Sunday, December 30, 2007


My car needs another oil change, and I just got one three weeks ago.

Jess Snyder and I drove from Rochester to Houghton, after a stop at Wegman's to take advantage of their bulk food section. We got to the Canadian border and I realized I'd forgotten my passport, but since I've never needed one before, I didn't worry about it, until the border guard gave me grief. He did, however, let me into the country, and we did successfully make it out of the country, too. In the interim, I taught Jess to drive stick. She's a quick learner, and I think she managed to avoid destroying my clutch.

We spent the night at the canal between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior (I think?) and finished the drive in the morning, which meant we were able to ski today. I liked that part.

After the coaches' meeting, we headed to walmart, where we picked up material and puffy paint for our team flair for the team sprint. You'll have to wait for those awesome pictures...

Our fridge looks like a bloody garden during summer. check my recipe page for the new series I'll be posting this week, "eating like a PRO on the go". Yeah, we're cooking for ourselves this week, but we're eating daaaamn well.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

snow report

For anyone in this wet gray city:

Harriet is skiable. Its icy, and not bad but not great, but the guy on the snowmobile has been out with a tiller. Lots of debris down, though.

Mendon Ponds at Quaker Pond area: skiable, as in, there is full snow cover. Icy under some wet slush. No major rocks that I could see. I don't speak for the ski trails, though.

Mt Pittsford: icy, very icy in places, but full coverage around the loop. Some places were actually good (the top of the hill). Avoid the horseshoe turn... its sheet ice.

I've gotten to ski with some Pittsford kids the past two days, and it makes me feel like I'm actually useful. They are so full of questions, and I don't always have the answers, but I try. Am I good enough to ski in college? Should I do JOs? How good were you in highschool? Why can't I kick up hills? Do I really have to classic if its a skate year? Can you give me technique tips? How do I improve my endurance? How did you decide on a school? Is it possible to have a long distance relationship in college? Do the college teams have to wax their own skis? What happens if you can't make the carnival team? Do all the schools have development teams? Did you have friends outside the ski team? Are there a lot of parties at college? Where do you ski when you're at college? Do you train on the race courses? How much do you have to travel? How often do you get to come home? Are you still in touch with your friends from highschool? If I'm not that good at skiing yet will the coach help me out or just kick me off the team? So-and-so is skiing at X school and I'm faster than her, does that mean I can automatically ski at that school? Should I do ski camps over the summer? Do I need rollerskis?

I was thinking about CSU, and the quality coaching that those kids get. Two to three to four practices a week, with a coach, often many coaches, getting technique work and drills and waxing tips and training tips from people who've been doing this sport for a long time, no wonder we turn out some pretty good skiers. I wish there were something equivalent in the Rochester area. If I had any desire whatsoever to live here, I would start a club, for kids from any highschool, of any ability, the only requirement is that they really want to become the best skiers they possibly can be. I want to start a club where eventually all the skiers are faster than me. If only there were something like that in this area; there are so many talented kids whose highschool coaches just don't have time for them, who are just dying for more information on how to become a faster skier. Pittsford has 103 skiers this year. Three coaches. All with a real job outside of coaching. How is that even supposed to be possible!??!

Section V turns out the best skiers in the state, aside from NYSEF. Is it any wonder that the Mid Atlantic Team is always last or second-to-last at JOs?? Every other region has clubs for juniors who want to become good skiers, so that they at least have the tools to take it to the next level. It burns me that there is nothing like that in this area. So much talent! So much potential! I know we don't have much snow, but hell, Boston gets less snow than Rochester and CSU turns out some damn good skiers! There is no reason that Rochester can't compete at that level! People say that the competition level in NYS is lower than New England--it is lower--but we can raise it. There is some good racing up in Lake Placid, the powerhouses of the D3 schools are in NY, and the numbers at the highschools are more than enough to foster some really quality skiing, if only someone were there to teach them. Sure, XCRochester has to work on the master and senior contingent, but why not have a junior club too? So that the kids who DO want to become superstars in this sport at least know what it takes? arrgh.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Reindeer Roundup

I skipped the Osceola world famous christmas race (and my chance to win PIE!!! Enjoy that pie, Jess), and hit up the Reindeer Roundup in Lapland Lake on my way home. This was a two-fer, as there was a ski-o here in the afternoon, so I could hit up both. The race was a continuous pursuit, 5k-5k, and they held it on the same trail for both classic and skate. We all lined up, self-seeded, and I got in behind a girl in a Dartmouth suit, not sure who it was. We go off, and Steph Crocker takes the lead for the girls (amid rabid master men and wobbly highschool boys) until things thinned out a bit. Then I heard someone cheering for both Steph and for Ali, so I figured it was Alison Crocker I was behind. She was starting to let Steph get away, so I went around her and skied behind Stephanie for a while, until Alison caught back up, with a junior kid. We skied like that for the rest of the 5k, which was pretty flat, with gradual uphills and fast downhills in the tracks. The rain hadn't hit Lapland yet, but the snow was sure wet.

Switching to skate stuff (there wasn't enough room for a true stadium, so our skis were all stuck in the snow by a flag with our bib numbers), I discovered how tricky it is to skate well when you have a track on either side of a narrow trail. Ali and I had faster skis than Steph and the junior girl, so we pulled away, and proceeded to ski pretty easy for the rest of the 5k. It was hard to ski hard, marathon skate was the technique of the day, and as the tracks were so fast anyway, that seemed to work. I led for most of the middle of the loop, and then right before the end I let Ali go by, because I didn't want to be in the way... what was I thinking? there is no room to pass on this finishing straight! Anyway, that meant that she got in first and I was right behind her, wondering if there was a way to sneak a ski past her. This may be the first and last time I ever ski with Alison Crocker... I'll take it! We ended up 6th and 7th overall, which is always nice.

That afternoon I did the ski-o... I don't think I'd eaten nearly enough food after the ski race, because I bonked pretty hard. I also wore my warmups, because I'd been cold beforehand, but I ended up just steaming myself to death, and naturally I didn't have any water. I navigated horribly, making at least one mistake on every leg, and stopping a couple times just trying to re-orient. Overall, a miserable race for me. The straight-line distance was 8.8k, but with all the twists and turns at lapland, I ended up skiing about 15-20k, and it felt like 50. ugh.

Driving back to Rochester, I went through one of the heaviest rainstorms I've been in in a couple years. It wasn't so bad that I could feel the water bouncing off the road and hitting the bottom of the car, but I couldn't see much past 2 feet ahead of my bumper. I could barely make out the lines next to the car--that was kind of scary. If only it had been snow! All the snow here is essentially melted away... I guess its a good thing bristol now makes snow on a nordic loop. Ahhh, loop skiing on manmade snow... its a good thing I'm used to it!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter Solstice

Nine hours of daylight today. Too bad I'm spending all of them indoors.

We've gotten more snow in the past month here in Boston than we did all last year. I'm going to go with the assumption that both years might be a little out of whack. Cities are not good places to have lots of snow. The lack of places to put the snow makes everyone grumpy, and then fewer people play in the snow, which leads to much unhappiness. Because after all, playing in the snow is the purpose of my being. I can't wait to go sledding when I get home!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ninja style

More self aggrandizement. What can I say, Dobie wanted someone to practice his fancy flash thingies on before the guys came through and me and Jess were skiing a cooldown. And since I have nothing interesting to say, I'll just keep putting pictures up here.

Russian grandmother style, or ninja style?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

At least I was having fun...

this scares me.

Presque Isle

(photo stolen from Jamie Doucett, more of them here).

I should preface this by saying, I love coming up to the County. The skiing is great, the people are super nice, the trails are fantastic, and there is generally really good competition. Unless everyone gets freaked out about driving in the snow and doesn't show up. This past weekend was mostly a Stratton exhibition on the women's side, with a couple UNH girls in there for show. Saturday was a skate sprint, and Sunday was a 5k classic. I love classic skiing on these trails, the gradual ups and twisty steep downs suit my skiing style. Unless of course I fall on my butt. We'll get to that.

Jess and I drove up there Friday, picking up NENSA's professional photographer Kris Dobie, and got there just in time for the sun to go down. It got really cold that night, and was only 3 degrees the next morning. I raced all day with a thing pulled over my face, since I didn't want to have as bad a post-race cough that I did after the west yellowstone sprints. My qualifier was so-so, I felt really weak and uncoordinated, but I knew with a field this small I'd be in the heats no matter what since they were taking 30. There was one long-ish hill near the end, I felt pretty sluggish up that. After cooling down, we made some origami reindeer. I don't know if they qualify as pure origami, because you needed to cut the antlers, and you needed to tape the two halves together, but they were pretty neat.

2:15 rolled around and the heats started. It was really chilly, and the sun was behind the trees so it wasn't getting any warmer. My first heat I got out in front and blocked up the hills next to Heather Zimmerman for most of it. Then I did something weird over the second little bump and lost my balance and Mae Foster got past me. She was pissed, and moving fast, so I hopped in behind her since it looked like she was going to get around Heather. Then halfway up the hill I stepped on her pole, and even though I moved my foot off the pole really quick and instantly went into "oh-god-I'm-so-sorry" mode, the damage was done, she slid sideways, took out Heather, and Isabelle Caldwell caught up to us and went up the side. I naturally followed her around the carnage and made the next heat. Oops.

There were about 30 min between each heat, which was way too long in my opinion, because I couldn't stay warm despite skiing and running around. In the semi, two stratton girls took it out fast, and Marlijne Cook and I were behind them until the long hill, when I got caught behind Marlijne and they got away. Then I settled for the B final and cruised in; the other two Stratton kids were pretty far back. At this point I was so cold I just wanted it to be over, I just didn't care anymore. I felt like I was standing on frozen icicles, gently poking at the snow with my poles from my straight-legged position. This was not a fast technique. I don't really remember the B final very well, I just know that based on the results I was 3rd in it. Qualified 7th, ended up 7th, why did there have to be so much coldness in between? I think I did a cooldown, but I don't remember that either. I don't remember much until I started to warm up in the shower.

Sunday felt a little warmer, although it was still 3 degrees in the morning. I ended up on a toko green binder, Rode light blue covered with multigrade green really lightly, and then some multigrade purple under the toe. It was good. Too bad the body was not so good. I felt pretty crummy in my warmup, but sometimes you have a good race anyway. The course starts down a hill, and its a fun one, twisty and fast, and for some reason I found myself skidding on one of the last turns. I told myself I had to step, I couldn't afford to lose momentum on this hill, so I stopped skidding, but for some reason I never started stepping and so I fell over when I went off the trail. There isn't much to say about the rest of the race, I basically played mind games with myself to keep myself from stopping and sitting down on the side of the trail to catch my breath. I guess I'm tired. I blame staying up till 1am baking cookies on thursday night. Oops. The cookies were totally worth it, though =).

Overall, I guess the weekend looks good on paper. Top 15 in the classic race, and I beat Tracey (who now claims to have asthma). But I felt like crap, and I don't think I should be feeling like crap right now. I need to get out of this negative slump soon, hopefully a couple rest weeks leading up to nationals will do just that.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Craftsbury Opener

Alarm went off at 3:55, and I’m lying there wondering why someone set my alarm for the middle of the night and whether it’ll shut up on its own. Out the door by 4:01, even at 4am there are cars in the damn rotary around the masspike, what are they doing, where are they going? Too much thought for this hour.

A couple hours later, when my brain can function at a slightly higher level than just focusing on not falling off the road, I get bored. Start taking pictures, playing with my sunglasses, scrounging for breakfast foods in my car. I found that if you put an orange lens over one eye and a clear one over the other, it takes about 3 or 4 seconds before your eyes stop freaking out and adjust. And then they do it again when you take off the glasses. Wasn’t there some physics experiment where they gave a guy contacts that flipped the world upside down, and he was totally freaked out when he took the contacts out after his eyes adjusted and the world went upside down again? Eyes are some resilient pieces of magic, how the hell did something that complex ever evolve?

Many hours later I’ve arrived at the outdoor center. The course starts with some rollers then a downhill, longest one in the course, a couple good twists and turns, some flat along the bottom, then three hills of some consequence, separated by more rollers, before you roll into the finish. I have this theory that you don’t make up that much time on uphills, unless they’re super long, because everyone is going pretty slow, relatively speaking. Where you make up time is the crests of hills and the flats and transitions. So that is where I put the hammer down, no real point to going anaerobic on the long climbs and have nothing left for the flats, if you’re trying to ski a controlled race.

Lined up with Lucy Garrec from Burke, we take off and she tries to get ahead of me but I use my superior mass to block her and take it into the hill first. I could hear her breathing down my neck going up the hills, but by lap two I’d dropped her and passed Trina Hosmer, so I was feeling pretty good about life. Never really picked it up that much, but I was recovering well after the climbs, and skiing pretty smooth despite loose conditions and stiff skis (the grind was great, flex no so much). I’d used an ancient Norwegian trick, its called “pacing oneself”, and it worked surprisingly well. Finished the race and felt good about it, turns out I ended up third, behind Elsa Sargent (Dartmouth) and Rosie Brennan (US ski team).

I didn’t feel like going home after the race; I’d just driven 4.5 hrs, I wasn’t going to turn around without more skiing. There is an unwritten rule that you have to ski for longer than the one-way leg of your trip to the snow, so I whiled away the afternoon on the Craftsbury trails and had a lovely time skiing with myself, before heading back to the southern flatlands.

Monday, December 10, 2007


That happened maybe 10 miles from home, so I didn't make it to Great Glen for the sprints. I did however drive up to Craftsbury the next day for the opener, on my little donut at 55mph (which is considerably slower than my normal highway speed...), and that was totally worth the trip. The race report in words is coming, here is a photo essay, complete with a haiku:

Four AM wakeup
Ski racing at Craftsbury
Thank god for coffee

This is normal, right?

Heading towards Franconia Notch just before sunrise.

Self portrait a la Thom P.

Driving into Franconia Notch, Cannon has its head in the clouds.

Cannon mt.

Leaving the notch with the sunrise behind me.

Cloudy day heading into Craftsbury.

Craftsbury Common. The marathon finishes here.

Snowy trails and a grinning Ilke.

And then I went home. Long day, but thoroughly satisfying.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


For the last three years of crappy winters. Because it is December 5th, and I have been skiing on natural snow in Boston Massachusetts. Booyah!

(I'll admit, I skied a little on manmade snow, too. But the natural snow was more fun; if you're in the Boston area, go crust cruising anywhere you can find a field/golf course)

This means that Tuesday night sprints are imminent!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Happy Times

Snow! Here!

Snow! Lots of it! (by Boston standards--I mean, people can barely handle driving in rain around here). Of course now its raining, which is blah. And the snow is more like white slush, thanks to the rain. But, that is ok, because Weston Ski Track thinks they can be open by Tuesday night, since apparently its cold enough at night to blow snow. Wheeeeee!!!!!!!!!

Also on that note, Craftsbury has 10k groomed for skate, so I'm going to hazard a guess that the Craftsbury opener is ON for this weekend. Woooooo ski racing!!!