Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Nice Day at Home

Today was a relaxing and productive day at home for me. Tilly got me out the door for a short run in the morning. She is 14 now and can't run very long but she is just as excited to start as when she was a puppy. When we got back to the front Lieta was inside turning over a pan of fresh Carmel Rolls. This is her first Christmas away from her immediate family and carmel rolls are a Gustafsson tradition on Christmas morning. She wanted to have a practice run. I was more than happy to help in the testing. Mom, Dad, and I decided to ski in the afternoon so I had the morning off. Mark and Nordic Ultratune just ground several pairs of skis so I turned on the hot box and started an assembly line. The Gregg's have a lot of skis. I waxed over 20 pairs (although more than half were my own).

Tilly, Ready to go

Liet and the practice rolls, they were delicious...
but maybe we should practice once more before Christmas, I will help test them

Wax Room

Mom's New Mask

I have been skiing the Rendezvous trails the last few days which means moslty up and then mostly down. Today mom' came up with a thoughtful way to stay warm when you don't have any more clothes for the trip back down

Monday, December 22, 2008

Methow Valley Nordic Ski Camp

The last few days I have been a coach at the Methow Valley Nordic Ski Camp. The MV Nordic Club did a great job organizing a professional technique camp for skiers of all abilities. My groups ranged from 5-7 skiers and we really had some good dry land, on-shown and video analysis sessions.

Debbie, John, Me, and Robin getting ready for our afternoon session

This is the first year that I have been directly involved with the camp and it worked out really well. I was worried that the camp wouldn't really allow me the chance to train, but it would be hard on my body to be on my feet outside all day. I have had a bit of a cold from the end of last week. My health was at a point that I felt good enough to go out and ski, but not great while I was out training. My first interval session since the Silver Star races was on Thursday with the MV Junior Team. Sam Naney, Erik Bjornson and Trond Flagstad led the group in a hard interval 4*4min interval session on Thursday. The intervals were hard for be but I think they did a good job cleaning out my system.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I coached at the clinic which was more or less active recovery. I have a hard time taking it easy as I come back to training after not feeling well, and the camp offered the perfect distraction. I went out for a ski on my own Sunday afternoon and felt great.

Working on getting our hips forward by bending at the ankle

Chad capturing our technique on video

Tara, Video Station #2

The whole Gregg family was involved at the camp. I coached, Tara and Chad filmed, my Mom was on ski patrol, and my dad was the photographer. I will post the slide show my dad put together of the camp shortly.

The 120 person camp opened for registration in September and filled in 3 weeks. This is the premiere technique camp for skiers of all abilities. Check out the MV Nordic Club's web site at www.mvnordic.com for more information.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Cookie Tradition

As long as I can remember my brother, sister and I have gone over to Ardis' house to become elves. We decorate a serious amount of cookies. I am a bit afraid to ever count the cookies, because I feel like I eat the majority of them, way more than is healthy. To give you some idea of how many there are, Ardis' has everything ready to go and we usually decorate for a good 2.5 hours. Each year there is a bit of a contest to see who can make the coolest and the ugliest cookie. I usually win one of the competitions.

It is also a bit of a tradition for me to eat so many of them that I get rather sick. This year I was feeling a bit ill before we decorated and presently I am good and healthy. It is taking a lot of self control to stay away from the big box of cookies though. There are gingerbread and sugar cookies decorated with an almond frosting. Yum. Merry Christmas.

Albino Reindeer

Tara, Chad, Ardis, Alieta

This might be half of the collection

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Best race this Season, Almost a sub-60 FIS Point race

With the Whistler Nor/Am's moved to Silver Star, BC there was a small change to the races. Instead of a 20km pursuit race on Thursday (racers ski 10km classic, switch equipment, and race 10km skate) the race was a 20km mass start freestyle, my favorite.
CXC Men in Black relaxing near the back of the lead pack

My mom and dad arrived on Wednesday night after a short 5 hour drive from where I grew up in Washington State. I seem to race better when they are on the course cheering. I woke up feeling fresh and good to a beautiful cold sunny day. It was so nice out that I spent a good portion of my morning jog just taking pictures.

The race started at 1:00pm and it was a large pack for the first 10km of the race. There were several crashes around me. There were a few skiers in the group who did not ski very smoothly with others and were the cause of the majority of the crashes. Luckily I stayed out of trouble and relaxed near the back of the group.

Men's Start

With 7.5km to go things started spreading out and I moved up into 3rd position. I became a bit too excited as we climbed to the top of the course and found myself not skiing relaxed enough to maintain the pace. I dropped to the back of the lead group. While I was at the back of the group I saw an attack forming off the front, but I could not quite push my body to stay with the group.

Brent McMurtry and I trailed the main group by 50 meters going into the final 2.5km. I relaxed behind Brent and attempted to make a few pulls, but Brent always came back around me after only a few seconds. Looking back on one of the uphills I could see my teammate Garrott Kuzzy leading a pack of other skiers and closing in on us.

Men's Finish

I crossed the line in 8th, Garrott Kuzzy 10th and Bryan Cook 14th for a solid day for the CXC men's team. One of my goals for a long time is to have a sub 60 FIS point race. Races are scored based on who finishes in the top 5 and how far you finish from the winner. On Thursday I earned 60.46 FIS points...getting closer.

Caitlin On Top of the Podium

The CXC women had a strong day as well. Caitlin Compton powered to a 27second victory and Kristina Owen finished strong in 13th, Johanna Winters in 17th, Maria Stuber in 21st, and Heather Zimmerman in 24th.

Men's Results
Women's Results

Monday, December 15, 2008

Soveriegn Lake Sprints

Gregg, far left in Quarter Final

My race prep and the qualifying all went smoothly. I finished the time trial and felt pretty good. The course was fast and short and I didn't really feel like I left it all out there. A bit disappointed, I did my normal cool down and started to prepare for the heats.

Results came out and I qualified 31st just missing the heats. I was not happy. I knew I didn't go hard enough earlier. The results were a little funky, Kevin Hochtl who is a fast qualifier and sprinter won by 7 seconds. Rumors were flying around the the results were off. After about 20 minutes I went back and checked the board again, I had actually dropped to 34th. Disappointed I decided to go back to the hostel and rest up for Sunday's Skate 15km.

Kristina (qualified 32nd) and I hitchhiked back to the hostel. When we got back to the hotel we got online to check the results to confirm nothing odd happened which would move us into the heats. The start list was the only thing online. I ate a sandwich then took a nice long shower. Walking back to my room in my towel I saw Kuz (fell in qualifier and just missed top 30) walking quickly toward me and instantly knew that leaving the venue was a mistake.

I threw on my windbriefs and ran out to the waiting van. Thankfully we have some good snow tires on the van because the trailer was swinging us a bit from side to side. I turned the heat on for a 'warm-up.' With the van still rolling I hoped out into the parking lot and sprinted for the start line.

Running towards our Toko wax bench I could see the men out on the course and realized I hadn't made it. Fish told me he had my skis, bib and poles. Confused, it took me a while to realize that I wasn't in the first heat. I put on the bib and checked my poles. They were both mine, but one was 157cm and the other 160cm. Oh well. I grabbed the skis and ran to the line. Putting my skis on I realized that they were Fish's test skis. Fast, but pretty soft for me. Kuz ran up with my matching set of poles and said he would go get my skis. Halfway through the pre-race commands, Kuz came and helped me switch skis. Racers to the line...Bang.

I started conservatively and moved up through the field on the first downhill. I was in 4th going into the final turn, I wanted to be further up. I made the bad decision to take the corner wide and didn't move up at all. I lost a bit of time in the final stretch and finished 5th in my heat. 25th for the day.

I consider that a success given the circumstances. Thanks to Kuzzy and Fish for helping me make my start. Unfortunately Kristina also moved into the top 30 (they took out some juniors in both the men's and women's race). Kuz didn't know this when he came and got me and she didn't make her start.

Not a very smooth day. The team was hungry to make up for it in Sunday's Skate Race.

Results at www.Zone4.ca

Moving to Silver Star

The Bozeman and Soldier Hollow races were canceled due to lack of snow, so we decided to make the drive up to Canada for the Nor/Am races at Sovereign Lakes Nordic Center. This was a good move because the Whistler Nor/Am races on our original scheduled have been mover here as well. The skiing was good when we got here, now it is even better. It feels awesome to be skiing at a lower elevation (more oxygen).

Cook and I enjoying the view from Silver Star Summit

Cook and Kuzzy

We are staying in the youth hostel at Silver Start Mountain resort. It is a nice place and inexpensive too. The change in race schedule has been tough on the budget so this place helps out. There is a great common room/kitchen downstairs to hang out in. My focus has been on skis, training, racing and eating and that has kept me pretty busy. This is my first real off day (meaning no travel) and I am starting to get on top of things. Lots of web posts today. Also, I finally got some batteries for the Flip Video and will try and take some video over the next few days. I am looking forward to clean laundry today too.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

West Yellowstone Race Pics and Report

Katie Ronsee snapped some pictures of the CXC Train getting ready to start the 8km Freestyle race. Check out her blog for more pictures from West. Also check out this YouTube video from the skate race. I am not in the video but you can see most of my CXC teammates. The final kilometer of the race was up a good steep climb. Combined with an elevation of over 7500' it was a tough last few minutes. Prior to the races Kuzzy and I did intervals up the climb. We didn't know what the course would be but I think it was a real advantage knowing how to ski that hill.

CXC Train

Ready to Go

Photo from Ian Harvey and Toko USA

West Yellowstone SuperTour Women's 8.5km Freestyle from FasterSkier on Vimeo.

Thanks for the pictures Ian and Katie and the videos YouTube and Fasterskier.com

Classic Results

Skate Results

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Best Thing about West Yellowstone... Bears

Sorry for the lack of updates. There isn't much snow for cross-country skiing out West so things have been pretty busy. I will have a few posts from the last few weeks coming shortly. There has been some debate about the coolest thing in West Yellowstone. Guess what it is? On one of my off days I went to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center.

I tried to take pictures where it didn't look like the animals were in captivity. None of mine turned out, but Kristina took this one. Guess how much the bear above weighs?

I really like bears, I could watch them walk around for hours, although it is cooler when they run and play.

There were two wolf packs at the center. This one was the scariest looking. Kristina would limp around on the sidewalk and that really captured their attention.