Greetings from Italy, where the weather continues to be beautiful, the food has been awesome, the training has been both fun and challenging (at times) and the kids are starting to get tired!

Our third day in the South Tyrol started with a long skate rollerski up the Martell Valley. The road climbs pretty consistently as it winds upward into the mountains and away from Val Venosta (the name of the valley that Mals also lies in). There are three sections of pretty tight switchbacks, the more notable at the very top of the valley before the road turns to dirt and ends.

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Part way up the valley is a rollerski track and biathlon range (where we watched Lisa on our first day here), used for training in the snowless months and host to International Biathlon Union races in winter. Everyone got to ski on the loop and came to a unanimous conclusion that it’s a really challenging course. The hills are steep and the recovery portions are short!

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Elliot, Peter (GMVS alum who is helping us during the duration of our camp), Greg and Nick on the roller loop.

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Rena, Olivia and Carl taking a break after the second set of switchbacks. This lake is glacier-fed and it is every bit as cold as it looks! Some of the boys went for a dip on our way home!

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A tiny church that sits right next to the road….we had to stop. Olivia and Rena got some great shots of the windows and door for their photography projects as well!

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This abandoned hotel sits at the very top of the valley. After the road ends and turns to dirt you can walk across a bridge and walk up to it. Rumor has it that Mussolini and Hitler met here just before the end of WWII but we haven’t been able to confirm that as of yet.

In the afternoon we ventured west up into Reschen Pass in search of more relics from WWII. We had heard and read about tank barriers up on the mountainside that can be reached on foot. With some basic instructions from one of our hosts at our dining hotel we set out. Finding the parking spot and trail head was no problem….there was a giant sign with photos of exactly what we were in search of, so we headed up the mountain.

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An hour+ later about half the group was questioning our directions and not psyched to hike further when the plan had been for a short and easy hike. The other half (Rena, Olivia, Carl, Alex, Kat and Sam) headed onward after hearing from two mountain bikers that the bunkers were ahead, but they weren’t sure how long it would take us to get there. They said up to an hour.

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It took us about 10-15 minutes to reach an open area higher up on the mountainside and find the first bunker!

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The bunker was really neat but so was the view! Happy girls!

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From the first bunker we could see more structures so we had to venture further…

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And we found the tank barrier (panzer spikes). This line went on for quite a while and was pretty impressive. The concrete that holds the spikes was poured around tree trunks. One had cracked open and you could see the tree inside it.

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The view looking west into Switzerland.

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Inside the second bunker we found. This one was larger with two gun ports for lookouts facing west/northwest, a long hallway connecting two doors and a room in the middle.

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The view looking east toward the Reschen See and Mals. There were cows just below us too!

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Our hike was a little longer than anticipated so we were a little late to dinner, but after such a great hike no one seemed to mind one bit! This last photo was taking out the van window on our way back to Mals. This tower is all that’s left of the town that was flooded when Reschen See (actually a reservoir) was created. We’re going to kayak to it on Sunday afternoon!

Stay tuned for an update tomorrow on today’s adventure: we went to the Stelvio to ski and had perfect weather and a great time!

 

Gruße aus Italy! (Greetings!)

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After a long travel day we’re finally in Italy and had a great first day exploring. We flew from Montreal, connecting in Nice, France, before landing in Zurich, Switzerland, where our hosts picked us up. Nice looks amazing and I think a few of us wouldn’t have minded a long enough layover to leave the airport and explore the shores of the Mediterranean for a few hours.

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Flying over the Mediterranean coast on our way into Nice.

When we arrived in Zurich we discovered pretty quickly that there was a miscommunication during some point in trip planning, as our hosts weren’t there to pick us up! For some reason they thought we were arriving at midnight, not noon. That left us with a few hours to burn exploring the airport which, lucky for us, has a shopping mall in it!

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The ladies found traditional Süd Tyrolean attire in the mall!

When the vans from Mals arrived we piled in and began the trek toward Italy. The weather was gorgeous when we arrived but quickly deteriorated during the drive. We stopped briefly for a late dinner on the road before venturing into the mountains after dark amid thunderstorms. We finally rolled into Mals around 10pm and found our accommodations. We are staying at a dormitory near the soccer field/track and will be eating breakfasts in our building while we have a short walk up the hill for lunch and dinner each day.

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Our building has a bridge over the road to a small parking lot where the vans we’re using  are kept. This is a morning view from the bridge. Not too shabby!

Today we woke up early for a 7:30 breakfast before driving up the Martell Valley to watch Lisa, a local Italian athlete who stayed with us for a month last fall, compete in the Italian Biathlon Rollerski Championships. It was fun to see her in action and exciting to also watch some of the Italian National Team members race around.

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Walker brought Lisa some Vermont Maple Syrup….she was pretty psyched about it!

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A view from the biathlon race course. There aren’t too many places around here where you can’t see big mountains in at least one direction!

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The crew on the spectator bridge cheering for Lisa.

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Dorothea Weirer, the top female biathlete from Italy. She’s consistently one of the top finishers on the World Cup so she gave us a solid demonstration of strong skiing and incredibly fast and accurate shooting.

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Weinerschnitzel for lunch!

After lunch back in Mals we made a quick turnaround and went for a hike just above town. The goal was an easy hike with poles to get our bodies moving after a long travel day. The mountainsides are steep here so we got some pretty amazing views throughout. There was some bushwhacking both on the way up and down, and a few of us got quite wet when a rainstorm passed through.

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A view on our way off the mountain. If you click on the photo to enlarge it you might be able to find Walker on the nearest ridge (look for his red shirt).

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Sam, Walker and Colin on our way off the mountain with a fantastic backdrop. This was shortly before the rain!

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One of the many cows we met today. Süd Tyrolean cows have it pretty good!

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A herdsman’s cabin that we came across on our way up the mountain.

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More mountainside friends, except these two were a little more friendly (and curious) than any of the cows!

After another great meal for dinner we’ve begun the task of staying up until nine to help our bodies adjust to the time change. There will be some homework, a quick meeting on tomorrow’s plans, and then a solid night of sleeping!

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Waffles for dessert….the kitchen has yet to disappoint! 

That’s all for now folks! Tomorrow we’re going to classic rollerski up Reschen Pass on the amazing bike paths and then go for a short hike in the afternoon.

Stay tuned!

Tomorrow we head across the pond for two weeks in Mals, Italy but before you see some amazing photos in the coming days, here’s a snapshot of our first two weeks of school!

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We kicked the school year off hard with a testing week. The shots above and below are of the group cooling down together after the 3k running test at Harwood High School track.

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You’ll always run faster when you’re racing against someone! So psyched to see these kids pushing each other without any prompting from coaches!

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Alex, a new team member and our newest nordie (she was an alpine skier last winter) trying out classic rollerskis. The Norwegian blood in her veins has her moving in good directions already!

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Carl looking way too happy for the end of an uphill double-poling test…maybe this shot was taken during the warmup.

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Walker working hard.

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Charlie psyched to be done with his first Plunkton double-pole test ever!

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A little recovery hike in search of views…we found them!

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Another afternoon hike up Mad River….

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Happy skiers

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Group roll on a HOT afternoon

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Balance and proprioception session with the alpine ladies. This balance work turned into dance…Greg and Elliot were awesome for sticking with the ladies right through the dance-off! 
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This view…probably one of the best along any of our regular rollerski routes. Never fails to impress.

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Rena taking the W in her first xc race of the season and her first in Gumby green! Go Rena!

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Brian, also in his first race of the season and first in (slightly brighter) Gumby Green and he ALSO took the W! Congrats Brian!

Tomorrow afternoon the majority of the crew begins the trek across the pond to Italy. Stay tuned for regular posts (pending good/regular internet access) over the next two weeks as we explore the trails, paths and roads around Mals, Italy! It’s sure to be an amazing experience!

 

 

With just two weeks left before school starts we’re past due for a summer update on the adventures of the GMVS Nordic squad! Here’s the short of the long in photos!

We started the summer off with two camps on the GMVS campus in June. The first was a camp put on by GMVSxc where we hosted over 30 athletes (including a group of Italians from our sister school in Mals, Italy) for a mixed week of training, including both volume and intensity workouts. We were joined by several guest coaches (from VT, ME, and Italy!) who all brought great skills and enthusiasm to camp!

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The crew!

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Some dryland basics paired with name games to kick off the week.

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The Mals crew! We’re looking forward to visiting them in September!

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The Italian ladies were psyched with the view from the top of Camel’s Hump!

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Lunch time with a view…

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We had great (but hot) weather so we hit just about every swimming hole in the Mad River Valley!

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Just a few sweaty athletes cooling off!

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We put some focus on agility and speed, spending a morning honing our skills in the Sugarbush parking lot in advance of an agility course time trial on the GMVS campus later in the week.

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Waiting to hit the agility course is better in the shade surrounded by friends…

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We made two trips to Jericho to ski on the rollerski track and even got to try biathlon thanks to Ethan Allen Biathlon Club! There were some sharp shooters in this crew!

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New Middlebury college assistant coach, Kate Barton, working on double poling speed with a camper in Jericho. 

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We ended the first camp with a rollerski up the steepest paved mile in North America at Lincoln Gap and then trekked out to Sunset Ledge to take in the view. A big week of training complete!

Our second camp was organized by NENSA and hosted by GMVS: the New England REG (Regional Elite Group) camp! This camp was by invite only and featured a talented group of some of the fastest juniors from New England and New York! We were joined by coaches from across New England as well as USST coach, Bryan Fish!

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The crew on Olympic Day when we were joined by USST/SMST2 skier Andy Newell and his fiance and SMST2 teammate, Erika Flowers. Lots of smiles…Thanks NNF for supporting this crew of super stars! 

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Andy Newell kicked off the agility course time trial on Olympic Day! He’s very agility, super quick and really fun to watch! It was great to have him show off for the REG crew and give them a course time to strive toward!

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Incoming GMVS junior Rena taking on the slalom cones on agility day

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Pre-breakfast wake-up work with coach Fish: working on body position, awareness and control.

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High hands, high hips and high expectations! Looking good Olivia!

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Elliot and coach Fish talk classic striding before jumping into Blueberry Lake after a classic distance ski.

July and August have been low key with the GMVSxc athletes training on their own or with club teams for the most part. Kat has been getting together with anyone available on Tuesdays to ski in Jericho and some of the gang will get together just before school starts for a day trip to Kingdom Trails for some mountain biking.

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Charlie taking a break during a skate ski in Richmond on a gorgeous (but incredibly humid) evening. I think he’s pondering how nice a jump in the river would feel!

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TK has spent much of his summer on Lake Champlain with family, getting out for workouts (doing some single leg squats on a bridge here) with his dad and older brother Jack.

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Nick will join us this year and it’s been fun to see him a bit over the summer….he’s always got a huge smile!

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Elliot (L) and Forrest (R) doing some intervals together in Jericho.

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Charlie getting his stretch on after a ski in Jericho.

There are just two weeks until school starts and we’re looking forward to having everyone back on campus! Enjoy what’s left of summer break and keep training hard and smart!

For anyone interested there are smaller updates and lots more photos from the past two+ months on our Instagram (GMVSxc) and Facebook (GMVS Nordic Ski Team) pages. Check them out!

Happy August!