Since the crowds have cleared out from Canmore I've moved into a house with the rest of the remaining US skiers- Cook, Newell, Koos, & Kikkan. It also got wicked cold. We've been on the skiing once a day at 1pm schedule. I think that tomorrow will be warmer since it's 9pm now and it's only -25°C. That's promising. Internet at our house is on and off so I haven't been getting my posts posted. And Thursday and Friday we'll be traveling to Estonia. I have no idea if I'll be able to have internet access in Estonia so if I disappear for a week or two, I apologize and I'll be back when possible.
Training here, aside from the cold, has been excellent. I spent this morning trying to keep up with Kikkan. I didn't. But I tried. We classic skied 60 minutes of L2 and then did 10x30seconds double pole speed. I must admit that I was in L3 and I still wasn't keeping up with Kikkan... clearly there's a ways to go still if I want to be a real skier. Someday. More training next summer... faster training next summer. It's good to have a winter of racing to remind you what needs to be accomplished through the next spring, summer, and fall.
There's a lot that has to happen to get the venue ready for a world cup race. As soon as today's race finished the organizers were prepping tomorrow's sprint course. I took a break from my training ski today to video some chainsawing. Because I like chainsaws and I like snow.
They're setting up the starting gates for Saturday's sprint. The gates are metal bars that spring open at the start (tip: start with your poles BEHIND the metal bar) and they have to be set into the start line.
Chris Cook for skiing an excellent quarterfinal and bringing himself up to 20th place from qualifying in 30th. It was pretty amazing to watch him move up through the field on the uphill.
Reid Pletcher for 35th, under 2seconds out of qualifying... not bad for a first WC appearace.
Vahur Teppan, skiing for Estonia, in 19th. But Vahur deserves to be mentioned since he's skiing NCAA's for UAF.
Newell skied well, 17th, not great for him but I'd be pretty happy to beat Axel Teichmann if that was me.
Saddest ski today was when Koos broke a pole on the first corner in his quarterfinal after qualifying 7th. And it seemed to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r for him to change his pole. He did make up an impressive amount of time on the pack after that but still couldn't catch them. I did spot a couple of kids that had the part of his pole that broke off and they seemed psyched about such a sweet WC memento.
The course made for some crazy skiing. Three straight up switchbacks, one of which was a 180 turn. Some of the guys opted to double pole the course and with the long downhill and long double pole into the finish that seemed to pay off for them. The Norwegians absolutely dominated the men's race. Seriously dominated, as in swept the top 5.
Men's 30km 1. Nikolay Pankratov, RUS, 1:16:33.8 2. Giorgio Di Centa, ITA, 1:16:34.2 3. Axel Teichmann, GER, 1:16:34.4 4. Tobias Angerer, GER, 1:16:34.4 wow, this was a tight race, 10seconds over the top 18.
13. Ivan Babikov, RUS, 1:16:38.1 hmm, FIS lists Ivan as Russian... someone's going to be pissed about that. 16. Devon Kershaw, CAN, 1:16:41.5 17. George Grey, CAN, 1:16:42.2 22. Kris Freeman, USA, 1:17:12/0 38. Leif Zimmermann, USA, 1:20:40.3
I didn't think going to the Canmore WC races would be That Big of a Deal but I walked into our hotel and froze with shock when a couple of the Swiss athletes were there. Um... what are all these WC racers doing in my continent? I guess I forgot that WC races meant WC racers. Wow... fast people, it may take me a couple of days to get over being impressed and intimidated by everyone here. The most ironic part is when I see someone wearing a jacket from Sapporo and I think, "woa, that person must be really fast s/he raced at the World Championships last year." Which is a silly thing to be impressed by because I raced at the World Championships last year.
I don't know how this works out but we all have macbooks here. Two white, two silver, three black. It does make a cute little collection of mac nerds. Now the question is, who's going to be the first one with the MacbookAir? Actually, that's not much of an interesting question, we all know it's going to be Kikkan.
I'm not sure I should even offer an explanation of this picture. I mean, I didn't think Taz even read trashy magazines but she's got an In Touch with her in the hot tub, probably reading about how Jamie Lynn Spears is going to decorate the nursery with a Care Bear motif. Taz is an enigma, that's for certain. I think it must be genetic. Her parents are coming down to watch the Canmore races and I heard a rumor that they're going to be snow camping for the trip. Or maybe building an igloo. I may have made that rumor up myself, but it's a good one!
I mentioned that Anders is the reason that we have wireless at our condo. We originally didn't-- we could pick up lots of signals but they all required passwords so we were going into Silver Star to use our hotel lobby's internet. This frustrated Anders to no end so he went in search of a wireless password figuring we could buy a password from one of our neighbors. He came back from next door with not only a wireless password but also a dinner invitation!
The house next door is actually an antique shop, Arnica House Antiques, which is run by Carol King. So last night she had us all over for dinner... talk about Canadian hospitality! Our dinner was the finest dinning experience I've had in awhile- including lamb with mint jelly and roasted vegetables, scrumptious. And quite the setting. Since most of her house is the antique shop all of her furniture is antiques that she's selling and she also displays art from local artists so the home is fantastically decorated. It looks like a normal house (if normal is immaculate and tastefully decorated) except that almost everything has a price tag on it. Last night was the first time I've had dinner under a chandelier with real candles burning in it. crazy. If you're in Silver Star I would stop by the Arnica House (530 Monashee) and at least get to meet Carol even if you're not at all interested in antiques.
Silver Star is the quintessential mountain ski village. There's a short little main street pictured here that gets groomed every morning. There's your standard cute little coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, clothing boutiques and sports stores lining main street with the hotels and the National Altitude Training Center further back. You can walk or ski anywhere in town and if you're really lazy there's a Silver Star shuttle bus that circles town.
At the conclusion of our afternoon ski Arduser wanted to ride the chairlift back up the hill instead of skiing. Being a realist I said that it's 5pm on a Monday, the chairlift is not going to be running. Arduser is more on the optimist side of things so we skied across the hill to the chairlift. It was closed. We still had a good ski up the alpine run in the dark, a nice slow single-stick skate.
My teammates objected that I complained about my napping situation the other day. In my defense I wasn't really complaining, and it wasn't actually that awful. In their defense almost every other room offered to let me nap in their room. And I did consider that but I didn't want to be spreading germs to my teammates' rooms.
Anyway, I wanted to mention how awesome my teammates and current housemates are.
Tazlina Mannix made us cookies. Kate Arduser makes me laugh. And helps me grocery shop. Kikkan Randall takes tons of photos and videos and lets my steal them. And knows the Norwegian team. Jeff Ellis both cleared my plate for me and brought me cookies the other day. And called the lobby to get more toilet paper. Anders Haugen is the reason we have wireless at our condo. He also swept the kitchen floor last night. I think just because he wanted to use the central vac. James Southam desisted from watching tv yesterday so I could nap in peace.
As Anders told Erik on the phone today, "well, we're still all friends." Good teammates make the difference between a fun trip and a I'm-just-here-to-ski-race-don't-talk-to-me trip.
We had a really fun ski this morning on the Sovereign lake trails- the grooming was perfect, it was just below 0°, the sun was shining, we got to race some speeds, Kikkan & Arduser are great ski companions, AND we got to stop and talk to a couple of the Norwegian boys. We stopped to peek into the Black Prince Cabin (it was one of those Expotition kind of skis rather than a Training kind of ski) and four of the Norwegian boys skied past the window. The boys being much more interesting than the cabin we vacated the cabin and skied after the boys. We didn't have much hope of catching them but as luck would have it they stopped at the next intersection to consult the map... We decided to consult the map also.
Once the race season gets started staying healthy becomes the most crucial role of the athlete. Being sick totally negates all of the year's training. There's only so many opportunities to race in the season and if you show up sick to a race you might as well not have shown up. This is partially why we are such Freaks when it comes to health and sanitation. At the first sign of illness we start trying various potions and voodoo in order to halt the sickness (and at the same time assiduously avoiding anything that might be on USADA or WADA's banned substance list).
Thursday I got hit with a sore throat and started feeling crummy. I took Friday off completely so that my body could channel all its energy to my immune system. Of course, since we're so paranoid about preventing sickness I took my day off way before most normal people would consider taking a sick day since it was before I was actually sick. By this morning, although physically not any better, I was ready to go for a ski again. You've got to take care of your body without going crazy from inactivity, after all. We had a 45min recovery ski this morning but I was going so easy that I didn't pay attention to where I was going or the time. I found a sweet downhill which I blithely skied down. I got to the bottom of Lars Taylor Way, found myself at the Sovereign Lake trails with 1:15 on my watch and realized that it was going to be a longer ski than planned, particularly at the pace I was skiing today. Yep, 2:30 ski today. And I couldn't even take a proper nap afterwards because my bed is behind one of the couches in the living/dining/kitchen room and it is awfully hard to sleep when you have 6 other people in your room watching tv and living their lives. drats. today, plan not followed.
Silver Star is living up to its reputation of a snowy, snowy wonderland. We woke up to a couple of inches of fresh snow and walked from our condo to the ski trail for a nice skate ski.
Here is our home until the 19th when we drive back to Canmore for the World Cup races (looking up at it from the ski trail). We have the second floor and the basement. Like almost every house in Silver Star it's painted a bright and unnatural color and has a hot tub on the back porch.
Arduser noticed when we were grocery shopping yesterday that people here are much healthier/fitter than in the states. Yep, Arduser is a fountain of wisdom and insight, it's good to have her around to Notice Things. It is remarkable to travel in a different country and notice that there is actually a distinct difference in average body sizes. I acknowledge, of course, that Vernon is probably a pretty active city even for Canada but still it's eye opening to see that the rest of the world manages to stay healthy when America is failing.
The Norwegian WC team is also getting in an altitude training camp here before the Canmore races. I haven't seen them yet but rumor has it that there's 12 guys and 2 girls here. Anders was pretty bummed out about that but I say... nice!
Arduser pointed out when we arrived in Silver Star last night that we were basically on a vacation. We flew into Calgary, rented vans, and drove to Silver Star where we have a condo rented and plan on skiing every day. Especially since this trip is on our own tab and there are no coaches with us it does sort of seem like your standard ski vacation.
At first I thought it would be pretty exciting to be traveling without the coaches. We'd have to figure things out for ourselves, make our own decisions, pretend to be grown-ups. Then I realized with whom I was traveling: James Southam, Anders Haugen, Jeff Ellis, Kate Arduser, Kikkan Randall, and Taz Mannix-- the APU contingent of the Canmore WC team. Other than Taz and myself everyone is between 25-30 so it's a pretty mature group and I'm probably the only one who still has to pretend to be a responsible adult.
Kikkan Randall Taz Mannix Laura Valaas Kate Arduser Lindsay Williams Lindsey Dehlin Evelyn Dong Morgan Arritola
Andy Newell Kris Freeman Chris Cook Torin Koos Leif Zimmerman Garrott Kuzzy Brian Gregg Lars Flora Zach Simmons Mike Sinnot Dave Chamberlain Zach Violett Colin Rogers Marshall Greene Anders Haugen James Southam Reid Pletcher
I know it looks like there's a big guys team but that's because they named a sprint team and a distance team and on the women's side of things the sprint and distance teams overlapped.
There's some athletes who qualified but are not racing and those are not listed here.
I'm still traveling. It never ends. Starting at 5pm on Monday and ending at Midnight Tuesday night we went from EST to CST to PST to MST. That's all four of the times zones in the Continental US. And it's not over yet. As soon as Jeff's bag shows up we're driving back into PST. Actually I'm really excited about that because the last part of our drive is on Hwy 97 which is the Hwy that goes through Wenatchee. So going back to Hwy 97 is almost like going home to Wenatchee!
Another travel day. Spent for me in the lobby of the Hampton Inn near the MSP airport. Taz & Kik went to the Mall of America while I, having negative desire to spend anytime there opted to stay at the hotel and study. They did trick me into going to the MOA this morning on our run and we ended up doing a lap of the first floor. It wasn't so bad at 9am at a run but I had no wish to return.
I titled the post "interevent" because I signed onto the internet to look up that word (m-w.com doesn't acknowledge it). When you have to look up the English words from a mathematical textbook you know you're in trouble.
(If you want more info on "interevent" it's a time interval for a Poisson process but that's all I know about it at this point."
Calumet has been a pleasant place to stay. We even got to ski on the Swede town trails this morning!
My next races will be the World Cups in Canmore. In order to prepare for it we'll be training in SilverStar until Jan 19th. They did name the World cup team last night but I haven't seen it announced anywhere yet. I wish I had remembered the whole team so I could share it with you. But I don't and I'm too afraid of getting it wrong to even try and list people.
The second part of yesterday that wasn't fantastic was leaving doping control and having to pee during the drive home and then going to the grocery store and having to pee and basically having to pee for the rest of the evening to adjust for the intake of two bottles of gatorade and 5 bottles of water during my visit to doping control. Next time I will maybe be more patient and not drink ridiculous amounts of fluids in a futile attempt to make myself pee sooner. Not worth it.
So equally on the un-fantastic side of things was today's race. Classic team sprint. Sprinting. Classic skiing. Teammates. All my favorite things rolled into one event. I had high hopes for today. And they were dashed, as you say when you're talking about hopes.
Our Semi was fine, fairly chill pace (in the world of sprinting), no tangles, felt good, skis good. I had a nice break between races and was ready to rumble in our 15-team final. I started and Kikkan was finishing for us. First lap I wanted to try and put a gap on the field (hubris again) and couldn't. Hmm, okay, no sweat. Kikkan came in with a tiny gap for me to start my second lap but Karin & Dehlin caught back up right away and passed me on the long downhill. No sweat, I passed them back on the way up the hill and tagged off to Kikkan again in first. Then Kikkan brought it in right behind the rossi team (Camenisch & Stursova) with a gap on the Linds(a/e)y team. For the third and last lap I caught Karin by the first left hand corner and then Dehlin came by me real fast on the downhill and Karin pulled away. I still hoped to be able to catch them on the up back into the stadium. Then the up came and I couldn't gain on them and I said to myself "this is where I lose the race for us." Don't get me wrong, I didn't slow down and I didn't give up I just realized that it had become nearly impossible for Kikkan to close the gap. Then I tagged off to Kikkan well behind Karin & Dehlin and wanted to curl into a ball and bury my face in the snow because I'd left Kik with such an awful last lap. Playing ostrich generally not being a very successful strategy I instead went to see Kikkan after she finished and shared a hug and then we went to cheer for the men's race.
After racing today was not so fantastic. I went to doping control for USADA which is not such a bad thing. In fact, I think it's a great thing-- test people, catch the cheaters, kick them out. Normally I can pee any time. Ive been on so many long van rides with coaches that may or may not be willing to stop if you have to go to the bathroom so you just learn to pee when you have the opportunity. Not today. Today I found my body completely unwilling to excrete urine so I hung out at doping control for a good hour and a half after the race. It was pretty sweet to get to sit around in a small room and drink nonstop. Not. Actually I did have a textbook with me so I made a few flashcards and there was some stationary bikes in the room so I spun for a little bit too. As pleased as I was with myself for having good speed today I was equally disappointed in myself for being unable to pee for so long.
If you're curious about how the USADA doping control works I'll give you a summary.
If you've been selected to be testing (today they took 1st & 2nd place plus one "random") you are informed when you finish and are presented with a form to sign indicating that you are aware that you've been selected for testing. You also get a buddy who from that point until you arrive at the doping control station has to keep you in their sight at all times. Usually they're pretty nice, today my USADA buddy was Shayla who teaches accounting at Mich Tech. After awards I got all my stuff and Shayla and I, along with Randall & Flora & their buddies, got in a van and went to the doping control station where we signed in (we have to sign in within 60 minutes of being informed that we've been selected) and grab a bottle of gatorade or water to start drinking. There we stay until we can produce a sample. When we're ready to pee we go with another USADA person into the bathroom and, you know, pee into a cup. You have to not wear baggy clothes and if you have long sleeves you have to push them up so it would be tough to get not-your-pee into the cup. Some testing stations are stricter than others about those things though. yeah, this life is really glamorous. Then we take out cup of pee and go to another table and pour it into two different testing bottles. Then we list everything that's not food that we've consumed in the last three days and sign another paper. The whole process is very formalized so that everything starts sealed and only the athlete has any contact with any of the bottles or the sample until the athlete seals it back up again. And that's a little glimpse into USADA.
Tomorrow Kikkan & I are looking forward to rippin it up in the classic team sprint!
In all of my thoughts about what might happen in today's 10km classic race crashing never even crossed my mind. Just goes to show that you can't take anything for granted. I was sitting in a tuck going down the first long downhill thinking to myself, "man, my skis are rocket fast." Then the tracks ended and I got ready to step turn the hairpin corner. Then my right ski caught an edge and flipped my onto my side. Like I said, I hadn't really thought of falling as an option so I was pretty surprised to find myself with a facefull of snow. I think I even said something like "woa" when I fell. (KK- it was a zac efron style "woa" from HSM2, definitely.) No broken poles, thank goodness, so I skidded around on my butt and popped back up to ski around the corner and back to racing. Maybe I should stop considering falling in a race as way beneath me and actually focus more on staying on my feet.
The rest of the race went well, worked hard, stayed on my feet. Barely managed to hang on to tenth place but I was pretty happy about that. I'll take a top ten at US Nationals, no complaints.
When we drew up a dinner schedule I gleefully volunteered to do lasagna one night. Lasagna was the easiest dinner to make, just buy a couple of frozen lasagnas and remember to put them in the oven early enough for dinner. Then Becca said, "frozen lasagna? I've never made frozen lasagna, I've always made lasagna from scratch." Sometimes I find being naturally competitive is a bad thing because at that point of course I had to make my lasagna from scratch too. So after the race today Becca and I went grocery shopping and then made some very tasty lasagna for dinner. Becca agreed to be my cooking partner and lasagna making adviser. It's reassuring to know that you can race and regardless of whether you get 8th or win or last life still goes back to normal when you get home.
But as fun as making lasagna turned out to be racing was still the highlight of the day. It's been snowing ceaselessly all day but when we raced it hadn't accumulated too much after they groomed so the course was respectably firm. My goal, well one of them, was to ski hard. I know that sounds pretty basic and obvious but I suspect that I tend to go too easy in my distance races. It's part of my really complicated racing strategy of "just... ski... FASTER!" Actually, I did have a little bit more of a plan: take the first 1.5km downhill fast & smooth, ski up the first long hill conservatively, then back down recover but try to build some speed around the downhill corners... then hammer the second half of the course. It seemed to work well for me. Top 10 at Nats in a distance race is still a great result for me!
And Congrats to Compton for winning! Not just winning, but basically annihilating the field, I'm so proud of my ex-CXC-teammate!
Looking forward to our two 5km laps classic on Thursday.