When Erik tells me to go for a 90 min L1 ski this morning he means ditch the trail, crust ski up Power Line, talk about nothing ski related with my friends, stop to shoot the strange weather station with Katie's slingshot, play on strange weather station, practice telemark turns back down the valley, stop for a quick geology lesson, and skate when the kick wax doesn't work... right?
There's a lake here in the summer and the water froze over. Then the water level lowered and the ice came down and broke over the rock. I don't know if there's a technical term for this, but maybe somebody else knows and can tell me? Ronsse & I also determined on this ski that Dylan is basically omniscient. Which is pretty impressive considering he's the same age as I.
I was a tiny bit sad to return to Alaska and skiing in the dark in the mornings and having the sun disappear well before I was ready to go to bed. Then I heard that Kikkan was even more sun-deprived that I was so now I don't feel like I have so much to complain about.
For Thursday Nov 29, 2007:
Wenatchee, WA (Lat. 47.4° N): 8hrs 48min of daylight Anchorage, AK (Lat. 61.2° N): 6hrs 14min of daylight Kuusamo, Finland (Lat. 66.0° N): 4hrs 13min of daylight
Freeman, Koos, Flora, Newell, & Randall are in Kuusamo getting ready for the world cup races there this weekend.
Now that I'm back in Anchorage it's back to serious training. I'm trying to improve my high speed V2 Alternate. It's been a weakness for awhile and it's time to try and fix it. I have trouble swinging my arms fast enough and compressing my legs explosively enough. I also don't commit to each leg enough and stretch my body out and open my arms high enough at the high point of the V2 Alt. Linzee, one of my dance instructors in college would tell me that I'm not finishing my movements. Drat. There's just not enough motion and speed in my V2 alt. Not enough. Something to work on this week.
It's Monday night already and I haven't sent in my training log. Another week that it's late. Oh well, I'm sure I had more important things to be doing on Sunday like skiing and napping. Plus I know Erik won't sit down to look at training logs until Tuesday since he's been multiple times busier than I this week, that's for sure. Being at races always makes me grateful that I'm an athlete and not a coach. It also makes me grateful that I'm not a couch which is sometimes how I try to spell coach.
Race season is officially underway and being back on the race circuit brings a flurry of emotions-- excitement, apprehension, pressure, focus, sorrow, joy. Aside from focus not technically belonging in a list of emotions, it's been a fantastic trip to savor the emotions that accompany life. Maybe that's one of the draws of racing-- it makes me feel as though I'm truly experiencing life.
Now I'm back in Anchorage and as nice as it is to be back home I wasn't ready to leave life on the road yet. I was just starting to warm up to life out of a duffel bag. It's delightfully simple and I kind of like it. Although I'm sure that come April I'll be less psyched about it.
I'm exhausted, we didn't get home from racing until about 5:30 and then I had to clean and travel wax my skate skis and prep my classic skis for tomorrow's race. whine, whine, sorry, but I want to go to bed so I will give you only a 5min segment of my day.
Race Start: 10:00:15 (bib #1) conditions: cold, near zero F
I'm standing over at our wax area with all of my warm-ups on picking out a hat to wear or something inane.
"2 minutes to start"
what, really? I jump on my race skis, grab my poles and dodge the SuperTour milieu, ski up to the line, pop off the skis, pull off the gloves so I can take off my jacket, throw my jacket to the side, frantically try to remove my warm-up pants which only have a short zip up the back of the calf.
"45 seconds to start"
Still trying to get my warm-up pants off. It's the kind of thing where the less time you have the harder they are to get over your boots.
Okay, toss the pants to the side.
Clip my skis on, feeling extremely grateful that it's cold and dry enough that I don't have to pick snow clumps out of the bottom of my boots.
okay, poles and gloves are lying at my feet, there's 5 seconds to start. This is not good.
There's maybe barely time to put on my gloves or to strap on my poles. Ah, I have these nice new Toko gloves that are fleecy on the inside and wind proof but still nice and thin and with long enough fingers and so so WARM. But those sweet red Swix poles look pretty useful too.
Throw the gloves off to the side and pick up the poles.
Right hand strapped into the pole.
Still fumbling with the left pole.
and just half a adrenaline filled heartbeat later I have both poles on and am pushing out of the start gate.
crossed the finish line and did an immediate 180 back to the start where I reached under the fence and grabbed my beloved gloves. Oh gloves, how I love you and how happy my hands to be back in the fleecy gloves!
As part of my ITA application I had to write an essay, actually a speech, given the prompt, "You have been selected to give the graduation speech at your High School... please craft a short speech in which you offer the graduating class the advice you think will best prepare them for the road ahead." I thought I would share my speech with you since, well, it's a piece of writing that I put a little more effort into than my typical blog post!
--- Don't Wait
Congratulations, today's the day, the day you've been waiting for these past four years. I feel as though I spent a significant amount of time in the years leading up to my High School graduation waiting. Waiting for my 16th birthday and a driver's license, waiting for the bell to ring (and by bell, I mean light!), waiting for weekends, waiting to move out of my parents' house, waiting to fall in love. Maybe you've been waiting too, maybe it's not just a cliche and this really IS the day you've been waiting for.
Don't wait. Like any repetitive behavior, waiting develops into a habit, a mode of living. Break the habit of waiting. Make every day the day that you live your dreams. Decide every day that what you're doing is exactly the thing you want to be doing that day. Be as excited about your average day as you are about socially important days such as this, your graduation.
I'm only starting to break the habit of waiting and it beckons me enticingly back like a still warm imprint under a down comforter on an early winter morning. Last year I stopped waiting to train as hard as I could, stopped saying I would build my yearly training volume gradually, hiding behind expert advice. Instead I started saying, every day, today I will do the best I can to make myself a better skier than I was yesterday. And it's working. Don't wait.
This year I'm struggling to grasp something else I've been waiting for. I've been waiting to have an impact on my world. I've been waiting, telling myself that when I actually accomplish something I can go out and do good. I was waiting for my PhD so I would have wisdom and expertise to share with people and to enrich lives. I was working on self-improvement, waiting until I was great, waiting until I could be a worthy role model. Now, the PhD is an unforeseeable distance away and I'm further from perfection than ever. If I'm ever going to share myself with the world, there's no waiting. I'm going to do it now and hope that the people I meet along the way will forgive me my imperfections.
Don't wait. Choose to be the best version of you that you can imagine. Choose to pursue your dreams every day. Choose to share your talents with your friends, with your community, with the world. Make these choices now, today, and every day... Don't wait.
I came up with this question after talking to my friend Jenny Townsend about Whitman and Walla Walla.
A lot of skiers develop excuses as to why they can't hang with the best. Training location is one of the big ones that always seems to come up. Here in Rochester, NY, I frequently deal with no snow, poor grooming, and lack of good ski trails nearby. I heard, though, that at Whitman there's often no snow in town and a long drive to the ski trails, which sometimes aren't much better than a snowmobile trail. There's also the added effect that Walla Walla is at low elevation while most of the western NCAA races are much higher. So Laura, how did you deal with these challenges to become one of the top skiers in the NCAA? What advice can you give to skiers that may also struggle with challenging conditions?
Thanks and good luck with your races!
Dear Friendly Lunatic-
It's true-- Walla Walla is at about 600 feet, there's seldom snow in town and it's a 45min drive to ski on sometimes groomed ski trails and sometimes snowmobile trails. The grooming's been getting better over the years and I think we only skied on snowmobile trails a couple times my senior year. While there's certainly challenges associated with such a training location, it also allows for lots of room for creativity.
Jenny helped coach the Whitman Ski Team my freshman year and one of my most vivid memories from that year is when Jenny led a strength session. Nope, not in the weight room (although Whitman does have a super nice one of those), but out on a run with impromptu stops to do push-ups, fence climbing, dips or some other torture depending on what the terrain offered. You can bring the same creativity and playfulness to ski training when there's poor grooming. Skiing on snowmobile trails, both classic and skate skiing, is excellent for developing balance and agility. Basically, instead of complaining about poor conditions you have to learn to appreciate and utilize the benefits you can get from your specific training location.
The low altitude is a little harder to overcome. I will say that the more often you go back and forth to altitude, the easier the transition becomes. Our ski trips were from Wed-Sun with races Fri/Sat so when you're at altitude 5 days every two weeks you can certainly learn to acclimate. Furthermore, there's a lot of benefits to training at a low altitude that you should appreciate-- increased speed capacity and decreased recovery time being the two big ones.
Most of us will ski faster when we're living in a vibrant community with plenty of opportunities for playing and exploring all of our passions than if we were hidden away in a mountain yurt with perfectly groomed ski trails outside our door every day-- it's good to balance access to skiing with access to life. People who love to train and love to ski will get faster regardless of where they're living.
Another good example is Miss LunaSki herself who will be competing in the 2007 US XC Running Champs on December 8th. Despite the challenges associated with living in Rochester she's certainly one speedy chica. LunaSki is another one of what I would call an overeducated ski bum and tells about her athletic adventures at LunaSki's blog. So good luck to LunaSki in that endeavor and we're looking forward to having her bring some of that aerobic fitness to the ski world later this winter.
p.s. LAV loves receiving questions whether frivolous or serious because that means she doesn't have to think up her own topic for a post: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The West Yellowstone Ski Festival is finally kicking into high gear and I busted out my new Salomon skis this afternoon for a skate ski and was starting to feel like a real professional skier. I had one ski from one pair and one ski from another pair and I was getting a feel for them and how they compared in soft snow and generally being a very sophisticated skier. Except that with all that was on the schedule today I never got around to scraping them so they were still travel waxed. Hmm, at least I looked like a very sophisticated skier.
It finally turned to winter last night here in West Yellowstone. After two days solidly in the 40's we're now hanging out in the low 20's with plenty of snow. These races are not about to get canceled. Game on.
Note about helmets: When we rollerski we wear helmets all the time (both the APU team and the USST). Except, obviously, this trip since we were all so optimistic that we didn't think we'd actually be rollerskiing so none of us packed our helmets. oops. But I strongly advise rollerskiing with helmets. Especially if you're on busy or hilly roads. As you can see here there's very little traffic on the roads on which we're skiing (one's a dead end).
This week I've reached a big landmark in my career as a skier-- I've finally come to love rollerskiing. I never expected this to happen. Rollerskiing's always just been a training tool to get me to where I want to be as a skier. I never went for a rollerski just because I wanted to rollerski. Then I showed up in West Yellowstone after putting my rollerskis away for the season and planning on not seeing them again until May and we went rollerskiing. And I liked it. I liked being out on a lonely country road skiing up the valley from point A to point B with no looping or doubling back. And as much as I hope that it will dump snow tonight, I'd be okay with going for a rollerski again tomorrow. It's not that I like skiing less, skiing is still by far the favorite, it's just that I finally appreciate rollerskiing for itself and not merely as a means to an end.
This is a video Holly Brooks took while we were out rollerskiing Sunday evening. I think that Erik loves having the empty roads so he can drive up alongside the athletes in our minivan and coach. Here, Holly is taking video and pictures, Casey is driving and Erik is giving technique advice.
This is my teammate Tyson Flaharty. You can find out more about Tyson by checking out his webpage: tysonflaharty.net.
This morning I was skiing with Holly and at the end of the trail we stopped to ambush the next people to ski up for an interview so that I could show you some video of the trails we're skiing on up on the high plateau.
Okay, for all of you folks waiting to drive to West Yellowstone-
We've skied Friday and Saturday mornings and it's actually been quite good. We had to drive pretty high up onto the plateau this morning to ski on the old logging roads but drove out of the rain and into a snow storm. So there's definitely snow to be found and I'm sure that if there continues to be no snow in town for the next couple days the good dudes at YTS will get up there and roll it out or even set tracks. In town it's pretty dismal after a nice rainstorm today washed away the last vestiges of snow. There's hope though and there's supposedly supposed to be more precipitation coming and the temps are supposed to drop a little by Monday. So as long as the precipitation and cold temps overlap a little bit we'll be golden.
But who comes for the snow anyway? All the teams are rolling into town and skiers have started to populate West Yellowstone so it'll be a fun week even if we have to drive a little ways to go skiing.
Snow update: it snowed last night but that plus more melted this afternoon so a net loss for the day. We did ski this morning (Friday) up on the High Plateau, but I'm not sure if it's still good for skiing after the sun this afternoon. I will try and let you know as soon as it snows here!
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
In addition to being a sweet Teddy Roosevelt quote, In The Arena is also a not for profit organization that seeks to improve the lives of today's youths by bringing them into contact with elite athletes in their community. In The Arena believes that elite athletes can serve as powerful role models because of their achievements, charisma, and society's obsession with sport.
I'm psyched to announce that I'm joining ITA's team of athletes! Since returning from the Lake Placid camp I've been volunteering in a local Elementary school.
ITA is an amazing organization with an incredibly simple, yet effective business plan. If you were interested in donating money somewhere and wanted to help support elite athletes but ALSO wanted to make a meaningful contribution to society ITA is a fantastic means of accomplishing both goals. In terms of benefit, there's multiple layers-- the community benefits from increased interaction between adults and youth, the youth benefit from having fantastic role models, the athletes benefit financially as well as those intangible benefits from volunteering. It's probably the most efficient system for allocating resources that I've found supporting athletics. And if you're an athlete (with some preliminary requirements like having a college degree) you can look into applying-- I think it's one of the most fulfilling sources of income as an athlete.
If you want to find out more about In The Arena there's great information on the ITA website.
Leaving for the first races in about 3min as Arduser is picking me up on the way to the airport. I'll let you know how it is. I have every confidence that we'll be skiing in town by Friday or Saturday.
By Rob Ollikainen World sports writer Posted November 12, 2007
PLAIN — Torin Koos, a two-time Olympic cross country skier from Leavenworth, had a skate-in with the law Saturday morning.
He was stopped for training on his roller skis near Plain.
Koos was stopped for five to 10 minutes, he said. He received no ticket. "The sheriff or whoever was pretty cool," Koos said. "It sorted itself out." Koos has been training in his hometown for the upcoming World Cup season.
Barbara Watson, 67, said she became concerned and called police at 10:19 a.m. after Koos started going up a steep, two-lane road on the side of the hill closest to Plain. She said the shoulderless road features a hairpin turn about two-thirds of the way down.
"We see a lot of accidents and people in the ditch," said Watson, who said she has lived near the bottom of the hill for about 15 years. "It's kind of like our mini Grand Prix to get out of Plain here," Watson said, adding that there was heavy traffic on the road Saturday.
According to information from the Chelan County Sheriff's Office, Koos was causing a traffic hazard and was warned for obstructing traffic.
World staff writer Jaime Adame contributed to this report.
Since I know most of you guys probably love the straight up data and since all of my fellow ski racers out there want to know how their competitors up in AK are skiing here's the results from Saturday. Overall place was determined by adding your place from each of the three heats.
There's nothing like waking up to a nice blanket of snow on the ground and big flakes falling persistently. It's 2:30 and the snow's still falling so I think that yesterday was my last trip up to Hatcher Pass for the fall. Even though I already did my OD this morning I'm tempted to go skiing again this afternoon.
In TK's Glen Alps trail report yesterday he introduced me to a new snow word which I wanted, in turn, to introduce to you. It's not very often that I have to use a dictionary when I'm reading the trail report so this was a particularly exciting find.
Sastrugi are the snow dunes that get formed by the wind. The word comes from the Russian word zastrugi which does not have a singular version but us English speakers have latinized it to have the singular sastruga. They're like sand dunes but while sand dunes are perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction, the sastrugi ridges run parallel to the prevailing wind.
This is a satellite image of some huge sastrugi on Antarctica. The panel on the right shows that the ripples are in the ice surface and not in the cloud cover. (Click on the image to see it enlarged.)
Another time trial this Saturday. This one was a mock skate sprint with a prelim and 3 heats (with no one getting pulled). For the heats we started four rows of five so it was a pretty intense pack charging around the course-- everyone seemed to get out of our way!
This just might be my new favorite game on the internet. I'll probably have to add a hidden link to it from my webpage like I have for the penguin game. What can I say, I like my words, you might even call me a logophile. You might not enjoy this game unless you happen to be studying for the SAT or the GRE. It would be a great SAT/GRE study tool. But you can feel good about playing because for every word you get right 10 grains of rice get donated by the UN. And if doing good in the world isn't enough motivation to play... the highest vocab level I've made it to is 44 so you can compete against that! The game is FreeRice.com. Enjoy! Feel good about yourself, cause rice to be donated to the hungry!
*thanks to Aunt JoanF for introducing me to freerice.com.
Well, absolutely nothing I did today had anything even remotely to do with skiing. The main point of this website is to give you a glimpse into the life of a Nordic ski racer but some days I just don't do any skiing, or waxing, or talk to skiers, or think about skiing. Some days I just live a plain old normal life.
Like today. This morning I took the second Actuarial Exam at the Mountaineers Club in Queen Anne. Don't ask, I don't know what an actuary does either. Then I met my old college housemate Tara for lunch. Tara got into Sea-Tac this morning from a 2 month peregrination in Thailand and Laos so I spent the better part of the afternoon dreaming about wandering off to far off places with no itinerary and no return ticket. Then, as it wasn't raining and I was rolling with no car, I wandered South along the wharf to downtown Seattle. I did pass the SAM Olympic Sculpture Park which, I guess, did make me think briefly about the Olympics and skiing. I had a little trouble understanding what this sculpture was all about
but I've included the artist's statement which totally explained it.
I thought maybe I could buy myself a present for finishing (and making it on time to) my exam this morning so when I wandered into a used bookstore and found a Nabokov book I haven't read I splurged (well, $8) and bought it for myself. I'm not, in general, very acquisitive but I do like to own books. Then I went to look at the sea-life at the Seattle Aquarium.
A non-skiing day. Almost like a vacation, you might say. And now I plan to delve into Nabokov to balance out my very math intense morning.
I try not to act like a spoiled ski brat. I like to think that I'm not a spoiled ski brat. Unfortunately, that sad truth is that I am. Sigh.
When I was warming up for the TT on Saturday I had the wrong wax. I knew what needed to be changed- strip off all but one layer of the current wax, cover with something colder, take two inches off the back of the wax pocket. But when I got back to the start area 8min before my start, there was no coach there waiting to hear what needed to be done to my skis and take care of it for me. Nope. I had to do it myself. (And make a pretty shoddy job of it at that.) It made me realize how much I relied on having my race wax get taken care of for me and how rewaxing didn't factor into my pre-race schedule. Straight up spoiled ski brat attitude. And I can't wait until real races when I can bring my skis back from testing and get them rewaxed exactly to my specifications while I test or warm up on another pair of skis, yep, happily spoiled, I might as well acknowledge the fact and embrace it.
It does make me impressed with people who wax their own skis on race day. (I'm not so spoiled that I don't do my own glide waxing.) But I suppose if you haven't already been spoiled by competent and dedicated coaches it doesn't seem so egregious.
Saturday morning was an APU classic time trial at Hatcher pass. It was supposed to be an APU/UAA TT but UAA wussed out. What can I say? The UAA skiers just got plain scared and decided not to come get their butts kicked.
This was our first TT on snow this year and man did it feel good to just get out there and hammer for a solid 40minutes. Enough of this interval nonsense already, let's race!
*There's no asterisks on results list giving excuses but I will say that people were on everything from rock skis to race skis and that the course wasn't marked-- I know of at least one person who skied a little farther than ze was supposed to!
I saw a kid up at Glen Alps this morning with these Salomon bindings. I was pretty jealous. They even have a little face drawn on them. If they fit my pilot boots I'd totally get a pair for my race skis. But they don't. Which is probably for the best.
where you can watch videos of the Cross Country World Cups only a day or two after the event. Subscription is $50/year or $5/month. The sprints in Dusseldorf are up already if you're looking for some motivation.
I want to play an online Fantasy Nordic World Cup game AND be one of the players.
I know you think, "sure you've maybe raced a World Cup or two, but keep dreaming about that Fantasy Nordic game."
Don't underestimate the brilliance of the Nordic skiing community though (not to mention nerd factor, sorry Colin) because there IS a Fantasy Nordic game for your and my playing pleasure! I know!! It's the most exciting thing since sliced bread & I wasn't even around for the invention of sliced bread, that's how exciting this is.
It was a windy ski this morning up at Glen Alps. With what I like to imagine were gale force winds on the way up and bitter cold temperatures in the low 30's it was a test of perseverance to get as far up the trail as we did. And it was fun on the way back down!
Do you really need them at all? I can't tell if your harangue is facetious or an indictment of the antiquated training theory. I want to race bikes in the spring and I wonder how much I lose by skiing all winter. Last year it took me about 2-3 weeks to get the hang of riding and then I was OK going for 6 hours, but 6hrs of what? Mindless base miles? It's like only doing OD skis and expecting to do well in a sprint race, right?
Kid from St. Olaf.
I did mean the post to be mostly facetious, but if the shoe seems to fit...
At the collegiate level, I don't think that you'll lose anything by skiing in the winter. I think the aerobic gains to be made are huge and that those gains can be transferred to cycling come spring time.
I always had my first real ride be a race weekend. I do not recommend this route-- by the third race of the weekend I was pretty sure that I would have to spend the entire race standing. If you can get in a couple of ODs, a couple of hill climbing sessions and a couple of paceline-type intervals before the cycling race season starts you should have developed enough cycling specific strength to carry your bomber aerobic base over from skiing and still have the potential to improve as the season goes on and more of your strength becomes cycling specific. The upper body muscle might weigh you down a little but it's helpful once you learn to climb with your arms. It's even better for attracting the ladies, hey, with a skier's core and shoulder musculature instead of a cyclist's you might even be able to attract some of those Carleton chics.
I'm no Tudor Bompa but I say use the easy distance training for recovery from and absorption of your harder workouts. My favorite type of cycling intervals are intervals at the end of a long ride, when you're already really tired. It's good motivation make sure you refuel during the ride and good practice for the finishing sprint because I can't remember ever feeling fresh for a finishing sprint.