Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Homecoming Weekend

Good training over Homecoming!  We started off the weekend with a nice late afternoon ski on Lewis Hill Road, one of our favorite rollerski haunts - nice rolling roads through rural country - just right for some no-pole skiing and V2.

Next morning we loaded up and drove out to Phippsburg for some sand skiing!  We did our usual run with gear up over Morse Mountain and down to the beach, and after that it was all business - 4x6 minutes of tough sand ski intervals.  There's no way to make sand skiing not tough - every stride is like going up a steep hill - so this is always a challenging but fun and unique workout.  It was great to take in some gorgeous coastal scenery and also work on technique - kick is almost as unrealistic as rollerskiing, but it feels a little more real due to the longer skis and sliding instead of rolling.

After some rock decorating that evening, we were ready for the 12th Annual Phil Soule Phlail.  A light rain didn't keep the racers away - over 100 people registered, and our student turnout was the best it's been in years.  The team did a great job of keeping things running smoothly, and the event went beautifully!  Another great event in honor of one of Bowdoin's legendary figures.

Our first 2 weeks of training together have been pretty crazy - tryouts, Fall Camp, and then the Phlail.  Now things are finally settling down - although we have plenty of other adventures coming up, we should at least be able to get into a slightly more regular routine.  Can't wait to hit up our favorite training venues in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fall Camp 2017

This year's Fall Break camp was a milestone - first time ever that we've ventured out of Maine for this camp.  Maine has so many gorgeous sights and amazing training venues that we normally like to keep it in state, but this year we had a great opportunity to try something new - the Ethan Allen Biathlon Club set us up with lodging in the barracks of the military base in Jericho, Vermont.  The base has a biathlon range and a rollerski track, and of course it's right next to a host of mountains, so this was too good to pass up.  We stopped at Quechee Gorge for a little trail run on the drive west after classes - nice landmark that most of us hadn't seen before.  Next morning most of our skiers competed in a 10k classic rollerski race hosted by EABC and Mansfield Nordic.  A few other college teams and a bunch of fast juniors were there, so it was a great chance to challenge ourselves against tough competition.  For me, the eyeball test is the best way to make sense of a rollerski race - we didn't put up any show stopping results, but I was really happy with how the team looked overall - good energy and snappy skiing.  It was a good solid effort and also a useful reminder of how many fast skiers there are in our league!  Definitely a good way to get everyone focused on the big task ahead.

After lunch the folks at EABC generously offered a free biathlon clinic and a mini-race, and several of our skiers jumped in.  It turns out that we have a wide range of shooting ability on the team, but overall our skiers were pretty good!  Gabby and Lily in particular showed good aptitude, and Ellie was an absolute natural - 8 of 10 in the race!  Pretty sure US Biathlon is going to be recruiting her when she graduates.  Despite impressive shooting performances by several people, we all got a harsh reminder that sometimes raw power trumps finesse - little Ian powered to victory despite shooting a mere 3 of 10.  Hats off to fast skiing, if not skill.  We finished off the day with an easy skate ski and a little technique work for the non-biathletes - a long but productive day.

Next morning was our traditional Fall Camp hike/run.  We always try to make this into a point-to-point, just to make it a bit more of an adventure - this year, we chose to run up the north side of Camel's Hump on the Long Trail and back down on the west side.  It was a weirdly tropical day -super humid and mild - and the rain started up right about the time we started running.  Camel's Hump is a pretty big mountain with a long gradual approach - between this and the rain we figured it would take a long while, but the team ripped through the ascent in remarkably little time.  The top of the mountain was in thick clouds - not much to see but white - but it was still a special feeling to be up there on this bizarre misty day, and everyone was in a goofy happy mood.  The rain really started up on the way down, turning the trail into a creek - we all gave up on keeping our shoes the least bit dry and just bombed down it.  The girls put on a remarkable a capella concert featuring rain-related songs and we ended the workout in style.  Of course the sun came out minutes later - a bit late, but we grabbed some food on the way home and enjoyed some dry-out time.

We got more rain for our final day at camp.  It took a bit of an effort to get fired up for a long rollerski, but our skiers are pretty hardy.  Within a few minutes everyone was good and wet and enjoying themselves.  Thanks to the magic of a loop, coaches saw the skiers several times throughout the morning, and we were able to do a ton of good technique work.  Normally we don't get this level of thorough technique work done until Thanksgiving Camp, so I was pretty overjoyed.  Must get a rollerski loop built at Bowdoin!  It was an unexpectedly great workout, and a nice cap to a very productive camp.

Now we're back on campus, squeezing in a lift and a nice trail run today before break is over.  In our first few days together the team has done great work, and I'm super stoked - it's going to be a great fall!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

First Week!

We're back!  First week is in the books - strong showing by the team in tryouts.  We did something new for our rollerski time trial - 4x1k uphill repeats (2 skate, 2 classic).  The goal was to minimize ski speed differences by doing the time trial entirely uphill - since we're not blessed with any super long hills around here, we had to settle for repeats instead of one continuous effort.  The new format definitely seemed pretty sprinter-friendly but still gave us a pretty good feel for how people are skiing.  Elliot and Renae announced their presence with decisive wins.

Elliot 9:13
Jake 9:41
Ian 9:48
Sean 9:55
Sam 9:56
Christian 10:15
Cirque 10:32
Marshal 10:48
Orion 11:04

Renae 11:52
Sara 12:01
Gabby 12:34
Mary 13:00
Fiona 13:00
Lily 13:15
Ellie 13:32
Rachel 13:46
Aine 16:46
We were lucky to have one of the all-time Bowdoin Nordic greats, Mac Groves '17, helping out at the time trial - we definitely could not have pulled off this logistically challenging day without him!
Next up was the dreaded 2000m test.  This one is pretty nasty, but I love seeing our skiers pour everything into it while the rest of the team cheers them on - super intense and a great team atmosphere.  It's also a good chance to get back into coach-on-race-day mode - by the end of the last test my throat was raw and I felt like I'd done a massive core workout from all the yelling.  Lily and Jake burned it up with the top times of the day.

Lily 8:25
Fiona 08:29.4
Renae 08:49.4
Sara 08:49.5
Gabby 08:50.8
Ellie 08:52.8
Mary 09:08.6
Rachel 09:13.8

Jake 07:00.2
Sean 07:04.9
Orion 07:07.6
Elliot 07:12.6
Ian 07:15.4
Cirque 07:16.8
Noah 07:18.6
Christian 07:20.1
Sam 07:32.6
We took it a little easier on the next day, with some speed/agility in the morning and general strength in the afternoon - blistering times on the agility course from Elliot and Sara.

Name 1 2 3 Best 2
Elliot 39 38 38 76
Ian 39 39 39 78
Christian 40 39 42 79
Russell 40 41 40 80
Jake 41 41 40 81
Sara 41 41 40 81
Sean 42 41 41 82
Cirque 42 42 41 83
Noah 43 43 44 86
Orion 43 43 43 86
Sam 45 45 45 90
Renae 47 48 46 93
Gabby 48 47 46 93
Fiona 50 49 48 97
Lily 49 49 48 97
Mary 50 49 49 98
Rachel 55 51 47 98
Ellie 53 51 52 103

Last was the traditional Morse Mountain time trial.  New kids once again set the pace, with Noah winning for men and Renae setting a new record for women!  The old women's record was an outrageously fast time set by Lucy Skinner '16.  I thought it would stand for years - guess I was wrong.

Renae 6:35
Sara 6:51
Fiona 7:09
Gabby 7:15
Lily 7:20
Mary 7:35
Ellie 7:41
Noah 5:43
Sam 5:45
Christian 5:47
Orion 5:50
Jake 5:55
Russell 6:00
Luca 6:01
Ian 6:02
Cirque 6:07
Sean 6:08
Elliot 6:18

Even after all that testing we can't slow down - Fall Camp is already upon us!  We're headed to Jericho, VT, tomorrow for three days of training at the Ethan Allen Biathlon Range.  I'm thrilled with how the team performed in testing, especially the women, and I can't wait to start working with them at camp!  Great start to the season.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Graduation 2017

The Class of 2017 graduated last weekend - sad and sweet as always.  Mac and Hannah have been mainstays on our team for the last four years - it's hard to think of two people who have played such a significant role in shaping Bowdoin Nordic.  These guys have epitomized everything a Bowdoin athlete should be - they've worked hard and enjoyed great success in school and on the ski trails, and they've done it all with a fun-loving, team-first spirit.  I couldn't have asked for any more than they've given the ski program these last few years.  Now they're off to new adventures - Hannah is headed to Switzerland on a Fulbright Scholarship to continue her geological research, and Mac is going to teach chemistry and coach skiing at the Dublin School in New Hampshire.  Congratulations Hannah and Mac!

Thanks for Meg Groves for these great photos!

Friday, May 12, 2017

2017 Thoughts

Every spring I write a post about things we learned from the previous season.  Here are a few thoughts from 2017:

Klister application – Working with Ian has been really good for my klister skills.  Ian is an old-school New Englander – very frugal.  This is apparent in his ultra-thin klister applications.  I’m a big “thin to win” guy with hardwax, but for some reason I tend to go a bit thicker with klister.  It turns out that the Ian method is vastly superior – the thinner application often provides enough kick by itself, and naturally it’s much faster.  And if it turns out that we need more kick, it’s way easier to make adjustments when you’re working on top of a thin layer.  Clever coaches already knew this, of course, but no one ever accused me of being clever.  Can’t believe it took me 17 years to figure this out.

Strength vs stability – For years I’ve been a big proponent of bodyweight strength training, or calisthenics, and I still am.  Calisthenics require a lot of stability, and each exercise activates a wide range of muscles.  If you’re not able to use all those little stabilizing muscles to lock down your joints, it doesn’t matter how strong the prime movers are – you’re leaking energy with each stroke, and you’re not skiing fast.  Having said that, I’ll admit that calisthenics aren’t as efficient as weight training when it comes to building pure strength in the prime movers.  I think I’m ready to stop trying to accomplish both goals within a single calisthenics-based workout.  I’m never going to be willing to spend a lot of our limited training time in the weight room, but I can talk myself into a few focused weight sessions supplemented with small frequent doses of stability training.  If I can plan this out right, we could actually open up more time for endurance and/or ski-specific training while still addressing our strength/stability needs effectively.

No-pole skiing – Everyone knows that no-pole skiing is one of the best ways to improve technique.  It’s also great for improving muscular endurance in the legs.  As we do more and more double pole training and get stronger and stronger in our upper bodies, it becomes more apparent that not all of our skiers have adequate fitness in their lower bodies.  If we focus on no-pole training even half as much as we’ve been focusing on double pole training, we’ll make big gains here.

Non-carnival skiers – We went from 13 skiers last year to 18 this year – our biggest team in years.  Big numbers means that some people don’t get to race in some carnivals.  This can be mentally tough for the skiers who are staying home – it can be hard to stay motivated for training and get excited to ski in non-carnival races.  A lack of engagement in some skiers is going to affect the whole team, so this is not a great situation.  It looks like the team will be getting even bigger next year, so we need to be thoughtful about how we manage the non-carnival group as the season goes on – establishing clear expectations, finding (or creating) good race opportunities and committing to them ahead of time, and holding people accountable for continuing to train and race outside the carnival scene.

So those are a few of my thoughts as I’m writing summer training plans and looking ahead to next season.  Meanwhile, the skiers are hard at work preparing for exams – almost done with the school year!  The sun is finally shining, the leaves are coming out, and campus is looking beautiful – looking forward to ending this fine year with a couple weeks of fine weather.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sapporo and Quebec

A brief report on the international racing by Bowdoin Nordic folks these past few days.  First, Jake went straight from PyeongChang to Sapporo, Japan, for the final races of the Paralympic World Cup.  He and Sawyer took silver in the 10k skate and then gold in the 5k classic.  Five World Cup races, five podiums, including three wins.  It is super encouraging to see that Jake is so competitive internationally - a great sign that he's on the right track as we head into the offseason with an eye on the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
Skate Results
Classic Results

Meanwhile, Kaitlynn Miller '14 was competing at World Cup Finals in Quebec City.  Sometimes the best Europeans don't come over for North American events, but they certainly did this time - all of the top skiers were there.  Kaitlynn acquitted herself well in the three-stage mini-tour, finishing 52nd overall.  We're all really proud to see her holding her own against the very best in the world!
Skate Sprint Results
10k Classic Results
10k Skate Pursuit Results
Half the team made it up to Quebec to watch the races - such an amazing opportunity to have World Cup races just a few hours from campus!  Looks like they took advantage of it and had lots of fun.  They also scored some photos with ski celebrities.  Here's a photo courtesy of Fiona:

No, that's not Hannah Wright '13 - that's World Cup winner Marit Bjoergen!  Very cool.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Jake in PyeongChang

While Hannah was tearing it up at NCAAs, Jake was in PyeongChang, South Korea, for a Paralympic World Cup test event.  PyeongChang is hosting the Paralympic Winter Games next year, and this event was a chance for athletes and organizers to do a run-through in preparation for the big show next year.  Happily, these races coincided with Bowdoin's Spring Break, so Jake hopped on a plane right after classes ended last week, flew halfway around the world, and jumped into the races shortly after landing.  Apparently the jet lag didn't bother him too much, because he won gold in the 20k skate!  He followed that up with a win in the classic sprint and then a 3rd place finish in the 10k classic a couple days later.  A very impressive showing for Jake and guide Sawyer Kesselheim in their first international races together, and a major confidence booster for next year's Games.

20k Skate Results
Classic Sprint Results
10k Classic Results

Here are a few photos from the 20k, courtesy of John Farra: