Some Kind of Training Alliance

FasterSkierAugust 9, 2011

This is a bit late, but I would like to post something about how awesome the training camp with all the US team women and Canadian ladies was. By that, I mean I want to tell you all about why it was so awesome, and what I learned from all that awesomeness.

We started out in town, did some mercifully wildlife free dryland training, and then went up to the glacier to test our fog tolerance. The first couple of days were pretty wet and soggy, but then it really started to get nice out. Unfortunately this good weather came just in time for the ADN reporter, Mark Lester, to leave and miss it. He still turned out an excellent video that you can see here, it’s really well done and makes us sound totally legit. Which we are. But still, it’s really cool to see something professionally done that recognizes our hard work and lifestyles. The only downside to this video is that he caught me singing: I almost never sing in public. I am very shy about it. It’s almost as rare to hear me sing as to catch Fitz dancing, which only happens when her judgement is totally impaired by fatigue, etc. Luckily Chandra has an awesome voice and you can’t really hear me, but I am still shocked that there is video of that on the internet.

Speaking of Chandra Crawford, I would like to write a small ode to her, and to all the girls who came and made skiing extra fun for a few weeks. The fact that I was singing is a great example of how inspiring and fun Chandra is. She is an embodiment of peer pressure, in a very good way. Because she sings and is cool, and cajoles me along as I quiver in fear, I decide that singing might be cool too. Obviously, if you have seen that part of the video, I was uncomfortable. But she somehow made me really want to try and step out of my comfort zone. That’s the magic of teammates.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have excellent APU teammates. I love them to death. In fact, I am terribly bereft now that Fitz is off having a good time at a family reunion in California and I don’t get to train with her every day. But having new, exciting, motivated, and fast women to train with adds a whole new level of awesome and helps me get my butt out the door in the morning. Chandra’s ubiquitous enthusiasm and ‘yeehoo!’ whoops everyday, even in the fog and rain on the glacier, don’t ever get annoying. In reality they’re contagious. I fancy myself to be more of a ‘yeehaw’ kind of girl in general, but she definitely pushed me to up my whooping count.

The novelty of having new people to learn from every day, and new compadres to test yourself agains in intervals, is really what I loved about those two weeks. When you don’t know how you measure up against your training partners, it can really help you to reach a new level of training. In all the intervals that we did in town I improved my splits by quite a bit. Granted, because we were all so excited and pushing each other we did go harder than the workouts before. That’s definitely a danger of training with your wintertime competitors. However, I think that it was good. It might not be ideal to go too hard in intervals every time you do them, but it is good to test the waters a little bit and take advantage of some added incentive.

Also, you can learn from your competitors. Ida, for example, has a really mean v1 jumpskate. It’s quite impressive. What this means, is that I can try to follow her in speed and imitate it. I can try to see what she is doing to make it so effective. Corey Stock as well had some great uphill skate sprint technique. Since that is an area that I could stand to improve a lot in, it was cool to try to pick up some tricks.

I interpret this kind of sharing to be the purpose of our camp. This group, at one point named the North American Women’s Training Alliance, functions as an opportunity to share and build knowledge for skiers from this continent. The group may now be named the Fast and Female Training Alliance because it seems to fill a niche in Chandra’s non-profit girl’s organization. Her motto is Spread the Love, and Dominate the World. Our purpose is to use collaboration to fulfill the second part of her mission statement.

This is kind of an interesting idea, this sharing of trade secrets. Not that it’s truly original, but I feel like American skiers sometimes spend so much time trying to beat each other that they forget to try to beat the rest of the world. Energy spent cattily trying to compete with each other might better be spent trying to compete with Europeans. In our defense, we are pretty isolated on the other side of the world, and it’s easy to think that winning NCAAs is the best thing going. However, there are many many bigger and higher caliber races out there! Wouldn’t it be even cooler to be the fastest in the world? I thought I was doing pretty well winning Besh Cups in Alaska a few years ago, but that didn’t mean that I was winning races at JOs… and it definitely didn’t mean I was on par with Norwegians. We need to work together to take on the rest of the world. North America could be a nordic powerhouse, we have plenty of skiers and plenty of snow. We just need to focus our combined efforts on making that jump, and I think this Name-To-Be-Determined Alliance is a step in the right direction.

Additionally, this is an important lesson for younger skiers to learn. Everyone gets faster if everyone gets faster: when your competitors get better you are forced to improve as well. When your training partners make improvements it’s easier for you to do the same thing. Cooperation might not win you every local race, but it brings you closer to reaching your potential. Hopefully having a North American alliance that feeds this idea into Fast and Female camps everywhere will help to improve the level of skiing on our continent well into the future.

So, basically the camp was a total blast. We had some really fun girltime on the glacier watching chick flicks and eating salad, and learned a whole lot as well. All I can say after that is watch out world! We’re comin!

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