Glenn Bond, 37, retired from full-time racing eight years ago, but now he’s back chasing podiums again. This time, Bond is aiming for the Masters World Cup, which is coming to his home turf at Sovereign Lake/Silver Star in March. That is something he is taking advantage of.
“I have definitely spent more time skiing over at Sovereign Lake this season. I think I know these trails as well any local skier up here,” Bond said to FasterSkier.
While Bond retired from racing in 2002, he has by no means let himself slip entirely. He just hasn’t been very structured about his training. He was appointed Nordic Director at Silver Star Mountain Resort in 2002, and has spent the past years building the nordic programs at Silver Star and taking over the traditional Thanksgiving camps that have been an institution at Silver Star for decades.
“It’s not like I haven’t trained for eight years, but I’ve just done this and that, and nothing structured and didn’t take it very seriously,” Bond explained.
But January 1, 2011, marked the start of a new era for Bond. He put himself back on a formal training program, aiming for a podium at the Masters World Cup. While Bond is certainly capable of designing a training program himself, he decided to enlist a coach to make it more formal and hold himself more responsible.
“It’s kind of like cooking. It’s always better when someone does it for you,” Bond said, adding that he works with Melissa Spooner, a well-known endurance coach.
Old memories = motivation
The process of getting back on a structured training plan has increased the motivation and certainly brings back old memories, Bond said.
“Being on a structured training program brings back so much fun. Now that I’m doing that again, I definitely feel like I’ve missed out. And the program motivates me to do the workouts and prioritize the training,” Bond said.
It didn’t take long before he noticed gains in fitness. He has done time trials with local skiers and thrown himself in some of the local events, including the NorAm mini-tour in Kelowna the first weekend of February.
“My fitness is increasing. I am competitive against the guys I’m racing against, and I definitely think I should be in the mix. I’m not where I am eight years ago, but that’s life,” said the modest Canadian. FasterSkier suspects this should serve as a warning to his competitors: Bond is back.
Grinding 16 pairs of skis
Bond is going after his goals with a scientific rigor that is not limited to his physical training program. His preparation for the World Masters includes sending off no less than 16 pairs of Atomic skis to be ground with Mark Waechter at Nordic Ultratune in Winthrop, Wash.
“I spent a lot of money on them. After 15 pairs there’s a special deal,” Bond said with a laugh.
But on the scientific side of the exercise, Bond is carefully taking notes on each and every pair. 16 pairs is actually such a sizable equipment pool that Bond had to enlist the help of his friends to get test them all with the care and attention to detail that Bond is after.
“There are little details, but the difference is noticeable,” said Bond, who has tried all the five grinds that Waechter offers: D5, i5, S1, S2 and MD1.
“I can’t give away everything, but I’ll say that some of these are not as relevant for the World Masters as others,” Bond explained.
The D5 is a universal wet and warm grind for temperatures from 0 degrees c to minus 5. The i5 resembles the D5 but is not as deep and runs better in colder conditions, generally from -2 C to -10 C. The S1 and S2 grinds are both for cold, dry snow, where the S1 is for very cold conditions from -10 C and below, while the S2 works well from -5 C down to -20 C. Finally, the MD1 is a specialty grind for transformed large crystals, very wet new snow and moist conditions. This grind is proven both as a klister grind on classic skis and on skate skis in warm moist conditions.
“I first sent Mark 12 pairs, but I ended up sending four pairs back because I wanted to change them. I had chosen grinds that were too warm for here,” Bond explained, noting that one of the four pairs was an old pair of rock skis that he just rekindled his love with during a photo shoot for a marketing gig with his job.
“I got on them for the photo shoot and they felt so good, so I sent them off to Mark to put them back in the mix,” Bond said, adding that after six years of working with Waechter, he trusts the quality and likes the the grinds Waechter offers.
“I totally trust Mark’s (Waechter) work. The others do great grinds too, but not on that machine,” Bond said, noting that to his knowledge, Waechter is the only grinder in North America who has the Mantec machine.
However, Bond has only limited time to make up his mind on additional pairs to grind or regrind. In order to turn around skis for the World Masters, Waechter needs the boards in Winthrop by February 24.
Tracking details, climate and products to find what works
Bond is learning how the Ultratune grinds work locally, and with the snow conditions that typically prevail at Sovereign Lake in March. From eight years’ experience and a scientific approach to skiing, Bond has a deep pool of data to draw from when selecting grinds, flexes and waxes.
“I have a lot of background information on the weather. About 80 percent of the time, it will be between 0 degrees C and minus 5 C in early March. But 20 percent of the time it’s much colder. Two years ago we had a super heavy snowfall right at the time when the World Masters will be,” Bond said.
“I’m not withholding any information here, you just have to bring everything you have,” Bond said, explaining that you might need every kind of flex, grind or wax in your quiver.
“The conditions will be fairly soft. We rarely go more than a couple of days without some snowfall.
Asked to offer some suggestions, Bond said that Swix’ HF8 and the equivalent Toko HF waxes are proven to run well at Sovereign Lake. Additionally, Bond warns that the snow and air temps are only one part of the equation.
Humidity and climatic factors also add to the complexity. In Bond’s experience, you generally have to wax slightly warmer for kick than the temperature suggests at Sovereign Lake. On the glide side, you are better off going colder than the temperature indicates, as well as use a finer grind than you might think just from looking at the thermometer.
The courses are tougher than what they seem just looking at the course profile. Bond is used to racing FIS World Cup courses, which have a different distribution of terrain and vertical than the World Masters courses.
“Especially the 10K classic is really hard. It contains a fair bit of double-pole and kick-double pole terrain,” Bond said.
The World Masters courses have to be 50 percent of the FIS World Cup in terms of vertical, but that makes them harder in other ways, Bond explained. “The times are faster on the World Cup courses, you can climb uphill relatively fast compared to your speed on flat, and the downhills are faster, so the overall time for a 10 or 15K race on this course is longer. You have to be mentally and physically prepared for that,” Bond said.
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.