-year-old Junior National Team member is seriously starting to make a name for himself in Canada and abroad.
Part of the Fondeurs-Laurentides ski squad in Alex Harvey’s hometown of Saint-Jérôme, Québec, Izquierdo-Bernier divides his time training in St-Jérôme, as well as working with the Pierre Harvey Training Centre, or CNEPH (Centre National d’Entraînement Pierre-Harvey), in his third season as a Canadian Junior National team member.
Last year, he lived in the Vercors of the French Alps with his family until August, during his father’s sabbatical year. He trained in Québec last summer and then spent two months in France training with French athletes and working with a personal coach.
FasterSkier recently caught up with Izquierdo-Bernier as he was getting settled into his new apartment, having moved just days ago to Québec City, where he’ll attend CEGEP (Collège d’enseignement général et professional, or “General and Vocational College”) classes in natural sciences.
The following interview has been translated from French to English.
FasterSkier: What attracted you to nordic racing and endurance sports in the first place?
Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier: It is my father who introduced me to nordic skiing when I was only three years old. I took ski lessons until I was ten, then started racing in both skiing and triathlon for several years. Last season was the first time I devoted myself entirely to nordic racing. I also competed in track and field from a early age.
FS: How satisfied were you with last season, after taking gold at Canadian Junior Championships and ranking 14th at the Junior World Championships?
RI-B: I was thrilled! My main focus was the Junior World Championships where I was really hoping to do well. I planned my entire season around this goal, so finishing 14th in the 10 k classic was a great success. I admit the rest of my season did suffer from concentrating so much on one event. This was new to me, as I never struggled with consistency before.
FS: Were you aiming specifically the 10 k classic race at Val di Fiemme?
RI-B: Not really. My hopes were high for the skiathlon [where he placed 57th due to waxing setbacks]. I didn’t expect such a good result in the classic event, as I performed poorly in my previous classic races earlier in the season. Looking back, I think that having raced several times in Europe before the Junior World Championships made a huge difference. I came in Val di Fiemme with no stress and knowing I could compete with these guys.
FS: How are you looking to improve from last season? What are you working on presently from a technical standpoint or training-wise to better yourself?
RI-B: I’ve always been a strong climber, but we discovered from last year that I lack speed and power on flat sections. I struggled to keep up with others and needed to dig deep to hold my own. This summer, we really focused on gaining strength and speed on flat terrain. I did plenty of double poling and one-skate sessions, as well as incorporating more strength training sessions in my preparation. We’re working primarily on speed and concentrating less on endurance.
I already feel stronger and can sustain a higher speed and generate more power both on 10- to 15-second sprints and one-minute intervals while double poling. Otherwise, technique remains an essential part of my preparation. I also have a special way of training, which I developed with my father and personal coach Daniel Mercier. I’ll keep following as much as possible their guidelines this season, along with those set by the National team.
FS: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
RI-B: The Junior World Championships remain my main objective. I hope to achieve a top 5 or top 10 in one event. After that, I’ll compete at the Canada Winter Games and plan on ending my season with good performances at the Canadian Nationals.
FS: What are your ambitions as an athlete? How do Alex Harvey, Devon Kershaw and other Canadian team members inspire you?
RI-B: It brings plenty of motivation and confidence to hang and train with role models like Devon and Alex. My ultimate dream is to become an Olympian in nordic skiing.]]>
Exciting new developments have been announced for this winter’s Swix Ski Classics. The marathon series has expanded from six races to nine and includes a new race format for the prologue called the ProTeam Tempo, which is modeled after team events in cycling.
The series will begin on Dec. 13 in Livigno, Italy. The organizers of the Swix Ski Classics explained in a press release that there was a demand to start the series in December instead of mid-January when it has started in the past.
The opening event in Livigno will be a 15 km classic prologue that will feature the new ProTeam Tempo format; it will be the only event in the Swix Ski Series in which amateur skiers cannot compete.
In the prologue the women will begin the race first in a mass start. They will be followed by the men on each pro team, starting together with a two-minute gap between each team. The teams will start based on how they finished in the team competition last season, with the winning team from 2014 starting last. The ProTeam Tempo event will add some early season excitement to the season-long team competition. The team competition is calculated by adding the times of the fastest woman and two fastest men on each pro team.
Following the prologue, the series will continue the next day in Livigno with the 35 k La Sgambeda. After a four-week break following the La Sgambeda, January will be a busy month for the teams with four consecutive weekends of marathon racing.
Jan. 11 will see the teams travel to the Czech Republic for the 50 k Jizerska Padesatka. The next weekend the series will move to Switzerland for the 65 k La Diagonela. The Swiss race now features a new course in the Engadin Valley that works its way through the villages of St. Moritz, Zuoz and Pontresina.
The following weekend on Jan. 25, teams will compete in the 70 k Marcialonga in Italy. A week later on February 1, the series will travel to Oberammergau, Germany for the König Ludwig Lauf. In all, this month of racing will see skiers cover 235 km in four countries.
Following the König Ludwig Lauf, teams will rest and train with a five-week break until the 90 k Swedish Vasaloppet on March 8. Two weeks later the teams will travel to Norway for the 53 k Birkebeinerrennet. The series will end a week later in Northern Sweden on March 28 with the 75 k Årefjällsloppet.
Swix Ski Classics CEO David Nilsson called the expanded calendar a great improvement for athletes and TV-stations.
“We have also worked hard in order to be able to start off the season already in December,” he said. “It will then be interesting to see how the ‘January-madness’ of 4 events, 4 weekends in a row turns out. The introduction of the new ProTeam Tempo format will make the Swix Ski Classics Pro Teams competition even more interesting. The ProTeam Tempo format has been developed in discussions with athletes and teams. Now we are all just waiting for December to come in order to start off the best Swix Ski Classics calendar so far!”]]>
This week’s workout comes from Ben Saxton of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) T2 Team in southern Vermont. Now in his second season with SMS, the 21-year-old Minnesota native, Dartmouth freshman, and U.S. Ski Team D-team member explains that this double-pole workout is a staple at Stratton. Why? Because it works.
One of our summer workout staples at Stratton Mountain School is the Level 3 (threshold) double-pole intervals in Weston, Vt. SMS has been doing this workout for many years, and since I joined the crew in 2013 we’ve been doing this workout almost every other week in the summer months. It is perfect for building a strong base as we move forward into higher intensity intervals later on in the training year.
The workout is nothing crazy, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but that’s because it works. Everyone from the little kiddos in our Junior program to my teammates and I on the SMST2 team meet up at the infamous Weston playhouse before beginning the intervals.
The Basic Workout
- 30-minute warmup
- 5-7 by 8 minutes of double poling at threshold pace with 4 minutes of active recovery in between intervals
- 20-minute cooldown.
Total time: About 2 hours
Tips: Vary intervals on different terrain to mix up technique. “I generally follow the pattern of doing one interval on the flats followed by one of sustained climbing,” Saxton writes.
Try to repeat the workout at the same place to gauge your progress. “Returning to the same spot so often for similar intervals allows us to measure our fitness and our strength in a very simple way.”
Everyone’s on-time varies, but I usually do anywhere from 40-60 minutes of Level 3. The other week, I did 5 x 8-minute intervals. During the intervals, younger skiers are able to hop in behind us and mimic technique for a minute or two during each interval. Like our bounding workouts, we generally recover for about half the time of the intervals, in this case 4 minutes, which are spent milling around for active recovery.
I love this workout because we get to practice all different types of double poling. Weston has long flat sections of skiing at the base of several mountain roads, which allows for sustained uphill intervals. I generally follow the pattern of doing one interval on the flats followed by one of sustained climbing in order to mix up the technique used in the intervals.
Our Coach Pat (affectionately referred to as “Herb” in honor of Herb Brooks who might be his only coaching equal) emphasizes varying our technique with the changing terrain.
Level 3 intervals can often be limited to one type of terrain (and subsequently one type of skiing) but in Weston we are able to mix it up and practice the long powerful double poling required on flats as well as the shorter faster double poling used when going uphill.
I also believe that returning to the same spot so often for similar intervals allows us to measure our fitness and our strength in a very simple way, which provides great feedback for the training we’ve been doing.
During the winter these are the workouts I often find myself thinking back on, because they give us the strength needed to kick butt on the snow!]]>
Noah Hoffman isn’t one to take his training lightly. The way he sees it, a serious-and-dedicated plan will allow the the 25-year-old U.S. Ski Team (USST) member to achieve his lofty career goals, which include winning an Olympic gold medal and an FIS World Cup Distance Globe.
Given his driven nature, Hoffman is willing to venture outside the standard USST plan in order to bolster his training and address what he’s identified as his weaknesses.
This summer, that meant participating in a solo camp at New Zealand’s Snow Farm following the USST men’s camp in Alaska.
From Aug. 9 t0 Aug. 25, Hoffman had 15 full days of on-snow training at the Snow Farm in Wanaka, New Zealand. Over the course of his camp, he trained more than 50 hours.
For Hoffman, the decision to make the summer trip to New Zealand was easy. He’s been adding the trip to his training plan for the last three years and finds that the often-fast, hard snow is ideal for his technique work. This year, he said conditions were especially favorable.
“I had the best snow conditions that I’ve seen in any of my five years going there,” he wrote in an email. “I was hard-wax skiing the entire time and had 14 days of beautiful weather.”
Hoffman explained that his New Zealand trip served as an additional on-snow camp used to supplement the USST camp schedule. For the Colorado native, his continued on-snow training has helped him improve his technique.
“I think the additional on-snow time has been essential to the technique improvements that I’ve made in the last two years and is critical to my technique goals for this summer and beyond,” he wrote.
While Hoffman appreciates the value of North-American summer glacier camps, he found that New Zealand’s skiing better replicated winter World Cup conditions.
“Training at the Snow Farm is significantly more valuable than on-snow time on a glacier in the Northern Hemisphere,” he wrote. “Glacier skiing is slow and soft. It is a different type of skiing than we see at most venues in the winter.”
Often times during the race season, World Cup venues are hit with warm conditions and organizers salt the course to increase snow speed.
Even though Hoffman was the sole USST member to travel to New Zealand this year, his coaches and teammates who remained stateside were extremely supportive.
“They understand my goals and support the plan that my personal coaches and I believe is best for my training,” Hoffman explained.
While most of his training in New Zealand was spent alone, Hoffman was able to connect with Canada’s multiple-time Paralympic gold medalist Brian McKeever and one of his guides Graham Nishikawa for several training sessions. And when he wasn’t training, Hoffman spent meals with the Canadian Para-Nordic Team.
“That social activity was critical for me to stay happy down there,” he wrote.
Hoffman’s training also included the 2014 Merino Muster. The 42 k freestyle mass start took place on Aug. 16 and included several international competitors, such as Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk.
Hoffman placed second, 11 seconds behind Poland’s Maciej Kreczmer.
While he would have liked to win the race, he wrote on his blog that he was happy with the outcome and that the race served as an excellent intensity workout.
“The goal is not to be good in August,” he wrote.
Hoffman also allotted time for some lighthearted charity work. With the help of his Canadian counterparts, he participated in the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket Challenge, a social-media phenomenon intended to raise awareness and research funding for the illness, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Hoffman returned to the U.S. on Aug. 25, where he will continue the remainder of his summer training. This year he will sit out the USST Lake Placid camp in New York (taking place Aug. 26-Sept. 7), as his trip to New Zealand served as its replacement.
Reflecting on his summer, Hoffman said his training was “almost ideal,” citing his health, happiness, and technique improvement. Looking ahead, he feels prepared for the season ahead.
“I believe I’m really well set up to transition to higher intensity and more race-type fitness as the fall progresses,” he wrote. “I’m very happy and excited with the way things have gone.”
The Valdez Qaniq Challenge in Alaska may be in its inaugural year, but race organizers have big plans for its unveiling in January, including $10,000 dollars in total prize money.
The Qaniq Challenge is a 50-kilometer classic and freestyle ski race set to take place Jan. 17-18, 2015, in the coastal town of Valdez. The city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services began planning the event earlier this year in an attempt to showcase the city’s trail systems in addition to promoting tourism in the Alaskan town.
You may be asking yourself the meaning of “qaniq.” In a native Alutiiq dialect, it means “falling snow,” which race organizer Darryl Verfaillie thought was a fitting name for the competition and respective of the local Alutiiq population.
The race has an unusual format. In order to accommodate 400 participants on the local trails, Verfaillie said that there would be two separate courses used over the two days of racing.
On the first day of the Challenge, one group of racers will ski a classic course on the “in-town” trails of Valdez, while the remaining participants will ski on a freestyle course on the “out-of-town” trails. The next day, Sunday, the two groups switch courses. Race organizers will then combine the times from both days to rank skiers.
A lottery will be held the night before the race to choose who will start on what course.
The Valdez Qaniq Challenge will distribute $10,000 dollars in total prize winnings with $3,000 going to both the top male and top female. Second place for each gender will receive $1,500 and third place will earn $500. The total prize purse will make the race one of the highest-paying ski competitions in the country.
According to Verfaillie, a race committee will have its first meeting in the coming weeks and start to solidify the details of the Challenge. Verfeillie said that a race website would be created this fall and that registration would be open no later than mid-October.
Once registration opens, it’s a first-come first-serve process to register for one of the 400 starting spots.
Verfaillie says that while the race will inherently attract more Alaskans, he hopes to see skiers from across the country participate.
“I’d love to see as many [racers] from the lower 48 come up as possible. Travel is hard, but we’re not targeting any one group,” he said on the phone. “We want to be a true community.”
“I’d love to see as many [racers] from the lower 48 come up as possible. … We want to be a true community.” – Valdez Qaniq Challenge Race Director Darryl Verfaillie
There are also plans to invite international skiers to the competition, but according to Verfaillie, those are in the initial phases.
Race organizers have also marketed the Qaniq Challenge as an opportunity to ski alongside elite American skiers. While Verfaillie had yet to confirm any specific elite racers, he said that he had been talking with Alaska Pacific University (APU) skier Lauren Fritz to get several elite-team members in the race.
While Verfaillie acknowledges that the Challenge is a new race trying to fit into an already busy national schedule, he hopes that with the right planning, the event will grow in the coming years.
“We want to make it successful. We’re hoping it builds from year to year and it’s an annual event,” he said.]]>
Life as a competitive skier is a full-time job. Beyond eating, sleeping and training, skiers usually spend a solid chunk of time drumming up financial support to cover some, if not all, of their skiing-and-life expenses.
Last year, nine Canadian cross-country skiers put their needs aside for the time being to fundraise for a charity completely unrelated to their sport. SchoolBOX is an Ontario-based nonprofit focused on building elementary schools in impoverished areas of Nicaragua.
Headed by two-time Olympian Perianne Jones, the group of skiers known as “Skiers 4 SchoolBOX” raised money last year then travelled to Nicaragua this spring to dive into the construction.
Jones’s connection to SchoolBOX started in her hometown of Almonte, Ontario. A longtime friend of one of the nonprofit’s founders, Jones — like others in her small town — was supportive of local causes. She had been one herself as an up-and-coming nordic skier shooting for the Olympics. She decided to pay it forward to a third-world support group, founded in 2006, aimed at making education possible for children.
“There was a fundraising run before the Olympics in 2010 for me [in Almonte],” Jones reflected on the phone earlier this month. “I didn’t want the money to be only for me so I decided to split the money from that with SchoolBOX. I think that was where things started.”
As part of their school-building program, SchoolBOX makes an effort to connect groups of North Americans to their projects, inviting people to take part in fundraising and volunteering on the ground in Nicaragua. Jones wanted to assemble a group of skiers.
But the stars would not align for this larger-scale partnership between Jones and SchoolBOX until after the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“I always wanted to do more with them, but the timing never lined up until after the Games,” she said.
She started planning her first trip to Nicaragua’s Masaya region last spring.
One would imagine that it might be hard to sell the idea of volunteering manual labour in a foreign country, especially considering the fact that each volunteer is responsible for their transportation to and from that place.
But according to at least two of the participating skiers, that was not the case — the decision to help out was spontaneous.
“It actually just happened really quickly, kind of on a whim,” said Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt of Rocky Mountain Racers. “I was over at Zoë [Roy's place] doing, I dunno, something crafty, and she was like, ‘Hey, so I’m going to Nicaragua in April for Skiers 4 SchoolBOX and Peri wants us to commit today if you wanna come.’ I didn’t even hesitate.”
Before earning silver and bronze at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics, Mark Arendz of Canada’s Para-Nordic Team was planning ahead last year for what he’d do after the Games and learned about Skiers 4 SchoolBOX on Facebook.
“I chatted with Perianne Jones, and before our conversation was over I was in,” he said.
In addition to Roy, Bouffard-Nesbitt and Arendz, Emily Nishikawa, Gerard Garnier, Stuart Harden, Ruth Tamas, and Jones’ husband, Joel Jaques, also signed up by April 2013.
Then they started fundraising.
Finding the funds
“Definitely the biggest thing was coming up with the money to make it happen,” Jones explained.
Each person in the group had to raise about $1,000, and in an effort to do so, they planned a fundraiser for last fall in Canmore, around the time of Frozen Thunder. According to Bouffard-Nesbitt, the fundraiser didn’t go quite as planned.
“We put a decent amount of effort into the event itself, but we didn’t do a very good job making sure people were gonna come,” she said. “We had a band, drinks, food and a really good silent auction. When you have a lot of Olympians in the group you get good silent-auction stuff. … After the event, it was pretty much up to each of us to go out and collect our shares of the money.”
Volunteers had to pay for their own flights.
“We were fundraising for the part where we were actually on the ground in Nicaragua,” Jones said. “Mostly the money was for the school project itself. They have a construction crew that they pay down there, so they make sure that they’re providing jobs for Nicaraguans and helping them out that way.”
Training in Nicaragua
The skiers were in Nicaragua this spring, from April 3 to April 10. Many of them stuck around a bit longer to explore the country.
“After an Olympic cycle, I think everyone just wanted to shake things up and do something different,” Jones said.
Because the trip happened at the start of the offseason, everybody was content to enjoy their time away from ski training. Beyond the grueling work of removing dirt from the ground, physical activity was kept to a minimum and consisted of activities such as Roy’s “Tarahumara runs,” according to Bouffard-Nesbitt, (like in Born to Run).
“Basically they’re twelve-minute runs and it’s kind of like parkour I guess,” she said. “You just go and you do whatever you want and each person takes a turn leading. So you jump off benches and do summersaults and run around posts and do cartwheels and stuff.”
Building the school
Upon arrival in Nicaragua, the first day of work started after a night’s sleep and a long drive, to the construction site, in the morning.
“We were driving down this narrow, super-bumpy dirt road and we turn a corner and there’s this crowd of children standing there,” Bouffard-Nesbitt recalled. “They’re jumping up and down and they had our names printed out on paper that they were holding up.”
After the warm welcome, it was time to get to work: in their week there, the skiers’ goal was to dig of a big hole for the school’s septic system.
“The hole that we dug was 3-meters deep, 2-meters wide and 3-meters long. By the end we needed a ladder to get in and out of it,” Jones said.
“Mostly what we raised money for was for a sports field, but just so it happened, for the period of time we were there, what they needed done was digging this big hole. Some of the dirt from the hole went to the sports field eventually.”
Throughout the week it became clear that the children who would be attending the school had a deep desire to be a part of building it.
“They were so invested in it,” Jones said. “Some of the older kids would come out and grab our shovels and get down in the hole and dig with us. They were really keen to help. When you don’t have a place to learn, you really want that kind of thing. I think for a lot of us, it’s a given.”
“Some of the older kids would come out and grab our shovels and get down in the hole and dig with us. … When you don’t have a place to learn, you really want that kind of thing. I think for a lot of us, it’s a given.” – Perianne Jones, Skiers 4 SchoolBOX leader & two-time Canadian Olympic cross-country skier
But it wasn’t all tough work around the construction site. Usually around midday, the hole-digging would wrap up and the skiers would spend time playing with the kids.
“One of my favourite memories has to be the soccer-baseball game we had the last day with everyone,” Arendz said. “The construction workers, volunteers, community members and kids — a great time playing but also watching everyone else enjoy themselves.”
More than just construction work
“We realized after a couple days at the work site that the people at SchoolBOX saw just as much value in having outsiders come and play with the kids, rather than just, like, digging a hole the entire time” Bouffard-Nesbitt explained.
“It means a lot to the kids to see that people are coming all the way from Canada and that people care that much about their school,” she added. “In turn, it makes them care about their school. All the kids who attend do so by choice, so the more they’re invested in their school the better.”
In Nicaragua these schools are more than just the average learning place. They act as a community centre through which other opportunities arise.
“Once you have a school in a community it opens the doors for all kinds of other things you can have,” Jones said. “Once you have a school you can have a food program as well.”
On April 10, the skiers departed — some back to Canada and others to explore other parts of Nicaragua. Their part of the project was finished but the work on the school would continue until the end of July, at which point, to the excitement of everyone involved, the school was completed.
So will there be more Skiers 4 SchoolBOX projects in the future?
“I don’t have any plans at this point but I would love to help anyone who is interested in going down again,” Jones said. “I’d be happy to help set things up if there was another group of skiers who wanted to do something like that.”]]>
Far West Nordic Ski Education Association recently announced the hiring of Roger Chaney as the Team’s first official manager of its Elite Team.
Roger is no stranger to Far West, having grown up in the North Tahoe area and skied for the program as a teenager, and for Montana State University during his college years. He has been involved in the Nordic industry for many years, as a Technical Representative for Rossignol skis, and currently as sales representative and Technical Team member for Toko.
He has also supported a regional group of Masters skiers, the Truckee XC team. Roger is a familiar face to many racers at Far West Nordic competitions, serving the public with wax assistance, tuning, and more. Far West is excited to support him in his new role as Elite Team Manager.
You can reach Roger at email@example.com.
The 2014-2015 Far West Nordic ELITE TEAM is comprised of Patrick Johnson, Wyatt Fereday, Spencer Eusden, Anja Gruber, Emily Blackmer, and Sabra Davison. To find out more about Roger and the rest of the Elite Team, go to http://farwestnordic.org/fwnsea/seniors/elite-team/
Note: This article has been updated to include Kristin Størmer Steira’s most recent athletic accomplishment as 10,000-meter champion at Norwegian Athletics Championships on Sunday. It was her first time running the 10,000, according to VG.
If you asked Kristin Størmer Steira about the ‘R’ word six months ago, the Norwegian national-team member might’ve told you she was considering it.
A not-so-hot start to her third Olympics had left the then-32-year-old Steira contemplating retirement. Never before had she been outside the top 10 at the Olympics, and in two previous 15-kilometer skiathlons at back-to-back Olympic Games, she placed fourth.
But in Sochi, she was 23rd — not bad, but not to her standards.
Her next chance came in the 30 k freestyle mass start, the final race of the Sochi Games.
In a seemingly seamless race for three Norwegians, Steira placed third behind her two teammates Marit Bjørgen and Therese Johaug, respectively. It was her first Olympic medal in eight individual starts.
“My Olympics went from the worst competition I’ve ever had to maybe the best,” Steira said on the phone from Norway earlier this summer. “It was a special Olympics for sure.”
Before the races began, her team had to cope with the sudden passing of teammate Astrid Jacobsen’s brother, a skier whom many of the national-team members were close with.
“It was a lot of feelings, a lot of emotions,” Steira recalled. “We had a rough time in our team … but in the end, to have a medal in the 30 k … I really, really felt that I worked hard for that and to be able to do it when it counts was a great feeling.”
She also had the unique experience of standing on the podium at the closing ceremony in front of 40,000 spectators and millions more who watched on TV.
“It was maybe the best day for being on the podium,” Steira said. “You felt kind of small getting up on stage with the crowd and the stadium. I’ll never experience [that] again.”
One might ask, why not? With four individual World Championships podiums and 22 World Cup podiums in the last 12 years, and after placing second in the rollerski hill climb at the Blink Festival in Norway earlier this month, how does she know when it’ll be over?
She doesn’t, but she was thinking about it after Sochi.
“I was more towards not doing another year and I guess the medal in the 30 k both made me kind of feel [like] I could stop skiing — I managed to do what I planned to do: have a medal individually in the Olympics,” she said. “On the other side, it also makes you so motivated to do another year. I guess when I was thinking about it, it counted both ways.”
“I want to learn something other than classic and skating and technique, to put my mind a bit on other stuff and also start preparing for the next step — whatever that will be.” – Kristin Størmer Steira, Norwegian national-team member & three-time Olympian
So here she is, 33 and revving up for the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden.
“It’s close to Norway,” she said of her decision to focus on Falun and race for another season. “I think it will be amazing [at World Championships] … a lot of people, but I guess in the end mostly the motivation was still there and I love skiing and I wanted to give it one more year, mostly because it was so fun.”
In late April, she got sick during a three-week excursion in the Himalayas. She left Kathmandu with a ring on her finger, thanks to fiancé Devon Kershaw, but it took her some time to shake the parasite she contracted on her way up the 6,476-meter (21,000-foot) Mera Peak.
“Early summer was not quite as planned … I still struggled to recover after illness in Nepal,” she wrote on her blog.
After spending some time with family, “hiking, swimming, grilling,” she worked back into her full-training load before Blink and her team’s training camps in August.
Steira missed the women’s team’s June camp in Hemsedal because she wasn’t fully recovered, but was back with them in Lillehammer earlier this month. She said they planned to train in Italy in late August-early September, and will be back in Norway in October.
“We normally have been in Italy in the last week of June-first week of July, but since worlds is not at altitude we decided not to,” she said of the altitude camp.
On Sunday, she ran the 10,000-meter distance event at Norwegian Athletics Championships and won it by a minute and 46 seconds. Norway’s VG asked Athletics Association Director Ronny Nilsen whether that was embarrassing for the sport.
“No, it is not,” he said, according to a translation. “Kristin is strong, and there were several good runners that were missing at the starting line.”
Steira said “it was a pity” that so many top runners didn’t start, but it wasn’t embarrassing. She simply dropped the pack early.
“Ten-thousand [meters] is a distance that suits a skier well,” she told VG. “But athletes certainly wish there were more people to compete with.”
After the race, she tweeted that she was celebrating her 10,000-meter debut with coffee.
“Ten-thousand [meters] is a distance that suits a skier well.” — Steira on her 10,000-meter win in her debut at Norwegian Athletics Championships
Back to Skiing
Looking ahead to Falun, Steira couldn’t say exactly what was next — except for no more Olympics.
“I do not have a long-term plan for my skiing, but I learned from my earlier mistakes saying this is my last year,” she said. “But I don’t think longer than Falun this year of skiing, then we’ll see. It’s a pretty sweet life so it’s hard to stop doing the thing you love the most. I’m getting older and it’s other things I want to do and have a family and stuff so we’ll see. I will not take another Olympic year, that’s for sure.”
She has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and is starting an MBA program this fall.
“I’m going part time back to school this year mostly because I feel it’s time,” she said. “I want to learn something other than classic and skating and technique, to put my mind a bit on other stuff and also start preparing for the next step — whatever that will be, I’m not sure.”
Her focus will be human resources: mostly concerning personal relationships and working in teams.
“I’m still hoping that Oslo will get the Olympics for 2022, so maybe I’ll get some work for that,” she said. “That could be interesting.”]]>
Good Monday morning! Hungry? We’ve got you covered. Try this “Oat Bran with Cherries & Almonds” recipe from the Racing Weight Cookbook by Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear. We asked them to highlight one of their favorites from the book, so here it is from page 41. To see your favorite dishes featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “Recipe.”
For more great recipes, check out the best from our readers — recognized last week in Rottefella’s Ultimate Refueling Contest.
OAT BRAN WITH CHERRIES & ALMONDS
2 SERVINGS // 15 MINUTES HC R V
- 3 cups water
- 1½ cups oat bran
- pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cherries
- 2 tablespoons (½ oz.) almonds, slivered
- milk (optional)
1. In a saucepan, bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add oat bran and cook uncovered until the mixture begins to thicken, 5–10 minutes. Stir periodically to keep oat bran from sticking to the pan.
2. While oat bran is cooking, cut each cherry in half and remove pit with a paring knife.
3. Season oat bran with salt, vanilla, and sugar and stir to blend. Remove from heat and divide between two bowls. Top with cherries and almonds and a splash of your favorite milk, if desired.
Per serving: 422 calories, 10 g fat, 74 g total carbohydrate, 13 g dietary fiber, 15 g protein
TIP: Save time by combining water, oat bran, salt, vanilla, and sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 90 seconds, stir, and microwave for an additional 90 seconds. Let rest a few minutes before topping and serving.
DQS COUNT (per serving) FRUITS 1 WHOLE GRAINS 1 NUTS & SEEDS 1
Republished with permission of VeloPress from Racing Weight Cookbook. Try more recipes at www.racingweightcookbook.com.]]>
The Bridger Ridge Run has been called one of the most rugged running races in the U.S. It was named one of America’s top trail running races by Runner’s World, claiming the title of “Most Raw Exposure” in 2012. In 2013 Outside Magazine included the race as one of its top 10 trail runs in its bucket list.
It’s no secret that the Bozeman, Mont. race is a challenge. The course begins at the base of Sacajawea Peak and continues along the ridge of the Bridger Range for 20 miles until runners descend and finish at the “College M” that overlooks town. Over the course of the run, racers climb 6,800 ft. and face 9,500 ft. of steep decent. For much of the course, the trail is barely distinguishable and racers must maneuver their way through the sharp and unforgiving rocks.
The only thing more difficult than finishing the race is entering. The run allows roughly 300 competitors to register each year. Guaranteed spots are reserved for those who have either previously won the race or have participated at least 10 times in the past. Everyone else must be chosen by lottery.
The race was founded by Bozeman local Ed Anacker in 1985 in an effort to bring attention to the acclaimed trail running in the Montana town. Since its inaugural race, the Ridge Run has become a Bozeman staple and draws runners from across the country.
The Bridger Ridge Run is an attraction for the many nordic skiers in the area as well, and many former and current ski racers from the nordic community participate every year.
This past May, I made the fateful decision to enter the Bridger Ridge Run. Having ended my ski racing career several years before, I missed working towards a specific athletic goal and the Ridge Run sounded like the perfect race to get me on a regular training plan over the summer.
When I was chosen as one of the entrants in June, however, the training did not follow. Due to an extremely painful IT band related knee issue, I was stuck biking most of the summer and a month before the race, it seemed as if I wouldn’t be lining up for the race on August 9.
However, after several weeks of physical therapy and a few practice runs just weeks before the race I deemed myself “ready” for the to run. At this point my main goal was only to finish.
Come race morning participants wound their way up Bridger Canyon to the start of the race. With the sun just beginning to rise, moods of the racers and their chauffeurs were incredibly high considering the early start.
At 7:00 am the first wave of racers, including University of Vermont’s Cole Morgan and 2002 Olympic biathlete and former Montana State University assistant nordic coach Dan Campbell, took off.
As part of the second wave, I began five minutes later.
From the very start racers face an unforgiving climb. As we made our way from the base of Sacajawea Peak to it’s summit, which sits at 9,839 feet, I instantly regretted starting near the front of the second wave. However, the adrenaline and cheering crowds made the pace manageable.
Halfway up the peak we met more encouragement in the form of a lone bagpiper. Every year he and his pipes make the journey to provide racers a distraction with his belting tunes that echo on the mountain cliffs.
From the top of Sacajawea, the bagpiper’s tune was no longer audible but a new sight had caught our attention. The remaining 18 miles of the course appeared before us, both stunning and daunting at the same time.
Heading down from the summit into our inevitable “pain cave,” we faced multiple descents where I felt a fall was imminent. Fortunately I never tumbled off the trail, but every so often I’d hear someone go down around me or pass a fellow racer with bloodied knees and elbows.
As we made our way along the rolling Bridger Range the trail became less apparent, the rocks more jagged, and fatigue started to set in. Fortunately, I was stocked with Shot Bloks and HoneyStinger waffles that kept me well fed and energized. Former University of Denver skier and past participant of the Ridge Run, Kate Dolan had advised me to eat every 20 minutes, so I set the timer on my watch and did my best to pop in a sugary Blok every time the alarm went off. After two-and-a-half hours had passed I was thankful for her advice.
Passing the halfway point at the top of the local ski area, Bridger Bowl, my legs were starting to feel a bit shaky and my energy started to wane. There were two major climbs and a steep, unforgiving 5-mile decent between me and the finish.
By the time I reached the final aid station at the top of Baldy Peak, volunteers, friends, and other spectators gave me words of encouragement. While I wanted to believe their statements that the race was almost over and that it was an “easy” downhill from there, I knew my legs were shot and that the nearly vertical decent for the next five miles was going to be painful.
Even armed with my skepticism of the spectators’ encouragement, I was not prepared for the difficultly of the decent. The mixture of dust, loose rocks, and jello-like legs kept me at a turtle’s pace. Each step made it feel as if knives were repeatedly stabbing my legs. At this point, the lack of preparation was starting to haunt me.
Finally I reached the finish to find a cheering crowd. With the last bit of energy I could muster, I crossed the finish line, a grimace-like smile plastered to my face, with a time of 5:04:49.
I later found that Peder Andersen had garnered the best time of the day, finishing the race with a time 3:28:41. Campbell earned sixth, with a time of 3:56:02 and UVM’s Morgan finished eighth, with a time of 3:57:10.
For the women, ultra-marathon veteran Nikki Kimball, who earned multiple NCAA All-American distinctions during her time at Williams College, was the top finisher with a time of 4:02:47. Bridger Ski Foundation coach, Emily Allison finished fifth with a time of 4:29:08. Former and current Bates College skiers, Samantha Forrest and Maddy Ekey finished with times of 5:21:55 and 6:26:51.
After ample time spent relaxing in the finish line hot tubs filled with ice, I already began to forget the pain I had experienced only minutes before. I even began talking with other finishers about training for next year’s race.
That’s the magic of endurance sports: one minute it feels as if mental and physical collapse is imminent; the next you’re ready to get out and conquer the next big adventure.
2014 Bridger Ridge Run Results]]>
Original press release on Jackson Hole website]]>
JERICHO, Vt. – No matter how you slice it, last weekend’s race efforts at the North American Biathlon Rollerski Championships were hard. For Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke and Susan Dunklee — three U.S. Biathlon national-team members who competed for the first time at the Blink rollerski festival in Norway earlier this month — the Jericho races signaled a sort of wham-bam-you’re-back reentry phase.
Back home on the East Coast, the biathletes and their teammates have embarked on a three-month leadup to the 2014/2015 World Cup season. After training in the snow tunnel in Torsby, Sweden, they flew back to the U.S. a week before the rollerski championships at the Ethan Allen Firing Range in northern Vermont.
Before heading back to Jericho in late October for the second set of World Cup trials, they’ll train at their base in Lake Placid, N.Y., and head west for a training camp in Park City, Utah.
We caught up with the winners of last Saturday’s sprints — Bailey and Dunklee — as well as Burke, who cleaned the sprint (but was disqualified for mistakenly skiing the different-length loops out of order). On Sunday, Bailey won the mass start, Dunklee placed third, and Burke was fourth.
(See video with Bailey and Burke)
“We just had a really good camp over in Europe — it was really productive, got to work on technique a lot in the tunnel — and then this week was pretty easy off and feeling pretty recovered now,” Dunklee said after the sprint.
She spent the previous week in nearby Craftsbury, Vt., where she trains with the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, flagging out mountain-bike trails.
“I felt a lot better than I expected to, physically,” she said of her first race back. “Technique felt really strong and good and I was able to implement some of the stuff we’ve been working on in the snow tunnel. … Usually here it’s really hot; normally it’s like 90 degrees and it’s really hard to shoot and ski in those conditions. Usually the whole team struggles, but today was good for us. Better percentages overall on average.”
Dunklee described the Ethan Allen rollerski loop as one of the best that her team goes to.
“It’s got really nice hills and transitions and it skis like a normal skiers’ course does,” she said. “It’s really good practice.”
Two weeks earlier, she was racing in front of some 50,000 spectators at Blink.
“Blink was cool because it’s a very similar field to what we see in the winter in the world cups, a lot of those same big names,” she said. “They have like a two-or-three-million-dollar budget for that event. It was fantastic.”
At the same time, it was more relaxed than the in-season World Cup.
“The athletes were more open and willing to chat and hang out so it was fun,” Dunklee explained. “It was a very good socializing.”]]>
FasterSkier recently had the opportunity to test a pair of pursuit rollerskis which are sold exclusively online the RollerskiShop.com. Read the review by FasterSkier staff below.
Pursuit T6004 Skate Rollerski Summary ($159.99): Great all-around rollerskis for skiers of all abilities. While it may not have the flex of a Marwe, it provides surprisingly smooth experience despite it’s alloy composition. Did we also mention that its sold at a fraction of a leading rollerski’s cost?
Pursuit Skate Rollerski Brake Summary – sold separately ($39.99): While this brake is a step in the right direction, it is most useful when rollerskiers have no need to slow down. Due to it’s ability to send a skier’s upper-body weight forward, this brake is better for the more experienced rollerskier who is better in-tune with their movements on rollerskis.
Review: The Pursuit T6004 has a very simple yet appealing aesthetic with an alloy aluminum structure. The addition of holes drilled in the sides gives the skis a bare-bones industrial look. According to the RollerskiShop this further cuts costs, and scratches will be less noticeable.
In terms of performance, the Pursuit T6004 gets the job done. It provides a surprisingly smooth ride for its alloy base, even on fairly rough roads. In addition, the T6004 allows you to completely shift your weight between each ski while feeling stable.
The Rollerksi shop gives customers several options of wheel speed and size, depending on skill level and training needs. Check them out here to find the best fit for you.
The Pursuit T6004 is a great all-around rollerski. While those on the elite level will likely opt for a more expensive option, this rollerski offers quality at a low price which makes it an appealing option for anyone ranging from a junior to master skier.
The RollerskiShop introduced a braking system for their Pursuit rollerskis, which FasterSkier had the opportunity to test as well. Before testing the braking system I was skeptical of their use, as most brakes that I have experienced are ineffective and more hassle than they are worth.
The Pursuit Skate Roller Ski Brake, is unlike other brakes in the fact that it connects a rounded metal piece to a stretchable cord that is tied to a waistband. Confused? I was too. However, once I was able to figure out the mechanics of the brake, the functionality finally made sense.
For more detailed instructions for installing and engaging the brake, read a description at RollerskiShop.com
However, slowing down with the Pursuit Skate Roller Ski Brake is sometimes too effective. There were multiple times when I was skiing down a hill where I would lightly pull the brake and feel as if I were about to fly face first into the pavement. To remedy this I decided to start braking throughout the entire hill instead of the near the middle or bottom. While the “jerking effect” was lessened I still felt as if my upper-body wanted to lurch forward.
In addition, for someone who is as tall as I am (6 feet – an average to slightly above-average height for most men in nordic skiing) the cord attached to the waistband was almost too short. Even with adequate slack in the cord I could feel a slight pull that would bring the rollerski to hit my heel every so often. While this might not be a problem for short rollerskis, it could become an annoyance after a two hour plus workout.
Overall, the Pursuit Skate Roller Ski Brake is a step in the right direction for the development of brakes. It is more effective than most other brakes I have experienced in the past and it can slow you down with ease on small hills. That being said, the times when the brake was most effective it was on a very gradual downhill, where one wouldn’t need to brake in the first place. As with all rollerski brakes, the Pursuit Skate Roller Ski Brake is ineffective and dangerous on longer, steep hills and abrupt stops. While the RollerskiShop advises that the brake is not for such circumstances, the instinct to brake in such situations might be too strong for some to resist.
For this reason I would recommend this brake for skiers who are experienced rollerskiers. However, most experienced rollerskiers probably feel as if they do not need a brake, thus making the market for this product a small one.
Wheel diameter: 100 or 105 mm
Wheel width: 24 mm
Bearings: 608 2-RS
Wheelbase: 600 mm
Weight: 1.48 kg per pair with 100 mm wheels & 1.56 kg per pair with 105 mm wheels
The RollerskShop advises against trying to put bindings on yourself. Due to the nature of the alloy base, drilling and attaching bindings can be a hassle. Save your self the trouble and have the RollerskiShop do it for $10.00.
Add fenders ($18.00 for a set of four) so you can limit any spray in wet conditions.
Pursuit Skate Rollerski Brake
Pursuit rollerskis are sold exclusively by the RollerskiShop, a business started in 2004 with a mission of providing low-cost rollerskis. The RollerskiShop introduced their own brand, Pursuit, in 2005. The RollerskiShop keeps costs down by using shafts extruded in the US and machined near the distribution center in Minnesota. Additionally, there is no physical store. Sales are online only. You can visit the Rollerskishop at www.rollerskishop.com.]]>
Southern Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula hosts perfect summer training camp
(August 14, 2014) — When Team Hardwood Head Coach Ron Howden chose Tobermory as the site of his August training camp, he knew the area – renowned for its rugged beauty and crystal clear waters – would offer plenty of scenic trails and quiet roads for training. It turned out that the location was just the start of everything good. With great food, welcoming hosts, sunny skies and 20 enthusiastic skiers, the camp turned out to be, well, pretty much perfect.
Pulling a trailer loaded with luggage, training gear and no fewer than eight coolers of homemade food, the group rolled into Tobermory on Thursday afternoon. While coaches and chaperones found their rooms, athletes set up tents on the spacious, tree-lined grounds of the motel. Comfort was important, especially so for the National Talent Squad athlete who brought along a futon to squeeze inside the tent he shared with a teammate.
A quiet loop of road nearby served as the site of the first rollerski workout and was followed by a BBQ dinner and a bonfire under the stars.
On Friday, the team hit the Bruce Trail, with athletes completing varying distances of running and/or ski-walking, depending on age and personal training plans. The rocky trail wound its way along the edge of Georgian Bay and each group finished at the Little Cove cobble beach for the first swim of the camp.
After lunch and a rest, the group donned fins and masks and explored the shipwrecks on the floor of the peaceful inlet of Big Tug Harbour. In the clear, calm water under the late-day sun, the scene below was hauntingly beautiful; it was almost two hours later before athletes, coaches and chaperones reluctantly got out of the water and headed back for dinner.
Saturday was an early start. The athletes headed to the Visitor Centre of the Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park where coaches Ron Howden and Andrew Kerr led them through a power workout. Groups of athletes repeatedly scaled the 112 steps of the fire tower three-and-four at a time, while others used ropes and various pieces of training equipment among the trees and rocks. By the time the tourist crowds started to arrive, the workout had concluded. Before leaving the area, the group toured the interpretive exhibits of the Visitor Centre. Reports of a less-than-pleasant odour during the visit to the centre cannot be confirmed.
In the afternoon, the group headed to Singing Sands Beach – part of the national park on the Lake Huron side. The huge, sandy beach was perfect for swimming or just splashing around. After a couple of hours, it was back to the motel and a roller ski technique session led by the senior athletes. After dinner, if one looked closely with a flashlight, the athletes and coaches could be seen running and playing games among the tents and campfire for several hours.
No trip to Tobermory is complete without visiting the Grotto. On Sunday, the coaches chose a route for the morning’s hike/run so it concluded there, allowing the group to swim and explore the deep waters of Georgian Bay and the huge rock formations of the Grotto.
The camp ended with good-byes and recollections of what made the camp so perfect – the location, the weather, the hospitality, and a mix of enthusiastic but easy-going athletes, coaches and helpers that together created a fun, rewarding weekend of training and team bonding.
Congratulations to Hardwood coach Ron Howden for pulling it all together, assisted by Hardwood coach Andrew Kerr. As athletes loaded into the vans for the return trip, Ron could be seen at the front desk making reservations for next summer’s camp.
Patricia MacDonell was a trip chaperone. She hopes her recently honed skill of driving a loaded 12 passenger van from Toronto to Tobermory while following Coach Howden gives her an edge on the competition expected for the role next year.
About Team Hardwood:
With its base at Hardwood Ski and Bike north of Toronto, Team Hardwood is one of Ontario’s most successful developmental cross country ski racing clubs. Its athletes regularly progress to Canada’s national development centres and university teams. It includes current NST member Lenny Valjas and several top Junior and National Talent Squad skiers on its roster for the 2014-2015 season