Tag Archive | "Racing"

Kershaw Report – Spring 2013

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April 22, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – The 2012/13 racing season is now long over. The snow, clinging desperately to the mountains, rocks and trees, is in deep discussions, begging to let go, turn to water, spurring the “actual” beginning of next season – one of growth, new beginnings and if you are me – debilitating allergies: spring.

Spring is losing here in Canmore as of now. Snowstorms still blow through the valley and the ski touring is still light’s out delicious in the ranges behind the Bow Valley. But winter is waging a losing battle and while all good things come to an end – so too will the snowy peaks, cold temperatures and well, winter.

Speaking of winter – it’s no secret that I envisioned last season going better. I was coming off a career best season in 2011/12. Those feelings of winning World Cups, finishing 2nd overall and 2nd in the distance cup were definitely fresh in the mind. Throughout the training season I was feeling stronger, fitter and faster physically for months on end – even though emotionally I could have been categorized easily by any high school girl within 30 seconds of hanging out with me as “a total mess.” I can admit it. Still though – I was sure that this year I was going to be able to take that next, last little step needed after the strong foundation laid in 2011/12.

Instead, back in November I took a little step in the wrong direction – on a stronger concrete foundation in the shape of stairs – and tore a ligament in my foot. Not the best move only a week out from the season opener. I let myself get the better of myself – if you follow that – and instead of taking a step back and recovering fully I pushed on – taping it, getting therapy, icing it and wishing with all my energy that it’d heal magically.

It didn’t and for the first 8 weeks of the racing season I had plenty of reminders that sometimes no amount of wishing and hoping can combat reality. I kept it within the team and asked that the team not discuss it publically. I guess I was just so motivated and hungry to have a good season, that if people started talking about it – it would get more real. It’s hard to explain if you aren’t an athlete and maybe you don’t understand, but I felt as though if I was racing – even if it hurt – then it wasn’t a huge deal….

As the winter rolled on, the results remained disappointing. I had some glimmers of “ok” feelings – a few top tens, 12th overall at the Tour de Ski, 4th at the World Championships with Alex in the team sprint – but on the whole I just wasn’t feeling myself. Gone were the weekends of winning and on the podium. Coupled with the torn ligament, I contracted some rough food poisoning in France that reoccurred three more times from mid January to late February which wasn’t a barrel of laughs either.

These aren’t excuses – I know that I made some mistakes in my training season, we made some mistakes with regards to my race calendar, and some other smaller ones along the way, too, that seemed to have a bigger impact that we thought. I take full responsibility for that – but it wasn’t the best to having health issues on top of that. At this level, it’s a precarious place to hang out – between success and failure. Everything needs to come together and sometimes things just don’t work out the way you planned or wanted them to for whatever reason.

The last month of the season continued to be tough. I had some more stomach issues early at the World Championships – which translated into one race where I felt good (the team sprint with Alex). After the World Championships – the spring World Cup was a rough period for our team too – as we just weren’t able to deliver the results and good feelings that we’d become accustomed to when the World Cup heads back to Scandinavia in the spring.

Looking back, it’s amazing that we had the success we had at the World Championships at all – which I think speaks volumes of our team as a whole (staff, athletes, techs, everyone). Alex won a historic bronze in classic sprint – traditionally one of his weakest events. Babs was 4th in the 15km skate, and Alex and I finished agonizingly close to the bronze – 4th – in the team sprint.

Now it’s time to inject some positivity – the cool and simply reality of spring is that things melt and start growing again. Those feelings of disappointment are melting away – we’ve had great discussions about what we did, what we can do better, and what we’ll do moving forward and I’m 100% confident that we still have a great team and new plan moving forward.

I was pretty tired emotionally/mentally upon arriving in Canada and I’ve spent most of my time in the mountains back country skiing – healing the mind and letting go of all the disappointment. I’ve got out 14 days of the last 20, which has been both fantastic and rejuvenating. For me, in the spring time there’s nothing better than backcountry skiing – you are way back in some mountain range with just you and your buddies, no internet, phone, nothing – it’s simplicity at it’s best and it’s amazing.

Up next in the two-pronged “get ready to rock and roll” is the “real” rest – as I’m off to Maui tomorrow to check in on Lenny’s tan – kidding! It’ll be awesome to get some vitamin D, eat some delicious fish and tropical fruit, get completely thrashed in the waves and vibe out. I know that after that I’ll be 100% ready to go for the Olympic training year. Hard to believe that this quadrennial came and went so quickly. I have some unfinished business there after finishing 4th and 5th in the last Games in Vancouver – so this year will be about simplifying things, training well, making good decisions and enjoying it.

We’ll learn, adjust and attack going forward. My good friend and Canadian sports psych’ extraordinaire likes to quote Andre Agassi’s “I can live with disappointment, but I can’t live with regret.” Damn right. I was disappointed with how the season went – no question. But I don’t regret it. I did what I thought was best at the time – it ended up being wrong. I made mistakes, I’m learning from them, and I’m fired up moving forward.

Lao Tzu wrote, “Succeeding is the coming together of all things beautiful and perseverance is the foundation of all actions.” I couldn’t agree more.

Enjoy your spring everyone and thanks for the support!


Mt. Borah Adds Neon to Custom Color Palatte

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March 20, 2013 (Coon Valley, WI) – As the sublimation market booms, Mt. Borah has been discovering new ways to advance their custom team apparel offering. Neon, a color known for its pizazz in style and value in visibility, is a growing request for every sport sector Mt. Borah serves. There are now a variety of full-neon colors available in addition to the thousands of standard colors Mt. Borah’s digital dye sublimation printing is able to generate.

“Things just got a whole lot brighter around here,” said Ben Wizner, Mt. Borah’s Marketing Director. “Neon brings a new dimension to what’s possible with a custom team design. From enhanced visibility, to complete individuality, this is the new fun-factor for any team, club or company,” added Wizner. Neon colors will run an additional $10 – $15 per piece, but for many, the extra investment is worth it.

Get a quote today for a neon infused design by contacting the Mt. Borah Customer Service Team at info@mtborah.com, calling 1-800-354-2825, or visiting the website at www.mtborah.com.

Craftsbury GRP Ski Program Accepting Applications for 2013/14

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February 28, 2013 (Craftsbury, VT) – The Craftsbury Green Racing Project (GRP) is now accepting applications for the 2013-14 training year. Space will be limited, but we hope to be able to add a few new members to the team. Applications will be due by April 1 and decisions will be made by April 15 at the latest.

The Craftsbury Green Racing Project is enjoying another successful year, with one member on the USST, several others who got World Cup starts, two members on the USBA World Cup squad, an USST U23 team member, several top-10s at Nationals, SuperTour podiums, and the Eastern Cup overall women’s winner to name a few highlights of the year thus far.
The GRP is a program of the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, a non-profit organization whose mission is:
1) to support and promote participation and excellence in lifelong sports with a special focus on rowing, running and nordic skiing;
2) to use and teach sustainable practices; and
3) to protect and manage the surrounding land, lake and trails.

In exchange for coaching, travel support, room & board, GRP skiers are asked to take on projects that contribute to work of the Center. GRP projects in the past have included: ski trail mapping and improvements, construction of single-track trails, coaching of youth and junior skiers, outreach to area schools, growing vegetables for the Dining Hall, designing and building a compost system for the Center, construction of a stone/brick pizza and bread oven, organization of events and programs at the Center, design of the GRP website and clothing, blogging and writing articles, helping develop a regional trail system, and working to bring more local food into the Center’s Dining Hall.

If this sounds like work you would enjoy, while taking your skiing to the next level, then you may be a good fit for the GRP. You can read more about the team at their website: www.greenracingproject.com. The application is available here, and you will find FAQs here. Any remaining questions may be addressed to skiing@craftsbury.com.

Athletes applying, or thinking of applying are encouraged to talk to coach Pepa Miloucheva at one of the late season ski races, contact her at the skiing@craftsbury.com address, or call 802-586-7767 ext 33.

Kershaw Report – Tour de Ski 2012

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January 17, 2013 – The 2012/13 Tour de Ski is over and remains in all our rearview mirrors. There were Canadian highlights abound during his year’s German and Italian odyssey – the major ones being Ivan’s career-best 7th overall, Lenny Valjas’s two podiums, Alex’s podium and 4 top 6 results and last but not least – the bulldog’s absolute annihilation of Alpe Cermis  – where he posted the 2nd fastest climb up that nasty, nasty slope.

It was a great completion for Canada, yet I must say my own Tour de Ski was a disappointment. Ok, a big disappointment. It was a good thing that Ivan, Lenny and Alex threw down because my body was no help – as it just wasn’t recovered and ready for such an arduous event. While there were a couple glimmers of “ok-ness” during the week – for the most part I was missing that top gear needed to compete atop the results page.

After a nice 9 days in Switzerland over the holidays, it was off to the Tour and first up was the fog engulfed hilltop village of Oberhof. While the weather is some of the worst I experience every year, traditionally I love the courses and race well through the grey half-light. Not wanting to disappoint, Oberhof stayed true to its reputation and was pretty warm and foggier than San Francisco’s “June Gloom” by a factor of 7. The snow barely held up for the first few races under the German grey – with some sections of the 3.75km loop showing some black pavement during the 15km classic!

The races this season in Germany though did not go well. After a great intensity workout a few days before the Tour – the first in awhile – I was hopeful that the Tour would start well. It didn’t. The prologue was more of the same – I’d start controlled and then have no gear to switch into for the last kick to the line. The 15km classic (pursuit start) the following day felt like Groundhog Day – as the feelings in the body were the same – feeling great until I didn’t – struggling home and losing oodles of time in the last lap of that 4-lap race to finish in 27th. Conditions were tough – soft and slushy snow – which are usually favorite classic conditions of mine, but this season my legs felt like they were as stiff and had more weights attached to them than a whole group of tanned geriatrics working out on a Miami Beach boardwalk.

After a small turn-around in feelings and celebrating the MAN Lenny Valjas’ 4th career World Cup podium on New Year’s Day on the tough sprint in Val Mustair, Switzerland (Len was 3rd, I ended up 15th), it was off to Italy for the last 4 stages in a row in Toblach and Val di Fiemme.

If you would have told me that my best race feelings of the year to date after the Tour was over would be in the 35km loppet style skate race from Cortina-Toblach and up the fabled climb of Alpe Cermis, I would have laughed myself silly. But that’s how things ended up. The two classic races that I was most fired up for ended up being super disappointing (the 5km classic in Toblach and the 15km in Val di Fiemme), whereas in the two “special” skate races I ended up feeling “ok and ok ++” in. Especially the climb – which is usually the site of the annual “epically ugly/slow monkey skating filled with the hollow eyes and slobber beard that any golden retriever in a cheese factory would be proud of.”

I ended the Tour in 12th overall.  All things considered, I’m surprised I ended up there. Most days I felt drained and it was a difficult set of races mentally – as I was so hopeful and trying to stay in that positive “maybe today I’ll be back feeling good!” for the duration. I moved up for the first time ever on the climb – which was the personal racing highlight – from 18th to 12th.

While I was left wanting more and disappointed – the Tour was so exciting everyday for Canada. Lenny snagged two podiums – 0.1seconds away from his first ever World Cup victory in the 15km classic in Val di Fiemme, Babs was a total boss all around and blitzed the climb to move from 17th – 7th snaking the 2nd fast time on that beast in the process for his second World Cup podium – and Alex was a few centimeters behind Len in the exciting 15km to finish 3rd (we had two on the podium and Babs had a career-best classic race in 7th!!) and like I said up top – had four races in the top 6. It was a Tour for the ages again and the stoke is uber-high for us Canadian Nordies. The women are getting in on the action too and I’m psyched for Dasha’s 4th in Liberec a few days ago and for Peri’s career-best 9th in the same race. Momentum for the team is building, as the days get longer. Good news with the 2013 World Champs only 5 weeks away under the Italian sun. The “team behind the team” – our absolutely bad-ass/awesome staff are killing it this year too. The techs (Micke, Yves, Joel, Joel, Sacha, and Timo) were lights-out good during the tour (and every race so far this year!!), Anne (Osteo), Wolfman (need’s no introduction…) and Justin (the only coach on the ground at the Tour) were on their A ++ game, so huge thanks to them for their hard work and unwavering passion.

After the Tour, I fled to… Norway! I know right? Lenny went to the beaches of Egypt to recharge, Alex joined his girlfriend in Nice, France and I headed up to Scandinavia – I guess I missed the shorter days, brown cheese and waffles. There must have been a good reason right? Well there was – I really enjoyed spending time with Kristin who was coming off a boss 3rd place overall Tour de Ski finish and there was nowhere else I’d rather be. We hung out in Oslo for a couple days enjoying some great times with her crew there and then headed up to Sjusjoen for some quiet days at her cabin. It’s a beautiful spot and while the week went by far too fast – I had a great time and feel like my body did a decent job recovering from the stress and beat-down that the Tour does to a racer.

I’m now in France, in the small mountain village of Praz de Lys – which is about 45min from this weekend’s races in La Clusaz. I had never been here before, but I swear every year for the past 5 all Dasha can say when the question of “where should we go train in-between races?” comes up is an enthusiastic “Praz de Lys!” about 19 times in a row. Well Dasha, you were right. The skiing here is some of the best I’ve ever done. It’s unreal – gorgeous views of Mt. Blanc, meters of snow, and tons of perfectly groomed trails to enjoy daily with mountain views at every angle. Aside from Seisser Alm, Italy, it’s the best skiing I’ve had in Europe. I must say that seeing all the back country skiing happening leaves me with a sore neck (looking up the whole time!) but other than that – paradise.

I’m looking forward to this weekend to get some racing action in before another two weeks of World Champs prep/training “sans racing” before we head to Sochi to scope next year’s Olympic trails and scene.

Other than dreaming of ripping the surrounding powder – I’m listening to some older stuff these days – Wilco is on heavy rotation, as is the Shins, Kishi Bashi, and this band called “Say Hi.” (Formerly “Say hi to your mom”). I’ve also been spinning a lot of old school blues actually – some BB King (Live at the Regal), Muddy Waters (Hard Again/I’m Ready), and John Lee Hooker – eclectic I know. Reading-wise, I’ve been cruising through a Brent McMurty recommendation “the Leap” by Chris Turner (great book man!). The Globe and Mail’s review of it HERE.

2013 U.S. National XC Championships – More Photos and Final Day Video

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January 10, 2013 (Soldier Hollow, UT) – Check out this great video with athlete interviews and exciting race footage from the final day of competition by Willy Graves at the 2013 U.S. National XC Championships held in Soldier Hollow, Jan. 2-8 – plus more great photos courtesy of Ian Harvey from TOKO.


SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Tour de Ski 2012/13 Contest Standings after Stage 5 in Cortina-Toblach

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January 08, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – We are excited to present  the SkiTrax FIS Tour de Ski 2012/13 Fantasy Contest standings after stage 5 in Cortina-Toblach, Italy. Team ZIS XC continues to lead with 568 points, followed by Fratuzzi TdS in second with 558 points, and then it’s Powered by Biscuits in third with 549 points.

USA’s Kikkan Randall finished seventh in the women’s 3.3km CL, while Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) won handily – read more here. Canada’s Len Valjas was a strong 11th in the men’s 5km CL, which was won by Alexey Poltoranin (KAZ) – read more here.

With two stages to go we’d like to wish all contestants good luck and once again thank all of our great sponsors, including Mont Ste-Anne, Alpina, One Way, Marwi, Halti, 2XU, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, CCC, Auclair, and Buff.

For the contest standings after Stage 5 in Cortina-Toblach click HERE.

* 1st Prize Mont Ste-Anne – 2 nights lodging w/breakfast + 3-day XC gift certificate, tune-up (value $800)
* 2nd PrizeAlpina ESK Ski Boots (value $419)
* 3rd PrizeOne Way Premio Ski Poles (value $400)
* 4th PrizeMarwe 610c Roller Skis (value $349)
* 5th PrizeHalti XC Race Suit Hemmo Set (value $269)
* 6th Prize2XU Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)
* 7th PrizeFresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $150)
* 8th Prize – Two free CCC Inside Track Rewards Cards plus a $50 Gift Card to the CCC e-store (value $100)
* 9th Prize Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* 10th Prize Buff Headware (value $23)

SkiTrax is North America’s leading Nordic skiing publication and the official magazine of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and Cross Country Canada (CCC).

NNF Announces Big Changes to J1 Trip Costs

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January 02, 2013 – Due to the generosity of the Cross-Country community and the exceptional efforts of Programs, Coaches, individuals and Junior skiers from past J1 Scando Trips, the National Nordic Foundation’s drive for funding for this year’s J1 trip Pillar Project has exceeded all goals. That means that the Nordic Foundation’s support for the trip will knock the per athlete cost for a loop. Last year’s ground cost was $1,700 and the anticipated cost of this year’s was $1,800. With the help from NNF this year’s athlete ground cost is reduced to $750!

Thanks go out in many directions, and let’s take this as an example of what we can do a little bit at a time.

We are getting close to the qualifying races, and we hope this puts a spur to the rides! With the reminder that qualifying athletes must be able to commit to the trip immediately upon the naming of the Team, we wish everyone the best of luck.

To learn more or to donate click HERE.

Canadian Cross Country Ski Team Ready to Launch 2012/13 Season in Sweden

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November 15, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – After gearing up with the WinSport Frozen Thunder event, presented by Buff, the National Ski Team (NST) is ready to take on the world this weekend, with FIS competitions in Bruksvallarna, Sweden.

Racing action starts Friday with short, classic, distance races. Saturday includes longer distance skating events and they are followed by skating sprints on Sunday. Schedule

The majority of the team have been training in Ostersund, Sweden for the past week, with Dasha Gaiazova and Ivan Babikov making the trip over from Calgary on Tuesday.

The skiers will be racing one or two of the three races depending on their program. As they are arriving shortly before the competitions Dasha is expected to only race Sunday`s sprint, and Ivan to compete in the Saturday skate race. Ivan will be joined by Devon Kershaw, who will only race the skate race due to a minor ankle injury.

Perianne Jones, Chandra Crawford, Alysson Marshall and Alex Harvey are planning on entering the classic race and sprint, with Kevin Sandau racing both distance races. Kevin and Alysson qualified for the trip as the Haywood NorAm leaders from the spring. Lenny Valjas will be spectating as he continues to recover from a broken finger.

Check back later for updates and results.

Brooks Blog – Lappland Here We Come!

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November 13, 2012 – I’m about to board my second of four flights taking me from home in AK to Northern Finland, “Munio.” It’s hard to see on this map but it’s to the left of “Lappi” …. you may notice this is WAY above the Arctic Circle. Don’t worry, I packed some neon to keep things bright and happy….

My favorite wax tech helping me travel wax skis. I had this pic on Facebook earlier and many people are surprised by the number of skis I have.  Reality is, everyone has this many to be competitive at the international level.  Each one is for different conditions… different cambers, stiffnesses, grinds, etc.

Fast and Female Anchorage (last weekend) is deserving of its own post. I’ll try to write an update later. Basically, it was AWESOME and we had over 200 girls. Thanks so much to everyone who pitched in and helped out!

After the main event we took the opportunity to get a bunch of Alaskan women influential in sports together for a social/pow-wow. Women shared incredible personal stories and also gave updates on the programs they are currently involved in. We had everyone from Nina Kemppal (4x XC Ski Olympian) to Deedee Jonrowe (30x Iditorod sled dog racer) to Margaret Timmerman in charge of Tuesday Night races to Joey Caterinichio – US Ski Team Nordic Program Director, Rosey Grundwaldt – 2006 Torino Bronze Medalist, etc, etc. I wish I had had a tape recorder on the conversation because it was amazing.

Rob dropped me off at the airport last night. Always hard to say goodbye. He’s my biggest supporter. (Thanks for the help babe!)

Opp! They’re calling my name to board! Next flight to Frankfurt, then to Helsinki, then to Rovanemi & finally, a drive to Munio. I have a long road ahead!

More soon!
Holly 😉

The day before my departure I got this in the mailbox. I’m excited to be writing an international column for the statewide Nordic Skier Newspaper. In case you live outside of Alaska or don’t receive the paper, I’ve included my article below….

From Alaska to Europe & Back
by Holly Brooks

Eight years ago I moved to Anchorage because I wanted to live in a ski town. After growing up in Seattle, I craved a place where roller skiers weren’t considered freaks and I could see snow outside the kitchen window. I was ecstatic to find friends who knew of Swix Extra Blue and a spider web of fabulous trails throughout the city, complete with lights for skiing at night. I made my rounds of the local ski scene working at Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking, serving as the head coach for West High, spent six years as a coach for the Alaska Junior Olympic team and finally, five years as a fulltime junior and master’s coach for the APU Nordic Ski Center.

I started out racing in the local Anchorage Cup series; the Hickok, Pia’s Classic, the Sven, the Oosik, the Tour. Then, in 2009, I entered the American Birkebeiner and “lost” the race by what some called a “toenail” in a photo finish. In many ways, that race was one of the defining moments that inspired me to focus on skiing at a new level. Luckily my commitment and hard work was rewarded when this past May, I was named as an official member of the US Cross Country Ski Team.

Last winter I unexpectedly spent almost five consecutive months in Europe racing the World Cup. Needless to say, this was quite the jump from the Alaska community racing scene where I frequented the coastal trail, had a “handful of skis” thrown into the back of my Subaru or spent Tuesday nights doing intervals at Hillside with my friends. In all, I traveled to & raced in ten different countries and accumulated 26 World Cup starts. There were highlights such as my contribution to the best women’s 4x5k team relay finish in history and there were certainly low lights as well. Christmas night I was running on an icy road, fell & broke my wrist just four days before the start of the infamous “Tour de Ski” stage race. (I foolishly competed anyways!) This winter promises to be full of more tales and adventures. I’m by no means a seasoned veteran of the World Cup but I’m not a rookie either.

As you may know, three of the six US Ski Team girls reside and train in Anchorage including Kikkan Randall, Sadie Bjornsen and myself. We represent the USA, the State of Alaska and APU Nordic Ski Center on the International stage. This year World Championships will be in Val di Fiemme, Italy and in less than two years we hope to be “toeing the start line” at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

When driving up the serpentine roads to the racing venue in Slovenia or landing a chartered plane on an obscure military base in Russia to compete it’s easy to feel far from home and far from the people, specifically the Alaskans, that helped us reach the World stage. Realizing that, I’m excited to be writing a monthly column for the Nordic Skier that will attempt to bring stories from the World Cup into your hands. While I may not spend much of the winter in Alaska anymore I spend the spring crust skiing at Portage, the summer running in the Chugach and the fall roller skiing at Kincaid. While I love being on the road, my heart is always at home. I hope you’ll join me for the adventure that is the 2012-2013 World Cup season

If you would like to follow Holly’s ski adventures on a more regular basis, check out her blog @ www.hollyskis.blogspot.com

FIS XC Athlete Interview with Kikkan Randall

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October 11, 2012 – USA’s Kikkan Randall became the best sprinter on the ladies’ side last season. The skier from Alaska talked to FIS Cross-Country News about her summer preparation, goals for the winter and her four-year term on the FIS Athletes’ Commission.

You are coming to the end of your four-year term as the female representative for Cross-Country on the FIS Athletes’ Commission. How has the experience been and would you like to continue for another four years?
Kikkan Randall: Yes, I have really enjoyed my time on the FIS Athletes’ Commission representing Cross-Country. It has taken these four years to learn the ropes and get to know the people, and I have established some good paths of communication with the top levels of the cross-country committee. So I feel that can I continue to be effective and would enjoy doing this for another four years.

After having such a successful season last year taking the World Cup Overall Sprint title, what are your goals moving forward towards the 2012-13 World Cup season?
KR: Yeah, last year was certainly a lot of fun and I would like to continue to improve at both my sprint and distance results.

You have struggled with a foot injury this summer. Has that affected your off-season training?
KR: Unfortunately, I’ve had to slow down a little bit this summer after good training through mid-August, as it became clear that I had a stress fracture in my right foot. I’ve had to take the last month a little bit easier too give the foot some rest and avoid activities that aggravate it.

What are the activities that bothered the foot?
KR: Primarily, it was skate skiing. But for the past six weeks I have also not run, and only double-poled roller skiing.

Has that changed your approach to the start of the racing season?
KR: Normally I would have been looking forward to really coming in in good form with the opening races in Gallivare, and the mini-tour in Kuusamo, as well as the two sprints in Quebec. But I haven’t been able to skate for six weeks now and it’s still another couple of weeks before that becomes a possibility. Hopefully, I will be ready to participate in those races, but don’t see my form coming around until the Tour de Ski.

Fast and Female Park City and Drive for 25 Info

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October 09, 2012 – Happy Canadian Thanksgiving everyone! Ok, now the blog post can begin. The Fast and Female event in Park City was officially AWESOME. As per my usual, I got to lead the dancing/endurance station, where we keep moving the entire time and each girl gets to add a dance move of her own to the group dance. The dance gets longer and longer and by the last group of the day I’m always working so hard to try and remember which move comes next! But it’s so much fun. Anne Hart was my dance station partner and we had a blast although by the end we both had jelly legs and were wiped out.

For me the coolest thing is seeing each girls face light up as the entire group does the dance move SHE got to add. It’s fun to make each girl be the star for 10 seconds!

And now… the National Nordic Foundation’s Drive for 25.

I realize that there are a ton of fundraisers going on this fall. And my personal fundraiser, the Chilkoot Cafe dinner in Stillwater, is going on this fall as well, on November 10th. But, I’m putting this up because the National Nordic Foundation directly helps me as well as many other junior, senior and U23 athletes looking to take the next step in international racing. NNF lowers trip costs for World Juniors/U23′s, and help pay for World Cup expenses. NNF also helped the US Women’s team travel to Sweden to train with some of the best in the world and improve.


If you cannot come to Stillwater, MN on November 10th but are a friend of mine and/or Nordic Skiing and want to help out, this fundraiser is the best way to do it. I’ve linked my fundraising page below, and my goal is to get 20 people to donate $25. All the fundraiser information is on the link – even if you do not want to donate, please check out the NNF and their mission – the stories, pictures and race blogs are well worth looking at. Thanks for your time!

Jessie’s Drive for 25 page HERE.

Two FIS World Cup Stops in Canada in 2012/13 Season – Quebec and Canmore

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October 03, 2012 – This season, Canada will see the planet’s top cross-country ski racers make two stops in Canada for FIS World Cup events. The first layover will be in Quebec City, with the second in a perennial favourite venue, Canmore, AB.

Quebec City Sprints
Renowned Quebec event organizer Gestev is in charge of the Quebec City edition, December 6-9. Ski fans will see their favourite athletes go head-to-head in historic downtown Quebec in exciting sprint competitions, including individual and team sprint races. All hopes will be on local hero Alex Harvey’s shoulders as he goes full throttle on home turf.

More info HERE.

Alberta World Cup
Athletes will then head to the beautiful Rocky Mountain town of Canmore, AB, December 13-16. As the HQ for Cross Country Canada and the Canadian Ski Team, this is the country’s flagship event. Coming just two weeks before Christmas, World Cup 2012 will have a distinctive Christmas theme surrounding the actual races and part of the Canmore downtown activities as well.

Races will include sprint and distance events to test athletes to their fullest. The Alberta World Cup 2012 is hosted by the Alberta World Cup Society and is expected to have a worldwide TV audience of over 35 million people.


Finnish Doping Saga Takes New Twist w/Ski Legend Juha Mieto

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September 26, 2012 (Helsinki, Finland) – A new documentary to be released on October 5 in Finland focuses on former decorated cross-country skier Juha Mieto and suggests for the first time that the 1980 Olympic silver medalist used performance enhancing substances, reports the Helsingin Sanomat at HS.fi.

In the film, titled “Blue and White Lies”, former Finnish weightlifing gold medalist Kaarlo Kangasniemi claims that Mieto asked his advice about the use of anabolic steroids in a conversation in a sauna in 1975. The documentary contains other interviews that claim “hormone research” and blood transfusions were used among Finnish skiers in the ’70s.

Read the full article HERE.

Noah Hoffman on The Local’s Show

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August 19, 2012 (Aspen, CO) – Recently, Noah Hoffman of the US Men’s XC Ski Team, was a featured guest on The Local’s Show, an Aspen, Colorado local TV talk show hosted by Erik Skarvan. Watch yesterday’s program online and learn more about this rising cross country ski star HERE.

Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train – USSA’s Tom Kelly

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May 22, 2012 (Park City, UT) – In this edition of Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train, Peter Graves speaks with USSA VP of Communications, Tom Kelly, at the recent USSA Convention in Park City, UT. Kelly has been involved in the sport for decades, sporting the role of reporter and photographer along the way, and working with such legends as Tony Wise as his Public Relations Director for the Telemark Lodge, along with the venerable journalist Paul Robbins. He was also the co-owner (with Graves) of Worldwide Nordic, a travel company that specialized in trips to the World Loppet and other international Nordic races. Born and raised in Madison, WI, Kelly is also a member of the FIS Media and Marketing Committee. In his interview, he speaks about Kikkan Randall’s historic season, but more significantly, the impact she and her team mates have created with regards to cross-country skiing in the USA.

Tom Kelly

FIS Congress 2012 – Elections, Women and Health, Travel Info

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May 10, 2012 – Here is the latest news from FIS, including information about elections, Ladies Seminar at the 2012 FIS Congress, FIS Congress travel information, and Swiss ski legend Karl Molitor’s upcoming biography.

FIS Council Elections
The 48th International Ski Congress will elect the sixteen members of the FIS Council for the next two-year period from 2012-2014. By the statutory deadline of 1st May 2012, the member National Ski Associations have proposed 19 candidates for membership in the FIS Council. Read more HERE.

FIS Congress 3rd Ladies Seminar
The 3rd FIS Ladies Seminar on the subject of “Women and Health” will take place on Monday, 28th May 2012 as part of the 2012 FIS Congress in Kangwonland and is open to all FIS Congress participants. The program will focus on Medical Issues in Female Sport. Read more HERE.

Travel Info for FIS Congress Participants
In just few weeks, some 800 participants will make their way to Korea for the 48th International Ski Congress from 27th May until 2nd June 2012. A welcome reception by the Korean Ski Association on Monday, 27th May, 19:00 at the Kangwonland Hotel will mark the official opening of the week which promises to be a fantastic occasion for the worldwide FIS family. Read more HERE.

Swiss Ski Legend Visits Oberhofen – Biography Out This Summer
The famous Swiss ski legend Karl Molitor (born 29th June 1920) recently visited the FIS Headquarters in Oberhofen to exchange views on his biography with FIS President Gian Franco Kasper. The biography will appear in print by the end of June 2012. Read more HERE.

Brooks Blog – Back at it!

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May 07, 2012 – Like everyone else, I had huge intentions of writing a huge blog post (almost a month ago now) reviewing my season, talking about the highs and lows in detail – and covering everything in between.

However, in reality, I needed time to rest – both my body and my mind and that included taking a short hiatus from blogging and telling the world about my exploits :)

Now that I’ve had that time to rest, here is how it went, in a nutshell:

– A delayed departure for Europe due to no snow…. got my first taste of tunnel skiing in Torsby
– An awesome streak of World Cup performances – better than I had ever imagined… scoring WC points in 6 of 9 individual start races. I almost made the distance red group after one period alone! This was certainly a break through for me mentally, physically & emotionally. It also gave me the green light to extend my season in Europe and join the Tour de Ski USA crew! This meant spending Christmas in Europe.
– Christmas night: fell on icy road and broke my wrist four days before Tour de Ski. (Nice timing, right?)
– Proceeded to race the Tour de Ski with my wrist – didn’t find out it was broken until half way through the Tour when I got x-rays and an MRI en route to Italy.

– Stubbornly finished the Tour with the help of pain killers and tape jobs (thanks Steph!) Was ecstatic to reach the top of the Alps Cermis, even if my performance took a huge tumble.
– Proceeded to take some much needed rest in Italy at the home of Bill and Kathy Estes – thanks Guys!
– Continued onto Ramsau, Austria, SOLO for a one-pole ski camp… often in a blizzard.
– Got back into World Cup racing in time to come down with the weird stomach bug that took almost everyone out at one point or another. Dropped out of a race in Czech (Heck, I didn’t even drop out of races when I had a broken wrist!) and then the next day summoned all my courage and energy to help the USA ladies to our best 4x5k relay result ever. Certainly a HIGHLIGHT of the season!

– Just the day before I had purchased a ticket home for a 2-week recovery trip. My wrist episode combined with the stomach bug took a bigger toll on me than I’d thought. I traveled back to the States, 30 pairs of skis and all; knowing that I wanted to come back but not knowing if I could come back.
– Raced the American Birkebeiner and WON! That one had been on my list for a while ever since loosing my an inch in 2009!

– Returned to Europe for the Lahti World Cups but skied poorly. Perhaps 20,000 + miles in an airplane, a 50k and jumping 4 time zones doesn’t work….
– Skied and WON OPA cup finals in Toblach, Italy! It wasn’t WC Finals but it certainly felt good to stand on TOP of a podium. I won countless pounds of cheese and meat for my efforts.
– From Italy I continued onto Craftsbury Vermont where I met my APU teammates. It was close to 80 degrees so we had to get tanks and shorts at thrift stores…. I continued to have what I felt were mediocre races at spring series.

In all, the season was a huge breakthrough for me. Going into it, I had no idea that I would be spending almost five straight months overseas. I didn’t anticipate a 13th place in Davos, just missing the distance red group at the end of December, or even starting the Tour de Ski. Injuring myself was a huge bummer, especially with the momentum that I had created….. but on the bright side, it wasn’t an Olympic year, right? I raced in 26 different World Cup races in countries and venues all over Europe. In all, I raced 51 times last year, summer events included. I learned a lot, as you’d hope I would in that period of time. But perhaps the most important lessons when it comes to International performances are that 1 – I can do it; we can do it. We have the tools to succeed, let alone WIN against the Europeans. 2 – Next season I will need a planned break to come home to AK 3 – Diversify racing venues and level of competition – I didn’t race my first non-World Cup race until the American Birkie in February! As hard as it is to miss World Cups, standing on a podium and being in the hunt for the win is important and not to be under estimated.

All in all, I’m excited to train really hard this summer and take another stab at it next winter. I’m crossing my fingers to stay injury free and be able to pick up where I left off!

WHEW….. That wasn’t supposed to be long winded but it was, sorry. Here are some pictures of my spring to make up for it:

Following the ski season I did what so happy skiers do after 5 months of traveling on the road, chasing snow; go to the beach! This trip was actually planned as a college reunion some 8 months prior to going. There was lots to celebrate and lots to catch up on including BIG birthdays…. (and some anxiety on my part for those that know me well!) Time with my college girlfriends was awesome. We cooked amazing meals and talked for HOURS about all kinds of non-ski related things. My friends are all amazingly accomplished and it was fun to hear about mobile butchers for Sarah’s meat CSA, Al’s trips on the Grand Canyon, Jayne’s PhD in geophysics & Laura’s teaching exploits from Oahu!

It was a tight turn around to get to Hawaii. I came into Alaska on a red eye and had less than 24 hours in AK to give my husband a hug, vote, pack, un-pack, lead a clinic & attend to all kinds of business and months of mail. Then, I departed on another red eye for the islands….. arriving 10 hours later; exhausted to say the least. (I’m NOT complaining though!)

The girls also put up with my need to exercise – at least a bit. I’ve always wanted to bike on the islands and this time I was finally able too. Here I am at the 9,000 ft. lookout for Mauna Kea.

The other super fun thing I did this spring was attend my good friend, Chrissy’s bachlorette party. Instead of a night on the town we took a water taxi across K-Bay in Homer to her family cabin. We brought skis, running shoes, and blow-up paddle boards – and used them all!

The spring is also a great time to participate in some awesome community programs. ARISE is a new program co-lead by Alaska Sports Hall of Fame and Healthy Futures. It stands for Anchorage Runners Inspired to Succeed and Excel. Basically, it brings local runners and health advocates into Title I schools in Anchorage to run with elementary school kids at recess. The goal is to show that being active can be fun! This spring Tyson Elementary in Mountain View is the pilot program.

The grades, K-5 are having a competition to see which class can run the most. Mid-week last week, the Tyson kids had run 584 miles total! Last Thursday we had a “speed gun” where kids did a full on sprint. The school is going to take our mileage and overlay it across the state of Alaska. The goal is run from Anchorage to the North Slope – at least!

In other news, training for 2012-2013 has started and we’re hitting it hard with APU. Lucky for us, we can still ski in Anchorage so we’re mixing some on-snow training in with running, lifting, etc. Should be fun (and sometimes sore) times!

More real soon…..


Holly :)

Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train – Marty Hall Part 2

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April 24, 2012 – On this week’s edition of Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train, we pick up where we left off last week during Peter Graves’s interview with former US and Canadian XC Ski Team Head Coach, Marty Hall. Hall delves deeper into the North American success this year and looks at the next wave of talent and what it means for the future of the sport on this continent. Hall coached the US Team when Bill Koch won his Olympic silver medal at the Games in Innesbruck, Austria, and was also at the helm of the Canadian Team during Pierre Harvey’s heyday – check out his report cards in his column Hallmarks in the final issue issue of SkiTrax this season.

Marty Hall part 2 – for part 1 click here.

UVM’s Amy Glen in Sports Illustrated

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April 13, 2012 (Burlington, VT) – University of Vermont senior skier Amy Glen appeared in this week’s Sports Illustrated Faces in the Crowd section following her photo-finish victory to win the NCAA national title in the 15k classic event at the 2012 NCAA Ski Championships. Click HERE to see the Faces in the Crowd feature.

Glen beat out Dartmouth’s Sophie Caldwell by 1/10 of a second and two inches. The win was Glen’s first collegiate victory in her final collegiate race.

Glen’s individual victory helped the Catamounts capture the overall NCAA National Championship. It was UVM’s first NCAA title since 1994 and the sixth in the program’s history.

Vermont piled up 832 points, the most ever by an NCAA Champion, and won the national championship by a record-breaking 161 points.

The University of Vermont ski team and men’s basketball squad will be honored on Sunday, April 15 with a parade down Church Street starting at 12 p.m.

Kowalczyk Recovers from Knee Surgery

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April 09, 2012 – Justyna Kowalczyk underwent arthroscopic knee surgery at Warsaw clinic on March 20. “The recovery process has been going as planned so far but there is still some work to be done,” Kowalczyk wrote on her website www.justyna-kowalczyk.pl. The triple Tour de Ski winner spent Easter with her family, but on Monday she starts rehabilitation at Litwa sanatorium.

“Last year we returned from Kamchatka on Sunday evening before the Easter Monday. This year it’s the opposite,” Kowalczyk’s coach Alexander Wierietielny said. Kowalczyk will be rehabilitating in Druskienniki. “We had been here last year before we went to Kamchatka. They can boast of very good treatment. It’s not only about the knee. Also other parts of Justyna body need recovery after the season so that Justyna can take the training load,” her coach explained.

You can find more at www.justyna-kowalczyk.pl

Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train – US XC Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover

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April 06, 2012 – On this week’s edition of Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train, renowned sports journalist and announcer Peter Graves speaks with US XC Ski Team Head Coach, Chris Grover. In his interview, Grover reflects on the historic season for the US squad, that saw Kikkan Randall take home an overall World Cup series title, the American women storm the international circuit with tremendous results, the first distance points for sprint star Andy Newell, and a U23 Worlds silver medal for Noah Hoffman. Graves and Grover explore what changed within the US team and with the athletes themselves that made their fantastic season a reality.

Grover has a 25-year history in the sport, with nearly 20 of those years as a coach, telling Graves that Randall’s hard work, focus, and energy made her achievement a reality and showed the entire team it is possible to make it to the top. Looking at the next generation, Jessie Diggins floored onlookers this season with the incredible leap she made in her skiing, such as when she qualified first in the Moscow sprints.

Chris Grover


New XC Ski Book Released – Wild Shot by Andy Liebner

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April 04, 2012 – The book titled “Wild Shot” is now available. Wild Shot is outwardly about the external physical demands and internal mental demands of the winter sports of Cross Country Skiing and Biathlon. Author Andy Liebner discovers that sport is not just about training and competition; it’s a metaphor for a deeper aspect of life. Sport is a quest! To rise to the top requires a heroic journey to encounter and overcome external and internal barriers, and Andy runs into far more of them than you might think possible. The barriers are relentless. But he learns that his biggest enemy is inside his head and if he masters his fears then he wins.

Author Biography of Andy Liebner – Wild Shot

Andy Liebner is a fast young Alaskan who went from top junior and collegiate XC ski racing results to signing up for the military the day after 9-11 to then racing around the world to see how far he could go in XC skiing and biathlon. He had many surprising adventures along the way and learned what it means to go it alone (with help from friends). Breakthroughs and frustrations alike abound in his story. The barriers were ENDLESS and only got BIGGER, yet Andy persevered. The finale is fascinating with major twists.

Andy particularly enjoys training with various pals, including some of the best athletes in the world — such as the #1 all-time biathlete, “King Ole,” Ole Einar Bjorndalen. He’s trying to see what they do that makes them so good and he passes along what he learns. Andy includes practical insights on the factors separating skiers who are on their way up, including his best tips for technique, and advice on the toughest challenge: the mind game. His races give us heat-of-the-moment action ranging from DQ’s to big wins.

There’s business and marketing, too, when Andy starts repping for a wax company in the middle of racing and then becomes in demand as a winning wax tech. But he just wants to race!

It’s 250 pages of page-burning fun — with nail-biting cliffhangers.

In 2010 Andy won the US Marathon series and in 2011 he won the U.S. National College Cup and added two more All-American certificates to his resume. Nowadays he’s back to globetrotting, coaching Olympians, and working in the ski industry.

TD Bank J2 Nordic Ski Championships Come to Rumford – March 9-11

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March 06, 2012 (Rumford, ME) – Ski conditions are expected to be very good for The TD Bank J2 Nordic Ski Championships being held at Rumford’s Historic Black Mountain of Maine, from Friday, March 9 through Sunday, March 11, 2012.

Elite teams of 14-15 year-old Nordic racers from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and elite guest teams from Colorado and Wisconsin, will arrive at Rumford’s Black Mountain of Maine Friday, March 9th for three days of intense junior Nordic ski competition.

228 Athletes are registered for this last major Nordic race of the season at Black Mountain of Maine. This event is being hosted by the New England Nordic Skiing Association (NENSA) and the Chisholm Ski Club.

“The Chisholm Ski Club is looking forward to hosting this event,” said Chief of Competition, Roger Arsenault. “This is an exciting event and it’s the first opportunity many of these top junior skiers from the Northeast have had to compete against each other. We are also very pleased to welcome the teams from Colorado and Wisconsin to Rumford.”

Arsenault continued, “The snow made for the US Cross Country Championships in January has held up very well over this very busy competition season and we have accumulated quite a bit of natural snow on top of it. We anticipate conditions will continue to be very good and the club is working to make this an outstanding event for both the competitors and the spectators.”

Arsenault also commented “The Black Mountain of Maine lodge, the tiered parking and bridge access allows both recreational Alpine skiing and Nordic competition events to take place without conflicting with each other. The lodge’s second floor and upper tier parking are always reserved for Alpine skiers on competition days.”

J2 schedule (As of Monday, March 5th. Please check HERE for most current info.)

– 9:00 am Course open for inspection
– 9:00 am Race Headquarters open for packets and bib pick-up
– 12:30 pm Coaches Meeting in Base Lodge Conference Room
– 3:00 pm Men 5 km Free Technique- seeded wave start
– 4:00 pm Women 5 km Free Technique- seeded wave start
Flower ceremony immediately following each event

– 8:00 am Course open for inspection Bib pick up in Race Headquarters
– 8:30 am Coaches meeting in lower level of the Timing Building
– 9:30 am Women 5 km Classic- seeded wave start
– 10:30 am Men Free 5 km Classic- seeded wave start
Flower ceremony immediately following each event.
– 11:30 pm Sprint course open for inspection
– 12:00 pm Stadium layout open for inspection
– 2:30 pm Women 1 km Free Technique sprint – seeded wave start
– 3:15 pm Men 1 km Free Technique sprint- seeded wave start
Flower ceremony immediately following Sprint event.
– 6:30 pm Banquet and awards held at Mountain Valley High School Gym.

Must have ticket to enter. Banquet complimentary to all athletes, Team Leader and up to 7 coaches. All others $15.00. Tickets available in Race Headquarters while they last.

– 7:30 am Course open for inspection Bib pick up in Race Headquarters
– 8:00 am Coaches meeting in Hand Timing Building
– 9:30 am Mix Medley Relay 2.2 km, 2.5 km course
Flower ceremony and awards immediately following completion of team scoring

Entered as of Sunday, March 4, the Maine J2 Team (by seed):

1. Sarah Doak, Caribou
2. Sarah Wade, Mt Blue
3. Lizzy Landry, Portland
4. Ellie Teare, Yarmouth
5. Elizabeth Martin, Freeport
6. Dana Hatton, Cape Elizabeth
7. Emma Houston, Mt Abram
8. Caitlin Teare, Yarmouth
9. India Lucas, Oxford Hills
10. Ihilia Lesnikova, Yarmouth
11. Laura Frank, Portland
12. Lucy Alexander, Harrison
13. Emma Torres, Yarmouth
14. Samantha Pierce, Merriconeag
15. Audrey Garcia, GNG
16. Hanna Renedo, Orono
17. Rachel Ingram, Winthrop
18. Jesse Saffeir, Merriconeag
19. Natalie Wicks, Marranacook
20. Julia Rand, Windham

1. Aiden Clarke, Gould Academy
2. Ryan Washington, Caribou
3. Carter Hall, Yarmouth
4. Braden Becker, Yarmouth
5. Thomas Faraday, Mt Abram
6. Marcello Duluca, Gould Academy
7. Kamran Husain, MWSC
8. Sam Alexander, Yarmouth
9. Rylee Knox, Leavitt
10. Mitch Harris, Thornton
11. Jasper Houston, Yarmouth
12. Sam Wood, Mt Ararat
13. Dustin Ramsey, Hampden Academy
14. Eli McCurdy, Merriconeag
15. Sam Pratico, Falmouth
16. Graham Roeber, Merriconeag
17. Sean Beaulieu, MDI
18. Ethan Harriman, Maranacook
19. Gabe Mahoney, Falmouth
20. Julian Pelzer, Cape Elizabeth

Maine Coaches:
– Deven Morrill, Cape Elizabeth
– Buzz Bean, Mt Abram
– Sally Bean, Mt Abram
– Kalie Dunn, NYA
– Sara Dominique, Maine Winter Sports Center
– Erin Hatton, Bowdoin
– Bob Morse, Yarmouth
– Aaron Duphily, Chevrus
– Amber Dodge, Maine Winter Sports Center
– Meagan Toussaint, Yarmouth

Event Schedule HERE.

Employment Opportunities – Team Hardwood

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March 02, 2012 (Barrie, ON) – Team Hardwood is seeking to hire qualified cross country ski coaches to fill two available positions: Junior Development Squad Coach. Both are part-time positions with most work responsibilities on Saturdays in the fall and winter seasons. Read on for all of the posting details. Coaches are based at the Hardwood Ski and Bike full-service cross country ski and mountain bike centre located near Barrie, Ontario.

Junior Development Coach
Team Hardwood is seeking to hire a cross country ski coach to lead our Junior Development Squad, one of the largest and most successful Midget racing teams in Ontario. This is a part-time position, with the majority of work being done on Saturdays in the fall and winter. The Junior Development Squad coach will also work closely with the coach of our Senior Development Squad. The ideal candidate will have at least NCCP Level I coaching certification or equivalent experience.

The Junior Development Squad coach will have the opportunity to be involved in one of the top racing clubs in Canada, one that routinely places athletes on the Ontario Ski Team and in National Training Centres, and consistently ranks in the top ten at Nationals. The entire team (including the Junior and Senior Development Squads and Masters) comprises nearly 60 athletes and is supported by dozens of enthusiastic and committed parent volunteers.

The successful candidate will work out of Hardwood Ski and Bike, a full service cross country ski and mountain bike centre located near Barrie, Ontario. The position also offers an opportunity to be mentored by the Senior Development Squad coach, as well as Jack Sasseville (former national team coach); and Petr Jakl (Head Coach, Southern Ontario Training Centre).

The Junior Development Squad coach is accountable for all aspects the delivery and growth of the Junior Development Squad, which is aimed at athletes in the Learning-to-Train stage of development, with the goal of preparing them for graduation to our Senior Development Squad. In particular, the coach will be responsible for:

– conducting Saturday training sessions from September to March;
– coaching and waxing support at local races and some O-Cup races;
– helping the Senior Development Squad coach to organize and deliver the SOD High Performance Training Camp in late August, and
– assisting with team fundraising, marketing and recruitment initiatives.

The Junior Development Squad coach reports to the Board of Directors of the Hardwood Hills Nordic Development Centre (HHNDC), aka Team Hardwood, an incorporated non-profit organization.

Salary Range: Dependent on qualifications and experience

Type of Position: Part Time – Seasonal

View more details for Team Hardwood Junior Development Coach HERE.

Senior Development Coach
Team Hardwood is seeking to hire a cross country ski coach with the skills, experience, leadership qualities, and passion needed to lead our Senior Development Squad, one of the most successful junior racing teams in Canada. This is a part-time position, with the majority of work being done on weekends in the fall and winter. The ideal candidate will have at least NCCP Level II coaching certification, or equivalent experience. The Senior Development Squad coach will work closely with the coach of our Junior Development Squad.

Coaching at Hardwood offers the opportunity to lead one of the top racing clubs in Canada, one that routinely places athletes on the Ontario Ski Team, in National Training Centres, and consistently ranks in the top ten at Nationals. The entire team (including the Junior Development Squad and Masters) comprises nearly 60 athletes and is supported by dozens of enthusiastic and committed parent volunteers.

The successful candidate will work out of Hardwood Ski and Bike, a full service cross country ski and mountain bike centre located near Barrie, Ontario. The position also offers an opportunity to be mentored by two senior coaches who are also on site: Jack Sasseville (former national team coach); and Petr Jakl (Head Coach, Southern Ontario Training Centre).

The Senior Development Squad coach is accountable for all aspects of the delivery and growth of the club’s racing programs, which are aimed at athletes in the Learning-to-Train to Learning-to-Compete stages of development, with the goal of preparing them for success in provincial, national and international competition. In particular, the coach will be responsible for:

– the design and delivery of annual and seasonal training plans,
– conducting weekend training sessions,
– conducting training and testing camps,
– coaching and waxing support at Ontario Cups, World Junior Trials and Ski Nationals races,
– organizing and running the SOD High Performance Training Camp in late August,
– co-ordinating team fundraising, marketing and recruitment initiatives,
– mentoring the Junior Development Squad coach and leading parent volunteers, and
– ensuring that team equipment and waxing supplies are properly maintained.

The Senior Development Squad coach reports to the Board of Directors of the Hardwood Hills Nordic Development Centre (HHNDC), aka Team Hardwood, an incorporated non-profit organization.

Salary Range: Dependent on qualifications and experience
Type of Position: Part Time – Employee

View more details for Team Hardwood Senior Development Coach HERE.

Contact Information:
Jack Sasseville
Team Hardwood
402 Old Barrie Rd.
Oro , ON
L0L 2E0
E-mail: jack@hardwoodskiandbike.ca
Tel. 800-387-3775

Jessie Diggins Update: Some Ups and Downs, But Mostly Ups

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February 24, 2012 (Erzurum, Turkey) – XC ski fans have been wondering why young phenom Jessie Diggins has not been listed in the results at the U23 World Championships in Turkey. Unfortunately, the medal hopeful picked up a bug during her travels and was forced to sit out some races at the big events. She hopes to be well and on form for tomorrow’s 7.5k C/7.5k F Skiathlon event. We join the ski community in wishing Jessie a speedy recovery and good luck for the rest of her season. Continue reading for Jessie’s latest blog update.

Here’s a little update on what’s going on – there’s definitely been some awesome times in Poland, and some rough travel getting to Turkey!

Poland was really fun – the fans there were nuts over Kowalczyk, and were singing and hiking around the course to cover all the tough hills, which was super cool. Sprint day saw some gutsy racing by Kikkan and Devon – Kikkan fell in the final, but charged ahead, made up lost ground and still placed 3rd! Devon won the men’s race, blasting by a Russian who had started to celebrate, thinking he’d won. Lesson of the day? Nothing is ever set in stone.

The sprint was okay for me – I qualified well in 12th place but my body felt super tired in the heats and I didn’t ski the final corner well, getting boxed in and losing my momentum. Sadly, that was the last skate sprint of the year, so I’ll have to wait a while before trying it again, but this year I feel like I learned so much! Every single race has been a different experience and chance to figure out a way to get faster on the World Cup.

I didn’t race the 10km classic the next day, opting to cheer instead since the day after I’d be traveling all day to Turkey and didn’t want to get super tired out right before U23′s. So Chandra and I cheered as Kikkan placed 8th and Ida skied into her first distance points with a 26th place!

That was really cool to see, and the next day some of our athletes entered the World Uphill competition, which isn’t a World Cup event but is super tough; 4km up and 4km down on a super sketchy downhill (so I’m told – I never got to see the course, and our athletes didn’t get to preview it either!) Liz got 3rd, Chandra placed 9th, Tad got 6th and Newell finished 12th. Amazing efforts all round!

So now you’re probably wondering what the “downs” are about, after Poland was clearly super inspiring with North America kicking butt right and left. Here it is: I made it to Turkey, but not all in one piece… I started getting sick on the flight over, which was pretty much the one thing I was scared of. I was super dizzy and couldn’t even walk straight down the plane aisle, and you don’t want any more details than that.

But 24 hours later I started to feel better and I went outside for the first time today. And Turkey is absolutely beautiful! Our hotel is very nice and is right at the bottom of a mountain, so I’ve been watching alpine skiers fly through powder (and crash) while recovering.

And while I’m super bummed at not being able to race the sprint (and most likely having to sit out the 10km classic as well), since I was really gunning for a medal this year… this stuff happens! Travel, getting sick and moving on with it is just a part of life as an athlete. And though it sucks, there’s nothing I can do except get better and hope to race by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to getting to know the rest of the team, and once I get a chance to get to the venue I’ll definitely put up pictures!

Canada’s Greer Leads North Americans w/Top 30 in FR Sprints at Junior Worlds in Turkey

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February 21, 2012 (Erzurum, Turkey) – The 2012  Junior/U23 World Championships kicked off in Erzurum, Turkey on Monday with freestyle sprints for the Juniors. Canada’s Janelle Greer of Whitehorse, YK, led a youthful contingent of North Americans, finishing 28th in the women’s skate-sprint event. After finishing 26th in the qualification run, Greer was eliminated in her quarterfinal heat.

No other Canadian or American athletes qualified for the heats. This was Greer’s third trip to the Junior Worlds as Sweden’s Stina Nilsson won the women’s sprint.

Also representing Canada in the women’s event were Dahria Beatty (48th), Emilie Stewart-Jones (55th), and Anne-Marie Comeau (57th), all of whom are among the youngest competitors in the race.

Canada’s Alexis Turgeon narrowly missed qualifying in the men’s sprint placing 33rd in qualification. Teammates Knute Johnsgaard and Geoffrey Richards were 51st and 52nd respectively. Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov won the men’s gold.

“We are a very young team and there is a huge learning curve for these athletes,” said national team coach, Eric de Nys, in team release. “These athletes are skiing at altitude for the first time, which is a whole new experience. These are the best athletes in Canada for their age, and for some it is the first time they’re racing against the top athletes in the world, so they also learn it is time to get their work boots on.”

Eight American athletes also competed in the Monday’s junior sprints, although none qualified for the heats. Competing in the women’s event were Corey Stock (41st), Emily Hannah (49), Stephanie Kirk (51st) and Mary O’Connel (58th). Reese Hanneman narrowly missed the heats, qualifying in 34th position, followed by teammates Cole Morgan (35th), Will Wicherski (72nd) and Forrest Mahlen (87th).

Women’s Qualifications HERE.
Men’s Qualifications HERE.
Women’s final results HERE.
Men’s final results HERE.

USA’s Top Biathlon Young Gun Currier Talks About Surprising Himself

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February 16, 2012 – Russell Currier, 24, a rising star on the US men’s biathlon squad, surprised even himself when he scored a career-best sixth place in the 10k sprint at the IBU Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic last month – read more HERE. He then proved he could do it again when he matched his sixth place in Kontiolahti, Finland last weekend. It was an historic day for the entire US squad, with the team’s best showing ever in a World Cup. Lowell Bailey finished 5th, while Tim Burke placed 13th and Jay Hakkinen was 16th. SkiTrax caught up with Currier after his breakthrough results and here’s what he had to say:

The coaches and I had no idea what to expect out of the sprint race on Saturday. I came down with what I think was food poisoning the day before and wasn’t even sure if I should race. I didn’t feel 100% Saturday morning, but I was close, and with the way shooting and ski speed had been going lately, I made the call and decided to go for it.

I like the course profile in Kontiolahti. It’s very basic and has a good variety of climbs. The -15 Celsius weather wasn’t as fun. I’m not a fan of racing in a buff or with tape on the face, but I didn’t have much choice in the sprint race.

My shooting has felt good the past couple of weeks. Our coach and I worked on bringing my range times down a little bit. I was able to shave off a few seconds for the race on Saturday, which ended up making a huge difference.

Ski speed felt decent considering I had to duck out of the mixed relay the day before. I don’t know what food it was, but this is not the first time this has happened to me in Finland. I didn’t have anyone that I knew was fast around me. All I could do was break the course down into increments and do each one as best as I could. On the last loop, I only had a few splits. Hearing that I was in the top eight helped get me through the last flat section before the finish.

The whole race felt surreal. My goal was to get in the top 40. With the way I had been feeling the day before, I was just hoping to make the top 60 for a pursuit start. The whole day for the men’s team was a tremendous success. It was officially the best day the US men had ever had. I was honored to be able to say that I was part of it.

The pursuit was another good day for our team. I moved down to 23rd, but it was still a good race for me. Prone was decent with one in each stage. I would have liked to have shot a little better in standing, but I wasn’t the only one struggling with shooting that day. Pacing and tactics were much more professional in Sunday’s pursuit than the pursuit in Nove Mesto. My legs felt a little heavy and stiff so I was very surprised when I found out afterwords that I had the 10th fastest ski time.

The IBU Cup field is more competitive than ever. You could say the same thing about the WC field to, but the IBU field has taken the biggest increase the past couple of years. Biathlon is such an up and down sport it’s not always fair to compare results from day to day. I can finish a race and give a better analysis of how it went than the result list can. I’ve had a few mediocre days on the IBU and WCup circuit this season. The sprint race in Kontiolahti was just one of the very good days.

Both races this past weekend were a confidence boost for the athletes and staff. We’re not working any less hard or professionally than the Euros. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be up on the result list. The weekend was simply a good example of this and our organization as a team.

The Way I See It – US and Canadian Women’s Relay Teams

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February 14, 2012 – US Best – Sunday’s relay effort by the US women has to be one of the top racing days in the history of Women’s Cross Country skiing in the US – if not the top day. It opened a huge gateway into the future. There were many reasons for this relay to be a bomb of the year rather than an effort that would have everyone over here cheering in their offices, breakfast nooks, cars, and where ever they were watching this effort on their computers.

For starters Kikkan Randall, the team’s best skier, sat out another race. On top of that the four ladies on the team had skied a very hard 15km CL WC the day before, Holly Brooks (the starter) is still wearing her wrist splint (now and then) and doesn’t have a bunch of races under her belt the last few weeks and didn’t finish the classic race the day before. Ida, the 4th lady in the pecking order, was replacing Kikkan the leader – BUT – on race day they came to the start line dressed in their striped USA red, white and blue socks over their uniforms and painted red and blue USA’s on their faces to lay down four of the best performances in their careers landing the best-ever USA relay result – 5th place.

Not only missing 4th place by a second, but being less then a minute behind Norway who won – that is something to talk about. QUESTION: What does the future hold – it’s exciting for everyone – and kudos to the coaches and the skiers for their dedication to having such an aggressive approach to building the relay team’s going forward – here we come Sochi! They now have quality and depth in taking this direction that they decided on in the summer months. Sounds like a plan!

Now North of The Border – You have just the opposite direction being taken by the Ladies program in Canada. As I wrote last week the women never made it to Rybinsk and now moving forward (or backward) from there only Perianne [Jones] was in Nove Mesto, while Chandra had to go home for a family emergency and Dasha, the lone member of the newly formed “senior team”, was in Seefeld with her boyfriend for training and an Austrian Alps holiday. It’s been two weeks and only one of the three ladies has raced once in that period – not an international scope in focus that I can see.

Here are some of the numbers that will show you the disparity between the US and the Candian women’s program when it comes to racing starts from the beginning of the season in Sjusjoen, Norway to Nove Mesto, CZE.

Canadian Ladies:
– Dasha – 15 races
– Perianne – 17
– Chandra – 17 (emergency trip home)

US Ladies:
– Jessie – 24
– Kikkan – 35
– Holly – 34 (broken wrist)
– Liz – 33
– Ida – 25
– Sadie – 19 (off the circuit a couple of weeks ago)

I don’t place the blame on the Canadian girls, but on the coaching staff, mainly [Justin] Wadsworth and [Eric] DeNys as they work with the ladies and chart the course for the year. But mainly it’s the coaches direction and expertise that is counted on here for going in the right direction. You say I’m not being fair, what about the Men’s program? They’ve been pounding the circuit since Sjusjoen in mid-November, so why not the Ladies? It’s a program that is not building towards Sochi.

I can remember watching Devon [Kershaw] fighting his way through season’s 5-6 years ago and getting beaten down but going back for more the next year… and look at him now.

The Canadian Ladies are racing about 1.4 races per week (mostly sprints) which is not enough to be in racing shape. This plan has way too many breaks – the training should have been done in the summer. I think this was the way of the 90s, the old North American way, not the new dedicated “we will be in Europe all winter way” adopted supposedly by both team this year. Sorry Canadian Ladies – you got the short straw this year.

Can any of the Canadian Ladies make it to Falun for the WCup finals…? Not likely – Chandra has a chance, but it is slipping away fast. Time for this program to change gears – real fast.

Talk To You Next Time,

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy WCup 2011/12 Contest – Standings after Moscow and Rybinsk

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February 09, 2012 (Toronto, ON) – The Viessmann FIS XC World Cup featured a Russian extravaganza last week with an exciting midweek sprint event in Moscow, followed by another World Cup weekend. It was a momentous week for Canada’s Devon Kershaw, who took home bronze in Moscow and GOLD in Rybinsk. Read the stories HERE and HERE.

Siggy’s Speedsters still has a hold on the SkiTrax FIS Fantasy WCup 2011/12 Contest lead with 1,097 points, but Team daviking has moved from third into a close second with 1092 points, bumping 3LIT3 into third and a mere three points back.

For the complete FIS WCup Fantasy Contest standings after Moscow and Rybinsk click HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2011/12 Contest Prizes
* 1st Prize Fischer 11/12 Carbonlite Hole Skis, Xcelerator Bindings, Carbonlite Poles (value $1,100)
* 2nd PrizeSkiGo Carbon 780 Roller Skis (value $580)
* 3rd Prize
Alpina ESK Ski Boots (value $449)
* 4th Prize Bjorn Daehlie Exclusive US XC Ski Suit (value $300)
* 5th Prize Sporthill XC Pants/Tights and Glacier Top (value $220)
* 6th PrizeFresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $150)
* 7th Prize – Bliz Proflip Visor (value $129)
* 8th PrizeRottefella Xcelerator Skate/Classic Bindings (value $120)
* 9th Prize
Concept2 Goodie Duffle Bag (value $100)
* 10th PrizeAuclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* WCup BreakBuff Headware (value $23) to top 3 contest leaders before the Tour de Ski

Thanks to all of our great sponsors, including Fischer, SkiGo, Alpina, Bjorn Daehlie Clothing, Sporthill, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Rottefella, Bliz, Concept 2, Auclair, and Buff.

SkiTrax is North America’s leading Nordic skiing publication and the official magazine of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and Cross Country Canada (CCC).

Tour de Twin Cities Skate Sprints – Bender and Reynolds in Charge

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January 26, 2012 (Minneapolis, MN) – Skiers have reached the midpoint of the 5-stage Tour De Twin Cities. On Wednesday evening, racers contested a prologue skate sprint under the lights at Wirth Park. The 1.4 kilometer course started on the high point of Wirth, gradually descended 60 feet, and then climbed back to the top.

With temperatures sitting right around 32 degrees, the man-made snow transformed to the point of being lightning fast. From the side of the course, it was apparent that some athletes were struggling to find the line between skiing with power versus slipping into a frantic tempo. The results confirmed a fast course: the top four male athletes finished within the same second, and the top three women were split by only one second.

The men’s race saw three new athletes on the podium. Tim Reynolds (Craftsbury Green Racing Team) took the win and the $250 bonus awarded to the sprint winner. Second and third went to Patrick O’Brien (Craftsbury) and Mark Iverson (APUNSC). Just 8 tenths of a second out of the win, and 1 hundredth of a second behind Iverson. Samuel Naney (Methow Olympic Development/Madshus) was oh-so-close to the podium in fourth.

On the women’s side, Jennie Bender (CXC) recorded the win and claimed the $250 bonus. With the overall victory in mind, Bender says, “I am in a little bit better position for this weekend.” Second place went to Lauren Fritz (APUNSC), and Caitlin Gregg (CXC) was third.

This was the last Minneapolis event of the Tour, as the races move to the St. Paul area for next weekend’s final events. With three races complete, Team Strong Heart’s Matt Liebsch (fifth in the sprint) has a solid lead in the overall classification with Sylvan Ellefson  (SSC Vail) 19 points behind. After her win, Jennie Bender has the lead in the overall classification by just 4 points over Caitlin Gregg.

EISA Bates Carnival Days 1-2 – UVM Scores

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January 24, 2012 (Rumford, ME) – The EISA season kicked off with the Bates Carnival from Jan. 20-21. The alpine races were  contested at Sunday River in Newry, Maine, while the Nordic events were held at Black Mountain in Rumford, Maine.

Day 1
EISA schools patiently awaited the start of Carnival races over the past few weeks. When racing finally kicked off today (Jan. 20) with the Bates College Carnival at Sunday River and Black Mountain in Maine, the University of Vermont could not be thwarted.

On the opening day of the Bates Carnival, Vermont didn’t just fire the missiles; they launched the nukes. Of a total twelve podium spots up for grabs, Catamount racers locked up eight and scored a head-turning 531 points.

Lucy Garrec (UVM) won the women’s 5km freestyle race and was joined on the podium by teammate Caitlin Patterson. It was Garrec’s first collegiate freestyle victory, and after the race she noted, “I felt like the [5km freestyle] course suited me and allowed me to be light and quick.” Sophie Caldwell of Dartmouth finished third. The Bates women made an impressive move into third place with solid results from Beth Taylor, sixth, and Hallie Grossman, eleventh.

The Big Green retaliated in the men’s 10km freestyle race when Sam Tarling took second, Eric Packer third, and Gordon Vermeer fourth for Dartmouth. Race winner Patrick Johnson has returned to his Middlebury team with evidenced strength this season, and Vermont’s Franz Bernstein found the podium in third.

Day 2
Led by a second alpine podium sweep in the men’s races on Saturday (Jan. 21), the University of Vermont extended its convincing lead to take a noteworthy win at the Bates Carnival. The Catamounts once again broke the 1000-point mark, tallying 1004 total points over runner-up Dartmouth who posted 837. Middlebury was third with 699.

Two areas of weakness for the Catamounts were capitalized upon by other teams. In the men’s 10k classic at Black Mountain, Eric Packer of Dartmouth timed his decisive break perfectly in the final kilometer to secure the victory. He noted that his coach’s specific training plan leading into the season was beneficial, “Ruff [Patterson] frequently had us do head-to-head intervals to mimic the chaos of mass start racing, and that type of workout really paid off today in the hectic, short distance mass start.” He was flanked on the podium by Vermont’s Franz Bernstein in second and Middlebury standout Patrick Johnson in third.

The women’s 10k classic leader board developed predictably with UVM and Dartmouth duking it out in alternating fashion. Vermont’s Caitlin Patterson returned to her familiar spot in the winner’s column while fellow Catamounts Amy Glen and Lucy Garrec finished second and fourth, respectively. Dartmouth’s Sophie Caldwell snagged third and the Big Green placed its other two scoring racers, Anne Hart and Isabel Caldwell, well inside the top 10.

EISA action continues Jan. 27-28 with the University of New Hampshire Carnival at Attitash Mountain Resort and the Jackson XC Center.

Final team scores at the conclusion of the Bates Carnival:
University of Vermont – 1004
Dartmouth College – 837
Middlebury College – 699

Results HERE.
Full breakdown of team scores available HERE.

Haywood NorAm Westerns – Schedule Change

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January 19, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – After consultation with the organizing committee, and in consideration of the weather forecasts, the race jury has made the decision to alter the event schedule as follows:

1) Friday, January 20: Interval start classic race (previously on Saturday)
Race start at 11:00 AM – 15 second intervals

2) Saturday, January 21: individual sprint free technique race (previously on Friday)
Qualification and heat times as per the race notice

3) All existing registrations for the interval start will be transferred into the new Friday time slot.

4) In the event that the Friday interval start race is not able to be held because of cold weather, it will be put back to Saturday, as part of a two day pursuit-with-a-break, and the sprint event will be cancelled.

5) Persons who are not able to accommodate the new race schedule (for example those who had previously registered for only Saturday and Sunday races) are asked to contact the Race Secretary to explore alternative arrangements.

Race Secretary: Greg Thompson – competitionsecretary@albertaworldcup.com
OC Chair: Ken Hewitt – khewitt@albertaworldcup.com; 403-680-4141

*** Please forward this info to others who may need to know.

Ken Hewitt
Organizing Committee Chair

Race info HERE.

The Sasseville Report – Milan Sprints and Other Things

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January 16, 2012 – I’ve got to hand it to Juerg Capol and Vegard Ulvang from FIS. They truly have made an effort to bring cross-country skiing to the people of the world. The Tour de Ski with it’s various interesting stages concluding with a climb up a downhill slope is a great example of how they have turned what was once a boring sport to watch into something that is exciting for every kind of fan.

Another example of this is the city sprints like the ones in Milan, Italy, this past weekend. Milan rarely has snow and the Milanese usually have to travel a long way to ski. To bring the best sprinters in the world to this city is brilliant.

What is also brilliant is how well skiers from North American are doing on the World Cup this year. Kikkan Randall, Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, and Chandra Crawford have all consistently been at the top of the results list and it has become a pleasure to report on their success this season.

As well, Len Valjas, Ivan Babikov, Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova from Canada as well as Simi Hamilton, Andy Newell, Sadie Bjoernson, Holly Brooks and now Jessie Diggins have also had good races and have scored World Cup points and in some cases have been on the podium.

Every week it seems that someone different from Canada or the US is standing on a podium. The most consistent has been Kikkan Randall who finished 2nd twice in Milan, once on her own in the individual sprint and a second time with young sensation Jessie Diggins in the team sprints.

Diggins had dominated the domestic racing scene in December after a stellar junior career. She is a legitimate talent who has the speed and endurance to be a star on the World Cup.

Chandra Crawford, after a 7th place in the individual sprints, hit the podium again this time with Perianne Jones in the team sprints where they finished right behind the Americans in 3rd. Chandra has been consistently in the top 10 over the past few races and is now a contender in every sprint race.

Len Valjas was the best of the North Americans in the individual sprints finishing in 14th. Simi Hamilton continues to improve finishing in 19th while Andy Newell continued to struggle in heats finishing in 26th after qualifying 8th.

Randall is showing incredible endurance by continuing to race in every World Cup. She has said that she wants to race every one and, barring illness, she will. She continues to lead the Sprint World Cup and sits 4th in the overall World Cup. I have stopped thinking of her as a sprinter. She is now a great overall skier who can succeed in any race.

Kershaw, Harvey and Babikov have taken a much needed rest this week before returning to the World Cup circuit next week in Otepaa, Estonia. There will be classic sprints on Saturday followed by classic individual start distance races on Sunday. The course in Otepaa is one of the hardest in the world and it is one where the best classic skiers and climbers in the world can shine.

This race is another example of how the FIS has created a World Cup circuit for everyone. It appeals to the traditional fan who likes to see an individual start and classic technique race like the old days – 15 years ago!

One last question that I would like to ask all of you – do you think that the Tour de Ski with 8 races over 11 days is as hard as a professional cycling tour that would be the same number of races? Do you think that it is as hard as the Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia? And finally what makes it harder or easier?

Russia Wins Men’s Team Sprint in Milan

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January 15, 2012 (Milan, Italy) – The Russian duo of Alexey Petukhov and Nikolay Morilov scored the win in the men’s 6×1.4km free men’s team sprint at the FIS WCup Sunday in Milan. Sweden’s Calle Halvarsson and Teodor Peterson took the silver medal, while, to the delight of the Italian crowd, David Hofer (ITA) and Fulvio Scola (ITA) sprinted to bronze.

The U.S. squad of Andy Newell and Simeon Hamilton did not advance to the final, finishing off with a 19th-place ranking. No Canadian team was entered in the event.

Results HERE.

Germany’s Neuner and Birnbacher Take IBU Mass Start Races – USA’s Baily 16th

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January 11, 2012 (Oberhof, Germany) – In tough conditions with snow falling, Germany’s Magdalena Neuner won her second victory of the weekend taking the women’s 12.5km Mass Start with a winning time of 40:02 despite three shooting penalties. Norway’s Tora Berger was only 12.5 seconds back in second with two penalties while Neuner’s teammate, Andrea Henkel had only one shooting penalty to claim 3rd at 32 seconds back. No North American women qualified for the event.

The skiing was very challenging as the heavy snowfall created taxing ski conditions and difficult shooting. None of the top racers shot clean. With 2.5km to go, Neuner took the lead with her strong skiing and didn’t look back taking her second win of the weekend.

“It was a great race and a lot of fun since it is my last time here. I am in very good shape and I had very good skis, so I am very happy with my race,” Neuner told Biathlonworld post-race. “The penalties did not faze me I was always close to the lead and felt all day like I had enough power to handle Tora and Andrea. I was very relaxed all day.”

The snow subsided shortly after the men’s 15km Mass Start race began and it was Germany again as Andi Birnbacher was unstoppable shooting clean on his way to victory with a finishing time of 38:34. In second was Simon Fourcade of France at 24.3 seconds back with only one shooting penalty, followed by Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) in third with three penalties at 29.6 seconds back.

With better conditions a total of 19 men shot clean on the first round of prone shooting including Lowell Bailey of the USA, the lone North American in the field. Nine men shot clean on the second prone round and after the first standing session Birnbacher was one second behind the race leader Klemen Bauer (SLO).

Birnbacher shot clean in the final round while Bauer cracked missing three shots and was out of contention. Bailey missed two rounds in his first standing session, the only shots he missed on the day to finish 16th overall.

“I was pretty tired after the travel and competition in Schalke,” said Birnbacher, “I was still tired in the sprint so it was amazing that I did so well today. Having the wins is good for my confidence, but puts no pressure on me.”

Women’s results HERE.
Men’s results HERE.

The Theme of the Tour de Ski is Recovery

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January 05, 2012 (Oberhof, Germany) – Holly Brooks, who racing at her first Tour de Ski, injured her wrist while on a run just before the Tour started. She’s been hanging in and doing exceptionally well considering her injury and posted this blog after Day 1 [which we missed] that provides some insight into how she prepared for the biggest event on the ski calendar this season.

I figure that a short post is better than none at all…. so here it is: The Tour de Ski started today. While I had a poor result – by far, my worst “distance race” since being in Europe, I have to be happy in that I felt as if I could ski.

Yesterday, in the training day, my wrist was incredibly painful and I have to admit; I was worried to say the least. Today I had a top-notch tape job done by Steph, our massage therapist and a double dose of pain meds. The duo seemed to do the trick!

Conditions today were icy, squirrely and fast – not my favorite. But, it’s snowing outside right now which makes me happy. Klister covered conditions are some of my favorite and I have an awesome pair of skis if the waxing goes that way. I’ll have plenty of girls to chase tomorrow in the pursuit start so it should be fun to “hunt some down” and try and improve my overall placing, not to mention, aim for a solid “day of” result.

Other than that, one of the big themes of the Tour is RECOVERY. With nine races in eleven days, proactive recovery becomes imperative.

Here is the plan: after the race, reach for my Boost – yep, the “old folks drink.” I may be the only person on the US team that likes the stuff. Me and maybe my grandma :) Change clothes afterwards… get a good, short cool down, ice my hand, change into dry clothes, hustle back to the hotel for a shower, put my feet up. I’m sure we’ll start using the mobile ice bath as fatigue builds up. Also, Kikkan and Bird did a bit of personal fundraiser to bring Steph Caverhill, a massage therapist over for the team.

Most teams travel with a massage therapist everywhere. While we normally do not have one, we’re excited to have Steph here to help us out over the next week and a half. As I said above, she did an awesome job of taping my hand.

It’s cool to have a female on staff…. I can tell with the little things like the fact that she used pre-rap on my tape job so I don’t have to pull off half of my arm hair when de-taping. Thanks for that Steph!

Thanks for everyone’s encouragement! Go team USA!

Legkov Victorious at TdS Stage 5 as Cologna Now Leads – Kershaw Top North American in 18th

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January 03, 2012 (Toblach, Italy) – Russia’s Alexander Legkov finally broke through for his first podium of the season, a victory in today’s 5th stage of the Tour de Ski, an individual start 5km classic race in Toblach, Italy. Legkov finished today’s race in 13:49.5. Norway’s Eldar Roenning came in 2nd at 1.7 seconds followed by Dario Cologna (SUI) in third at 2.0 seconds back as he takes over the race lead from Norway’s Petter Northug was a little off the pace today, finishing in 12th.

The Russians were out in force in today’s race and surely nailed the wax or made the best of their zero skis, after placing six men in the top 11. Canada’s Devon Kershaw lead the North American men placing 18th as he finished 24.6 seconds behind Legkov. His teammate Alex Harvey had a bit of an off day, placing 29th at 37.5 seconds back of the leader. Ivan Babikov, who is nursing an injured arm after crashing in the Skiathon on Jan. 1, finished in 72nd place.

It was another tough day for the US team as well, with Simi Hamilton pulling out the Tour prior to today’s race, the victim of a stomach virus, according to Head Coach Chris Grover. The sole remaining US man in the Tour, Kris Freeman, finished 52nd on the day.

Cologna moves into the overall Tour lead after today, while Northug drops to 2nd, followed by Legkov in 3rd. Legkov’s victory today, including a 15-second time bonus for the win, has closed the gap to Northug  to less than 30 seconds, so the Tour is beginning to look more like a three-man race.  Kershaw holds onto 5th place, while Harvey has dropped to 15th overall after today’s disappointing result.

5km CL results HERE.
Tour de Ski Overall HERE.

Canadian Video Highlights and Interviews from Day 1 at the Tour de Ski

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December 30, 2011 (Oberhof, Germany) – Check out this great video courtesy of the Canadian Team during Day 1 of the Tour de Ski, including training clips, action in the wax room, race footage, and post-race interviews with the athletes, including Ivan Babikov and Devon Kershaw.

The Eve of the Tour de Ski

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December 29, 2011 (Oberhof, Germany) – So…. I haven’t said much on my blog yet about the Tour de Ski but here it is – starting TOMORROW!  As there is no World Champs or Olympics this year, the Tour is kind of the pinnacle of the race year. Many of the top athletes have been aiming to perform well here all year. I was a last minute addition to the US Tour roster after having performances during period one of the World Cup this fall.

I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to race this event. As a distance skier and high volume trainer, I absolutely LOVE the thought of racing day in and day out, challenging myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have no idea how I’ll do or what will happen to by body as the days of fatigue add up but this is a great time to try it and I couldn’t be more excited for the challenge.

There are a ton of friends, family, and even people I don’t know that have helped make it possible for me to be here. As many of you know, I’m responsible for providing my own funding and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the generous support and enthusiasm of many of YOU. I hesitate to name anyone personally because there are so many of you and I don’t want to leave anyone out but you know who you are.

The experience of needing support and needing it fast has really been really moving. I only hope that I can repay many of you back with the generosity someday be it in the form of a ski lesson, athletic inspiration, a smile, or perhaps one day, dollars to a cause important to you. I know that on Thursday, when I put a bib on, I will feel like I’m racing with the support of people from Washington and Alaska; Kongsberger Ski Club, Alaska Pacific University, and Snoqualmie Nordic Team. THANK YOU so much to ALL of you!

As far as challenges go, I feel the need to share something that’s been on the fore front of my mind lately…. Christmas Day I decided to go for a short run before dinner. It was dark out and icy in places. Just as I was about to turn around and head back to the Kobaldhof, I slipped on the ice, falling back, and caught myself with my left hand. I knew instantly that it was not good…. but I wasn’t sure how bad. And I still don’t know. The plan for tomorrow, and each day afterwards is to ice, tape, take some anti-immflatatory medication and go for it.

The US team doesn’t have a doctor here at the moment so this morning I went and saw the Norwegian Team’s Doctor and “Physio.” (The Euro name for PT). They were incredibly generous to see me and were encouraging in that they do not think my wrist has a scaphoid fracture – my greatest worry via a couple hours on email and web MD. (Always a bad idea and also guaranteed to give you nightmares). If Petra Madjic can win a bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games with broken ribs and a punctured lung, perhaps I can race the Tour, and excel in it with whatever injury my wrist may have sustained. It’s not ideal but I’m certainly not the first athlete who has gotten a bit beat up.

Time for bed as often rest provides one with the best healing and rejuvenation powers! Thank you everyone for everything and I’ll do my best to keep you posted through this incredible journey!


Holly :)

Heading Home…

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December 21, 2011 – After the ski racing scene made a stop in British Columbia’s SilverStar Mountain, I headed six hours south down the Okanogan Valley to my old stomping grounds to the Wenatchee Valley. Highway 97 might not have the most recognizable name, but traveling the two lane road takes you through some of the finest agricultural country in the west. It’s always interesting to head through mostly rural, largely geographically isolated towns, like those that trade in names such as Pentecton, Oroville, Brewster or Chelan, where signs from a different era and brick storefronts replace the Chevrons and Golden Arches. The locals have a little more presence, a little more personality and, I suspect, reflect more the life of the people who live there.

Heading home, though, has not brought an end to the mostly snowless winter. Snow is patchy at best. The first day I hit the trails I couldn’t head to my familiar haunts like the little Ski Hill in Leavenworth or trails that meander along the Wenatchee River. That first day I skied the first day in an alfalfa field, rolled with an Arctic Cat snowmobile in Plain, Washington. For the meager amount of snow, and limited terrain, the skiing wasn’t more than what one could expect. Also, it’s always interesting to skate and glide in some new locale. That the Plain ski venue in the alfalfa fields sits next to the only road I’ve ever seen the backseat of a Crown Vic on – for rollerskiing outside the fogline up Beaver Hill – brought back some remembrances.

Getting back home also gave me the chance to catch up with Mr. Peck and his 5th grade class. With Christmas Break now upon them, and the schoolwork assignments giving way to Christmas parties, the girls have told me they think I am their lucky rabbit’s foot. It’s been great to get back in the classroom – especially that I finished my own finals for the university learning – to catch up with Mr. Peck and connect with the kids. Yes, the days in Pacific Northwest are the perfect place to be, even if I wouldn’t mind for a few more snowflakes to fall any day yet.

Until the next time,


USST Members to Give Free Clinic to Methow Valley Home Team – Dec. 21

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December 21, 2011 (Early Winters, WA) – This year, the Methow Valley Nordic Team has no less than four graduates who are skiing at an elite level in international competitions. Sadie Bjornsen and her younger brother Erik Bjornsen are members of the U.S. Ski Team, hoping to make the 2014 Olympic Games.

Brian Gregg, ranked among the 10 fastest skiers in the country, has been invited by the U.S. Ski Team to compete in Europa Cup races and has earned World Cup Start rights by leading the overall Super Tour.

Casey Smith, named Junior Biathlete of the Year by the U.S. Biathlon Team, and is near qualifying for the U.S. Biathlon European Championship Team

All four of these elite athletes will be giving back to the community and their home team, by giving a free ski clinic on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at the Mazama Community Center, for members of the Methow Valley Nordic Team. Over 30 kids have pre-registered!

Click HERE to view the announcement on Sadie Bjornsen’s blog.

McKeever and Carleton Strike Gold at IPC XC World Cup in Norway

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December 19, 2011 (Sjusjoen, Norway) – Canada’s Brian McKeever and Erik Carleton teamed up to win their first-ever IPC World Cup race together in a 10-kilometre classic-ski race in Sjusjoen Norway on Sunday.

The childhood ski friends growing up in Calgary, who won three silver medals in as many races this week, finally climbed onto the top step of the podium together after clocking the fastest time of the day at 27:38.2 in the men’s visually impaired category.

“We have been doing a lot of skate racing so it was nice to change the technique and get this one,” said the 32-year-old McKeever. “I think we still have a little advantage over some of the guys in classic racing. The key to winning is to exploit your strengths and others weaknesses and we did that today.”

The track to the podium was anything but easy for the Canadian duo. Battling fatigue from a long period of racing in Europe and blowing conditions, McKeever relied heavily on the 33-year-old Carleton to find the quickest line to the finish.

“Erik pulled really hard at the front in some pretty strong headwinds,” said McKeever. “He worked hard crossing between tracks to find the fastest line and did an awesome job for me today.”

The Canadians were sandwiched on the podium by two Russian teams. Nikolay Polukhin and Andrey Tokarev skied to the silver medal at 28:50.6, while Stanislav Chokhlaev and Maksim Pirogov were third with a time of 29:39.9.

McKeever has become of the most accomplished para-nordic skiers in the world since being diagnosed with Stargaards disease in 1998. Brian, along with his longtime guide and brother Robin, has won 10 Paralympic medals including seven gold in his three trips to the Paralympics.

Brian leaned on Carleton to guide him to three victories at the 2011 IPC World Championships when Robin was sidelined with an ACL injury last year. A 1998 Olympian, Robin is now the head coach of the Canadian Para-Nordic Team. Regardless of the guide, the younger McKeever has worked tirelessly to win everything on the table in para-nordic skiing.

“We have trained more than 800 hours this year which is right up there with able-bodied skiers,” said McKeever. “Winning isn’t easy as we saw this week (finishing second three times in a row) so we have to keep working hard because it hasn’t been enough so far.”

Two other Canadians also suited up on Sunday. Colette Bourgonje, of Saskatoon, finished seventh in the women’s five-kilometre sit-ski race. Mark Arendz, of Springton, P.E.I., who won a gold, silver and bronze medal in biathlon races this week, finished 11th in the men’s 10-kilometre standing class.

Kikkan Randall’s Race Tails: Double Podiums in Düsseldorf and Davos

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December 16, 2011 – The exciting new season continues! First off a skate sprint weekend along the Rhein river in Düsseldorf, Germany. In the individual sprint, I started off the day with a 10th in qualifying and then battled my way through the rounds on the narrow course to make the final. In the final, there was some bumping early on in the race, but I was able to stay on my feet and make a free-skating charge at the end to take the win.

In the next day’s team sprint, I lined up with my APU teammate Sadie Bjornsen and made it through to the finals.  On the first lap we had some bad luck and got stuck behind a fall, dropping us to last.  We never lost faith however, kept charging and on the last lap I was able to make up a few spots and get us into the silver medal position.  The first ever team sprint podium for a US sprint team!

The next weekend took us to Davos, Switzerland where the snow finally arrived and we got to contest a 15km skate on a 7.5km loop (a rarity on WC these days), and a skate sprint.

In the 15km, I had a good start early but then faded through the race, just managing to stay in the points at 27th place.  It proved to be a great warm-up for the sprint however, and I was able to qualify 1st and lead through the quarters and semis to make the final.

In the final I took the lead midway through and made an aggressive acceleration over the top of the hill to break up the pack. I ended up breaking away for the win.  I also got to wear the red Sprint Leaders jersey through the day, which was pretty fun!

Now we’re on to Rogla, Slovenia for the last weekend of Period 1.  There’s not much snow here but the organizers are working hard to put on some good races.  We’ve got a 10km classic mass-start and a skate sprint coming up!

Quote of the Day
“We all shared in the success and it made it so incredibly special! ”

What’s Coming Up
– Dec. 17/11 – 11 Rogla WC – 10km C Mass-start
– Dec. 18/11 – Rogla WC – Sprint F
– Dec. 29/11 – Tour de Ski – Oberhof Prologue
– Dec. 30/11 – Tour de Ski – Oberhof 10k C H
– Dec. 31/11 – Tour de Ski – Oberstdorf Sprint C
– Jan. 1/12 – Tour de Ski – Oberstdorf 10k Skiathlon

The Full Report
Hello everyone!  It’s been another couple of exciting weeks!  I have to admit that I’ve been having so much fun celebrating the good races and hanging out with my teammates that I’ve been a little delinquent in getting my Race Tails out.  Here is a quick recap of the last two weekends.

Following the mini-tour in Ruka, Finland, we headed down to Central Europe to the sun!  Winter had not arrived yet here either, and the first few days of training were confined to 1-3km loops of man-made snow on top of green grass!

Düsseldorf Sprint Weekend
Once in Düsseldorf, the scene was pretty much the same as the previous years.  Except, this time in the giant stadium attached to our hotel, the soccer field was covered with a car racing track.  We got to watch the drivers test out their cars and I have to admit it was pretty fun to see them sliding the corners and revving their engines.

On Saturday morning we awoke to pouring rain.  Luckily I had all my stuff this year and packed my bag with just about every piece of ski clothing I had brought!  The most exciting thing was that I had female teammates this year, three of them, which meant that we could actually ski in the team sprint for the first time!

Individual Skate Sprint
For the qualifying round I was given bib #1 for the 2nd week in a row, so with a fresh course before me, I set off around the 750m loop!  I came around the first corner so fast that I almost lost my balance.  Luckily, I stayed on my feet and made it around the course in less than two minutes.  It was a solid burn but over so fast!  I ended up qualifying in 10th position.

Thankfully the rain stopped in time for the heats.  In the quarters and semis, I had decent starts, worked my way up through the pack on the back stretch and used strong finishes each time to advance.

In the final, I did not get a good start and ended up bumping skis with a couple competitors down the first straight away.  After a few more bumps coming up to the first turn with fellow NA racer Chandra Crawford, I decided to settle back in the pack.  As we approached Mt. Düsseldorf I noticed a narrow opening in between Chandra and the Russian, Matveeva.  I went for it.  A few more bumps.  Over the top I managed to get myself into 2nd position.   As we came off the final turn, I worked an aggressive free skate and swung wide into the outside lane.  Skating low and without poles, I managed to sneak into the finish lanes just ahead of Matveeva and secured the win at the line.  I let out an ecstatic yell!

Düsseldorf has one of the most fun awards presentations after the race, up on a big stage next to the course.  They blasted techno music while they called up the top ten and I couldn’t help but do a little dance.  After the awards were presented, they played the US National anthem and it was incredibly special to hear it out loud. I sang every word.

Right away we had another important race to focus on, the team sprint.  It was decided that Sadie Bjornsen and I would team up on the first team, and Holly and Ida would team up for our second team.  We were all pretty excited to get in the mix!

Team Sprint
The next day we awoke to clearer skies and less wind.  While the snow was much dirtier than the day before, the course was holding up well.  We did some jogging to warm-up and then hit the course for a short window of ski testing before the race.  I found my legs to be quite tired from the full day before.

In the semis, Sadie skied our lead off leg.  Over the first few laps, we just hung contently in the pack and tried to avoid all the chaos.  The exchange zones were war fields every time but we managed to make it through unscathed and in good position going into the final lap.  I was able to pass a couple teams in the finish stretch to automatically advance us to the final.  The pace had been fast and furious and we both hoped we had more left in the tank for the finals.

Sadie and I hung out together in the wax trailer during the short break between rounds.  Sadie played it pretty calm, but disclosed to me later that she was really nervous.  The funny thing is, I was too.   Although, I did manage to drift off to sleep for a few minutes and dream about Santa Claus of all things.

For the finals Sadie again skied the lead off leg.  She got off to a fantastic start and was near the front when suddenly, just past the exchange zone, she got caught up behind a fall and dropped to the back.  Not panicking, I chased hard once I got the tag and over the next couple laps we just tried to get back in contention. Sadie skied a fantastic last leg and got us back on to the back of the lead group, we were in 9th.

Once I got the final tag, I decided to go for it.  I went wide up the first rise and around the corner and made up a couple places.  While everyone seemed to relax a bit on the back stretch, I again worked the wide lane and by the time I got over Mt. Düsseldorf, I was in 4th.  When we came off the final turn, I free skated like crazy again and headed for the far wide lane.  This time I did manage to use a couple of pole plants and somehow managed to get us into 2nd place by the time I hit the line.  Podium #2!

Sadie immediately ran over and gave me the biggest hug.  A wave of emotion surged over me.  We jumped up and down together and then our other teammates and coaches, who had been yelling like crazy for us, came over and we had a big group hug.  We all shared in the success and it made it so incredibly special!

We got to go up on stage for the awards ceremony and dance some more.  We did a special tribute dance to our teammates back in the US and took in all the atmosphere.  It was pretty fun to be watching Sadie do all this for the first time!

On Monday we packed up and headed back to Davos, Switzerland.  A little bit of natural snow had started falling and through the week, it would start to look more and more like winter.

I was pretty bagged for the first couple days and took it nice and easy to recover.  Davos is one of my favorite places in Europe.  Not only is the skiing (usually) amazing, but the town is really welcoming and cozy, and there is an incredible coffee shop called ‘Kafe Klatsch’ that is great for meeting up with our international friends.

Midweek activities included a Secret Santa poem night with our team, where we all had drawn a collegue’s name out of a hat and then wrote a poem about that person and gave them a small gift.  It was good for a plethora of laughs and team bonding!

The other highlight of the week was getting a fika (coffee date) with our Swedish friends Anna Haag and Charlotte Kalla.  We were discussing the early season success of the Norwegian women’s team and decided that if we were able to displace some of them from a podium spot during the weekend, we would spray champagne at the flower ceremony to celebrate.

15km Individual Freestyle
The first race of the weekend was the 15km skate individual start.  Earlier in the week when it looked like there wouldn’t be enough snow, the race was going to be shortened to 10km.  But the organizers did an amazing job and got the 7.5km loop ready in time for the longer distance.  Over the past few distance starts here in Davos I have really struggled.  So I was hoping a longer event on a slightly different course might help me break my Davos distance curse.

My plan was to start aggressive, which had worked well in Sjusjoen, and then try to maintain a steady but solid pace through the race.  Without really noticing, I managed to hit this strategy right on and at the first split at 2km, I was leading the race with 49 racers through.  The pace felt reasonable and I was feeling confident that I could build speed through the race.  But then, only a kilometer later, as I made my way to the high point at 4km, I began to unravel.  My body felt stiff and my focus started to waiver.

I kept fighting, reminding myself to work the gradual terrain, bend my legs and keep my tempo up, but I was really struggling to kick myself into the next gear.  Skiing totally alone, I had to keep trying to coax myself to stay on pace and dig deeper.   When I crossed the finish line, I was definitely exhausted, yet didn’t have that flop-on-the-ground, totally dead feeling I had wanted to achieve.  In the end I had to settle for 27th place.

While it was my worst race of the season so far, it was still a big improvement over my other distance results here in Davos, it was still in the points and only 13 seconds out of the top 20, and I had great results from my teammates (Holly in 13th and Liz in 21st) to celebrate.  I crossed it off as a successful day and turned my attention to the next day’s sprint.

Individual Skate Sprint
This time, I did not draw bib #1 for the qualifier.   But I did get to wear the red Sprint Leader’s jersey for the first time this season.  The sprint course would be two laps of a 600m loop and required the right pacing.

During the warm-up my legs felt pretty heavy and I was anxious about the 15km’s effects on my energy reserves.  Once I started the qualifier however, I could tell the feelings were good and I set off on an aggressive first lap.  As I came through the stadium for the lap, I could feel the burn setting in.  I dug down and pushed hard through every transition, not letting up until I slid my foot across the line.  The announcer immediately called out, “And now Randall has the new best time.”

When all the racers had finished, I had managed to stay atop the leader board by 0.11 seconds!  This was the first time that I had ever qualified first and it almost made me a little more nervous than usual.  I finished my cool down and then made my way into the athlete’s tent.  Many of the other teams had their massage tables out with therapists working on their athletes. Meanwhile, I laid on a foam stretching mat on the floor, covered myself in jackets and fought off shivers for the next 45 minutes.

Thankfully I was able to warm myself back up again pretty quickly in time for the quarterfinals.  I got off to a good start and controlled the pace from the front.  I put in a little extra push over the top of the last hill and stayed in the lead to advance to the semis.  The effort was hard however, and I wondered if I could handle such a pace for two more rounds!

In the semis I got off to a good start again and led the race.  This time I was able to relax a little bit more on the flats and then put in another good push over the top of the climb to keep my lead and advance to the final.
The sun was just setting as we lined up for the final introductions.  Just happy to be back in the final again, I gave an excited double wave to the camera and to the crowd.  Then we crouched…set…BANG!

I had a decent start and came out pretty even with the other girls.  We all spread out and I gradually worked my way up towards the front, but then let Matveeva take the lead around the first corner.  I followed her up and over the hill.  My skis were fast and I glided up next to her as we came back into the lap lane.  For a second, I thought I would try and tuck in behind her, but then I got the urge to take the lead.  I V2’d powerfully up alongside and as we approached the hairpin turn, I got into the lead.  I took one more second to relax and then accelerated coming out of the turn.  I jump skated like crazy and made sure to push over the top.

As we glided back down into the stadium, I took a quick glance over at the jumbo tron.  I saw three dark figures coming down the hill together and figured that was the other skiers right on my tail.  So I kept hammering, determined to stay in front.

When I burst onto the homestretch I opened up into a tall V2 and imagined the others shadows coming up beside me at any second.  Finally, when I got a few meters from the line I realized there was no one coming up and got to raise my arms in celebration across the line.  Another thrilling day!

I was immediately just so happy to have put together such a solid day, feeling strong through four rounds.  Once I caught my breath, I did a quick interview for the TV cameras and then got to exchange hugs and high fives with my team.  Suddenly I remembered that I had made that bet with Anna and Charlotte about champagne on the podium.  I asked Grover if he could try and find some at the last minute and he set off on a mission.

Just before the flower ceremony, Grover reappeared with a bottle of champagne.  So after they presented the flowers and the medals and our official photos were snapped, Grover snuck the bottle (slightly shaken and the cork poised) to me on the podium and I popped the cork and sprayed the champagne around.  I had always seen the alpine skiers do this on the podium and I was proud to show that the cross-country skiers can celebrate a good day too!

That evening I got to share another champagne toast with my team.  They really did a fantastic job of making sure all I had to think about was racing fast.  I’m so grateful to have such a hard working team behind me and it is the best thing to celebrate all together!  Later I got to share another toast with my Swedish friends, Anna Haag and Emil Joensson (who was also on the podium) and their families over dinner.  It was a great night.

All of the hard racing and emotion caught up with me the next couple days however and I was pretty bagged again.  So I just took it easy, enjoyed the good skiing, took long naps and did some Christmas shopping.

One little thing I decided to do, in celebration of the team’s great results so far this season, was to buy a small espresso machine for the team.  Already it’s getting a lot of use and makes us feel a little more at home in our hotel rooms!

Yesterday we said goodbye to Davos after a very delightful early morning ski and headed on to Rogla, Slovenia for the final stop of Period I.  Upon arrival, it feels like we’ve gone back to September again.  It was pouring rain here today and there was even thunder and lightning this afternoon.  The organizers are busy trying to piece together a course and we’re hoping the temperature will drop back below freezing!

We’ve got a 10km classic mass-start on Saturday and another (third in a row!!) skate sprint on Sunday.

More reports to come in a few days!!

I’m posting daily updates of my training on my SkiTrax Daily training rap which can be viewed here:  Kikkan’s Daily Training Rap

And you can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter.



USA’s Bailey 17th as Domracheva & Svendsen Win 10/12.5km IBU WCup Pursuit in Hochfilzen

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December 10, 2011 (Hochfilzen, Austria) – It was a Norwegian showdown in the men’s 12.5km pursuit in Hochfilzen this morning in the men’s 15km IBU WCup pursuit, with Emil Hegle Svendsen besting fellow countryman Tarjei Boe in a final sprint to line with a time of 33:09.0 and a winning margin of only 0.1s. It was a nailbiter, with Svendsen racking up two shooting penalties and Boe only holding one. Switzerland’s Benjamin Weger claimed third place at 4.9 seconds back and only one penalty.

The top North American result was logged by USA’s Lowell Bailey, who finished 17th. He trailed by +57.4 and amassed two penalties. Canada’s Brendan Green finished 33rd at +2:00.5 back with three penalties. Jay Hakkinen (USA) landed 45th spot with four penalties.

In the 10km women’s pursuit, Darya Domracheva (BLR) showed an impressive display of determination to snag her victory over second place, Olga Zaitseva (RUS), and third place, Magdalena Neuner (GER). Domracheva came from behind, trailing by 55s after the third shooting stage, to claim the victory on the final round. She finished her race in 29:34.4 with two penalties, while Zaitseva finished only +0.3 back with a single penalty.

Zina Kocher (CAN) scored the best North American result with a solid 23rd place, trailing by 3:09.5 and logging two penalties. Susan Dunklee (USA) finished 43rd, followed by team mate Sara Studebaker (USA) in 44th.

Men’s results HERE.
Women’s results HERE.


FIS WCup in Davos – Individual Races Back to Original Distances

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December 08, 2011 (Davos, Switzerland) – Thanks to positive snow conditions and heavy snowfall yesterday, the Organizing Committee of Davos together with FIS has made the decision to return to the original distances 15 km ladies and 30 km men on Saturday. A course of 7.5 km will be prepared from tomorrow on.

“We are pleased that we finally could decide to have the individual races over the long distances of 30 km and 15 km on Saturday,” said Jürg Capol, FIS Race Director Cross-Country. “The OC and TV showed a great flexibility this morning to change the plannings and we will be back on the old traditional course.”

Check out this video about the announcement. It features interviews with some of the world’s top skiers, including Canada’s Devon Kershaw.

Celebrating the Success of Teammates and Thoughts on a Coach

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December 07, 2011 (Davos, Switzerland) – I just returned to “home away from home” Hotel Kulm from an exciting, high-paced World Cup weekend in Dusseldorf, Germany. While the weekend’s racing format didn’t explicitly compliment my skill set it was a great experience and more importantly, I was there to witness my teammates stand on a World Cup podium.

If you’ve been living under a rock (or perhaps you aren’t a ski news junkie and that’s perfectly okay)  Kikkan and Sadie won a silver medal in the team sprint yesterday on the city streets of Dusseldorf, Germany.  Ida Sargent and I teamed up for the sprint as well and unfortunately we were 2 seconds from making it through to the finals as “lucky losers.”  Although I was disappointed, it provided us with great viewing and cheering opportunities for the other girls.  Funny thing was, amongst the crowds, Sadie and Kikkan both said they could hear us screaming for them on course!!!!

Yesterday was an incredible day for my teammates and for all of US Skiing.  Once again, we have shown the Euros that WE can be in there.  That we are competitors, and even though we live out of a suitcase for months on end to do it, they should not discount our fitness, courage or tenacity.

I have to admit, when it comes to taking pictures, I have no problem pushing to the front of crowds and getting my canon “powershot SD1300” out there amongst the 3-foot long lenses.  Also, perhaps I’m a horrible person for doing this but I may or may not have stepped in front of a small child to get some great shots! I couldn’t help it – how often do the girls you roller ski in the rain with (while everyone else is still sleeping off hangovers) stand on World Cup podiums? I mean, really?! Can you say Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center ROCKS?! I can!

While it’s easy to give all the congratulations to Kikkan and Sadie – and of course they deserve every ounce of it….. I’d like to acknowledge the coaches and particularly one person, Erik Flora for helping make this happen.  As a competitor that’s also been a coach and a wax tech, my perspective stems from all angles.  While there were only two people standing on the podium yesterday in D-dorf, Erik Flora has  gone above and beyond to make that silver medal possible, not to mention, my success over here too….

I don’t know anyone else in the world that loves skiing more than Erik does. The guy could literally inspire a rock to get up off the ground and do some burpees. (A really hard exercise that combines a push up and a jump.)  He is a student of the sport spending his night-time hours watching the latest video, corresponding with other coaches from around the world on theories, testing our skis by headlamp once everyone else has gone home….. some may say he’s crazy but isn’t there some kind of saying that says something like, “Great things happen when people break the norm” or something to that effect?

In 2006, the APU program was in transition.  Erik saw the opportunity to create a World-class ski team in a setting where the time was right.  He seized the opportunity.  Since then, everyday for the last five years he’s been working 12-23 hours a day to make us fast.  To make us competitive. To give us every advantage he possibly can.

Erik turns any hardship into an opportunity (it may be white-out fog and blowing wind but THIS could be CHAMPIONSHIP conditions one day!) and exudes the excitement of a 6-year old on Christmas morning on a DAILY basis.  His work ethic and his dedication to the betterment of the sport and to the athletes he coaches is impressive and admirable. When times are tough and confidence is low he has a special ability to find the bright side of any situation. He never underestimates anyone or tells them they can’t or they won’t or they shouldn’t.

Yesterday, when I was standing in the crowd looking up at my teammates on the podium I was envisioning three people up there: leg one and two of the team sprint relay along with their coach who had the biggest grin from ear to ear that you’ve ever seen.

Thanks to Erik Flora for his dedication and to all the coaches and support stuff out there that help athletes realize their dreams and inspire others to do so as well.

Oh – and here are a couple of other shots from D-Dorf…. the Germany Christmas bazaar was amazing! I wish I had more than 1/2 hour to check it out.

Thanks for reading and thanks again for the words of support and encouragement!

Holly :)

Peterson and Bjoergen Win Kuusamo Sprints – Career Bests for Randall in 4th and Valjas in 5th

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November 25, 2011 (Kuusamo, Finland) – Teodor Peterson (SWE) and Marit Bjeorgen (NOR) were victorious in today’s classic sprint races in Kuusamo, Finland, the first of three days of racing in the first Viessman FIS World Cup mini-tour event of the season. North Americans had a decent day, with a handful qualifying for the heats and the USA’s Kikkan Randall and Canada’s Lenny Valjas making it into the finals. Norway’s Petter Northug, a threat in any race, was a surprise 16th, after failing to make it out of his quarter final.

Racing in icy conditions with fresh snow falling in the tracks as the finals got underway, Peterson notched his first World Cup victory with a convincing win over Russia’s Nikita Kriukov and Norway’s Oeystein Pettersen. Canada’s Valjas recorded a career best World Cup result, placing 5th in the closely contested final. Finland’s Anssi Pentsinen, something of a surprise winner in the morning’s qualifier, delighted the stadium crowd by making it into the final, in which he placed 6th.

Bjoergen, who qualified 5th, once again demonstrated her power, taking control of the women’s final at the halfway mark and never looked back. Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla was second, with Vibeke Skofterud finishing third, just holding off the hard-charging Randall, who established a career-best in classic sprint result claiming 4th, and making her first World Cup final in the discipline.

A number of other North Americans qualified for the heats today in Kuusamo. Canada’s Chandra Crawford earned her way into the heats for the first time in five tries in Kuusamo, qualifying 10th, showing that her classic sprinting has come a long way. Crawford was  eliminated in the quarters and finished 22nd. Her teammate, Dasha Gaiazova, shook off the jet lag from her recent arrival in Scandinavia to qualify in 12th overall before also being knocked out in the quarter-finals and finishing 14th on the day.

The USA’s Andy Newell qualified 19th and Canada’s Alex Harvey was 29th. Both were eliminated in the quarter finals, with Newell holding at 19th and Harvey moving up to 24th.

It was a tough day for Canada’s Perianne Jones and Devon Kershaw, both of whom failed to qualify. Jones finished 44th and Kershaw 56th in qualification.



1. Marit Bjoergen (NOR)
2. Charlotte Kalla (SWE)
3. Vibeke Skofterud (NOR)

4.   Kikkan Randall (USA)
14. Dasha Gaiazova (CAN)
22. Chandra Crawford (CAN)
43. Ida Sargent (USA)
44. Perianne Jones (CAN)
47. Sadie Bjorsen (USA)
50. Alysson Marshall (CAN)
70. Holly Brooks (USA)
85. Liz Stephen


1. Teodor Peterson (SWE)
2. Nikita Kriukov (RUS)
3. Oyestein Pettersen (NOR)

5.  Lenny Valjas (CAN)
19. Andy Newell (USA)
24. Alex Harvey (CAN)
56. Devon Kershaw (CAN)
82. Kris Freeman (USA)
87. Drew Goldsack (CAN)
91. Graham Nishikawa (CAN)
100. Ivan Babikov (CAN)
102. Lars Flora (USA)
111. Kevin Sandau (CAN)
120. Noah Hoffman (USA)
122. Tad Elliot (USA)
DNS – Simi Hamilton (USA)

Women’s qualification results HERE.
Women’s final results HERE.

Men’s qualification results HERE.
Men’s final results HERE.

Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train – Andy Newell Interview

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November 24, 2011   – Check out the third installment of our new SkiTrax audio series, Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train, featuring legendary commentator and sports reporter Peter Graves. Our guest this week is US skier, Andy Newell, who just arrived in Kuusamo, Finland for this weekend’s Viessmann FIS XC World Cup races. Newell reflects on his performance last weekend in Sjusjoen, Norway and looks ahead to round two, which starts Friday.

Peter’s first interviewee was Kikkan Randall, and if you missed that interview, click HERE. For Peter’s interview with Kris Freeman, click HERE.

Audio Interview with Newell

World Cup News – Bauer Launches Season, Heikkinen Puts it on Hold

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November 24, 2011 – Tommorow, the Czech Republic’s top Cross-Country Skier, Lukas Bauer, will kick off his FIS Cross-Country World Cup season, while Finland’s Matti Heikkinen will sit out the second round of the series due to injury.

Friday will feature the classical 1.4 km sprint, Bauer’s favourite event: “Yes, my favorite classical sprint,” Lukas Bauer said with a smile.

Bonus seconds will be distributed to the top 30, with the winner of tomorrow’s race receiving 60 bonus seconds, while 30th place gains 1 second. Stage 2 of the “Mini-Tour” takes place on Saturday with 5/10 km Free technique individual start. The 10/15 km Classic Pursuit race on Sunday will determine winners of the second edition of Ruka Triple. The overall winner takes 200 points and 33 750 CHF, winner of the day will be awarded with 50 points.

“I’m not setting for myself any goals not only for the sprint but for not the Mini-Tour either. I can only surprise after the training drop-out. On the other hand be sure I’d like to confirm good feelings from trainings also in the race,” Bauer is warning his competitors.

The Czech skier started last year’s Ruka Triple with 104th position in the opening sprint. His fastest time in the third day brought him to a decent 9th place overall. Bauer sit out the opening FIS Cross-Country World Cup season in Norway and has been catching up after the training drop-out earlier in November.

“I’ve increased the training load step by step. At first I did only one hour skiing in the morning, in the afternoon I was walking around with ski poles and excercised some light strength training. The following day I did two 90 minutes skiing training sessions and the third day it was two times two hours of skiing and quality strength training,” Lukas Bauer describes. During the recovery Bauer was under the thorough surveillance of the team coach Martin Koldovsky.

“I did not want to do the come back with too much haste. I trained four days in the row having followed the training plan from Janko Neuber,” Bauer adds up.

FIS Cross-Country World Cup overall winner from the 2007/08 season has been aiming to prepare a good training base and to carry out quality fast workouts. “In spite of having been shortly after the training drop-out, the feeling from skiing was good. I was happy about that,” Bauer says.

Matti Heikkinen to Skip Ruka Triple Due to Injury
Finland’s World Champion from Oslo Matti Heikkinen has been forced to withdraw from the home World Cup in Kuusamo and will not be starting in Ruka Triple.

Heikkinen should have led the Finnish squad in the three-day Mini-Tour in Kuusamo but unfortunately will not appear at the start of tomorrow’s stage 1, classical sprint. Heikkinen injured his eye when he jumped over the fence and fell down afterwards. Heikkinen is to leave Kuusamo and is returning home.

“I’m naturally disappointed. I’ve been in Kuusamo since Monday and have been preparing for the competition. Now, I’m going home and have to rest for 3-4 days so that no sweat gets in my eye,” Heikkinen said at the Finnish press conference in hotel Rantassipi, Ruka.

Finnish national coach Magnar Dahlen revealed he would step in instead of injured Heikkinen. “Mikko Koutaniemi will be in the World Cup team and Teemu Harkönen will start within the national quota,” the coach explained.

The first stage of Ruka Triple starts tomorrow at 9:45 (CET) with qualification and 11:30 with quarterfinals.

The Sasseville Report – First World Cup is in the Can

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November 21, 2011 (Sjusjoen, Norway) – Without a doubt, one of the most stressful weekends for a cross-country ski racer is the first meaningful race weekend of the year. All of the skiers have trained for six or more months and it is not until you race these first races that you know even a little bit about where you stand in relation to your competitors.

This is the nature of cross-country ski racing. There are no personal best times or world record times in this sport. You can do all the testing you want, and compete in roller ski racers or early season time trials, but the only way that you can really measure yourself is racing against your peers.

This is true at every level right up to the World Cup and if you read the quotes from the skiers from Saturday (link to this article) you will see that a common theme is that they didn’t know how they would do before the start and that made them nervous.

Here are some of my thoughts after the first weekend in Sjusjoen, Norway:

– I think that the Norwegian women are going to dominate all year long. They had seven of the top nine on Saturday and their relay teams finished 1st and 2nd in the relay on Sunday. Only Charlotte Kalla of Sweden and Kikkan Randall of the US were able to break into the top 9 – it looked like a Norwegian championship race.

– Marit Bjoergen has lost nothing since last year. She won by almost 30 seconds in a 24-minute race. If they had been racing a track and field event she would have almost lapped the whole field. Last year Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) won the overall World Cup because Bjoergen was concentrating on winning at the World Championships in Oslo. This year is going to be different.

– it’s clear that the USA’s Kikkan Randall is better than last year – 8th in a distance race is a fantastic result. Watch out!

– I also think that the US women’s team is really improving. With Liz Stephen placing 18th on Saturday and then having a decent relay on Sunday – and Randall’s and Brooks’ strong legs – the team is now showing just how much they have improved.

– Johan Olsson is one of the best technical skaters in the world and when he’s healthy he’s certainly one of the best. He had a tough year last year after two bronze medals in Vancouver but it looks like he is back now.

– I think that NO ONE – and I mean no one seems to be able to beat Petter Northug (NOR) in a sprint. It was sad watching the last leg of the relay on Sunday. None of the lead skiers was willing to put it on the line and go for the win except for another Norwegian Sjur Roethe. The lead group was going SO slow that he was able to come from 45 seconds back to pass all of them and take the lead in only 5km. It looked like Northug was just playing with those guys. He has an almost unbeatable formula now for distance races. All he has to do is hang around the leaders, never leading and then in the last km he moves to the front and wins the sprint.

– but Northug IS beatable in the individual start races, despite the fact that he’s getting better in these events as well. He was second on Saturday and is having a much better start to his season than last year when he over-trained and did not have any good results until after Xmas at the Tour de Ski. I also think that he is pretty well a lock to win the World Cup this year unless someone can figure out how to beat him in a sprint.

– that being said Canada’s Alex Harvey may be the one to beat Northug. His 5th place showed that he is in great shape and his sprint win in Oslo over Ole Vigen Hattestad to win the Team Sprint gold at the Nordic Worlds have shown that he has the fitness and the sprint speed to win. He has beaten Northug in a sprint in the past and even Petter has acknowledged that Harvey can beat him. I think that if Canada wants to do anything in relays they have to have Alex on the team as the anchor skier. This is the second relay in a row including the relay in Olso that Harvey did not race.

Next weekend the World Cup moves to Kuusamo, Finland for a three day mini-tour de ski. The skiers will likely have to race on icy, man-made snow again, but it will be colder and darker and the hills will be bigger and steeper. It will be the first chance for the sprinters to come out and play as well as the classic skiers. Should be a lot of fun to watch.