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West Yellowstone! 2017 Edition

Written by Kat

Greetings from West Yellowstone, where we’ve been since last Thursday! When we rolled into town the roads were deep, deep slush and temperatures were not conducive to creating quality ski conditions. Luckily things froze up right away and we’ve had four good ski days in addition to one off day for most of the team.

After the long drive from Sun Valley the girls were itching for some movement but with the ski trails and roads too wet staying inside was the best option, so they did some Zumba, which was hilarious. David Kent, we need some dance lessons when we get home!

We are staying in three condos within walking distance of the trails and one even has a garage so we can store and care for our skis inside (not that it’s gotten cold like in the past two years…..yet). On our way from Sun Valley we stopped and did another huge grocery shop and the kids continue to take care of the dinner planning and preparations. We have four meals planned where we will all eat together (each cabin will cook one meal and then we’re share Thanksgiving). Cooking for 19 is a big task so we’re not doing every night as a group.

On Friday we got going early with the first of our daily morning jog/stretch sessions here in WY. The roads, which froze solid overnight, were very icy and woke us up in a hurry! Our AM training session was a skate workout, starting with some capture the flag before heading out to explore the trails. Midday we were joined by Nathan Smoller, a guest for this camp but hopefully a future teammate at GMVS! In the afternoon we broke out the classic skis and did some double pole-only ski specific strength work. Friday evening was highlighted by the first of our all-team dinners, a delicious meal of fresh Alaskan salmon, salad, and potatoes. Pete worked for a salmon fishery last summer and got us a deal on flash-frozen fresh fish, delivered right to our door here in WY. It was amazing!

Morning stretching at the western edge of West Yellowstone.

Friday was also Rena’s 18th birthday so we got to do some singing and share some delicious cake that Emily and Ursula baked up.

Saturday morning we focused on classic speed work, stopping in three places along the 5k race course to get some sprints in. The first were drop-in speeds, starting at the top of a small downhill and trying to carry speed into an uphill. The second and third stations were both uphill, one striding solo in tracks and one racing head-to-head without tracks. We finished with sprint starts/finishes in the stadium, which by that point had filled with other teams. There are a LOT of skiers here for the West Yellowstone Ski Festival!

Another morning stretching session in a parking lot on the other side of town.

On Sunday most of the crew tested out the race course, skiing either a 5 or 7.5k classic time trial. We (the coaches) were pleased with the efforts made on the whole and are excited to everyone repeat on Saturday, this time with race bibs and competition!

Emily pushing hard toward the last few climbs on the 5k course.

Erik striding through a sunny spot during the 7.5k TT.

Tanner rocking the USST onesie during a solid effort.

Carl pushing hard during his 5k TT.

Peter must have lost a bet because the boys got him to do the 7.5k time trial while wearing TK’s retro Atomic onesie.

Most of the team took Monday off from training but a few of us went out. Conditions were great with the chilly temperatures setting the trails up for fast but firm conditions. We left late morning for a day trip to Bozeman. After lunch Colin took a small group to Montana State University (MSU) for a campus tour, while Kat took the rest of the team to Main Street to wander around. Before getting dinner at Mackenzie River Pizza (if you’re ever in Bozeman, it’s a great spot for dinner) we did another big grocery shop, stocking up for the rest of our stay in West Yellowstone, including Thanksgiving dinner.

Saturday’s trail conditions: perfect!

Guess the turkey’s weight: Olivia came the closest without going over, guessing 27 lbs when the label said 28.1. We will share our Thanksgiving dinner with the skiers from Ford Sayre who are out here, so we went big!

This morning (Tuesday) we had great conditions to start our technique session but temperatures warmed quickly and it was tough to maintain good kick without completely rewaxing.

Rena with Nathan, her former teammate at U32. All smiles with the beautiful trail conditions (before it got super sticky and slippery) and sunshine this morning.

Greg, flashing the pearly whites and Leki poles!

After we finished our technique work there was a quick novice biathlon practice session for those wanting to compete without any experience. Here’s Grace taking aim.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) morning part of the team will compete in the Novice Biathlon events while the rest of the crew gets in some skate intensity. In the afternoon we’ll get another strength workout in and hopefully be on the verge of having all of our schoolwork finally complete in time to celebrate Thanksgiving without study hall!

Friday will be an easier day with a pre-race workout in the morning and a jog in the afternoon before everyone puts on their first race bibs of the year on Saturday!

Stay tuned to our Instagram or Facebook pages for daily updates/photos.

Thanks for reading!

Giving Thanks and Freestyle Races

Saturday, November 26, 2016: Thanksgiving Day was a bit of an odd holiday here in West Yellowstone this year. We didn’t share a turkey or have a special meal (burgers, salad, and potatoes) as the kids have decided to move our dinner to Sunday when the races are finished. Instead some of the crew did a pre-race workout in the morning to prepare for Friday’s skate event while much of the team (those racing Saturday and those who participated in the novice biathlon on Wednesday) had the day off.

Mid-day we took everyone to the West Yellowstone Bear and Wolf Museum near the Yellowstone Park entrance. They have live bear and wolf exhibits as well as a few raptors.

One of the wolves taking a nap. Most of their wolves were born in captivity so while it seems sad to watch a wild animal stomp the perimeters of a small enclosure, these guys don’t know any different.

An eagle quietly watching us.

Inside a building that sits between two of the wolf enclosures. They have three separate wolf packs (two wolves in each pack due to enclosure size). The video playing in this photo caught the attention of our crew for quite a while!

Elliot giving Tanner and Brian a lift around the outdoor exhibits.

Another wolf keeping an eye on us while she naps. We can hear the wolves howling just before sunrise from outside our cabins if there’s no wind. It’s an eery sound.

You can’t tell in these photos because they’re nothing for perspective, but these guys were HUGE!

An eagle….the three of them in this enclosure sat so still that they were hard to spot when we first approached!

One of the grizzly bears looking for lunch.

This was a highlight….and showed why we don’t climb trees when we encounter bears. This tree was tiny and couldn’t have been scaled by a human in half the time the bear went up. It’s reaching for some food that the keepers put up there.

The whole gang with one of the bears in the background (dark spot just over TK’s head).

Friday morning brought the first USSA races of the year with skate distance (5k for U16 guys and all the women, and 10k for U18 men and older) events on the Rendezvous Trails. The race course was prepared to perfection and the crew got to break out good skis for competing.

Elliot coming out of the start early in the men’s field.

Greg at the start of his second 5k lap…. This was Greg’s first 10k race!

Walker skiing solo into the second 5k.

TK charging off the line in the U16 men’s 5k.

Carl getting going.

Brian making the pass on some younger competition before even making it out of the stadium!

Tanner climbing the final long hill out in the woods before starting the descent back toward the stadium. This has to have been the first single-lap 5k course most of our team has done since we were here last November! Exciting but at the same time it was weird as a coach to only see them twice each!

Olivia charging hard through some transitions in the middle of the course.

GMVS parents: there are a lot more individual athlete photos from Friday’s races in the Google Drive Nordic photos folder: Click ‘November’ then ‘WY’. Enjoy! 

With the crew finishing up their homework we’ve had more time for other activities….like crocheting! Kat taught Olivia, Greg, Brian, Rena, Margo (last February) and Carl how to crochet on Thursday and Friday.

Olivia finished her first hat yesterday and was pretty excited about the perfect pompom she made to top it off!

Today (Saturday) Rena and Nick will toe the line in 5k and 10k classic races while the rest of the crew plans to train before the start and then cheer for them. Stay tuned for more photos tomorrow!

Full race results from Friday’s skate events can be found here.

Let the Races Begin!

Happy Thanksgiving from West Yellowstone! 

Yesterday (Wednesday) our race season kicked off with some fun novice biathlon competition. Brian, Carl, TK, Tanner, Olivia and Margo all jumping into the 4.5k competition (though every single one of them did slightly more than 4.5k thanks to penalty laps, some more than others). The local club hosts the race and has rifles for those who don’t own one themselves. Beginners shoot only on starting targets (about the size of a DVD) from the prone position (laying down) at 50 meters. They also provide shooting blocks to add stability when aiming. 

All photos can be viewed larger by clicking on them! 

Olivia, Carl and Margo were all smiles after the races finished!

Margo in just her third nordic race ever! She finished 13th, hitting 4/10 targets.

Olivia won the women’s novice race, hitting 9/10 and throwing down some speed on skis to win by 38 seconds!

Brian hit 9/10 to finish fourth in the men’s novice race!

TK hit 6/10 but pushed hard on the course to finish 3rd in the men’s novice, just 6 seconds ahead of Brian!

Tanner had a rough day on the range, hitting just three targets, so he’s excited for some redemption in tomorrow’s skate 5k event. He finished 18th in the men’s novice.

Carl also struggled on the range (undoubtedly because all of the rifles provided were at least 6-8 inches too small for him), hitting just 2 targets. Carl finished 15th and is also racing tomorrow’s 5k skate.

Full results from the biathlon races can be seen here.

Our crew has elected to move Thanksgiving dinner to Sunday so it’s not the night before races. Everyone has paired up to cook a dish, including mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, stuffing and pies. And Colin and Kat will be cooking TWO turkeys! Yikes! We’ve had no shortage of great meals on this trip and Thanksgiving surely won’t disappoint!

This week the crew is winding down on homework assigned for the trip so we’ve started having a daily device-free hour. This is the stack of phones, computers, ipads and readers from just one of the our two cabins!

Last night there was a fashion show at the Festival Expo….Tanner, TK, Carl and Brian modeled Toko gear on the runway. Unfortunately the lighting was terrible so this is the only decent picture from the spectacle!

This afternoon’s Thanksgiving highlight will be feeding the West Yellowstone grizzly bears and checking out the wolves as well! It should be a fun afternoon activity for the team!

Tomorrow will be a 5k skate event for TK, Tanner, Carl, Brian, Olivia, and a 10k skate for Nick, Elliot, and Walker. Sunday Rena and Nick will race 5k and 10k classic races respectively (pending a decision by the organizers to determine if there’s enough snow to set a clean classic track). Stay tuned for lots of photos and an update each day!

First Tracks and a Bozeman Day

Sorry for the sudden irregularity of posts. With the arrival of more guests at our cabin complex our internet is much worse. I’ll try to continue posting but cannot guarantee that it will be daily, nor what time of day (or night) it will happen. Thanks in advance for your patience! Check out our Facebook and Instagram pages for small daily updates at the very least!

On Saturday we did a mixed-technique (half classic/half skate) OD (over-distance….usually 3+ hours) workout. The kids aimed to ski 2:30-3:45 hrs, switching equipment and grabbing a snack halfway through. It was likely our last workout with the trails more or less to ourselves until the Yellowstone Ski Festival is over next weekend, and was highlighted by the addition of our first classic tracks of the winter! They weren’t perfect and had dirt/rocks in places so we were constantly getting in and out to avoid ruining skis, but they were still nice!

The view from the top of Telemark Hill on the 5k race course. There aren’t many spots on the Rendezvous trails where you get any kind of view so this one is kind of special.

Greg enjoying the classic tracks….at least that’s what I assume the tongue means!

Our older boys working together as they head in to switch to skate gear.

The snow in the trees makes the trails look gorgeous!

Margo enjoying the conditions!

A nice looking track!

Olivia was all smiles as she tested out the tracks!

Carl leading a small contingent.

Another nice classic track.

Dinner on Saturday was prepared by the French students but wasn’t necessarily French this year. We had french toast and french fries but it was still delicious (and entertaining to watch them cooking together)!

French toast with berries and some powered sugar!

After dinner Colin and I (Kat) held a charades match between cooking teams to determine which team would have their final cooking night off while we prepare dinner for them. It was pretty entertaining and we discovered that being in the play doesn’t necessarily help when it comes to charades!

Here’s Tanner showing us what curling your eyelashes looks like!

Brian is a race car driver!

Sunday we went to Bozeman for a day off. The kids got lunch in downtown Bozeman before exploring for a few hours. We stocked up on groceries for the rest of the trip including Thanksgiving, which they have decided to move to Sunday as Thursday is a pre-race day. After shopping we went to Mackenzie River Pizza for dinner before making the drive back down to West Yellowstone.

Greg and Olivia found a friend in the grocery store!

Today (Monday) we’re going to take advantage of the classic tracks and work on some technique in the morning and follow up with classic specific strength in the afternoon. Tomorrow is the first official day of the Yellowstone Ski Festival so the days will get a little busier until Saturday when most of the teams will depart.

Stay tuned for (sporadic) updates! Thanks for reading!

~Kat

A Taste of Cold!

The internet at our accommodations here in West Yellowstone isn’t terribly fast, especially when the whole team is awake and using phones, ipads, computers, etc, so I’ve resorted to posting our daily updates the following day before everyone wakes up. I’m sorry to those of you reading on the East Coast…you can get highlights on our Facebook or Instagram pages during the day! ~Kat

Friday, November 18, 2016: Today we woke up to -8 degrees F and a low cloud cover that kept the temperature from rising with the sun. We headed out at 8:30am (temps rose to around zero by the time we were skiing) for an L3 skate intensity session on rolling terrain with a focus on using our legs effectively. The trails didn’t get groomed again so the trail surface was soft and punchy, adding to the challenge of our first intervals on snow but keeping us laughing as many of us fell when we unexpectedly caught ski tips.

TK leading Rena during their cool down back toward the trail head.

The ladies + Kat sporting their new team hats that Kat made.

Part of the crew ready to head back to the cabins after finishing. This is the trail head and in a few short days there will be throngs of people here and this photo won’t be so easy to get! 

Part of the crew went out for lunch at the Canyon Street Grill, a restaurant known for it’s malted milk shakes and 50s decor. It was fun to have a change of scenery and get out of the cabin on a chilly day.

After lunch there were some charades-style games before a study hall session, and a strength workout at the local gym. Dinner was pad thai prepared by Brian, Walker, Olivia, and Elliot and it was delicious!

Saturday’s plan is to sleep in and start an OD (over distance) workout at 9:30am. The older athletes will ski 3-3:45 hours and the younger will do 2:30-3 hours, all doing half the time on classic skis and then finishing on skate gear. The afternoon will include another study hall (at the local library for those needing faster internet) and meal planning for our final week of dinners here in West Yellowstone. Sunday we are heading to Bozeman to stock up on groceries and do a little bit of the tourist thing so we need to make our last shopping list!

Stay tuned for Saturday’s post with photos of our long ski!

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Skiing! 

The internet at our accommodations here in West Yellowstone isn’t terribly fast, especially when the whole team is awake and using phones, ipads, computers, etc, so I’ve resorted to posting our daily updates the following day before everyone wakes up. I’m sorry to those of you reading on the East Coast…you can get highlights on our Facebook or Instagram pages during the day! 

Thursday, November 17, 2016: Today we got to ski on snow for the first time since hitting the loop on the Stelvio Glacier in September (or for those who didn’t come to Italy, the first time since March)! The Rendezvous trails, the system right in town, were packed last night. There’s not enough snow yet for a classic track so we had a really wide skate lane and just about everything was groomed. For those who haven’t been to West Yellowstone before, the town is pretty tiny and is set up in a grid system. Our cabins are about 3 blocks from the trailhead so we can ski or walk right from our door, which is really convenient as it allows us to ski for different amounts of time without hovering in a lodge or cold van waiting for others to finish. This morning the road crews hadn’t cleaned much of the snow off the roads yet so we all skied over to the trailhead. They also aren’t as careful to keep the roads from getting icy here…..you can kind of see the ice in the picture below. It’s thick and prevalent!

Margo’s first time skiing down a road! There’s a lot more snow in our forecast for next week so it probably won’t be the last time she does this during our stay here in Montana.

A gradual uphill with the sun trying to shine through the cloud cover.

Fresh corduroy just for us! We only saw 2-3 other skiers on the trails so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Starting Friday and Saturday other teams will start to arrive for the Ski Festival and the trails will get really busy so it was fun to have two peaceful workouts without lots of company.

Some of the crew hitting an uphill. Because the snow is still pretty thin the groomers had to be careful not to pack the trail too aggressively so it was quite soft. We’re hoping that as it gets groomed more it will set up a bit harder.

The snow in the trees was really gorgeous!

 Brian following some of the crew….

Margo climbing toward part of the 5k race course.

Skiing backward on the sprint course.

Fresh corduroy all to ourselves!

Margo enjoying the many kilometers of trail available today. Having just started nordic skiing last November the bulk of her experience has been limited to short man-made loops in Vermont so being able to ski for and hour and half without looping back onto the same trail till the last five minutes was pretty exciting! Hopefully we have good snow this winter so she can explore new trails back home too!

So much fun!

Today is also Rena’s 17th Birthday! Happy Birthday Rena! We decided that Mother Nature must have planned this snowstorm just for her….a first ski makes a great birthday present! She was all smiles!

Some of the crew at the end of our ski!

In the afternoon we headed back out for some easy classic skiing. Here are Carl and Brian heading onto the Rendezvous loop. Brian had planned to drop his puffy jacket at the trailhead but forgot so he had a really warm ski!

Walker testing out his retro New England JNs suit that he picked up at the Gold Mine in Sun Valley….

On our way out four of us noticed that we all had different brand skis but the same boots. It made for a fun and artsy photo!

The produce department snowman at the grocery store! The clerk saw me take this picture was told me how a raven (they’re HUGE here) came and knocked one of the clementines out and was playing with it in the parking lot!

Dinner tonight was a stir fry prepared by Greg, Margo, Nick, and Charlie. We had ice cream with some gluten free “brownie”, chocolate, and caramel sauce to celebrate Rena’s birthday. Tanner attempted a gluten free cake but something about the recipe and our altitude didn’t go correctly so despite baking for an hour and forty minutes it was still mush, but it tasted delicious and served it’s purpose. We had to put Rena’s birthday candles in a box of ice cream instead!

Friday we are going to test out some intensity on snow with L3 intervals in the morning and then a strength workout at the local gym in the afternoon. Stay tuned to Facebook and Instagram for little updates during the day! Our blog post for Friday will be posted early (7am MST/9am EST) on Saturday morning.

Keep the snow dances coming…we could use some more white stuff so they grooming crew can set tracks!