The Rest Day: Insights from the National Nordic Foundation
Jessie Diggins On Training With the Best
This week, World Champion, Jessie Diggins (SMS T2, USST) joins a collection of the strongest women in nordic skiing in Alaska. Known as the NAWTA (the North American Women’s Training Alliance), the camp brings together the strongest skiers during a camp in Alaska for a chance at the best competition and training.
Here we are, halfway through the annual NAWTA (North American Women’s Training Alliance) camp in Alaska, and I feel like I’ve already learned so much and gotten such good training with the group…and we haven’t even gone up on the glacier yet! We just wrapped up a week of dryland training in Anchorage, and this weekend we’ll be flown up to the training center on Eagle Glacier in a helicopter. This camp is special to me because we have a history of having amazing talented guests every year, starting in 2011 with the Canadian girls. Last year, we had Aino-Kaisa Saarinen from Finland join us, and this year Astrid Jacobsen of Norway and Bettina Gruber of Switzerland have come to see what the training in the US is like!
One really great part of being part of the US team is that we don’t have any secrets – we share what we know and what we’ve learned, we invite guests to our camps, and then in turn we are able to learn from them! I was so excited to hear that Astrid was coming to our camp, not only because she is a World Champion and a consistently great skier on the World Cup, but because she is really nice. Every time I can make friends on the World Cup I’m psyched because it makes the winter less lonely and more exciting (look, Mom, I made a friend!). In all seriousness, it has been so fun getting to know her and sharing training ideas and workouts. And she has baked us some killer bulla rolls as well.
We’ve had some good group sessions so far, including a killer threshold workout of 6×7-9min L3 skating in a pack, with “preem” sprints thrown in to simulate a real racing environment. It was great to ski behind Astrid and watch her technique, and then later take my turn at the front to pull the pack along. We were exchanging leads, pulling moves (safely) and busting out sprints on each other, learning what technique elements helped someone go faster and what slowed them down. Another great workout was the Potter’s Creek time trial; a 6.5 km classic that starts out with a double pole out and back along a flat road, and then climbs the remaining 3.2km up a switchback road. Although not everyone had the same speed classic skis, the goal of a time trial isn’t simply to win; it’s a great opportunity to test your physical and mental limits, compare your personal time to the year before, and get in a good L4 workout. I had a great time trying to keep Astrid in sight as I led the chase group along the flats and up the hill, and learned a little something about the power of drafting along the way (it’s much better when you don’t miss an opportunity to get behind someone on the double pole).
From talking with Astrid and Bettina, the biggest thing I have learned is how similar we all are, all around the world. Everyone is simply trying their best every day to get a little bit faster, a little bit stronger, and a little bit smarter. We train in similar ways, and have similar teammates and coaches. In the end, there are no secrets to becoming a world class skier – just hard work, belief in yourself and a great team! I am really excited to get up to the glacier for a big volume week full of quality interval, speed and distance sessions, and lots of time to hang out in between. And hopefully I will learn some more from our guest Astrid as well as the talented and experienced skiers I am so lucky to have as teammates!
Thanks to the NNF and all of you who have donated to help give us these amazing experiences. You are an integral part of our team, and we couldn’t keep pushing US skiing forward without you!
On the REG
The Alaskan REGs
This Saturday brought to a conclusion the Alaska Regional Elite Group’s annual dry land camp. The camp brought together the best junior athletes and their coaches from around the state to train together for one week in Palmer, Alaska.
The week started out with three time trials. Tuesday morning brought the uphill running time trial which went up the gas-line from hilltop to prospect heights. Tsaina Mahlen of APU, and Kyle Hanson of FXC and Michigan Tech won for girls and boys, respectively. After our cool-down we reconvened in the parking lot only to have Celia Haering of APU to jog in carrying a chicken! Apparently on her cool-down the chicken had the misfortune of meeting Celia who chased it down and took it home; to the best of my knowledge the Chicken did not become dinner and is now living at another athletes house. That afternoon we met on the APU campus to complete the strength test.
After a brief warm-up on the ski trails that surround the campus we ventured into the APU gym for the test. Stephanie Kirk of AWS and UVM, and Vanya Rybkin of FXC and Williams College came out victorious. That evening we traveled out to Palmer to Mountain Streams B&B where we would be based out of for the remainder of the week. The next morning we met at Colony middle school for the agility test. It involved skating around the obstacle course created by the strategic location of cones and featured a slalom section, a mandatory backwards skiing section, and a grass section. We raced three times with Vanya Rybkin of FXC and Williams College, and Marion Woods of AWS taking home victory. The rest of the week we had phenomenal training sessions roller skiing and running around the Hatcher Pass State Park during the day and presentations from Bryan Fish of the USST in the evenings.
The final day we joined with the North American Women’s Training Alliance (NAWTA) and the APU Elite Team for an over distance run out to Bomber Glacier through Reed Lakes. It was an ambitious goal to make it to the bomber, a TB-29 which crashed in 1957 but we overcame the running approach, the climb to the pass, and the glacier traverse, and then back within our window of three to four hours. We then returned to the B&B for lunch and an open question meeting with all of the elite women and our one USST male athlete representative Erik Bjornsen. It was a truly fantastic day and a perfect end to a solid camp.
We can never forget how many people are involved in making these camps happen and I would like thank everyone who made it possible: Ed and Glynn Strabel of Mountain Streams B&B, Bryan Fish of the USST, Pete Leonard of FXC, Katie Rehm of ANR, Rachelle Kanady of AWS, Jay Dorris of ANR, Joey Caterinichio of USSA, and Sam Sterling, Eric Strabel, Greta Anderson, and Erika Klaar of APU. We also would like to thank the NAWTA and the APU Elite Team for joining us on Saturday and allowing us to learn, even but a little, about what being a world class skier really means. Finally, a very special thanks to NNF for the hi-visibility training shirts for the camp and to CCAK for their contributions to making this camp happen.
On a personal note; this has been my 5th, and final, REG camp and I would personally attest to the success and benefit of these camps. I hope that the juniors of the future will be as lucky as I have been in being able attend these camps and I hope those who support such endeavors will continue to do so.
New Website for the NNF
Content, Stories and Insights from Tomorrow’s Nordic Stars
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