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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: 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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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!

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A little taste of fall….

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!

 

 

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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!