‘Train Like A Birkie’ Camp Timed for Fat Tire Bike Festival, with Elliott Back in Town

Alex KochonAugust 9, 2013
Scenes from the 2012 "Train Like A Birkie Champion" camp: featured skiers Tad Elliott and Matt Liebsch lead fundamental movements and balance work. (Photo: Facebook)
Scenes from the 2012 “Train Like A Birkie Champion” camp: featured skiers Tad Elliott (black and yellow) and Matt Liebsch (fourth from left) lead fundamental movements and balance work. (Photo: F.A.S.T./Facebook)

Bill Pierce gets it. If you’re a citizen or master athlete in the Midwest, chances are you’re not training year-round for the Birkie – or at least you have other races and diversions to keep you entertained through the summer.

And if one of those interests is mountain biking, you might be signed up for the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival from Sept. 13-15 in Cable and Hayward, Wis.

Perfect, thought Pierce, the outgoing director of F.A.S.T. Performance Training who recently took over as head coach of the Central Cross Country (CXC) elite team. Let’s give those athletes a dryland camp with a mountain-bike twist. And let’s get Tad Elliott back to northern Wisconsin.

Both elements were relatively easy to pin down, Pierce explained on the phone earlier this week. At the end of last year’s “Train Like A Birkie Champion” camp, Elliott, a former U.S. Ski Team (USST) member who’s still pursuing professional skiing while mixing up training with his other love – mountain biking (he was on the U23 national team) – vowed to make the trek from Durango, Colo., back to Seeley, Wis. Then Pierce suggested adding a mountain-bike option to the three-day camp.

“I suggested it and he jumped on it,” Pierce said. “It was done for a marketing reason. The citizen-master athlete does not train for skiing from May ’til March. They’re doing multiple things, and I think one of their main goals is to enjoy an exercise program that’s two or three sports.”

Pro skiers Tad Elliott (second from left) and Matt Liebsch (second from right) with Rivers Eatery owners Mick and Beth for the Saturday-night dinner at last year's "Train Like A Birkie Champion" camp. (Photo: F.A.S.T./Facebook)
Pro skiers Tad Elliott (second from left) and Matt Liebsch (second from right) with Rivers Eatery owners Mick and Beth for the Saturday-night dinner at last year’s “Train Like A Birkie Champion” camp. (Photo: F.A.S.T./Facebook)

From Sept. 6-8, F.A.S.T. will sponsor its third consecutive “Train Like A Birkie Champion” camp, which Pierce timed strategically before the Fat Tire Festival that attracts some 2,500 riders annually. Last October, the citizen/masters’ camp that featured Birkie champs Elliott and Matt Liebsch had 15 or 16 participants, Pierce said. This year, he’s hoping for as many as 30.

“We’re kind of taking advantage of fall training,” he said. “For almost all masters and citizens, [it] doesn’t get thought about until Sept. 1.”

While Liebsch won’t be at this camp (the Minnesota native and Gear West race services director held his own earlier this summer), Boulder Nordic Sport race service director and former USST member David Chamberlain will, according the schedule.

Elliott will lead a mountain-bike skills and training session on the afternoon of Sept. 7, and about $1,500 dollars of the money raised through registration and a silent auction will go to him.

Another $2,000 to $4,000 dollars generated by the camp will go to the Birkie Skier Development Grant Program, which has doled out more than $200,000 dollars over the years to nordic programs across the U.S. Last year, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) awarded 10 grants to programs in Wisconsin and Minnesota totaling $11,000 dollars. Pierce hopes his fundraiser will supplement the ABSF’s yearly donation.

“They’ve given funds all over the country,” Pierce said. “The revenue is entry fees, $20, 40 or $50,000 in their budget; [they] give it as a line item. We’re trying to help them.”

“Train Like A Birkie Champion (On a Mt. Bike!)” Camp Schedule

Friday, September 6, 2013

8-9:00am: Check in at Lenroot Lodge, Seeley, WI
9-10:30am: Intro to the fundamental movements of Nordic skiing. Dry land drills and skills.
10:30-Noon: Double pole and V2 fundamentals on roller skis.
Noon-2:00pm: Lunch at the Sawmill and video review after.
2-5:00pm: V1 skate technique work with video.
5-6:15pm: Strength instruction and session.
6:45-8:30pm: Fish fry at the Sawmill and discussions with Dr. TBD.
8:30-10:00pm: Discussions and demos on ski selection and waxing by David Chamberlain from Boulder Nordic Sport.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

7:30am: Morning run or bike for 20 min. with exercises.
8-9:00am: Breakfast on your own.
9-10:15am: Stretching with Dr. Jim Mullens
10:30-Noon: Basic classic technique session and video with Bill, David, and Tad.
Noon-2:00pm: Lunch at the Sawmill with video review after.
2:00-4:30pm: An additional skate/classic roller ski workout session(specific strength) or an afternoon training and skills session with Tad on the mountain bikes.
4:30-5:30pm: How to deal with repairs in a race: flats, broken chains or spokes, etc…
6-7:30pm: Pizza dinner at the Rivers Eatery in Cable.
7:30-Done: Chat with a Champion, dessert and coffee during discussions with Tad about his pursuit of a US Olympic Team position.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

7-8:00am: Breakfast on your own.
8-10:30am: Classic or skate technique and video with Bill, David, and Tad.
10:30-Noon: Video review from the morning session.
Noon: Camp departure.

Camp Fee: The fee for this camp is $224.00.  It includes 2.5 days of coaching and sport instruction, two lunches, two dinners, and some swag.  The camp is limited to the first 30 registrations.  All proceeds from this camp go to supporting Tad Elliot and also a gift to the Birkie Skier Development Fund.

For more information or to sign up, click here.

Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon (alex@fasterskier.com) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.

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