Monday, November 28, 2016

Love In The Time of Cholesterol: Thanksgiving Camp 2016

Another great camp in the books!  Here are some highlights from Thanksgiving Camp 2016:

- Loaded down with a massive quantity of groceries (including 288 eggs), we set off for Quebec on Tuesday afternoon.  We ran into some weather from before Jackman to after St. Georges, which was not super fun, but nothing too scary.  Capable driving by Mac and the coaches kept all three vans on the road (unfortunately, the same cannot be said for all of Colby's vans), and we made it to Foret safe and sound.

- The skiing was excellent.  For the last several years, the folks at Foret have done a great job putting together a 2.5k loop with snow saved from the previous winter - a nice mix of terrain with some good climbs, fun transitions, and quick little descents.  Much nicer than the typical mini-loop you usually get in a low-snow situation.  As usual, we did a ton of good technique work.  This is our most productive week of the year - just endless hours of skiing on snow with a constant focus on getting technique dialed in.  It's always really fun and rewarding to see people making big and small improvements day by day.

- Of course, the next most important part of camp was the food!  Thanksgiving dinner was excellent.  I'm always impressed by how a bunch of college students can work together to pull off a nice big dinner like this - every year they do a great job.  We also had our usual cooking competition for the other three dinners.  This year's groups were divided up by region:  East, West, and Midwest.  East went first with a hearty batch of cheesy calzones, bruschetta, a salad of delicious kale gently massaged by Luca, and cookies and ice cream for dessert.  West followed with an array of quiches, an accidental smoke alarm, hash browns, a spinach salad featuring goat cheese and blueberries stolen from Team Midwest, and an outrageously tasty carrot cake with maple frosting.  Midwest provided the big finish with a regional-themed meal (no, not hot dish) - pasties, arugula salad with hazelnuts and other crunchy good stuff, and handmade nut goodies (apparently this is some kind of midwestern dessert - delicious and super unhealthy).  All three meals were delicious, and the judges were impressed by the skills and creativity on display.  It was a tough decision, but ultimately Team Midwest earned the gold star.
- We did a 5/7.5k time trial with the other teams training at Foret.  With 7 EISA teams plus Laval, it was basically over half of a carnival field, rounded out with skiers from OSI and a few other club programs.  Jake and Sam were on fire to lead the men, and Rachel was our top women.  As with any race, we had individual ups and downs, but this was a great day overall - so many people showed that they've improved significantly in the past year.  In particular, the men's team looked super strong - they held their own against some of the best skiers in the league.  A time trial in November isn't the same as a carnival in February, so we try not to get too high or too low about the results we see at this time of year; still, it's hard not to be excited and optimistic after such a strong showing.
Men's Results
Women's Results
 (Lots of pepper flips at this camp - Cirque came out on the wrong end of this one and ended up racing in donut tights).

- BSF skier Sawyer Kesselheim flew out from Montana to participate in this camp.  Sawyer will be Jake's guide in future Paralympic races, and this camp was a great chance for them to spend a lot of time skiing together on snow and establishing communication.  It was super fun to see them tearing through the time trial as a unit.  Having Sawyer around was beneficial for the rest of the team as well - always good to have a veteran skier around as a role model, and I frequently used him as a good technique example for our skiers.
 - We got a decent amount of snow in the last couple days of camp, and by Sunday morning there was enough to venture off the loop and out into the woods.  Most of our skiers took the opportunity to explore a bit for our final ski - a fine end to a great week of skiing.

All in all, it was a nice smooth camp - super fun and super productive.  There's still a lot of work to be done between now and carnival season, but we've made a good start down that road.  Hopefully we can continue our momentum in the coming weeks!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Beaches, Brunches, and Time Trials

Lots of good stuff happening since Fall Camp - here are a few of our highlights:

 Great workouts and beautiful fall scenery all over southern Maine.

Our first round of beach skiing intervals at Morse Mtn - tide was a bit high for optimal sand skiing, but we pushed through and got a great workout.
 Huge crowd at our annual Family Weekend brunch!

Most of the boys went up to Fort Kent for a training weekend featuring a nice classic time trial (won by Sean) and lots of health food.  Much thanks to Ian's brother Seth for hosting!
 Meanwhile, the women and a couple of the men did a cold and rainy skate time trial back home - a good tough day to prepare for the real thing.  Top times by Lily and Ian.
 We couldn't get enough of the time trial thing, so we did a skate sprint at Pineland the following weekend - Sean and Lily were our top skiers again.  The Cork family was in town for a visit and brought a large supply of Frosty's donuts - amazing!
 We finished up the latest training cycle with a nice rollerski to Fiona's house in Freeport.  Thanks to Jim and Lucy (Fiona's parents) and Rosita and Will (Lily's parents) for an absolutely fantastic brunch!
Words of wisdom that all Bowdoin Nordic skiers should take to heart.

A very successful training period overall, despite some setbacks with illness and injuries.  Looking forward to crushing it in these next couple weeks before we're finally on snow for Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Early Snow Above and Below

Here's a guest post from Kaitlynn Miller '14, who spent a couple weeks chasing snow in Europe with the Craftsbury Green Racing Project:

I count myself lucky that for the past two years my team and I have been able to get on snow in September and this year was no different. However, instead of just going to Austria for our fall camp, this year we added a weeklong stint in Slovenia skiing in an underground parking garage turned summer ski tunnel. Despite the oddness of our surroundings (think cement walls and fluorescent lights), I actually enjoyed skiing in the tunnel and we had a very productive week focusing primarily on speed and technique. In addition to skiing, we also got out for some running adventures in the surrounding mountains.

Tunneling in Slovenia (photo:  Pepa Miloucheva)

Enjoying some time above ground during a run/hike in the Triglav National Park
After wrapping up our speed-focused week in Slovenia, we headed to Austria for a distance block at altitude. This was our third year in a row skiing on the Dachstein glacier and it's safe to say the third time was a charm. We had an incredible streak of weather with eight strait days of sun and stable ski conditions. We skied every morning and then either ran, rollerskied, or did strength in the afternoon. At the conclusion of our eight days in Austria I had trained over 32 hours! Needless to say I was ready for a few days off and some time at home. If you want to read more about the camp and see LOTS more pictures, you can check out my personal blog:

 Perfect weather on the Dachstein!

 Attempting some synchronized skiing (photo:  Sam Dougherty)

 Enjoying some nice klister skiing (photo:  Caitlin Patterson)

 Running through an Austrian moonscape

 Even the rollerskiing is scenic in Austria (photo:  Pepa)

Got to go for a hike with friend and Bowdoin alum Stephen Ligtenberg who happened to be passing through Austria on his way to a whitewater race!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall Camp 2016

This year, Fall Break coincided with Homecoming, so it was quite a busy weekend for us.  After a nice Saturday rollerski in the Pownal/Pineland area, we hosted the 11th Annual Phil Soule Phlail 5k on Sunday.  Despite rainy weather, we had a solid turnout, with 70 finishers.  We were thrilled to see two former Bowdoin Nordic captains in attendance, Grace Hyndman '11 and Erin Hatton '12 (sadly, I didn't get any pictures).  Great showing by both of them, and Erin actually won the race!  The skiers did a nice job of running things smoothly, and overall it was a very successful event.

A couple hours after the race ended, we were in vans heading for one of our favorite fall camp venues, the Sugarloaf/Bigelow area.  We did a good hard bounding workout up Sugarloaf and were greeted at the peak by howling winds and amazing colors.
After a quick scramble back to the base, we rolled down the road for a short hike up to our lodging, the Stratton Brook Hut.  This is part of the Maine Huts and Trails system - a very cool organization with some fantastic trails and beautiful huts.

Here, we encountered our third former Bowdoin Nordic captain of the weekend - Hannah Marshall '16!  Hannah currently works for MHT at the Flagstaff Hut, but she came over to Stratton Brook to  hang out with us and help the Stratton staff manage our unruly crew.
After a delicious dinner and a sound sleep, we got up to tackle the Bigelow Range the next morning.  In past years, we've run/hiked the whole range, but the location of Stratton Brook Hut made it more logical to start on the east side of the range near Flagstaff, run the whole range except Cranberry, and then work our way back to Stratton.  It was another gorgeous day with some of the best fall colors I've seen in years.  The conditions on the highest peaks (West and Avery) were pretty intense - super windy, frost on the trees, and even some kind of weird hail/sleet/graupel stuff falling out of a mostly clear sky.  The skiers did an amazing job of powering through 18ish rugged miles and four peaks - this a remarkably fit and capable group.

With another tasty dinner, some quality team time in front of a warm fire, and a restful night's sleep, the team was ready to tackle the final workout of camp, an OD classic ski on the legendary Long Falls Dam Rd.  This is a beautiful road through a remote area near the Bigelow Preserve - gorgeous scenery, not much traffic, and surprisingly great pavement.  We worked a little technique and rolled on at a nice brisk clip on another blue sky day.  The team showed great energy even at the tail end of a few very tiring days - an excellent workout to close out a wonderful camp.  Many thanks to H. Marshall and the folks at MHT for making it all possible!

(photos courtesy of Orion Watson and Rachel Zafren)