Two weeks in photos…

Holly BrooksJune 5, 2012
The last two and a half weeks have been (another) whirl-wind of travel, training, testing & visits.  Here it is, in pictures: 
After a red-eye flight and (three) airplanes to get from ANC to SLC for my first round of US Ski Team testing I arrived 9 hours earlier than the other girls. Luckily this meant a visit with my good friend and ex-teammate, Katie Ronsse who is in PT school in Salt Lake. Here we are taking shots in her garden!  .
Shots of Wheatgrass that is! 
When Sadie and Kikkan arrived they came to Katie’s house to pick me up.  Before departing for Park City we took this “chic” picture! Katie had a few generations of chickens due to a recent dog accident
Next, I spent two 12-hour days at the COE (USSA’s 67 Million dollar training facility called the “Center of Excellence.)  We completed 6 (?) Roller ski treadmill tests, strength tests, specific double pole tests, mobility tests, full blood screening, hemoglobin, dexascans, etc. Seeing that this was my first time going through the battery of tests I don’t have any results to compare to but I’m hoping to glean some knowledge from my tests and get a couple of pointers for the direction of my summer training.  In theory, we will conduct the same slew of tests in Park City come October to see what changes our summer training resulted in. 
Jess with a big smile warming up on the treadmill 
Here I am mid skate L3 altitude test.  This particular test was 4 x 7 miles at a steady pace featuring four different levels of oxygen.  (I have a mask & a nose plug)  The first test was sea level, then 1000 meters, the altitude of Val di Fiemme, this year’s World Champs. The third test was 1500 meters, the elevation of Sochi (2014 Winter Olympics) and the final test was higher; the elevation of Park City.  During each test our heart rates were monitored and after each test they took blood samples to see how we were reacting to skiing at that particular altitude. 
Erik Bjornsen & USST Women’s coach, Matt Whitcomb on the Double pole urg. Here we did a max test – testing “force” for five maximum pulls as well as an endurance/power test 1 x 30 seconds. 
O2 bottles used for Roller Ski treadmill tests. 
Jessie completing her hemoglobin test 
During PC Camp it was Simi’s birthday. We had a team dinner and I obviously caught him at the right time during our happy birthday song. It looks like he’s planning on stealing ALL the cupcakes and running away with them! 
Liz, me, Alberto, Sadie, Kikkan & Jessie 
The second day of testing we had some special guests. Alberto Salazar and his Nike team were our guests at the COE!!! Salazar is a legendary athlete and coach having won both the Boston and New York Marathons, setting World and American Records.  Today, he coaches the Nike Oregon Project and some of the best distance runners in the country.  If you’re unfamiliar with him, check out his Wikipedia page HERE
A coach’s only shot: Salazar & Matt! 
Matt was seriously the BEST cheer leader for these all out, max effort tests. We did two tests, a classic and a double pole only test that were ALL OUT as hard as you can go. We actually wear a chest harness so you ski until you drop – literally.  I even found a new max heart rate, 194! 
EBJ showing off the on-demand Gatorade machine 🙂 
There are some additional perks of being in Park City.  Along with training in a facility which house’s the entire USSA staff, (Admin, travel agents, PTs, Drs, Nutritionists, Coaches, etc) there is the Athlete kitchen!  It’s full of healthy snack for pre and/or post-training.  Adam Korzun, the Ski Team Nutritionist is always cooking up something good & nutritious.  
A quick shot of the COE kitchen 
I could have spent a lot more time in Park City and was bummed that I felt as if I didn’t have sufficient time to meet with everyone I wanted to at the COE. Being named to the Ski Team has opened up a whole new set of doors and resources. If I lived in PC, I’d have access to these all the time but seeing that I live in AK I tried to take advantage of everything I could during my SHORT visit there.  Next visit I will surely plan more time there….. 
After Park City we jumped on a plane and traveled to the first team camp on the new training year; Bend on snow! Here’s the 2012-2013 team in it’s entirety! 
Men: Skyler Davis, Erik Bjornsen, Simi Hamilton, Tad Elliot, Andy Newell, Noah Hoffman, Kris Freeman. Ladies: Me, Liz Stephan, Ida Sargeant, Jessie Diggins, Sadie Bjornsen & Kikkan Randall. 
If you had asked me about Bend Camp in early April I wasn’t too excited about it. I was tired from the road and just wanted to be at home. But, come mid May I was pumped to be in Bend and back in a training camp environment.  I spent lots of time skiing in Bend growing up (PNSA roots!) and it was fun to be back after so many years! 
Team Salmon; Brooks & Diggins! 
Team Erik: Bjornsen & Flora 
Typical scene post-training waiting for van-mates to finish up the session! 
Liz and I went to soak our legs in the Deschutes after a hard trail run one day. It wasn’t nearly as cold as AK rivers for “icing legs!” 
Bend camp was busier than I initially anticipated. One reason is because we put together three team US Ski Team teams for Bend’s Pole, Peddle, Paddle multi-sport event. Here is Ida, sporting Liz’s old GS suit to rock the Downhill skiing section of the relay race! 
You would think we would have been more prepared but we got the start early in the morning only to realize that 1) Kikkan’s borrowed set up for downhill skis still had wax – on the skis. After Matt scrapped them with his driver’s license we realized that the bindings didn’t fit her boots! Luckily she was able to rent gear with t-50 minutes until race start! Our women’s teams ended up going 1-2 and our men’s team won.  Kris Freeman, the only one to take on the individual event won the entire thing too!  
We joked about the PPP being the “Bend Olympics!”  People certainly take this race seriously…. 
While in Bend we were also able to host the Bend edition of Fast and Female. Here is our traditional endurance/dance station: 
I got to be a co-leader with Susan Dunklee for the oldest girls and we had a really fun and productive goal setting session. Both Susan and I shared our path’s with making goals as well as some of our personal goals for the upcoming season. Susan told the girls to “Aim for the moon and you might land in the stars!”  I told the girls that I hoped that one of Susan’s goals was to get an Olympic Gold Medal after her breakthrough 5th place finish at World Champs for Biathlon last year! 
At Fast and Female I had the pleasure of meeting Mikayla Briere – a Whitman College student!  Mikayla is pursuing para-olympic cross country skiing and it was awesome to meet her.  She has a wonderful spirit and I have every reason to believe she’ll go far!  After camp she was scheduled to depart on a ten-day field course in Yellowstone National Park with a professor that I’d had at Whitman too! Good luck with everything Mikayla & keep in touch! 
Sometimes, on the road traveling, training & racing I have a hard time finding balance.  In a team environment it can get claustrophobic at times and if you’re not careful, it’s easy to loose sight of the things that keep you grounded and make you happy.  Hence, on our pseudo off-day I made plans to spend the night at my one of my best friend’s farm, Rainshadow Organics.  It can be hard to leave the team because you never know when group plans will change or when an opening with the PT will come up but it had to be done. Sarah only lives 50 minutes from Bend and I knew I would regret it if I didn’t make time to visit her. 
And, who wouldn’t want to go to the farm? Sarah has done incredible work taking her family’s farm through the three year FDA organic process. She has a flourishing CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), tons of animals, and fun events going on! 
Sarahlee with a group of baby chics!  Sarah and her boyfriend Tall are starting a meat CSA too! 
Fitz made the trip out for a day as well! 
Perhaps my highlight of the day was feeding the pigs.  Tall has some connections with people who drive refrigerator trucks and they donate expired or close to expired milk, eggs, and Naked Juices for the pigs to eat.  These are some LUCKY pigs that live a VERY happy life! 
The food trough! 
Seeing that it was still pre-Memorial Day most things were just starting but the greens were in full swing!  We got to pick some freshies for dinner and to take back to the team.  Thanks Sarah! 
Me & Sarah with fresh veggies and a beautiful rainbow in the background! 
Fitz, Tall, Sarah & Me! 
 Adam K, the ski team nutritionist spoiled us by coming to the last couple days of camp to help cook.  Adam makes some great eats and it’s really fun to pick up some healthy cooking tips from him.  He also brought a suitcase full of vitamins for us! 
I left Bend a couple days early to travel and compete in another fun multi sport event. This time it was Ski to Sea in Bellingham, Washington.  Last year I competed with my family in the family division.  This time around I was recruited to join an all women’s team representing Fast and Female.  It was fun to meet girls from other sports…. here’s our pre-race picture from our team meeting: 
 Ski to Sea is always a fun reunion of nordic skiers. Here I am with Josh Smullin and Matt Liebsch – Mt. Shuksan in the background. (Once again we lucked out on the weather!) 
 Thanks so much to Tony Valesco for putting together not only my team but 5 other teams for the event! He is such a master-mind! 
Following the race I got to spend a couple of days in Seattle with my family. Here I am with my mom and dad getting ready to go to the airport 🙂 
It’s great to be back in Alaska and I’m really looking forward to two solid months of quality training at home before departing for our USA/Sweden joint women’s camp in August. 
Have a wonderful day and until next time, 
Holly 🙂 

Holly Brooks

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