Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Vermont to the Midwest

After spending a lot of our winter on the road, it was really nice to settle in at home for three weeks (the most time I've spent in one place since the beginning of September). I got to catch up with some of my teammates who I hadn't seen for a while, spend time with my family, and take advantage of the best skiing I've seen in Vermont in two years! I also got to jump into some local races including the Craftsbury marathon (only the 12k race for me), the UVM carnival, and the Jericho NorAm.

Perfect corduroy right up to the back door thanks to the 
Craftsbury Outdoor Center grooming crew!
Craftsbury BKL was well represented at the marathon!
Just like old times! Playing Catan with Sam, Mary, and 
fomer GRPers Andrew and Pete while snacking on 
chocolate chips.
Driving home on one of my favorite roads
A rather snowy quarterfinal at the UVM carnival. It was so 
fun to race at Trapps again after an almost three year hiatus!
(photo: The Mama)
Hanging with Pepa at the UVM carnival
So nice to catch up with some of my dear Bowdoin 
friends/former teammates!
All three of us in one place! I was really happy to get to 
be at two of Hannah's carnival weekends while I was home.
The start of the women's pursuit race at the biathlon NorAm 
in Jericho. So much green! Congrats to Emily, Alex, and 
Hallie who qualified to go to Europe and race the IBU Cup!
(photo: The Mama)
Proof of my personal-best prone stage in a race!
(photo: The Mama)
Starting to feel a bit tired...
(photo: The Mama)
So happy that Dennis and Kari Jo could come watch me race!
Keeping busy with some more hat-knitting
The day after the last NorAm race, it was back on the road again. Our first stop was in Michigan for a SuperTour race weekend in Ishpeming. Who would have guessed that after spending most of our winter in the west, the first warm and sunny weather we would encounter on the road would be in Michigan! The temps reached 55F multiple days in a row, some of us even got sunburned, and I raced without long underwear for the first time all winter. Luckily the snow hung in there for our races...

Ollie walking through food truck heaven at the 
Ishpeming venue
Huge thanks to Jen and Tom (parents of GRP rower, 
Wes Vear) for hosting us at their beautiful 
home in Marquette!
We thoroughly enjoyed our delicious dinners at the 
Delft and Donckers (both restaurants are owned 
and run by Jen and Tom). 
Our SuperTour race weekend consisted of a skate sprint followed by a 5k classic, which was combined with a midwestern college race. Four GRP women qualified for the skate sprint which was awesome. There were 22 women competing so only 16 qualified for heats as opposed to the usual 30. It was a relatively flat two-lap race which was quite different from most skate sprints we've done. Caitlin and I both made the 4-person final where she placed second and I was fourth. Inspired by our teammate Susan's spectacular second-place finish in the mass start at IBU World Champs, the following day's classic race went incredibly well for the GRP culminating in our first podium sweep! I finished first (for my first SuperTour win), Caitlin was second, and Liz was third. Thanks to Nick, Ollie, and Pepa we had some of the best skis I've ever raced on. I had skied the downhills very aggressively during my warm-up, but on the first downhill in the actual race I almost flew off the course because my skis were so fast! I also had bombproof kick. I feel incredibly lucky (and a bit spoiled) that having amazing race skis is a norm and not an exception on this team.
Classic 5k GRP podium sweep!
(photo: Pepa)
Afternoon jog to a lighthouse!
We may have jumped a fence and ducked a
chain to get to the end of this walkway...
Who's who?!
Caitlin exploring a stone wall
Main Street in Marquette covered in snow 
for a dogsled race
Some speedy dogs
After the SuperTour we headed to Hayward for the Birkie. Unfortunately there wasn't much snow there and after a week of hoping some might fall from the sky, the race got cancelled. It was definitely a disappointment, but we made the most of our week in Wisconsin and staved off boredom with relative success.

Chilling in Hayward, waiting for snow...
Good thing we did a lot of grass skiing this
summer in preparation for the Birkie!
Main Street in Hayward looking awfully snowless
Cheering on the Junior and BarneBirkie racers! Just in
case you can't tell, they're running not skiing...
Our favorite Hayward activity... lounging in recliners
Skiing the Birkie trail with Annie, Liz, and Caitlin. 
It was at this point that we decided to turn around...
We got to help out with a fun Fast and 
Female event while in Hayward! 
(photo: Reese Brown/SIA Nordic)
We actually found some decent skiing in Cable on our 
last day in Wisconsin thanks to a light dusting of snow. 
Also, the sun finally came out which made the ski that 
much better.
After returning from the midwest, we spent a few weeks at home before heading up to Quebec City for World Cup Finals. More on that soon!

During my time at home I got to watch my sister compete at
NCAAs. In her last college race she placed 10th to become
Bowdoin's first ever All-American skier! She skied
an amazing race and I'm incredibly proud of her!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Wild West

We've spent a considerable portion of our race season out west this year and it has been quite exciting, to say the least. I was anticipating lots of sunny weather, but instead we got almost everything except sun. Needless to say, the weather was wild. We began our western adventure in Park City Utah where Liz, her mom Julie, and her mom's boyfriend Dave graciously hosted us low-altitude residents for a pre-Nationals camp. We were lucky enough to soak in some rays while staying at chez-Guiney and it was great to have Liz show us all the awesome Park City ski trails.
Beautiful skiing at White Pine Touring
(photo: Liz)
All dressed up for the Eve-Before-the-Eve
party up in Deer Valley
(photo: Julie Guiney)
After our pre-Nationals camp, we moved to a rental house in Heber and met up with Nick, Pepa, and Jake. We were also joined by Anna, Ollie, and a small crew of Craftsbury junior skiers.

It was awesome to have Craftsbury junior skiers Callie,
Phoebe, and Alex join us for their first Nationals experience!
(photo: Anna Schulz)
So happy that my mom could make it out to Utah!
The Nationals race week kicked off with a 10k skate. I have to admit, a 10k skate at altitude is not my favorite race... However, I headed to the start line with a pacing plan and some technique goals in mind, and I felt like I skied the race to the best of my ability which is always satisfying. I was super happy for Caitlin who skied her way onto the podium in third!

Midway through the 10k skate
(photo: The Mama)
The day after the 10k was the classic sprint which was the race I was most excited for. I had to be careful not to put too much pressure on myself and to just focus on what I could control and not on what I couldn't. The weather was incredibly unpleasant which was unfortunate, but also not something to dwell on. It was sleeting/snowing during the qualifier and then it had switched over to rain during the heats. Some really lovely east coast-style weather! I definitely had a hard time staying warm, but I kept switching mittens and thanks to some sweet rain pants, courtesy of Liz's mom, I didn't turn into a popsicle. The abysmal weather also made the waxing situation rather complex, but as always, Nick, Jake, Ollie, Anna, and Pepa did an amazing job with our skis. I definitely couldn't have gotten the result I did without all of them behind me. I felt really good in the qualifier and ended up winning. I was able to move on from my quarter and semi and ended up in the final where I placed third. Congrats to Jennie Bender for winning the race and to Becca Rorabaugh for placing second! It was awesome to race against such a strong group of women.

Classic sprint qualifier (photo: Toko US)
Classic sprint podium!
(photo: Fasterskier)
Lots of hydrating in doping control!
After one off day it was time for the 20k classic mass start. Once again the weather was anything but normal... The biggest decision of the day, for me, was whether to race on klister or zeros. My zeros were working well in testing, but not quite as well as my klister skis. However, the threat of fresh snow mid-race tipped my decision towards zeros. Unfortunately that turned out to be the wrong decision as the snow held off and on-course my zeros had very little kick. I blame no one but myself for the decision, and it was definitely a learning experience. I had been working on shifting my weight back in classic skiing in order to get better kick and this race provided me with the perfect opportunity to put that technique change into practice. The also provided me with a great opportunity to work on my herringbone... I was pleased to spend most of the race slowly moving up within the pack. I felt good and skied well, and came away with an 8th place finish. I was very happy for Caitlin who had another strong race placing third. The true highlight of the day though was Ben skiing to his first National title in the men's 30k! Ben is an incredibly hard worker and a dedicated athlete and it's really inspiring to see his hard work pay off. He's now headed to Finland for World Champs! 

Mass start classic (photo: The Mama)
Liz (#2) on the left, Caitlin (#1) in the middle,
and me (#5) on the right
(photo: The Mama)
Climbing out of the stadium
(photo: The Mama)
Nationals concluded with a skate sprint qualifier which, to be honest, was somehow the hardest race of the week for me. My legs flooded about a minute in and I was tasting blood in my mouth. I also reverted to some old, frantic technique which wasn't incredibly efficient... However, the race was over before I knew it and then it was off to California!

I picked up a watercolor journal this fall to get myself back 
into painting. I have a small set of watercolor paints that 
I travel with and when I'm not too busy, I've been 
doing a little bit of painting. Here are some colorful carrots.
And some abstract leaves
Appreciating some geology-from-above
during our flight to Reno
When we first arrived in California, we were treated to a few beautifully sunny days before snowpocalypse descended upon us. The skiing was incredible and we couldn't get enough of it!

Skiing up to the viewpoint at Tahoe XC after our 
interval session
(photo: Ben)
Lake Tahoe! Seeing the lake brought back many fond 
memories of a backpacking trip I went on 
with two college friends after our freshman year. We 
circumnavigated the whole lake on the Tahoe Rim Trail!
Team selfie, courtesy of Mary and her selfie stick
Heather and Mary beat the bonk with a blok. We're pretty
psyched with our new team sponsor, Clif Bar
Mary pauses to appreciate the snow
(photo: Caitlin)
Glad that's not our truck...
Plowing our road, again... I was impressed
with how quickly the roads got cleared
after each new dumping of snow.
Mary takes a break from sledding to do some
planking in her snowbank bed while Ben looks on
(photo: Heather)
One of our slightly sketchy drives up to Auburn 
Ski Club. Note the nearly buried road sign...
The first race of the weekend was a classic sprint, which took place in a snowstorm. No surprises there... The volunteers and staff did an incredible job organizing the race and keeping the course groomed throughout the day. Fresh, soft, powder skiing is definitely my favorite classic race conditions and I felt really good in the qualifier. I was quite happy to win the qualifier and to move through the quarter and semi into the final where I placed second. Congrats to Jennie for taking another classic sprint win! It was a great day for the team as a whole with Ben winning the men's sprint (his first ever sprint win), and Heather, Caitlin, and I all making the women's final! As always, a huge thanks to Nick, Jake, and Pepa for the speedy skis and support!

The K(C)aitly(i)nns doing some "recovery knitting" before 
the heats (photo: Jennie)
Women's classic sprint podium
(photo: Jennie)
An already good day ended on a high note with a
Solidarity Ski through the stadium following
the men's final.
(photo: Skyler Mullings)

Unfortunately, the following day's distance skate race got cancelled because there was too much snow... Craziness! The highway had to be shut down and apparently there was a small avalanche across the road. We ended up leaving for the airport in Reno a day early, once the highway opened back up, and aside from an unplanned stop in Connecticut during our flight to Burlington, we made it home without a hitch!

Out for a "walk"
We had to climb a snow pile and uncover the 
road sign to figure out where we were!
There was too much snow even for
Lois, our resident snow-woman
So much shoveling!
(photo: Heather)
You may be wondering what one
does in snowy California for a week
while waiting to race
(aside from ski and shovel, of course).
The answer is knit 6 pairs of mittens
as Craftsbury Marathon prizes!