Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Around the World in 30 Days

The new training season is off and running, so to speak, and I figured it was as good a time as any to post a winter recap. I've put off writing because the task of summarizing my winter, including a month-long around-the-world racing adventure, has felt quite daunting. Therefore, I’ll be brief and include lots of pictures because that’s all anyone really wants to see, right?

It was a busy, snow-filled, whirlwind of a winter. The first half of my season was spent traveling the US and Canada racing the SuperTour circuit which is always a fun experience. 

Catching up with friend and
former-teammie, Heather, in
West Yellowstone!

Sprint-day Suburban lounging with Ben and
his Hammer products

Silverstar sprinting
(photo: Jim Fredericks)
Racing at home in Craftsbury
(photo: Kris Dobie)

In addition to racing, I got to catch up with some 
friends/Bowdoin-skier alumni at 
Nationals in Anchorage
My friend and former-coworker,
Niccole, came out to cheer!

Following January’s US Nationals in Anchorage, AK I was named to the US Olympic Team. I was very excited to go PyeongChang as a member of the cross-country team even though I knew my chance of getting a race start slim. And while I did not end up racing the 30k, I still had a memorable experience and thoroughly enjoyed cheering on my teammates. I was in PyeongChang for less than a week and while I struggled with jet-lag in the beginning, I did get out and experience the games and some of the local landscape while still recovering and preparing for my possible start. I was struck by the seemingly endless enthusiasm and helpfulness of the Korean staff members and volunteers working the games. I was greeted with a smile everywhere I went which never failed to brighten my day. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have gone to Korea and for everyone who helped me get there. The outpouring of supportive messages I received when I was named to the team was touching and something I will never forget. 

Sunrise in Seoul. Are there two suns?! 
Or am I just jet-lagged...

The very tall buildings of the Olympic Village
Previewing the cross-country courses in PyeongChang

Greeted by lots of flags at our village entrance

A rare foggy moment. It was sunny nearly the entire time 
I was in Korea!

Watching some curling during my bus ride to the 
coastal village

I could also watch the curling match in the bus window
thanks to the reflection! The surrounding landscape reminded
me a little bit of Vermont with rolling, snowy,
 tree-covered hills.

Made it to the coast and found a wooden skull!

There was also a metal skull if you weren't into 
the wooden one

I enjoyed wandering along the beach near 
the coastal village on my morning off 
checking out the various artistic sculptures

Squid for sale!

and some small fishies

and a few stingrays

There were a lot of bike rental shops mixed in between
the fish shops

Watching the women's 30k

So many lights and colors and people and music at the 
Closing Ceremony!
The whole Craftsbury crew in one spot

Hi Suz!!
My cousin Jill came all the way
to Korea and it was so nice to
have her there
I arrived in Korea a week into the games because I chose to stay in the US to continue racing the Super Tour circuit to try and qualify for the final World Cup races of the season. These races included seven Scandinavian World Cup starts and they ended up being my first opportunity to race in Europe! I traveled with the US Ski Team to Lahti (Finland), Oslo (Norway), and Falun (Sweden) and got a good taste of European World Cup racing. The icing on the cake was getting to compete in the famed Holmenkollen in Oslo. Despite the fact that I was recovering from a cold, it might still be the most fun race I’ve done. In what other race do you have strangers chanting your name as you climb the same hill three times in second-to-last place! Plus there was an awesome contingent of Bowdoin skiers and my best friend from home out on course so I even had a personal cheering squad!

Racing in Finland!
(photo: Toko/NordicFocus)

The Holmenkollen ski jump
The jumping stadium

The cross-country stadium

Small school children out for a ski

Some rather unique Norwegian architecture

And of course no trip to Norway would
be complete without some yarn shopping...

And then it was onto sunny Sweden!

Downtown Falun

Drooling over the large ribbon collection I found at a
 small shop in town during an afternoon walk

And some beautiful fabric
Despite my already bursting duffle, I couldn't
help but get a half meter of fabric to make
some napkins

Racing in Falun alongside Canada's Dahria Beatty. Despite a
long time on the road, I felt my best in Falun which was an
encouraging way to end my time in Europe.
(photo: Mathias Eriksson)

The SuperTour circuit wrapped up in Craftsbury this year which made it possible for family and friends to come watch and cheer. It was a really nice way to finish out the season.

Before I sign off, I want to thank my family, friends, coaches, wax technicians, and teammates for their help and support not just this past season but through all my years of racing. I also want to thank my sponsors: the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Concept 2, Fischer, SalomonOneWayJulbo, and Toko. I couldn’t have done it without all of you!

Nick, our wax tech, hard at work making speedy skis
(photo: NNF)

And coach Pepa who's been there for me since 
my junior skier days!

That’s all for the time being. It feels good to be back home in Vermont. Training and work are ramping back up in Craftsbury and we’re welcoming new members to the GRP team. It’s shaping up to be a good summer!

Monday, November 20, 2017

One Camp to Rule Them All

This year our team decided to consolidate resources and only travel to one camp, since this camp was going to be all the way down in New Zealand... I'll be the first to admit I was initially skeptical of the camp mostly from a travel perspective. I don't particularly like flying (pretty sure most people feel that way) and I generally have little success sleeping on planes. However, despite almost two days of travel (just to get there), sitting out the first week of camp with strep throat, and experiencing some puke-inducing carsickness, I would still rank the New Zealand camp as our best camp to-date. The skiing far exceeded my expectations with almost 30k of groomed trails and endless kilometers of crust cruising. The landscape was like nothing I've ever seen before with what I consider very disparate biomes all occurring within a close proximity. While my phone camera certainly won't do the scenery justice, I think it will do better than a description! Another positive aspect of the camp was its simplicity. We stayed at the Snow Farm, which was right on the trails, so we didn't need a rental car for most of the camp and the food was incredible.  It's perhaps best described as an Asian/British/Indian fusion, and in the three weeks we were there we didn't have a single repeat meal! Although there were plenty of meals I would have gladly consumed a second time.  Anyway, enough with the words and onto some photos!

Cardrona Valley viewed from the Snow Farm access road
Looking towards Wanaka

The Southern Alps

The Snow Farm as seen from the Glen

First day out skiing in Hanging Valley!

Snow cave city

Taking a self-directed tour of snow cave city...


A misty morning overlooking the Glen

One of the clearer foggy days!
And one of the less clear foggy days...
Caitlin, where's the trail?!


Racing!! We got to jump into some FIS races 
that were part of the New Zealad Winter Games.
(photo: Sophie Caldwell)

A clear day for intervals!
(photo: Nick Brown)

Nick getting artsy with his shots

Lake Wanaka on our off-day

Fun in the sun
(photo: Ben)

Cruising the crust up to Mount Pisa

Can you spot mini-Liz?

Top of Pisa

Pepa and Ben affixing our chains. We had a rather 
hair-raising descent from the Snow Farm upon our departure!

Grader vs camper van on a slick road

Looking over Lake Wakatipu from
the Queenstown hill

The obligatory wildflower photo

Enjoying a tropical moment

Running along Lake Wakatipu

A flowering magnolia tree in the
Queenstown botanical gardens

Flowers the size of your face

And some very large trees! 
(Or is it mini-Caitlin?!)

A very happy Ben with his very large burger

We followed up burgers with ice cream.
No better way to end a camp!

I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity to train in New Zealand. It was a unique experience and a valuable camp that would never have gotten off the ground, let alone gotten us to New Zealand and back, without the support of Pepa, Nick, and the Outdoor Center. We're now headed off to West Yellowstone for our first races of the season! With all the down-under ski training under our belts, it won't feel strange to strap on skis again. Thanks for reading :)