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West Yellowstone Report: Days 2 and 3

Thu, Nov  25, 2004

Wednesday, November 24, 2004, second day of ski camp.

Snow! It started early in the morning and by ski time there was enough snow for skiing on the Rendezvous Trails across from the hotel and camp headquarters. Morning was classic skiing with Coach Drew Barney. Drew focused on doublepole and kick-doublepole. He also had a tendency to talk and I was really underdressed for it – it was cold, windy, snowing and standing listening to him didn’t do much to keep anyone warm. A 30 minute ski after the session was just the ticket to get warmed up – and it was just fun to get out and ski for longer than a few hundred yards without stopping!

At lunch, I run into Torbjorn Karlsen and we spend 15 minutes talking about my training in the hotel lobby, particularly about getting sick after the last three intensity blocks. We pretty much come to the conclusion that I’m doing intervals too hard.

I dressed warmer for the afternoon and Coach Marty Irish had us skiing more. After V2 drills, we actually went for a real ski – stop and go, but we at least went for several kilometers over a hillier trail. With all the fresh snow, skis ran slowly.

Back at the room, I’m just about to leave to meet Greg Worrel, Linda Allen, and Randy Kessler for dinner then Ryan Robinson arrives after a long trip that started at 3:00 am. The town is filling up – the pizza joint we visit is backed up from takeout orders and we have to wait 45 minutes before our food shows up. So we play pool, drink beer, talk to skiers from New York and Seattle, and have a fine time.

After dinner, Ryan successfully begs his way into the 3-day ski camp which has been closed for the past two weeks. A quick tour around the ski expo and it’s off to bed.

Or not. I can’t get to sleep. My heart’s pounding and I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. I eventually fall asleep, waking several times during the night. Finally I lay awake until its 5:50 and get up to work on the web site.

Guess the beer was a bad idea…

Thursday, November 25, 2004, Thanksgiving, third day of ski camp.

Greg and I are sitting down for breakfast this morning when John Aalberg walks in and sits down with us. A few minutes later, Torbjorn joins us. Ryan comes down from the room and wonders who in the world is sitting with us. I stuff myself silly and the breakfast buffet while we talk about skiing in Utah, how John came down in elevation from where he lives to be at this camp, about all the e-mail Torbjorn gets, and a variety of other topics.

Breakfast comes back to haunt me during the morning’s skate session. For the first 45 minutes, I can barely move, and were out skiing a real trail with real hills. This morning’s focus in V2 Alternate (the 2-skate for all you Canadians on Team NordicSkiRacer). I’m off balance and suffer. And I'm way overdressed - it has to be at least 10 degrees warmer today.

Finally, breakfast digests and I start loosening up. We hit some really fun downhills and I start having a ball. Coach Mark is very technical but has not really given anyone specific advice, just general group instructions. At the end of the session, I ask him to ski with me and offer suggestions. That works: he says I need to get my hips more forward.

I have a little time and decide to watch the Sprint Biathlon going on. Racers spring 300 meters, stop and shoot as many bullets as necessary to hit five targets, sprint again, shoot five targets again, sprint again, shot again, then do one final sprint. Both juniors and seniors are racing. Some of the rifles look bigger than some of the juniors carrying them! There are skiers at all different levels, some V2ing up the gentle hill faster than most people can skate down it, others struggling to get any speed whatsoever. A very cool, fast event.

I take a nap between sessions and have a couple Power Bars for lunch.

The afternoon classic session is a waxing nightmare. Warm temperatures, glazed tracks, new snow falling. The sticky wax needed to ski in the tracks ices out of the tracks. But our afternoon coach, Russell, takes advantage of the conditions to discuss how to handle these kind of conditions in a race. He discussed ways to de-icing the skis without ruining the wax, how to keep the ski from icing in the first place, when to use the tracks and when to get out of the tracks. We spend most of the session doing doublepoling and kick doublepoling drills, and then go for a ski. A great session under difficult conditions.

Happy Thanksgiving!