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)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fitness Testing 2016

Our 2016-17 season is underway!  I'm still catching up after a busy first few days that included tryouts, Phil Soule Phlail, and Fall Camp.  For starters, here's a recap of our fitness testing results from tryouts:

Penny Rd 5k Classic Time Trial
Cool temps and a fine misting rain made for slow skis - no records broken, but some very nice skiing overall.

Name Time
Jake 14:20
Sean 15:01
Russell 15:05
Sam 15:16
Ian 15:47
Luca 15:51
Mac 15:53
Orion 16:35 Broken tip
Wil 16:41
Cirque 16:45 Broken tip

Katja 18:46
Rachel 19:10
Fiona 19:51
Ellie 20:15
Lily 21:37

2000m Erg Test
The group showed off some impressive power in this test - Mac, Jake, and Sean all broke the old men's record, and Hannah just missed breaking her own women's record by one second.

Women Time
Hannah 08:16.7
Ellie 08:52.6
Fiona 09:04.6
Katja 09:05.7
Lily 09:19.1
Rachel 09:21.5

Men Time
Mac 06:55.2
Jake 07:01.1
Sean 07:03.4
Ian 07:12.5
Orion 07:15.7
Christian 07:24.6
Russell 07:26.6
Sam 07:31.4
Luca 07:44.2
Cirque 07:48.4

Speed/Agility Test

Name 1 2 3 Best 2 of 3
Ian 38 38 38 76
Wil 39 40 39 78
Sean 42 40 40 80
Orion 43 40 41 81
Jake 42 41 43 83
Luca 43 42 42 84
Russell 42 42 42 84
Mac 43 42 43 85
Cirque 43 43 43 86
Sam 46 44 43 87
Fiona 50 50 49 99
Ellie 53 51 51 102
Katja 53 53 52 105
Lily x 54 52 106
Rachel 55 54 53 107

Morse Mtn Time Trial (1 mile uphill run)
Really an outstanding showing to finish testing - 5 men under 6 minutes!

Fiona 7:11
Rachel 7:28
Lily 7:35
Ellie 7:44
Katja 8:02

Sam 5:40
Mac 5:42
Jake 5:49
Orion 5:50
Sean 5:52
Cirque 6:01
Luca 6:08
Russell 6:08
Wil 6:11

Overall, I feel really good about this group - very fit, very motivated, and positive team energy so far.  There's lots of work to do before we're ready to compete with the best in our league, but I really think this team has the potential to take Bowdoin Nordic to another level.  Can't wait!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

New Assistant Coach Ian Hubbard

We've hired a new assistant coach!  Ian Hubbard is a 2004 graduate of St. Lawrence, where he majored in biology and history and was a member of the nordic ski team.  Since graduating, Ian has worked as a trail designer, sled dog guide, carpenter, and environmental technician, among other jobs.  He has also held a variety of educational and leadership positions, leading numerous outdoor trips for the Chewonki Foundation and teaching history at Carrabassett Valley Academy.  Most recently, he served as director of the ALPS outdoor leadership program at CVA.  Ian's ski racing experience and educational background are a great combination, and I'm excited to see what kind of new ideas and perspectives he'll bring to our team!

Friday, July 1, 2016

REG 2016

I just got back from the Eastern REG camp at GMVS.  Hard to believe it's been a whole year since the same camp in the same place last year!  As always, it was a great experience - I always enjoy working with the up-and-coming junior skiers, and it's super fun hanging out with other coaches and talking shop.  I love being in Vermont, and GMVS is a beautiful little campus.  So it was a very nice week.  Here are a few things I took away from camp:

- The USST is putting a major focus on basic movement skills and postural stability.  Every morning we did a series of drills focused on maintaining a neutral pelvis while going through a variety of movements.  I think this is a really great thing - lots of skiers have great strength and fitness but terrible posture and limited mobility.  We occasionally touch on this stuff on our team, but it's one of those things that often falls through the cracks with our tight schedule and limited workout time.  I really liked having this as a regular component of the training and would love to figure out how to make time for it in our workouts.

- Hills - got to have them.  Here at Bowdoin we have to work pretty hard to get some quality time on hills - the immediate area around Brunswick is pretty flat.  I loved being surrounded by hills - so good for strength and aerobic fitness.  The VT terrain does make it a bit tougher to do easy/fast workouts - that's one thing that I think is a big advantage of our topography - but having all those hills and mountains at your door is pretty great.

- Bryan Fish hates the endless plank as much as I do (or, as he calls it, the "2-minute brace").  I knew I liked that guy.  It's not that there's no value to a plank/brace - I love this exercise!  It just doesn't make sense to hold it forever.  First, most people quickly slump into a bad position and let their spine sag out of alignment, and that defeats the purpose (and hurts your back).  Second, if you're the rare person who has the stability to hold that position for more than a few seconds, why not make it more challenging and add some movement/instability?  I was really glad to hear this message coming from a USST coach.

- Rollerski loops are a great thing.  We did a distance workout on the rollerski loop at the biathlon range in Jericho.  This was great for two reasons.  First, no other users - no cars, no bikes, no pedestrians.  Amazing how much stress a closed environment removes from a rollerski workout.  Second, a loop allows you to see the skiers so much more frequently - good for filming, technique work, and just checking in.  It would be amazing for timed intervals as well, where you can repeat the same course each interval and compare times.  It's easy enough to train on a loop on snow, but short rollerski loops are hard to come by, at least around here.  I'm super jealous of this setup!

Overall, a very fun and productive week for me (and hopefully for the skiers as well).  Thanks to the good folks at NENSA, GMVS, and USST for making this camp happen!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Training Venue Slideshow

Check out this slideshow of our favorite training venues, created by Tim:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Graduation 2016

The Class of 2016 graduated on a beautiful sunny day in May - Lucy, Tess, and Hannah Marshall are off to write the next chapter of their lives.  These guys were such a joy to have on the team - always friendly, fun, and positive.  I couldn't have asked for better role models for our younger skiers.  These three were a huge reason for the wonderful team chemistry we enjoyed this year - this fantastic season would not have been the same without them.  We're sad to see them go, and we miss them already!  We're also super excited for them - they have some exciting adventures planned!  Lucy is thinking of moving out West for some ski adventures - last time I checked, the great town of Bozeman, MT, was at the top of her list.  I'll be super happy for her and also a bit envious if she ends up there - amazing outdoor opportunities and one of my all-time Top 5 donut shops!  Hannah is working for Maine Huts and Trails - she'll be assigned to a hut somewhere in or near the stunningly gorgeous Bigelow Preserve.  And Tess will soon be headed off on her year- long travels for her Watson Fellowship.  Congratulations Class of 2016 - we're so proud of you!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

College Skiing Issues

Some interesting discussions with implications for our skiers at the EISA spring meeting on Monday:

- Looks like sprints are going to become an NCAA Championship event at some point in the next couple years.  Not official yet, but from what I can tell most coaches have warmed up to the idea in recent years.  It's going to happen sooner or later - probably sooner.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I think it's appropriate for us to include an event that's become such a major focus in international racing.  I just don't like how it affects the experience for a lot of our college skiers - it's not much of a race day for those who don't qualify for the heats.  That's fine for one or two races a year, but we're going to have to hold several sprint races a year for NCAA qualifying purposes - it's probably going to take up almost half of our season, and I'm not crazy about that.  That's a lot of skiers who trained a lot of hours sitting on the sidelines for a lot of races (after a 3-minute prelim).  The current proposal doesn't call for a championship sprint race every year, though, which makes me feel OK about the change - I think it's a reasonable balance if we have a sprint every other year or so.  Interestingly, the proposal also goes in the other direction and raises the possibility of a 30k race at the championships.  That's probably never going to happen, but I'd absolutely love it, and I think most of our skiers would as well.

- We also discussed a proposal for men and women to race equal distances.  Fasterskier published a pretty good summary of the arguments on either side of the issue.  Lots of interesting points, and it doesn't break down cleanly along gender lines.  I'm in favor of equal distances - it's 2016!  I've never had a good answer for my skiers when they've asked why women do shorter races, and I'd love to not have to answer that question for my daughters if they become ski racers a few years from now.  I'm not in favor of shortening everything to 5-15k, though, which is where many people seem to think this is heading.  I'd rather have all skiers racing the full range of distances up to 20k (or 30k - wishful thinking).  I think my ideal setup would be something like sprint & 10 or 15k alternating with 10k & 20k every year.  We'll see what happens.  I have a hard time picturing this change happening this year, but I won't be at all surprised if it happens a few years down the road.