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On the go: Gumbies in NY, ME and VT!

An overdue update on our adventures of the last month!

The GMVS Nordic crew has been busy since our last update on the Waterville Eastern Cup! We closed out the 2015-16 Eastern Cup circuit in top form in Lake Placid, NY and Craftsbury, VT (the Stowe Eastern Cup was moved due to lack of snow) before taking a five day trip to Northern Maine to watch the Biathlon World Cup in Presque Isle. Since our return we’ve had an easy weekend at home and then we spent another race day in Craftsbury for the Vermont Eastern High School and U16 qualifiers.

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The scene in Presque Isle for the Biathlon World Cup!

In more detail (and with photos), here are our last four weeks:

Lake Placid, NY: Eastern Cup #3
Back in November we spent a week training in the High Peaks so returning to Lake Placid for the Eastern Cup sent a bit of deja vu through our group. Unfortunately snow conditions meant that we didn’t get to ski on the Ladie’s 5k course that we previewed at Mount Van Hoevenburg in the fall, but the organizers did a fantastic job getting the 2.5k at the ski jumping in top form for the weekend. Saturday brought skate sprints on a tough course that lead straight uphill to the high point followed by a speedy decent back to the finish. Our crew was lead by Forrest, who just snuck into the men’s open heats (a strong group because the weekend was also a Super Tour). Forrest skied a strong quarterfinal but didn’t advance. The rest of the crew was hungry for Sunday’s 5 and 10k individual classic events.

The crew previewing the Lake Placid 2.5k in Friday's fresh powder.

The crew previewing the Lake Placid 2.5k in some fresh powder on Friday.

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Forrest pushing hard up flagpole hill….if your tongue’s not out, you’re not pushing hard enough!

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Carl getting tall(er) in his V2 up flagpole hill.

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Lizzy working hard and showing good progress in her skate technique!

Sunday brought sunny, warm weather (tricky kick wax conditions!) so we were psyched to have Justin’s waxing skills on board. Forrest, Elliot and Walker all put down strong efforts, crowding the top of the men’s U18 results. Tanner, TK and Carl (racing up as a U16) skied smart races, finishing close to one another on the results sheet….they obviously spend a lot of time training together! Lizzy had a strong start and pushed hard right to the finish line despite not feeling well.

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Elliot pushing to the line and finishing with a lunge, just like we’ve been practicing!

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Walker showing good forward body position on his way out for a rip!

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TK reaffirming the fact that alpiners know how to use gravity productively.

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Tanner looking focused in the gate…game on!

After Lake Placid we had a week of training and school before the final Eastern Cup. On Tuesday, during all-school assembly, Kat presented on biathlon in preparation for our upcoming trip to watch the World Cup in Maine. She enlisted the help of fellow staff member “Sven” (Sohier) as a guest biathlete and did a great job sharing the excitement and unpredictability that can occur in biathlon races.

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“Sven” and Kat after the presentation.

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A little extra snowfall allowed us to explore “off track”, venturing away from Rikert Nordic Center on the VAST snowmobile system for a morning. We did some fun speed work with our bungees, applying a little resistance at the hips to help us get our hips forward when the resistance is removed. Here’s Tanner hitching a ride from Walker and Forrest!

Carl, though quite tall, wanted his Leki skate poles cut down a bit so Kat boiled the handles to get them off. In the process a bit of education happened in the school kitchen as she explained to the cooking staff why the poles were so tall…

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Melissa, head cook at GMVS, was pretty baffled by the length of Carl’s Leki poles!

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Lizzy and Margo are all smiles at the end of a workout at Rikert.

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A little body awareness exercise during our post-workout stretching and foam rolling session. Carl, though used to having his head pretty far from the ground, found this position a little different! Elliot and alpine coach Katie look on as Garrott hopes Carl doesn’t wiggle too much with his laughing! Never a dull moment with this crowd!

Two days later, with a little help from Mother Nature, we got the U14 Alpine group to join us at Rikert for our training session. Most of them haven’t done much nordic skiing but they did awesome. Nordic skiing is really good for alpiners because our double poling work can lead to faster starts for alpine racers and our softer boots allow for better ankle flexion, something most developing alpine skiers can improve upon! Garrott and Kat did some drills with them before taking them onto the race the trails!

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Working on strong double poling starts! High hands, big smiles!

Craftsbury, VT Eastern Cup #4

Mother Nature moved our final Eastern Cup from Trapps to Craftsbury, melting out the courses in Stowe right before the big weekend. Craftsbury, with saved snow from previous snowmaking, was able to cover enough terrain for a rolling 2.5k loop. The weekend was a combined Eastern Cup/UVM Carnival/US Super Tour so the fields were strong and quite deep. Saturday brought skate 5k races for everyone (a bit unusual as the men’s field will usually do a 10 or 15k distance) and Sunday featured 5 and 10k classic races.

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Perfect flakes falling on klister conditions….tricky waxing but there are no worries in the GMVS trailer when Justin’s on hand! Thanks for some great skis at the Eastern Cups JB!

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TK’s getting more comfortable with classic even though he still claims to like skating better!

Forrest, Walker and Elliot all put down good results to secure their spots of the New England Junior National team. TK, Tanner and Carl again showed that they train together all the time, finishing within three seconds of one another in the skate race. Lizzy focused on pacing and technique to push through some building fatigue. Her races weren’t what she’d hoped for but she’s been doing a great job of soaking in every learning experience that comes her way this year.

Northward: Biathlon World Cup trip, Aroostook County Maine

After the conclusion of the Eastern Cup circuit we had one day to regroup before piling into the van for a (long) drive up to Aroostook County Maine. We did a mini camp that featured training sessions at some new venues and two days spectating the Biathlon World Cup. Aroostook County sits far enough north that they’ve had a very different snow year from the rest of New England. We were greeted by extra blue classic conditions and deep snow!

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First day skiing in Maine…a little chilly but who can complain when the trail looks like this?

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Smile in abundance in Madawaska Maine at Four Seasons Trails.

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Lizzy and Margo out exploring new terrain and enjoying the abundance of snow!

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Gentlemen sharing the trail with one another.

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Evenings were a quieter affair in Maine. We didn’t have internet so we resorted to some “screen-less” entertainment during our downtime. Here Tanner, Margo and Forrest are learning to crochet hats from Kat! TK learned too!

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Competitive puzzling with Lizzy, Margo, Elliot, TK and Charlie (not shown here).

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Our second new venue was Fort Kent Outdoor Center (Lizzy and Elliot had been here already for summer camps and U16s). In the morning we classic skied, exploring snowshoe trails, snowmobile trails, the (little) alpine hill and some of the race trails. After lunch the crew donned skate equipment for some biathlon fun, learning the basics from Kat before challenging each other for relays in teams of three. Everyone shot well at rest but as soon as we added a little ski speed to the mix things got interesting! It was a great experience before the following day, our first of two spectating in Presque Isle.

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The scene at the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle (1.5 hours south of Fort Kent, where we stayed)

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Sharing the stands with the NHC lion!

We watched much of the first race (Men’s pursuit) from the stands where we had a great view of the whole stadium and got to witness the unraveling that can come with the pressure of shooting in the final stage of big biathlon races. Martin Fourcade, the French superstar, stole the win from Norwegian Johannes Boe by outshooting him in the final stage. Boe led the entire race until he incurred two penalties in the final standing stage. Fourcade entered the range after Boe was already done shooting but shot clean (no misses) to take the lead while Boe was completing his penalty laps. An exciting finish to watch!

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Carl donned his US Biathlon hat in support of the home crowd!

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Carl shoveling our patch of ice….a great way to warm up after a chilly day of spectating.

After our first day of spectating we drove partway back to Fort Kent before stopping at Madawaska Lake for some ice skating and dinner at the Collins family cabin.

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TK and Carl taking a break in the snow pile!

On our final full day in Maine we drove down to Presque Isle a little earlier, getting a specific strength workout in on some of the trails not being used by the World Cup before dashing up to the venue to “forerun” the penalty lap to ensure that the snow surface was the same there as the rest of the course where the World Cup athletes had already been warming up.

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It was chilly…Forrest wore his mask to protect his lungs from the cold air. Photo credit: Pete Freeman, Capture27photography.com

After some house cleaning, packing and another long van ride we found ourselves back in a much-less-snowy Vermont. The crew had Monday off from classes (February break) and then life returned to normal on Tuesday.

Craftsbury, VT: Eastern High School and U16 Qualifier races (February 21)

Yesterday we had the final set of qualifier races for the winter, taking on the Vermont High School field at Craftsbury to nominate the Vermont teams that will compete at the Eastern High School Championships (March 18 – 20) at Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton VT and the U16 Championships (March 11 – 13) at Black Mountain in Rumford Maine. The day consisted of morning classic races (twice around a 2.1k course) and afternoon skate races (the same course as the morning. The teams were they named by combining the two race times to create the ranking list.

The Gumbies certainly turned some heads with Forrest winning the classic race by 33 seconds, Elliot finishing 5th and Walker 7th. Tanner and TK (competing for spots of the U16 team) put down solid races in the U16 field to finish 10th and 11th for U16s. In the U14 race Carl was 2nd and Charlie (in his first classic race) was 9th. Margo, in her very first race ever, finished a solid 54th out of 82 girls!

In the afternoon Elliot took the win in the skate, besting Forrest in second place by 1.7 seconds! Walker held strong to take 5th place. Tanner and TK skied to 11th and 16th in the U16 boys race and Carl and Charlie took 2nd and 12th in the U14 event. Margo, in only her second race ever (and second in one day!), skied consistently to a 56th place!

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Margo out of the gate on nordic skis for the second time in one day!

When the times were added and ranking lists completed Forrest (1st), Elliot (2nd) and Walker (6th) were named to the Vermont EHSC team and Tanner (10th) and TK (13th) were named to the Vermont U16 Team!

A special thanks from Kat to everyone who helped make the EHSC and U16 qualifiers go smoothly! To Nick, Ed, Jim, and Terry for making sure our Gumbies had speedy boards, to Mike for taking the early shift with the team in the van, and to our faithful cheering squads out of the trail! Together we help these kids go fast and enjoy it!

What’s next? 

This week the crew will stay on home soil, putting in an intensity week in preparation for the BKL Festival and Junior Nationals. Come ski with us on Saturday at Rikert as we cheer on our alums on the EISA college circuit in their final regular season races!

Thanks for reading!