Tag Archive | "XC skiing"

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy WCup 2011/12 Contest – Final Deadline is Nov. 18

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November 17, 2011 (Toronto, ON) – The final deadline to register your team for the annual SkiTraxFIS Fantasy World Cup 2011/12 Contest is on Friday, Nov. 18 at 10 pm EST – the day before the first FIS World Cup race in Sjusjoen, Norway.

We are excited to announce that over 300 teams have registered. The SkiTrax Fantasy Contests are the only ones of their kind worldwide, so don’t miss your chance to enjoy top level xc ski racing and win great prizes –  good luck to all contestants.

To register 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 PrizeRottefella Xcelerator Skate/Classic Bindings (value $130)
* 8th PrizeBliz Proflip Visor (value $129)
* 9th Prize
Concept2 Goodie Duffle Bag (value $100)
* 10th PrizeAuclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* WCup BreaksBuff Headware (value $22) 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).

Kowalczyk Chooses Fischer Boots for 2011/12

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November 15, 2011 – With the new World Cup season about to get underway, Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) has decided to start out with new equipment. Last year’s winner of the overall World Cup has already been successful with Fischer skis for a number of years and will now be placing her trust in boots from the Nordic number one as well.

The most successful ski and boot brand in the World Cup for two years running – a convincing record for the perfectionist from Poland. Plus the fact that the 28-year-old is perfectly happy with the RCS Carbonlite Classic boot, as she demonstrated in impressive style in the FIS races last weekend in Muonio (FIN). And, thanks to the WC Carbon Cuff, the RCS Carbonlite Skating is also ideal for her energetic skiing style.

The winner of the Tour de Ski 10l11 likewise took a new approach in her preparations. After five years of training alone she has taken Maciej Kreczmer (POL) on board as a team training partner at times. “It’s hard to always train alone and I want to improve,” says Justyna Kowalczyk. “I hope the training with Maciej will help me achieve this.” Preparations went smoothly with trips to New Zealand, Otepää (EST), Sierra Nevada (ESP) and Ramsau (AUT).

Armed with new equipment and excellent preparations, Justyna Kowalczyk is now looking forward to the new season with a personal highlight: the first World Cup race in her home nation which will be held in Szklarska Poreba in February.

National Nordic Foundation’s Drive For 25 – GOES LIVE TODAY!

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November 15, 2011 – Today is a very big day for us as we assemble all American cross country ski enthusiasts to stand up together to support our developing skiers. Please join us by making a contribution to the National Nordic Foundation.

Why? Today is about building our base of XC fans in the U.S. and showing our collective support by funding opportunities so our developing athletes can learn to race in Europe against the best in the world. The U.S. has improved from a nation that seldom put a single skier in the top-15 on the World Cup to a nation with Continental Cup, U23, World Cup and World Championship podiums. Yet as a nation, our developing athletes still struggle to afford the racing opportunities required to compete among the best. That, and because you’ll be supporting cross country skiers. The world needs more of them.

Donate HERE. Check back often to see our progress. Once you have donated the program will automatically generate a tax-deductible receipt. While donating, please fill out the comment box and also hit the “like” button to show your support. If you are uncomfortable with online donations, please mail a check to:

National Nordic Foundation
32 West 200 South #149
Salt Lake City 84101

How Much? Whether you can donate $25 or $100, 100% of your money will support over 40 elite U.S. development athletes age 15-28 this winter on racing trips in Europe. Please do what you can. Today is more about developing the total number of XC supporters in the U.S.

We hope you will continue to follow our skiers and support our nation’s pursuit of Olympic cross country success. You may follow these trips this winter at www.nccsef.org. This site is updated weekly with photos and motivating thoughts from the road.

Thank you for your role in XC development. The Drive for 25 is now! Spread the word.

Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train – Kikkan Randall Interview UPDATED

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November 11, 2011 (Hanover, NH) – Check out the first edition of an all-new SkiTrax audio series, Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train, featuring legendary commentator and sports reporter Peter Graves, who will present a series of interviews, discussions and conversations throughout this season with elite athletes and coaches. Our inaugural guest, Kikkan Randall, spoke with Graves at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Due to an unfortunate glitch the full interview with Kikkan was not posted initially but it is now with our apologies-ed.



Audio Interview with Kikkan Randall


Snow in Time for Yellowstone Ski Festival – Nov. 22-26

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November 10, 2011 (West Yellowstone, MT) – Light snow is falling outside and the forecast is calling for more. The Rendezvous Ski Trails are covered and the South Plateau is looking good. A few more inches and the trails in town will be rolled, groomed, and ready for the Yellowstone Ski Festival. There are two weeks to go and almost all of them have a snowflake in the forecast.

With the 2011 Yellowstone Ski Festival in sight, the final details are wrapping up. It is not too late to register for a clinic. Consider a three or five day Nordic clinic to start the ski season off right. Or a one or two day to fit your holiday schedule. Take in an early season race. There are six different races at this year’s ski festival. Online registration is available now. Sign up by Thursday, November 17 to avoid late fees. Check out the schedule of events. Enjoy an array of wax clinics, movies, classes, and presentations. The schedule is updated constantly, so check back often. The Indoor Expo is packed with all things Nordic and free of charge. Visit with those in the know from Rossignol, Salomon, Fischer, Toko, Atomic, Fast Wax, Madshus, Swix, Solda, the National Nordic Foundation, National Guard Biathlon, Sun Valley Nordic Ski Club, Concept 2, Boulder Nordic Sport, SkiFast Ergometer, Cross Country Skier, Ski Trax, Master Skier, and the West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation. Fill in your wish list at the On-Snow Demo- Your ski pass allows you full access to demo gear on the trails. Be sure to schedule some time so you can sample the latest and greatest from Alpina, Atomic, Fast Wax, Fischer, Madshus, Rossignol, Salomon, and Swix.

Join us for keynote speaker Conrad Anker, catch a fashion show, and win great prizes at the annual WYSEF Raffle, all at the Holiday Inn, Yellowstone Ski Festival’s event headquarters.

Enjoy your First Tracks in West Yellowstone. Whether First Tracks truly means the corduroy and you, or it is the first time on skis this season, or the first time on skis period; you are invited to take them at the Yellowstone Ski Festival. Think Snow and make plans now to attend the 2011 Yellowstone Ski Festival. For more information, visit www.yellowstoneskifestival.com and follow westyellxcski on Twitter, or friend Yellowstone Ski Fest on Facebook for up-to-minute news.

Andy Shields Wins Cambridge Athlete of the Year Award

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November 09, 2011 (Cambridge, ON) – Andy Shields, named Best Overall Junior Male in North America in 2010/11 by SkiTrax readers, won the the Tim Turow Award which is the Cambridge Athlete of the Year Award, this past Friday at the Cambridge Sports Awards banquet at the Cambridge Holiday Inn.

At the Junior Worlds trials, the 20-year-old won the the 15km skate, placed third in classic sprint, and won the 20km pursuit to qualify for the World Championships where he finished 31st in the classic sprint and in the 20km pursuit.

Read the full story in the Cambridge Times HERE.

Canmore XC Ski Camp – December 27-30

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November 08, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Ascent Performance Lab and the Alberta World Cup Academy are pleased to announce their first Cross Country Ski Camp – December 27-30, 2011.  Building on the excitement of Frozen Thunder and recent first ever on-snow sprint races at the Nordic Centre, this ski camp is aimed at senior and masters skiers who want to benefit from the world-class Canmore Nordic Centre, the professional services of the new Performance Lab at Ascent, and the superior coaching skills of the Alberta World Cup Academy.  This camp will enhance Canmore’s reputation as the leading community for cross country skiing in Canada.

According to Mike Cavaliere, Program Director of the Academy: “This is an exciting opportunity to share with other senior and masters skiers the same coaching expertise we have been applying that’s resulted in Olympians and national team skiers like Gordon Jewett, Madeleine Williams, Drew Goldsack and Allyson Marshall,  We’re thrilled to partner with Shane Munro and the team at  Ascent to deliver a program that is unique in this country.  And, it will bring new visitors to Canmore over the holiday season!”

“We’re able to offer this program because of our world-class facility – the Canmore Nordic Centre and the high quality of the wellness industry in Canmore”, says Cavaliere.

For more information, contact:
Alicia Evans,
Endurance Coach and Camp Coordinator
Ascent Performance Lab
Ph 403 678 8855
email alicia@ascentperformance.com

Interview with Sylvan Ellefson – Taking Team HomeGrown to the Next Level

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November 05, 2011 (Vail, CO) – If you don’t know who Sylvan Ellefson is, you should. The 2009 Bates College graduate is making his case as one of the rising stars on the domestic US xc racing scene. An All-American in college, Ellefson has built on that success in his first two seasons as a full-time professional racer. He followed up several top-ten results at US Nationals with back-to-back wins at the Boulder Mountain Tour and the Owl Creek Chase, two of the largest and most competitive races in the United States. Ellefson also led the American squad in March in Slovenia with a 6th place in a 10km Classic OPA Cup. He races for Ski Club Vail and Team HomeGrown and SkiTrax caught up with him for the skivvy on this coming season…

Tell us about Team Homegrown and how it all got started.
Sylvan Ellefson: Team HomeGrown was an idea of my coaches and teammates, Dan Weiland, Karl Hochtl, and Kevin Hochtl. Vail had never produced a Nordic skier that could ski at the World Cup level until Kevin, but he was on his own training in Vail. It wasn’t until 2009 when Josh Smith and I got out of college that everyone realized the talent all of us had and the potential here to make a mark on the
national/international Nordic skiing scene as individuals and a team from Vail, CO. We were all born and raised in Vail so the “HomeGrown” aspect of the team name was a given.

How is it connected to Ski Club Vail?
SE: Actually, Team HomeGrown is essentially Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s “elite” Nordic program. We train at all of the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s facilities and they provide us with support year round.

You guys must have some tremendous resources available – do they open a loop early for you?
SE: They are awesome in terms of getting us early season snow. If it doesn’t come sooner, we are basically guaranteed a 1km loop of snow to ski on by November 1st of every year. We just got a huge snow-making renovation and so as soon as the temperature hits 0C, the guns turn on and are making snow. We call it the gerbil loop because often at first it is small and you are just traveling in a circle, but it’s still on-snow skiing. At this time of year it is a nice treat to get ready for the upcoming races.

How is SSCV connected to this new winter academy program in the valley?
SE: Ski and Snowboard Club Vail run the winter academy in Minturn, CO called the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy (VSSA). VSSA has actually been around for quite awhile but hasn’t had a permanent location like we do now. The school just moved to Minturn (about 10 minutes away form Vail) and is in the process of making its biggest transformation ever. The school has the largest number of students it has ever seen and the most success we have ever seen as well. Currently, we are finishing building 7.5km of trails right next to the school so it will be nice to be able to come to Minturn and train year round. VSSA is unique in the fact that it is a public school, so the education is free. The only required investment is the program fee. I’m actually quite excited to see what comes out of the academy in the next 10 years.

Changing gears a bit, where are you now and how is your last month of training going leading up to West Yellowstone?
SE: Right now I am in Vail just training and working away. Training this past month has been very focused and dialed. NCAA Champion, Sam Tarling, has been training with us in Vail and is a good inspiration for the kids here. Mike Vigers (Team HomeGrown) and Connor Wallace (NCAA skier) have also been great training partners to do some gnarly training sessions with. It’s always nice to have someone to grit your teeth with. We have also been doing some fund raising for the upcoming season recently, with some pretty good success, I think. I am excited to get skiing though on our gerbil loop and then get to West Yellowstone for some racing. It is always tremendous skiing there.

You attended a couple USST camps, in Lake Placid and Park City. How have these camps helped your off season preparation?
SE: We had a camp in Lake Placid, NY followed by a camp in Park City, UT. The attendance of Elite athletes at this camp was great to push the intensity and focus of the group. These camps really help me on a personal level because I am able to surround myself with many Elite athletes trying to do the same thing I am – get faster, race faster, race more World Cups, race World Champs, race Olympics, win medals. There is the same incentive for everyone so I think being able to push the group as a whole is a great direction for me and for Nordic skiing in the US.

What your schedule for the season?
SE: I will be heading to West Yellowstone, then up to Bozeman and then to Canada for the first week of Nor-Ams up there and finally back home until US Nationals. After US Nationals, some races in Colorado, the Midwest, and then definitely heading over to Europe at some point to race OPA Cups or World Cups (based on my national results). Ending the season at SuperTour Finals in Craftsbury, VT, which should be a pretty fun event to end the season.

What are your goals for the season?
SE: Goals for me are pretty simple: I want to have some top-5 results at Nationals this year and keep skiing consistently hard and well on the SuperTour circuit, so I can give myself a chance of racing at a higher level on the international scene. If that doesn’t work out I would like to win an OPA Cup race.

Long term goals?
SE: Sochi 2014

Thanks, Sylvan all the best this season and beyond.
SE: Thanks

Silver Star Nordic Opening – Nov. 11

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November 05, 2011 (Silverstar Mountain, BC) – With our official Nordic Opening now just a week away, I thought it a good idea to pass a long some timely and good news about our upcoming Cross Country Camps.

Accommodation Promo Extended until Dec. 2
We are extending our 20% off promotion on your on-mountain accommodation until December 2nd when you book your Silver Star Mountain Cross Country Camp. Based on an average two person stay this means anywhere from a $50 savings on accommodation when booking your Weekend Warrior Camp (2 days) to over a $200 savings on your on-mountain accommodation when booking your Go the Distance Camp (5 days.) This is something to smile about!

Win a complete Rossignol Skate or Classic Package!
All Silver Star Cross Country Camps registrants are eligible to win a complete Rossignol Skate or Classic Package when using their “Camp Reward Card” at The Den Bistro & Bar on Silver Star. Who would ever think eating & drinking could be this good.

Hats off to our cross country camp supporters Halti, Fischer, Swix, Rossignol, SkiTrax, Cross Country Skier, Sauce Headwear, Fast & Female, Village Ski Shop (formerly Valhalla Pure) for providing some great prizes as well as gifts for our valued (and hardworking) cross country campers!

Great Après Skiing Events
Après Skiing Events will be happening throughout all of our Weekend Warrior & Go the Distance Camps. Some notable après ski events for Silver Star Cross Country Camp participants will be SSASS Skier’s Gala Ball & Silent Auction (November 26th. Order tickets in advance @ 250.260.3737) Art of Flight Movie Premiere (NATC – November 25th. Purchase tickets @ the Ticket Office) “Grand Frosto” Village Bike Races ( December 2nd & December 3rd. Register at Guest Services Desk in Village Center) Swix Wax Workshops (November 22nd, 26th, 29th, December 3rd.)

Snow, snow, snow and more is scheduled for early next week. All of our Upper Trails have been rolled and now await the next snowfall. We are confident we will have good early season trail conditions for November 11th. Leaving from our village today for some “snow inspection” I must say it was nice to have the wind in my face again.

Our great team of coaches and grooming staff look forward to seeing you back at our camps. Don’t delay and register today with our convenient Silver Star Holiday Team at info@skisilverstar.com / 1-800-663-4431 / 250-558-6083

New Ski Book: Cross-Country Skiing Around the World

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November 04, 2011 – A new cross-country ski book has just been published about Hannes Larsson – a master among masters. He has completed 22 World Loppet Master Passports. He has finished more than 300 ski marathon races, more than 40,000km (the Earth’s Circumference). He is the founder of the International Association of Worldloppet Skiers. He is a retired engineer speaking 7 languages. At the age of 80, he is an inspiring character that I regularly greet on the World Loppet Circuit. This book will inform and inspire all cross country skiers. It is a coffee table book for travelers chronicling the 15 World Loppet Races plus other race destinations from Austria to New Zealand. It is filled with inspiring photos and accounts of a life well lived. Bravo Hannes! See you on the tracks.

Quebecor Becomes Official Sponsor of Alex Harvey

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November 02, 2011 (Montreal, QC) – Quebecor announced its new partnership with Canadian skier Alex Harvey as an official sponsor. This four-year partnership is part of Quebecor’s strong commitment to support young talent and encouraging success.

“It is essential for our Olympic athletes to be supported by the international community,” said Pierre Karl Peladeau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Quebecor. “Alex Harvey embodies the positive values ​​that we wish to transmit to future generations and in which we recognize ourselves.”

Three-time Canadian junior champion in cross country skiing, U23 Pursuit World Champion, and team classic sprint Nordic World Champion, this rising star cross-country skiing is also pursuing a law degree from Laval University.

Translated from original French press release HERE.

Vegard Ulvang Journies to the South Pole

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November 02, 2011 – Triple Olympic gold medalist, Norway’s Vegard Ulvang, along with Jan-Gunnar Winther, Stein P. Aasheim and Harald Dag Jølle have finally sought out on the journey to the South Pole and skied the few first kilometers of their trek.

Due to have snowfall on the Union Glacier the expedition got delayed. The expedition had to stay at Punta Arenas, Chile longer than expected and got little bit inpatient. “Everything remains uncertain, but now they are talking about Monday as the next possible opportunity. Our patience is starting to wear very thin, even though we were fully cognizant of the risk that it might turn out like this,” they write on the website. Finally the expedition left Punta Arenas on October 28 and at 15:45 landed at Union Glacier. “The weather here is fantastic: –28°C and almost no wind at all,” the first words are on the expedition diary. “We are all thoroughly pleased to have snow under our feet and are keeping our fingers crossed for a speedy onward journey to the Bay of Whales.”

Bay of Whales
Two days later, on Sunday October 30 the expedition got the green light for the final move to Antarctica, to the Bay of Whales. Travel time – 7-8 hours.

Wikipedia depicts the Bay of Whales as a natural ice harbor, or iceport, indenting the front of Ross Ice Shelf just north of Roosevelt Island. It is the southernmost point of open ocean not only of the Ross Sea, but worldwide. The Ross Sea does extend much further south, but that area is covered by the Ross Ice Shelf.

“At long last we have arrived at the Bay of Whales. We flew for six hours with one stop to refuel, covering a distance roughly the length of Norway,” the expedition diary says. Vegard Ulvang, Jan-Gunnar Winther, Stein P. Aasheim and Harald Dag Jølle have made it to Antarctica and 1311 km skiing trip lied ahead of them.

Finally on the road
The quartet finally set out for the journey today, on November 1 in the morning. “We set out at 9 a.m. with the sun in the back and the wind in our faces. Finally, we’ve moved towards our target. Our routine is an hour’s walk. Short pause. And then the same thing over and over again,” the expedition diary says.

First day in Antarctica is over. The expedition made in five sessions 20 km. “A short day, but it is important to go in on such a trip. The body will get used to the load. Step by step, literally. So far, no pain anywhere,” the expedition says.

Follow the expedition daily!
You have the unique opportunity to follow the quest to the South Pole every day. Go HERE and then click on “Expedition Diary”. The updates are there every day in Norwegian and English! You can also follow the adventure on facebook HERE.

NENSA Fall Online Auction Kicks off Nov. 1

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November 01, 2011 – The surprise October snow is a great reminder that winter is almost here and we need your help to make it a great one…. Remember, the NENSA Fall Online Auction kicks off today!

Here are just a few of the 58 items featured:
– A VBT European Bike Tour
– A handmade queen-sized folk art bed
– A team photoshoot by FlyingPointRoad.com
– 2 Southwest Airlines $500 gift cards
– US Ski Team and Olympic clothing donated by New Englanders on the team (Liz Stephen, Ida Sargent, Kris Freeman, Andy Newell, and Skyler Davis)
– A Concept2 SkiErg
– College team gear
– Ski ties
– Posters
– Wax
– Rollerskis by Swenor
– A complete Rossignol Xium set-up
– Swix star poles
– Entry fee, food, and lodging for two at the Craftsbury Marathon
– A Golden Eagle Resort stay,
– and so many more great items!
and so much more!

As you’ll quickly see, the auction has a lot to offer both skiers and non-skiers, so please email your friends and post a link on your Facebook page… help spread the word! Click HERE for info.

Bidding is now open!

Skis for Kids
As of today, orders are shipping. We expect to sell out early this year so please get organized and submit your order soon. www.nensa.net/skis

Countdown to Silverstar Mountain Ski Camps – 4 Weeks To Go

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November 01, 2011 (Silverstar Mountain, BC) – A number of readers wrote back asking “what is the difference between a ski coach & ski pro (instructor)?” To generalize, historically a ski coach will focus on how to increase speed whereas a ski pro will focus on how to control it.

Leading ski nations around the world cross-certify ski coaches & ski pros between their different skiing associations so as they are able to take a common approach when developing a skier.

The use of common terms, unified understanding of biomechanics / physics used by skiers, as well as a common methodology when communicating with a person has proven to develop a skier more quickly and to a higher level.

Over the past 25 years, the approach to our cross country camps has been just this – have a blend of top ski coaches and outstanding ski pros who are experienced and knowledgeable in developing you as a skier (technique) as well as how to apply it at higher level when competing / racing (tactical / strategies.)

With new snow on our upper trails this past weekend the excitement for skiing is growing. If you haven’t already – check us out on Facebook at “Silver Star Nordic.”

Look forward to seeing you soon!


Guy Paulsen, Nordic Manager

Time is starting to run out! Book your Silver Star Mountain Cross Country Camp between now and October 31 and receive 20% off your on-mountain accommodation. Now that’s something to smile about.

Did you know? Silver Star Cross Country Camps incorporate yoga / stretching sessions in our camps given by fitness expert Ms. Claudia Sorenson. Two more great reasons to come to our camps this fall. For more information and to book your Silver Star Cross Country Ski Camp please contact our Central Reservations at info@skisilverstar.com / 1-800-663-4431 / 250-558-6083

Canada’s Harvey Hungry to Taste Victory Again in 2011-12

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October 31, 2011 – After the kind of season that Canada’s Alex Harvey had in 2010-11, climaxing with a gold medal in the Team Sprint event with Devon Kershaw at the Nordic World Championships in Oslo, Norway – a Canadian first – he couldn’t be blamed for resting on his laurels and relaxing for a little while.

But after SkiTrax caught up with him by phone outside Quebec City following the recent team press conference, it’s clear that Harvey has no intention of doing so. When his World Cup rivals take to the start line at the first FIS World Cup race of the 2011-12 season in Beitostolen (NOR) just under three weeks from now, they will find Harvey, a world champion, more motivated than ever to come out on top.

The son of the legendary Pierre Harvey wracked up an impressive list of achievements last season, establishing himself as a podium threat just about every time he strapped on his skis. After a couple of shaky World Cup starts in Kuusamo and Gallivare before Christmas, Harvey began showing his true form starting with last year’s Tour De Ski – he recorded four top-10 finishes and placed 10th overall in the grueling 10-day event.

Together with his teammate Kershaw – who won his first WCup gold in Toblach, Italy (Stage 5) and placed 7th overall – Harvey was in the mix or near the front in just about every stage of this daunting event modeled after the Tour de France.

A few weeks later Harvey put in a stellar effort at the U23 Nordic World Championships in Otepaa (EST) where, with the exception of Russia’s Evgeniy Belov, no one could match his gold-medal winning pace in the Men’s 30km Pursuit. Then in February he notched his best World Cup result to date, a close 2nd place finish to Sweden’s Emil Joenssen in a sprint event in Drammen (NOR).

But it was at Oslo 2011, in Norway’s famed Holmenkollen stadium, that Harvey revealed the form, ambition and confidence that made him a persistent threat in every race. After posting a solid 7th place in the Sprint event, Harvey sent a message in the 30km Pursuit race when he gapped the field and skied solo at the front until the closing few kilometres, where he was stricken with leg cramps and had to settle for a respectable 12th.

More was coming for fans worldwide and by far his best and most gratifying race, came in the Team Sprint. Skiing the anchor leg for Canada, with Kershaw as his teammate, Harvey out-sprinted Norway’s Ola Vigen Hattestad for the gold medal, stunning the boisterous and partisan throng of Norwegian fans. Proving his strength as an all-around contender, Harvey went on to finish 5th in the 50km race as well, on what is widely viewed as the toughest race course on the planet.

While Harvey can look back with pride on many of his feats from last season, his Nordic World Championship victory stands apart as the season highlight. To win Canada’s first ever World Championship gold medal in cross-country skiing, and to do it in the birthplace of skiing in front of the huge and enthusiastic crowds at the Holmenkollen was a dream come true.

Sharing the victory with his teammate, Devon Kershaw, while representing Canada, made the victory that much sweeter. “Winning with a partner, winning for our country, for Team Canada, was just amazing,” Harvey told SkiTrax. The victory in this particular event, against a world class field, also helped erase some of the painful memories left over from the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, where Harvey and Kershaw placed 4th in the Team Sprint event.

The Oslo victory was “redemption for sure,” added Harvey, “Since the last day of the 2010 season, we had been thinking about and looking forward to the Oslo World Championships – we really were going for a medal that day. After Vancouver we wanted that medal pretty bad!” Small wonder the two erupted into their now famous air guitar victory celebration at the finish line in Oslo!

Our conversation then turned to training this past summer and Harvey’s preparations for the 2011-12 season. He explained that his dryland training has gone according to plan, with no interruptions due to illness or injury. He has increased his training volume slightly to about 800 hours, up from 755 last year, in keeping with his age and training base.

While his coaches, Louis Bouchard and Justin Wadsworth, have made no major changes to his overall plan, Harvey says his program, along with that of his teammates, placed  more emphasis on uphill skating and striding than in previous years, reflecting the importance of climbing ability in events like the Tour de Ski.

“Pretty much all of our camps this year were for doing uphill training,” he continued. With this year’s Tour de Ski serving as the de facto World Championships, Harvey wants to make sure he doesn’t lose ground on the final climb up Alpe Cermis like he did last year, where he fell from 7th to 10th overall in the final few kilometres.

Asked about his goals for the coming season, Harvey has his sights set on placing higher in the overall World Cup standings than last year’s 10th place overall. Doing so will depend on his ability to race with more consistency than he has in past seasons. “My goal is to score points in every race, and hopefully a lot of them,” he said.

Harvey also identified the Tour de Ski as key to overall World Cup success, given the number of World Cup points available during the event. “To be good in the overall you need to be good in the Tour … there are a lot of races, 9 stages, with 50 points available every day and then 400 points for the overall, so it’s a big event for points”. With that in mind Harvey declared, “I’ll try to be at my peak for the Tour de Ski”. Harvey has other unfinished business on the World Cup circuit. “I’ve never won individually either a World Cup or a World Championships, so I want to win individually as well.”

We concluded our conversation with a discussion about success, motivation, and pressure. I was curious as to whether the World Championship win had affected Harvey’s motivation in any way, and if it had lessened or increased any pressure to perform that he felt. His response reveals an athlete whose motivation is primarily internal and intrinsic, who competes for his own reasons, as opposed to those motivated by the opinions and expectations of others.

“I’ve never really felt pressure coming from anyone except myself. I put a lot of pressure on my self every day, every workout, every session… I really want to achieve specific things every day and improve, so there’s a lot of pressure coming from myself. Pressure from the outside, I ignore all of that. I don’t really care what people say on the outside, I know what I want to do, what I will do.”

And if his World Cup rivals were counting on last year’s World Championship gold to dampen Harvey’s motivation to compete, they will be disappointed. “I’ve tasted [victory] once and I want to taste it more and more.”

Look for Canada’s Harvey to attack off the front more often this season – then it will up to the field to see if they can catch him.

What’s New at the 2011 Yellowstone Ski Festival – Nov. 22-26

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October 31, 2011 (West Yellowstone, MT) – With the temperature well below freezing in West Yellowstone last night and five inches of snow above 8,000 feet, planning for the 2011 Yellowstone Ski Festival is in full swing. We would like to welcome back our old friends and invite new cross-country ski enthusiasts to the first Nordic Festival of the season. There is something for everyone this year, and we are excited to announce many new additions.

– New Trails: Over three miles have been added to the Rendezvous Ski Trails this year, along with new signs, trail maps, and a brand new biathlon range.
– Two-Day Kids Ski Clinic: The Yellowstone Ski Festival and Lone Mountain Ranch have partnered to offer a ski-specific kids clinic on Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving week. Grade K-2nd clinics will focus on the “Fun”damentals of classic skiing, and 3rd-6th graders will have both classic and skate options.
– Fresh off of another first ascent, Legendary Mountaineer Conrad Anker will be delivering the keynote address on Friday evening, Nov. 25, at the Holiday Inn, Yellowstone Ski Festival Headquarters.
– Adaptive Sit Ski and Biathlon Clinic. Eagle Mount in Bozeman, Mont., the Casper Mountain Biathlon Club (Casper, Wyo.), and the Yellowstone Ski Festival have joined to provide a FREE clinic to adaptive athletes on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
– Fashion Show: Wednesday evening, Nov. 23, will feature a Fall harvest Tapas and Tasting, followed by the first ever Yellowstone Ski Festival Fashion show, featuring the latest in styles from leading ski clothing manufacturers.

The Yellowstone Ski Festival will also welcome back the major ski manufacturers as well as a few new companies to the On-Snow Nordic Gear Demo and Indoor Nordic Expo. Online registration is now open for six different races for competitive skiers, and the Nordic clinics will present five, three, and one day courses, including a women’s only and junior clinic option.

Discounted month-of-November trail passes are available until Oct. 31. Order yours today and save 20 percent. Book your lodging now for the best availability. Many hotels, motels, condos and houses are still available over Thanksgiving week. Contact the chamber for a list of properties. If you are flying into Bozeman and do not want to rent a car, let Big Sky Taxi or Karst Stage do the driving. Register for a clinic. Many of the popular clinics will fill on a first come first served basis, so sign-up online today!

For more information about all the events at the Yellowstone Ski Festival visit our website at www.yellowstoneskifestival.com.

Big Status Update from Caldwell Sport

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October 27, 2011 (Putney, VT) – We’ve been sort of quiet on the website lately. It’s not because we don’t have anything to say. As usual, this time of year, it’s because we don’t have a lot of free time to say it. Ski season has definitely arrived.

A brief history of Caldwell Sport mark II (abridged)
We moved from Boulder to Vermont at the end of May. We had two trips to Europe for factory visits and ski picking (June and August). We bought a new house/shop with the closing coming at the very end of August (just in time to watch the flood waters from Hurricane Irene come up and lick our toes). We started right in with building out the new shop, and didn’t quite finish before it was time to get rolling on work.

With help from Pat and Will O’Brien and Noah Hoffman, we got the grinder moved from Uncle John’s sugarhouse down to the new shop on a flatbed trailer in the pouring rain. About three hours after we moved the grinder the sugarhouse driveway washed out in a deluge that could only be appropriately appreciated on rollerskis. Ask Pat and Noah about it sometime. According to the official Osgood meteorogical and hydrological records, it rained 4.5 inches that day. OK – that part wasn’t all that abridged (sorry).

Back in the early Summer I placed an order for new grinder supplies, including new stones. Lars has been working on a new stone compound for several years now, and the first “final” production of the new “blue” stones was finally in the works. I had tested the new stone compound previously, and have been eager to get ahold of the new materials for use in developing finer and colder structures. So, we agreed that we would wait for the new stones to be ready for shipment, which meant cutting it close for delivery – probably receiving the materials in late September. Well, it’s now late October, and due to a series of unfortunate occurrences and the vagaries of the international shipping industy, I still don’t have the new stones.

What that means is that we’ve been slow making final structure, because it’s more difficult to do good work on the old stone. We’ve finished about 130 pairs that we really needed to get done, and we’ve finished them to a very high standard. But we’ve held most of the work for the arrival of the new stones. So we’ve now got a huge backlog of flattened and polished skis eagerly awaiting final structure. Later this week Wayne Johansson is bringing his stone down from Gatineau Nordique Sport in the Ottawa area to help me crank out a whole bunch of skis. Thanks Wayne! To the left you can see some of the pending batch. I can’t get it all in one picture. That photo there is about 300 pairs of skis. OK – that part was also unabridged (sorry).

Work has been going well. It’s a small operation – a family business – so everybody has to do everything. That means that Amy handles all the accounting, billing, bill-paying, data entry, ordering, phone answering, binding mounting, wax scraping, etc. Since I’m really busy, she’s also running the grinder for flattening and polishing. It’s a pretty good system.

New Skis
One of the tricks to restarting an old business is figuring out who your customers are, and how much business you’re going to do. This isn’t a big deal with service, because the overhead is fixed and there isn’t much in the way of inventory (some service wax, grinder supplies, etc). However, new skis are a big deal! When we were working in Vermont previously, we would take orders, and then go select the skis to fill the orders from the manufacturer’s US distribution warehouse. Our last year in Vermont I spent 14 days in the Fall picking skis in the Fischer warehouse in new Hampshire. The model has changed significantly since then. Now, instead of picking skis using a flex tester, I use my hands and eyes. I’ve gotten better at spotting what I want, and the manufacturers have gotten better at pairing skis. So more time is spent identifying good skis, and less time is spent identifying matched pairs.

I also travel to Europe to visit factories and talk to the racing department guys who work with the skis all the time. This helps us understand what those guys are trying to do, which makes it easier to recognize when they do it well! I pick inventory from some companies when I visit the racing departments in Europe. The long and short of it is, we have to start the season with our inventory in-hand, and we don’t go pick skis to order in the Fall. All of this adds up to a considerable risk in ski inventory. We have a lot of astonishingly good skis, but it’s still a lot of skis that need to be paid for. So this time of year always produces anxiety. Do we have enough skis? Do we have too many skis? So far sales have been quite good, but we’ll keep pushing that end of things as snow season gets firmly established. About half of our profits come from service, and about half come from new skis. So you’ll hear more about this!

OK – back to work!

Support Project A-Team’s Nordic World Cup Send-Off!

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October 27, 2011 – Simi Hamilton and Noah Hoffman leave November 6th for Europe to compete against the best skiers in the world. Please come show your support and celebrate the start of the winter season… free beer, pizza and prognostication. Meet the local US Ski Team athletes and learn how they plan to go head to head with the fastest nordic skiers on the planet!!

Shockingly… these US Ski Team members are heading into the race season unfunded. Even though they have earned their stripes and have skied their way onto the 2010 Olympic team and 2011 World Championship team, very recent budget cuts have left these local skiers scrambling to fund airfare, travel and lodging for the entire World Cup season. They need our help! Beitostolen Norway, Kuusamo Finland, Duesseldorf Germany and beyond, follow these athletes and be a part of The A Team Project. Every dollar helps and your 501c(3) donation goes directly to Noah and Simi. Donate HERE.

So spread the word, bring a friend and come meet our local champions. Help toast and launch them toward a podium season with our community support- October 28th 5-7pm at the Limelight Lodge!

Snow is Here – The Racing Season is Coming…

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October 27, 2011 – The snow has finally fallen enough to accumulate some ski trails up at Hatchers Pass. Lots of pictures and stories have been circulating around already, so I think the word is out that the Alaskan Crew got to ski on October 20th!! Thats so early. What this means is I skied every month of the year this year, besides one! So I skied on snow 11 months of the training year… how many racers can say that???

The skiing has been great. Extra blue, packed tracks, and blue bird cold days!! The APU crew headed up last thursday for a distance ski, and by the following day I was sore. It’s funny how rollerskiing never seems to train the exact same muscles, so you are sore the first ski of the season, regardless. We then skied a second time on saturday… so by the end of the three hour ski, I was cooked. I have to say, this is the main reason that I love training in Alaska. The opportunity to be on snow as much as we are I see as a huge benefit. By getting that early “snow shape” back together in October, you can sometimes jump start the engine for the early racing season.

Speaking of early racing season, I will be on a different path this fall period. For the first time, I will be racing on the World Cup Circuit for Period 1 along with a group of 4 other girls. This has been super exciting news for me, and I have to say, I have been counting down the days for the “2012” experience to begin! The greatest thing about this year is it is the year to experiment and try new things. Because there are no main Championships of the year, I can set my own expectations and goals. Having never raced much in early season, nor raced much on the World Cup Circuit, nor left my home from November 6th until the end of March…… I will be switching things up quite a bit.

Last year I had a small introduction into this top level of racing, and ever since I have been working hard to jump into that category. This fall will be a great opportunity for me to open my eyes wide, learn some new skills and tricks, and have a great time skiing along with the best skiers in the world.

My schedule starts with me Leaving November 6th for Beitostoelen, Norway and follows:
– November 11-13, FIS Races in Beitostoelen
– November 19-20, World Cup in Beito
– November 25-27, World Cup Kuusamo, Finland
– December 3-4, World Cup downtown Dusseldorf, Germany
– December 10-11, World Cup Davos, Switzerland

Following that, December 12th I will fly back to Washington for a short break in Washington before Nationals, early January in Rumford Maine.

Unfortunately this opportunity has come with a price. Being named to the US SKi Team this last year has provided me with the opportunities and the steps at reaching this next level, but it has also provided me with some responsibility for completing these steps. Having major budget cuts this year resulted in the funding being cut for all B-Team level athletes for this top level of competition. What this means for me is that the spot is available for me, but I must find my own funding to get there.

I am not sure on my definite plans for the entire year, but I am going to guess the financial need will remain at the same level through Period 2 as well as Period 3. What it looks like for this first period of racing can be broken down easily between room and board as well as plane tickets to and from Europe, and between race venues. This comes to a total around $8000.

Being an athlete similar to every other nordic athlete in the country, this is not the kind of money we can ask our parents for, or we can raise on a side job. This is the kind of financial support we must find in our supporters and followers. This is also not only a problem for me, but every other talented young athlete in this country that is ready to make another step in their development. It starts at the 16 year old level skier who just made Scando Trips, and continues through the World Juniors level, affecting everyone all the way up to the top level of World Cup Racing.

The Nordic community has been working hard recently to make these unrealistic financial expectations more realistic. With the new push at the National Nordic Foundation level, supporters are beginning to see the sad truth of the financial demands affecting the opportunities for a new level of talent our country is now experiencing. This is just the beginning, but it is a step forward.

Which brings me to my final point. I have a long year in front of me, and it could cost me around $30,000 to race at this level throughout the season. If you would like to support either myself, or the other athletes in getting there; there are several options. As with everything, even the smallest amount makes a difference and builds towards that end goal. Just like us athletes; it wasn’t the 4-hour ski we did that made us fast, but it was the culmination of all those 1 hr., 2hr. and 3hr. workouts that made us great. So please know that every effort is greatly appreciated!

Your options for supporting our skiing goals for the year are:

1) Methow Valley Ski Education Foundation- The community in the Methow has been extremely helpful and supportive towards trying to help make this next step available. The team has created an Elite Opportunity Fund with 501(c)(3) status. Money can be donated to help support the athletes of the Methow participating in international level competition. If you would like to send a tax-deductible donation towards me, or the athletes of the Methow Valley, send to:
MVNSEF Elite Opportunity Fund
PO Box 1063
Winthrop, WA 98862

2) Donations directly towards me. Email me at sbjornsen@alaskapacific.edu if you have questions.

3) Donations towards the National Nordic Foundation, which is a non-profit organization aimed at supporting the nordic athletes of the US. They are recently doing The Drive for 25, which will include a small support of a large spectrum of supporters. Check out this site to get an idea of what we do and learn how to help HERE.

4) Support through the APU Ski Club

There are many ways to help out and support including you standing on the side of the trail cheering and screaming. It all counts, and it all keeps us going. So keep it up, and get ready…. race season is coming!!! Thanks to everyone that has helped so far, and that may help in the future! You guys are truly making it possible!

Magda Genuin Retires from World Cup Racing

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October 26, 2011 – Elite Italian cross-country ski racer Magda Genuin, 32, recently announced on her personal website her intention to retire from World Cup racing. In the post, Genuin wrote that she returned early from a training camp in Val Senales after making her decision after a successful 11-year career, which included four World Cup individual podiums and a fifth-place finish at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

“It is not a bolt from the blue, already last spring as I anticipated that I would need to find a period of stimulation and see if I still had the ability to return after the disappointment of how things had gone to the World Championships in Oslo,” Genuin wrote about her decision (translated from Italian via Google Translate).

“I leave the World Cup, but I do not leave cross-country skiing, because it’s what I’ve done all my life and I still like to ski, but now I will only do for me!” she added.

Read the full article on the FIS website HERE.
Read Genuin’s announcement HERE (Italian).

Southern Ontario Training Centre – What a Difference a Year Makes!

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October 25, 2011 (Barrie, ON) – A little over a year ago a group of like-minded coaches, parents and club officials in southern Ontario saw a need to provide greater high performance coaching and training support to young athletes who were committed to excellence in cross country ski racing. After months of discussion, planning, and fundraising the Southern Ontario Training Centre (SOTC) was born.

An initiative of the Hardwood Hills Nordic Development Centre (aka Team Hardwood) and other Founding Clubs (Kawartha Nordic Ski Club, Arrowhead Nordic, and the Waterloo Region Nordic Sports Club), SOTCʼs mission is to further the development of cross country skiing in Ontario by providing a high performance training centre for athletes who have graduated from high school and are committed to exploring their potential in the sport.

The vision is of a year-round training facility where, under the guidance of a full-time  coach, athletes train with a group of competitive peers while engaging in post-secondary studies if they chose. A key feature of SOTC is that athletes compete as members of the SOTC team while also representing and accumulating points for their home clubs in Ontario Cup Series races and at the Canadian Championships.

One year later, the dream has become a very exciting reality. SOTC was formally launched in June, 2011, with the hiring of our Head Coach, Petr Jakl. Petr is a highly qualified nordic ski coach who has held coaching positions in western Canada, Quebec, and his native Czech Republic. Petr hit the ground running in June and began immediately to work with SOTC’s athletes and to set up the office and training facilities. All athletes are following a custom-designed annual training program and Petr oversees the execution of training sessions with the athletes on a daily basis.

There are currently 4 athletes enrolled in the SOTC program, representing 3 different Ontario ski clubs. Cam Raynor hails from Huntsville, ON, where he has raced for the Arrowhead Nordic Ski Club and Huntsville High School. Cam had a break-out season last year, finishing 4th in the Sr Boy’s individual race and anchoring the Huntsville team to a gold medal in the relay event. Scott Hill and Adam Birosh are from North Bay, where they compete for the North Bay Nordic Ski Club. Scott has been a member of the Ontario Junior Development Team and posted some solid race results last year as a first year Jr Male, despite struggling with injuries.

Adam is a member of the Ontario Ski Team and is the reigning Jr Boys overall champion in the Ontario Cup Series. Evan Odell is from Mississauga and races for Team Hardwood. Evan has made regular podium appearances on the university racing circuit the last two years (racing for Laurentian U) and was the overall Ontario Cup champion in the Jr Male category in 2011-12. All 4 athletes are exceptionally talented athletes who are completely committed to the program and to achieving their potential in the sport. Most are also enrolled in university-level studies on at least a part-time basis, at either Lakehead University (Orillia campus) or Laurentian University (through Georgian College in Barrie), both of which are within a 15 minute drive of SOTC.

SOTC is hosted by Team Hardwood, utilizing the world class trails and other training amenities at Hardwood Ski and Bike and the surrounding area. Hardwood offers 30kms of meticulously groomed trails in winter and 80kms of double and single-track trails for mountain-biking in summer, along with an on-site rental and pro shop, as well as a cafe. SOTC maintains an office, strength and conditioning room, and equipment storage space on site. Surrounding Hardwood are miles of quiet, undulating, newly-paved country roads that are perfect for rollerskiing and cycling. The greater Barrie and Orillia area, meanwhile, is a mecca for outdoor sports and boasts over a dozen cross country and downhill ski areas within a short drive.

Since arriving last June, Petr and the SOTC athletes have become fixtures on the trails and roads around Hardwood Ski and Bike, where they have been logging the miles running, mountain-biking and rollerskiing. In addition, the team has already participated in several training camps. Petr has planned and executed two team training camps so far, one at Horseshoe Valley in July, and a fall camp at the Craftsbury Outdoor Centre in Vermont in early October, held in conjunction with a Team Hardwood junior camp.

After 5 days of hard training, the camp at Horseshoe climaxed with some thrills on the high ropes course at Horseshoe Valley Resort. While the Craftsbury camp was plagued by cold wet weather, the team still managed to get in some quality training that included ski-striding to the gondola station at the top of Mt Mansfield in Stowe, and strength sessions in the sweet fitness room used by the Craftsbury Green Racing Project team. The SOTC squad also participated in the SOD high performance camp hosted by Team Hardwood in August, where, along with over 100 other aspiring elite athletes, they had the opportunity to train with emerging World Cup star Lenny Valjas and other top Canadian skiers such as Mike Somppi, Erin Tribe and Andy Shields.

While the fruits of all their training won’t be evident until the snow flies, their success in a number of recent races testifies both to their fitness and to the effectiveness of Petr’s coaching and training program. All four athletes, for example, have won medals in the popular and very competitive 5 Peaks Trail Running series. Finally, Petr and the athletes have also participated in a number of outreach activities, including a visit to Arrowhead Nordic and the joint training camp with Team Hardwood in Vermont. Additional outreach activities are planned for the winter.

Looking ahead, the SOTC coach and athletes will be traveling to training and racing venues across North America over the next few months. After an early season snow camp in late November at Foret Montmorency in Quebec, they will compete at the 2012 World Jr/U23 Trials in Callaghan Valley, BC, in early January, and then move on to a NorAm competition in Canmore the following weekend. Following this western swing they will return home, where they will prepare for the Eastern Canadian Championships at Nakkertok and the Mt Orford NorAm in February. In March the focus will be on the Haywood Ski Nationals in Mont Ste Anne. Watch for them this winter in their blue and orange custom-designed racing suits courtesy of Mt Borah!

Follow the team’s travels and race results this winter on the newly launched SOTC web site! The site already contains lots of information about the Centre, including program information, coach and athlete profiles, photo galleries, training updates and camp reports. Please visit the SOTC web site HERE, and check for updates regularly.

Finally, SOTC is still accepting athletes for the 2011-12 season. Athlete inquiries should be directed to Petr Jakl at 1-800-387-3775 or sotc@hardwoodskiandbike.ca. Athletes interested in applying to SOTC should send a letter of interest outlining their background in the sport, performance highlights, and future goals in the sport to: Petr Jakl, Coach, Southern Ontario Training Centre, c/o Hardwood Ski and Bike, 402 Old Barrie Rd, Oro, ON, L0L 2E0.

SOTC acknowledges the generous support of its sponsors, including: KRG Children’s Charities; Monette May & Associates; Dalton Pharma Services; and Gulfcom.

Traverse City to Host 2012 Masters National Nordic Ski Championships

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October 24, 2011 (Traverse City, MI) – Over 900 cross-country skiers from around the U.S. and Canada competed last winter at Traverse City’s North American Vasa Festival of Races. And organizers expect hundreds more to attend the 2012 festival – which has been named the host event for the AXCS Masters National Championships.

“We’re going to have all the excitement of a national race, lots of additional skiers, and the opportunity for our competitors to win placement in the world championships in Germany,” said Vasa Board Member and chief-of-course Michael Tarnow. “Best of all, this is helping us to promote the sport and skiing in Northern Michigan to a whole new group of people.”

The AXCS (American Cross-Country Skiers) National Masters is North America’s championship event for master skiers (over 30 years in age) and is hosted each year by a different race. Recent venues include Anchorage, Alaska; Bend, Oregon; Craftsbury, Vermont and St. Paul, Minnesota. Vasa officials say it’s the perfect fit for Traverse City.

Founded by two Traverse City dads who were trying to teach their kids to ski — Swedish-American hotelier Ted Okerstrom and former Yugoslav Olympic skier Vojin Baic – the Vasa is now in its 36th year. It’s held each February, and the 2012 event is scheduled for Feb. 10-12.

The main Saturday race, which features 12K, 27K and 50K race lengths, in either freestyle or classic styles, is part of the prestigious American Ski Marathon Series, where most of the nation’s elite and professional ski racers compete. Sunday’s 6K and 16K traditional-style classic only race, the Gran Travers Classic, is an equally prestigious event for old-school Nordic skiers, and one of the events in the Michigan Cup classic race series.

Over the past decade, race organizers have added a wide range of other events for skiers of all shapes, ages and skill levels: 1K sprints for preschoolers, 3K freestyle and classic events for older youths, and even noncompetitive 3K and 10K tours for those who prefer to enjoy winter’s natural beauty at a more leisurely pace. A highlight of the festival is the popular Valentine’s Tour, which take place on Sunday afternoon after all the competitive events have ended

And there’s a lot of beauty to appreciate. The Vasa is held on a beautifully crafted trail that winds through the dense pines and hardwoods of the Pere Marquette State Forest. In addition to the hundreds of skiers who actually head out on the trails, hundreds of spectators come to watch the race and enjoy the festivities that surround it.

“All our races are done at the speed of fun,” says Tarnow. “We try to encourage skiers to work at their own pace.”

That’s exactly the kind of experience the AXCS National Masters Championship tries to foster. Unlike many elite races, the Masters is open to skiers of all abilities. No qualification or license of any kind is necessary; it’s “one of those special events where skiers ranging from experts to complete novices can all participate together…and everyone has a great time.”

A new event for 2012 will be the Great Lakes Youth Ski Festival, where junior skiers (ages 4-14) from the five Great Lakes states will compete in a variety of races and enjoy other fun activities. Special shorter courses will be used for all the kid’s events.

The festival actually begins the day before the main race with registration, social time, and the opportunity for everyone to work-out their travel kinks on the groomed trails. That evening, there’s an annual “Vasa Pasta” dinner, an all-you-can-eat event where contestants try to pack away as many carbohydrates as possible. The Baic family tradition is one plate of pasta for every 10k of race length.

The Vasa may be Traverse City’s best-known winter event, but it is by no means the only one. The dense forests, towering hills and stunning shoreline views that make this a favorite summer resort area also lure thousands of visitors here each winter for skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and other cold-weather sports.

On January 7, for instance, is Winter Trails Day, a national day encouraging use of winter trails. Free rental skis, snowshoes and group lessons are being offered at Timber Ridge RV Resort near Traverse City with access to the Vasa Trail system.

Also, on Feb. 4 yet another major Nordic ski race is held a few miles to the north in the picturesque village of Mancelona, near the Shanty Creek Resort & Club. Known as the White Pine Stampede, it, too, is celebrating its 36st anniversary in 2012 with a series of 10K, 20K and 50K races.

For registration and information about the North American Vasa, go to www.vasa.org. To learn about the White Pine Stampede and other winter events, festivals and activities in beautiful Traverse City, call the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-TRAVERSE or visit their Web site at www.traversecity.com

Bjørgen Signs New 3-Year Contract with Bliz Active

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October 24, 2011 – The Bliz Active brand is continuing its rapid expansion and taking market shares in Sweden, in Scandinavia and in other countries. Since its inception in 2007, Bliz Active has been actively involved with the various ski associations, and has sponsored several members of the Norwegian and Swedish national cross-country skiing teams.

“The partnership with Norwegian skier Marit Bjørgen, as well as the national teams in general, is helping to establish Bliz Active at a deeper level and confirms our position as one of the absolute top brands in sports eyewear for cross-country skiers,” said Andreas Persson, Marketing Manager at Future Trading AB.

Marit Bjørgen, probably the best female crosscountry skier the world has ever seen, has decided to continue using Bliz Active as her sports eyewear supplier. Since the first contract was signed in 2008, she has been extremely pleased with the products and service provided by Future Trading, the company behind the Bliz Active brand.

Future believes firmly in the partnership with Marit Bjørgen, and is prepared to invest heavily in it. The sponsorship of Marit lends enormous credibility to the brand, and this will prove extremely valuable for the brand’s future expansion and sales.

Future’s objective is to move BLIZ forward by adding more technical and functional products for outdoor activities. At the same time, it is important that BLIZ maintains a price level which makes the brand accessible to a broad target group, which buys and uses our products”, says Jan Jonsson, CEO of Future.

The 3-year partnership and contract will cover competitions such as the World Championships in Val de Fiemme in 2013 and the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.

One-Day Season Pass Sale at Historic Black Mountain of Maine – Oct. 22

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October 21, 2011 (Rumford, ME) – On Saturday, October 22, Black Mountain of Maine will be holding its annual one-day season pass sale. Season passes are only $195 with no black-out dates. The one-day season pass sale is part of Black Mountain’s Octoberfest – a daylong celebration of the changing seasons at the Rumford ski area.

Billed as the “Early-Early Bird Special,” the $195 pass price is available only on Saturday, October 22 at the mountain. For a family, the first two passes are $195 with each additional pass just $95. This allows a family of four to ski all season long for less than $600, which is approximately half the price of an individual season pass at many New England resorts.

Other events during Octoberfest include:
– Ski Swap from 8:00am – 12:00pm
– Meet the Black Mountain Race Program Coaches: Julie Parisien, Tim LaVallee and Mark Thibodeau
– Register for Black Mountain Race Program and Ski School
– Silent Auction to benefit the “Need to Ski” Program
– Dinner & Beer Tasting featuring beverages from Long Trail Brewing and food from Gourmet in a Pinch
– Live entertainment from Punting Baxter from 7:00pm – 10:00pm

Black Mountain of Maine season passes offer unlimited cross country skiing at the area’s world class nordic trail system. Additionally, a Black Mountain of Maine season pass is honored at Big Rock Ski Area in Mars Hill and Pineland Farms in New Gloucester.

Through a unique partnership with the Big Adventure Center in Bethel, a season pass holder will also receive one free day pass to the family fun center and 20% off additional tickets for pass holders throughout the year.

Black Mountain of Maine has also entered into a partnership with other Maine ski areas providing two for one lift tickets for Black Mountain of Maine season passholders at the following ski areas: Camden Snowbowl, Lost Valley, Titcomb Mountain, Spruce Mountain, Big Rock and Herman Mountain.

Black Mountain of Maine season pass details: Each pass issued must be from the purchaser’s immediate family. The offer cannot be combined with any other discount, deal, or promotion.

For more information, contact Black Mountain of Maine at 207-864-3977 or visit www.SkiBlackMountain.org.

Hardwood Ski & Bike’s 29th Annual Cross Country Ski Swap & Open House – Oct. 22-23

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October 21, 2011 (Oro Station, ON) – The Hardwood Ski and Bike Annual Ski Swap is one of the largest cross country swaps around offering a great opportunity to find just the right equipment for you for the coming season. The swap includes new and used cross country equipment, snowshoes, poles and more.

It is a chance for people to sell their old equipment at the swap and make a few dollars to put toward upgrading equipment. This is a great place to find ski equipment for your kids for this winter.

You can check out Retail Shop for the newest cross country gear and clothing with an added bonus – you pay no taxes this weekend.

The Open House is a chance to find out about the various programs, clinics, events and races taking place at Hardwood this winter.

WHERE: Hardwood Ski and Bike, 402 W Old Barrie Rd, Oro Station, Ontario
WHEN: October 22 and 23, 2010. Saturday from 9 to 5 and Sunday 9 to 1

Heidi Widmer Blog – Santa Came Early!

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October 20, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Frozen Thunder, or Christmas as I like to call it, officially opened this past Monday and I couldn’t be more excited. I spent the previous week trying to shake a head cold, but was more than happy to welcome sub zero cold if it meant that Frozen Thunder could stick around. The trucks, cats and backhoe’s were working hard to wake the sawdust covered snow pile from it’s summer slumber in order to make a 1.5km ski trail for early season training.

Sweden’s Joenssen Cuts Training Camp Short Due to Injury

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October 19, 2011 (Livigno, Italy) – Top Swedish sprinter Emil Joenssen was forced to leave team camp in Livigno, Italy early when he sustained a thigh injury during training. “I was on the camp in the Italian Livigno and had a great time with the rest of the team and the training was perfect! Then, on Friday afternoon we were doing a special training in order to get in more “into it”. That is, you start with an easy pace and then you increase the speed up to maximum speed. And during my second round the back of my thigh cramps and I fall to the ground and simply felt something was not right,” Emil Joensson explained on his website.

Emil Joensson returned quickly to Sweden and underwent in Oestersund several medical check ups including a MRI that revealed the cause of an injury. “As it turned out, the injury was smaller than what we had thought and it is a small simple burst within the back of the thigh up towards the bum. An incredible small little bugger which isn’t at all as serious but you don’t want to go on and burden it too fast due to the risk to turn it into a more severe injury,” Joensson reveals.

Expected recovery time remains unknown. “It will take weeks before I am fully back in action,” Joensson confirms. With the season kick off round the corner the Small Crystal Globe winner is not laying down his arms. “I have to adjust my training not to put on myself inappropriate load. So it is looking like a fun break in training having the chance to try out some new training variations,” Joensson claims.

Canada’s Brian McKeever Shortlisted for IPC Best Male Athlete Award

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October 19, 2011 – Five snow sport athletes make up the shortlist for the Best Male Athlete Category for the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) 2011 Paralympic Sport Awards, proudly partnered by the IPC’s International Partner, Allianz. The award will be presented by the IPC to the top male athlete for his accomplishments at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games.

Finalists for the award include: German alpine skier Gerd Schoenfelder; Russian biathlete and cross-country skier Irek Zaripov; Slovakian alpine skier Jakub Krako; Canadian biathlete and cross-country skier Brian McKeever; and New Zealand alpine skier Adam Hall.

– Gerd Schoenfelder: After picking up five medals in Vancouver, the 41-year-old became one of the most decorated Paralympic athletes in history, as he has now won 22 Paralympic Games medals, including 16 golds. At his sixth Winter Games in Vancouver, the German took four golds in Alpine Skiing (Downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom, Super Combined) and one silver (Slalom). After winning two golds, a silver and a bronze at the 2011 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in Sestriere, Italy, Schoenfelder announced his retirement.

– Irek Zaripov: The Russian, who lost both of his legs after a car accident back in 2000, won five total medals in Vancouver, including four golds and a silver. He struck gold in two Biathlon events (2.4km Pursuit, 12.5km Pursuit) and two Cross-Country Skiing events (15km Sitting, 10km Sitting), in addition to picking up a silver in Cross-Country (Sprint Sitting).

– Jakub Krako: The visually impaired Slovakian won gold in three Alpine Skiing disciplines in Vancouver – men’s slalom, giant slalom and Super G. The then-20-year-old also picked up a silver in the Super Combined. He capped off his year with a victory in the Super G World Cup, and then won the Slalom World Cup in 2011.

– Brian McKeever: At his home Games in Vancouver, McKeever, who started skiing at 3 and began losing his vision at 19, claimed gold in three events. McKeever won three Cross-Country Skiing disciplines: 20km Freestyle, 10km Classic Style and Sprint Classic Style. He won the Best Male Athlete Category in the 2007 Paralympic Sport Awards and was the first Canadian athlete with a disability to ski in an able-bodied event in 2007.

– Adam Hall: Born with spina bifida, Hall quickly became the pride of New Zealand at 22 after claiming an unlikely gold medal in the Alpine Skiing Slalom Standing event in Vancouver. After a stunning first run that put him well into the lead, a remarkable recovery following a fall in his second run pushed him to gold.

The award winner will be announced during a special ceremony held in conjunction with the 2011 IPC General Assembly in Beijing, China, in December.

Duesseldorf World Cup to Celebrate 10 Years – Dec. 3-4

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October 19, 2011 (Duesseldorf, Germany) – The snow spectacle on the banks of the Rhine river will fascinate visitors from near and far for the tenth time. The World’s best cross-country skiers will again compete on the spectacular course along the Rhine on December 3 and 4. The Old Town banks and Burgplatz will once again be turned into an Alpine winter fairy-tale: culinary delicacies, tobogganing track for children and an attractive music and supporting programme will once again make the FIS Cross-Country World Cup a special event for the whole family.

Tenth Anniversary
Duesseldorf’s Lord Mayor Dirk Elbers, patron of the World Cup in the North-Rhine Westphalian capital: “There is great anticipation for the tenth anniversary of the Duesseldorf World Cup. Nowhere else city slickers can experience modern skiing so closely. The sports city of Duesseldorf will present itself brilliantly again at the tenth event and with its enthusiastic fans impressively emphasise its reputation as the world’s greatest winter sports event.” Thomas Pfueller, Sports Director and Secretary General of the German Ski Federation, DSV, adds: “Duesseldorf has established itself by its successful city event and is also very popular among the athletes.”

Christina Begale, Managing Director of sportAgentur, co-organisers of the FIS Cross-Country World Cup: “This event is a real challenge for all people involved. Smooth and professional co-operation between the Jever Ski Hall Neuss, the West German Ski Association and the sportAgentur is essential for the realisation of the event. In this context the approximately 120 volunteers must be mentioned who’s contribution is also vital for the success of the World Cup.”

August Pollen, Head of the Organising Committee: “The Cross-Country World Cup in Duesseldorf will indeed be held for the tenth time – and we are looking forward to it just as for its premiere.” Pollen announces: “We shall surprise the visitors again with new ideas at the anniversary. Welcome to the Duesseldorf World Cup circuit!”

More than 200.000 Spectators
The FIS Cross-Country Ski World Cup has been the crowning conclusion of the Duesseldorf sports year since 2002 and attracts more than 200,000 spectators along the course annually. Altogether about 3,000 cubic metres of snow from Jever Ski Hall Neuss are needed for the preparation of the 800m long sprint track regularly praised by the athletes for its excellent quality. The snow is produced without any chemical additives but nevertheless withstands almost any weather conditions. Consequently Duesseldorf can boast to be the venue with the best guaranteed snow conditions within the World Cup series.

In addition, the white spectacle on the Rhine is by far the greatest event for the cross-country skiers in the entire winter season, regularly televised on public German TV and is, thanks to its excellent infra-structure, one of the most environmental-friendly World Cup event. Free entrance is also a special feature.


Vasaloppet 2012 Surpasses 40,000 Registrants

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October 03, 2011 (Sweden) – Vasaloppet’s 2012 Winter Week has now passed 40,000 registered participants, something which did not occur before November 9 last year. With this pace of registrations, both TjejVasan and StafettVasan will be fully booked before Christmas.

It’s a balmy 20 degrees outside, but interest in skiing is at its peak! Vasaloppet’s Winter Week 2012 has 10,000 more registered entries today compared with the same time last year.

“It’s really fantastic that there’s such a great interest in our events, and that so many choose one or other of our races as a goal for their training,” says Jonas Bauer, Vasaloppets CEO.

TjejVasan has already passed 6,300 registered ladies (a 53 percent increase compared with the same time last year) which means that there remains barely 3,700 places before the new, raised registration ceiling of 10,000 participants is reached.

In StafettVasan, so far, there are 818 teams entered (an increase of 204 percent). StafettVasan attracts many companies to enter their teams of five, as a way of furthering and supporting their own internal health and fitness objectives.

Last winter, three of the Winter Week races were completely full – Vasaloppet, TjejVasan and StafettVasan. Vasaloppet 2012 is already full and, with the current high registration pace, TjejVasan and StafettVasan will be fully booked well before Christmas.

Register entries to Vasaloppet’s various races HERE.

Vasaloppet Winter Week 2012
– Friday 24 Feb: KortVasan, 30 km. Start Oxberg.
– Saturday 25 Feb: TjejVasan, 30 km Start Oxberg.
– Sunday 26 Feb: UngdomsVasan, 3/5/7/9 km. Start Hemus.
– Sunday 26 Feb: Öppet Spår, 90 km. Start Sälen.
– Monday 27 Feb: Öppet Spår, 90 km. Start Sälen.
– Tuesday 28 Feb: HalvVasan, 45 km. Start Oxberg.
– Friday 2 Mar: SkejtVasan, 30/45 km. Start Oxberg.
– Friday 2 Mar: StafettVasan 9 km – 24 km. Start Sälen.
– Sunday 4 Mar: Vasaloppet, 90 km (FULL 30/5/11). Start Sälen.

Colby College and Waterville Investment in Maine XC Skiing

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September 29, 2011 (Waterville, ME) – Major donations from Colby College and the Harold Alfond Foundation will help make Quarry Road Recreation Area one of the best of its kind in the northeast. More than $915,000 has been raised in private money for the project, with about a third of the contributions coming from Colby College. Highlights include: a 5K FIS D-homologated loop ready for this winter, $385K invested in snowmaking system ready for winter 2013, and more. Check out the full article from the Waterville Morning Sentinel HERE.

2011 Yellowstone Ski Festival – Nov. 22-26

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September 28, 2011 (West Yellowstone, Montana) – Everyone is invited to West Yellowstone, Montana Nov. 22-26 for the Yellowstone Ski Festival, a week-long celebration of cross-country skiing. Each year thousands of skiers, from Olympic athletes to first timers, descend on this small mountain town to make their first tracks of the season over the Thanksgiving holiday on perfectly groomed corduroy.

The Yellowstone Ski Festival offers a diverse schedule of events, with one to five day Nordic ski clinics offered throughout the week. Classic and skate specific options, as well as multi-day combination clinics, provide an opportunity for all skiers to kick-start their season on the Rendezvous Ski Trails. West Yellowstone will also host the USSA SuperTour opener, beginning with the “Sprint Showdown,” on Wednesday, Nov. 23. The 10/15 kilometer freestyle race and 5/10 kilometer classic race will happen on Friday and Saturday. A “Try Biathlon Day” will be held on Nov.22, and Biathlon Sprint on Nov. 23.

Skiers will have the chance to test skis, boots, bindings, poles and wax at the On Snow Gear Demo. New this year, the “Passport Program” will enter skiers who demo gear from all participating companies and attended one evening wax clinic into a drawing for a $750 gift certificate to their choice of local ski shops Freeheel & Wheel, Bud Lilly’s, or Altius Handcrafted Firearms. Second and third prizes will also be awarded. The festivities continue after dark at the Indoor Expo, where skiers may visit with company representatives, fine tune ski prep techniques at wax clinics, and enjoy a variety of lectures, presentations and films. The expo will be held at the Yellowstone Ski Festival’s headquarters, the Holiday Inn.

Bring the whole family; there are plenty of options for kids. The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center has scheduled daily activities and family-friendly evening presentations include the Backcountry Film Festival, a Birds of Prey exhibit featuring live raptors, a hands-on lecture from the National Park Service, and a good, old-fashioned s’more party. Let the Yellowstone Ski Festival become a new Thanksgiving tradition.

Think snow and make plans now to attend the 2011 Yellowstone Ski Festival. For more information, clinic registration, or to find out about early trail pass discounts, visit www.yellowstoneskifestival.com.

Watch FIS Indoor Sprint Race in Oberhof Live Online – Sept. 29

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September 27, 2011 (Oberhof, Germany) – The second Cross-Country Skiing sprint race will take place in Oberhof’s indoor ski venue on September 29. This is the first year it will be sanctioned by FIS. The freestyle sprints will kick off the German performance tests in a Mini-Tour format. For the first time, the athletes will fight for FIS points during the first event held on snow in the ski hall and organizers expect a larger international field to compete.

The German performance test program traditionally features Cross-Country running and Roller Skiing pursuit races.

Follow the race LIVE!
You can follow the Oberhof indoor sprint races LIVE! Competition starts on Thursday at 18:00 CET with qualifying session and finals starting at 18:30. You can watch the race HERE or on fiscrosscountry.com

BKL Coaching Clinics Announced for this Fall

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September 21, 2011 – Are you coaching a local BKL Club this winter? Interested in learning more about how to manage your group more effectively? Looking to pick up some new games to jazz up your practice? Please join us for one of two BKL Coaching Clinics being offered this Fall. There will be presentations from some of the leading coaches and youth skiing gurus in New England.

Join Mary Anne Levins, Sverre Caldwell, John Ogden, Lauren Jacobs, Rob Bradlee, Jim Stock, Kate Koch, Cam MacKugler, and Eileen Carey in learning more about Youth Skiing in New England. Topics will include: game play, organizing practices with multi-level and age skiers, transitioning from BKL to Junior Racing, involving parents in a community program, how to welcome Adaptive skiers into your club, and how to put on BKL specific events.

These clinics are a great place to connect with other coaches and leaders in New England. Chat with some of your neighbors and help to strengthen our BKL community!

Both clinics have similar agendas, but since the presenters are different, the material is likely to vary. Come to both if you’ve got the time. Full schedule of events (including presenters) can be found HERE.

Saturday October 15th in Hanover, NH. Hosted by Ford Sayre.

Saturday November 19th at Rikert Touring Center in Ripton, VT. Hosted by Frost Mountain Nordic.

These clinics cost $10 and registration is online through the calendar listings. Hope to see you there!

Lake Placid Fall Camp Wrap Up

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September 21, 2011 – The Climb to the Castle was the culmination of the Lake Placid NENSA camp for many of the participants…. But Friday’s workout was also challenging, in a different way.

After an easy distance day on Thursday, Friday morning dawned cold and clear reminding athletes and coaches alike that winter will be here before you know it! As the coaches headed to the jumps via vans, the skiers rolled to the venue as part of their warmup. That was just the beginning though, because the workout that lay ahead required a very thorough full range warm up to ensure the muscles not only fired quickly, but also to stave off potential for injury in the unaccustomed cold weather.

This was a classic speed session and with the opportunity to go head to head with some of the fastest skiers in the country, it was bound to push everyone beyond their comfort level. Three stations were set up each for men and women: standing starts, overspeed and starts from a rolling start. about 8 starts at each station with 2- 3 minutes rest in between each one, made for a full morning. This is not only a fun one to watch, but it tends to be a rewarding workout for the athletes because improvements are quick to come especially when going head to head with others.

After a good cool down and an easy afternoon run, everyone was ready for Saturday’s Climb to the Castle! This year’s NENSA group was slightly older than in the past (selected was based on Elite team, lowest USSA ranking points). Bringing together our best athletes proved day after day that it is beneficial for improvement, as well as fun training in a different environment with different people.

A big thanks to the USST staff for enabling us all to train alongside them, to Amy Caldwell for helping coach the NENSA group and to Craftsbury’s Pepa Milocheva who brought the Green Team over, and collaborated with transport and coaching.

Norwegian Cross-Country Team Training Update

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September 20, 2011 – Norwegian Cross-Country athletes have had smooth summer and good training season so far, but there are still two months to go till the FIS Cross-Country World Cup kicks off in Beitostolen… and there are over three months to go till the winter highlight, this year’s FIS Tour de Ski.

“We’ve had only few injuries and illness in the national teams this training season. In general, everything runs very well. We are certainly on good track,” says head coach Vidar Løfshus.

Løfshus has been relatively new in the top position being responsible for various national teams in the World Cup season. He knows the season is approaching, but does not deny that he is looking forward to it.

“It is very fun to get started with the season, and I think we have many that will show their teeth,” Løfshus thinks.

Løfshus has praised both of the new national team coaches for having done very good progress. Junior team coach Sjur Ole Svarstad and men’s distance team coach Trond Nystad’s were hired before the training season.

“Both of them have made very good impression so far. They also have established good dialogue with athletes, service and generally with the whole team,” says Løfshus.

Twenty-two days in the height
In August, before the FIS Rollerski World Championships and Toppidrettsveka in Aure/Kristiansund, Trond Nystad took the men’s distance team to the training camp in Oberhof for the first time. Ladies’ team spent the August training camp in the idyllic surroundings of Hummelfjell in Os. Norwegian Junior teams were also there at the training camps.

In late August the teams left for the traditional high altitude training stay at Seiser Alm and Livigno, while the men’s sprint team went to Ramsau. Tord Asle Gjerdalen, Sjur Røthe, Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Petter Northug stayed longer in Livigno and could enjoy perfect training conditions during the last training week there. The quartet extended the high altitude stay by a week and experienced almost ideal conditions. Northug and Co. carried out twenty-two days in a row at the training camp.

Training Camps in Norway
After the high altitude stay in middle Europe, three Norwegian national teams will meet in three different places next week. Men’s distance team will kick off their gathering in Drammen on Tuesday, ladies’ squad left for Kvitfjell and sprinters will meet in Gjøvik. October will feature, traditional training camps in Livigno (sprint team) and at Val Senales (distance teams). Last week the sprint specialists started on Mallorca their final dry land training phase before the winter World Cup season.

Before the Norwegian national Cross-Country season opening in Beitostølen Norwegian national teams plan to meet at Gala.

Swedish Cross-Country Team Trains in Davos

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September 20, 2011 (Davos, Switzerland) – Already last winter discussed Swedish and Swiss national teams they could do something together. “We talked with Guri Hetland, sports manager of the Swiss Cross-Country team, and all the pieces fell into right place. I think both teams will have the pleasure of training with each other in Davos and its fantastic environment,” says Swedish coach Joakim Abrahamsson.

The Swiss team is well known and is led by reigning World Cup champion Dario Cologna. He, Remo Fischer, Curdin Perl and Toni Livers romped to first ever Swiss World Cup victory in the relay in La Clusaz last winter.

Swedish team left Livigno, Italy on Sunday after a wonderful week with various dry-land workouts in perfect weather. “The sun was shining all the time, we had optimal conditions there and we could carry out the whole training plan we had prepared,” Joakim Abrahamsson says.

Davos has been Swedish favorite resort for a long time. The town lies in a valley with Flüelaschwarzhorn as the highest point, 3146 meters above the sea level. The town itself lies in 1260 meters above sea level.
“We are confident that in Davos we will perform great workouts. Anna Haag and Emil Jönsson have been here, and Guri Hetland lives in Davos and the surrounding area is great,” Joakim Abrahamsson says. Anna Haag and Emil Joensson bought an apartment in Davos.

Unfortunately, neither Johan Olsson nor Marcus Hellner will team up with the Swedish squad in Davos. The two Olympic relay heroes have not fully recovered from their injuries.

“Johan needs more time to heal his shoulder bu he can do alternative training. The same applies for Marcus. At first he was slightly cold, and then he stretched his knee,” Joakim Abrahamsson revealed.

Interview with Len Valjas

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September 19, 2011 – Len Valjas is the rising star of the Canadian Cross-Country skiing. The 23-year-old skier from Toronto has Estonian/Swedish origins and excelled in two sports; mountain biking and Cross-Country Skiing. Cross-Country skiing won for Len, and he became a valuable member of Canada Cross-Country Team.

Len, you have Estonian and Swedish origins. Could you explain that please?
Len Valjas: Three of my grandparents were born in Estonia, and my grandfather was born in Sweden. Estonian was my first and primary language growing up. I went to Estonian night school for 6 years.

Who brought you to Cross-Country skiing?
LV: My parents were the ones that got me interested in the sport. Every weekend they would drive me an hour north of Toronto to Hardwood Ski and Bike so I could train with the local Jackrabbit club.

Who was your favorite skier growing up?
LV: I have to say my favorite skier growing up was Andrus Veerpalu. I had the chance to meet him while visiting relatives in Estonia a few years back in 2006. I liked how humble he was and how he took time out of his busy day to meet with me, a total stranger, for over an hour.

What is your favorite training venue in Canada?
LV: I would have to say Canmore Alberta. It is a world class facility and I have had good luck racing there in the past.

I read you, Phil Widmer, Brent McMurtry and David Greer bought a van. Do you still have it?
LV: Haha, yes we still have the van. It’s not a thing of beauty, but it gets us to training on time (most of the time).

Your physical constitution is similar to Jesper Modin’s. Where do you see your advantage over shorter skiers?
LV: My stride length is much longer than most of the guys, and once I’m up to speed I can conserve more energy than the shorter skiers.

You’ve well established as a sprint specialist. What is the secret for you to succeed in sprint?
LV: I think a big part of it is my height, at 6’6” I can use my height to my advantage. I also feel I have a very fast tempo for someone my size. With that combination, i can go fast over short distances.

How important was last winter for you? Do you take it as a breakthrough in the Canadian squad and World’s elite?
LV: It was a big step for sure, but I feel like I still have a ways to go before I reach my potential as a xc skier.

Once you said you were more popular in Estonia than in Canada. Is it still the case?
LV: This was the case over the past couple years, but now with my recent results in the past year and the added press coverage in Canada has balanced things out. I would say it’s even now.

In the 2012/13 season World Cup could make its stop in Quebec. How do you feel about that?
LV: I am really excited for this race, Quebec really loves sport and I know they will put on a great ski event.

With successes of Devon, Alex, Chandra do you feel Cross-Country skiing has become more popular?
LV: For sure, we are continually getting more coverage in newspapers and on tv.

You took part in the World Championships in Oslo. What kind of experience was it for you?
LV: It was an unbelievable experience for me. I am so glad I was able to take part in such an amazing event. To have that many crazy fans screaming at you was definitely the highlight of my ski career so far.

Are there any other sports you enjoy outside of skiing?
LV: There are not too many sports that I DO NOT enjoy. I love to take part in as many different sports as I can. A few sports that I particularly enjoy are Mountain biking, windsurfing, and surfing.

How is the atmosphere in the Canadian team? Have you been “initiated” to be accepted in the team (carrying bags, skis, etc.)?
LV: I was lucky, last year I spent so much time traveling on the World Cup with these guys, that it made my transition onto the World Cup Team seamless. There was no “initiation” for me to be accepted. I dodged that bullet.

Petter Northug Extends Partnership with Alpina

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September 14, 2011 – Norwegian Petter Northug, the best skier in this year’s World Championships in Oslo, extended his contract with Alpina. Petter Northug, who won three gold and two silver medals at the Oslo 2011 World Championships and is the holder of four Olympic medals from Vancouver 2010, has extended his contract with the Slovenian company through May 2014.

With permanent investments in development, Alpina has become one of the most important manufacturers of Cross-Country boots and today reaches one third of the market share in the segment of XC boots. Alpina is proud that one of the best and most popular athletes in the Cross-Country Skiing world continues to use its shoes for his future challenges. Furthermore Alpina also believes this will help to consolidate the Alpina brand all over the world.

Norwegian Men’s XC Sprint Team Ramsau Training Slideshow

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September 13, 2011 (Ramsau, Germany) – Check out this artistic compilation of photos from the Norwegian Men’s XC Sprint Team’s 2011 training camp in Ramsau, Germany.

Sochi 2014 Mountain Venues on Track

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September 13, 2011 (Sochi, Russia) – Preparations for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games are continuing, with work expected to be completed on many of the mountain venues by the end of this year.

During the 2014 Games, events will be focused around two different areas – a coastal cluster of venues in Sochi for ice events, and a mountain cluster in the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains.

The mountain cluster will be home to all the skiing and sliding sports and will include a Biathlon and Ski Complex, a Bobsleigh Track, a Ski Centre and a Ski Jump Complex, as well as a Snowboard Park and Freestyle Centre.

Many of the venues are due to host international events at the beginning of 2012, in preparation for the 2014 Games, and IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Killy was confident that the athletes would be impressed following a recent visit to Sochi. “I am confident that the world’s winter athletes will be impressed when they arrive in Sochi for the up-coming sports events and the Games in 2014,” said Killy. He continued, “The entire Sochi 2014 team deserves great praise for their achievements over the past six months.”

The Biathlon and Ski Complex, located on the crest and slopes of the Psekhako Ridge, will host both the FIS Cup and the IBU Cup in January next year, while the Alpine Centre, on the Aibga Ridge, will host the Alpine FIS World Cup in February.

The Ski Jumping Complex, which is located in Esto-Sadok village on the northern slope of the Aibga Ridge, will stage the FIS Ski Jumping Cup in February, while the Snowboard Park and Freestyle Centre, to the West of the Rosa Khutor plateau, will host both the Freestyle FIS European Cup and the Snowboard FIS European Cup in March.


First FIS XC World Cup in Toblach – History of an Event

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September 13, 2011 (Toblach, Italy) – One of the most interesting stages of next FIS Tour de Ski will be the one in Toblach/Dobbiaco ITA. During three days, six races will be carried out in this relatively small village in Pustertal. In my article I will use the German name Toblach (there is also Italian version Dobbiaco).

As Toblach has become a frequent organizer in the FIS Tour de Ski it may be interesting for you to know how Toblach organized their first World Cup Competition. We have to go back to season 1987/88 and (as always) the winter was warm in Middle Europe. And perhaps some of you remember that the relay race Dec. 19 in Davos was cancelled due to the fact that the Swiss TV did not want to cover the competition, as the snow situation was very poor. As you had seen before, the men and the ladies competed sometimes at different resorts the same weekend.

The weekend Jan 15-16 was scheduled for Klingenthal DDR for women and Strbske Pleso TCH for men. It was still warm and we had to make changes of the program in Ski jumping as well as in Nordic Combined. The snow situation in Klingenthal did not allow any World Cup competition taking place and no substitute resort could be found in DDR. As always FISI (the Italian Ski Federation), was interested to take it over. The secretary general of FISI Angelo Vergani informed me that Cogne or Toblach were candidates to host the competition and he recommended Toblach. I remembered that I had met a person from Toblach, Herbert Santer, at the men’s Mass-start race in Kastelruth three weeks earlier. He asked me what he should do so that Toblach could become the organizer of a World Cup race in the future. Who could know at that time that the future was within three weeks?

I called Franco Nones, the representative of Italy and asked him to check the possibilities.

The answer was positive and after having involved our decision makers Gian Franco Kasper FIS General Secretary, Odd Martinsen Cross-Country Committee and Stig Roland Bergqvist World Cup Committee, we decided that Toblach would organize its first World Cup event.

This was the paper work, now to reality – how to organize a World Cup race in Toblach?

The OC of Toblach consisted of persons with experiences from the popular cross-country race Cortina-Toblach and from a number of Alpen Cup competitions. You must also be aware of the reality at that time. The weekend January 15-16 was the last competition before the opening of the Olympic Winter Games in Calgary/Canmore 1988, which started February 14. That meant that one month was reserved for preparations before the games.

The key persons were Herbert Santer as Chief OC, Elvira Bachmann as competition secretary and Karl Walder as Chief of track. The TD was Madeleine Vion FRA. With excitement we waited for the teams but which nations would come? SOV and FIN did not come and NOR came with a B-team.

The preparations were underway and I remember that we had troubles with how to improve an uphill.

However at the end we had fantastic competitions with many engaged spectators and a new organizer was born. At last I want to mention one thing that happened during the team captains meeting that never will happen again. The technical delegate suddenly asked is it okay that we will start at 09.30? One captain said that is more convenient to start at 10.00. And that was confirmed by Madeleine Vion the Technical delegate without any control. Such things could occur as late as 1988.

Simone Greiner Petter DDR won before the Swedes Anna Lena Fritzon and Marie Helen Westin. In the relay SWE, DDR and NOR were the three best.

For me personally I got a close friendship through the years with the Family Santer with the parents Herbert and Live and the three daughters Natalie, Saskia and Stephanie.

Thank you Toblach and good luck for the future.

Ski and Tea at Telemark!

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September 10, 2011 (Telemark, WI) – The Ski and Tea ladies, a year round training group based out of the Birkie Trail area and founded by Linda Cook and Juli Lynch, came to Telemark today! With a motto of “No Woman Left Behind” and focus on feeling successful and proud to be a Nordic Skier, and over 102 women on the mailing list, this training group is a force to be reckoned with!

The event was coached by myself, Caitlin Gregg, Carolyn Ocariz, Sara Hewitt and Jennie Bender. We started out with some introductions and organization, led by Caitlin.

Then Sara took us through a light jog and mobility warm up that was fun yet challenging.

I worked over some technique highlights before Carolyn explained the workout: 6×4-8 min ski walking up Telemark hill.

But I’m afraid we may have underestimated some of these ladies, because I’m quite positive that many of them went back for more and by the end of the workout had done up to 8 intervals! Impressive.

Then Jennie took everyone through some stretching and yoga, before we had tea in the Telemark Lodge.

It was inspiring and motivating for me to be able to work with ladies who are committed to improving technique and training during the summer. It was fun to meet new people and get to know the Hayward/Cable area better. I’m looking forward to being involved with more Ski and Tea clinics in the future!

Silver Star Mountain Summer Cross Training Series – Flexibility

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September 10, 2011 (Silverstar Mountain, BC) – “If only we could bottle this stuff” “he said surveying the early morning landscape. With a smile on his face he turned back to take a swing. As his ball flew silently from his golf club into the quite early morning air I couldn’t help but think he is so right….

I am speaking to a moment, shared recently, on a golf course with Silver Star Mountain Cross Country Camps co-founder and resident coach, Norm Crerar. Our conversation had been on the importance of “stretching.” Often when we read about stretching we think of stretching our bodies. The essence of our conversation, this particularly fine Okanagan morning, was about stretching both our bodies and our minds.

The physical benefits of having good flexibility as a Nordic skier isn’t necessarily a common topic when discussing our summer cross training ideas. Improving our strength, cardio and agility normally captures our attention instead. These topics are much flashier and more exciting to discuss. It’s a bigger, faster, stronger kinda-a-thing. The reality is though, without a decent range of flexibility, our new, bigger, faster, stronger muscles and our mobility will become more and more restricted. With this restriction, we increase the likelihood of injury such as muscle strains, pulls and worse yet ruptures. Incorporating activities such as yoga and/or Pilates into our routine is a great investment towards all of our other physical conditioning. Recently, I have made a more concerted effort to incorporate yoga/Pilates into my own training plan and have been very happy with the results. Increasing my range of dynamic movement has been something I struggled with for years. Now, as a Masters age skier (47) and having started to increase my flexibility again, my sense of confidence is renewed.

As for stretching our minds, I believe Norm summed it up when he said “It seems people are in too much of a hurry to slow down and learn. I can’t see how a person can relax enough to get into the right frame of mind, let alone enjoy themselves when they rush to the ski area, rush to the trail head and hurtle themselves into skiing for the short time they have allowed themselves”. Slowing down to speed up is an adage used in a number of sports. Stretching our mental approach to incorporate this into our Nordic skiing is equally important. Having just enough time to “squeeze in a run or ride” while we cross train is commonplace. Taking the time to warm up and pre-visualize what we want from our workout, as well as reflect on our successes during our cool down, is easier said than done. Learning to “stretch” both our bodies and our minds is something we all need to spend more time on.

Ski to you door convenience at Silver Star Mountain Cross Country Camps just got better. Book your Silver Star Mountain Cross Country Camp between now and October 31 and receive 20% off your on-mountain accommodation. Now that’s something to smile about. Did you know? Silver Star Cross Country Camps incorporate yoga / stretching sessions in our camps given by fitness experts. Two more great reasons to come to our camps this fall. For more information and to book your Silver Star Cross Country Ski Camp please contact our Central Reservations at info@skisilverstar.com / 1-800-663-4431 / 250-558-6083

Eternal Lovin’

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September 09, 2011 (Boulder, CO) – What does it mean, to train? Does it mean that every day you go out and pound your muscles until you cannot stand? That you go and charge up the biggest, steepest, hottest hill there is? Or do you go and seek something else? Do you choose an easier path so that you can push harder tomorrow? The hardest sacrifice we can make is to fight a little less hard so we can die another day.

Training your body is much easier, I think, than training your mind to accept that it cannot always fight. Sometimes you have to turn around and walk away, and embrace the fact that you cannot always push your limits. College is not for making yourself the best you can be at every minute- college is for showing you what doesn’t work, so you can figure it out in the middle of the night when you have a research paper due the next day.

So here we are, in college now. Some important lessons have been learned, like coffee really is the most important food in college. All nighters? Let’s have ‘em EVERY DAY!! Workouts at midnight and 2am? Let’s do it. That’s really the stuff that keeps the collegiate athlete going. You didn’t finish your paper until 10pm? That’s okay, just cram in a few interval sessions in the dark, run around your living room for a while and crash on your couch with your head shoved in-between the cushions. If you forget to set an alarm you can be woken by the hysterical screams of your roommate informing you that you are late for the workout this morning, only four hours after you finished your last one in the dark and rain and storms of the ever changing and indecisive weather of Boulder.

That European roommate is flapping her arms and jumping around the living room trying to wake you up, the same one that two nights ago made tin foil hats for you both and raced around on a flat field in a thunderstorm in the pouring rain. But someone told us we were dumb jocks, we were really just living up to their expectations.

A fireball of energy from the Czech Republic, she is as ferocious on the ski trails as any hulking male Russian sprinter, but at home she is bouncy, laughing, opinionated, and ginger-loving. Perhaps a side effect of the bright red hair that adorns her head- gingers love ginger? You need not go to the Czech Republic to know everything about it, you need simply to live in the same apartment for a while and you will learn all there is to know about everything from the washing machines to the food to the training.

She is too flustered now to speak English, she is chattering away in a flood of language you don’t understand but you imagine means something like “move your butt, workout in ten minutes!!!” You whirl around, grabbing your roller skis, boots, helmet, gloves, dropping things everywhere and running out the door, sparing a last glance at your other teammate and roommate.

Your engineering roommate hasn’t gone to bed in the last three weeks, her fingers are fusing with the keyboard of the laptop computer that is her major and her life and her love. Yelling her name in her ear only spurs her to even more impressive words per minute, stopping only to tap on the TI-89 Titanium Plus Edition graphing calculator beside her. She mutters something about torsion, gesticulating furiously at a screen full of Mathematica code. “See? See?” You don’t see. Her external monitor is bigger than you are, but so full of files of Java, C++, and random math equations that nothing can be deciphered. She doesn’t go to the team workouts, she doesn’t ever stop her eternal march of death grinding away at the pile of homework that is always in attendance next to her, interwoven with a stack of math and computer science textbooks as high as your ceiling.

You know she trains, her roller ski boots are always sweaty, her shoes always spattered in mud from workouts in the rain. But when she goes, you have no idea, because evidently it’s true- engineers do not sleep and the engineering jocks must clone themselves in order to get their training in – something they must teach in the intro level engineering courses.

She is a walking encyclopedia, any math or science question you ask will be answered if not by her, by one of the nerd friends eternally glued to the other end of her phone. But rarely will the answer be understand any more than the t-shirt she is wearing that reads “304 Not Modified.”

It is no wonder the US Ski Team discourages their athletes from attending full time school. The lessons you learn while living at college are the lessons that last a lifetime, that teach you about the other world, the world of academia. If our skiers stepped into this world, their view would be tainted, and they would realize there is more to life than just sports. And sports are really about doing as your job something that is, in the grand scope of the world, completely irrelevant.

It is much better to struggle through years of books, and spend a lifetime developing your mind so that you are not satisfied with living in simplicity. To fight a bitter battle in school and come out on the other side facing a lifetime of work that has no joy, is simply work. Or perhaps, as my roommate likes to put it, work where the distance is perpendicular to the force.

Be careful if you choose to live the dream, because if you fall too far, burn too many bridges, walk the wrong path, your life will shift more suddenly than a Czech sprinter can down a beer, and the dream will disappear into the vast collection of the BFG.

Every side of the world lives in this apartment, the ex world cup skier from the Czech Republic, who declined the Olympic team to come here to America. The Californian surfer, whose bloodlines are so full of athleticism she might as well have been bred to compete, who instead chose the most difficult major at the most difficult school she could. And then there is me, I am the broken skier. No one wants a broken model, they return it to the store and get a new one. If the warranty is past, they simply buy another. But sometimes, you find someone who loves you because you are different, and keeps you and embraces all that is you. Sometimes, people take the time to fix that which is broken, and it comes back stronger than before.

Who isn’t broken, really? That is, if you take the time and effort to look. But in all our shattered glory, in a time of need, we found each other. And it is this school, this team, that brought us together to rebuild ourselves again, which is really what college is all about.

NENSA L1 and USST L100 Clinic in Lake Placid – Sept. 11

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September 07, 2011 (Lake Placid, NY) – Join us for a NENSA L1 and USSA L100 Techique clinic to gain some new ideas for improving ski skills! This week starts the annual fall USST training camp in Lake Placid, NY. As is tradition now, NENSA will have a group of Elite team athletes participating alongside the U.S. ski team members and coaches. There will also be a technique clinic held in conjunction with the camp for coaches and athletes interested in improving their skiing and coaching skills.

Clinic will take place Sunday September 11th from 2- 4 PM. Meet at the Olympic Training Center on Old Military Road at 1:45 PM to sign in. Bring equipment for both classic and skate rollerskiing (helmet is mandatory) and running shoes. Bryan Fish (USST) and Janice Sibilia (NENSA) will instruct. This clinic will satisfy the technique requirement for USSA’s L100 coaches certification and NENSA’s L1 module for NENSA certification. (Anyone interested in working towards NENSA’s full L1 certification can plan on an additional 30 minutes following the technique clinic, for a basic physiology/training discussion.) To sign up please contact Janice Sibilia at janice@nensa.net. There is no charge for this clinic however, sign up is recommended so that we can have an idea how many people will participate!

Interview with Simi Hamilton

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August 31, 2011 – Simi Hamilton grew up in Aspen, CO with skiing in his blood. Since before he can remember, he spent every non-school day during the winter either on the alpine hill or out on the cross country trails around Aspen.

His dedication to the sport paid off in a huge way in 2010 as he marked not one, but two U.S. titles in Anchorage and earned a spot on the 2010 Olympic team. Read on to see what makes this Aspen, CO native tick.

How/when did you decide you wanted to compete?
Simi Hamilton: Both of my parents were competitive runners when they were young and they got into cross country skiing after they were fed up with getting injured from running. Naturally, we ended up cross country skiing a lot together as a family when I was young. I have a very competitive personality, so cross country racing seemed like a great thing to start doing when I was about 12 or 13. That and my mom basically forced me to do it, which I’m glad she did. It’s the best sport in the world, and I know I’ll still be getting out on the cross country trails when I’m 90 years old.

What is your biggest accomplishment in your career so far?
Competing at and getting top-30 at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics for team USA is for sure the accomplishment I’m most proud of in my life. Just being able to be part of such an awesome team and take part in such a mind-boggling experience was absolutely incredible. I got enough Team USA clothing from Polo and Nike that I’ll never have to buy Christmas presents ever again!

What are your goals for next season?
Race in the Tour de Ski (a multi-stage cross country race in Europe in Dec. and Jan.). Improve my distance racing while still focusing on sprinting. Beat Andy Newell in a weighted pull-up competition.

What is your favorite snow destination?
New Zealand is probably the coolest place I’ve trained, while the Holmenkollen venue in Oslo, Norway is by far the coolest place I’ve raced.

What is your favorite non-snow destination?
Man, there are a bunch of these. Surfing and running on Kauai, mountain biking in Sun Valley, climbing in the City of Rocks, kayaking in Costa Rica, fall training in Lake Placid and the surrounding Adirondacks.

If you weren’t a professional athlete what would you be?
A pilot or backcountry ski/climbing guide.

What is the time you’ve been most scared in your life?
I climbed Teewinot Peak in the Tetons one summer after work one day and a huge lightning storm suddenly rolled in when I was about 50 feet from the summit. There were about four or five lightning strikes within 30 feet of me as I launched myself down the east face. I was completely alone, which made it worse, and ended up sobbing and yelling at myself for about half an hour when I reached the safety of the trees. I had to get stitches in 4 places on my body from crashing down the rocks the whole way down.

What is your biggest vice?

What is your biggest pet peeve?
People that talk on their phones on chair lifts and bad drivers. It’s a tie.

What is your advice to others who want to follow in your footsteps?
Find a way to make it fun every single day. If it isn’t fun, it’s lame, and you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

Job Opportunity – Waterville Valley XC Director

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August 31, 2011 (Waterville Valley, NH) – Waterville Valley in New Hampshire is seeking an XC Director. The candidate must possess a knowledge of XC events, possess a high energy, outgoing personality, and have previous supervisory experience. Contact by mail or e-mail. HR, PO Box 540, Waterville Valley, NH 03215 or ssmith@waterville.com

Len Valjas Interview – Video

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August 30, 2011 – Check out this video interview with Len Valjas posted on the Team Hardwood YouTube channel. He talks about his break-out season last year, NST training camps so far this year, current training focus, and his role at this week’s Southern Ontario Training Camp.

Northug Confirms Start at 2012 König Ludwig Lauf

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August 29, 2011 (Oberammergau, Germany) – Petter Northug Jr., the Vancouver 2010 double Olympic Champion and Oslo 2011 triple World Champion has confirmed that he’ll race the 2012 edition of the König Ludwig Lauf in Oberammergau on February 5, 2012.

The new is a big highlight for race organizers as the event is celebrating its 40th anniversary!

Since 2011, the König Ludwig Lauf is also part of the Ski Classics races, a series of six classic technique races with an additional Sprint ranking. The other races are the Jizerska Padesatka, Marcialonga, the Vasaloppet, the Birkebeinerrennet – all Worldloppet and FIS Marathon Cup races – and the final at the Norefjellrennet, Norway. For more information on the Ski Classics click HERE.

The König Ludwig Lauf already has race entries from 25 different nations and numbers of participants has grown over 35% in comparison to last year’s August numbers.

At the same time, the World Skiing Championships for doctors and pharmacists will be held for the 17th time. For kids between 6 and 14 years of age, there will be a 5km “Mini-Kini” race on Saturday.

For more information click HERE.