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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!

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Italy: Grand Finale

Hello GMVSxc Families and Friends,

Today we had a spectacular last day here in Italy, skiing under bluebird skies on the Schnalstal Glacier. Here is a pile of photo highlights (30 of 144 that I saved) to give you a glimpse into our perfect day. Enjoy and we’ll see you stateside tomorrow night!

I will update LOTS of photos to our google drive folder sometime this week…stay tuned!

-Kat

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Italy: An overnight adventure

Hello GMVSxc families and friends,

This blog entry will cover two days as we were away from internet last night….read on to find out why!

Yesterday (Tuesday) morning we had an easy morning off from training and took a tour of a WWII bunker with two local tour guides.

One of our guides laying out some background history that helped us understand why the bunkers were built but also the impact that both WWI and WWII had on this area.

Looking down on Mals (in the foreground) from atop the bunker.

Our guide pointing out some other defensive structures that still exist in and across the valley from Mals.

The side of the bunker where the entrance/exit is.

Heading inside!

Just inside the entrance. Here our guide is explaining (through Jere’s translations) some details before we head further town the tunnel.

Down on the bottom floor of the bunker. The photos on the wall show how it would have been set up during WWII.

Emily and Ursula sitting in a storage space in the bottom floor. Without headlamps, phones and camera flashes it’s completely dark in the interior parts of the bunker.

In the afternoon we drove up to the Reschen See where Colin and the athletes put on rollerski gear to ski up the Langtaufers Valley. It didn’t take much elevation gain before the low clouds started to drop snow on our skiers.

Olivia smiling despite the chilly precipitation.

Emily striding toward the finish point.

Matt looking relaxed while climbing.

Nick leads Greg, Tanner and Colin early in the ski.

The crew skied to the top of the valley where the road ends before retreating down to the parking lot of the Maseben Hütte. From there we stashed the rollerski gear in the vans and picked up packs with dry clothes and supplies for an overnight at the hut and began to hike. The walk up followed a forest road and took about 45 minutes. The hut sits just above tree line and is beautiful inside.

The Maseben Hütte

We had a bit of free time to relax by the wood stove in the dining room before dinner….

Card games

Board games

Dinner was an amazing ordeal from start to finish. This dish (above) is actually dessert: a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a berry sauce. It was delicious.

The main course: ribs and potato wedges.

The vegetarian option: cooked vegetables topped with gourmet cheese and made to look like a complete work of art! Emily said it was delicious! Our hosts did a great job catering to the various dietary needs of our athletes and everyone went to bed with a full stomach.

The first dish: a pasta dish served right in small frying pans.

Tanner and Brian trying to stretch out their stomachs before dessert!

After dinner the crew went back to playing games. It was great to see them interacting without the use of devices for such a long period of time!

This morning we had breakfast at Maseben before gearing up for a hike further into the mountains behind the hut. The ground was snow covered with temperatures below freezing so everyone had extra layers, hats and gloves along. We headed for a Planoil Scharte Pass, which was just under 3000m. Nine of our crew made it to the pass while the rest of us turned around a bit earlier due to cold toes.

Leaving the hut this morning.

Heading north before we turned uphill.

The trails are marked with red and white paint that looks like an Austrian flag. Some of the markings were easy to spot, especially early in the hike when there wasn’t much snow. When we started to gain elevation and the snow got deeper it got more difficult to follow the trail in places.

Our line of hikers.

Emily and Kat happy to be heading down.

Grace taking a break to get her feet out of the snow.

Jere on the descent.

We made it back to the hut to gather overnight items we’d left behind and have some food before heading back to the vans at the valley floor. This afternoon, after a short rest back in Mals we went out for an easy classic rollerski on the bike paths. Most of the team skied for about an hour before getting cleaned up for dinner.

Tomorrow we have our last day here in Italy and will head east to the Schnalstal Glacier again, this time to classic ski. Stay tuned for a short update on that adventure before we make the trek home on Friday.

Thanks for reading,

– 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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Let’s Go to Idaho!

Day 1: Sun Valley, ID Written by Kat

The GMVSxc crew is on the road again, this time for three weeks in Idaho and Montana. Right now we’ve got sunny, warm weather but hopefully the skies will drop some snow for us soon. We’re going to be in the Sun Valley, Idaho area for five nights before heading to West Yellowstone, MT for two weeks.

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Yesterday we had a smooth travel day that started dark and early with a 3:45 am departure from campus. We flew from Burlington, connecting in Chicago for a short layover before arriving in Boise midday.

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After picking up our rental vans we hit up a grocery store to load up for the week before heading for Sun Valley. The team has a cooking schedule for the whole camp where everyone cooks six times with different teammates each time. They planned all of their meals so our grocery shop was easy, with the ingredients and amounts all written out in advance. We came away with about four carts of food for our first week here.

We’re staying in Ketchum on a road called Chocolate Gulch. One of Colin’s friends from his time with Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) is letting us stay in his gorgeous log home nestled right up against the hillside. The house is amazing: the boys have already made use of the fire-heated hot tub and as I write this Margo, Carl, Brian, Elliot are making us our second dinner in the well-outfitted kitchen. Last night we had tacos courtesy of Charlie, Tanner, Rena, and Nick. Tomorrow Tanner wants to make use of an ice cream maker he found today!

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The house! It’s amazing!

This morning we took a slower morning to recover from travel, getting going with training around 9am. Before heading out for a trail run we each recorded some personal goals for the camp block. The trails we ran can be accessed right across the street from our house and are single track mountain bike trails.

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Getting some sun and views from the trails.

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The running together.

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A sunny place to pause. (Photo by Tanner)

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Enjoying the views north toward the Boulder Mountains.

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Time for stretching, layer removal, and hydration.

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Nick found a high spot.

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This afternoon we went for an easy skate rollerski on the bike path heading south toward Hailey. The path has been repaved in the last year so we were greeted by smooth surfaces for the duration.


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Some of the crew finishing up.

Tomorrow we’re going to rollerski in the morning again, joining up with the SVSEF crew a bit. They’re going to do a time trial so we’ll watch but ski the same terrain. In the afternoon we’re going to hit up their gym which is just down the road from where we’re staying.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s sunny update from Sun Valley!