Sunday, February 22, 2015

Owl Creek Chase and American Birkebeiner

I have had a little mid-season break from racing after a planned training block and an unfortunate race cancellation.  Thankfully I was able to add in a race to my schedule in preparation for the Birkie and that is one of my favorite races, the Owl Creek Chase.  The Owl Creek used to be a regular stop on the Super Tour as well as the college race circuit.  The race has become smaller and less competitive in the last few years but it always a fun event.  I am super impressed with Steamboat Winter Sports Club Coach Josh Smulin who waxed and coached his juniors for over three hours in the morning before hopping in the race.
1st Place Owl Creek Chase
Double Win for Team Gregg and a Madshus Sweep on the women's field.
The Owl Creek served as a great tune up race and a cap to our altitude block.  We were met with some pretty awful traffic and weather on our drive to the Denver Airport but were able to get Caitlin on her flight to Sweden.  The Alpine World Championships at Beaver Creek had just concluded and every team seemed to be on either Caitlin's Iceland flight or the Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt which checked in right next to it.  This group of skiers don't travel light and the airport crews were slightly overwhelmed.

I was happy to have Caitlin aboard her flight to Europe and for myself to head home to Minneapolis and then to the American Birkebiener.
Love these smiles

Unfortunately I came home to a 28F house.  A guest had accidentally turned the heat off and the AC on.   Usually I can control the temperature wirelessly through my phone, but a squirrel had eaten the internet connection.

Thankfully everything worked out just fine.  The house eventually heated back up and the water starting flowing and draining.  I did have one pipe burst at 4 am on Tuesday but it couldn't have been in a better place and I was able to fix it for under $5.  A big potential disaster avoided.

Here are some photos from the Birkie.  Text will be coming after I arrive in Sweden.

Thanks, Brian

Birkie Expo

Sunday, February 8, 2015

BMT Lemonade

The Boulder Mountain Tour is one of the largest ski races in the western United States.  It is a scenic and fast 34.3km with 1100 vertical feet of drop from Galena Lodge.  I am a big fan of hilly courses and I have always thought that I would enjoy the race even more if it were run backwards.  Still, the race has a huge history and this year was the 40th anniversary race.  Not to mention the race puts forth one of the better prize purses in US Ski Racing: 1st- $2500, 2nd - $1000, 3rd - $500.  

First day in Sun Valley, with plenty of Sun
Testing skis at the finish line of the race prior to the big day
Meeting old friends and new friends at the Bliz sunglasses booth at the expo.

Signing posters
We love ski racing and sharing the excitement and nerves with all the other racers.  Testing skis and various wax combinations and how well they might help your current level of fitness.  The big question mark for the weekend was the weather on race day.  The forecast called for an 80% chance of rain on Friday, howerver that turned out to be just blue skies and sun.  Saturday called for 100% chance of either rain or several inches of snow.  We woke up to the sound of rain pounding down on the roof.  The conditions were certainly on the nasty side of things.  I immediately was thankful to have the rain poncho I had teased Caitlin about picking up the night before.  As we prepared for what would certainly be a wet and cold race we received the phone call that everyone hates to get on race morning.  The Boulder Mountain Tour was cancelled due to weather and road conditions.  Over 12 trees had fallen on the course and the last 6 km of trail were closed due to high avalanche risk.  

I am pretty sure Sun Valley only has about one day during the winter where you couldn't hold the race and sadly the timing couldn't have been worse. This was a lose-lose situation as the racers were without a race and the race organizers essentially had all the costs of putting on the race with out the satisfied end product of a bunch of happy racers.  

As professional ski racers the majority of our income comes from race winnings, win schedules and sponsorship.  We took a huge loss this weekend.  A race isn't won until you cross the finish line and anything can happen in a race, but it is a real bummer to not even have the chance to race. 

What is one to do?  We decided to help make things a bit more positive for the organizers and other racers.  It turns out the skiing at the start was great up at the start near Galena Lodge.  We hosted a free clinic for BMT racers with fellow elite racers Lauren Fritz and Torin Koos.  

Although short notice we had over 50 participants who had a great time learning how to become more efficient for next years Boulder Mountain Tour.  Today we did intervals to make up for not racing this weekend and will return to Colorado for another week of altitude training.