I managed to persuade Liz to stay after practice to participate in the Ski For Women event at Birch Hill this afternoon. The Ski For Women is a participatory fun event that raises money for the local Center for Non-Violent Living. Liz and I went upstairs in the chalet (by the way, Birch Hill has one of the nicest chalets I've ever seen at a Nordic venue) and registered, got our bibs and some raffle tickets and meandered out to the start area. We signed up for the 1k race, the other option was a 3k, and thought that it might be a little tough for us to finish the whole course without some encouragement. So we introduced ourselves to Vivi who was with her dad and asked if she would mind leaving her dad and showing us how to race. Vivi is 5, very talkative and energetic so she kept us going and entertained. It looked like it was going to be a tight sprint finish between the three of us but Vivi put on a stupendous burst of speed at the end and beat us both! I can't remember the last time I wore my racing bib over my jacket so this was a nice change of scene. Not to mention that there were some pretty sweet costumes out on the race course-- Liz & I wished that WE had some sweet costumes but the best we could muster was to dress up like US Ski Team members.
It was a fun change to get into a 15km race yesterday & I'm looking forward to something even more different in the 30km on Sunday. The longer race was nice because I got some time to relax into racing and savor how much fun it was to be out there. The first classic lap I skied mostly with the group but dropped off the pace by the time we came into the stadium. I skied the second classic lap with Amy Glenn just behind me-- the girl is a good skier, it'll be exciting to see how her ski career progresses over the next couple years. I dropped Glenn in the exchange zone and caught Stursova at the half a k into the skate leg after grabbing a feed from Vordenberg with one pole still not attached yet. I paused behind Stursova thinking it might be nice to catch a ride but then decided to hammer on past since I was feeling jumpy. Trygstad caught me after the hill and I let her lead through the stadium and onto the second lap. One one hand I was psyched to have Trygstad come up because it gave me a bit of a ride and I figured we could catch Dehlin, which we did. On the other hand, all my memories of Trygstad are of her kicking my butt in junior races so I was also thinking, "not her... again." After we passed Dehlin I took over the lead from Trygstad and started pushing the pace up the last hill and then I hit the downhill and really raced it so I wouldn't get caught-- 8th place for me, totally respectable.
Congrats to Liz on winning... I told her we needed some fresh flowers for our pitcher and she came through for us. Leif also won the race (no prize money since there were 3 foreigners ahead of him-- just the title & more flowers) so our little room at the Wedgewood is having a good showing. Leif and Liz also won the transition zone (I was 4th) so good job for that too! Also congrats to KO for having an awesome race, 6th, I'm so proud of my ski buddy!
Newell, Cook, Koos, Zimmerman, Dehlin, Williams, Arritola, Stephen & I did a short presentation for the 4th, 5th & 6th graders at Weller Elementary School yesterday. We showed a video Newell made about cross country ski racing and did a Q&A. About 90 kids in the school are part of the Ski Club which is pretty amazing. It's cool to be in a community where so many people know about and appreciate cross country skiing.
It's equally sunny today but I didn't have any energy for anything more than a short walk-- no handstands. Which means that I'm either getting sick or starting a bout of post-season depression. Judging by the number of tissues in the waste basket and the appeal of zicam I'm probably following my roommates down the sick path.
I fell into my own world of literature for the past couple days, ignored most of my teammates & assorted duties, and read "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi. I couldn't easily drag myself away from it. I would recommend it if you miss your college lit. classes. Of course, I'd probably love any book that referenced Nabokov in the title so maybe I'm biased. It's also going to be a richer read if you've read some of the following: Nabokov (Lolita, Pnin, Invitation to a beheading), Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby), James (Ambassadors, Daisy Miller, Washington Square), and Jane Austen. I've never read any of Henry James's books but you can bet that I'm about to.
Saturday, March 29th is Earth HOUR and from 8-9pm tonight in your local time zone is going to be a no power hour. So Liz Stephen & Leif Zimmerman & I will be not using electricity during that hour. So feel free to join us and also turn off your lights and whatnot then. See EarthHour.org for more information.
I had a fantastic time racing last evening at Birch Hill. I qualified in 5th, almost 7 seconds back from Stursova so it didn't get off to a very promising start but once we got into the rounds I got progressively faster-- 3:17 qualifier, 3:14 quarter, 3:10 semi, 3:05 final. Huh? Now why can't I just start out by skiing a 3:05? I think Gibbs changed my structure in my race skis between the qualifier and the heats but it couldn't have made that much of a difference.
I think I kind of like racing in Fairbanks. Everyone has been super nice and it seems that there's always someone in the start/finish area to make sure I get my warm-ups and a hot cup of tea if I want it. And the races have been run very professionally with no glitches. And there was even a cash pot for the winners (Koos won the men's sprint) donated by the spectators!
AND the Northern Lights were out after dinner! Which, in my opinion, made the whole trip to Fairbanks worthwhile, even if the racing hadn't been awesome.
I've determined that March is the best (and possibly only) time to be in Fairbanks. It was wonderfully sunny out today and warmed up from 1° to over 32°F by the afternoon. After a rainy stay in Squamish getting back into the sunshine really makes it feel like spring. It was sunny and spring-like enough on my run this morning that I stopped to practice my handstands-- nothing says spring like handstands! right?
To make life better than just sunshine and handstands, there was a 5km skate race tonight at Birch Hill. I raced and finished third, although the field was pretty small, maybe 12 women. I skied one lap of the course before racing and was glad to see it was extremely well marked. It was a reassuring "Welcome back to America-- where we assume some level of idiocy!" Not that I'm complaining. It's actually kind of nice since having idiot-proof signs and flagging allows me to feel superior to all the people who actually need such signage. I can say I don't need those three huge signs to tell me where to pick up my bib, I know that already, and conveniently forget that without the signs I'd probably have to ask three different people where I was supposed to get my bib. Classic sprints tomorrow evening!
Squamish was really starting to grow on me. The rain almost always turned to sun at some point in the day and there were only drunk people out carousing on Friday and Saturday nights. No really, I decided that I did like Squamish. I had some of the best food I'd had all winter in some of the small Squamish restaurants and the delightful Onatah cafe let me make it my home for several afternoons of studying.
Now I'm in Fairbanks and I forgot to prepare myself to be cold so I'm still cold from not being dressed appropriately upon arrival. I think I'm racing tomorrow evening, 5k skate.
Last night at our hotel we had a fire drill. At one in the morning. I tried to tell Taz that when the fire alarm goes off at one am on a Saturday night it is not because there is a fire-- #17 on the list of useful things I learned freshman year of college. But Taz got up and went downstairs so I joined her and most of the rest of the hotel because you would really hate to be wrong about that kind of thing and I figured they might be required to evacuate the hotel. It was immediately clear that our fire drill was courtesy of a couple of drunk women and no one was very amused by the prank.
So now some of us (not me) get to celebrate Easter today with a 30/50km at Callaghan. It's raining persistently here in Squamish. Everything not paved is sopping, in fact, even some sections of pavement are starting to sop, so it should be a nice snowstorm up at Callaghan.
I was mentally prepared to race in rain, wind, and snow today since that's what it was yesterday but the day turned out to be one of our most pleasant up on the mountain so far even if the sunniest time was when we were all inside resting between the qualifiers and the heats. It felt good to get to ski all the way through a sprint race again.
Kikkan, Lindsay williams & Liz Stephen skied really well taking 1st, 3rd & 5th, respectively. Unfortunately, Chandra fell going into the U-turn in the stadium and went from second to 6th. I skied into 9th.
There was a really cute boy building a snow castle in the finish area. (And by cute boy I mean aww he's cute because he's 5 years old, not ooh he's cute!) It was an interesting juxtaposition of hard core racing & playing. The athlete standing in the background is Stefan Kuhn just after winning the Classic Team Sprint.
If today's race had been 2km long, I would have rocked it. Unfortunately it was 5km long and so I ended up rocking the first 2km and then dying and walking around the course for the remaining three k. I guess not racing anything longer than a 1km since early January has not enabled me to pace a distance race. Maybe I'll figure out how to pace tomorrow's 10km skate a little bit more appropriately.
I have to hand it to my waxers for today though, mostly Randy Gibbs. Even if I didn't do them justice my skis were amazing on a day when everyone was struggling to find the right wax for the +1°C and snowing conditions (changing to sun while we were racing). It makes me feel good about coming back here and racing again and knowing that I'll be able to rely on my skis.
I am certain there's going to be a lot of photographs of this inuksuk pretty soon, but I thought I'd add to the pile. Although I think that this guy might technically be an inunnguaq. Inuksuk are used as directional markers and inunnguaq means an imitation of a person. This is at the entryway to the Nordic/Biathlon/Jumping venue.
We didn't race today until 13:25 and when I heard that I was sure that we were in for another slush-fest for the team sprint. More so because they were running team sprints all day starting at 9AM. Yikes. Happily, it was slightly colder today and the course held up fantastically so we had much firmer tracks than I had dared to hope for. When I tested my race skis I sent them back to Gibbs to take off some of the klister. Then to the start. Since this was a low-key race for the week with people racing for their club teams they weren't allowing coaches and wax techs in the start area to do touch-ups on skis between our laps. Not gonna lie, that made me a little uncomfortable (especially when it started snowing before the final and we couldn't ski the course to test out our skis beforehand). I've gotten spoiled. It makes sense though and is a good way to level the playing field for all the teams who don't have someone to fix their skis for them. And it makes the stadium way less hectic. Actually, it wasn't until I actually got out to the start lane that I realized just how spoiled I'd actually become-- I had to pry the snow out of my own boots!? How arduous! Usually I pick my foot up behind me and Bertrand or Grover knocks out the snow with a screw driver. It does make me feel like a horse except that I don't need my fetlock squeezed to get me to pick up my foot, I'll do it on my own volition. I do think that I hoof pick would do the job way better than a screw driver. The point of this story is that I got the snow out of my boots and clipped in but I think I made our starter a little nervous since I was strapping on my poles well after the 30second warning when we were supposed to be still and ready to start.
Anyway. We started and Kikkan and I quickly pulled away from the rest of the field to win our semi. Same in the final. Neither of us fell over, our skis were fast and the kick was great, our hand-offs got better each time, and I only stabbed Kikkan in the foot with my pole once. Finally, we pulled it together for a team sprint!
There was one faux-pas on my part today. Every lap I'd been taking the third (from the left) track up the first steep hill so I could stride it since they wiped out the two inside lanes. By the final that track had gotten a little sugary and cut out and I skied up it my first two laps anyway but for the third lap I decided to stay to the inside and forgo the track. Awful idea. I completely lost my rhythm and momentum, had to switch to herring bone and ended up slipping for several strides once I got back in the track. It was not pretty. Worse, it wasn't fast.
My dad asked, bluntly, if we were a "spoiler" or if we were exciting. I hope we weren't spoiling the race. It doesn't cross my mind NOT to race when there's the opportunity-- when I registered I just checked every race offered (although there's a good chance I won't start the 30k on Sunday) without even really looking at what the schedule was. I came to Callaghan Valley to race and I think that every race, especially on the future Olympic courses, is valuable. What do you think? Is there a point when you shouldn't race if you think your probability of winning is too high? Should you consider the impact your racing might have on others or only its effect on yourself? Canada- does it spoil your Nationals to have foreigners competing?
My analysis of Squamish is that if you were into real estate speculation and had some capital this would be a good place to purchase. It's got a lot going for it and with the Olympics being held here it's going to start getting a lot more international exposure. There's something about having good rocks in a place that makes that place seem so comforting.
(and, yes, I KNOW that there are no rocks in these pictures, you'll have to trust me for now when I say there are good rocks here.)
Kikkan and I managed to pull off a very nice classic team sprint today at Canadian Nationals and handily won our semi-final as well as the final. Perrianne Jones and Devon Spika get credit for being the National Champions though since Kikkan & I are not exactly Canadian.
I'm heading off to dinner but there will be pictures and more details up later tonight.
Dramatic is the single best word to describe the 2010 Cross Country Olympic venue. There's wide trails that swoop around the valley like a rollercoaster and big mountains steeped in fog. It would be less dramatic if you stopped to notice that the trails bend back on themselves and bunch up together so they don't actually cover a very large area but it's so white that you don't really see any of the other trails. It's so white here, in fact, that I originally went skiing without sunglasses because I looked up at the cloudy ski. After a walking out onto the trail, however, I dashed back in to get my Rydons... I'd forgotten that snow, when white, can be blindingly reflective even in low light. Huh, white snow. The best skiing I've had this year has all been in Canada-- Silver Star, Canmore, and here. I wish we got to race in Canada more often!
And, since we're taking note of the days these days if anyone gets smug about not being assassinated today just look evil and say, "Yes, the Ides of March has come, but it has not passed."
I should have posted these pictures when I was talking about Wenatchee but, um, I forgot they were on my camera. So now they get to share a post with the lovely Pi! Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter as most people know but what most people don't think about when they think about 3.14159... is that Pi provides a great vantage point to the history of mankind.
The concept of pi existed long before people knew it with even a few digits of accuracy and before modern notation could be used to express it. The problem of "squaring the circle" was one of the first mathematical problems mankind tackled and came up after agriculture kicked in and people started constructing permanent dwellings. An understanding of Pi is a fair way to judge the development of a civilization. A long, long time ago the Babylonians (3 1/8 or 3.125) and the Egyptians ((16/9)^2 or 3.16) had the best approximations for Pi but the Chinese and the Hebrews were also aware of pi and estimating it with 3. Speaking of the Hebrews way back when, I'd like to point out to anyone who things the bible is Truth that our good friend Solomon would have needed almost 31 and a half cubits around his bathhouse, whatever a cubit is, 30 just would not have cut it: And he made the molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and the height thereof was five cubits; and a line of thirty cubits compassed it round about, I Kings vii 23.
Once the Romans swept in (around 200BC), developments in Pi came to a grinding halt in that part of the world and the leaders in mathematical thought were the Mayan, the Chinese and the Hindu civilizations. It wasn't until the 1500's that Europe caught back up with the rest of the world.
Today the N.American ski racing community is reconvening in the Whistler area to get ready for Canadian Nationals and to preview the 2010 Olympic courses in Callaghan Valley. I'm looking forward to checking out the venue!
I've only been here a week but it's time to pack up and head out again. I was reminded how much I really actually do like being in Wenatchee. The crocuses are in full bloom and it looks like I'll miss the daffodils by only a couple of days. An intrepid spider has already made a home between my left classic boot and ski bag where I dropped them in the garage. It's still too cold for rattlesnakes but it's nice to know that they're hiding out close by. I ran into an old classmate that I never would have thought to call and was shocked to find how much I truly did enjoy visiting with her. I ran up Saddlerock and enjoyed time out in the sun among the foothills of the Cascades. I had my own bed and different clothes to wear than what I've been wearing since November and a small flat of Chilean blueberries in the fridge that magically replaces itself when the blueberries get eaten. Life here is not so bad.
And, as usual, I got two vaccines and a dental check-up. I think that I'll be able to consider myself a grown-up only when I stop going to the dentist every time I visit my parents' house.
Kirsten Valaas, Kristina Owen, Tarn Heath, Laura Valaas I've been doing a bit of what I call social training which is nominally training but really just socializing-- a lot more talking than actually working hard. Saturday I met up with Tarn and KO for a kayak on the Columbia. We ended up going a little too long and getting stuck out on the river after the sun went down. Being in Wenatchee makes me think that it's summertime and I forget that it can be cold in March. I also forget how soaked you get paddling a surfski, even in flat water and therefore forgot to bring a change of clothes. I thought I'd be fine once I got into the car but halfway home I remembered that I was supposed to stop at the grocery store to get some essentials we needed for dinner. So I ended up doing a quick trip through Safeway in my APU spandex with my entire back half drenched in river water.
On Sunday we skied at Stevens Pass and met up with a lot of the other local ski families with whom I grew up skiing. Afterwards we went to the 59er Diner for lunch and I only had spandex with me. I'm starting to think that I'm spending altogether too much time in spandex.
The 4th & 5th men's quarterfinals at Drammen which Andy and Torin were in on Wednesday. I'm sure I'm violating all kind of copyright since I just taped the video screen at the venue, please forgive me.
I replay Andy's fall in slow motion for ya, it's pretty sweet. His klister stuck, which is not sweet at all, but he gets up fast. Way better than the Norwegian that slide off the track into the barrier fence and then just lay there. Although if I crashed into a fence on a downhill I might have just laid there too.
Looks like Kuzzy had a great Holmenkollen 50km skate race this morning. 10km-66th 12km-64th 16km-57th 20km-55th 28km-56th 33km-54th 37km-53rd 40km-51st 45km-49th 50km-46th with a time of 2:27:48 over a challenging 3x16.7km loop. Way to come on strong at the end there, Kuz!
Freeman was 44th, I'm guessing not too pleased with that.
Anders Soedergren of Sweden blew the field away with a time of 2:11:45, over 2:30 ahead of the second finisher, Lukas Bauer. It was an individual start today.
Valentina Shevchenko won the women's 30km in 1:24:15.
After an uneventful day of travel on Thursday, I made it safely to my parents' house in Wenatchee, WA where I spent most of Friday being delightfully sick with a cold, washing every item of clothing that I've been on the road with for the past three months, lying on the couch and re-reading about the adventures of Emma Woodhouse.
Kikkan rolled out of our room this morning at 6am. She sounded a little resentful when she responded to my "have a nice flight" with "have fun sleeping." But that's the first time I've noticed any hard feeling coming from kikkan and she couldn't have even held that much of a grudge because she left me two different notes reminding me to remember to take my block of brown cheese out of the mini-fridge. Kikkan should be in Copenhagen by now and Torin & I will join her there in a couple hours before we all take the long copenhagen to seattle flight together... 10hrs in the air.
I realize that my previous video didn't go get published. I'll fix it. I'll also put up Newell's quarterfinal so you can see his sweet faceplant. Maybe I'll even put it in slo-mo for you since I know the youtube version doesn't do great quality. Newell made up tons of time after his crash and came back up to the front of the pack but I think it took too much out of him for the long finishing uphill.
It is incredibly beautiful here in Fornebu. And skiing at Holmenkollen this morning was the best skiing I've had since leaving North America. I would love to get to do a long OD out on those trails and spent the first two hours of it getting as lost as possible.
You know how I said that there was deep sugar slush on the bridge hill? Well, they blocked off that whole arm of the sprint course and spent the morning of the sprint shoveling the hill. Yep, snow removal. They shoveled it down to the ice layer underneath, which was certainly uneven but way better then skiing through mush. After the qualifiers they shoveled the other uphill too to make it faster. It seems like there's always something that needs to be fixed on our courses. But when you watch the races on tv the conditions always seem to look pretty good. At least having to remove snow in Lahti is a better problem to have than not having enough snow or being worried about falling forward because your skis get stuck on the rocks in the tracks. I hear that Drammen prides itself on perfect, white snow so that will be a nice way to end my world cup season!
Kikkan & Newell were on fire today here in Lahti! Same with Crawford and Kershaw from the Canadian team!
Newell won the qualifying rounds by a huge 1.85 second margin. Then he went on to dominate his quarterfinal and get second in his semifinal to move on to the A final. Newell got a late start start in the A final, stuck in 6th up the first hill and back into the stadium. It was a tight pack so he couldn't move up without tangling with someone until the last uphill when Kershaw and two of the other guys tangled and stalled out and Newell managed to jump around them to move into third. Over the downhill Newell moved into second where he finished behind Anders Gloersen. Kershaw took 5th.
Kikkan qualified in 15th this morning & Chandra in 18th. Bib numbers didn't seem to matter too much today-- only 4 of the women and 5 of the men in the top 12 actually qualified in the top 12. Kikkan lead from the start of her quarterfinal and comfortably won it. In the semifinal she and Chandra had a nice gap on the field going into the finishing straight but it looked like Chandra pulled up a little bit and Kikkan, who was behind her, lost some momentum and got passed to take third in the semi. Their semi was fast enough that both her and Sachenbacher who took fourth moved on to the A Final. This put her in the far outside lane for the A final and she got off to a last place start. It was looking grim until she took advantage of some poor cornering on the part of Sachenbacher who pushed two other girls way to the outside allowing Kik to move past all three on the inside on the first 180° corner and then charged into first on the last uphill. Chandra drafted her down the hill before moving to the inside and past her to take the win. The pack caught Kikkan and I don't know exactly what happened but Kik got knocked into at least twice and thrown off balance, maybe three times, I'll have to ask Kik (& Kikkan will post a recap in her race tails). On the finishing straight Bjoergen crashed into her and went down and Kikkan stayed up but last a couple of V2s so she was out of contention and in fifth.
It was some pretty exciting racing today. I thought Kikkan and Newell both had some very savvy tactical moves in addition to being simply real fast. And it's very good to see some North Americans on the podium!