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BP Sponsors Alaska Olympic Nordic Skiers Kikkan Randall, Athlete Ambassador and Holly Brooks

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BPamericaSeptember 09, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska) – BP announced today its sponsorship of Alaska Olympic Nordic skiers Kikkan Randall, Athlete Ambassador and Holly Brooks, Team BP Athlete, as they prepare for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.

BP Ambassador Kikkan Randall, Nordic Skiing. Olympian Randall is one of six BP Ambassador Athletes and has been on the U.S. Ski Team for a decade. She has become the most successful women’s cross country skier in U.S. history. Well into her skiing career, Randall continues to improve. In 2012, she became the first American woman to earn the World Cup sprint title. The following season, in addition to continued individual success, Randall teamed with Jessie Diggins to earn the United States’ first team sprint win and also helped her teammates to a first-ever World Cup relay podium finish.

Team BP Athlete Holly Brooks, Nordic Skiing. Olympian Brooks is one of 26 Team BP Athletes who will making appearances on behalf of BP to promote physical fitness and education. BP helps support Olympians like Brooks while they train, and in building relationships between the company, the athlete and the community. Brooks was a member of the U.S. Ski Team’s first World Cup relay podium finish in 2012, with her teammate Randall.

BP America first announced its sponsorship of USOC and Team USA in February 2010, and in 2011 extended its partnership with the USOC as its official energy partner through 2016. BP will also continue to support charities of the athletes’ choice in addition to local sports clubs that often serve as training grounds for future Olympians and Paralympians.

Gear Report – 2011/12 Poles Preview

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February 15, 2011 (Denver, CO) – Carbon fibre is everywhere and all ski companies now offer top-flight poles. New on the scene is the Jr. Triac from Swix, a round-shafted carbon pole for juniors that looks just like the very successful Triac. Salomon has a line of carbon poles that leads off with the S-Lab carbon. This pole has an adjustable thumb support and an aero basket.

One Way Poles distributed by Rossignol introduces the Premio 10. This pole is even stiffer and lighter than the already amazing Diamond Storm. The shaft has a titanium/carbon-coated insert to account for the stiff yet super-light pole.  Madshus takes its award-winning Nano Carbon Race 100 UHM and makes it stiffer, lighter and redesigns the strap.
Our advice: ski hard this spring and wear out your gear because you’ll want some of the fabulous new stuff that will be available is ski shops next fall.

Gear Report – 2011/12 Boots Preview

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February 15, 2011 – Although there are no major changes in top-end race boots, there is a trickle-down effect with many lower-priced boots gaining features, fit and performance that until now were found only in the most-expensive race boots.

Rossignol’s X10 Skate and Classic boots look almost identical to the super-performing X-ium boots. X10 Skate boots feature a nylon cuff and heel counter instead of carbon fibre and the buckle is plastic rather than metal. Otherwise, the boot has the same outer cover and sole and is almost as light as the X-ium.

Rossignol’s next step down, the X8 series, is all-new, good-looking and lighter than last year’s X7 series. The best value is the X6 combi boot, which has a thermo-moldable inner boot, a free-hinging cuff and a high integral gaiter for only $160 [US].

Salomon’s S-Lab series gets a slight cosmetic change. The popular RS Carbon and the Vitane Carbon Skate (women’s last) are now all seamless construction throughout the boot body (the part most likely to contact snow) and the boots feature an updated S-Lab cuff. Still trickling down, the Active 8 and Vitane 8 skate have a new cuff and an adjustable heel strap for better fit and performance.

Salomon and Atomic introduce the new SNS Pilot Sport outsole: a lightweight, soft flexing sole that is not slippery and is easy to walk on. The sole shows up on Salomon’s Active and Vitane Pilot Combi boots and Active 8 and Vitane 8 Classic boots.

Look for the Pilot Sport sole on Atomic’s Team Classic, Aina Team Classic (women’s last) and the Sport Pursuit. People with wide feet will particularly like the Team Classic with its 106mm width. Sharing a wide last are the redesigned Mover 30 and Ashera 30 Classic boots in Atomic’s “leisure” series. The Sport Pro Classic replaces last season’s Sport Classic and now has the RS17 sole that puts the contact bar 17mm back from the toe.

Alpina’s popular T20 series has been redesigned. The T20 Plus and Plus Eve (women’s model) have a plastic articulating cuff. All T20’s have Thinsulate insulation, T4 touring sole, speed lacing, plastic heel counter and a zippered lace cover.

Off-track Boots
Not heavy-duty tele, not in track zooming, “Off Track Cruising” is Fischer’s category of skis and boots designed for easy skiing off the groomed. Two new boots fit this grouping: the Offtrack 5 and the Offtrack 3. The 5 is a super-lightweight, nylon-cuffed boot designed to fit a regular NNN binding. It features a wool lining, a tough nylon outer and an integrated gaiter. The 3 is available in either NNN or NNN BC soles. It shares the wool lining, nylon outer and integrated gaiter of the 5, but loses the nylon cuff.

Gear Report – 2011/12 Skis Preview

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February 15, 2011 (Denver, CO) – It never stops! Ski gear continues to get better and better as equipment manufacturers continue to outdo themselves in developing better, faster, lighter and more comfortable products. More super gear will soon be in ski shops next season. Here’s a look at what improvements to expect for next season.

SKIS

Waxless Skis
Last year, the focus was on the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. and top-end race gear. Certainly there is some new, exciting race gear on tap for next season. But the biggest news is in waxless ski bases for everyday skiers.

Salomon unveils a new G2 Micro base. This is a coated base similar to the Nano Grip that Peltonen introduced last January. Salomon intends this base for more-accomplished skiers looking for good grip and glide in all snow conditions from +5ºC to -15ºC. No scraping or texturing should be done to this base. But the base can be waxed over if need be with hard wax or klister, and it can be cleaned with regular wax remover. The base is said to last for 1,500 to 3,000 kilometres. After that, it can be refurbished for at least another 700 kilometres of skiing. The ski bottom looks smooth, with tiny mineral flecks. This, of course, reminds us old-timers of mica bases from the past. The difference is that the mica skis had large mica pieces imbedded in the base, while the G2 base minerals are almost microscopic.

Atomic surprised many with its new Skintec waxless system. Remember mohair bases? When they worked, they were great! Atomic’s clever new base has two interchangeable inserts that are held on via magnets — yes, magnets. The key is an all-new material that doesn’t ice and a ski flex designed just for this base. Use the full-width insert for more grip or the insert with two thinner, parallel strips for more glide. This base comes on a high-end classic ski only. Atomic has also improved its Posigrip base by adding more points of contact to this fish-scale-like base. The new Posigrip 3D base is available on the Mover 48, Mover 52, Xcruise 53, Xcruise 59, Xcruise Alea 53, Rainer Posigrip, Team Classic and Vasa Race Posigrip. The Vasa is a classic race ski that is lightweight, fast and responsive. Having a waxless version of this ski should be fun.

Rossignol combined the popular Max ski (skate, classic and classic no wax) and the Zynex (also available in three models) to make the Zymax, a cross between the two. This performance ski has the same dimensions as the ultralight and fast X-iums, but without some of the exotic, expensive materials of the race-winning X-iums. The Deltas remain the middle sibling between the X-iums and the Zymax. Now the Delta Classic comes in four sizes: 186,196, 201 and 206.

Zero skis were a success in the 2010 Olympics. These more sophisticated “hairies” are now available in more than just top-end race skis. Fischer’s Superlight Zero is designed for recreational skiers experiencing a wide range of snow conditions and temperatures. “Think of zero as meaning zero wax and zero hassle, not just zero degrees centigrade,” says Fischer’s Brian Schiller. Children and their coaches also gain the benefit of zero technology with Fischer’s RCS Classic Zero Junior. Fischer has also improved the RCS Classic Zero with a zone of harder “zero” material toward the outside of the wax pocket for smoother glide. The normal “zero” material remains underfoot for maximum grip.

Madshus was the first to introduce zero technology to in-track touring skis with the Birkebeiner. Madshus also offers the Terasonic Zero, a classic race ski at half the cost of the top-of-the-line Nanosonic. The Metis Zero is a women’s-specific ski. The classic model is available with the zero base only.

Race Skis
Fischer’s Carbonlite classics get a new paint job and all-new carbon fibre tips and tails. Fischer was looking for weight and swing-weight savings without using a hole as in the Carbonlite skate. The hole seems impractical for classic skis.

Salomon has redesigned the S-Lab Equipe 10 Skate and now offers four models. The SG (Soft Ground) is for warm, wet snow and soft track conditions. The opposite is the Extra Hard for hard tracks and big skiers. This model is only available in 192cm length. Most skiers will pick the last two offerings: S-Lab Equipe 10 Skate Warm and S-Lab Equipe 10 Skate Cold. Gliding surface and camber differentiate the two with a shorter glide surface on the warm and a longer glide surface on the cold.

Trickle-down technology makes the Equipe 9 Skate an attractive option where most of the S-Lab features appear and a weight penalty of only 250g saves the ski purchaser $150. Moving down the line the Equipe 8, Vitane 8 (women’s ski), Equipe 7 and Equipe 6 are all-new, with each descending number getting slightly heavier and losing some features and, of course, costing less.

Touring Skis
Metal-edged touring skis proved a strong seller for Madshus, and the Annum, Epoch and Eon remain in the line as stellar performers of off-track skiing with their MGV-OMNI base (Omni-Trak to old-timers).

Rossignol builds upon the success of its BC 125 off-track touring ski. This wide metal-edged ski is now available in three sizes: 165, 175 and 185. All-new is the BC 110. This ski is not as wide as the BC 125, but shares the ultralight construction, Posigrip base and full-metal edge. Except for a new paint job, the BC 90, 70 and 65 remain the same.

in its “S-Bound” category (78, 88, 98 and 112). First is the new Offtrack Crown waxless pattern. This grippier pattern is designed to make the S-Bounds aggressive climbers. Second is the Nordic Rocker Camber. No, the tips and tails don’t have the obvious splay of alpine and tele skis with rocker. But the tip does rise 10 centimetres over traditional skis when weighted. This aids in climbing, as the tip will climb up out of the snow, and in turning in soft snow. The new Offtrack Crown pattern also graces the base of the Spider 62 and the Outback 68. The Spider 62 can fit in the track for those wanting a full-metal-edged ski on the groomed trails.
Appearing to be beautifully finished wood, the new Alpina Odyssey Edge is a wood-core, sandwich-construction ski. The base, top sheet and sidewalls are, of course, modern synthetic materials and the ski sports a full-metal edge. With a sidecut of 90-70-80, the Odyssey is meant for off-track easy touring.

Holly’s Bio

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HOMETOWN St-Ferreol, Quebec
AGE 22
TEAM Canadian National Ski Team (Senior World Cup Team)
CLUB Club Nordique Mont Ste-Anne
NOTABLE RESULTS
  • 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler, BC, 7th (4x10km Relay)
  • 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler, BC, 4th (Team Sprint Free)
  • 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler, BC, 9th (30km Pursuit)
  • 2009 World Cup Trondheim, Norway, 3rd (50km Classic)
  • 2009 World Cup Whistler, BC, 3rd (Team Sprint)
  • 2009 Nordic Worlds Liberec, Czech Republic, 5th (4x10km Team Relay)
  • 2009 U23 Nordic Worlds Praz de Lys Sommand, France, 4th (30km Pursuit)
  • 2008 Junior World Championships Malles, Italy 2nd (10km Classic)
  • 2007 Junior World Championships Taravisio, Italy 3rd (10km Skate)
ABOUT Alex Harvey has grown up on skiis and bikes, he doesn’t remember a time when he didn’t ski. His home town in St-Ferreol nearby Mont Sainte Anne meant there was great skiing, riding, and hiking right outside his door fostering an opportune environment for him to develop into the athlete that he is today. Alex continues to live and base his training out of Mont Sainte Anne, through the Pierre Harvey National Training Center, under the guidance of coach, Louis Bouchard.Since landing Canada’s second-ever Junior Nordic Worlds medal with the bronze in 10km skate at Taravisio, Italy in 2007 Harvey has continued to turn heads. Last year, as a first year senior, Alex was on the podium in third at two World Cups first in Whistler, BC in the Team Sprint with George Gray and later in Trondheim, Norway in the men’s 50km classic. Alex’s father, the legendary Pierre Harvey, is well known as a cyclist and xc skier having attended four Olympic Games putting Canada in the international limelight numerous times.For some it might be hard to live up to such a famous Dad, but Alex is up to the challenge making a name of his own. He has become one of Canada’s top cross-country skiers and as one of the younger skiers on the race scene looks to have a promising career ahead of him.Outside of xc skiing Harvey is studying Law part-time through the University of Laval. He believes that the focus necessary to be an endurance athlete has helped him have success in his studies as well.

Reese’s Bio

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HOMETOWN Fairbanks, Alaska (currently living and training in Anchorage)
AGE 22
TEAM APU Nordic Ski Center – Elite Team
CLUB Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks
NOTABLE RESULTS • 2011 U23 Nordic Worlds, Otepaa, Estonia, 24th (Classic Sprint)
• 2010 U.S. Nationals, 3rd, Anchorage, AK (Classic Sprint)
• 2010 Youngest U.S. male with WCup experience  (Canmore 2010)
ABOUT Skis were just a tool for Reese to learn how to walk an it’s been non-stop skiing action ever since! As a youngster, Reese was extremely active in nearly every sport possible. In the winter time, he split his time between skiing the park with his buddies, and cross-country skiing (which was, of course, way less cool).

An endless slew of high-intensity summer sports such as bike racing, competitive swimming, soccer, and running left him in pretty good shape come winter race season, and the thrill of actually being fast on Nordic skis began to take over. Despite continuing to swim competitively through high-school, Reese was one of first kids in the region to train year-round specifically for xc skiing.

It must have paid off, as he surprised himself by making the 2008 U.S. World Junior Team. That trip ignited a fire to try and become one of the best, a fire that continues to burn brighter and brighter. Reese’s philosophy is to keep it fun. No matter the situation, he strives to inspire people to get in shape and have a good time.

Whether it’s a grueling workout, building and hitting jumps, or coaching young skiers at camps and clinics, Reese believes that that hard work and enjoyment can, and should, go together. He is now dedicated to reaching the highest levels of our sport and is working towards making future World Championship and Olympic teams to represent the United States. Reese wants to use these opportunities to inspire the next generation of young athletes.

Sadie Bjornsen

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HOMETOWN Mazama, Washington
AGE 21
TEAM APUNSC, US Ski Team
CLUB
NOTABLE RESULTS
  • 2011 US National Championships, Rumford, ME, 1st (10km Classic)
  • 2011 US National Championships, Rumford, ME, 3rd (Classic Sprint)
  • 2011 US National Championships, Rumford, ME, 3rd (Freestyle Sprints)
  • 2011 Haywood NorAm Sovereign Lake, BC, 2nd (Classic Sprint)
  • 2011 Haywood NorAm Rossland, BC, 1st (Freestyle Sprint
  • 2011 Haywood NorAm Rossland, BC, 2nd (10km Classic)
  • Junior National Champion 4x
ABOUT I am currently racing for Alaska Pacific University out of Anchorage alongside the strongest women’s team in the US. Last year I made the switch from Methow Olympic Development Team in my hometown to racing at APU and attending school in a quest to attain my bachelors degree in Accounting. I couldn’t be happier where I am. The team atmosphere within the APU team is incredible. The excitement, enthusiasm, drive and team moral is what has truly helped me reach new levels this year. It is fun to turn an individual sport into a team effort that allows everyone to rise up and push each other. 

I began skiing as a very young child when I got sick of getting too cold riding up the chair lifts alpine skiing. I decided it seemed like a better idea to “ski up” and then ski down as well. When Olympic athlete, Laura McCabe, became my neighbor, I was set on becoming an Olympian one day. Growing up in an athletic family with two siblings close in age, my competitive nature was developed at a very young age. Since I was about 5-years-old I have been competing in all types of sports – mountain biking, swimming, running, and skiing.

I really love Nordic skiing because I love testing my mind and body to see how hard I can push. After putting in so much hard work through the off season, it is such a rewarding feeling to be able to test my capacity and new skills through the racing season. I think the places that I get to go, and the people I meet, are what truly make this journey magical.

Last year I made a big jump in my racing career starting at my first FIS World Cups, and then went on to race at the Nordic World Championships in Olso, Norway. I look forward to getting in some solid training during the summer with my teammate and one of the most talented skiers on the circuit, Kikkan Randall. It will be fun to see how things develop from here.

Another Beautiful Day in Norway

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February 14, 2011 (Beitostolen, Norway) – I’m knocking on wood as I write this, because I’m scared to jinx this beautiful sunny streak we’ve been having lately! Today was another blue sky, bright sun, and crisp trails type of day. We had the final race of our “mini-tour” today; a 10km skate for the women and a 15km for the men. I was hoping they’d keep it 15/30km, but since it was predicted to be miserably cold out, and the Norwegians are much more careful to preserve their athletes lungs than we are in the US, they shortened the races and they didn’t start until later in the day. Which turned out to be a good call, as it got nice and sunny outside but was still pretty chilly.

The race was awesome for the US team. The coaches were all out cheering and giving splits, which were super helpful with so many people racing and individual starts. And because when we raced, we were broken down into the separate age brackets, and I started with the 19/20 age group. This made for some fun chasing and passing during the race. I’m still not sure how he managed to do it, but Pete Vordenburg definitely popped up on the side of the trail to cheer about 10 times during my race! Very motivational, as he must have been running like crazy to do so.

At the end of the day, Morgan finished 2nd, I finished 3rd and Liz finished 4th. And Tad came in 11th, which is totally awesome in such a tough men’s field. I’m very proud of the US – top 11 for everyone who raced!

I’ve linked the website with the live results HERE. (it’s the only result page I could find, although normally the results are up on the FIS site, and I’m sure they’ll show up later).

Jessie Diggins’s Bio

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HOMETOWN Afton, Minnesota
AGE 20
TEAM Central Cross Country Ski Association (CXC)
NOTABLE RESULTS
  • 2011 Junior World Championships, Otepaa, Estonia, 7th (5km Skate)
  • 2011 US XC Nationals, Rumford, Maine, 1st (1.4km Freestyle Sprint)
  • 2010 Haywood NorAm Mini-Tour, Rossland, BC, 1st (Overall)
  • 2010 Haywood NorAm Mini-Tour, Rossland, BC, 1st (5km Skate)
ABOUT I’ve decided to give Nordic skiing everything I’ve got, so I am currently taking a year off in between high school and college to train full time with the CXC Elite team. My plans are to attend NMU in the fall of 2011. Am I nervous about taking the chance and postponing my education? Absolutely! But I’m also excited to see what happens.

My family and friends give me the best support any athlete could ever dream of. My parents and little sister (and dogs!) are always there for me and back me up 100%. My coaches and teammates are fun to be around and provide help and encouragement. Without them, I’d be nowhere!

I love to ski because I love the lifestyle. I like to work hard, to train as much as possible and to push myself to the limit. Sometimes it’s hard, but it is also the most rewarding thing I know; I always feel better after a workout, no matter what. I also like to travel to new places, meet awesome people and make new friends on the road. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming year of training and racing across the United States.

So far, everything is going well, and I’ll keep updating!

Luke Devon Kershaw

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HOMETOWN Sudbury, ON (lives in Canmore, AB)
AGE 28
TEAM Canadian National Ski Team, World Cup Team
CLUB Ona-Wa-Su
NOTABLE RESULTS
  • 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler, BC, 4th (Team Sprint)
  • 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler, BC, 7th (4x10km Relay)
  • 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler, BC, 5th (50km Classic)
  • 2009 World Cup, Oberhof, GER, 3rd (15km Classic)
  • 2009 Nordic World Ski Championships, Liberec, CZE, 5th (4x10km Relay)
  • 2009 World Cup, Davos, SUI, 9th (15km Free
  • 2008 World Cup, Oberhof, GER, 3rd (15km Classic)
  • 2008 World Cup, Prague, CZE, 1st (Sprint Qualification)
  • 2007 World Cup, Sapporo, JAP, 6th (Team Sprint)
  • 2006 Olympic Games, Pragelato Plan, ITA, 11th (Team Sprint)
  • 2006 World Cup, Munich, GER, 2nd (Sprint)
ABOUT Devon Kershaw grew up in Sudbury, a mining and industry town in Northern Ontario known more for it’s giant coinage (Sudbury is home to the world’s largest Canadian 10 cent nickel) than producing world-class athletes, though it still claims many of those as well. Kershaw grew up outdoors, and was very active in a whole host of sports, playing hockey, volleyball, badminton, tennis, and running competitively during his early years.It was with the Laurentian Nordic Ski Club that the seeds of an internationally competitive cross-country ski racer were planted. While with the club he represented Canada at three World Junior Championships (2000, 2001, 2002) and won 18 National Junior Medals.

Kershaw currently lives in Canmore, Alberta and trains with the National Ski Team as a member of the World Cup Team. In 2006 he started turning heads when he became the first Canadian to medal in a sprint event winning bronze in Borlange, Sweden. Since then he has added many more medals and accolades to his name.

As well as being one of North America’s fastest cross-country ski racers, Kershaw is also a connoisseur of fine food and fine music. Italian is his favorite dish, and Neil Young, Wilco, Beck, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Radiohead among his favourite musicians.

Kershaw is also an active ambassador of Share the Road Canada, a charity which advocates for better road safety and cyclist -driver interactions. This work holds a special importance to Kershaw, whose girlfriend Sophie Manarin, herself a promising member of Canada’s Junior National Team, was killed in a cycling accident in 2001.

When not out training, Kershaw can be found cooking, shooting photography, reading, playing guitar, fly-fishing and mountain biking in the mountain playground that is Canmore, Alberta.

Test Report 10/11 – Poles

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October 12, 2010 – Here’s a look at some of the new hot ski poles available this season that we were able to test. We looked at the Swix Triac, Fischer’s RCS Carbonlite and Yoko’s 4200 ski poles.

Swix Triac
There were no Triacs available to test on this continent so we relied on friends in Norway to test the poles for us. Here is what they said: super-light and super-stiff. These were the stiffest poles ever used, except for Swix’s old Force 10 poles. Happily, the Triacs are not deflected by the wind, as the Force 10’s were. The simple no-glue basket attachment made switching baskets a snap. The testers also liked the little release button on the strap chock, which made adjusting the straps much more convenient.

Fischer RCS Carbonlite
At first glance, the new Quick Fit strap makes no sense — an easy-to-adjust strap with an extra zipper? But as soon as we used the pole, we were convinced of Fischer’s wisdom. Once you find that perfect adjustment, leave it there and take the straps on and off with the zipper — quick, easy, perfect fit retained. Like most top-end poles today, the shaft on the RCS is super-stiff and ultralight. These poles were a joy to ski with.

Yoko 4200
Yoko is back and imported by Alpina. Five models of carbon-fibre poles are in the line, leading with the 8100, a 100% carbon race pole that retails for $200. We tested the 4200, which is 20% carbon and costs only $75. The pole felt great in the hand, with a comfortable grip and strap — as it should, since it is the same as on the top-end pole. The shaft was remarkably stiff and light for having only 20% carbon content. Testers all agreed that the 4200 is a great pole at a great price.

Quebec: Merci!

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December 1, 2009 (Quebec) – I’ve talked with many skiers who’re intrigued at the thought of visiting the French-Canadian province of Quebec. Mostly Americans ask questions such as “Do they have mountains?”, “They have snow?”, and “Do they speak English?” Respective answers are “Yes,” “Yes, lots!,” and “Mostly.” Oh yeah, and suitably important I’ll add that the skiing is fantastic. You’ll find cross-country resorts, day areas and inns that rival the best anywhere in North America, great terrain and grooming (note there are many more classic than skating trails) and absolutely phenomenal dining (believe me, it’s not just “food”!). Hospitality, history (more on that in a moment), it’s all waiting in Quebec. To test endearing memories from my last visit more than 10 years ago, I flew from Colorado to Quebec City this past March, saw some old friends and new places and confirmed that skiing there is a treat unlike any other.

Capital City Skiing
There are hundreds of kilometres of groomed trails at a dozen areas within an hour’s drive of spectacular old Quebec City. And anywhere you go, it’s truly another culture, from language to architecture and cuisine.

I started off in the city itself, on the Plains of Abraham trails that wind across National Battlefields Park. There’s no really advanced skiing here, since many of the routes follow summer roads, but there’s a nice mix of wood and open space.

It was fascinating to watch big freighters gliding along the St. Lawrence, bellying through ice-clogged water. It was even more of a treat to ski among old cannons pointed toward the river and around centuries-old fortress-tower walls.

I’m fascinated by history, so it was a little awe-inspiring to ski across the battlefield where Englishman General Wolfe defeated Frenchman General Montcalm in 1759. The big deal here is that the battle pretty much determined that the English would control Canada.

Cross-country concessionaire Colette Pepin, formerly on Canada’s Olympic rowing team, is a ball of fire, full of smiles and energy and ideas. You can rent ski packages, snowshoes and kicksleds at the Discovery Pavilion, a little off the trails. There’s a bit more classic skiing than skating, plus walking and snowshoeing routes.

The Everything-Resort
It’s been grooming since some time in the 1970s, but Station Touristique Duchesnay really became a Nordic destination when a 48-room hotel opened in 2003. It’s a winter mecca, roughly a half-hour drive from Quebec City, with so much to enjoy in addition to cross-country that a multi-day stay is definitely in order. Other activities include tubing, ice skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing, even an elegant new spa.

The resort is a full-service ski operation. The day lodge, L’Horizon, rents both waxable and waxless classic skis as well as snowshoes and has a snack bar, retail shop, lounge and games room. It’s also the centre for day tours and instruction (by reservation) and the jumping-off point for more than 70 kilometres of trails — track or classic ski a half-kilometre, dip down through a tunnel and then take off on an increasing number of diverging routes, most of the near-in ones easier and farther ones longer.

There’s a lot of fun ski terrain left by glaciers — hills, valleys (La Vallonnée is probably the resort’s signature trail), ponds, with fine views of sizable Lac Saint-Joseph and maple and yellow birch forest, with occasional bursts of fir and spruce. A great many of trails are groomed for classic skiing only and most are one-way. A little atypical for Quebec, there’s only one skating trail, a there-and-back 25-kilometre route.

I really enjoyed the heated trailside huts, where skiers lazed around in the March sun and birds land to feed from your hand. You can also stay overnight at most of the shelters, though conditions are rustic.

Station Duchesnay has all kinds of lodging fairly near the trailhead, from lakeside cabins with kitchens, to the hotel complete with restaurant, bistro-bar and even an indoor pool. For a unique treat and a one-of-a-kind memory, check out the spectacular and graceful Hotel de Glace, built of ice and snow.

High, Deep and Dry
On the drive up to Camp Mercier, I thought about the enormous contrasts to Station Duchesnay – weather (transitioning from light rain to sloppy snow as I climbed), distance, services, amenities, winter emphasis – it’s all different.

Camp Mercier is only about 50 kilometres north of Quebec City. It’s a pure ski-and-snowshoe resort, a much wilder-feeling place than Station Duchesnay. You’re surrounded by coniferous forest, which happily gives good protection from the wind.

If you’re looking for deep snow, dry snow and a long ski season, this is the place to go, although it’s barely known to Americans, who tend to visit Mont-Ste-Anne. You can figure on five to six metres (16-20 feet) over a four-month winter, where the lowest point on the trail network is more than 300 metres (1,000 feet) higher than the highest point at Station Duchesnay.

There are only a couple of skating trails versus 15 or so classic doubletrack trails (52 kilometres total), five heated shelters – most of them pretty well out on the trail system – and another 20 kilometres of new and separately marked snowshoe trails. The higher you go, the better the views.

There’s really no expert skiing at Camp Mercier, but plenty of fun and simply great terrain along hills and ridges, streams and lakes. One of the things I enjoyed most was trailside interpretive signs, touching on everything from trees to rabbits.

The Chalet Mercier day lodge rents waxless and waxable classic skis as well as snowshoes, but not skating gear. There’s no instruction available, but there’s a small pleasant cafe, waxing area, small retail shops and large lounge. Signs, maps and printed materials are all in French, but some of the staff speak excellent English.

Lodging is simple but very pleasant cabins with electricity, showers, kitchen and wood stoves. I stayed in the Chalet Lac-a-Noel cabin #2 and skied right down to trail #2.

Speaking of wild, the afternoon’s weather began with rain showers, sleet and wind, and changed to dry snow, dropping several inches overnight, while the temperature fell 5°C – and this was in March!

Incidentally, Camp Mercier, Mont-Ste-Anne and Station Duchesnay offer a shared pass for up to five days.

Pierres’ Cross-Country Ski Area
Monte-Ste-Anne (MSA) may have the largest groomed network in Canada, so well maintained in summer that it only needs 10 centimetres (four inches) of packed snow to open some trails.

Statistics aren’t everything but they say a lot – more than 100 non-repeat kilometres, including many with a skate lane. There’s a mix of doubletrack, doubletrack with skating, a skate-only route, even singletrack. MSA simply offers great skiing, with almost-endless options, with short loops near the base and longer loops farther out. Easier trails are near the Centre, black diamonds the farthest out, with lots of intermediate trails in between, and forest everywhere. There’s even riverside skiing. The views are fantastic, and you can overnight at several of the rustic warming huts. The area has a full-scale Centre (Chalet du Rang St. Julien) with rentals, retail, instruction, cafeteria and lounge.

When I think of Monte-Ste-Anne, I think of two Pierres. Pierre Vezina is a human dynamo, was a Canadian National Team member and has been the Nordic director since 1986, while multiple World Cup winner Pierre Harvey (father of current Canadian National Team member Alex Harvey) lives near the trails.

My final day at the resort, I skied with (well, behind if you must know) Vezina. At one point, I was passed by an inspiring, fantastically fit, smiling, 82-year-old woman on classic skis. An hour later, heading back to the lodge, we followed a winding route where moose tracks crisscrossed the trail a dozen times.

I found that a great way to end the day at Monte-Ste-Anne is to stop off at the elegant Zonespa (www.zonespa.com), right on the road back to the main resort. You’ll be suitably refreshed for the evening, and the next day’s activities.

Mo’ Info
Two good resources on cross-country skiing in Quebec are www.xcskiingquebec.com (it describes areas near Quebec City) and www.rssfrq.qc.ca (it covers the whole province).

Quebec City
The Plains of Abraham have 12.6 kilometres of free groomed trails, 3.8 kilometres of snowshoeing trails, walking trails, heated shelters, equipment rentals, a waxing area and instruction. The ski season can run as long as late November into April.

If you’re looking for lodging, I recommend the imposing Loews Le Concorde Hotel (www.loewsleconcorde.com), a moment’s walk from the trails. It caters to cross-country skiers, and there are fantastic views from the 27th-floor revolving restaurant.

Station Touristique Duchesnay
The four-season resort (www.sepaq.com/duchesnay) offers a wonderful variety of activities, from snowmobiling to spa, and has 88 rooms spread between villas, lodges and the hotel. You can also stay at the 3,000-square-metre Ice Hotel (www.icehotel-canada.com).

There are 71 kilometres of groomed cross-country trails and 20 kilometres of separate marked snowshoe trails. The ski season typically runs from the second weekend in December into late March. Trail passes are included with accommodations, with all kinds of packages available. The elevation range is 738-1,148 feet.

Camp Mercier
It’s a ski/snowshoe day and destination area. You can usually ski from early December through early April on 50-plus kilometres of groomed trails. If it is ever closed, it is due to lack of guests, not snow. Cabins go from approximately $59/person [CDN], double occupancy – overnight privileges include skiing and snowshoeing plus tubing and ice skating nearby. You’ll need to bring linens, bedding and groceries. The elevation range is 2,306-3,277 feet. Website HERE.

Monte-Ste-Anne
Monte-Ste-Anne’s 100-plus-kilometre ski trail system and 40-plus-kilometre separate snowshoe network (www.mont-sainte-anne.com) can often open in November and stay open into April. It’s a famous four-season resort with alpine skiing, ice skating, dog sledding, even paragliding a few miles from the cross-country Centre. The elevation range is 1,200-2,100 feet.

My favourite accommodations are at trailside B&B L’Auberge du Fondeur, famous but not fancy, with its wine and coffee bar, lunch and dinner kitchen privileges, lounge, waxing room and sauna. Lodging includes ski passes. An option at the alpine resort is the full-service Chateau Mont-Sainte-Anne (chateaumsa.com).

Kananaskis Country: Nordic Heaven

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December 18, 2010 (Kananaskis Country, Alberta) – Last winter, we visited areas in Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec, Montana, Idaho and Colorado — an amazing assortment of ranches, resorts, backcountry lodges, regions — and even to two Canadian cities (Quebec City and Calgary). Every ski writer dreams of breaking an exclusive story on something or someone mind-boggling in our little world — an incredible new inn, a revolutionary equipment innovation, the first interview with someone who just took Olympic gold….

I’ve gotten a great kick out of writing a couple of stories like that, even if it’s just temporary recognition, and now I’m stoked to be writing about an area where stellar groomed trails have been there for years, in fact, for a couple of decades. Yet this amazing site is still mostly a big black hole for many cross-country skiers if you’re not from the Calgary, Alberta region, where this Nordic heaven is virtually in its backyard. I have to qualify the preceding sentence (“still mostly…”) because Kananaskis Country (also known as “K-Country”) includes the renowned Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park, home to the 1988 Olympic cross-country and biathlon trails. The Nordic Centre is one of the most famous cross-country operations in the world, especially in Elite racing circles, but it’s really just a very prominent tip of the K-Country iceberg.

Who are Those Guys?
Kananaskis Country lies in the foothills and mountains west of Calgary. Run by the province of Alberta, it’s a region that concentrates on recreation. It’s immense (1,600 square miles/4,250 square kilometres), diverse and spectacular — a true mountain playground filled with streams, meadows and lakes, and much of it very wild indeed.

K-Country is partially composed of a series of provincial parks, and it’s named after the Kananaskis River, which runs through it. More than half is protected from development, so you may see moose, elk, bighorn sheep, even cougar — but not encounter many people, especially compared to nearby Banff National Park. The rest of the land is multiple-use, from recreation to forestry, grazing and even petroleum exploration.

Winter visitors can go track and backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, mountaineering, snowmobiling, even downhill skiing at Nakiska Mountain Resort. There’s no snowmobile access to groomed trails, and snowshoers are asked to stay to the side of cross-country routes or use separate trails. No dogs are permitted on the groomed ski trails, but they’re welcome elsewhere.

Location, Location, Location
There’s a huge variety of cross-country skiing in Kananaskis Country, starting with Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park (which is distinct from the nearby town of Canmore). The Centre has the region’s most consistently groomed trails (more on this later). It’s a spectacular one-and-a-half-hour drive from Calgary’s International Airport via the Trans-Canada Highway and only 20 minutes southeast of the town of Banff.

Canmore is one of the two major winter access points to K-Country, along the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail (Road 742). The other access — the Kananaskis Trail (Route 40) — is even closer to Calgary, but not quite as convenient if you’re in a hurry to get to extensive groomed trails.

There are other groomed trail concentrations in Spray Valley Provincial Park (Mount Shark), Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (approximately 75 kilometres), Ribbon Creek (another 60 kilometres or so), plus a smattering elsewhere. Funding limitations may have cut down on grooming frequency in much of the region.

Yes, one can legitimately get a little confused by the geography, but if you download the Kananaskis map at the Alberta Parks website (www.tpr.alberta.ca/parks), all will be revealed.

What’s Up at Canmore
You can read dozens of articles and blogs about Canmore’s Nordic Centre, so I’ll keep this short. Simply, it’s a wonderful place to ski: great, recently toned-down competition trails, refurbished day lodge, expanded snowmaking to guarantee skiing, more than six kilometres of lit trails, some very nice recreational trails, an outstanding rental/retail shop, truly glorious mountain surroundings and a pleasant town a few minutes away.

The big news is that the province of Alberta and the Canadian national government are funding a new 30-kilometre recreational trail network in the park. It’ll be designed not just for skiing, but also for snowshoeing, hiking, walking, cycling and mountain biking.

Home Base
There’s only sporadic lodging in K-Country, which reflects the fact that there are just a few hundred full-time residents in the region (outside of the town of Canmore).

One exception is a place I visited for the first time last winter and thoroughly enjoyed: Mount Engadine Lodge, near the south end of Spray Lakes Reservoir. It’s a beautiful place in a magnificent private setting. It’s also centrally located, with close to 150 kilometres of groomed trails within an hour’s drive (call it 45 minutes from Canmore along the well-maintained Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lake Trail).

Mount Engadine Lodge is a remarkable place — comfortable, hospitable, eco-friendly, with fine food. And it’s really convenient to skiing, more so than any place else in the locale. Shari-Lynn and Chris Williams, the innkeepers, have a great work ethic along with attention to detail and a sense of humour, creating a warm ambiance that’s always appreciated.

And, yeah, it’s really nice to come home to an outdoor hot tub with gorgeous sunset views and lots of space to relax or socialize. And if you have children in search of fun, there’s a sliding area beside the lodge. The lodge doesn’t have rental equipment, but can arrange instruction by reservation.

This part of Spray Valley Provincial Park has probably the most reliable snow in Kananaskis Country. That’s partly a reflection of the altitude (approximately 6,200 feet/1,900 metres), which is higher than either Canmore or Lake Louise. Storms can drop as much as 100 centimetres (40 inches) of snow over several days. Temperatures can be rather nippy (-30° Celsius or Fahrenheit at the extreme), but days tend to be comfortable and sunny.

Nearby peaks rise as high as 3,097 metres (10,160 feet), with Mount Engadine, northeast of the lodge, just a little lower. In other words, the place is gorgeous.

The Skiing
For stuff close to the lodge, Chris grooms two forested single-tracked loops just off-site and sometimes maintains a trail on Moose Meadows, just below the lodge, though there’s more likely to be snowshoeing or ski-set trails down there.

The nearby Mount Shark system was one of the areas proposed as the 1988 Olympics cross-country and biathlon venues, and it’s primarily intermediate to advanced terrain. There are a half-dozen linked one-way loops, with one extensive easier loop. It’s also the jumping-off point for backcountry tours into Banff National Park and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park in British Columbia.

Since trail grooming can be inconsistent in the area (machinery seemed to be at work mostly on weekdays when I was there), it’s worth checking for the latest conditions.

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park has another major system, apparently with more reliable grooming than at Mount Shark. The trails also tend to be easier. The Visitor Information Centre is open every day, as is the Pocaterra Hut, from where many routes disperse. Incidentally, each February, it’s also the starting area for the classic-only Kananaskis Ski Marathon (a.k.a. the Great Cookie Race, as every competitor gets homemade cookies).

The 11.6km Pocaterra Trail is lovely, winding and popular, slowly climbing through coniferous forest and meadows. There are many side-trails (again most of these trails are one-way), so you can get a lot of terrain and view variety within a few kilometres.

The Ribbon Creek network is a little farther north along Highway 40, near Kananaskis Village and Nakiska. It’s primarily novice to intermediate skiing, with a few tougher sections.

All in all, K-Country is hard to beat for wonderous skiing and terrain with an amazing mix of options that will keep you coming back for more in this Nordic heaven.

Mo’ Info
K-Country is a complex territory – huge, beautiful, with a series of
different groomed trail networks as well as snowshoe trails and ungroomed touring trails such as the Chester/Sawmill system.

You can contact www.tpr.alberta.ca/parks, then select “Kananaskis,” which has sub-links for the latest trail conditions (grooming, closures,
avalanche reports, etc.), reports on Canmore Nordic Centre, etc.

Mount Engadine Lodge (www.mountengadine.com) is open from mid-December through mid-April. The main lodge and two chalets can accommodate up to 17 guests. Rates start at $170 a night for a room (two-night minimum) and include all meals, afternoon tea (goodies plus a dozen types of tea), hot tub and innkeepers’ good humour. Pets are welcome.

Stowe: New England’s Cross-country Mecca

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Nestled high on the flanks of Vermont’s highest peak (Mount Mansfield, 4,393 feet), the village of Stowe offers a wide variety of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities. Skiers can choose between North America’s first commercial cross-country centre (dating from 1968) at Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe Mountain Resort’s Cross Country Ski Center, and other centers in the region such as Top Knotch with nearby Nordic Barn, Stoweflake, Edson Hill Manor, Golden Eagle Resort, along with Stowe’s municipal trails. Between them, the smorgasbord of fabulous resorts feature activities from skate to classic to backcountry to telemark skiing. Snowshoeing and Nordic walking are also on the menu. And one of the great beauties of skiing in Stowe is the interconnectivity of most local ski trail networks.

The Trapp Family Lodge is the largest cross-country centre in the area, attracting some 60,000 visitors each winter. It is also famous for the Trapp family history as portrayed in The Sound of Music. And the oldest cross-country centre on the continent remains an innovator, recently installing artificial snowmaking that ensures a connection from the ski centre across a sunny field up to trails in the woods. The trail network includes 60 kilometres of groomed trails and 100 kilometres of backcountry trails.

“The location is perfect; my grandparents chose well. We have over 1,000 hectares and 1,700 feet of vertical here and a commanding view of Stowe Valley,” exclaims Sam von Trapp, the resort’s manager. He is also excited about the new 40 Year Trail (commemorating how long the centre has been in business) that takes skiers down a fast and furious five-kilometre descent from the Slayton Pasture Cabin at 2,100 feet to the main lodge at 1,300 feet. Von Trapp also spoke enthusiastically about mountain-bike trails that were scheduled to open (initially for resort guests only) during the summer of 2009. The Slayton Pasture Cabin serves drinks and snacks for skiers.

Both group lessons and individual coaching are available at Trapp. The rental shop carries a wide range of sizes and also has pulks (ski sleds for pulling infants and toddlers). Trapp Family Lodge markets itself as a “family-friendly” destination, pointing to the on-site presence of the Mountain Kids Club and how the trail network allows families to ski together at all levels.

Stowe Mountain Resort’s Cross Country Ski Touring Center has 45 kilometres of groomed trails and 30 kilometres of backcountry skiing. It is owned by the same company that operates the better-known alpine ski centre and fancy new five-star hotel three kilometres up the road, meaning that alpine skiers can access the touring centre without buying an additional ticket.

While the downhill centre and hotel recently benefited from almost half-a-billion dollars in renovations, the touring centre is simply housed in a double-wide trailer bought secondhand in the 1970s. Also in the same building is a small cafe, ski rentals, washrooms and a boutique so finding a spot to sit might be difficult on busy weekends.

“It’s mainly the knickers crowd here,” jokes Nordic Cross-country manager Scott Dorwart. “They enjoy our intimate and narrow classic trails. The Lycra crowd prefers skiing at Trapp, although we do have some skating trails as well.” Dorwart adds that many of the customers at his ski centre are “backcountry locals” attracted by the unique wilderness skiing opportunities at Stowe. A $20 day pass for the touring area includes a lift ticket to the nearby Tall House Double chairlift and the possibility of skiing at 3,500 feet. Some 10,000 skiers and snowshoers come through the touring centre annually, including school groups. Snowshoers also make up an estimated 15% of the visitors here.

The touring centre benefits from an eastern exposure that keeps the snow after it melts off other nearby cross-country centres. Stowe’s season normally extends from mid-December to late April. Extended-season skiing continues unofficially after that on the toll road up near the top of Mount Mansfield.

Most of Stowe Mountain’s trail network winds through state forest and skiers don’t have to worry about real estate developments encroaching on the trails here. But while the state forest wards off realtors, applications for any structures must be approved by forest rangers. Currently, there’s only one warm-up hut (actually a tent) on the trail network, and it is only permitted with the understanding that all traces of the tent disappear after the snow melts. The tent, which is called Bear Hut (anticipating an actual hut being erected one day), entices skiers with free hot chocolate and cookies. Locals snicker referring to Bear Hut as “Tarp Family Lodge.”

Events hosted at Stowe Mountain include the Nordic BKL Mini-Marathon in early January, the Stowe Derby in late February and various events organized by the Stowe Nordic Outing Club. An unusual attraction at Stowe Touring Center is a chance to reconnect with history. The land here encompasses the vestiges of old logging operations and one of the first downhill runs opened in North America. The timber camp is an historical site dating from the 1930s, while another trail was cut by the Civilian Corps in 1933 for the original chairlift at Stowe’s alpine centre. Ski history buffs can also check out Stowe’s Vermont Ski Museum.

At Topnotch Resort and Spa, luxury is perhaps an understatement. Manager Dan Oberlander speaks about how the resort attracts people who like to ski in the morning and play tennis in the afternoon. Topnotch has a partnership with the Nordic Barn, a local outfitter, to provide cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities for its guests, both on 80 acres of private land and on the nearby municipal trail. The Nordic Barn also offers 25 kilometres of its own trails — open to the general public — that connect to Trapp and to Stowe’s Recreational Path trails as well as the municipal “Rec Path.” Ski rentals and lessons are available, as are snowshoe tours.

Edson Hill Manor is a country inn and restaurant that also maintains some 25 kilometres of groomed cross-country trails, including part of the Catamount Trail (480 kilometres that run the length of Vermont). Edson Hill does offer ski rentals, but the Nordic centre is apparently closed some days of the week (best to check at the Manor) and lacks a warm-up hut on the system. Some 1,000 people use the trail system each winter. Umiak, a local outfitter, partners with Edson Hill, bringing visitors for short, introductory, night-time snowshoe jaunts five times a week. Umiak similarly brings snowshoers up to the Golden Eagle Resort (also on the Rec Path) to access trails there, with expeditions terminating over a fondue dinner. Umiak also operates periodic telemark clinics five times each winter.

Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa similarly offers luxurious amenities and a network of groomed trails (five kilometres) that connect with the Rec Path. The trails, for guests and members, are known as a good venue for skate-skiing and attract some 300 skiers annually. Lessons and rentals can be arranged here, but call first. Also offered here is Nordic walking — both with and without snowshoes — on a daily basis throughout the winter. The general public is welcome to join Nordic walking classes for a modest fee.

Stowe’s Recreational Path is an 8.5km trail that serves as a bike path in the summer and cross-country ski/snowshoe trail in the winter. Access is free to this trail that crosses and re-crosses the West Branch River 11 times, running from the village centre up to Topnotch, connecting with Stoweflake and Golden Eagle along the way.

There is a reciprocal agreement between local centres to honour each other’s tickets, although this sometimes requires paying a small premium. Skiers starting from Stowe’s Recreational Path can still access Trapp trails, for instance, but must now pay for a $5 ticket upgrade to do so.

Collectively, there are some 3,200 beds available in Stowe, housed in country inns to five-star hotels. Prices start at approximately $70 per night, and Canadians will be glad to know that their money is often accepted at par here. The area also offers some 30 restaurants, some of which are also bars, though Stowe’s nightlife is perhaps tame compared to some other ski towns.

Mo’ Info

Trapp Family Lodge
1-800-826-7000/1-802-253-8511
www.trappfamily.com

Stowe Mountain Resort
Touring Center
802-253-3688.
www.stowe.com/activities/nordic

Vermont Ski Museum
802-253-9911
www.vermontskimuseum.com

Topnotch Resort and Spa
800-451-8686
www.topnotchresort.com

Nordic Barn
802-253-6433
www.nordicbarnvt.com
$15 adult day pass

Edson Hill Manor
802-253-7371
www.edsonhillmanor.com

Golden Eagle Resort
800-626-1010
www.goldeneagleresort.com

Umiak Outdoor Outfitters
802-253-2317
www.umiak.com

Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa
1-800-253-2232/802-760-1123
www.stoweflake.com

Catamount Trail
www.catamounttrail.org

Vermont ski resorts
800-VERMONT; 802-223-2439
www.skivermont.com

Stowe accommodation and
restaurants
1.877.GOSTOWE
www.gostowe.com

Test Report 10/11 – Boots

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October 12, 2010 – Better fit, lighter weight and superb performance define the new boots. Many were easy to spot on the feet of Olympians at the 2010 Games.

Fischer RCS Carbonlite Skating
Testers loved these boots. With lots of adjustment possible, they were able to fit all feet. The exoskeleton, internal torsion-control system and carbon cuff supplied loads of power and control. The soft inner boot felt cushy, even slipper-like in comfort. Because of a cantable cuff and well-designed footbed, balance was notably enhanced. This combo of great fit, easy balance and super power genuinely made skating easier.

Rossignol X-ium WC Skate
Matched up with the new X-celerator binding and the new X-ium WC Skate ski, testers were impressed with the almost weightless feeling of this boot. The new asymmetrical lacing was easy to operate. The boots fit well right off the rack, but for people with difficult feet, the thermo adjustable feature allows precise fitting with the aid of a little heat. The ultra-lightweight carbon cuff and carbon heel counter provided plenty of power.

Alpina CSK and CCL
We tested Alpina’s top-of-the-line race boot in 2009, and we noticed it on the feet of top Olympians in 2010. This year, the next three steps down (Competition Series, Race Series and the Sport Series) are all-new. The most notable feature of these boots is the new heel-grip system that looks sort of like a spur that ratchets up and down for more or less heel hold-down. We tested the Competition Series, both skate and classic. Great fit was the most-often-heard comment. The comfortable and neutral nature of these boots made them a favourite to use while testing skis. Power and balance was right there when you needed it in skating. The Classic boots had a nice smooth flex enhancing the grip phase while striding.

Salomon S-Lab Classic boot and Propulse binding
Salomon has always produced great-fitting classic boots, and the new S-Lab Classic continues the tradition. New is the adjustable heel strap with a spoiler (a small plastic piece that cups the lower Achilles tendon) and an adjustment window to easily see and adjust the strap. We didn’t feel the strap when skiing, but heel hold-down was exceptional. The boot is designed to fit the new Propulse binding and features the pivot point 17mm back from the toe of the boot. This pivot placement is meant to provide a more natural feel, but since the boot sole flexed so nicely, quite frankly, most testers didn’t notice this change. The boot sole still has two bars and is compatible with Salomon’s Pilot bindings. In past tests, SkiTrax loved the wonderful, natural feel of the classic Pilot binding and the lack of a toe bumper. However, in some snow conditions, the fibre strap on the Pilot bindings iced up. So Salomon developed the Propulse binding and brought the toe bumper back. We found the new binding super-light and easy to use. Many testers liked the way the binding allowed the boot to be right on the ski instead of lifted above it. They felt more sensitive to the ski and wax and hence able to get a better grip. But even though the new toe bumper is small and well-placed, it was noticeable.

Atomic Worldcup Skate
Clean, simple and comfortable is how most testers found these all-new boots from Atomic. They are based on the Salomon Pilot chassis, with the pivot point placed 17mm back from the toe. The cuff looks like a Salomon Energizer cuff with the bottom cut off — in fact, that is exactly what it is. The advantage is more fore-and-aft ankle flexibility. The disadvantage is there is no help from the boot in keeping the ski tip up. We found that the boot had lots of power and didn’t notice any problem with the ski tip on foot return. It was easy to find the optimum place to stand on a variety of skis, and the boots remained very comfortable all day long.

Test Report 10/11 – Skis

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October 12, 2010 – Almost everyone had new skate skis for the Olympics. The notable exceptions are Fischer’s RCS Carbonlite Hole and Salomon’s S-Lab Equipe 10. Both of these skate skis received rave reviews from this magazine in the past.

Racing Skate skis

Rossignol X-ium Skate skis and NNN X-celerator bindings
Fast, stable and light — what else could you want in a skate ski. It was by far the fastest ski tested in the cold powder of Devil’s Thumb. Matched up with the new lighter X-ium boot and the new lighter X-celerator NNN binding, these skis made skating noticeably easier at 9,000 feet. Light on our feet yet solid on the snow, we could ski V2 (one skate) with abandon even on the firmest tracks. We loved the new binding. The X-celerator’s lightweight, easy operation and bomber control had all testers smiling. Look for it from Rossignol, Fischer, Madshus and Alpina/Peltonen. However at Steven’s Pass (4,000 feet) in warm granular snow and without the new boot and binding, the new X-iums were still fast, stable and light, but without the jaw-dropping lightness of the whole system.

Atomic Worldcup (Red Cheetah)
This is what Billy Demong rode for Olympic gold. The new “Featherlight” construction makes this ski ultralight. Testers found the Red Cheetahs fun and lively to ski. They seemed to fly up the hill and were easy to control in turns. The Worldcups were lightning-fast in soft powder in Colorado and soft granular snow in Washington. But on hard-packed snow, skiers needed to pay attention to technique. Too much pressure on the tip caused the ski to wander a bit, while a centered skier was rewarded with a smooth and fast ride.

Madshus Nanosonic Skate
Three models were tested, the HP for hard-packed snow, the SC for soft snow and the R for all-around conditions. Most of the track at Devil’s Thumb was hard-packed cold snow. As you might guess, the HP’s shined. The new geometry and weight savings were noticeable. They were so easy to ski, yet very fast with that signature-smooth Madshus feel. The R performed well on hard snow and had the advantage of easy turning. The R’s were also fun in the warmer conditions at Steven’s Pass. The SC’s were a tad squirrelly (as expected) on hard snow, but came into their own on softer conditions, especially in soft beat-up granular snow. The SC’s could coast right through piles of it without slowing down.

Racing Classic skis
Madshus Nanosonic Classic Cold
Still providing the smoothest ride of any skis, the new Nanosonics felt lighter and livelier than previous models. The 3-D shape has been changed, the skis have been shortened slightly and the camber has been elongated. They skied easy, with great grip and a delightful glide. Turns were easy to initiate and the skis arced smoothly throughout the turn. Nanosonics are fun to ski in hard-wax conditions. A Classic Plus is also available with a higher camber for klister conditions.

Salomon S-Lab Equipe Classic Cold
This all-new ski from Salomon features the new Propulse camber that is lower and slightly forward for effective grip. The test pair was matched up with the new Salomon Propulse binding and new S-Lab Classic boots (see below). The whole set-up provided superb grip when the ball of the foot was engaged, and a nice free glide when the heel was on the ski. That made it easy to jet the ski ahead for extra glide and to set up an effective grip phase. The grip was quick and took very little effort. The Classic Colds we tested came with a wood laminate for a smoother, softer flex. The Classic Warm comes with a carbon laminate for a stiffer and higher camber for klister skiing.

Rossignol X-ium Classic
Testers found the X-ium Classic very fast in cold snow. Just like the Skate, when matched up with the X-celerator binding, these X-iums felt super-light. Grip was easy and positive, making skiing these rockets a joy at Devil’s Thumb. In warmer snow, grip was still exceptional and glide was good. The X-iums felt smooth and comfortable and didn’t slow down when confronting small ripples or irregularities in the track.

Waxless Classic skis
Loads of new waxless skis are on tap for this season. We were impressed with the renewed effort in refining waxless skis, as well as the performance.

Peltonen Nanogrip X-CL Race
This is the clear winner in the maintenance-free-skiing category. Peltonen specifically instructs skiers: do not wax, do not rill and do not grind the base in any way. The proprietary nanoparticle-imbedded base is ready go right out of the box. “Fast,” “smooth,” “felt like a waxable ski” were the comments most heard from testers. Cold Colorado snow or warm Washington snow seemed to make no difference — the skis gripped well and had an amazing glide for a waxless ski. It was so nice to have that wax- ski feeling yet not worry as the track changed from cold shaded snow to sun-warmed slush.

Atomic Mover 48 and Mover 52
The two Movers are almost identical in performance. The 52 is, of course, 4mm wider than the 48. Both skis had a remarkable free-feeling glide as a result of Atomic’s new Posigrip base. The skis were fast and smooth in cold powder and warm granular snows. The wider 52 gripped a little better and turned easier, but the 48 gripped well on all but the iciest of snows and handled corners just fine. Pick the 48 for in-track skiing and the 52 for in- and out-of-track fun. Atomic also produces a heaver Xcruise 59 with this same great base for those leaning toward more off-track touring.

Salomon Elite 9 Aero Grip
Another new base, Salomon’s G2 Syncro improves upon its old G2 base. With a deeper pattern and variable depth of pattern, this new ski was loads of fun, providing a bomber grip and a lively glide. Relatively stiff and sporting racing-ski dimensions, the Elite 9 Aero is meant for competent in-track skiers. Be sure to get professional fitting on this ski — too soft a flex can cause the base to be grabby.

Hello from the Mayo – Going Home!

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August 13, 2010 – Hi Everyone, here’s a note my mom wrote up about what the doctors at the Mayo have concluded based on the millions of tests they’ve had me do. Feeling better and happy to be going home!!!!!!!!! Take care, Adele.

Hello from Mayo,

We are being sprung from the Mayo Clinic….at least for awhile. Their conclusion from ten tests in two weeks is that Adele does have some kind of pelvic floor dysfunction, and she has gastroparesis (which is, in her case, slow emptying of the stomach and colon caused by nerve damage). In English, this means food doesn’t go through her entire digestive system fast enough.

They are hoping the pelvic floor disorder will be helped by a 2-week intensive physical therapy regimen back here at the Mayo later this fall. Because of Mayo’s schedule, they can’t do this right now so,needless to say, we are going home for the interim. Yeah!!!

The gastroparesis is trickier. They figured out that the muscles contract normally but the coordination, controlled by nerves, isn’t normal. What they don’t understand is whether the nerve damage is reversible, or what caused the nerve damage. There is a chance that the pelvic floor dysfunction is related to the gastroparesis, but we won’t know that until the pelvic floor
dysfunction is addressed by physical therapy. When she comes back for the physical therapy this fall, they will also do a test to make sure that the nerve damage is contained within the GI tract, and they will retest her gastroparesis.

In the meantime, her symptoms have greatly improved, and the doctor has prescribed some meds to help if the symptoms return. She has lots of energy and is eating normally, which is wonderful.

We have seen every attraction Rochester has to offer, and while it’s a nice place to visit, and the Mayo is an amazing facility, we are very happy to be heading home. We hope to be at Percy by tomorrow, in time for dinner.

Thank you all so much for all your thoughts and notes – it definitely helped us feel connected and loved – which is surely part of the healing process.

Love,
Lynne and Adele

ps. We have compiled a long list of things to do and not do in Rochester, and if you know of anyone coming here, we would be glad to share this up to date travel guide.

Beckie Scott Story Part IV of IV

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“Teo is the No. 1 priority. This is the first thing I think about when waking up or when any opportunity comes up. Being a mom comes first. When I stopped skiing, I didn’t really need to pursue anything more. I didn’t have the same kind of aspirational career goals many other people probably do,” says Beckie Scott. “I knew I wanted a child. I was really looking forward to this. Teo was really wanted, and Justin and I were prepared to make the lifestyle change for him. Teo fit right in.”

Something I’ve always admired are your pursuits outside skiing. You’ve been one to use your position as a recognizable athlete for the betterment of society. One of the first organizations you aligned yourself with was UNICEF. How did this come about?
Beckie Scott: I’d always cared about what was going on around the world. I think this is an influence from my parents. They are very aware and conscious of our place in the world — environmentally, socially.

It was the fall of 2001. The U.S. had just invaded Afghanistan. On the television, I saw this huge humanitarian crisis unfold. This really bothered me. I was really quite upset. As a team, we had just received our gear for the year. We were at a training camp, cooking for ourselves. We had bags and bags of food around. We felt we had so much. And here we are, seeing these images of people who had nothing. This contrast bothered me to the point of deciding to donate my prize money that year to UNICEF and trying to get as many others in the North American racing community to do the same. UNICEF is an agency helping the most vulnerable of all — the kids and the women, but mostly the kids who are the innocent victims in this kind of thing.

UNICEF got wind of what we were doing. The Salt Lake City Olympics were later that year. After I won the medal and got some notoriety, UNICEF asked me if I’d come on board as a special representative, a kind of ambassador for Canada. I said, ‘Yes’ [smiles] immediately. This was something close to my heart. Apart from skiing, this was the other realm I thought most about, that I wanted to be a part of. When they asked me to be an ambassador to their causes, they said, ‘If you ever want to see UNICEF in the field, if you ever want to visit projects, just say the word and we’ll build it into one of our projects.’ This was quite a fortunate door to have open. That year, I went to Burkina Faso in West Africa as part of their girl’s education campaign. After that, I joined the Right to Play movement.

Was it successful? Did people rally behind this cause?
BS: I think so. Many racers donated their SuperTour winnings, though it isn’t that much money, as you know [laughs]. In the end, we raised money for a genuine cause. But it was the simple gesture of awareness, as much as anything, that resonated so much with UNICEF and the ski community.

After Salt Lake, you went on a UNICEF field visit to Burkina Faso in Africa. Did participating like this help you as a ski racer?
BS: I think it helps keep the balance right. Going to Africa really helped me understand another world, another level of that people live at. To realize this, to see this, really put things in perspective — we don’t have much to complain about here. At times when I might be feeling negative or sorry for myself, I’d think back on these African experiences and I couldn’t stay in that mood very long.

The field visits also gave me another sense of purpose, which I was really looking for. When I took that break from sport, part of that was a feeling that I needed to look around for something other than skiing to keep me occupied, to keep me interested. I needed another avenue outside of skiing to focus my attention on.

Did this set up some of the work you’re doing now?
BS: Yes, totally. You know, this is one of the main reasons I came back. I spent days thinking about my reasons for coming back, what I wanted to do. One of the biggest reasons for continuing, apart from knowing I had more in me, was the knowledge that with increased success and notoriety, you get a platform. From that, I can spread the word, I can educate and I can draw attention to different causes and promote them.

I donated the money I won from my silver in Torino to a cause. This gave me another sense of purpose as well, in training and in the harder moments — to do something for kids.

You gave your Torino race bonuses to Right to Play that year, but didn’t tell anybody.
BS: I had a contract with Haywood Securities, a kind of victory schedule. The amount of money I won from my silver medal I donated. This idea of helping out a cause I believed in deeply was motivating, for sure. At the same time, when I stepped up to the start line, I was focused on executing the perfect race and getting this performance out of me. But this other motivation was certainly in the back of my mind.

You’re still connected to sport through the IOC [International Olympic Committee) athlete council and your work with Right to Play, which had limited involvement at the Vancouver 2010 Games. Can you tell us about that?
BS: Yes, that’s true. Right to Play was not officially in the Olympic Village, and didn’t have a partnership with the Vancouver Organizing Committee [VANOC]. This was over a sponsorship conflict and VANOC’s ultimate decision to bar Right to Play from participating in the Olympics as an official partner. It was disappointing how this unfolded.

How can an athlete who wants to be part of the Right to Play movement keep this alive?
BS: This is a very good question. The first is just spread the word — word of mouth. Talk about Right to Play when the opportunity presents itself in the media. Talk about a cause you support. Just showing your support — in any way this manifests itself — is most important.

Our athletes are our most important vehicle for advocacy, support and fundraising. Right to Play wasn’t inside the Village. But we were there and definitely had something for our athletes to show their support.

At the 2006 Torino Olympics, your peers elected you to an eight-year term on the IOC Advisory Council as the voice of the Olympians. How has this responsibility/opportunity been for you?
BS: It’s interesting. It’s eye-opening, for sure. I didn’t know exactly what to expect when elected. It seemed like a big deal at the time, and being an IOC member certainly has its perks [laughs]. But it also has a lot of responsibility. There’s a lot of travel and meetings and different kinds of official duties. So far, I enjoy it. It’s been very educational learning what goes on in the other side of sport.

When I think of IOC or FIS [International Ski Federation], I can’t help but think of an older-gentlemen’s club from Oslo or Monaco or St. Moritz. For all the empowering and democratizing power of athletics, there is a serious lack of gender equality in working in sports. I can’t name one woman serviceworker on the World Cup. I’d venture this trend is present in all levels of sport, but at the international level, there’s an absolute lack of women.

It’s really obvious how male-heavy coaching and support, even administration, is in sport; and in skiing in particular. It’s hard to say, but I think women bring a balance into a situation. There is gender balance on the start sheet, so I feel there should be some representation in the working aspect of the sport. At the same time, it’s a really hard lifestyle, really tough and demanding. Many women choose to have families, and after they retire from ski racing don’t want to do the travel that’s required. It’s a dilemma for sure. But I agree. There needs to be more women.

Since you’ve been a member, your biggest IOC decision has to be the Guatemala City vote where Sochi, Russia won the bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics. You were part of the evaluation committee. What went into this decision?
BS: I was part of an evaluation commission made up of hand-picked people from all different areas of expertise: lawyers, financial experts, transportation experts. Sixteen people were part of the commission. I was the only athlete and one of only three IOC members. The rest were individual professionals, respected as experts in their fields of study.

We traveled to all three cities: Sochi, Russia; Salzburg, Austria; and PeongChang, South Korea. Afterward, we went back to Lausanne, Switzerland for a focused week of preparing the report that we submitted to all the 112 IOC members in Guatemala City.

This report was a fairly lengthy and comprehensive overview about the three cities — to determine, in our opinion, which city was most capable of hosting the 2010 Olympics.

The IOC adopted this 16-person evaluation commission to cut down on corruption with previous Olympic bids, which came to light before the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake, right?
BS: Yes. This is done to avoid all the bribery. So they say.

Can you tell me about this? I heard the IOC-commissioned report had Sochi, Russia as the bottom of the three bids.
BS: Sochi was not the strongest bid [long pause], according to the evaluation commission. I think if you read the evaluation commission report you would see that Sochi was not the strongest bid . . . [pause]

. . . in some respects.

I heard Vladimir Putin, the Russian President at the time, came down to Guatemala City to express his support for Sochi’s bid.
BS: He did.

Did this play any part in the swaying of the IOC members?
BS: [Laughs and laughs.] You know, who knows? I can only speculate. I was not approached in any way. Anything I heard is just secondhand speculation and hearsay. Every president and prime minister of the final-candidate cities came to Guatemala City. It just so happens that Putin is the most well-known. It’s really hard to know the external factors that went into influencing the voting, apart from the commission report.

Were you a little disappointed with the outcome?
BS: It surprised me a little.

One final question: where were you when Oddvar Bra broke his pole?
BS: Ooh, that’s a hard one. When was that? The 1982 World Championships in Oslo, right? I was eight years old. I don’t know. No. No, wait a minute. I was at a Vermillion Jackrabbit Jamboree.

Thank you for your time and insight, Beckie.
BS: Thank you.

Return to Part 3.

Training Hour Charts

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July 13, 2010 – First off, let me say that the template for these charts are from the Cross Country Canada’s Coaches education program. The original chart is singular in it’s presentation with the prescribed hours being more towards the feminine side of the curve. I have designed and adjusted the hours for a separate men’s and women’s set of charts over the past 20-30years. I think I remember asking Toni Scheier, CCC’s Coaching Coordinator, way back then for use of the template, but not the numbers.

SkiTrax 2009-2010 North American (NA) Nordic Ski Awards

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May 04, 2010 – Welcome to the SkiTrax Annual North American (NA) Nordic Ski Awards honouring top skiers from across the USA and Canada for the 2009/10 season determined by votes from readers at skitrax.com. It was a superb year for many skiers and the voting will be quite tough in some categories.

These awards recognize elite, U23 and junior skiers, along with biathlon, Nordic combined, jumping competitors and Paranordic skiers. New this year is the Collegiate category and by unanimous choice we’ve separated all categories into men and women so there’s a bit more voting but all for a good cause.

All entrants are eligible to win great prizes from Rossi/One Way, Fischer, Leki, Rottefella and Auclair. Please include your name and email address [after submitting your votes] if you wish to be eligible to win any prizes. Cast your votes and complete as many or as few categories as you like – ONE entry per person.

Deadline – voting ends at 11pm (EST) on Sunday, May 16, 2010

Winners – announced on Monday, May 17, 2010

Beckie Scott Story Part III of IV

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It’s almost like alchemy — to watch Beckie Scott turn the page from the disappointment that was Nagano and come into the Salt Lake Olympics a changed competitor. Then to watch bronze turn to silver, then to gold. Now that’s alchemist-like drama. We’ve already heard the best advice Scott’s ever received. The second bit? “You don’t hand in your training log at the start line.” To Scott, this meant stop counting up the hours and start counting up the quality.

In the build-up toward the 2002 Olympics, what doubts did you have going into it? Did you always know you were going to get that medal?
Beckie Scott: No. Not at all. I had no idea. In a way, this was really good. There was no pressure. People were optimistic, but they weren’t counting on me, so I didn’t have any external pressure to win a medal. I didn’t have doubts because I wasn’t expected to do anything except race as well as I could. But the medal? The medal was the dream goal.

Talking about the pursuit, if Neumannova got you at the line and you didn’t get to stand on the Olympic medal podium, even though you were the eventual, rightful gold medalist how would you have viewed this? You got to stand up on the podium, but you didn’t get to hear “OCanada” being played.
BS: The whole situation was so bizarre. I was the one person speaking out against doping before the Olympics and I was the one person who became the most caught up and affected by doping at the Olympics. But things would have been totally different if I had been fourth, if I had not won a medal.
At the time, of course, we didn’t know. I mean, if you would have told me they would have tested positive, I never would have believed it. I was shocked. I mean I knew for sure they were doping, but I never believed they would get caught.
To stand up on that podium, for me that was like winning the gold medal. We were so happy. We celebrated like it was gold.
I remember Justin watching the race, seeing it coming down to the final straight, watching him rip off the doctor’s medical
armband and booking down past the security guards to the
finish. The medals weren’t sorted out yet, but he was going to be there for something good. It definitely didn’t seem like ‘Oh, I got the bronze.’
No [laughs]. It was good as gold. Oh, yeah.

Olga Danilova and Larissa Lazutina, they didn’t steal any thunder from your moment?
BS: Ha. Ha. Ha. I don’t think so. We were pretty thrilled.

What if you’d crossed the finish line in fourth?
BS: It would’ve been completely different. That medal, it changed my life. It was the one experience where Canadians stood up and took notice of cross-country skiing. I did get to stand on the podium. I got to have a medal placed around my neck at the Games. I am fully aware it could have gone the other way — in less than a tenth of a second exactly.

What about the other podium ceremonies?
BS: The first was in Calgary. The second, the gold medal, was in Vancouver.

How were these experiences for you?
BS: They were okay. Definitely different, definitely not the same as the Salt Lake experience. It wasn’t close to that, for obvious reasons. At the time in Calgary, I didn’t know if I would be awarded the silver or if it would be upgraded to gold. The gold medal was more of a relief than anything.

Did you ever talk to Danilova or Lazutina?
BS: I never saw them after that.

Now that you’ve had a couple years post-racing, how do you hope or how do you feel people remember you?
BS: You want to be remembered positively, fondly. I feel I left the sport with a lot of friends, which is really important to me. I didn’t want to just have the results, the achievements and everything, but to have enjoyed the experience as well.
Almost as importantly, especially in the European circuit, I hope people remember that it was a real breakthrough for someone from North America to win medals and podium consistently. The Salt Lake Olympic medal was a turning point for Canadian cross-country skiing. People were like, ‘Wow, it can be done? It can.’ This was the breakthrough.

How did you find the right balance of skiing in your life during your career? After 2002, you raced 2003. Then in 2004-2005, you took a long break away from heavy training.
BS: Yes. I took five months off, completely.

This was a conscious decision on your part.
BS: It was.

And you always knew you were going to come back.
BS: No.

No?
BS: No, I didn’t. At that time, I was seriously contemplating retirement. That’s why I took the time off. I didn’t know if I wanted to make an announcement yet. I didn’t know if I was really ready to say goodbye or if I still had more in me. At that stage, all I knew for sure was that I really needed a break and I couldn’t keep doing things the way I’d been doing them. I felt my life had become too monotonous. I no longer had it in me to just keep doing it the same way. I needed to make a change. The first part of this was taking this huge break away — totally away.

What brought you back to skiing?
BS: The realization, first and foremost, that I could do it differently. I didn’t have to only race in Europe. For almost 10 years straight, I’d gone to the same locales, raced the same circuit, spending months and months and months in hotels away from home. At this point, I could pick and choose my races a little more. I could spend more time at home. I wasn’t obligated to be on the road all the time. I could do it my way. I’d earned my stripes. I had earned the seniority to say, ‘I will go to this camp, or I won’t.’ To Dave’s [Wood] credit, he was really flexible and supportive of that and allowed me to write my own ticket for the last year and a half of my career, which, mentally, was what I really needed to do. To be a full-time, always-on-the-road skier no longer fit me or my program.
Eventually I came back to feeling that I wasn’t ready to stop, to say goodbye for good. I still had some motivation to race and I still enjoyed many aspects of the lifestyle. I decided if I could do it just a little differently, I would continue.

Do you feel you had to pay your dues though, that you had to put all those years in on the road?
BS: I do. For sure. And I wanted to at the time. I enjoyed it. That’s what I wanted to do and that’s how I was learning and getting better. At the time, it was appropriate. Then I kind of ran out of steam. I just needed to recharge and do it differently.

Could you have gotten away with this if you didn’t have so many years of training in the bank?
BS: Ha. Ha. No. Probably not.

Your approach heading into 2006 Games was different than in the 2002 Olympics.
BS: The whole season leading up Torino had been really successful. I went in as a favourite, which is a totally different experience than going in as an underdog. This made it less enjoyable. I felt external pressure that I hadn’t felt before, and I really didn’t enjoy that. I tried really hard to disengage from that and not let it bother me. But, ultimately, it did kind of affect me. I just wasn’t as happy. I was a little more stressed.

How did you deal with this?
BS: I tried different tactics. I spent time with the team and with Justin and enjoyed the things I enjoy. I had some ways of keeping things in perspective, though it was tough, really tough.

You and Sara Renner brought home the silver medal in the sprint relay.
BS: We did. This was a really special experience; to have it happen with a person who had been my teammate since I was 14.

You got to share in the success. It seemed fitting two teammates who had spent so much time together.
BS: Exactly. And for it to happen in such a dramatic race too — Sara breaking a pole. We were out of contention for a while. Then we came back.

Ah, yes, the now-infamous Hakersmoen was there.
BS: Our knight in shining armour. Sara and I were so excited before that race because we knew we were the favourites. And this is an unbelievable place to start an Olympic race from. Then we were in the fight. We were in the hunt for the medals. Then I saw it happen. I saw the pole break. I saw Sara go from first or second to fourth or fifth. My stomach dropped because I thought, ‘It’s over.’ Then the pole. Then Sara came back. When she tagged to me, I realized it’s not too far, I can make this up if I really go for it. The drama in that race made it sweeter in its own special way. It was so almost not there. It was so close to not happening. The almost — in a good way.

In an interview in 2003, you said, “Doping is as widespread and prolific as it ever was. Dopers are still taking home their share of the medal haul and the FIS is doing a terribly inadequate job of clearing it up.” Do you still stand by these comments?
BS: No. Maybe in 2003 that was the case. Obviously, I felt that way in 2003. Now, I think things have changed for the better. I think FIS is doing a better job.

What specific things has the FIS done to clean up the sport?
BS: In the results, there’s much more of a variety in the countries and people who can win a race. I think part of this is having WADA [World Anti-Doping Association] around, keeping an eye on the whole situation. I also see a change in FIS with Joerg Capol [FIS’ head honcho] coming on board.

I don’t know if this is a question you want to answer, but it’s a pertinent one. In the World Cup today, Virpi Kuitunen is a superstar in our sport. She’s won the World Cup overall the past two years, the inaugural Tour de Ski and handfuls of wins and podiums on the World Cup circuit. She’s also one of the Lahti Six. Has she served her debt to the sport and to society for her doping, or do we have to view all of her success with suspicion, as she’s still working with the same coach and with her coloured past?
BS: That’s a hard one . . . . From a personal perspective, I don’t know what it’s like to be a doper and to come back and to try to race again. I just don’t know what that experience is like.
When people dope, it’s the ultimate act of disrespect to your fellow competitors. Having raced against her when she was doped, I can never really look at her as an equal ever again, even after serving her suspension. I have no desire to view her as an equal competitor again. To me, it was such a loathsome act, such a despicable act — an act of fraud.

Can I use this?
BS: Sure. Absolutely.

I feel this is a pertinent question, one that needs to be answered, and answered from a variety of sources. I want to talk to Kuitunen about it.
BS: Why not? For sure. The thing is people welcomed her back with seemingly open arms. I was just like, ‘How can you hold your head high after what you’ve done? How can you look people in the eye and take your medals and your money?’ Maybe she can because she’s clean. Maybe she actually feels that she’s served her sentence and paid her dues. Maybe in her mind it’s all good, it’s all justified and all fine.

I appreciate you answering that one.
BS: No problem.

After Torino, you go on a tear, chasing the World Cup overall title. There were a lot of races all jammed into the last three weeks of the season. You finished by traveling to China, then Japan, finishing second in the sprint, then winning the pursuit in your last ski race ever. These were very challenging races for you. I don’t think the results tell the whole story. Apparently, you weren’t on your A-game for these races.
BS: No. I was sick in China. I had flashes of cold chills running through my body between all the rounds of the sprint. Japan was two days later. I was barely recovered from sickness in Sapporo. I think I tapped into something I didn’t know I had, that’s for sure. Knowing those two races would be the last I’d ever do, I just had to ignore any symptoms of illness and overcome them. This was the way to go out, I tell you. I’m so glad I was able to end that way; that I had it in me — no, that I decided to have it in me — to win the last race of my life. It was really important to me to do that — to end this long 11-year career of ski racing internationally with a win. That meant more to me than anything. It was a great way to go.

Don’t despair. The fourth, and final, installment appears in the next issue  — “Career Ends, Influence Doesn’t.”

Beckie Scott is the first North American to win Olympic gold in cross-country skiing. At the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, UT, Scott was first awarded the bronze medal in the women’s 10km pursuit. When the two skiers ahead of her were caught doping Scott pursued a two-year process that saw her awarded the silver and then the gold.

Go to Part 2.
Go to Part 4.

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Dear Dmitry!

The entire Russian ski team is appealing to you for help. We need to change the system of our Ski Federation. Right now everyone is looking for culprits for our failure at the Olympics, but the simple replacement of some other people will do nothing. New people,  cannot accomplish anything if the system will not change and everyone is working under the old system. This movement is a circle and can only have effect if the whole system itself is changed. We need specialists who know and love our sport. We want to see people in our federation who understand the current trends of world skiing and are able to solve urgent problems – full letter in Russian here or in English (Google translation) here.

What can we say about the current leadership team, if the president FLGR VA Loginov athletes of the people did not believe? He publicly called sportsmen “waste material”, “contingent”, which “have to work! But he selected the strongest in the Olympics! It’s athletes do not have to choose guide. In recent years we have accumulated a lot of problems that hinder our successful performance in the world. We have a very bad health care team. We have many times raised this question before the federation, but no attempt to solve this problem even in the Olympic season. The result is obvious. We do not have in mind some complicated pharmacological program, our specialists even cure colds can not, or to prevent colds, we cheer each season. With regard to the negligence of the Federation in general and the head coach Yu Charkovskogo particularly in training and competition periods we do not get quality food, reasonable living conditions and transportation. For example, on a regular basis in order to save the head coach makes the whole team to make a twelve-moving bus between competition, whereas you can fly per hour. Can you imagine what state we stand after such transfers.

Employees service group, responsible for preparing the skis, earn paltry wages. In skiing, these people play a vital role, but now their work is paid so that they are working on enthusiasm.

The contract between FLGR and athletes do not specify the amount of monthly remuneration athlete. This matter is left to the discretion of the federations. The average salary of a member of the team of Russia is 15 thousand rubles a month.

Management Federation is interested in the result, just enough to remain in their posts. On the development of ski racing nobody thinks. When we, the Russia national team athletes and our coaches, are beginning to talk about upgrades, changes that would make to the management and development of ski racing, according to our federation does not show any attention. Moreover, the leadership of the federation makes it clear that we are not doing their job. All decisions are made by the head coach and part-time team manager, Mr. Charkovsky. He and Mr. Loginov constantly complain about the lack of funds, inability to meet the challenges that must be addressed in due course. Rather than perform their duties, they solve their financial problems.

Trainers and doctors responsible for the fact that athletes are using banned drugs, never have the punishment and continue to work in the national team of Russia. Thus, the problem of doping in our sport remains insoluble.

All of these problems, as well as non-profit organization preparation for the Olympic Games in Vancouver, deprived athletes opportunities to compete for medals, forcing us to address you with this letter. We officially declare that the leadership of the federation of ski racing Russia incompetent in modern sport.

Please help us reform the system of our federation to Russia’s national team ski racing had a chance at a decent performance at the Olympic Games in Sochi.

– Rocheva OV – winner of the CME, the champion of Russia;

– Chernousov IG – winner of the CME;

– Khazova IV – bronze medalist OI-2010, winners of the CME;

– Zhmurko AV – winner of the CME;

– Novikov VV – Champion of Russia;

– Korosteleva NS – bronze medalist OI-2010, bronze medalist FM-2003, winners of the CME;

– Vylegzhanin MM – silver medalist of 2009 World Cup, prize ECM;

– Pankratov, NV – silver medalist of 2007 World Cup, World Cup bronze medalist 2005, winners of the CME;

– Zavjalova OV – two-time world champion;

– Morilov NS – bronze medalist OI-2010, silver medalist CHM-2007/2009, winners of the CME;

– Parfenov AS – bronze medalist of 2010 World Cup to 23 years;

– Petukhov, AE – bronze medalist OI-2010, winners of the CME;

– Panzhinsky AE – silver medalist OI-2010;

– Kryukov, NV – winner of OI-2010.

Beckie Scott Story
Part II of IV

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To not be afraid of the big goal, the big dream; to not be afraid to try new things, to set new limits. I let hope be my guide, not fear,” Beckie begins. “I remember when Steiner (Mundahl, former Canadian National Team coach) retired from our team in ’98. He told me North Americans will never be successful because there’s no system behind them like the Norwegians have. At that time, Justin (Wadsworth) was a great influence. When I told him this, he said, ‘When you get to the start line, it’s not the system that carries you around the course. It’s you. It’s all you. At the start line, nobody is any different than you. It’s what you put into it.’ That was the best advice I ever got.”

From the golden breakthrough in Salt Lake, let’s go back four years to the Nagano Olympics.
Beckie Scott: 45th.

 

That’s right. Your best race in the Nagano Olympics was 45th. How do you go from 45th in one Olympics to a champion at the next? Was it just this process of working your way up, the big breakthrough the year before Salt Lake, then . . . ?
BS: Those were parts of it. Then there was the team. A group of people emerged from Nagano who went through this utterly disappointing experience — Sara [Renner], Milaine [Theriault], Yves [Bilodeau, then athlete, now head of Canada’s service team] and Dave [Woods, coach]. This core group came out of Nagano thinking, “Oh my god, we have to do better than that. This is not good.” And we were, as a team, committed to doing better.
The next question was “How do we do better?” This is when Dave took over. To his credit, Dave really kept the theme in mind that we have four years to get this right. As a team, we can’t do worse. As a team, we were unsuccessful. We just weren’t good. We were really poor, results-wise. Having some success was a personal mission, but it was also assisted tremendously by a change in direction, in professionalism and approach by our team as well.

After Nagano, did you really have to look yourself in the mirror?
BS: Oh, yeah. I remember saying, “Things have to change.” This was good. This was a turning point. Not to say it was Easy Street from there on out. We still had years of two-steps-forward, one-step-back kind of progression. But again, that’s the whole thing about being committed to ongoing learning; you have to appreciate the positives and glean something out of the negatives.
From 1998 to 2002, we learned so much from Nagano about what we did wrong, about what we needed to do better. We were clueless in Japan. We had no idea how to go to an Olympics and get good results at the same time. We took everything that went wrong in Nagano and was bad in Nagano and turned it around into what went right and what was so good about Salt Lake.

After Nagano, after taking this hard look in the mirror, you became highly focused.
BS: Yes. You noticed [laughs]. At first, Terry Orlick really helped me tune into this.

Dr. Orlick talks about the need to focus completely. What does this mean to you, to focus completely?
BS: As an athlete, to take in every kind of element, every component that it takes to be successful and giving it your fullest attention. To focus completely means to look into every detail and get everything out of myself that I could.
This was a shift in perspective, too. I had to work on focusing on the positive lessons, to get the positives out of a negative situation. Learning how to view things in a positive was a switch I had to make in those situations when it easily could have gone the other way.

How would you refocus, turning a negative into a positive?
BS: Here’s an example. I remember doing intervals and Yves was skiing on the backs of my skis. Over and over, he kept clipping my tails. It was getting really annoying. I was getting super-irritated with this. Then I was like, “In a mass-start race, there’s 60 women who’ll be skiing on the backs of my skis. This is a great chance to practise this.” This is how I got something positive out of this annoyance.

Dr. Orlick also talks about the simple joys.
BS: [Big laugh] Oh you’re good. You’ve been doing your homework.

No matter if it’s a small thing or if they take up a small part of your day, you need to have one or two or three simple joys, daily. What are some of simple joys?
BS: When I was racing and not on the road, it was being home with Justin and spending the time we could together — the young married couple. And our golden retriever, Henna. That, to me, was the greatest simple joy ever — taking Henna for a walk. There’s nothing like a dog to remind you how fun it is to get outside, see the neighbourhood and go for a walk. Henna is a great reminder of the simple joys of life.
What was going on in your mind on race day? You seem a pretty excited, energized person.
BS: To be as successful as I could, this has always been at the forefront of my thoughts. To overcome any obstacles or adversities that represented themselves as distractions, you know — to be able to refocus and stay in the game. On race day, it’s always the same, which is to take the opportunity I had that day, that moment, to use it and go for it.

What were you able to tap into on those special days? You have many solid races. You also had those special ones as well.
BS: Yes, I did. It’s hard to say. At Salt Lake, there was unbelievable energy from the crowd. They really sensed that this was happening, or was about to happen — a medal could go to a country that had never won one before in cross-country skiing. Everybody’s screaming, this support from the crowd totally uplifted me in a way I never had in a race before. This just propelled me to the finish, along with a fierce determination to fight all the way to the bitter end, to give everything I could to get what I wanted. It’s an almost indescribable feeling to have nothing left at the end, and know that I did everything in my power to be as successful as I could.

Was the Salt Lake Olympic pursuit your greatest race? Mind taking us back there?
BS: Yes, my greatest one would be the one everyone would think — the gold-medal race. I didn’t really know it would be possible to win an Olympic medal. And it really did come down to the final lunge across the finish line for a medal versus fourth place, which, ultimately, would be first, but under the circumstances would have been an entirely different experience. The first medal for Canada . . . just an extraordinary day, a day I still remember vividly.

You went into the Olympic double pursuit with the idea that you had to put yourself in position on the classic portion. Then, if you did that, you could hang in on the skate leg and execute your game plan over the last kilometre and a half.
BS: More or less. I had a strategy for the first five kilometres as well. I had everything I wanted to do planned out beforehand. I felt good in training. The conditions were great. I was feeling positive about everything. I had one race already at the Olympics, the 10 kilometre that went well. I was over the whole first -race-at-the-Olympics nerves. After the 10 kilometre went well — I think I finished sixth — I knew I was really set up well for the pursuit. I also knew how the women were going to race on the course; how the pack comes together on the downhills and, most importantly, how the last hill [Hermod’s] is the make-it-or-break-it climb. People didn’t really make moves until then. If I could hang in until that climb and have enough energy to get up that hill as fast as the leaders, I would be in there, I’d do very well.

If there’s one race you could do over, do differently, which would it be?
BS: The Olympic sprint from Salt Lake. I could have medaled there.

You finished fifth, winning the B Final?
BS: Right. I just made tactical errors. In sprinting, it always seems to come down to the small things — this is what makes sprint such a great progression for the sport.

What was the tactical mistake?
BS: I don’t remember exactly, the races were going out slowly. I let a competitor in on a corner I shouldn’t have. That’s not the point I want to make.
The point is, I’d already won the pursuit medal. I didn’t reset my aspirations after this. I was still riding a kind of high from the medal. I didn’t go into the Olympic sprint as focused and as sharp as I should have. If I had, I would have another Olympic medal.

I remember you really dominating the B Final. You looked like a different racer in the B Final than the one I saw in the semi-final.
BS: Yes. To me, this was a golden missed opportunity that I really regret.

The summer before the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, I remember you and Bente Skari training together all the time in and around Soldier Hollow. It seemed you were two rivals coming together, working together.
BS: Yes.

How did this come about?
BS: Basically I heard Bente was coming to Park City and I saw it as a golden opportunity to learn from the best. My whole approach to ski racing was “I have to learn as much as I can.” If that means training with the best, then, it’s a chance I cannot pass up.
I knew Bente from ski racing previously. I knew she was a really nice person, really easy to get along with. Training with Bente was not awkward. This was a welcome experience.

What should people take away from Bente’s career? She’s been out of the sport five or six years. But when she was racing World Cups and winning World Championship medals, she was one of the biggest in skiing. Bente seemed to approached skiing a certain way, and was such an open and approachable person without an air of ego that one might expect from such a champion.
BS: She was. After training with her and racing against her, the thing that stuck out was that Bente was the ultimate professional. It’s like she never let things slip or slide. Everything she did, she held to a very high standard, from Day One of the season to the last day of her career.
Bente never had excuses for poor performances. And she rarely had poor performances. That was what was so outstanding to me — that she would go to the start line and be virtually unbeatable every single time. This is incredible. It takes incredible mental energy as well as physical. Her approach was so concise and so close to perfection, day in and day out. The last year of her career, I think she won pretty much everything, except a couple at the Olympics that we knew the Russians were doping for anyway.

In an earlier interview I had with Alison Owen-Bradley, she said you and Bente were the two skiers of the last era who really stood out, that she felt approached skiing the right way. She liked watching the way you approached a race, the way you classic-skied. Did you ever know about Alison’s career?
BS: I knew a little bit, but not much. Just given the different countries, the generation gap, what I knew was she was an American successful on the international stage.

Who were some of your biggest rivals in racing?
BS: Anita Moen. Oh yeah. Yeah, definitely Anita. And Bente — no, I shouldn’t say Bente. By the time she retired, I was not really that competitive with her yet. I had my best years after she retired. And Marit Bjoergen obviously. We were fighting for the Overall World Cup Championship the last year of my career, when only a handful of points separated us. In the end, I’d say Marit was my biggest rival.

What can you tell us about Anita and Marit? What kind of characters were they? Anita, for one, seemed to possess a real strong personality.
BS: Anita taught me so much about how to race, particularly how to race sprints. I learned a lot from her style.

What was that style?
BS: Aggressive.

And?
BS: And take no prisoners. You know, just don’t let anyone get in your way. I was a little hesitant, always a little nervous what people would think off the track. I didn’t want to make any enemies. I was really timid. I got beat by her enough times when I shouldn’t have; beat purely because of her tactics and her strategy and aggression on the course. I realized I would be fourth forever if I didn’t start learning something from these experiences.

Beckie Scott is the first North American to win Olympic gold in cross-country skiing. At the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, UT, Scott was first awarded the bronze medal in the women’s 10km pursuit. When the two skiers ahead of her were caught doping Scott pursued a two-year process that saw her awarded the silver and then the gold.

Go to Part 3.
Go to Part 1.

Olympic History Revisited

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Bill Koch wins 30km classic silver at Innsbruck in 1974.  courtesy of Marty Hall

Bill Koch wins 30km classic silver at Innsbruck in 1974. courtesy of Marty Hall

North America is no stranger to the Olympics, as Vancouver 2010 will be the third time Canada is hosting the Games, with the first being the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Que., followed by the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alta.

The U.S.A. has waved the Olympic banner many more times, including the Summer Games way back in 1904 in St. Louis, Mo., then in Los Angeles, Calif. in 1932 and 1984, followed by Atlanta, Ga. in 1996. The Winter Games were first hosted in the U.S.A. in 1932 in Lake Placid, N.Y., followed by Squaw Valley, Calif. in 1960, then back to Lake Placid in 1980, and most recently at Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002.

The modern-day Olympic Games began in 1896, patterned after the ancient Grecian contests. The Summer and Winter Olympics were held during the same year, up to and including 1992, when they alternated every two years. The next Winter Olympics was held two years later in 1994, with the Summer Games moving to 1996.

The North American Olympic medal charge began with the U.S.’s Bill Koch stunning silver in the men’s 30km classic at the Innsbruck Games in 1974. Koch’s performance put North America on the Nordic map and marked the beginning of the U.S. and Canada’s later prowess on an international playing field dominated by the Europeans and the Russians.

North America’s first medal at the Winter Games was actually a bronze in ski jumping in 1924 at the inaugural Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, France. Norwegian immigrant Anders Haugen from Lake Tahoe came fourth, but in 1974, a full 50 years later, historian Jakob Vaage uncovered an error in the scoring calculations while preparing for a reunion of the Norwegian medalists. America’s Haugen should have been third, and in an unprecedented move, the bronze medal of Norwegian Thorleif Haug, then deceased, was presented to the 85-year-old Haugen.

But Canada and the U.S. were shut out of the Nordic medals until 1994 in Lillehammer, when Canada’s star biathlete Myriam Bedard scored two golds, bringing the country to its feet.

The 2002 Games in Salt Lake City saw gold shine again for North America as Canada’s darling, Nordic skier Beckie Scott, first won the bronze in the pursuit, but was later awarded the silver and finally the gold as the two Russian skiers ahead of her were disqualified on doping charges. This was the beginning of the huge outcry against doping led by Scott and other athletes as the sport began to add teeth to otherwise lame attempts to regulate doping in Nordic skiing and all sports.

More Olympic hardware came home to Canada at the Torino Games in 2006 as neo-pro Chandra Crawford from Alberta surprised everyone with her sprint gold, proving once again that the top step on the podium was attainable. Scott and Sara Renner added to the thunder of applause with team sprint silver.

Both Canada and the U.S. have strong teams coming into Vancouver 2010, and hope to keep the medal tradition alive.

2010 U.S.-Canada Olympic Snapshot

  • Anders Haugen – Bronze in ski jumping at the 1924 Winter Olympic Games in Chamonix, France
  • Bill Koch – Silver in 30km classic at the 1976 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbrook, Austria
  • Myriam Bedard – Bronze in biathlon at the 1992 Games in Albertville, France; 2 Golds in biathlon at the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway
  • Beckie Scott – Bronze to Silver to Gold in 10km pursuit at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, U.S.A.; Silver in team sprint at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy
  • Sara Renner – Silver in team sprint at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy; Bronze in the 2005 Nordic World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany
  • Chandra Crawford – Gold in sprint at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy
  • Kikkan Randall – 9th in sprint at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy; Silver in sprint at the 2009 Nordic World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic
  • Todd Lodwick – 8th in 15km and 9th in sprint at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy; 2 Golds in Nordic combined at 2009 Nordic World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic
  • Bill Demong – Gold and bronze in Nordic combined at the 2009 Nordic World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic; Silver in Nordic combined at the 2007 Nordic World Championships in Sapporo, Japan
  • Johhny Spillane – Gold in Nordic combined at the 2003 Nordic World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy
  • Jay Hakkinen – 10th in 20km biathlon at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy
  • Sarah Konrad – First U.S. woman to compete in both cross-country and biathlon at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy

Games Retrospective

by Bob Woodward
Looking back at the most recent Winter Games held in North America, each left its own unique impression.

Lake Placid 1980
It seemed small-town Lake Placid, despite offering a unique intimacy, wasn’t ready to host the world. Within days of the Games beginning, the lead item on every American and Canadian television news show was how bad things were in Lake Placid.

While the U.S. and Canada did not perform well despite tremendous results at the ’76 Games in Austria, the racing at Placid was superb.

The closest individual race ever turned out to be the men’s 15km. Norwegian powerhouse Ove Aunli arrived first with a time that looked unbeatable. Then the giant Finn Juha Mieto bested Aunli’s time by several seconds, looking like he’d finally get to take home the elusive gold for his collection. But Sweden’s Thomas Wassberg, the king of the 15km, skied fanatically to win by 1/100th of second. Or as a Swedish journalist put it the next day, “He won by the length of his nose.”

I’ll never forget Mieto’s reaction at seeing Wassberg’s time. His face fell, he turned away, hunched over, visibly shaken, then quickly straightened up and went to congratulate Wassberg.

Juha Mieto (l) and Nickolai Zimjatov  Bob Woodward

Juha Mieto (l) and Nickolai Zimjatov Bob Woodward

As usual, the Soviet team was very good and the best of them was Nickolai Zimjatov. He opened the Games with a disappointing fourth-place finish in the 15km, only to rally and win the 30 and 50km. In the 50km, it was close racing and Mieto was the man who got nosed out of the gold again.

On the women’s side, the most startling result was the relay win by the East German team over the highly favoured Soviets and very good Norwegians.

The biggest biathlon story was that of Alexander Tichanov winning his fourth gold medal in as many Games.

Calgary 1988
Whoever decided to make the Calgary Games fun should be given a medal. The post-race parties at the beer tent started small in the start-finish area at the Canmore cross-country venue, but by Day Three, things were hopping.

Doping, which was mostly a behind-the-scenes issue, became front and centre with media at these Games as the success of the Iron Curtain countries’ athletes was constantly scrutinized and questioned.

I recall Pierre Harvey in his fringed Western-motif Canadian team jacket coming in to meet his father at the tent and being mobbed by fans.

The party spirit infected all. After the men’s 15km, we came on a group of Soviet coaches huddled by the banks of the Bow River swilling vodka. As we drew near, one coach peeled down to his briefs and leapt into the river.

It turned out that he’d bet that if the racer he coached won a medal, he take a dip in the Bow. His boy won, and, medal and all, in he went.

Swedish royalty were also there to see Gunde Svan break through for his first individual gold medal in the 50km. And to make the king and queen even happier, the Swedish men won the relay.

For the women, the biggest story was the 5km gold and 10km bronze going to the bubbly Finn with the brilliant smile Marjo Matkainen.
Over at the magnificent biathlon venue, East German Frank-Peter Roetsch won both the 10 and 20km individual races and picked up a bronze in the relay.

Salt Lake City 2002
The Soldier Hollow venue outside Salt Lake City for the 2002 cross-country event was the most spectator-friendly venue I’ve ever seen.

Add friendly volunteers, a flawless venue and race management and brilliant sunny, yet cold weather for almost the entire Games and you have the recipe for success. Success despite the spectre of doping that hung over the cross-country events.

The first race was the women’s mass-start 15km freestyle, and just when it looked like Italy’s Stefania Belmondo would skate away, she broke a pole. With a new pole from a spectator, she made a super-heroic effort to bridge back for the win.

Next up was the men’s 30km freestyle mass-start race where Spain’s (by way of Germany) Johann Muehlegg already had an impressive lead, and some joked that he may even lap the field. Muehlegg took the gold in total domination of the race, sparking rumours of doping.

When the great Norwegian skier Bjorn Daehlie was asked about Muehlegg’s performance, he replied, “It was impressive, but I think he must have had some assistance.” Later, Muehlegg would be stripped of his 30km freestyle and his 50km classic gold medals.

Doping reared its head again in the women’s events, allowing Canada’s Becky Scott to eventually claim her rightful gold medal in the women’s 10km pursuit event, after lengthy protests and litigation.

While it’s sad that she was cheated out of her deserved moment of supreme glory on the podium in Salt Lake’s Olympic Plaza at the medal ceremony, there’s a happy ending with her eventually getting recognition as the winner.

Finally, there’s my favourite quote of the Games from a local farmer who had wandered over to Soldier Hollow to see what was going on. “Boy,” he said, “those cross-country skiers are about as fit as they come, aren’t they.”
On to Vancouver.

The Cultural Olympiad

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Squamish Lil’wat Cutlural Centre in Whistler, B.C.   Laura Robinson

Squamish Lil’wat Cutlural Centre in Whistler, B.C. Laura Robinson

When the Greeks founded the ancient Olympics, culture mattered as much as sport. Even when Baron de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, kicked the Games off in 1896, concerts, plays, dances and art exhibitions were significant. But after a 12-year hiatus caused by World War II and Hitler’s use of the 1936 Berlin Games as a stage for Nazi ideology, culture took a backseat. The Nazis had demonstrated how athletes could represent nationalistic ideologies, and as the Cold War played itself out every four years on the increasingly important TV screens of the world, the challenges facing athletic bodies mattered far more than did symphonies. The Cultural Olympiad became an afterthought, a situation VANOC, the organizing committee of the 2010 Winter Games, decided to rectify.

Cultural celebrations have gone on in Vancouver for two years and will continue until the closing ceremonies of the Paralympics on March 21, so if you can’t make it from Vancouver to Whistler Olympic Park to see the action, you will be able to catch plenty of acts in the Greater Vancouver Area and Whistler — some free, some ticketed.

But if you want a tiny taste now, just imagine the world-renowned Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the National Ballet together under the artistic direction of Karen Kain. You can catch the much-anticipated 24 Preludes by Chopin and the modern Hikarizatto at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Feb. 13-14 — a perfect arrangement for Nordic fans as events at Whistler Olympic Park do not commence until Feb. 15. If you are catching the Paralympic Games, see choregrapher Compagnie Marie Chouinard’s world premiere of her latest work, which has been commissioned for these Games on March 12-13.

Fans of multi-talented musician/performer Laurie Anderson will be in heaven from Feb. 16-21, as she also premieres an Olympic-Games-commissioned work, and if classical music fans arrive early, they will see maestro Bramwell Tovey lead the VSO  and a “few hundred musicians,” including eight vocal soloists and three choirs, in Mahler’s Symphony #8 from Jan. 30-Feb. 2.
“Nixon in China,” the play about Richard Nixon’s 1972 China trip that swept the world last year, will be performed from March 3-20, while B.C. playwright Bruce Ruddell’s “Beyond Eden” performance that concerns “two friends and two totem poles” will take place between Jan. 16-Feb. 2. “Romeo Meets Romeo,” a gay rap opera by Edmonton playwrights Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow, will be performed Feb. 16-20.

Catch artist Michael Lin’s huge mural, also commissioned for these Games, on the exterior wall of the Vancouver Art Gallery, and, for those staying in Whistler, stay as long as possible at the Squamish/Lil’wat Cultural Centre. Knowledgeable, friendly guides will take you back to the time when cedar trees were chosen, dried and burned for war or fishing canoes; when wool from mountain sheep was spun and woven into exquisite clothing; and big houses were built, stable and waterproof, without a single nail. Bring your appetite. The traditional food is delicious.
And even if you don’t catch the official cultural Olympiad, there will be plenty of “theatre” happening on Vancouver’s and Whistler’s city streets. For more info, visit www.vancouver2010.com and click “Cultural Olympiad.”

Cross Country Schedule

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Helena Jonsson (SWE)

Pettr Northug (Nor) Claes-Tommy Herland

Devon Kershaw (Can) Nordic Focus

Sara Renner (CAN) Heinz Ruckemann

Monday, February 15, 2010
Women’s 15km Free – 10 a.m. local time
(1 p.m. EST)Men’s 15km Free – 12:30 p.m. local time
(3:30 p.m. EST)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Women’s Individual Sprint Classic –
10:15 a.m. local time (1:15 p.m. EST)
Men’s Individual Sprint Classic
– 10:45 a.m. local time (1:45 p.m. EST)

Friday, February 19, 2010
Women’s 15km Pursuit (7.5km Classic +
7.5km Free) – 1 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EST)

Saturday, February 20, 2010
Men’s 30 km Pursuit (15km Classic + 15km Free) –
1:30 p.m. local time (4:30 p.m. EST)

Monday, February 22, 2010
Women’s Team Sprint Free
– 10:45 a.m. local time (1:45 p.m. EST)
Men’s Team Sprint Free
– 11:35 a.m. local time (2:35 p.m. EST)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Men’s 4x10km Relay Classic/Free –
11:15 a.m. local time (2:15 p.m. EST)

Thursday, February 25, 2010
Women’s 4x5km Relay Classic/Free –
11 a.m. local time (2 p.m. EST)

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Women’s 30km Mass Start Classic –
11:45 a.m. local time (2:45 p.m. EST)

Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010
Men’s 50km Mass Start Classic
– 9:30 a.m. local time (12:30 p.m. EST) Read the full story

Nordic Combined Schedule

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Bill Demong (USA)  Heinz Ruckemann

Bill Demong (USA) Heinz Ruckemann

Todd Lodwick (USA)  Heinz Ruckemann

Todd Lodwick (USA) Heinz Ruckemann

Johnny Spillane (USA) Heinz Ruckemann

Jason Myslicki (Can) Heinz Ruckemann

Sunday, February 14, 2010
Individual NH/10km CC – Trial Round –
9 a.m. local time (12 p.m. EST)
Individual NH/10km CC –
Competition Round – 10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST)
Individual NH/10km CC – 10km
– 1:45 p.m. local time (4:45 p.m. EST)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Team/4x5km CC – Trial Round
– 9 a.m. local time (12 p.m. EST)
Team/4x5km CC – Competition Round –
10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST)
Team/4x5km CC – 4x5km Relay
– 1 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EST)

Thursday, February 25, 2010
Individual LH/10km CC – Trial Round – 9 a.m. local time (12 p.m. EST)
Individual LH/10km CC –
Competition Round -10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST)
Individual LH/10km CC – 10km
– 1 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EST)

Biathlon Schedule

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Magdalena Neuner (Ger)  Heinz Ruckemann

Magdalena Neuner (Ger) Heinz Ruckemann

Tim Burke (USA)  Nordic Focus

Tim Burke (USA) Nordic Focus

Zina Kocher (Can)  Heinz Ruckemann

Zina Kocher (Can) Heinz Ruckemann

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (Nor)  Heinz Ruckemann

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (Nor) Heinz Ruckemann

Saturday, February 13, 2010
Women’s 7.5km Sprint – 1 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EST)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Men’s 10km Sprint – 11:15 a.m. local time (2:15 p.m. EST)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Women’s 10km Pursuit – 10:30 a.m. local time (1:30 p.m. EST)
Men’s 12.5km Pursuit – 12:45 p.m. local time (3:45 p.m. EST)

Thursday, February 18, 2010
Women’s 15km Individual – 10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST)
Men’s 20km Individual – 1 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EST)

Sunday, February 21, 2010
Men’s 15km Mass Start – 10:45 a.m. local time (1:45 p.m. EST)
Women’s 12.5km Mass Start
– 1 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EST)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Women’s 4x6km Relay – 11:30 a.m. local time (2:30 p.m. EST)

Friday, February 26, 2010
Men’s 4×7.5km Relay – 11:30 a.m. local time (2:30 p.m. EST)

Jumping Schedule

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Andreas Kuettel (Swi)  Heinz RuckemannJanne Ahonen (Fin)  Atomic

Friday, February 12, 2010
NH Individual Trial Qualification
– 9 a.m. local time (12 p.m. EST)
NH Individual Qualification Round
– 10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST)

Saturday, February 13, 2010
NH Individual Trial for Competition – 8:30 a.m. local time (11:30 a.m. EST)
NH Individual 1st Round – 9:45 a.m. local time (12:45 p.m. EST)
NH Individual Final Round – 10:45 a.m. local time (1:45 p.m. EST)

Friday, February 19, 2010
LH Individual Trial Qualification
– 8:30 a.m. local time (11:30 a.m. EST)
LH Individual Qualification Round
– 10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

LH Individual Trial for Competition
– 10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST)
LH Individual 1st Round
– 11:30 a.m. local time (2:30 p.m. EST)
LH Individual Final Round
– 12:30 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. EST)

Monday, February 22, 2010
Team Trial Round – 8:30 a.m. local time (11:30 a.m. EST)
Team 1st Round – 10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST)
Team Final Round – 10:45 a.m. local time (1:45 p.m. EST)

Craftsbury Green Racing Project

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Craftsbury Green Racing Project
Hometown: Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury Common, Vermont
Inception: Spring 2009
Team members and previous affiliations:
– Matt Briggs (Colby College, Cambridge Sports Union)
– Ollie Burruss (Harvard University, Cambridge Sports Union)
– Hannah Dreissigacker (Dartmouth College, Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club)
– Lauren Jacobs (Skibec, Bates College, Gould Academy)
– Chelsea Little (Dartmouth College, Ford Sayre)
– Tim Reynolds (Middlebury College, Green Mountain Valley School)
– Coach: Pepa Miloucheva (Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club)

The Craftsbury Green Racing Project was founded in the spring of 2009 to further the mission of the now non- profit Craftsbury Outdoor Center: “To support and promote participation and excellence in lifelong sports with a special focus on rowing and Nordic skiing; to use and teach sustainable practices; and to protect and manage the surrounding land, lake and trails.”

All of this sounds abstract, but after only a few months, the team is very real and already going strong. Comprised of recent graduates from the best ski programs around the East, the team includes NCAA qualifiers and one All- American, several former captains of college teams, and up- and- coming skiers who, with some success in their pockets, are looking forward to much more now that they are training full- time with coach Pepa Miloucheva.

While joining the Green Racing Projects means that many of the athletes will be adjusting to changes, one thing remains the same for all them: an unwavering determination to ski fast. The team’s early season plans include the western SuperTour races and U.S. Nationals in Anchorage in January. Chelsea Little, a former columnist with the White River Junction, VT based Valley News, will be writing updates on the CGRP’s activities at skitrax.com.

Torin’s Bio

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HOMETOWN Leavenworth, WA
AGE 28
TEAM US Ski Team (World Cup)
CLUB Leavenworth Winter Sports Club
NOTABLE RESULTS
  • 2008 Canmore, AB World Cup 11th (Skate Sprint)
  • 2008 Canadian XC Nationals 2nd (50km classic)
  • 2007 World Cup Otepae, Estonia 3rd (Classic Sprint)
  • 2007 Nordic World Championships 22nd (Classic Sprint)
  • 2002 and 2006 Olympian
  • 2001-2007 Nordic World Championships US Team Member
ABOUT Two-time Olympian Torin Koos is the son of former U.S. biathlon skier and began skiing early while growing up in Washington state. Racing “was a natural progression” while he skied and ran cross-country, plus track and field for the University of Utah and. In 2001 Koos was given a World Cup start when another athlete got sick and he hasn’t looked back – making the most of his debut he placed 12th in a sprint. Since then he hasn’t missed an Olympics or Nordic World Championships becoming the first U.S. Ski Team racer fully committed to sprinting.

With 19 top 20 finishes in 2007/2008, two of which were second place performances at the U.S. and Canadian XC Nationals, Koos is ready to take on the world as this Nordic World Championship season begins. According to US Cross Country Head Coach Pete Vordenberg, Koos took his strength training to the limits in 2008 adding to his preparation for victory in the future.

Tim’s Bio

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HOMETOWN Paul Smiths, NY (resides in Lake Placid, NY)
AGE 26
TEAM US Biathlon National Team
CLUB Lake Placid Ski Club
NOTABLE RESULTS
  • 2008 Biathlon World Cup Holmenkollen, Norway, 7th (Pursuit)
  • 2008 Biathlon World Championships, 8th (Sprint)
  • 2007 Biathlon World Cup Pokljuka, Slovenia 6th, (Mass Start)
  • 2007 World Biathlon Championships, 7th (Individual Start)
  • 2006 Olympian – Torino, Italy.
  • 5-time US National Biathlon Champion
ABOUT A 2006 Olympian Burke fulfilled his life-long dream by making the USA’s Olympic Biathlon team while winning the Pursuit format and placing second in two other competitions at the TD Banknorth Festival at Fort Kent.

According to Burke, one of the best things to happen to him in 2006 was “leading the Olympic relay” out of the stadium after team mate Jay Hakkinen’s dominating first leg. In 2004 and 2005Burke qualified for the Biathlon World Championships and competed in front of a hometown crowd at 2004 Lake Placid World Cup, finishing 43rd in pursuit.

After training for past three seasons in Fort Kent, Maine, Burke, a leader on the US Biathon team, has relocated and is now based out of Lake Placid, NY as he prepares for the 2008/09 season.

Lowell’s Bio

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HOMETOWN Lake Placid, NY
AGE 27
TEAM U.S. National Biathlon Team
CLUB NYSEF Nordic
NOTABLE RESULTS
    • 2008 World Cup, South Korea, 11th (12.5km Pursuit)
    • 2007 Biathlon World Cup, Germany, 7th (4×7.5km Relay)
    • 2006 U.S. Olympic Trials, 1st (10km Sprint)
    • 2004 NCAA Nordic Championships, 2nd (10km Skate )
    • 2003 NCAA Nordic Championships, 2nd (10km Skate)
      ABOUT North Carolina is not known for producing many Nordic-sport athletes and Bailey only spent a few years of childhood there before his family moved to Old Forge, NY. It was in this rural upstate New York town where he first put on a pair of skis. During Bailey’s middle and high school years, he divided his time between skiing, soccer, and tennis. Except for a brief experiment with Nordic Combined, Bailey stuck to cross-country skiing in the winter and eventually took on the sport full-time by his junior year of high school.

      At that point Bailey had competed at regional and national junior events and the U.S. Biathlon Team invited him to a recruitment training camp in Lake Placid. There he spent three summer weeks getting to know the sport of biathlon and the people involved. In 1999, during his senior year of high school, Bailey qualified for the Junior Biathlon World Championship Team.

      Since then he has spent the better part of a decade competing internationally and training in a variety of different locations. Bailey was a member of three Junior Biathlon World Championship Teams, two World University Games Teams, two Senior Biathlon World Championship Teams, three NCAA ski cha

      Haley’s Bio

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      Haley Johnsonhometown : Lake Placid, NY
      Age: 27
      Team: US National Biathlon Team
      Club: Lake Placid Ski Club, USBA
      Website: haleykaralars.com
      Major Results:

      • 2008 Biathlon Europa Cup, Slovakia, 12th (Sprint)
      • 2008 Biathlon Europa Cup, Slovakia, 17th (Pursuit)
      • 2008 Biathlon World Championships, 52nd (Sprint)
      • 2008 Biathlon World Championships, 53rd (Pursuit)

      Growing up in Lake Placid, NY Johnson started skiing early and developed a passion for competitive alpine skiing. During high school she was encouraged to give Nordic skiing a try and was inspired her to spend her senior year at the National Sports Academy (Lake Placid) in Torsby, Sweden doing biathlon and going to school.
      Taking a break from biathlon, Johnson went on to race for Bates College, ME and represented them twice at NCAA’s before returning to biathlon with the Maine Winter Sports Center for the next four years with the MWSC and the US Biathlon Development team. She also helped to make skiing more accessible to school children with events such as the IPC Paralympic Nordic Worlds and international Biathlon World Cups and Junior Championships.

      Johnson is based back in Lake Placid and training with the National Biathlon Team and also working with the 6th grade at her old elementary school and while away connects via a blog. Motivation comes from the community and her siblings, Kara and Lars avid competitive freestyle mogul skiers.

      Drew’s Bio

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      HOMETOWN Red Deer, Alberta (resides in Canmore)
      AGE 26
      TEAM Canadian National Ski Team (Sr.World Cup Team)
      CLUB Rocky Mountain Racers Ski Club
      NOTABLE RESULTS
      • 2008 World Cup, Canmore, AB, 12th (sprint)
      • 2007 Nordic World Championships, Sapporo, Japan, 6th (team sprint)
      • 2006 Olympic Games, Torino, Italy, 31st (sprint)
      • 2009 – U23 30km Pursuit, Praz de Lys Sommand, France, 4th
      • 2004 U23 Nordic World Championships, Soldier Hollow, USA, 1st (sprint)
      ABOUT Goldsack first started skiing at six years old when he was encouraged by his first coach and Grade 5 school teacher, Bob Vanderwater, to join the Jackrabbit Ski League. As a youngster, he loved skiing from the start. The opportunities to travel with friends and family, as well as play outside in the snow kept him involved over the years. Today, racing against the best in the world is what Goldsack loves most about the sport.

      The 2003-04 season was a major step forward in hsi pursuit of excellence as he took his first steps on the World Cup circuit. He continued to build on that experience during the 2004-05 season with a career best finish placing 21st at the Nordic World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany and returned to the World Cup circuit.Goldsack impressed during his Olympic debut in 2006, recording a strong 31st-place sprint result.He took another major leap up the ladder of success at the 2007 Nordic World Championships in Sapporo, Japan finishing 6th in the team sprint event.The highlight of his 2007-08 season was a 12th place finish in the sprint at the Canmore World Cup.

      After his athletic career, he plans to resume his schooling and is looking at a career in the film industry or invest- ment banking.In his free time, he enjoys actively resting, alpine skiing (hucking in the terrain park), alpine touring, fishing, working on his car, sport climbing, windsurfing, playing squash, badminton and soccer.

      Alberta World Cup Academy’s Bio

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      Adele’s Bio

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      HOMETOWN Freeport, Maine
      AGE 20
      TEAM University of Colorado Ski (in Jan. 2011)
      CLUB Maine Coast Nordic
      NOTABLE RESULTS
      • 2009 US XC Distance Nationals, Fairbanks, Alaska, 3rd (5km Classic)
      • 2009 Nordic Junior Worlds, France, 30th (10km Pursuit)
      • 2009 US XC Nationals, Anchorage, Alaska, 11th (Classic Sprint)
      • 2009 Junior Olympics, Truckee, California, 2nd (5km Classic)
      • 2008 Junior Olympics, Anchorage, Alaska, 3rd (5km Skate)
      ABOUT Adele Espy was born and raised on the coast of Maine, where she lived with her parents, Lynne and Jay, her older sister, Hannah, her younger brother, Josh, and her cat and dog, Milo and Blue. She spent her summers in the mountains of northern New Hampshire. While growing up she had three major passions, fiddling (Bluegrass and Irish), cross-country running, and cross-country skiing.

      She started recreational cross-country and alpine skiing with her family when she was a toddler, but did not Nordic ski race until she was 13 years old. As a young child her favourite part of alpine skiing was the hot chocolate at the top of the mountain. Cross-country was not a favourite pastime either. Before she began racing her family would coax her along the cross-country ski trails with bribes, such as M&Ms and hard candy. That all changed in 7th grade when the Merriconeag Waldorf School she attended through 8th grade started a Nordic ski club. Before her first race she did not think of herself as having a competitive nature, nevertheless, her teammates convinced her to ski the first race and that opened up a whole new world to her.

      Adele raced for her middle school, her high school, Waynflete School in Portland, and for her club, Maine Coast Nordic (MCN), coached by Morgan. From 2007 to 2009 she was also coached independently by Dick Taylor and Marty Hall. She worked with eleven different coaches over the six-year period, including two cross-country running coaches. Adele ran cross-country through high school and was a two-time state champion. She qualified for the New England Championships three times and ran her fastest 5km cross-country time in 19:00.

      In 2009 Adele raced at US Nationals for the first time and qualified for the Junior World Championships in Praz de Lys, France, where she placed 30th in her first international race, a 10km Pursuit. She placed 2nd at the 2009 Junior Olympics in Truckee, California in a 5km Classical race and helped her relay team win the Older Junior 3×5km Classical race. The Sun Valley Olympic Development Team took her under their wing at the 2009 Distance National in Fairbanks, Alaska, where she raced her best result so far, 3rd in the 5km Classical race.

      Adele thrives on racing and loves to push through intense pain! She hopes to bring her ski racing to the highest level of competition in years to come.

      Liz’s Bio

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      HOMETOWN East Montpelier, Vermont
      AGE 21
      TEAM US Ski Team, Continental Cup Team
      CLUB Burke Mountain Academy
      NOTABLE RESULTS
      • 2010 Olympic Games Vancouver
      • 2009 US Nationals, Fairbanks, AK, 1st (7.5km Pursuit and 30km Classic)
      • 2009 Nordic Worlds, Liberec, Czech Republic, 15th (15km Pursuit)
      • 2009 U23 Nordic Worlds, France 4th (15km Pursuit)
      • 2009 World Cup, Whistler, BC 4th (Team Sprint)
      • 2008 U23 Nordic World Championships, 3rd (10km skate)
      • 2007 Junior Nordic World Championships, 7th (5km skate)
      • 2006 US XC Championships, 1st (tie 10km classic)
      • 2006 Junior Nordic World Championships, 6th (pursuit)
      ABOUT Liz Stephen was an alpine racer and a pretty good cross-country runner when she enrolled in the Burke Mountain Academy. She has started skiing early and was a promising alpine racer but her passion for alpine faded as she learned to love cross-country skiing after someone suggested that she try it as a cross-training sport for running during the off season. Stephen crossed over to xc skiing as a sophomore (Winter 2002) just as Matt Whitcomb was rebooting the BMA Nordic program.

      High energy and a quick study, alpine’s loss was cross-country’s gain as Stephen learnt how to “run” away from other skiers. In 2004, she was the J1 10km xc ski classic champion at the JOs and a couple of days before she turned 19, she tied for her first U.S. xc ski championship title in the 10km. “I just go out and ski and what happens happens,” says Stephen. “I wanted skiing to complement my running but instead my running is now complementing my skiing.”

      Johnny’s Bio

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      HOMETOWN Steamboat Springs, CO
      AGE 29
      TEAM U.S. Nordic Compbined Ski Team (World Cup)
      CLUB Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
      NOTABLE RESULTS
      • 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler, BC, 2nd (NH/10km)
      • 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler, BC, 2nd (Team 4x5km)
      • 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler, BC, 2nd (LH/10km)
      • 2010 World Cup, Oberhof, GER, 1st (Gundersen HS140/10.0km)
      • 2007 World Cup, Kuusamo, FIN, 2nd (Gundersen HS142/15.0km)
      • 2003 World Championships, Val di Fiemme, ITA, 1st (Sprint K120/7.5km)
      ABOUT Johnny Spillane was born and raised in Steamboat Springs, CO where he started skiing at the age of two and began jumping by age 11. It’s no surprise that he developed an interest in skiing at an early age, living just a few blocks from Steamboat’s Howelsen Hill. Growing up Spillane did not have to look far for a role model – US Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett, who at the time was competing, was a neighbour of the Spillanes. Steamboat Springs is also the home of many Olympians in all ski disciplines, providing Spillane with the venues, the environment and the inspiration to excel.

      Spillane went on to be part of a Junior World Championships gold-medal team and became the first American skier to win gold at the Nordic World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy in 2003. In 2002 at the Salt Lake City Games he was part of the 5th place US Nordic Combined 4x5km relay team, and at the 2006 Torino Games, he had his career best individual Olympic result with a 10th place finish in the Ncombined 7.5km sprint event.

      Spillane marked the history books for his sport again in 2010, becoming the first American to earn a Nordic combined silver medal at the Olympics in the Normal Hill/10km event. He went on to collect three total silvers at the 2010 Games thanks to his performances in the large, normal and team events.

      Outside of skiing Spillane can be found reading and cooking, apparently he is the best cook on the team. When Spillane gets a chance he enjoys spending his time fly-fishing, and during the summer months he works part-time as a fly- fishing guide, something that he would like to extend after his Nordic Combined career.

      Perianne’s Bio

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      36_singleComing Soon.

      Alex’s Bio

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      HOMETOWN St-Ferreol, Quebec
      AGE 22
      TEAM Canadian National Ski Team (Senior World Cup Team)
      CLUB Club Nordique Mont Ste-Anne
      NOTABLE RESULTS
      • 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler, BC, 7th (4x10km Relay)
      • 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler, BC, 4th (Team Sprint Free)
      • 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler, BC, 9th (30km Pursuit)
      • 2009 World Cup Trondheim, Norway, 3rd (50km Classic)
      • 2009 World Cup Whistler, BC, 3rd (Team Sprint)
      • 2009 Nordic Worlds Liberec, Czech Republic, 5th (4x10km Team Relay)
      • 2009 U23 Nordic Worlds Praz de Lys Sommand, France, 4th (30km Pursuit)
      • 2008 Junior World Championships Malles, Italy 2nd (10km Classic)
      • 2007 Junior World Championships Taravisio, Italy 3rd (10km Skate)
      ABOUT Alex Harvey has grown up on skiis and bikes, he doesn’t remember a time when he didn’t ski. His home town in St-Ferreol nearby Mont Sainte Anne meant there was great skiing, riding, and hiking right outside his door fostering an opportune environment for him to develop into the athlete that he is today. Alex continues to live and base his training out of Mont Sainte Anne, through the Pierre Harvey National Training Center, under the guidance of coach, Louis Bouchard.Since landing Canada’s second-ever Junior Nordic Worlds medal with the bronze in 10km skate at Taravisio, Italy in 2007 Harvey has continued to turn heads. Last year, as a first year senior, Alex was on the podium in third at two World Cups first in Whistler, BC in the Team Sprint with George Gray and later in Trondheim, Norway in the men’s 50km classic. Alex’s father, the legendary Pierre Harvey, is well known as a cyclist and xc skier having attended four Olympic Games putting Canada in the international limelight numerous times.

      For some it might be hard to live up to such a famous Dad, but Alex is up to the challenge making a name of his own. He has become one of Canada’s top cross-country skiers and as one of the younger skiers on the race scene looks to have a promising career ahead of him.

      Outside of xc skiing Harvey is studying Law part-time through the University of Laval. He believes that the focus necessary to be an endurance athlete has helped him have success in his studies as well.

      Caitlin’s Bio

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      Hometown: New York City, NY
      Age: 27
      Team: Central Cross Country (CXC) Regional Development Team
      Club: CXC
      Major Results:

      • 2008 US XC Championships, 1st (5km skate)
      • 2008 US XC Championships, 3rd (skate sprint)
      • 2008 Biathlon World Championships, 37th (Individual 15km)
      • 2006/2007 Super Tour Champion, 1st overall
      • 2002 NCAA All-American XC skier

      Born in New York City Compton learned to ski on weekend trips to Vermont with her family. They moved to Vermont when she was nine and Caitlin became active in many sports including Alpine ski racing. She started cross-country running in high school and made the switch from Alpine to Nordic skiing during her sophomore year. She attended Northern Michigan University on multiple sport scholarships and was an All American in both cross-country running and Nordic skiing several times.

      Compton currently lives and trains in Minneapolis enjoying the best of both worlds in a city with an amazing park system that allows outstanding training in both summer and winter. She is a member of the Central Cross Country Ski Team (CXC) and an athlete on the roster of In the Arena. Her goals this season are to qualify for the 2009 Whistler XC World Cup and to race at the 2009 Nordic World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic.

      Kikkan’s Bio

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      HOMETOWN Anchorage, Alaska
      AGE 25
      TEAM U.S. XC Ski Team (World Cup)
      CLUB Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center
      NOTABLE RESULTS
        • 2010 World Cup, Oslo, Norway 2nd (Skate Sprint)
        • 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler, BC 8th (Classic Sprint)
        • 2010 US Nationals, Ft. Kent, Maine, 1st (30km Skate)
        • 2009 Nordic Worlds, Liberec, Czech Republic 2nd (Skate Sprint)
        • 2008 World Cup Sprint Standings 15th Overa
        • 2009 Nordic Worlds, Liberec, Czech Republic 2nd (Skate Sprint)
        • 2007 World Cup, Rybinsk, Russia 1st (Skate Sprint)
        • 2006 World Cup, Borlange Sprint 5th (Skate Sprint)
        • 2006 Olympics, Torino, Italy, 9th (Skate Sprint)
        • 2006 Olympics, Torino, Italy, 10th (Skate Team Sprint)
          ABOUT Born in Salt Lake City, Kikkan Randall is one of the few athletes who can say she made her Olympic debut in her birthplace – she was a member of the 2002 U.S. Olympic XC Ski Team at the Salt Lake City Games. Her family moved to Alaska soon after Randall’s birth where she became a promising cross-country runner. She added “serious” cross-country skiing as a counter-seasonal training vehicle and developed into a champion skier. With her sprint race win in Rybinsk, Russia in Dec. 2007 Randall became the first US woman to win an XC ski World Cup.

          Her road to the top of the podium began in Jan. 2006 when she stormed through the U.S. XC Ski championships, winning three titles, including her first two distance gold medals. At the 2006 Torino Olympics she teamed up with Wendy Wagner to grab a top-10 in the inaugural Team Sprint and then placed 9th in the Sprint – the all-time best U.S. women’s Olympic xc ski performance. Later, at a World Cup sprint in Borlange, Sweden she was 5th and in Jan. 2007 in Rybinsk she was on the podium in 3rd.

          She recently married Canadian skier and SkiTrax writer Jeff Ellis and the newlyweds live in Anchorage. Nicknamed “Kikkanimal” Randall blends classes at Alaska Pacific University (APU) with her training and racing aiming for a business degree. “It’s in my blood,” says Randall who has become women’s team leader, a role she relishes. “I think I’ve got some things I can help these younger girls with.” For more on Kikkan Randall check out her blog. http://www.kikkan.com.

          Stephan’s Bio

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          KuhnHometown: Canmore, Alberta
          Age: 28
          Team: Canadian National Ski Team (Sr. Development Team)
          Cluc: Canmore Nordic Ski Club
          Major Results:

          • 2008 Haywood NorAm Canada Cup, 1st overall
          • 2008 Canadian XC Nationals, 1st (10km classic)
          • 2008 Canadian XC Nationals, 3rd (classic sprint)
          • 2008 FIS Race, 1st (classic sprint)
          • 2008 Alberta World Cup, 31st (skate sprint)

          Kuhn’s cross-country skiing career began when he was 10 years old with the Canmore Nordic Jackrabbits, where he trained and raced, and learned that hard work equals a faster athlete (most of the time). He continued his development with his coach (his father) and his big break came when he joined the Canadian Junior Worlds XC ski team and raced at the Junior XC Worlds with one of his best friends/rival, George Grey. Being handed a silver medal by Gunde Svan (one of his heroes) at the pre-World Cup championships at Silver Star, in Vernon, B.C. is one of his greatest memories.

          Thinking of a post-ski career Kuhn took a part-time job in Banff as an apprentice chef. His first year skiing as a senior was very demanding with working and racing and that season culminated with a 2nd place finish at the Canadian XC Championships in the 10km classic. This would be his last race for three years as he decided to work full-time to become a chef.

          After travelling the world with an amazing woman (now his wife Erin) Kuhn rediscovered his love for xc skiing and began again in Edmonton with his friend and great resource, Jack Cook, who helped him rebuild. After a constructive first year back in the xc scene, Kuhn won the 2008 NorAm men’s title. He is thankful for the support of X-C.com race team and is currently a key member of the 2008 Canadian national ski team, poised to climb the ranks at the World Cup level.

          James’s Bio

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          James Southam DSC01780.2Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
          Age: 30
          Team: Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center – Elite Team
          Club: APUNSC
          Major Results:

          • 2008 Tour of Anchorage, 1st (50km skate )
          • 2006 US National XC Championships, 1st (10km skate)
          • 2005 US National XC Championships, 1st (10km skate)
          • 2006 US XC Olympian Torino, Italy
          • 2005, 2007 Nordic Worlds US XC Team member
          • James was born and raised in Anchorage, AK in 1978 where he started skiing as a freshman at Dimond High School. After high school he spent a year racing for the University of Nevada followed by a year at Western State College before eventually moving back to Anchorage where he graduated from Alaska Pacific University in 2004.

            While racing collegiately he never qualified for NCAA’s and didn’t win a race at any level until he was 25 years old. After graduating from APU he started racing for Team Rossignol where he won two US National XC Championships and garnered six US Championship medals. He also represented the USA at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy and at the 2005 and 2007 Nordic World Championships in Obertsdorff, Germany and Sapporo, Japan respectively.

            The 2008-09 season brings some big changes for Southam, his first year fully back with the APU program under Erik Flora – a switch to Atomic skis, and a new baby that James and his wife Anne are expecting this fall.