Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Thanksgiving Camp 2017

Another successful Thanksgiving Camp in the books!  This one went about as smoothly as we could have possibly hoped - good roads both ways, plenty of snow, and most everyone mostly healthy.  We even stretched our food supply for the full 5 1/2 days with no emergency trips to Stoneham!  Here are a few of the highlights:

On Day 1 we mostly stayed on the loop - good coverage and lots of good technique work, including a few exciting breakthroughs.  The senior/junior team set a high bar with their dinner:  chicken/eggplant parmesan, lemony kale salad, roasted veggies, homemade bread, and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  Highly flavorful and an impressive exhibition of cooking skill.

Day 2 (Thanksgiving) was a mix of loop skiing and exploration - conditions on the roads got better and better due to steady small doses of snow.

Everyone teamed up to pull together a great Thanksgiving dinner.  There was some question as to whether the turkey would turn out OK, since our expert turkey handler (Mac) had graduated, leaving no heir apparent.  When Little Ian and Elliot stepped up to take over, there was much skepticism.  Fortunately, these fears were unfounded - these two did their homework and jumped into the task with confidence.  With some wise advice from Sawyer and a few prayers to the salmonella gods, they produced a magnificent centerpiece for our meal.  A few people even declared that this was the best turkey we'd ever had at camp - high praise considering some of the legendary turkey chefs that have come through this program.  I can't vouch for the accuracy of these claims - as a fake vegan, I've never eaten the turkey at a Bowdoin Nordic Thanksgiving - but I can say that I've never before heard such enthusiastic feedback from the team.

With more snow on Day 3 we skied mostly on the roads, but continued to do a number of quality technique sessions.  The afternoon highlight was our first Polasky Ball game of the season (won by Team Awesome, of course).  I'm happy to report that this year's crew is actually pretty good at Polasky Ball - a marked contrast to their ineptitude at basketball.  At dinner, the sophomores made their bid for glory with a chicken/tofu curry over rice, salad with pomegranate seeds, homemade naan, dill popcorn, and gingerbread - healthful, diverse, and delicious.

Day 4 was time trial day.  For the first time in years we got off the loop.  Instead, we did a 5.5k point to point skate on the roads - rolling gradual descent followed by a big climb and some more rollers to the finish.  Since the roads weren't officially open, they'd been minimally groomed, which made for rather sloppy skiing - this was a real test of who had good snow feel and a light touch on their skis.  Elliot was our top finisher in 4th, while Sara led the women in 12th - very impressive performances against a tough field that featured over half the teams in our league plus some fast Canadians and US juniors.  Like every other team we had some hits and misses - energy and/or speed wasn't there for some of our skiers - but overall it was a pretty solid day for our team.  People look strong and fit, and they're improving technically.  From what I saw and heard it seemed like everyone's race day process was sound.  Most of all, I'm happy about the effort - a good hard push across the line by everyone.  Definitely good to get that first on-snow race under our belts and figure out what we're doing well and where we need to improve.

After a pleasant easy ski through still more snowfall in the afternoon, we settled in for the youngsters' entry in the cooking competition:  super cheesy enchiladas with rice, tortilla chips with homemade salsa and guacamole (some of the best guacamole I've had in a while), spinach salad with goat cheese, and snickerdoodles.  Super tasty and filling if somewhat artery-clogging - just perfect after a long snowy day.

With lots of fresh powder on the ground, we decided to spend our final Foret morning on a long adventure ski.  We skied as far as we could on the groomed roads and then forged on through the powder.  It was slow going for a while until Sawyer went to the front and started breaking trail at a remarkable pace.  We climbed for a few kilometers up to a remote hilltop with gorgeous views before deciding it was time to turn around.  The downhill was outrageously fun as we tried to stay in our deep tracks at high speeds, with mixed success - some powdery crashes ensued but everyone was more or less whole by the time we got back to the shack.  A perfect way to close out a very fun and productive camp.

Now we've rejoined reality back on campus - as always, it's a bit sad coming back to dryland after good times on snow, but our crew has jumped right back into it with good spirits.  Still some adjustments to be made - everyone's hungry all the time now that they're not eating three lunches a day - but we're doing well and looking forward to crushing the last couple weeks of training before a quick sprint through exams and the start of Winter Break!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Storm Week and Lobster Roll

Traditionally we call the last week before the end of Daylight Savings "The Most Boring Week Ever."  It's a mostly tongue-in-cheek way of describing our very easy recovery week - we do short simple workouts close to campus to make the most of the fading daylight.  This year we had a little extra excitement in the form of a fierce windstorm that ripped through northern New England - downed trees and power outages everywhere.

Roads and trails everywhere were blocked by fallen trees - a good week to keep it simple and stay close to campus.  We did a couple speed sessions, easy runs, a short track workout, and our first basketball session of the year!  Our team is always pretty bad at basketball - this year's group is no exception.  I'd like to think that we made some good progress on our skills, though - hope so, because everyone knows that you can't be a truly great skier without being at least somewhat good at basketball.

We finished off the week with a nice adventure - a trip to North Haven Island for the Lobster Roll skate rollerski race.  This is always a fun time - a unique Maine experience and a great chance to mix it up with some tough competition.  Renae scorched the course to take 2nd; Sean led the men in 8th, with Ian right on his heels in 9th.  Good solid day overall despite some nagging health issues troubling a few of our skiers.  Thanks to Andy Shepard and OSI for organizing the event!

Place Name Team Finish Time
1 Foss Kerker Colby 37:56
1 Parker McDonald Bates 37:56
3 Zane Fields Colby 38:49
4 Ian Liphart Colby 39:00
5 Caleb Streinz OSI 39:28
6 Gabe Forest Colby 39:30
6 Connor Gray Bates 39:30
8 Sean Cork Bowdoin 39:35
9 Ian Culnane Bowdoin 39:47
10 Anders Hanson Colby 40:08
11 Noah Eckstein Bowdoin 40:31
12 Ben Keener Bates 40:38
13 Jason Bartley UMPI 40:40
14 Mark Young Colby 40:43
15 Ben Theyerl Colby 40:51
16 Carter Hall Colby 41:11
17 Jake Adicoff Bowdoin 41:28
18 Nino Mazella UMPI 41:33
19 Connor Hyrnuk UMPI 41:34
20 Russell O'Brien Bowdoin 41:38
21 Sam Sinkler Colby 41:46
22 Graham Houtsma Bates 41:49
23 Sam Shaheen Bowdoin 41:50
23 Andrew Egger Colby 41:50
25 Carter Ros Bates 42:04
26 Luca DeAngelis Bowdoin 42:09
27 Forrest Hamilton Bates 42:41
28 Elliot Ketchel Bowdoin 43:13
29 Addie Sinkler Colby 43:22
30 Christian Gostout Bowdoin 43:28
31 Brad Ravenelle Bates 45:11
Place Name Team Finish Time
1 Kaelyn Woods Bates 45:18
2 Renae Anderson Bowdoin 45:50
3 Kirsten Miller Colby 46:34
4 Claire Waichler Colby 46:49
5 Annika Martell Colby 46:53
6 Lilly Naimie Colby 47:01
7 Skylar Tupper Colby 47:08
8 Madeline Rieders Colby 47:13
9 Talia Seltzer Colby 47:18
10 Meg Yoder Colby 47:22
11 Abbee Streinz OSI 47:40
12 Lily Johnston Bowdoin 47:49
13 Fiona Ahearne Bowdoin 47:58
14 Hannah Rieders Bates 48:26
15 Gabby Vandendries Bowdoin 49:06
16 Marin Colletta Colby 49:36
17 Samantha Pierce Bates 49:37
18 Zoe McKinney Bates 49:52
19 Annie Blakslee Bates 52:39
20 Vivian Hawkinson Colby 52:40
21 Rachel Zafren Bowdoin 53:10
22 Valentina Annunziata UMPI 53:11
23 Julia Lazzaroni Colby 56:47
24 Leinani Farnsworth UMPI 61:48

Monday, October 23, 2017

Split Squad Weekend

Two different directions for the team this weekend.  Ian took a group up to Fort Kent for our 2nd annual County Camp.  They did a 10k skate time trial with UMPI and a couple OSI athletes - good tough competition.  Sean was our fastest guy in 2nd place overall, and Rachel won the women's race - small but comptitive!  They rounded out the week with lots of good skiing on the 10th Mountain Division rollerski loop and some biathlon training - second time this fall we've practiced our shooting skills!  Walt Shepard would be proud.  Nice training weekend at a great venue - thanks to Seth Hubbard of OSI for hosting the team and Tim Whiton of UMPI for setting up the time trial!

The rest of us stayed home and did a time trial of our own - 10k skate at Lewis Hill Road on a bright sunny day.  Renae looked sharp and V2ed up just about everything - really nice high energy skiing and the fastest women's time.  Another bright spot was watching Lily hanging onto Ellie for the whole race after being passed around the 3k mark.  It's invaluable for experience and confidence when a skier can find the strength to stay with a faster racer and I absolutely love seeing it.  The only two men, Cirque and Luca, both battled hard, with Cirque slightly ahead at the finish.  Great to see these two guys coming back into form after injuries and illness compromised their seasons last year.  Really nice skiing overall.

A few members of the at-home group rounded out the weekend with a quick overnight trip to the Bigelow Preserve - a little camping on the shores of Flagstaff Lake and a nice hike up Avery Peak on Sunday.  Good times to wrap up a good week of training.  Now we just need to get a few people rested and healthy to get this team at full strength!

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!