Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Jan Camp 2019

We're back - so much to catch up on!  The first 3 weeks of 2019 have been packed - here's a quick recap of what we've been doing:

Right after New Year's, we packed up and headed to Craftsbury for US Nationals.  Normally I'm not a big US Nationals fan - it costs a lot of time, energy, and money, and I prefer to keep the team at home to train and time trial in a most peaceful environment.  But it's a cool experience for the skiers, and when it's within a reasonable drive you kind of have to do it.  We squeezed into a beautiful house in the wilds of the Northeast Kingdom and spent the next 5 days racing, training, and hanging out.  Conditions were amazing and the energy was intense - almost every college team in the country was there, along with a ton of elite racers and top juniors from all over the country.  Elliot provided the biggest highlights of the week - 40th in the 15k classic (6th junior) and 7th in the junior 10k skate mass start.  He just missed qualifying for World Juniors - a bit of a bummer to be so close for the second year in a row, but certainly a showing to be proud of.  The rest of the team was right in the mix - nothing special, but a good jump start to the season and a lot of fun.

(photos courtesy of Todd Anderson)

We caught our breath on campus with a few good days of training at Pineland and a little Maine vs World.

(this looks dramatic and church-like, but it's just the MvW trick basketball competition)

Soon enough we were making the long drive to Lake Placid for the St. Lawrence Carnival.  Conditions were fantastic and the scenery was gorgeous.  Solid showing in the skate - Elliot 7th and Renae 22nd.  We came back strong the next day in classic - Renae 8th (tying her PR), Gabby 16th, and Lily 24th to put the women in 4th for the day.  The men followed it up with a 5th place finish, led by Elliot in 9th and Christian 23rd.  This put us in 5th for the weekend - pretty good start for our first carnival, when we're rarely at our best.

(race photos courtesy of Dave Priganc)

The next few days on campus went by in a flash - a couple more good training days at Pineland, a few more MvW challenges, and a nice time at the annual Friends of Bowdoin dinners.  Before we knew it we were in Jackson for the UNH Carnival, where perfect tracks awaited us.  We had to scramble a bit to get the skis ready on time for the mass start classic, but fortunately we had a pair of capable helpers in John Eldredge and Rachel Zafren '18.  They helped us catch up on binders and test kick efficiently - we waxed thin to win, made some adjustments for individuals, and got everyone to the start line with minimal stress.  After that, the skiers held up their end of the deal with one of our best performances ever - men 3rd and women 4th!  Elliot was 5th, just 16 seconds from the win, with Christian tying his PR in 14th and Sean close behind in 19th.  Gabby led the women in 11th, Renae was 17th, and Lily closed out the scoring in 35th.  That night we celebrated a great day with a fine dinner hosted by Angus Badger '89 and Rachel Vose '87.  Many thanks to Angus, Rachel, and daughter Nina '22!

Saturday's skate sprint was a little less thrilling than the classic race - good solid effort, but skate sprinting just isn't one of our stronger areas right now.  Still, we had some highlights - Renae, Elliot, and Sean all qualified for the heats.  None of them advanced from the quaterfinals, but all 3 looked great and were right in the mix.  We also had some new blood in the team scoring - Noah E, Perrin, and Triana all scored for the first time!  We were 6th for the weekend - a bit of a letdown after a hot start to the carnival, but still a good solid result.

(photos courtesy of Steve Fuller at Flying Point Road)

Overall it's been a great Jan Camp - good skiing, fun times, and some encouraging signs in the early races.  We're all feeling pretty good about how things are going so far, but I think we all agree that we can ski faster - hoping to hit that next level in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Thanksgiving Camp 2018

Well that was nice.  I've seen some pretty great Thanksgiving skiing at Foret over the last 11 years, but this year was the best ever.  It started snowing up there a few weeks ago, and I guess it just never really stopped - so much snow!  We got to experience some of that snow fresh from the sky on the Tuesday evening drive up - that was exciting, especially since it was my first time out with our beautiful new trailer.  Leslie's late van got the worst of it, but she was a hero and powered through safely.  Next morning we awoke to a vast stretch of white with remarkably good tracks.  All this snow changed the nature of the camp a bit.  Most years we have a nice 2k loop with maybe a little rock skiing on the roads, so we end up doing endless laps and a ton of technique work.  That's great, but when you have miles and miles of roads and trails to stretch out on, you have to forget the filming and get out there.  Which we did.

Day 1:  Classic exploration in the morning, ripping the roy on skate skis in the afternoon.  We did a nice downhill skills session on some super fun technical turns - our team is pretty solid on downhills, but it was interesting to see some fundamental weaknesses exposed here.  Also some strengths - turns out that Perrin is a downhill hero.  We made some good progress and learned some new tools - there are definitely some things we'll keep working on.  First cook group stepped up to the plate and produced a hearty meal of risotto, spinach salad, and bread sticks, preceded by a classy fruit and cheese plate and finished with a delicious strawberry shortcake topped with cream that had been lovingly whipped by hand.

Day 2:  Froid.  Really froid.  We covered up and went out for another nice long classic tour.  There was a frantic flurry of Thanksgiving cooking before and after our PM skate workout.  This was one of our smoothest Thanksgiving meals ever - Elliot is pretty much a turkey expert now, and everyone else displayed remarkable competence with their meals as well (thanks largely to Leslie's presence as kitchen consultant).  The final result was outstanding.  This is always a special day for our team - we have so much to be thankful for, and even though it's always hard to be away from family, it was so nice to share this meal with such a special group of people.

Day 3:  Less cold.  More classic skiing!  Some good technique work and good progress made.  After lunch we had to switch over to new lodging since our beautiful Boreal was booked for the weekend - no big deal once we got settled in.  That afternoon we previewed the time trial course despite not knowing exactly what it was.  Next cook group stepped up to the plate with a fine curry over rice, green beans, and warm berries on ice cream.

Day 4:  Time trial!  5/10k skate with several other college teams and some local biathletes.  We're focused on being race-ready for January, and that showed in our results - nothing special, but we'll get there.  All three first-years skied over their heads and put up some very competitive finishes - nice showing for their first time wearing the Bowdoin suit.  It was a good tuneup and a good learning experience - plenty of stuff to work on in the coming weeks.  That afternoon we decompressed with one of the most amazing classic skis any of us have ever had - a long loop on a remote trail that most of us had never skied, with tons of climbing and absolutely stunning views of the frosted boreal landscape with the first hints of sunset in the sky.  On the way down from the high point we formed some mini-trains and got going shockingly fast - fun times.  Saw a moose, ripped some turns, and had a great great final night at camp.  The last cook group swung for the fences with an ambitious attempt at French-Italian fusion cuisine:  pasta puttanesca, potatoes au gratin, spinach salad, and cake with lemon curd and whipped cream.  Good stuff.

Day 5:  Sadly, there was no final morning ski at Foret.  With threatening weather closing in, we decided to sprint out of town and head home early to beat the storm.  This was a good choice - looks like we missed a lot of freezing rain from Quebec City to Jackman.  As it was we still drove through some snow in western Maine, but no big deal.  As a consolation prize, we stopped at Quarry Road for a short ski before completing the trip - it was nothing like Foret, but any snow time in November is like gold.

Overall, this was an amazing camp - we couldn't have asked for better conditions, and we certainly took full advantage of them.  Now it's time for a rest - time to sleep off all that training and get schoolwork sorted out before the final push to exams!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

November Less-Rain

November is turning out to be slightly less rainy than October, but we're at no risk of drying out any time soon.  That hasn't stopped us from crushing some good workouts as we move toward Thanksgiving Camp.  Some highlights:

- A first-time workout for Bowdoin Nordic:  classic roll to Reid State Park finished with a run on the beach.  The sun was out for the first time in days, the pavement was perfect, and the scenery was gorgeous - a perfect day.  We'll definitely make this an annual session.

- A rollerski skills workout around Farley and Watson.  Not the most exciting scenery, but with a short loop we were able to stay in constant contact with the skiers and give everyone some good individual feedback.  Now that we're into short days and early darkness, on-campus workouts like this are a productive way to use our limited daylight.

- Skate roll intervals in Woolwich - quiet roads, good pavement, and nice rolling terrain made for a fast and competitive workout.

- Another Bowdoin Nordic first - Thursday game day was football under the lights!  Turns out that nordic skiers are not very good at football (except for Renae, who appears to be related to Tom Brady).  Fun times, anyway.

- Hitting the weights and getting huge.

- And another batch of sand skiing intervals.  No such thing as too many trips to the beach!  People were really locked in this round - one of our most productive sand ski sessions ever.

One more week of good hard training before Quebec.  Looks like there's plenty of snow up there - can't wait!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Maine Event and More

Last weekend we attended the Maine Event, a fun agility challenge hosted by NENSA at Pineland - so great to have a NENSA rollerski event come to Maine!  The course featured three different wooden ramp-type rollers along with the usual slalom, grass skiing, figure 8s, etc - fun stuff and a real skills challenge that showed us a lot about everyone's strengths and weaknesses.  The dire forecast kept the numbers down, unfortunately, but even so the Maine teams showed up in force - lots of Colby, Bates, and Gould skiers joined us, along with a couple local skiers from Freeport.  It was pretty fun to watch everyone learning and improving as the morning went on - as they figured out how to ski the rollers you could see body position change as confidence grew.  The rain held off long enough for everyone to get several practice runs and a good clean qualifying round.  Our women crushed it - Renae 2nd, Perrin 3rd, and Gabby 4th.  Men were solid as well, with Noah G 6th and Elliot 7th.  Good showing by the first-years!  The heats were set up bracket-style, with skiers going head to head starting on opposite sides of the loop - a super cool idea that ended up being a bit too time-consuming once the cold rain started up.  With the course getting slick and the skiers starting to freeze, we all huddled and decided to cut the event short - a few rounds of heats heavily compressed, with the qualifier serving as the final results.  It was kind of a bummer that we couldn't stick to the original format, but everyone still got in a great morning of skill work and competition.  Thanks to NENSA and Pineland for hosting a fun event!

We got up to a lot of other good stuff in the second half of October:  mystery intervals at Pineland, a couple visits to the quiet back roads of Woolwich, a pair of fast and high-quality workouts on the bike path, some good hard hill repeats up the water tower hill in Topsham, and lots more.  We're just now wrapping up our favorite recovery week, the annual Most Boring Week Ever - short and simple workouts close to campus as the daylight gets shorter and shorter.  Daylight Savings on Sunday, so next week it'll be time to shift to the earlier practice schedule.  We're trying an experimental new practice schedule that should make it easier for everyone to get to practice.  Hope it works out - we'll find out soon!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

First Couple Weeks

Time's been flying by since we wrapped up tryouts two weeks ago.  After a couple good training days, we hosted the Phil Soule 5k for Homecoming Weekend.  This is always a hectic day, and it's extra exciting when it happens during Fall Break, since we have to bolt out of town right after the race to get Fall Camp started.  Fortunately, the race went pretty smoothly - 70+ runners competed in a light rain, and a good time was had by all.  After a quick brunch we took off for Northfield, MA, where Leslie had been able to set us up with a couple cabins (her own and a neighbor's).  We shook out the legs with a good hard bounding workout at Northfield Mountain before settling into the cabins for a delicious chili dinner.

Next morning we ran/hiked all over Pisgah State Park across the border in New Hampshire, a beautiful expanse in a corner of the state we never pass through.  That afternoon we completed the triple play with a nice roll in Vermont, ending on one of the best rollerski roads any of us have ever seen (Huckle Hill Road in Vernon).  Fall colors were amazing against the overcast skies, and we finished a hard day of training happy.

That evening we cooked a nice pasta dinner and spent some quality time learning interesting stuff about each other, playing games, and toasting marshmallows around a bonfire.  We left Northfield the next morning and stopped on the way home to check out one of Gabby's favorite training routes, the classic CSU rollerski in Littleton, a winding series of country-ish roads through small towns and farmland.  All in all, a pleasant little camp with three days of quality training.

Since then, we've been settling into our regular fall training routine with some old and new favorites:  30/90s on Ridge Rd, rollerboard, pool running, Marty sprints, Wolfe's Neck roll/run, and of course a little sand skiing.  It's a small crew these days, with 6 juniors abroad - that feels odd sometimes, but it makes for a nice compact training group out on the roads and trails.  Health and energy has been good for the most part, and the skiers look fit and technically sharp - so far so good!