Ann-Cathrin Uhl will be a senior at the University of Anchorage Fairbanks (UAF) this year, but for the summer she was back in her native Germany as usual.
Uhl made her first trip to NCAA Skiing Championships last season, finishing 30th and 34th at the races in Jackson, N.H. But she has long been a contributor to the UAF Nanooks effort both on the ski trails and as a cross-country runner. This summer, a group of ski teammates came to visit her in Germany.
“I understand Seiji Takagi, Nick Lovett, Anni and Jan Cech all got together for a couple of weeks earlier in the summer,” UAF head coach Nick Crawford wrote in an email. Lovett then joined Cech for a few extra weeks of training in the Czech Republic.
Uhl is probably also a familiar name to American competitors as well, because in both 2015 and 2016 she won the junior heats of the classic sprint at U.S. Cross-Country Championships.
Uhl took some time over email to share what it’s like to train from her home base in Germany’s Black Forest region, a mountainous region in the southwest of the country.
FasterSkier: Where are you based this summer? What part of the Germany?
Ann-Cathrin Uhl: This summer my training base is mainly the Black Forest, that is the southwestern part of Germany. I am living with my family in Mühlenbach, which is the town I grew up in. During the week I train at home and on some weekends I drive to the Alps for altitude training.
FS: What is your part of the Germany like? How is the landscape? What do people do there?
ACU: I live close to a town called Schonach, where the annual Nordic Combined World Cup is hosted. Sandra Ringwald, the German Nordic World Cup skier is also from this town. The Black Forest is a mountainous region, bordering France and Switzerland. Its beautiful nature with mountains, valleys, gorges, lakes and rivers is reason for lots of tourism. People that live here like to be outside and active. Hiking and mountain biking are very popular.
FS: Do you have a team that you are training with, or are most of your training sessions alone?
ACU: I don’t have a ski team I can train with. I do all the rollerskiing and strength on my own. But I am training with a professional mountain running team in my area. I actually got to know my teammates pretty well, since we were travelling to competitions together.
FS: How do you design your training — is it based on a plan from Nick at UAF? Are you adapting it at all to be able to match with other people/groups you might have opportunities to join?
ACU: My training is based on the plan from coach Nick at UAF. I am training with the running team two to three times a week and other than that I try to follow Nick’s instructions for rollerskiing, strength, volume, and intensity. Sometimes, I adapt the plan to train with the team.
FS: Is your college training plan very different in terms of volume, types of workouts, or other focus compared to what you would be doing if you were on a German team at the same level?
ACU: My college training plan is pretty similar to what I would be doing on a German team. I believe that Germans do more running and less strength than we do at UAF. Germans highly value intensity running workouts, whereas most of our intensity is on rollerskis, but other than that the plans are similar.
FS: What’s the hardest workout you have done so far this summer?
ACU: This question is hard to answer. I would say the workouts I did in the Alps were the toughest ones. I did some hard uphill rollerskis and mountain running workouts. Apart from that, I raced at German Mountain Running Nationals with the running team, which was a very intense and tough race.
FS: Are there any absolute favorite places to run or bike or rollerski?
ACU: I love training in South Tyrol, which is in Northern Italy. It’s super fun to do uphill rollerskiing and running in the Italian Alps. Other than that, the Black Forest is perfect for summer training. The landscape is very diverse and therefore perfect for road biking, running, and rollerskiing.
FS: Is your area set up best for some parts of training?
ACU: I honestly thing that the Black Forest is ideal for summer skiing training. At my home we have many excellent hills for intensity, but also hilly and flat areas for longer workouts. We have a million of trails for running and biking, and good bike paths for rollerskiing. We only drive three hours to the Alps for training in bigger mountains. The only thing that is currently missing is more snow in the winters.
FS: What do you do when you are not training? Do you need to have a job?
ACU: I worked a summer job at the tax office for six weeks. In my free time I like to hang out with my friends from home or go swimming at lakes and the local swimming pool.
FS: What is the best part of German summer, aside from training?
ACU: I like being so close to Switzerland, Austria, France, and Italy, because it’s so easy to travel and do some roadtrips. I also like the climate, since it gets up to a 100 degrees.
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.