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!

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