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Thursday, November 30, 2006

S. Africa

Starting tomorrow same-sex couples in South Africa will have the right to get married! I know this has nothing to do with skiing or my life, which are the topics of my blog, but I think this is a very cool and noteworthy piece of legislation and wanted to point it out to y'all.

Farewell, West Yellowstone

I think 13 nights in the same hotel room is my new record for how long I've stayed in the same place on a trip. But today, our stay in the quaint town of West yellowstone is ending and after this afternoon's ski we will drive up to Bozeman, MT.

This is my fourth year attending the West Yellowstone Ski Festival over Thanksgiving week and every year I really enjoy the experience. Skiing around with so many different skiers from all over the country is pretty cool. Plus, you get the entire range of abilities: people who have never skied before, High school skiers, college skiers, master skiers, really really old-but-still-crazy-good master skiers, and some of the fastest skiers in the country. And everyone is happy to be skiing, regardless of how well they can ski. It is a pretty uplifting atmosphere to be around and I hope I will be back next year.

As much as I like West Yellowstone, entrance to the great Yellowstone Nat'l Park, I am looking forward to some new ski trails and more races this weekend!

Just training, again

After the first races this weekend, big crowds & first time on snow, going back to a normal training week is anticlimactic. I'm in race mode now and just want to race... I don't know about all these distance skis, strength workouts, intervals, let's race again! I know that maintaining my fitness this early in the season is crucial to peaking when I want to later in the season, but I still would rather just race. Luckily, I we have more races in Bozeman this Saturday & Sunday-- ind. skate sprints on Sat and team classic sprints on Sun. We're racing in a park downtown which should be fun. Although I am sad that we won't get to ski at Bohart at all. I would love to get to ski a lap of Logger's Loop again and hit the bohart S-turns fast. Oh well. At least this is the last Big Week for training for us, from now on we get to start backing down the weekly hours so we will be a little more rested for the races.

This morning Caitlin & I are going to practice our team sprint hand-offs!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Meditative Isometrics

I've started to take advantage of our morning isometric strength routine and use it as a meditation time. I'm not talking about super hard-core meditation here, just a series of one-minute stretches focused on breathing & being mindful. Our isometric strength consists of a series of static poses, like the yoga position 'the plank,' which tax the core muscles. This is what I'm attempting. First and always, focus on the breathing: breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, and so on and so forth. That's the root of the exercise. Then I try to relax every muscle that I'm not using. Mostly those are muscles in the feet/hands/face/neck since isos require almost a complete body flex to hold the poses. The hardest part is not thinking about anything else. My mind always wants the think about something so I have to keep telling myself just to breathe and relax and think about nothing. This is why it helps to close my eyes, because anything I look at triggers a thought process so not being able to see eliminates a lot of distractions. It's a good way to start the day (twice a week, at least) AND I think it makes isos easier. bonus.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

10km Classic Race

Saturday morning we had a 10km classical race and the men raced 15km. This was a new course for me since they had a new cut-off groomed to make laps, so I skied it before the race. It was, um, easy. And this isn't just me saying this, everyone else I talked too said the same thing. There was one hill at the start but we only had to ski it once, and the rest of the course was just rolling. It snowed the day before, but stopped so that they could groom it and let the tracks set up over night so the tracks were firm and consistent. The wax was perfect. It was sunny and cold. Basically, it couldn't have been an easier race day.

My plan was to start off easy and then pick it up, but I didn't execute it correctly since at the top of the first hill where I went by Fish, I was leading the race. Fish was pretty excited because at that point, I was leading and Compton was in second. Then I slowed down. At one point I got really really cold and my limbs did not want to move, but then I warmed up again. I think there was a higher moisture content then we've had here so far that I didn't factor in when I got dressed. I ended up 6th & Compton was 2nd. Our boys also did really well with Garrott Kuzzy in 3rd and Andre Watt in 13th. It's fun to see my teammates up there in the results, beating out some big names.

Compton's great results this weekend put her into the lead for the overall SuperTour standings... and I'm actually in second! Which means that she gets to wear the leader's bib in the next race. (I had to wear it for the classic race.) Now we will continue training in West Yellowstone until Thursday when we drive up to Bozeman.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The start of the women's A final heat-- Compton (2), Camenisch (1), Valaas (3), Stursova (4). It was sweet to have a teammate to race with, two against two, Rossignol vs CXC/Salomon. Posted by Picasa Posted by Picasa

Making my move in the final heat on Friday, here I am passing Karin Camenisch to take the lead! Thanks to Kelsi Evans for taking & sending me photos! Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 24, 2006


Okay, so I won the sprints today. Don't worry, I won't let it go to my head. My team won't let it either-- after cooling down Caitlin & I had to walk home, then I had to scrub the burned spaghetti sauce out of the pot, then clean klister off my skis and wax them for tomorrow's 10km classic race.

Our first race was so so fun & everyone did really well. Three of us made the heats: Garrott Kuzzy qualified in 8th, Caitlin Compton qualified in 2nd, and I qualified in 3rd. Caitlin and I both won our quarterfinals. You should have seen Compton blow apart her quarterfinal and she breezed into the finish looking like she had just skied a warm-up lap, it was pretty sweet and made me laugh to see how hard the other girls were gasping trying to keep up with her. My quarterfinal was immediately after hers & I led out, kept the lead, and won it. Then Compton & I raced in the same semi-final. We started in 3rd & 4th, letting Kate Underwood face the strong winds on the front, then came around 200m before the finish to take 1st & 2nd, advancing to the Women's A finals. The top four prelim qualifiers were in the A final: Karin Camenisch, Caitlin Compton, Valaas, Martina Stursova. Camenisch pulled to the front immediately and I jumped in behind her. She led most of the way and I pulled around at the top of the second hill, 200m before the finish to take the win. I used one tactic at the finish that I thought was clever: Karin and I were lined up almost perfectly to take the 2nd & 3rd finish lanes, respectively, and I moved in front of her to take the second lane just to force her to change her line if she wanted to pass me. Compton came in third and Stursova in 4th.

Kuzzy beat out Kevin Hochtl to take second in his quarterfinal and advance to the semis. In his semi he got stuck behind one of the skiers who got tired and let the other two gap him, so Kuzzy raced the men's B finals. He demolished the other men in the B final and won with a huge gap to place 5th overall.

I had so much fun racing today. I kept lining up at the start with a big smile, looking down the course and just wanting to race. I didn't even think about winning, I just wanted to ski and compete. It was also awesome to have all the CXC athletes to do so well at our first race since this is the first season that the team has existed. And I loved having compton to race with, having fast teammates rocks! We are super psyched to take on some team sprints this season.

The support that we had today was excellent. We finally have all of our gear, & everything worked great. More importantly though, we Bryan Fish to spend all day today at the course testing and waxing skis and coaching and generally just making sure that we could each have the perfect race. And now he has to stay up late waxing our skis tonight and be up early at the race course testing waxes again tomorrow. I think coaching is a really demanding job and requires the ability to function at a high level on little sleep. I'm glad I'm on the athlete side of things.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Tromping up a hill. It's been awesome to get to see the Whitman team around. Both to reconnect with people from when I was on the team and to get to know this year's new freshmen. The last time I saw Sarah (blue shirt), was in Cusco, Peru so it was fun to get to see her again and remember S.Am. Posted by Picasa

On our off day Monday the Whitman girls & Sarah Schoen and I (both Whitman Alumns) skied into Yellowstone Nat'l Park. Here Emma Lohr & Kate Ceronsky show off some serious side-stepping. Photographs courtesy of the lovely Kelsi Evans.  Posted by Picasa

Okay, I know it is only Wednesday and the race isn't until Friday but Compton and I did a dress rehearsal. We are practicing our start here, I think Compton does a better intimidating face than I do. I have the dubious honor of being the first starter in the first SuperTour this season. Posted by Picasa

Don't we make a good pair? We're looking forward to some team sprints together this winter. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

This is the post that's up all over town advertising the West Yellowstone Ski Festival. They portray the wide range of activities and people who come to the festival: Ski waxing and wax techs, equipment demos and product reps, skiing & recreational skiers, racing and hard core skiers. And who's that girl in the Whitman suit skiing behind Wendy Wagner?  Posted by Picasa

Maria Stuber shows off the van, I know you've been dying to see a full shot of it! It's even aquired a tentative name: Tiny, which I believe we can credit Brian Gregg for. The front passenger door is welded shut; I don't think I've mentioned that yet. We haven't been able to come up with a plausible expanation for why. (Maria skis for Northern Michigan University, dates Bryan Cook, and her Birthday is today.) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Compton and I were commiserating this morning over how tricky it is to navigate the role of female athlete. The main goal, of course, is to be fast. But then there's the hot factor to deal with too. Really, as a female athlete, you have to be at least kinda fast and kinda hot. Because if you're only fast, then you get perceived as unfeminine and slightly socially deviant. On the other hand, if you're only hot then you fall into the objectified female hole. Basically there's a lot of pressure on women in this society to be good at something and be hot. Sometimes I don't think guys have to achieve such high standards in a the same variety of areas, but they probably do & I just don't see it as clearly. hmm.

Kuzzy spurred this thought process by accusing me of wearing lipstick this morning. I replied that I had tinted lip gloss. It was the burt's bees skinny tube of colored lip stuff. I don't know, is that lipstick? maybe I shouldn't have tried to defend myself.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Caitlin Compton is excited to put her new Exel Black Feather pole kits together today. Posted by Picasa


I've had a chance to try out some of my new gear and wanted to give a report on some of the equipment we've been using.

I'm skiing on Salomon boots/bindings/skis and have been very impressed with everything. I've always skied on their boots and bindings and this year's models have surpassed any of their previous boots/bindings by a large margin. The black beauty (S-Lab) boots speak for themselves, you just need to try a pair and you'll love them without caring about the carbon fiber sole and heel cup. and you'll love them even more the first time you ski in sloppy conditions and realize that they are completely waterproof. Unfortunately, if you haven't already bought a pair, you might not be able to find a pair to buy. Their second-best model has most of the same features as the black beauty, however, and would make a good substitute.

How frustrating is it to have a pair of classic skis with binding that have lost their bumpers or skate skis with the yellow pull-tab thing ripped off? That is why I am super psyched that the Salomon bindings this year have no breakable/fall-off-able parts. That's right, you won't have to replace bumpers or tabs anymore. On the more technique-focused side, the bumper interfered with a skier's ability to get a full range of motion when striding, it forced the energy forward into the ski. Without a bumper, the force from kicking off all goes straight down. I guess the fact that the classic bindings now utilize the pilot system is also exciting, but I'm way more excited about their bumperlessness. I haven't noticed the classic pilot system while striding but I think it really helps while herring-boning to keep the ski aligned under your foot.

Now for the skis, wow. I've barely even gotten any wax in them and they already feel wicked fast. I've been really happy with how all of my skis have felt and am glad that I switched to skiing on Salomon. The skate skis are a clever hybrid of a stiff, energetic ski with a low riding camber. That they're stiff means that they respond well and quickly, like little trampoline skis. That they have a low camber means that the pressure is distributed over a larger portion of the ski base which means that they track really well and aren't squirrley. They also have a carbon fiber section across the top which probably enables the stiff-low camber hybrid but I just think it mostly looks sweet. The classic ski utilizes a box camber and I have loved the two pairs I've skied so far. Usually I have some trouble figuring out how to kick my first time on actual skis but these have been super easy to kick, even with unsophisticated waxing. Yep, I'm pretty psyched to be skiing on such nice stuff.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Beautiful Day

Everything is beautiful today. Everybody is beautiful. It's just one of those days. I like everything and everybody. Even if somebody was mean to me I would interpret it as him trying to be nice but failing and I'd still like him. There's snow on the ground, the sun is shining, my skis are fast, my kick wax works, someone made my bed for me, the water pressure in the shower is high, I got a red pepper and ginger snaps with lunch. Even cleaning my skis was beautiful; I had on green binder with toko violet and red so when I scraped it off it swirled to look like watermelon saltwater taffy. I forget every year how much I love to ski. Then I ski for the first time and think, "I want to do this every day, with a team or by myself, anywhere." And this year, I get to.

I love this life.

Friday, November 17, 2006

One week to races!

After many many hours training with my small CXC group in Hayward, WI this summer and fall, there is only one week until our first race of the season! Next Friday we get to race a 10km classic race on the Rendezvous ski trails and finally see if all of our training has resulted in faster skiing. We made it through the boring, lonely training season and now the real fun starts!

Plus, now is the time that we get to reconnect with all of our skiing friends from around the country. I can't wait to get to see my old Whitman teamates and coaches, as well as a few other Whitman Alumni! Racing is a great way to make friends, and every race weekend is a small reunion. I'm excited about all of the old friends I will get to see this race season as well as the new friends I will assuredly make.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

My personal favorite: the rims that we spray painted silver so they would match, at least we have new, good snow tires on now (not in this picture). Posted by Picasa

Whitman Nordic Website

That's right, my rockin' Whitman coach, Nathan Alsobrook, made a website for the Whitman Nordic Team, so if you're a Whitman student/alumn/fan and are interested in what the ski team's up to check it out!

Whitman Nordic Team

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I also made a larger stencil for my new ski bag, which I think could grow on me. I also put the same logo on some of my skis. Those didn't really turn out at all as I let the paint dry too long before peeling of my stencil and it pulled pieces of the logo off with it. I'm also curious to see if the paint will stay on the boots/skis/bag after a season of rough wear.  Posted by Picasa

One last art project before leaving Cresthill. I can't take any credit for this one, Alan gave me the idea and came up with the design. I really like the idea but I'm not sure I'm satisfied with how it came out. I think Alan's original suggestion was better of just making a sticker and then spraying it with a protective coating, but I wanted to play with the spray paint. Posted by Picasa

We also have an escape hatch in the roof of our van. Unfortunately, it leaks . Fortunately, the entire interior of The Van is carpetted in a dusty brown so if we do roll, we have a little padding. Unfortunately, that dusty brown really is super dusty and gives Kuzzy allergies.  Posted by Picasa

The first day of the next five months

is tomorrow.

The skis have a generous layer of travel wax on them, the kitchen is cleaned up, my bags are packed, I booked the little subaru into a cozy hotel room for the next five months. Five months!? Am I really going to be on the road racing for the next five months!? Sometimes I think my life is a dream and I keep expecting to wake up.

All of a sudden it's ski season and I face the upcoming months excited, of course, but nervous also. You might think I would be in pretty good shape after all the training we do, but I don't really feel super fit or amazingly fast. I feel like Laura, just normal Laura. I know I've trained harder and more consistently this summer and fall than ever before but I'm not super impressed with my fitness level or physique. Maybe my perception of reality is skewed since the other people I have to compare myself to now are Kuzzy, Gregg & Cook and they're all super cut. Oh well, we'll see how fast and how fit I am soon enough. Early tomorrow morning we hit the road and will spend Thursday and Friday driving The Van to West Yellowstone, MT.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Just in case one of us ends up in a wheelchair, we know where to secure it. Posted by Picasa

Nostril Nimbus

This morning we did 4x3min level 4 intervals, 15min level 1, and another 4x3min set of level 4 intervals. What this means in layman's terms is that I blew at least twelve juicy snot rockets out of each nostril. A snot rocket, for those who are more refined in their nasal passage clearing techniques than I, is when you hold one nostril closed with your thumb, turn your head to the side and blow air explosively out of the open nostril, thereby purging it of snot. Repeat on the other side. There's also a few variations on this. There's the Double Snotter, usually reserved for races when you can't spare a hand and don't care if you have a wad of mucus dripping down or frozen on the front of your thigh, where you snort with as much force as possible in the hopes that the snot will at least clear the rest of your face.

Clearly you can't be wiping away the remnants after every snot rocket, that would result in really nasty gloves and faces are easier to clean than gloves. (Most of us end up with really nasty gloves anyway, but it's good to attempt to reduce the nastiness factor of the gloves.) So flecks from the snot rockets build up around each nostril and dry out to form a nimbus of snottiness. This was my realization when I happened to look in the mirror while I was waiting for the shower to warm up.

Nostril Nimbi are especially fun after a ski when you stand around talking to people and you forget that you have nimbi of dried snot on your face. Or when you go into a warming hut to get hot chocolate and the steam re-liquifies your nimbi and they drip into your hot chocolate. Since this happens to everyone, I propose that we embrace nostril nimbi. They should be a sort of badge of honor denoting true skiers from wannabees. Or maybe I should start carrying a handkerchief.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The sound system in The Van is amazing. That's right, a radio. No CD player, no tape deck, not even an 8 track player, there isn't even a cigarette lighter to power anything. Yes, it is going to be a long drive from Wisconsin to Montana this week, I just hope there are good radio stations along the way!  Posted by Picasa

Be a better skier

If you are interested in improving your cross country skiing technique, either classic or skate, I would like to offer you private lessons with me. In particular, if you are going to be in West Yellowstone this Thanksgiving week and want to start the season with good technique practices, I will be there and available for personal coaching. Contact me if you are interested, laura@lauravalaas.com.

Or, if you won't be in yellowstone, but will be in one of the following locations while I am there I would love to help you become a better skier! Places I will be this winter: Bozeman, MT; Ketchum, ID; Heber City, UT; Houghton/Hancock, MI; Hayward, WI; Presque Isle, ME.


This morning we trooped over to the Lenroot Lodge to test our VO2 thresholds. Yuriy drove up from Madison with all his VO2max testing equipment and we set up a treadmill in our weight room. Gregg went first and I played cineamatographer and filmed him to get footage for a CXC promotional/informational video. I've decided that VO2max testing is only helpful if you do it regularly so that you can compare your graphs over time and relate them to your training.

Here's the procedure we followed:
Yuriy doesn't let us warmup, I think that's fine for scientific research but for informational athlete testing I think that a warmup would improve the usefulness of the test, since we never have all out efforts without a warmup. Then we stand on the treadmill and get hooked up. First we put on the heart rate monitor strap that records your heart rate into the machine. Then Fish takes our resting lactate to get a baseline. Then Yuriy attaches the awful mask to our faces and connects the hose from the mask to the machine. Actually, I thought the mask was less awful today than the first time I took the test. Once the machine starts picking up our breathing Yuriy starts the treadmill. Every two minutes Yuriy increases the speed (the incline remains constant at 10%) and we run until we can't or until we hit 15 minutes when the machine ends the test automatically. At the end, which is when I can't keep up with the treadmill anymore, we grab the handrail and step onto the side bars while the treadmill slows to a stop. The mask stay on to record our recovery and Fish takes two more lactate readings.

I was last and Yuriy had to dash off to Madison right away so I didn't really look at my results very closely. It was pretty cool to look at Gregg & Kuzzy's graphs compared to this summer's tests; they both had pretty significant fitness improvements. One myth I would like to dispell is that this is a VO2 MAX test, we're really looking to see where aerobic and anaerobic thresholds are and how they are changing as a result of our training. The VO2max is a measure of innate potential, doesn't change, and therefor isn't interesting unless you're a coach trying to decide which athletes you want to invest your time with. I'll try to get some photos from testing up, I was filming but I think some pics were taken on Fish's camera.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Our Van used to be used as a handicap vehicle so the warnings and info for operating the wheelchair lift are still on the door. These small touches add to the overall character of The Van.  Posted by Picasa

Literary Excerpts

"In conclusion, this paper became way too long and needs to be cut short before I break into the fourth page. Therefore there will be no concluding paragraph." (9/21/02)

I was going through my files from college deciding what I wanted to save in another place in case my computer dies for good and came upon the above paragraph at the end of a paper. I wondered why I didn't have the final version of the paper, since this one clearly wasn't finished. And then I remembered that I had turned that in as it was (Sports Psych, Dean snyder). Wow, who writes that at the end of a college paper, even if it is a chill class?

Another excerpt from a sports psych paper:

"I believe in my ability to ski fast. I have put in many hours training which will serve as a platform for future races. I will remain positive. I do not need the approval of others or recognition to be satisfied with my performance. I will measure success on an internal level rather than outcome based because I have no control over other racers. I will make the most out of the time I have to train and compete, pushing myself to my highest level of ability, so I can continue to compete at a level that is satisfactory to me for as long as I am able." (10/19/02)

Four years later, that's still an accurate statement.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Just in case the driver forgets that our van is over nine feet tall, there's a bright pink sign on the windshield to remind him or her.
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My first attempt at being artistic with acrylic paints and random bits of material. I told one of the ladies at the Hayward Art Beat that I was trying out collaging and she composed a shoebox full of really interesting tidbits of fancy papers, old postage stamps, crazy material & other interesting, indescribable stuff to work with!  Posted by Picasa

Starry Skies

Actually, whenever I write skies I think of my old Whitman coach August Teague who signed his emails "August likes skies" when he meant to write skis. I stopped making fun of him when I found out he was dislexic. But that's totally besides the point.

Thursday was a great day. Short run, isometric core strength, breakfast, skate uphill intervals, lunch, 3.5hrs hanging out at the Hatchery Park. I'll start with our (Kuzzy & I only, Gregg was sick for the day) time at the Hatchery Park. Last week we were doing our poling workout on the hill by the Hatchery and a group of people were having some sort of practice. After our workout we chatted with the leader, Ethel Morris, and learned that it was the special olympic nordic/snowshoe team and they practiced every Thursday. So this Thursday Kuzzy and I went down to help with their practice from 3:30-5. We warmed up with the whole group, about 15 athletes plus 2 moms, and then Kuzzy and I worked with some of the older boys. It was awesome to get to help out with a group that was clearly having fun together and wasn't too concerned with being fast. It also made me feel guilty about having a LOT of top-end ski gear when there are so many people who want to ski but don't have the equipment or the means to acquire the equipment.

I got to work with Mike Parr & Alex Mayou, both awesome, Alex was a normal athlete (I think that's the term to use although it seems to imply that the other athletes were abnormal) from the middle school who volunteered with the group. It did crack me up when they asked if I lived in the "city" or the "country." Um.. there's 2000 people in Hayward, does that make a city?

During that practice the Hayward High School nordic team showed up for their practice, so afterwards we got to chat with some of our buddies on that team. Finally, after the highschoolers cleared out, we got down to our workout.

By this time it is 5:30pm, well after dark, but the skies are clear and full of stars. The workout is poling intervals up a hill that goes up from the parking lot of the Hatchery, so we only are skiing a 200m section of pavement and after the highschool team leaves there's no cars. I can barely make out where the edge of the pavement is, but I know the hill and its curvature so well by now that I don't need to. The only real danger is that Kuzzy and I would run into each other in the dark, but we both stay to the right and watch out for each other. It was very zen. And I discovered that my poles send off crazy sparks when they slip, you miss that kind of stuff in the daytime.

Computer update: it is working, reluctantly, but I am not convinced that it will continue to work.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Electronic Sadness

Electronics don't seem to work for me. I got home from a delightful day of training yesterday, I got to ride my road bike around in the gorgeous sunset and then Kuzzy & I continued our ride over in Gerry's trainer room, then I came home to find that my computer was dead. Dead. Unable to start (and yes, thank you, it is plugged in). So if anyone knows another option for turning on an ibook other than pressing the power button, let me know. Otherwise, my blog might take a hiatus since I can't be stealing kuzzy's computer all the time.

No phone service, no internet, I'm cut off from the world... help me!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

You know how we make fun of the ski gear from years past? Like the neon ski suits or purple skis. But somehow the gear for the current year always looks hot, maybe flashy but always in a very fast way? Well, this year Salomon decided to skip looking hot this year and went straight to ugly. (Sorry Salomon, but I cannot lie.) The black and white lines down the length of the skis absolutly kill any chances they had of looking good. Maybe I should apply for ski fashion designer. Despite my critique of their looks, I am super excited to get to ski on these skis. Here's my theory: Ski manufacturers start with five stars to allot to each model of ski. (We're talking figurative stars here, like hotel ratings.) For example, a ski can have five star looks, but that leaves none for speed. Most ski manufacturers choose to divide the stars evenly because they have to look good so they can sell them to the masses (2-3 stars) and they have to be fast because some people are discerning about that. This year Salomon decided to have a speed ranking of four stars and only give the skis a one star appearance (they do, after all, have graphics and a smattering of color). So watch out for these ugly but fast skis come winter!

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A Skier's Christmas

Part of a skier's Christmas takes place in November. Not the part celebrating Christ's birth, I'm talking about presents. When skis, boots, or poles are on the wish list, there's no reason to wait until December 25th to give or receive. Most of my Whitman teammates would get ski gear for Christmas but get it in November in time to use it all season; waiting until the end of December to unwrap your skis is simply foolish. They need lots of layers of wax ironed in before Dec. 25th, and how would you do that if they were still boxed up in a closet somewhere? Not everyone agrees with me. Last year I was at home when a pair of boots came. I immediately opened the box and put them on, of course, only to have my mom materialize (how do moms do that?) and indignantly object that I couldn't have the boots yet since they were my Christmas present. Luckily, my dad & I managed to bring her around to our way of thinking, I even offered to let her rewrap them so I could open them again Christmas morning.

I'm thinking this because it's like Christmas over here, new skis!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Enough, Already!

After an extremely easy week (~8hrs) I am ready to start training again. I understand that easy weeks are necesary and that if I didn't go super easy I wouldn't be able to absorb/recover from last week's high intensity training or be rested enough to tackle next week's heavy training load but they're a little too mellow sometimes. I am ready to get back to really training, starting on Tuesday morning with a VO2max test! I'll let you know how that goes, I wasn't a fan the first time we did it this summer, maybe because I had to run on a treadmill.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

New Schedule

I updated my racing schedule today. Keep in mind that this is my ideal racing schedule. I know it will be accurate up through January 20th but then come races that I have to qualify for, like U23 Worlds in Italy. So I guess my schedule is part goal statement. At the end of March I listed a couple of races that it would be my dream to race in-- World Cup Classic Sprints. So those are there to remind me how much I want to compete in a World Cup race. I would be euphoric if I got to race those. yep. dreaming.

I took a break from painting today (a girl can only take so much frustration) and listened to classical music and started a new cross-stitch. Gregg thinks I am the only 22 year old to be doing cross-stitch. I tell him it is the next hot thing. Which it is, just you wait. Kuzzy went to the twin cities for the weekend but I was happy to see that he was a darling and left us his ipod&speakers to fill our little cabin with music.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Painting thoughts

Among other things, I spent today painting. Or rather, attempting to paint as I was, by any standard, unsuccessful. And then Scott and I concluded as we sat by his gorgeous construction-debris bonfire on the lakeshore that it was good to attempt activities in which we lack skill and experience. Most things I do I consider to be outcome oriented: I want good results in ski races, I wanted good grades in college, I wanted the perfect LSAT score, I brush my hair (or not!) because I want it to look a certain way, etc. I think it's healthy for me, and everyone, to balance outcome oriented activites with process oriented activities (too many process activities and you might not ever finish/accomplish anything, which would also be too bad). The prospect of certain failure, or at best mediocrity, forces one to focus on the process, on the activity itself.

What I painted today was not worth the time I spent painting (nope, not even close). Was I wasting time? No, but I had to realize that my motivation for painting wasn't to produce paintings, it was to engage in the act of painting. Knowing I wasn't going to end with a brilliant piece of artwork also allowed me to embrace mistakes, experiment, and risk completely screwing everything up. That perspective when approaching a task is liberating. If you don't have expectations for the finished product, the fear of failure doesn't weigh on you and you're free to soar wherever. As Ansel Adams said, "to require perfection is to invite paralysis." We must be willing to fail.

This reminded me that EVERY activity has a process and an outcome. Sometimes focusing on the outcome leads to experiencing a really cool process, like how wanting to be a superfast skier has led me into this lifestyle. And sometimes focusing on the process leads to amazing outcomes, like simply enjoying skiing and then becoming superfast. Both process and outcome should motivate and intrigue you for an activity to be worthwhile. I want to remember not to get so caught up in the process that I forget about my ultimate goals and not to become so intent on a particular outcome that I neglect to enjoy the action, mental or physical, of struggling to attain that goal.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My least favorite thing right now...

...is my camera. I am very very angry with it. I finished my first mixed media painting and wanted to take a picture of it to show y'all. And have been trying all evening without success. I especially want to take a picture of it because I know Miss Jensen will be very disappointed if I don't. And I didn't. And that makes me disappointed in myself. Which I do not like to be. Then I finished my cross-stitch, yes, I know cross-stitching is pretty lame, but it's kind of pretty and I wanted to show y'all that too. But I can't, because my camera refuses to cooperate. ::Growls::

Senior National Website

The website for Senior Nationals in Houghton, MI is up HERE. Senior Nationals isn't until January 3-7 and I'll relink when there are results, but if you're super excited about it and want to check out the light dusting of snow on the Mich Tech Trails webcam, knock yourself out.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Salomon came out with some new boots this year, I think they're calling them the Black Beauty. Orginally I thought, "yeah, yeah, they changed the color, added a little bit more carbon fiber, it's all just marketing schemes to get people to want this year's boot instead of last year's." Then I decided to ski in them yesterday. As soon as I started skiing I thought, "whoa, wow, something is definitely different here, and I like it." I'm not sure what's different, but I really, really like these boots. They feel snappier, faster, happier. I also like that they got rid of the velcro cuff closure (I wish glove manufacturers would follow suit). Velcro should not be used. It is for people who are too lazy to size things accurately enough to use zippers or snaps and it always stops working. Also, I think it's Musty, and ski gear shouldn't be Musty.  Posted by Picasa

I used my new Toko water belt today for the first time. I must admit that there was some seperation anxiety when I left my old water bottle belt behind. I mean, I've been using the same bottle holder since middle school. Almost, I guess I stole my brother's at some point, but it was exactly the same, just unused. And I don't think he knows I took his, so don't tell him. Luckily I think he is too busy studying to read this. So there's going to be some adjustments to use this one. This water carrier is good because: it holds more water, it keeps hot drinks warmer for longer, you don't have to worry about the mouthpiece freezing shut, there's two zippered compartments for food/map/wax/cork, and it's yellow. It's drawbacks are that you basically have to stop and take it off when you want a drink and it sits differently on my back. I think that once I get used to how it feels, I will like it more than a bottle carrier.  Posted by Picasa

Marwe Angel

After my very short (it's a super light week) ski yesterday I checked my rollerski wheels. I routinely look at the front wheels and this time I looked at the rear too. Upon doing so I realized that the useful life of my rollerski wheels was over and that my dad would not be happy with the condition of the rear wheel bolts. Oops. I had to figure something out for the next two weeks until we go to West Yellowstone. Buying new wheels and trying to take out the stripped bolts seemed like my best option. Then I saw Kuzzy after work and he said, "Oh, did Fish tell you that Gerry has a pair of rollerskis that you can borrow until we leave for West?" I mean, I didn't even ask for this, but it was perfect timing. So last night we went trick-or-treating for rollerskis at Gerry's house and he hooked me up with not just one pair, but TWO (slow & fast), and a rollerski bag for transport. Sweetness. Gerry Hansen owns and runs the SunFlour Market, a local Hayward organic/bulk foods store and, as far as I can tell, is just a rockin' skier/cyclist/badass supportive community member.

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