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Italy: Schnalstal Skiing!

Hello GMVSxc family and friends,

Today we got lucky with the weather and had clear skies until we finished our glacial ski, this time on the Schnalstal Glacier at the top of Val Senales. The drive from Mals to the tram station for the Schnalstal Glacier is slightly longer than the drive to the Stelvio, but the glacier itself is at a lower elevation (about 200m lower) and it only takes one tram ride to get up there (versus two trams and two Pomalifts at the Stelvio). Several World Cup national teams come to Val Senales for much of October to train on snow, including the Norwegians.

This is the view from the bottom of the tram looking up. It only had one tower and was very steep. You can’t see the top until you pass the  tower!

The view from the top of the tram….quite the view before the clouds came in!

From the top of the tram we had to do a little “norpining” (nordic skiing down alpine trails) to get to the nordic loop, which was about 4K long. Most of the crew skied about 2.5 hours, with some taking a break mid-ski for another norpine run or two.

When we started skiing there were patches of blue sky and when the sun came through it was quite warm. Here are Emily and Ursula skiing together early on.

Carl, happy to be in a new place!

TK skating beside Pete Kling, a GMVS alum who’s joining us for a few days of our camp.

Olivia and Matt climbing the longest of the V1 hills on the loop.

Colin leading TK across a switchback.

Rena taking a downhill switchback.

A view looking S/SE into the sun where the groomers are getting ready to open some more alpine terrain. The Glacier just opened so we are likely some of the first xc skiers on the loop this fall!

Matt getting in some good ski time!

Two skiers with some of the mountains in the distance. Being up on the glacier really makes you feel quite small and removed from the rest of the world.

The end of our ski got a lot cloudier with the beginnings of precipitation and lots of low clouds that created very flat light. After skiing we took a chairlift back to the tram station and had lunch in the dining hall there.

Jere grabbed a newspaper to read while we waited for lunch and spotted this article! Our runners from Saturday’s Stadtlauf (city run) made the news! That’s Carl on the right in the photo!

Heading back down to the parking lot we discovered just how much the clouds had moved in. Here are Carl and Brian standing outside the tram before our ride down.

And the same view looking down from the tram station….the view was completely gone!

This afternoon we went for a recovery jog, ranging in time from 20 minutes to an hour, before dinner and study hall.

Tomorrow morning we’re taking a guided tour of a bunker that’s just up the hill from our hotel. After lunch we will drive up to the Reschen See to classic rollerski north up a valley. Near the top of the valley we’ll switch out our skis for hiking gear and head up to the Maseben Hutte. We will spend Tuesday night at the hut and then do a day hike on Wednesday before returning to Mals. Our fingers are crossed for good weather!

Check back Wednesday evening for a blog post on both Tuesday and Wednesday’s adventures!

Thanks for following our adventures!

-Kat

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Italy: Intensity Day

Hello GMVSxc Family and Friends,

Yesterday marked the end of our first week here in Italy so we went big, starting with an easy rollerski with a big group of our Italian friends. The weather was awful: pouring rain and howling wind so we had two vans of soaked skiers when we finished. The Italian coaches planned the workout and the route. We dropped the kids in Schulderns and they skied on the bike paths to Glurns, back to Schulderns and then finished the second time they reached Glurns. They were asked to spend some time skiing with one pole (on each side) and without their straps on (to encourage actually holding the pole, not just pulling on the strap). The terrain was all very gradual and went through orchards and along a river with glacial-blue water for a while.

Josh heading back toward Schulderns before he was totally soaked.

Olivia and TK meeting the vans in Glurns the first time through.

Rena leading Grace mid pack the first time into Glurns.

The second pack all lined up.

Emily mixing it up with the Italians

The front pack with Matt sitting right behind the leader right after they made the turn in Glurns. Heading back to Schulderns.

In the afternoon the team split in two with some heading to Watles for uphill double pole rollerski intensity with Colin while the rest of the crew jumped into a running race in the walled city of Glurns.

Watles sits high on a hill above Mals and when the weather clears, as it did when our crew finished their intervals, the views are absolutely incredible!

Greg working uphill through the clouds.

Olivia pushing hard through a switchback on her way to Watles.

The running race was quite the scene, with the whole of Glurns closed to traffic and lots of fencing and signage set up in the “stadium area” at the city’s center. Glurns isn’t big. It has a population of around 800 and the original walls are completely intact without much devopment outside it’s borders.

The races were run by age group with distances increasing up to 5600 meters for the adults. Carl was our first to race in a heat with boys born in 2002 and 2003. They ran one 1.4k lap and headed straight to the finish. After that TK, Emily, Grace, Rena, Ursula, Matt, and Nick raced in one heat that featured four birth years, both boys and girls toeing the line together. This group did two 1.4k laps for a 2.8k finish. Short, quick, and painful!

Emily pushing hard right through the finish line.

Ursula gets a hug from Rena at the finish

Ursula heading for the finish line

Matt leading Nick (in the white long sleeve) and Rena (in neon yellow) across the line.

Grace heading into her second lap

Rena chasing some boys

Looking into Glurns through one of the gates that the course went through

Each heat was led and trailed by a biker to keep track of the group. This is the heat with most of our group running. The runner in yellow just behind the biker was the eventual overall winner for men and Rena handily took the women’s race.

Carl’s wave heading down the first straightaway.

Carl made a pass in the final meters of his race to lock up a third place podium finish.

Rena atop the women’s podium for her age group.

Matt also landed on the podium, finishing third for his age group!

Today we’re taking a rest day as the weather isn’t supposed to be fabulous through the morning. This afternoon we may venture into Glurns for their Pear Festival which has tradition South Tyrolean fare and culture.

Tomorrow we’re planning to check out the Schnalstal Glacier, another venue for off-season nordic and alpine training. This is where the Norwegian team usually goes for a month long early snow camp in October. It just opened on Friday after the fresh snow we’ve been getting up high so hopefully conditions are good!

Happy Sunday!

-Kat

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Italy: Day 5 (and 4 summary)

Hello family and friends of GMVSxc,

Today (day 5…Friday) we had another perfect day on the Stelvio Glacier but before I share a pile of photos, a quick summary of yesterday. The morning was focused on academics with a long study hall period that doubled as a testing block for our chemistry students. After lunch we joined the local xc team from Sport Oberschule for a run on the side of the Glurnserkopf just across the valley from Mals. The route was mixed between forest road (dirt) and narrow walking trails that run along the irrigation canals that were built in the 1300s. After our run we had some extra time to relax before dinner in the school dining hall and then another study hall (because we didn’t have time for schoolwork today) before bed.

The whole gang (GMVS and Sport Oberschule) before heading into the woods.

Today we took advantage of clear skies to make the trek back to the glacier again. This time both vans headed up through Switzerland and found very icy roads at the top of the pass. Jere’s van got stuck behind a less experienced/prepared driver and tried to help him get started when he got stuck on the last straightaway but to no avail. We ran the final distance to the parking lot while Jere railed around the stuck van as soon as there was space on the switchback!

When we arrived at the nordic loop on the glacier we found perfect, fresh corduroy groomed out just for us. Most of the crew skied between 1.5 and 2 hours, working on technique for much of the duration. There was also a little playing that happened on the descents back to our starting point on the loop…..

Tanner getting some air off the berms between switchbacks on the nordic loop

Olivia working on technique

TK rocking the vest, retro headband, and improving his technique!

Brian’s “Kat, I’m so tired” stance at the end of the ski. This guy is putting in some serious volume for his first time in Italy….being tired is a-okay!

Even when he’s tired Brian still smiles for the camera…

Josh, before the layers came off….

Greg getting off the ground….surprisingly this wasn’t how he broke his pole!

Grace can’t stop smiling….I think she’s having some fun on snow!

Erik putting in some one-pole time before calling it quits on the day.

Josh, working on technique and his tan

Rena using V1 technique to climb through a corner between switchbacks

Emily and Ursula showing off their best technique for the camera

Tanner enjoying the perfect conditions and views

Matt trying to catch some of the boys and eat a snack at once

Nick working his V1 technique through a corner

Tanner leading Greg, who’s doing some one-pole technique work after breaking his other pole

Brian practicing his tele technique on the crust that surrounded the nordic loop today

Carl working on his V1 technique while skiing with one pole

Nick leading Greg and Matt during the one-pole work

Brian leading TK and Tanner through a corner

Ursula and Emily working together to get lots of distance in

Grace, always smiling and always looking for pointers on her technique

Rena doing one-pole work

Carl and Olivia doing some technique work with Colin following

Tomorrow we have a skate ski in the morning followed by two different intensity options in the afternoon. Part of the crew will do classic rollerski intervals while the rest of the crew jumps into a local street race in the walled city of Glurns. Should be exciting….stay tuned for another update and more photos!

-Kat

 

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Italy: Day 3

Written by Kat Howe

Today we woke to the weather we’ve been waiting for: a clear sky! After breakfast at the Grauer Bear we piled into the van for the drive up to the Stelvio Pass.


The drive up to Stelvio can be done two ways: via Switzerland or by staying in Italy. This morning our vans got separating in traffic and we ended up going different directions. Jere’s van took the Italian route while Colin went through Switzerland. Both drives are quite scenic, with several tiny towns hanging on the hillsides. The Swiss side is a little more gradual and maybe a bit shorter. The Italian side seems shorter distance-wise because you can see the Venosta Valley from the parking area at the pass, but the drive includes an amazing set of switchbacks that increase the drive time.

Looking down on some of the switchbacks on our way back down this afternoon. There are 48 of them!

Looking up the road just before we reached the snow line this morning.

When we arrived in the parking lot near the base of the gondola we found the ground snow covered and were greeted with a stiff and chilly  (in the 20s) breeze. Two get to the glacier we have to take two gondolas before putting our skis on for two Pomalift rides up the alpine hills before we finally arrive at the nordic loop. The nordic loop sits on a more level section of the glacier that’s between two alpine runs.

Looking up the hill as we ride the first Pomalift.

Between the two Pomas we had to descend next to an alpine race course. Starting with a big downhill isn’t the easiest reintroduction to skinny skis, but we made it without breaking any gear and only had one rather dramatic wipeout.

When we finally reached the nordic loop we found this. Worth it! It was still quite chilly when we arrived but the mountain in this photo protected us from the wind and made conditions very comfortable for our training session. We waxed with hardwax (yup….hardwax in September!) and headed out for a 2-2.5 hour classic ski.

Grace skiing up one of the top switchbacks on the nordic loop. The mountain behind her is the back of the peak we rode up on the first Pomalift. If you click the photo and enlarge it you can see the top of another Pomalift on the left side of the photo.

Ursula leading Emily through perfect tracks. Unlike years past we had the whole track to ourselves.

Erik hitting a downhill switchback with some speed.

Grace….all smiles, as always. Happy to be on snow and classic skiing.

Rena and Olivia striding together during the first part of the ski.

Carl leading Josh and Matt.

Rena taking an uphill switchback during some of the one-pole laps that we did.

Tanner leading Brian during one-pole work.

Emily and Ursula taking a break (and smiling!).

Josh leading Matt across some flat terrain.

Matt striding.

The view to the north and north-west with our skiers in the foreground for some perspective. Gorgeous views the whole time we were up there!

Olivia descending to the bottom of the loop.

Greg leading a line of the boys…fun to see the different ages and abilities working on technique together.

After we finished the workout a few of the kids ventured to the top of the ridge to take in the view of Switzerland and have Kat take some small group photos. Here are Erik, Josh and Matt showing just how excited they were to be on the Stelvio for the day.

Rena, Ursula and Emily with the view off the back of the glacier into Switzerland in the background.

After skiing we descended back down the alpine hills and took the top gondola to the Ortler Restaurant that sits between gondolas. Our hosts at the Sport Oberschule arranged lunch for us so that we wouldn’t have to wait too long before eating. After lunch we finished the descent via the second gondola, took in some of the souvenir shops at the top of the Stelvio Pass before piling into the vans for the trip back down 48 switchbacks.

We got back to our hotel late in the afternoon and had some downtime before dinner for rest, homework, and hanging out together. This evening the crew is split with some preparing for a Chemistry test tomorrow, while others do homework or watch movies together.

Tomorrow will be an easier day athletically with the morning devoted to school work. In the afternoon we’ll head out for a 1.25-1.5 hour run/ski walk with athletes from the Sport Oberschule ski teams.

Hope you enjoyed the photos….thanks for following our adventures!

Parents – I took a LOT more photos today but can’t put them all in a blog post. I will upload hundreds of photos to our shared Google Drive folder when we get back to school (and I have fast internet) so be sure to check that our later this month.

-Kat

 

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Italy: Day 3

Written by Kat Howe (nordic coach)

This morning we woke up to gusting wind, heavy cloud cover, chilly temperatures, and light rain in Mals, thus forcing us two abandon our plan to ski on the Stelvio Glacier. During breakfast we watched the webcams that are in the parking area and near the lifts, reassuring ourselves that we’d made the right choice. The parking lot, which sits at the top of a very narrow and steep road, was snow covered. The webcam closer to the ski trails showed nothing….literally just clouds and snow. White.

Our new plan for the day started with a jog and strength in the Sport Oberschule weight room followed by study hall time after lunch. Our afternoon workout was a distance classic ski up the Martell Valley, east of Mals.

The strength workout wasn’t too visually exciting so I’m not going to post photos of that (the internet isn’t great for loading photos) but our afternoon workout was great so here are a few highlight shots (yes, I got the good camera out this afternoon…it stopped raining).

The Martell Valley is known for it’s produce, specifically strawberries. The scenery is a gorgeous mix of alpine agricultural land and mountains mixed in with neat buildings along the roadsides.


Emily smiling toward the end of the ski. The whole road is uphill so the crew was pretty tuckered when we finished at the Martell biathlon and rollerski facility.

An early view from one of the first big hills. That building in the background is a castle ruin that overlooks the entrance to the Martell Valley. Unlike the Stelvio pass, the Martell Valley is closed and can only be exited on foot via hiking trails once you reach the top.

TK leading Tanner into one of the switchback turns early in the ski.

Grace, all smiles (as always) as she stops by the van to add a layer. The mountains surrounding the higher part of the valley were all snow-topped and the temperature dropped pretty quickly once the sun ducked behind the peaks.

Matt leading Rena and Olivia through a gradual stretch toward the end of our ski. We didn’t get to the top of the valley today because we had to get back to Mals in time for dinner (we were late!) so we left some terrain unexplored for those who haven’t been here on previous trips.

Ursula leading Emily, TK and Tanner in some synchronized skiing.

Jere and I stopped at a produce shop that sells produce from the Martell Valley and bought a big bag of apples and whole tray of strawberries. The strawberries (which make an easy snack for passing rollerskiers) aren’t as red as your typical American strawberries (think more orange than red) but taste a infinitely better. The alpine climate here allows the farmers to pick berries into fall and they are absolutely delicious.

Rena almost passed up the strawberry feed but is clearly glad she took a pit stop!

There’s nothing in this photo to give any size perspective, but this church is actually quite tiny and sits roadside with huge mountains behind it. It’s open for visitors and is surrounded by picnic tables and a spring-fed fountain. The fountains are all over the place over here, including in the square right in front of our hotel. I’ll try to post a few fountain photos in the next week.

Grace skiing through one of the two tunnels on our route. The Martell Valley walls are quite steep, making it necessary to protect the road from rock and snow slides in a few places.

Brian striding in the sun earlier in the afternoon.

The front group heading uphill early in the ski. You can see snow on the peaks in the distance!

This cute little cabin was near the Martell rollerski loop where our crew finished up today. There are lots of strawberry crops up there so this is likely some lucky farmer’s summer residence.

Tomorrow we’ll try again for a day on the Stelvio, this time with a perfect full-sun forecast. We’re planning to classic ski and have already applied a binder layer to our skis. The temps are supposed to stay cool and with the fresh snow from last night and earlier today the skiing should be amazing! After skiing we’ll get lunch at a hotel on the mountain before returning to the pass to stash our ski gear in the van. On the other side of the road from the gondola is a ridge that was heavily fortified during WWI and now has many signs explaining what transpired in the area. Our plan is to hike up with Jere and have another history lesson before driving back down to Mals for the rest of the afternoon.

Stay tuned for more photos and keep your fingers crossed that the internet is strong tomorrow so I can share a bunch of them!

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Italy: Day 2

Written by coach Kat Howe

This morning we woke up to sunnier skies and warmer temperatures. After a coaches meeting with our hosts at the Sport Oberschule Mals we headed to Glurns to start our skate distance rollerski. The same bike path that we skied yesterday passes just outside the city walls of Glurns, so that’s where we jumped on it today. This time we headed east/down valley to start before spinning around and heading back through Glurns and right up through Mals to our hotel. Probably the two biggest highlights of our morning were the sun (it was warm enough for tank tops) and the cow herd that forced us to take a break on the side of the path as they passed through.

Emily smiling as the cow herd passes on by. Some of the cows were quite vocal about having company on the path and didn’t seem at all psyched that we were in their way!

Emily, TK and Matt skiing along the edge of a cornfield as we head back into Mals toward the end of our ski. The sun had everyone in high spirits throughout the workout!

This afternoon we ventured east to the Reschen Pass (Russian Pass) for a hike combined with a history lesson and some exploration of WWI ruins. We passed this church tower on our drive to the trailhead. It’s pretty famous and is probably the most prominent landmark in this region. The rest of the church and surrounding buildings were flooded when a dam was built to ensure water to the farmlands down valley from the Reschen See.

From the Reschen Pass we hiked up a dirt road to a high alpine meadow that was fortified by Mussolini during WWI. The meadow sits right on the Austrian-Italian border and you can also see the closest corner of Switzerland nearby. We found and explored several bunkers and a row of spikes intended to keep tanks from crossing into the Venosta Valley.

Grace looking into one of the bunkers through the gun hole.

Some of the crew walking part of a concrete wall that led from the tank spikes up to some bunkers on the hillside above.

TK striking a pose on the line of tank spikes.

Jere examining the spikes up close….these things may have been built for WWI but they’re still very strong and sharp!

Jere sharing some history of the area before we set out exploring.

There’s a lot of history in this area so it was pretty neat to sit next to such a tangible relic (that’s the first bunker we explored behind the group) and learn about what happened right in this pass and the implications of the entire war on the South Tyrol region.

 

Some of the crew inside the first bunker….this one had a campfire outside it so the inside is filled with names and dates of visitors from all over the world, our group included.

The whole gang atop the first bunker.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast looks good so we’re going to head up to the Stelvio Glacier for our first day on snow, a skate ski at 11,000 feet! The gang is all packed up and we’ll head out early in hopes of being on snow around 9:30 or 10. To get to the glacier we drive for an hour, either taking a steep ascent on the Italian side (look up ‘Stelvio Pass’ on google to see photos) or going through Switzerland for a route with fewer switchbacks. From the top of the pass we take two gondolas and then a pomalift to get to snow. The nordic trail sits between alpine runs so we have to traverse the alpine hill a bit before we start our distance ski. Most of the crew will aim for 2-2.5 hours of very easy skiing with a technique focus before we head down for lunch. In the afternoon we plan to hit up the gym for a strength workout.

Stay tuned for photos and keep your fingers crossed that we get some nice weather up there!

-Kat

 

 

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Italy 2017: Day 1

Written by Kat Howe, Nordic Coach

Today was our first full day in Italy after almost 24 full hours of traveling on Friday and Saturday. Luckily travel went smoothly this time from start to finish and we arrived in Mals with time to unpack before stretching our legs with an afternoon run/hike. Unfortunately the weather hasn’t been nice yet so we haven’t gotten any amazing photos to share but I have a few to wet your appetite.

Yesterday we went partway up the mountain that’s just north of Mals, climbing both on trails and bushwhacking through cow pastures. We found some cows and some of us were patient enough to pet them. Hiking in the mountains here is pretty magical when you’re surrounded by the sound of ringing cowbells!

Hiking up with Mals and the Venosta Valley in the background. Doesn’t take much vertical to get views around here!

Matt making friends with the ladies at the high point of our hike. This cow was particularly docile and followed us when we started to leave!

Ursula and Rena trying to get close enough to say hi…this gal was really shy!

We spent one night in the school dormitory (Sportoberschule Mals is our host) before moving to the Gauer Bear Hotel today. We will be eating our lunches and dinners in the dining hall where residential students with the Sportoberschule eat, while breakfasts will be right downstairs in our hotel. The square right outside our hotel is absolutely picturesque, with a narrow cobblestone street and beautiful geranium window boxes on most of the buildings. We are really close to the hillside to the north, with hiking trails heading up the hill from about a block away.

Our rooms at the Grauer Bear are cozy and comfortable. We’re in a mix of double and triples, which are tighter by our American standards, but small hotel rooms are the norm in Europe.

Movies between training sessions are better viewed with friends in very close quarters…..team bonding at it’s best!

Emily, Ursula and Grace standing in the street right next to our hotel (the hotel is just to the right of Grace, out of the photo).

This morning we woke to the same rainy skies that greeted us yesterday and braved the wet weather for an uphill rollerski to the eastern end of the Reschen See (Russian Lake). The Venosta Valley has a paved bike path that runs all the way down to Bolzano and doubles as a fantastic rollerski track. There are new obstacles that aren’t so common in the States, like cow pies, cattle grates, cobblestones, and drainage tubes. Luckily the weather didn’t get worse during our ski, however we did find stronger winds toward the end of our ski that had several of us quite happy to have brought wind breakers or raincoats.

This afternoon we drove just northwest of Mals to Planai, where we hopped onto forest roads for a run back to our hotel. The route started out mostly downhill but when we turned east it headed up significantly. We took a logging road that petered out completely and became more goat path than trail and had us scrambling through scrub brush for a bit. After finding some stinging nettles and bushwhacking we found a really nice trail that was built on an old irrigation canal that dates back to the 1300s, and took us almost all the way back to Mals. It was a mix of very manicured dirt surface and elevated wooden foot bridges. Very cool! We finished out the afternoon with some group stretching before getting cleaned up for dinner.

Heading up through the narrow streets of Planai to find our road back to Mals.

Heading down the road as we started back toward Mals. Planai is the little cluster of buildings that you can see in this photo. The town is perched on the hillside and only has one (very curvy and narrow) road that goes to it.

Heading down the irrigation channel trail….sorry the photo is blurry. It was taken while I was running!

Following TK down the walkways…unfortunately some of us found out the hard way that these boards are quite slippery when wet. There were a couple of unexpected spills before we got through the whole trail.

Tomorrow’s plan is to rollerski in the morning, this time starting further east and finishing at our hotel. In the afternoon we’re going to take advantage of the sunny weather that’s forecasted and go hiking!

Met this guy walking to breakfast this morning. Italian slugs are the real deal!

Stay tuned for more photos, both here and on our Instagram and Facebook feeds! The internet in our hotel isn’t awesome so I can’t promise that blog posts will be daily, but I will be sure to get some photos on FB and insta every day, maybe more than once a day, because that seems to load a lot faster!

 

 

 

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Italy: Day 8

Today we trained right outside our door again, joining skiers from across the region in their fall fitness testing. It was very official with bibs, a start list, and numbered stations run by coaches from the Mals Sport Oberschule. After a short welcome (all in German) the morning began with a weigh-in and height measurement.

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One of the coaches from Mals welcoming the crowd and explaining how the morning would be run. Our crew did a good job following along with their respective age groups to get through all of the stations.

The first true testing station was a skate rollerski agility course, not unlike those we’ve done at home in Vermont, though slightly easier and definitely shorter, with most finish times coming in between one and two minutes. They ran the station without poles (we usually use poles) and on matched skis which were very light.

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Nick takes the clockwise hula hoop turn.

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Carl goes counter clockwise while TK heads toward the finish on the right (in the background).

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The next station was a triple jump for distance: starting feet together on the line, one jump left foot, one jump right foot, then finish with two feet together again. Athletes had two attempts at this test. Here’s Rena working for every centimeter!

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Next was a 30 meter dash complete with laser timing to measure acceleration. There were two attempts at this test as well. Here’s Olivia pushing hard off the start line!

After the 30 meter dash the next station was a chin up test. We don’t have any pictures of this one as it was inside the gym basement where the lighting was terrible. This test was different from what is typically done in the US in that we always do pull-ups (palms facing down, not up) so the muscles tested were a little different.

Next up was a core stability station where athletes were asked to do a front plank keeping proper form for up to 4 minutes. They had adjustable hurdles touching each athlete’s lower back at the start of the test and stopped the test when the athlete could no longer keep their back touching the bar. Again, not a test our Gumbies have seen before.

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Greg and Elliot (in back) take on the plank test together.

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Rena and Olivia waiting for their turn at the plank station.

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Next up was a sit-and-reach test for flexibility. Here’s TK reaching for extra centimeters!

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Also for flexibility, the next station measured shoulder range of motion. It was a dowel with measurements marked out on each side from the center. Athletes had to hold matching spots on either side in front and then move the dowel over their head to behind them and back again without unlocking their elbows. This proved surprisingly tough for many. Here’s Olivia setting the mark for our crew.

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TK gets instruction from an Italian coach on the shoulder range of motion dowel while Tanner and Carl look on.

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The last test was a 3k run (7.5 laps) on the track done in groups of twenty by age group. Here’s the start of the oldest two groups of boys (U20s and U18s).

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Nick working with a pack of Italians.

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Elliot chasing two local athletes.

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Greg pushed through most of the run alone.

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Tanner staying relaxed and exercising smart pacing.

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TK pushing through his last test of the day.

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Rena took with win in the ladies U20/U18 group!

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Olivia leading several Italians as she passed Colin at the lap/finish mark.

After the testing the crew enjoyed some pasta served outside at the track complex, time for a shower and a short rest before we made the short trip down to Glurns to take in their Pear Festival. Actual pears were few but we did find live music, lots of locals in traditional Süd Tyrollean attire and many tasty treats (baked goods, chocolate-dipped fruit kabobs, coffee and bratwurst). After enjoying some time at the festival we explored the city streets a bit.

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Glurns was built about 700 years ago and still has a wall surrounding it today. The streets are all cobblestone within the wall and many of them are narrow and feature really old homes sitting side-by-side with renovated homes.
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Looking toward one of the three gates for entering Glurns.

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A line of buildings above one of the main streets through Glurns. You can see a tower at the far end which sits above another of the three gates.

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A narrow alley that faces the inside of the wall. There is an intact walkway above the street (top of photo) where you’ll see some of our crew looking down on Tanner (bottom left).

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In a few places there were grapes growing on the inside of the wall….here’s Tanner picking some. They were delicious!

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Nick looking down from the walkway on the wall.

After exploring Glurns the group split in two: one van heading for an ice bath in the glacial waters that run down a river outside the Glurns city wall and the other other heading to a nearby hill to check out the valley views.

img_5859A church we found on the hill. The existing structure was built in the 11th century but the original building went up even earlier! The age of many of the buildings here is hard to fathom!

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Looking down on Glurns. If you click on the photo to enlarge it you can see the wall quite well.

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Rena, Olivia and Greg enjoying the view from a bench they found.

img_5865We shared the hill with these ladies….the cows around here in Val Venosta have it pretty good!

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A bench with a view.

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Walker didn’t seem too upset with his vantage point!

That’s all for now!

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Italy: Day 5, 6 and 7

After several days on the road during prime photo-uploading hours, here is a three day update!

Thursday (Day 5): With some cloudier weather settling into the valley we decided to stay closer to home, doing a morning track workout with the local cross country skiers followed by an afternoon strength workout in the gym. It was nice to have a bit more down time between workouts, as we didn’t have to drive to or from our training venues. The track, which circles the local soccer field, is right across the street from our dorm. The gym is part of the Sport Oberschule and is a short 10 minute walk up the hill.

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The boys doing a little jogging with a couple of our Italian friends.

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Carl and TK pushing through some 200m intervals.

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Greg and Elliot working together.

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Nick taking on the local contingent.

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Alex running with some Italian ladies.

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Warmup technique and activation exercises led by one of the Italian coaches. That’s a BIG group of skiers!

Friday (Day 6): Today we ventured over (and under) the mountains to Livigno for some rest day exploration. To get there you drive into Switzerland via Val Müstair and take a tunnel under a mountain. To encourage visitors to make the drive up to the remote valley Livigno don’t charge taxes so the shopping is all duty free. The tiny town, surrounded by alpine ski slopes and also home to fantastic nordic skiing, is full of shops and restaurants and was nice to wander around. I don’t have many pictures as it was another dreary day.

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An entire wall of cuckoo clocks in a shop definitely geared toward tourists.

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Carl found enough Nutella for the whole team for the rest of the trip. No, he didn’t buy it.

On our way home we took a different route, climbing out of Livigno toward Bormio, where we spent another hour+ exploring narrow hillside cobblestone streets. Unfortunately much of Europe shuts down from 12:30 – 3:30 each day so many of the shops in Bormio were closed while we were there. We did find a grocery store to restock our snacking supplies and a few of the boys made a quick trip to the Ski Trab factory for t-shirts and a drink belt.

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Rena, Olivia, Lisa (our Italian exchange student from last fall) and Carl taking in a cobblestone square in Bormio.

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Rena and Carl in Bormio.

Saturday (Day 7): Today we hiked the Uinaschlucht with our Italian hosts in a group of about 30 people. Some of the local coaches were kind enough to shuttle all of the vans so we all (coaches included) got to complete the point to point hike. Unfortunately we had cloudy/dark weather again so views were very limited through our hike, resulting in few photos taken. Here’s the link to last year’s bike/hike for a better idea of where we went.

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Olivia taking in the foggy view from the most extraordinary part of the trail.

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A hut on the way off the mountain heading toward Schlenig.

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Sam heading through the last meadows before finishing up the hike.

After hiking much of the group made a quick turnaround and headed back out with the Italians for some mini golf down valley. Elliot is apparently the best mini golfer in the whole group, finishing with the highest score overall. Tanner and TK hung closer to home with Kat and Sam, watching part of a local soccer match, getting gelato, and a quick run to the grocery store to stock up on chocolate. We closed out the day with a great pasta dinner followed by study hall.

Tomorrow we are participating in a testing event with the local ski program at the track and soccer field complex that includes some strength testing, several running tests and a rollerski agility test on matched skate rollerskis without poles. It will be interesting to see where we stack up!

Good night from Italy!