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Gavin Kentch

Gavin Kentch wrote for FasterSkier from 2016–2022. He has a cat named Marit.
Balanced to the End, Sadie Maubet Bjornsen Retires (Part I)

To classic ski, and to do so well, requires an athlete to perform an almost stupidly large number of tasks at the same time. You have to move two arms, two legs, and two ankles in alternation, in almost infinite variations depending upon the snow, the wax, the course, and your remaining energy. You have to mediate between power and finesse, kick and glide, stimulus and weight transfer. In short, you have to balance a...

APU and UAA Skiers Take Season-Ending FIS Races in Alaska

  ANCHORAGE — The calendar said April, but the thermometer said January, as a small but well-credentialed field of athletes competed in a pair of FIS races at Anchorage’s Kincaid Park over the weekend. The April 10 and 11 events appear to have been among the latest FIS races held in this country in the past 30 years. Saturday morning in Anchorage dawned clear and cold. Anchorage broke its all-time temperature record for April 10 with...

Uniforms Addenda: More 2020/2021 World Cup Uniforms

There have been, by FasterSkier’s calculation, 37 distinct nations that have seen at least one athlete start a World Cup race this season. The first 22 of them were surveyed following the opening weekend of racing in Ruka, in what now seems like a dispatch from another era in which all Scandinavian countries competed and Jessie Diggins was still rounding into form. This article surveys the next 15 who competed on subsequent World Cup weekends,...

Racing in the Time of Covid, Part II: What About the Birkie?

Part one of this series covered regional racing in Alaska and parts of the Lower 48. It surveyed multiple sources suggesting that the true health risk involved with ski racing is not what happens on the race course, perhaps especially in an interval-start competition, but rather what happens outside of it, in the process of traveling to the race, or eating or drinking or sleeping while doing so, or returning to a home community after...

Racing in the Time of Covid, Part I: The Nature of the Problem

The winter of Covid continues. Most of the FIS races scheduled for this country this year did not happen. A few did. No one in Canada has done a single official high-level race this winter. No one in Vermont has, either. Some athletes from Canada and Vermont did not race and were chosen for international travel teams. Some athletes in Alaska raced a ton and were not. It’s been a tumultuous winter for everyone, for...

Call for Survey Responses: Heart Rate and Age

Are you a well-trained endurance athlete? Do you know your resting heart rate, maximal heart rate, average weekly training hours, and – tough one here – age? If you’re reading this website, the answer to all four of those is probably “yes.” If you have a moment to spare, Stephen Seiler would like your help. Seiler is a longtime professor of sports science, currently at the University of Adger in Kristiansand, Norway. We’ve spoken with...

Multiple American Women Held Out of World Juniors Races After Positive Covid Test or Contacts

Three American junior women have been held out of competing at 2021 Nordic Junior World Ski Championships in Vuokatti, Finland, following a positive Covid test or potential exposure to a positive case, Skinnyski.com has reported. Yesterday, American skier Michaela Keller-Miller wrote on SkinnySki, “Unfortunately, three members of the women’s US Junior team are in quarantine after one positive Covid-19 test and two possible exposures after contact tracing. As a result, American medal contenders Novie McCabe,...

American Teams Announced for 2021 World Juniors/U23s in Vuokatti

Last week, U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced team nominations for 2021 FIS Nordic Junior and U23 World Ski Championships, which will be held in Vuokatti, Finland, in early February. The athletes selected were as follows: U23 World Championships Team Women: Hailey Swirbul (APU Nordic Ski Center/El Jebel, Colo.) Sophia Laukli (Middlebury College/Yarmouth, Maine) Alex Lawson (Middlebury College/West Burke, Vt.) Hannah Halvorsen (APU/Anchorage, Alaska) Renae Anderson (Loppet Nordic Racing/Golden Valley, Minn.) Alternate 1: Leah Lange (University...

FasterSkier Explains: How to Clean the Fluoros Off Your Skis So You Can Race the Birkie

(Photo: NordicFocus) What: Fluoros, aka perfluorinated waxes, aka ski waxes containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), aka the really expensive waxes that you put on for big races, in some or all of block, liquid, or powder form. What they do: Make your skis go really, really fast, particularly in the wet or dirty snow conditions that sadly characterize more and more high-end races in an era of artificial snow and climate change. What else...

Maubet Bjornsen Repeats, Wonders Leads Men in Distance Skate in Anchorage

This article has been updated with additional information about the history of the Kincaid Hairpin FIS course, and with a link to an article compiling national club time trial results. ANCHORAGE — Sunday, the second day of FIS races in Anchorage, saw, at some level, more of the same: fresh snow (though much less than the day before), soft and slow conditions, and Sadie Maubet Bjornsen at the top of the results sheet. There were...

Maubet Bjornsen, Jager Take Wins in Snowy Classic Sprint in Anchorage FIS Races

ANCHORAGE — Sadie Maubet Bjornsen, Luke Jager, and Hunter Wonders won FIS races at Kincaid Park over the weekend against strong fields, in what would typically be statewide races used for Junior Nationals qualification but were this year held as a mostly Anchorage-based weekend after a state sponsoring body declined to host. This race writeup covers Saturday’s classic sprint qualifier, which along with Sunday’s freestyle distance races were the first FIS races held on this...

Rhapsodies in Blue: A Visual Guide to the 2020/2021 World Cup Uniforms

No one knows what the 2020/2021 World Cup season will bring by its end, but for three days, at least, its beginning felt like a spectator-less success. While a handful of familiar nations clogged the top of the results sheet – Norway, Sweden, Russia (plus Rosie Brennan’s time-of-day podium in the pursuit!) – there were in fact athletes from a total of 22 nations racing in the opening World Cup weekend in Ruka. That means...

FasterSkier Explains: Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act Passes Senate

FasterSkier Explains: Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act Passes Senate A new anti-doping bill that criminalizes international doping conspiracies, while pointedly focusing on high-level organizers rather than on individual athletes, and that makes an expansive claim for U.S. jurisdiction over doping occurring at international competitions while excepting the most high-profile American professional sports leagues, is on the verge of becoming law. Here’s what you need to know: What it is: “An act to impose criminal sanctions on certain...

Fluoros, FIS Races, and Foiled Plans: Overview of the 2020/21 Domestic Race Season

This article has been updated with additional information about the Birkie, about all races in Vermont, and about the current state of emergency orders in Anchorage. FasterSkier has previously reported on the significance of FIS points, points earned in races sanctioned by the International Ski Federation that can be used to compare skiers to one another even when they did not engage in head-to-head competition. Under normal circumstances, an athlete’s FIS points are used for...

Early-Season Snow: A Photo Roundup

2020 has been rough for many of us, at least for those readers who are fans of some or all of civil political discourse, summer training without choking wildfire smoke, or life unhaunted by the specter of a global pandemic. Against a steady drumbeat of bad news, here is some good news: Early-season ski conditions have been favorable in much of the country. Please enjoy this unscientific social media roundup of October and November skiing,...

A Summer Without Snow: Athletes and Coaches on a Year with No Summer Skiing

The koan that skiers are made in the summer has been around for longer than this website. The related truism, that summer snow time is necessary to effectively compete as a high-level skier come winter, also has a venerable history.  For example, here’s Luke Bodensteiner, writing in Endless Winter about why he had journeyed to a place where “the weather sucks all year long” to ski on the Sognefjellet snowfields in August 1993: “We all...

Matching Grant Announced for UAA Ski Team Supporters

ANCHORAGE — The beleaguered ski team at the University of Alaska Anchorage, or UAA, once more finds itself fighting for its continued survival as a competitive program, following last month’s decision by the University of Alaska Board of Regents to tentatively eliminate the alpine portion of the men’s and women’s ski team. As previously reported, the decision facially saves the UAA nordic team: USST national team member JC Schoonmaker and his nordic teammates will not...

BREAKING: Nordic Skiing Saved at UAA

ANCHORAGE — For the second time in four years, nordic skiing has been saved at the University of Alaska Anchorage, following a serious proposal to eliminate the ski team entirely. This time around, the victory is somewhat more of a pyrrhic one, as the University of Alaska Board of Regents voted Thursday to eliminate the alpine portion of the men’s and women’s ski team, unless supporters can raise over a half million dollars in advance...

Several RMISA Schools Currently Without an Active Nordic Coach

Multiple schools in the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association are experiencing flux with their nordic coaching staff going into the 2020/2021 ski season, according to representatives from each school. The schools in question are the University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Utah, and Montana State University, all of which have well-established nordic programs that placed highly at last year’s NCAA Championships. Neither Anchorage nor Montana State currently has anyone filling this position. Utah has two...

Longtime USST Teammates Reunite in Support of UAA Skiing

ANCHORAGE — The U.S. women’s epochal third-place relay finish at the World Cup stop in Gällivare, Sweden, in November 2012 is justly hailed as an inflection point for American skiing: For the first time in American nordic history, this country had four athletes who were all strong enough on the same day to challenge the traditional Scandinavian powers at their own game. The race begins Peggy Shinn’s historical treatment, World Class: The Making of the...