Posts

Another fun day at Trapps: classic drills and distance

It was a green jacket day at Trapps, and we took our poles off to get in some drill work before heading off on our distance ski. 
We are always working on balance and weight transfer, and practicing the classic stride with no poles is just about the best drill you can do on skis.

Dev getting some nice extension and arm swing, and Hans working on the “gorilla” pose in the background: rounded shoulders, relaxed arms swinging in sync with the legs.

This photo makes it look like there was wind but it was only momentary: the day was perfect once again at Trapps.

By report the skiing is phenomenal up at Craftsbury as well, and we are headed up there tomorrow to do intervals on this weekend’s race course. Should be sweet!

MK works on the stride and glide.

Fitzy, rolling the hips through.

Dev: fun in the sun!

Our next drill was to ski downhill and around a sharp corner before turning and sprinting back uphill… all without poles. It’s good to feel the compression of the wax pocket and to focus on keeping the momentum forward on the uphill.
Justin demonstrates how to do it.

Getting a big kick and getting the hips forward is almost automatic when trying to classic sprint with no poles, and it’s a good feeling to have in the mind when we put the poles on to go ski.

That’s levitation, Holmes.

All smiles in the head-to-head!

US Nationals Simulation Week: Day 1


We’ve been back from Italy for a week now, and we’re settling into a routine that will carry us all the way through to November’s trip to West Yellowstone. This is arguably our most focused block of the year academically and athletically: we have an opportunity to make big gains in both arenas.

It’s a good time to think about where we’re going: part of moving forward is reflecting on where we’ve been. What’s worked well and where do we need to be better?

Many of our skiers have made serious goals for the races at US Nationals. In order to prepare, we’re skiing a simulated Nationals week, with three time trial efforts: a 10km skate, a skate sprint day, and a classic distance race. For the first day of this week we drove up over the gap to go meet up with Cam MacKugler and his Frost Mountain Nordic team for a 10km skate TT. I had a vision of Cam bending a Swix Star at the Bolton Eastern High School Sprint when I was in 9th grade (2005). I won’t tell you how long it took me to dredge up this photo, but the display of raw power is worth it.

Cam had a group of four skiers who showed us the course. We skied it backwards (downhill) as a warmup, then threw on the bibs and got ready to go.
The group was all smiles before the start. It’s always fun to meet up with different people for training. Thanks to Frost Mountain for letting us join in!
Heidi starts up the course: her first 10k race!
Our skiers are committed to so many things: Kaitlin’s balancing college apps, play, the Valley Reporter, and still skiing fast right now.

Dev has made incredible gains this year (while playing soccer and having a lead role in play!). His game face is on 24/7.

Night is falling quicker and quicker these days.

Wood roller skis and a construction hard hat. Not a bad look for our Frost Mountain Friend.

It’s beginning to feel like Fall in New England out here. Italy was sweet, but the scenery in Vermont is pretty striking as well, even on a cold, cloudy day.
We had some awesome efforts yesterday: everyone skied hard on an unfamiliar and challenging course. Now it’s out for skate sprinting at Sugarbush!

Italy Finale

Our last day in Italy was upon us before we knew it: two weeks can really fly by. We decided to go big and go home, setting out on a 20 kilometer hike from Schlinig, Italy to Sur En, Switzerland. The hike took us through the infamous Uinaschlucht, a gorge with a smuggler’s route carved into the cliff walls.
Coach Beckwith has got map fever right now: here he plots out the route before our departure from Schlinig.
Confident that we know our way, he drives the van back out the valley. We’ll see you in Switzerland!

The peaks of the Ortler range were snow capped, but it was 70 and sunny down here in the valley.

Right before the major climb in the hike, we stopped for a “rock on” pose in front of the waterfall. It was somewhere around here that we decided that this was the best day ever.

It was great to have our favorite Frenchman back from training in Austria with the biathletes.

It’s tough to find words to describe how beautiful it was here.

Fitzy lugs her camera gear and extra clothes up the mountain. She took a lot of great photos on this trip. Some have made their way onto the blog, others are sure to debut on Facebook in the next few days.

Dev takes a moment to reflect on where he’s been.

Once we climbed up over the waterfall, it was all downhill to Switzerland in this high alpine valley. 

To the Uinaschulcht we go!

Toine is always an enthusiastic photo subject.

We tried to kill some time on the way to the Uinaschlucht, so we hiked up this ridge on the side of the trail. 

Looking down on Antoine from the ridge.

The Halvorsen siblings are interviewed by Antoine (not pictured) about the hike.

Heading into the gorge. The river is close to the trail at the top, then quickly drops deep into the slot canyon.

The group stayed together for the whole hike, up from Schlinig, down through the Uinaschlucht and out the other side: this was an awesome way to wrap up a fantastic camp.

Someone came into this valley and said, “I think i’ll cut a two-kilometer long path into the side of this cliff. By hand.”

The cliffs drop off close to 100 meters into the abyss below.

It was an unbelievable camp in Italy: we had fantastic weather, a variety of great training, awesome food, and hospitality that we can only hope to replicate in the spring. Thank you to everyone who made it possible for this trip to happen!

A Look Back in Time – Ten Year Reunion on the Stelvio

Reunion of sorts – Coach Beckwith (WJC ’99) meeting Peter Schlickenrieder (WJC ’89) – Moving Planet Day 2011

The past few mornings I have been waking up early enough that I might be rivaling past Middlebury College Coach, Terry Aldrich in his zeal for the dawn.  This pattern lends to a feeling of courting a day — certainly being ready for it — and being unmistakably ahead of your colleagues (or in my case, athletes) in exuberance by the time they wake up.  Bottom line — as the GMVS XC Ski Team is nearing the end of our first altitude camp of the 2011-12 — the Head Coach is fired up!

Today was a special day, not only because the kids got an excellent day of training on snow along side the Italian National Team, but because they got to link their passion to a bigger issue.  Today is a worldwide day of unity and awareness, drawn together under the name, Moving Planet — with the goal or reducing dependence on fossil fuels, looking to alternative energy sources and promoting a movement towards a world with 350 part per million of CO2.  We had a day we will never forget — one with snow, contemplation of our place in the world, and physical experiences (read, play) that link us to the planet in a respectful way.


Speaking of days I will never forget, on the eve of competing in World Junior Champs in 1999, in Saafelden, Austria — I witnessed the then fastest man alive, Peter Schlickenrieder duel with the fastest Austrian sprinter in a night sprint.  The town had shut a street and lined it with snow — for a single ski race that lasted no more than a few minutes.  Sprinting as an event did not really exist yet, this was an exhibition to help launch the Junior World Champs, and I was blown away by this man V1’ing in a yellow suit at what-seemed-to-be the speed of light.

Coach on an off day in Innsbruck.

Return to courting the day … here I am with the kids, watching them ski along side Olympic Champions, Spanish, French, and Swiss Junior National Teams and the Sud Tirol Coach points to a man who looks to be dodging his forties rather well, “this one is Schlickenrieder…” I am enthused explain in my broken Deutsche-English, my memory of this phenom of a sprinter.  “He has made silver in Salt Lake in the Sprint.”  I watch him pass and dream a bit.

Near the end of the workout I spy Peter propping his skis against the Stelvio sign and snapping a picture for his sponsor, Salomon.  I offer to help this idol of mine from years past — “Would you like me to take a picture with you in it.”  Boom — I’ve broken the ice and am now talking to an Olympic Medalist!  It takes me a minute to convey my story, but yes he remembers the sprint, and is flattered I have made the connection.

Inspiring views surround the valleys of the Sud Tirol.

We not only talk of ski racing, but also of the significance of the day and how Nordic Skiers are spokesmen for the environment.  He shares that he believes his homeland, Germany, is a world-leader in photovoltaics.  Most days he says he doesn’t have time for photos and chat, but he is very affable — offering that he is making a “revival” nearly ten years after taking the Silver Medal in the Sprint at the Salt Lake Olympics.  I am stoked and feel a real connection to this man who only existed before in my mind.

It all starts with play — and a desire to try really hard at something.

The view from our hotel — past castle ruins and into the Ortles Range.

Looking out the Martell Valley after our roller ski the other day.  20 kilometers and some 4000 feet of climb.

Shortly after this meeting I gather our team with the Sud Tirol Regional Langlauf team for a photo that makes me proud.  I explain the cause of Moving Planet and have a Swiss skier explain to the German-speaking-Italians what the significance of the day is and what we are supporting with our photo.  We are bringing together two continents and five countries under one cause and linked by the sport of cross-country skiing.  Pretty inspired indeed.

Kinda makes you want to smile!

Two hours on snow makes this one smile.

This guy too — first day on snow for 2011-12 ski season.

The view down into Switzerland.

 And for my play … well there is nothing I like better than going downhill on skinny skis — it sort of crosses the barriers of two worlds for me — and take me back to the beginnings of skiing for me and the sport itself.  Because of the recent snow — there are snowfields and bands of drifts that make a decent of several thousand feet possible.  I packed the kids in the van with Evan and pointed to a far switchback — “meet me down there.”  The ski was as adventurous as I had hoped, complete with crust, corn, rocks, grass, and some striding through a knee deep lake.  This is it!



Italian Dream – GMVSxc

 It’s hard to believe we have only been here for seven days — there will be a lag on our pictures — as we process the truly remarkable experiences we are having on this year’s trip to Italy.  Our hosts have been so gracious (maple syrup is always a good thing to travel with:) and the mountains of the Sud Tirol are more accessible than ever with good weather and our increased knowledge of the area.  Each day seems to have it’s own magic and we are making some incredible training.
 Our first trip to the Stelvio Glacier was nothing short of awesome!  We chose to drive up through Switzerland, through the hometown of Dario Cologna, which affords a slightly less windy drive and as our Swiss Alum, Elena Luethi, always told me, unsurpassed beauty.  We saw one car on the drive up the pass and had a spectacular moon hovering over the valley as we ascended.  To get to the ski tracks you take two trams and a combination of Poma lifts that are fun in their own right.  There is slightly less snow than last year, but the track was groomed with better lines, climbing 120 feet over about two miles per loop.  The snow was very fast and easy to ski on, which is nice at 10,000 feet.
 Of course we cannot train much up that high, so our training is complimented by work down in the Valleys too.  Here Kaitlin is working on some classic technique at the Schlinig Roller Ski Track — the same trails used for World Junior Champs a few years ago.
 Antoine has been training with the Biathlon program here several times during the week — making good shooting and some combos.  Coach Andy is a favorite and has name Antoine — Tony.
 For a recovery session we took to the lakes by Langtaufers to give the legs a rest and get the core and lat muscles a little work.  The lake was formed when they flooded the Valley for hydro electric.  The old town was submerged and there is a beautiful clock tower that peaks out of the water a few miles north of where we began our paddle.
 Dev striking a classic “old school” paddling pose.
 Look at the form these nordic skiers have in the kayak! Must be a good teacher out there somewhere 🙂  Heidi, Dev, and Ryley getting some good upper body rotation.
 One of those special moments: when we came to the clock tower there was a faux building attached with a tile roof and Red Bull plastered to the side.  There was a cable stretched from one side of the bay to the other — “Something is going on here!” — so we sat and watched.  Here comes the surprise, a wakeboarder being dragged by a winch starts out of the water and heads straight for us!  No time to react and somehow Evan holds his camera steady as the Red Bull athlete takes full speed and carves a turn directly in front of us — soaking the entire lot with a heavy spray of glacial water — more refreshing than Double Mint Gum let me tell you!

 A moose? Victory stance? Who cares — we’re skiing in September!

 Tony learning the ropes of the kayak or “kanu” as it is called here.
 This is certainly a “rock on” moment.
 Arriving at the Stelvio.
 Getting instructions and gearing up for the first ski of the 2011-12 ski season.  We monitored heart rates and lactate and compared these with levels from below in the valley the day before.  The order of the day was to make consistent skiing with heartrates not exceeding Levels 1-2.  The kids did a great job with this and seemed to be better prepared for the altitude than last year.  The gradual track helped too.
 Evan has been taking some amazing photographs — this one really puts the experience and the setting in perspective.  Ryley near the top of the loop working on knee flexion and a serious tan!
 Looking down towards Switzerland and the mountains of the Sud Tirol.  Tony climbing.
 Kaitlin showing nice V1 form.
 Devlin ripping the fast corner near the top of the track.
 What goes down must go back up!
 Tony and the glaciers.
 Smiles for miles.
 Heidi following Fiona, a member of the British National Team.
 And I’m done.
 Perhaps some of you recognized our company on the top photo of the blog — British Superstar Andrew Musgrave was very friendly and let the kids tag along for a bit — he too was very cautious of his pacing and it was nice to speak with a English tongue after a week in Italian and German!
 Just for a bit Heidi!!!

 A little downhill training is a good way to capitalize on snow time and enjoy some gravity.  Taking the upper Poma.
 Taking in the “gobstopper” of a view.  Looking toward Bormio and some impressive glaciers, river valleys, and rugged country.
 Evan is a rock man — geology and music — is this heaven?

 Our new assistant coach has been
been taking some amazing photographs.  Evan Dethier soaking in the
Italian sun and getting in a little coaching workout.
Lots more to come — it doesn’t seem there is enough time in the days over here.  It snowed down to a 1500 meters last night, perhaps up to a meter on the Stelvio.  Tomorrow promises to be an epic day and we hope to ski on hardwax.  The Italian National Team is here for camp.  I have to run to dinner.  Our internet problem seems to have resolved itself — stay tuned to the blog and enjoy the ride.

HANSY MANSY’S TAKE on Sprinting

This past Saturday we traveled to the rollerski track in Jericho to meet some MMU athletes for a rollerski sprint relay. The weather was everything but nice; cold, rainy, and windy, but it wouldn’t stop us from having an exciting day. We skied one quick loop and then met up with the MMU athletes to pick teams. We had just enough for five teams of three people each. There would be two races of two laps for each team member.
The first race was wet and slippery resulting in two crashes. In one of the crashes Elena lost her balance on a downhill and slid on her side halfway down the hill getting some muddy wet clothes and a few scrapes. Danny suffered a little more dramatic fall and finished the race with a battered knee, two bloody elbows, and a sore hip. He finished the first race, but didn’t race the second because he was being bandaged up by Sabra. John and Kristin, his teammates, suffered a great loss however they got Tim in exchange for the injured Danny.
In the second race, or as we called it the A-final, Tim had a very impressive ski as Danny’s replacement and claimed the days fastest split. His team ended up winning with an impressive last leg by John who fended off John Dixon from CVU and Justin. During the races we had a MMU athlete filming and Brie took plenty of photos. After the final race we put on some dry clothes, ate some homemade cookies, and started our drive back to school.
This race was our last hard rollerski effort before we head to British Columbia on Monday the 24th for three weeks of on snow training. That is if we live through exams. Keep posted for stories from British Columbia!