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Tuesday, March 31, 2009


In my Rogers Park Elementary School class the students were working on statistics this winter. I was away racing, but I keep in touch with Ms. Price & suggested that they do a project looking at the statistics section of the FIS website. FIS does a great job of providing not only individual bios and career histories but also cumulative information. When I returned from Canadian Nationals and got back into going to math class they showed me their projects and we did a group discussion/critique.

Here's a sampling of their work...

(and yes, I can tell that I'm becoming more teacher-esque because I brag to my friends about how brilliant "my" kids are!)

"What I'm graphing: I'm going to graph how many girls from USA ranked in the World Cup for cross country skiing over the years."
I think that this is specifically number of American females who made it into the top 100 of the FIS points list, covering 1982-2009. I think that this trend looks encouraging... moving upwards!

"Average Age of Cross Country 5k Winners"
This, in addition to being a visually appealing graph, shows that the average age doesn't vary too much, mostly being about 25 years old. 1983 is at the far left and the data continues through 2009.

"Places Where Ski Jumping Competitions Were Held"
Germany & Austria held way more World Cup ski jumping comps this season with 11 & 10, respectively. It was pretty clear when we were in Austria that they had a strong culture of skiing with ski areas and trails all over the mountains. It would be interesting to look at how the number of World Cup competitions held in an area affects the development and success of that sport in the area.

"Amount of Female Skiing Wins for Norway in the World Cup"
Be careful, the years run from 2009 at the left of the graph to 1982 (I think) at the right side of the graph. So it looks like Norwegian women are increasing their dominance, albeit with a sharp drop off from last year to this season... looks like the Norwegian team missed having Astrid on the world cup this year. It is worth considering that the number of races and hence overall number of wins available in a season might have changed over the years. A more consistent stat would have been percentage of races won by Norwegian women.

"Youngest Average Age For Female Skiers: World Cup 1982-2009"
From which I would surmise that there's no noticeable trend in the age at which the youngest females are winning world cups. I think this is the average of youngest 5k winner, youngest 30k winner, and so on over the season.

I always do feel grateful that I get to work with such wonderful students and that I can help spark their interest in math & skiing!


Monday, March 30, 2009


I guess the season is over. It's sad that it sputtered out instead of finishing with a ski race and a celebration. I hope all of my fellow skiers are enjoying the break and either getting in some fabulous spring skiing or pursuing other activities!

I am being fairly boring and staying in Anchorage for most of the spring and probably most of the summer... but there are huge areas of alaska I haven't explored yet and it's a good summer to be a little more conservative in your travel plans and make sure that the consistent training happens.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


We finally got some ash yesterday from the Mt. Redoubt eruptions. It's not very much and I went for a run this morning without noticing any ash in the air. All it's really doing is making the snow dirty as seen in this picture with Little Red-- the car from Orangeville hiding behind the snowbank.

As there has been a ton of flight cancellations due to the ash I hope that all the skiers make it home from Fairbanks without any tedious delays!
Halfway through the week I started feeling like a was on the sure and straight road to recovery. I felt so sure about this I bought a non-refundable ticket back up to Fairbanks (which Alaska Airlines did actually end up refunding). I was eager to rejoin my teammates, many of whom I hadn't seen for the the second half of the season, and the members of the skiing community who are in Fairbanks this week. And then on Friday I felt worse and Saturday morning I made the decision not to go.

I left my duffel bag packed to go back up & then on Thursday I repacked it since I realized I would need less stuff (I had been thinking about coming back up for the pursuit on Friday too). So I've been ready to go back up since I got home on Sunday. It's been very aggravating to be here instead of being at the ski race where I'm supposed to be. Not racing is hard. Although I am glad that I made the decision early in the week to come home because if I was in Fairbanks I would probably be miserable and I would also probably be racing, which is most likely a terrible idea right now.

Maybe if I was tougher I wouldn't have left in the first place, maybe if I was tougher I would be up in Fairbanks getting ready for the 11am start, warming up, picking the right pair of skis, giving feedback on the kick wax. But I'm not. I guess I keep trying to tell myself that it's better to be a wuss now and still be skiing, and skiing fast, in the future. I don't want to become one of the "could've beens." As in: she could've been great but had this lingering illness, she could've been great but overtrained and burned out, she could've been great but never let that knee injury recover. I know you know lots of people about whom you could make statements like that. I really don't want to be one of them.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fast & Female non-event

If you happen to be in Fairbanks, all the girls are getting together for an open practice at 11am at Birch Hill on Saturday. It'll be a casual ski event for any girls to come meet and ski with the best female skiers in the country!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

At the entrance to Kincaid park (okay, my semi-private one) is "Sally B's Super Salomon Boot Tool." Such stations should exist at all ski trails. Salomon boots are the best, but they do get snow packed into the sole. Today I did go out for a ski... my first since last thursday. The snow was fairly dry so I didn't need Sally's fancy boot tool. Skiing took a huge proportion of my energy for the day though. Lame, I can't remember being this wiped out for a long time. According to my training log (which doesn't lie about these sort of things) last week I trained 4:25 and this week I've hit a grand total of 1:30. Which means that these will be my lowest two weeks training-wise in a long time.

It looks like I maybe am hitting the reset button for the year.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm glad that these vicious, anti-skier fugitives have been caught.
It's been a long time since I've been this unproductive. Unless you count sleeping as a productive activity and then I'd be super productive! I am feeling like I'm heading toward recovery and planning on going on a ski tomorrow. I realize this is way, way less exciting than if I was reporting from the races at Fairbanks. Trust me, I'd rather be racing too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

and some photos from World Champs... it was mostly grey the whole time we were there which is, I think, the reason I didn't put up many photos in the first place.

The 10k classic, photo by Andy Liebner
Getting ready to start the skate sprint, photo by Sergei Ivanov

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Short Trip

Fairbanks was over 20°F and sunny this morning. I was impressed. I even heard that the skiing was fabulous and getting faster. I, unfortunately, did not ski. I woke up in the night with the awful realization that I was sick. I woke up again in the morning to the smell of freshly baking cinnamon rolls, which was much more pleasant but didn't change the fact that I was veritably sick. Post team meeting out at Birch hill, & as my teammates went out to ski, I had a tête-à-tête with Erik and decided to go back to home in Anchorage. Within four hours of making this decision I was in a plane and had departed FAI. Within six hours I was back at home with a pot of homemade turkey soup (with curry & lemongrass, yum) and a car on loan (mine being in Fairbanks).

I was exceedingly glad to have such good friends around AND friends with great parents to take care of me. 'Duser called Era Aviation and booked me a seat & then I went back to her parents' and slept until it was time to go to the airport. Post nap I got to have some of her mom's cranberry relish which has been my favorite cranberry relish since Kate brought some to our West Yellowstone Thanksgiving two years ago. I was pretty psyched to get to have some of the original Pearson family relish. In Anchorage the Ronsse family took care of me, picking me up from the airport and bringing Katie's car for me (although I haven't had to go anywhere since Annie also made me soup) and, aside from a hot shower, I have been curled up napping or drinking tea ever since.

There's mixed emotions leaving a race venue. I don't know if I did the right thing. Do you stay and wait to get better? If I stayed would I race when I shouldn't? How sick would I have to be to watch my teammates leave for the race and stay behind and not have it eat at me? Is it giving up to leave? Is it inconsiderate to stay in a communal living situation with my teammates? Is it the time to 'suck it up, tough it out, & race' at this point in the season? Is health and recovery more important than race experience and results at this point in my career?

I don't know. But now I'm not going to worry about it... I'm going to bed and I'm not getting up again until being vertical sounds more appealing than being snuggled under my comforter. Sometimes we all need a little recharge.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

We had a gorgeous drive up to Fairbanks. It's a long drive, but the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. We stopped halfway through to go for a run and break up the drive. It was -1°F but with the sun shining down it hardly felt cold. Sun in Alaska makes everything enjoyable.

Kate Arduser & Katie Ronsse stretching after our run out the Denali Hwy. I think Arduser is stretching her IT bands but I'm not sure what Ronsse is doing.

We've dispersed to various places. Ronsse went off with Wrecka, I've moved into the Pearson household (along with Arduser who was formerly Pearson) for a couple of days before moving into the Wedgewood with the US Ski Team. It's nice to have another couple of days before moving into the sterile blandness of condos.


Friday, March 20, 2009

And with that my respite from being a ski racer is over and I'll be in Fairbanks Saturday, preparing for the US Distance Nationals.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Maybe in reaction to having to follow a schedule for most of the winter I've switched to living an un-timed life. This week I've been choosing a selection of activities for the day and simply rolling from one to the next as I feel like it. I'm opting to be unconstrained by time. I don't wear a watch anyway and my car battery died so my car clock tells me some random time. I think I'm going to leave it that way. It's very unstressful to be driving somewhere, wonder if you're late, look at the clock, and not have it tell you anything.

If I feel the need to rebel from the loose schedule of ski races, training sessions, and team meetings it doesn't bode well for a future in normal employment.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Still the season

I'm going to Fairbanks. On Sunday. To Ski Race.

Back in Anchorage and returning to my Anchorage life, I'm having a hard time remembering this. If there's still racing to be done, then what am I doing back at home? I've been on the road since November and it's hard to be home this late in the season and not feel like the season's over. My next race is on Tuesday... from where I am now in the mental preparation I'm going to have to start working on getting psyched up to race again... right now.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I made it home. I spent two hours at the check in desk at the airport in toronto, nope, not in line, actually at the desk. I'm not sure why exactly, sometimes I just let the people who know what's going on take care of things. And they did. So now I'm in Anchorage and it was 20°F on the drive home so it looks like it's going to be an enjoyable week of skiing here before we head up to Fairbanks on Sunday for the final hurrah of the season.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Casey Fagerquist & Erik Flora surveying their kingdom. Well, really just standing outside of our wax trailer but allow me my exaggerations. These guys have been nailing the wax for us all week. thank you. thank you. thank you.


Classic Sprints

It was good to feel back on top of my game for the heats in the classic sprint. I decided that the strategy to try was to ski away from the front and have clean lines on the corners and uphills & I managed to execute that strategy in all of the rounds. Reid Pletcher posted a video on facebook of the women's A final (I'm not sure if the link will work if you're not a fb member).

Once again, I have to thank my coaches for the skis. I came back from testing them rather tormented because I was pretty sure that if someone could stride the course, she would win. And I couldn't stride it. I wanted to be able to stride it but I realized that what was holding me back was my technique and not the skis so I had them leave the skis as they were. Which meant that they were exceedingly fast on the downhill and that I had the possibility (with better skiing) to kick up the hills. I didn't manage to kick up the hills, but that was my fault.

p.s. it's 3/14... happy Pi Day!

Friday, March 13, 2009


Won the classic sprints!

Ronsse was third!
Katie Ronsse working on a pair of earings and showing me how to use jewelry pliers.

Now is the time in the season when you sit back, put some faith in the training you're done over the past 10 months, and ski fast. With five races this week, Ronsse & I took a semi-off day and jogged into the Blue Mtn village and did some beading at the bead shop. There's time to learn all kinds of new skills on ski trips!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

10k Classic

I took my second Canadian National title today! With style too, I think it was 44 seconds to second place. Maybe I should become Canadian.

I have to credit my coaches for the good skis today. I put them on and almost didn't ski more than 5 strides because they felt so good. I did feel obliged to ski up a hill on them before declaring them race ready. It was a funny day for skis though... every uphill it took me several strides to figure out how to kick because it was so tricky. So I herring-boned most of the uphills (like every one else) but it seemed like everyone had a super tough time kicking. It was a matter of finding the kick you did have & my skis were good enough that there was kick to find.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Katie Ronsse & Laura Valaas, post victory in the Team Sprint on Sunday. The team sprint here is a fun race because you have to ski with someone from your club so it's one of the only races where I get to represent APUNSC. It was also the first Ronsse-Valaas team sprint pairing, I'm hoping there's more in our future! We spent half of the ski the previous day practicing hand-offs. Our first couple of tries were awful-- Katie post-holed and was still at a stand still, or I would ski away too fast. After a ton of repetitions we got it down and by the time we actually raced our hand-offs went smoothly and we managed to maintain good momentum through the exchange zone.

Ronsse, Valaas, & Ky Eiben. Ky, along with Kate Fitzgerald, was the other APUNSC team in the women's race and, despite Fitz breaking off her handle in a fall, skied quite well into 5th place.
Ronsse has the enviable talent of always being able to Strike A Pose.


Team Skate Sprint

Laura Valaas
Katie Ronsse
The best corner on the course... downhill into a short super steep uphill with a sharp left at the top. Ronsse compared it to highmarking on a snowmobile. Which is pretty accurate. I think being on skis must be more fun though.
Sarah "Smac" MacCarthy of Utah. Some of the college skiers are up racing so there's a good mix of American up here. Thanks to Miss Devon Spika, also of Utah, for these photos!

Monday, March 09, 2009

5k Skate

Not having internet makes me a little less prepared for racing. I knew the race started at 10am but I managed to not see a start list so I didn't really know what time I was starting. Actually, the Mich Tech boys told me I was at 10:19 so I felt pretty confident going out for a warm up. But when I came back to get my race skis at 10:05 and double checked by asking my coaches what time I started, they said 10:15. It may not seem like much, but there's a big difference between 15min to start and 10min to start when it's a bit of a hike to the stadium and you're not ready yet so I started to get a little tense, asking whether we were at 15 or 30sec intervals, and being frantic. (At least as frantic as I get, which is still pretty mellow.) Reassuringly, Lindsey Dehlin happened to be standing right there and she half turns to me and says, "15second intervals, you start at 19:30." Which reminded me of why I like Dehlin-- if she says something, you know it's because she means it and she's not ever just saying something to try to make you feel better. And she doesn't bother telling you something unless she knows it's right. Despite how different my teammates are, there are times when I am very grateful for their unique personality traits.

also, there's a rumor that I was third today! I haven't seen results, but that would be a sweet, sweet result for me!
Mikey Matteson showing me a thing or two about ping pong. Ky Eiben is providing commentary & Ronsse is sitting in the corner for some reason taking pictures. We have FIVE races this week so I've more or less stopped training. Now I only race. And play ping pong. Actually usually I am more productive but I needed a break from studying. Did I mention how cool Mikey is? ...he's one of our college skiers imported from Ketchum.


Sunday, March 08, 2009


Thursday I was skiing at Callaghan Valley when I ran into Zach Caldwell with a fleet of skis laid out to test. "Hey Caldwell," I said, "it's good to know you're out testing skis!" He looked at me like maybe I was a little bit daft and said, "of course, that's what I do every day."

It is very reassuring to know that Zach's out every day at Callaghan testing and developing grinds. And has been all winter long. And will be until the snow's gone and then again next winter. I think that the US Team will have the fastest skis at the Olympics. Not only because Zach's working on grinds but also because our waxers are phenomenal. We had great skis at World's this year and the conditions were very whistler-esque. It's good to know that at least one aspect of the race equation is going to be perfect... now I just have to get my part taken care of.


We're sharing a wax trailer with several other teams which is going to be crowded once racing gets under way but for now it's nice to to be isolated and to get to bump into other skiers in the wax trailer.

Just in case we forgot how to wax, there's step-by-step instructions up on the wall. The best part is that the very same iron from the photo is sitting on the wax bench. For yellow glide wax should I go with the setting for rayon or for silk?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Can Nats

I had my first ski at Highlands Nordic this morning! It's serious spring skiing here and I'm not convinced that the courses are going to hold up for a week's worth of races when there's 500 or so competitors. I am hoping it gets colder.

The stadium is a mix of snow, ice, & water. Oh, and mud patches dotting it. They had dug a trough and were working valiantly to pump off some of the water. And are still at it, I imagine, long after I've already been home to a nice lunch.

I would say lunch and shower but being the late arrivals to our condo Ronsse & I only have one towel between us so neither of us have showered yet... we're currently at the office & Katie's asking about more towels and I'm poaching "SMC" internet in the parking lot. Ah, the life-- sitting in a rental van listening to satellite radio and the pounding of rain on the windshield and poaching wireless.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Tyrolean Village

Tonight Ronsse & I are with the Ellis family & Saturday morning we'll rejoin the APU team for Canadian Nationals in Duntroon, ON. We're staying at the Tyrolean Village in Collingwood & the alpine resort there is Blue Mountain. Or so I hear. This is an entirely new area and venue for me and I'm actually quite excited to get to check out another ski area and another part of the world. I thought maybe I'd start getting tired of ski towns... but nope, still looking forward to it.


The Vancouver airport has free wireless. How was it taken me so many trips to realize this? Unfortunately, my flight is about to board so I can't even take good advantage of it. You can tell that Canada wants to make a good first impression when everyone shows up for the Olympics.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Whenever I pack up my duffel, which is frequently, I'm reminded of the final step at a sub shop or a Chipotle burrito place when there's an open bread or tortilla piled with toppings with only a token suggestion of linear order. I always think, there's no way that can be folded into an orderly sandwich or rolled into a cylindrical burrito. And somehow the skilled employee always accomplishes the task. It's the same moment when I have everything in my bag and I merely need to flip the top over and zip it closed. It never seems feasible but I can always make it happen.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Black Jack Loppet

Two long days of inter- & intra-continental travel followed by a 30k race on Saturday has left me feeling like a train wreck today.

It wasn't supposed to be that hard of a race yesterday. More of a just-for-fun kind of thing. I can't even remember the last time I started a non-FIS race so I was set on enjoying a nice, chill ski. I was really going to do a nice L3 pace workout and then take it into L4 on the last lap depending on how I felt. And then this one guy was trying to catch me. And I didn't want to be caught. I kept looking back and he'd be a little bit closer every time on the 2nd and 3rd laps (the race was 3x10k). So I had to ski hard. Once a race is started it doesn't matter if it's a World Champs race or a local loppet-- the point is still the same: beat as many people as possible. It's easy to feel like a World Champs race matters but I was very glad to find that it mattered to me very much whether I could manage to beat this guy. As long as you still care, it's still worthwhile to be a ski racer. Anyway, he finally caught me at about 2k to go. Clearly he didn't have a clue who I was because he made the mistake of not throwing down and dropping me right away. And we all know what happens if you let a sprinter stay with you to within 100m of the finish line.


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