Sunday, November 30, 2014

West Yellowstone Season Opener

The Super Tour season kicked off this weekend in West Yellowstone, Montana.  The season opener is especially exciting as athletes have been training all spring, summer and fall and the races offer the first glimpse on how all that training and work will play out in the race season.  I have training more this year by myself than in any other year, and it is great to see that I am right in the mix.  Caitlin and I went with a strategy that had my training load pretty high throughout the summer and fall.  I had more than a few training sessions with friends where I really got worked.

Racing to 2nd place in the 15 km Freestyle interval start.
Over 3,000 skiers take over West Yellowstone, Montana for the Yellowstone Ski Festival.  It is a fun way to kick of the season with so many others who share the passion for the sport.

Ski with an Olympian: Race Course Preview
On Wednesday I did a free group ski with juniors from Minnesota, California and Utah.  We skied the 5km Race Loop and discussed how best to race it.  I remember doing the same thing with Olympians Laura McCabe and Leslie Hall.  It is fun to think what kind of impact little things like that might impact the next generation of ski racers.

Team Gregg Family living out of the hotel room for the week
This marks the 11th Thanksgiving I have spent in West Yellowstone.  I am very thankful to have some of my family here in town to celebrate it with.  The Team Gregg crew is the A team for sure and it makes me proud what we can all accomplish together.  

Olympic Mom putting the finishing touches on Team Gregg's new Bjorn Daehlie jackets

Team Gregg is more than just Caitlin and myself.  The Team Gregg family was sewing on patches, programming split timers, taking splits, snapping photos, cheering, providing splits and more.  Here is a video Chad put together of the Sprint race.  I had a strong day and one of my top sprint results in the last few years.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Arrived in West Yellowstone

Just finished a fun 20 km cruise on the Rendezvous Ski Trails here in West Yellowstone, MT.  Daylight joined us for the first half of the ski before I had to switch on my headlamp.  There is snow in town already which is fantastic and I found the skiing to be quite good.  A few more inches would make things a lot better.  I used my training skis and didn't pick up any scratches, however there a few areas where some taller grass or young trees are poking through along with a few chunks of frozen dirt.  The crew here in West Yellowstone has done a really great job of buffing out the trails and the festival will certainly be in town this year.  We broke the drive up in to a day and a half, which went smoothly with  the exception of a slight delay when the truck had a flat tire just a few hours down the road from Minneapolis.  

I first came to West Yellowstone as a senior in college in 2005 and have been making the pilgrimage here every year since to kick off the ski racing season.  Many great memories here in town including proposing to the perfect girl, skiing in to old faithful, qualifying  for the Olympics, introducing the ski world to Team Gregg and many Thanksgiving feasts with friends and family.  

Skiing on snow in Minneapolis
This year I delayed my arrival to West Yellowstone as the Twin Cities had groomed trail snow skiing It is pretty rare to have such great ski conditions in central Minnesota in early November and is fantastic for skiers and the ski industry.  When it first snowed I was actually bummed because the in between season of too much snow to roller ski and not enough snow for a quality snow ski intensity session is the worse for training.  I adjusted my Tuesday interval workout to bounding, but then had to adjust it again when the park I planned to do intervals in was closed for a deer hunt and I had to switch to pavement running.    The pavement just destroy my legs as I was not used to the running load especially on pavement. Thankfully the next day I discovered the Elk River crew was grooming and the skiing there proved to be fantastic.

My Marwe roller skis have been put to rest for the season.
After a great 19 day camp in Canmore I came home to Minneapolis for a week of sea level intensity and some speaking commitments.  I had the honor of being the guest speaker at the Winona Ski Dinner to help raise money for the skiing programs in Winona.  I had never been to this awesome little community on the river but had heard many great things.  The Winona group is a passionate one and I look forward to returning with my skis and snow on the group.
Presenting to the Edina High School Team
Minneapolis woke up white last Monday to greet the first day of practice for Minnesota High School Skiing.  I gave a talk to the Edina High School team about goal setting and my Olympic experience.  To my delight the Nordic team at Edina High had 180 kids registered and paid on the first day or practice which is so cool.  My high school barely had that many kids in the entire school.  

For my third speaking engagement I gave a free Toko Wax Clinic at Hoigaards.  It is great to see so many people embracing the snow and picking up or updating their ski equipment.  I had fun sharing my experience as a waxer and teaching others how best to care for their skis.

I am now in West Yellowstone and am excited to catch up a bit on my recovery and get the race season underway.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

On Snow Training Camp

Thank you to our incredible sponsors and supporters.  The last two weeks I have spent training, eating, and sleeping and am so grateful for this opportunity.  Although we have great internet at our little studio here in Canada, being out of the country and away from home has allowed us the luxury to focus almost entirely on our training.  We are training on the 2km loop that is 'Frozen Thunder,'  last years snow stored through the summer under wood chips.  The temperatures have been warm here in Canmore, AB sometimes as high as 60 F.  Surprisingly the man made snow has held up well, but I do hope we get some colder temperatures and more natural snow soon.  

The loop takes between 6-10 minutes so 4-5 hours of training each day makes for a lot of laps.  There are so many talented skiers here to follow, watch and mimic technique from though that I find myself easily entertained.  

My training camp in Canmore is brocken in to two blocks.  The first block of 8 days focused on volume with some L2 skiing to focus on technique as well as two races.  I felt good skiing distance, but the races didn't go so well.  I skied pretty quickly on my distance days to focus on technique and I think that left me a bit tired for the races. I look forward to being sharp for the races in West Yellowstone.

Laundry Day at our Canmore Studio

Caitlin does a great job finding some fantastic deals on lodging.  One of the ways we are able to do such a long (3 week) training camp is that we are able to find affordable accommodations.  This little studio was only $40/night and we have two beds which helps us maximize our recovery.  I have always enjoyed living in small spaces, especially after living in my brother's yurt.  Small spaces require you to be simple, clean and organized.  

Caitlin carved me the coolest nigh light ever for Halloween.  I also got a bag of my favorite canadian candy, wine gums.  

Waxing and Testing our ski fleet

Thanks to a donation from Stephanie through our Fundly campaign  we were able to rent one of the wax rooms here at the Canmore Nordic Center.  This has been huge in allowing us to wax and test our fleet of skis.  The opportunity to have a world cup level wax room, located basically on the trails is pretty huge.  We have really good skis and we do our best to take really good care of them which while we are testing in dirty snow means at least an hour of waxing each day.  I am certainly jealous of the other teams up here who all have wax techs.  Many teams have one tech for every 2-3 athletes.  I actually really enjoy waxing and working on skis though.  Plus I have been able to catch up on some great pod-casts. 

Photo Credit: USSA

My second block of training is nine days and focused on intensity.  I have been fortunate to be able to join the Canadians for some of their workouts including a skiathalon 2*25 min L3 and a 10*1min L4 session.