Sunday, November 23, 2014

Canmore Update

Beautiful Canmore!!!!
Shooting has been feeling good!

I’m excited to be writing this from Canmore, Alberta, where the MWSC biathletes have switched from wheels to snow in our first on-snow training camp of the season! We have arrived on the tail end of Frozen Thunder, an event where the Canmore Nordic Center pushes snow saved from last year out onto the trails to have some of the earliest season skiing in North America. They have been busy making fresh snow for us to ski on and every couple days they open more awesome trail.

I've been testing my new Rossi skis with some great grinds from Nordic Ultratune.
I'm currently running the XC02, RDG and R214 grinds!
First, I am happy to announce (abet, belatedly) that I have been officially named to the US Biathlon National Development Team! It’s been a long summer of hard work that has finally paid off. I’ve been invited to join the National Team while I am here in Canmore for an on-snow camp and then following that for IBU trials in Minnesota where I will be working with Head of Development coach Jean Paquet. This is an amazing opportunity and fantastic recognition, but I will still remain a MWSC athlete and travel with the MWSC ODT for all of my time not with the National team. I am not the only MWSC athlete to also be part of the national team. Casey Smith and Russel Currier are members of the National B-team, Maddie Phaneuf is on the X-Team and Brian Halligan is also on the Development Team.
I know I haven’t updated since halfway through our Utah camp, so I’ll take a moment to sum up what I’ve been doing since then. After returning from Utah we had a short stint in Fort Kent before heading down to Jericho, VT for the second set of World Cup trials races. I had two very different races that weekend. The first aligned similarly with my poor shooting trend from the first set of races, and even my fast skiing didn’t place me very high on the results. The second day I managed to turn things around and shoot 1-1, placing 6th overall (results HERE ). Although these races were not incredibly important in my season they were still a very good experience and a lesson in turning things around after poor performances.

Coach Hubbard leading a drill in our Youth Biathlon Camp
Had a fun day pressing apple cider with Welly!

After Jericho we returned to the County for a couple weeks of more training before Canmore. Other than getting the first substantial snow of the year, it was fairly uneventful.  However shortly before we left for Canmore we headed south to Portland, ME for a MWSC PG/ODT fundraising Gala and 15k rollerski race on New Haven Island off the coast of ME. Due to having to take some time off due to low energy after Jericho I decided to do the race on a fast pair of skis so that I could participate, but not overexert myself. The course was an awesome tour of the island with amazing views of the ocean. Due to the fast skis I ended up doing the 15k under 40 minutes and was 11th overall. After that we headed back to the County and shipped out to Canmore a couple days later.

The New Haven ferry after the Lobster Roll
Our travel to Canmore was a good lesson in patience. Kat, Seth and I had an unsuccessful first attempt to get off the ground in Portland and we were forced to drive to Boston the next day to take a flight to Chicago and then Calgary. We thought we weren’t going to make it out of Chicago when we finally arrived and ended up spending hours waiting for delays (even sitting on the tarmac for over an hour before the plane could take off). Eventually, we arrived in the beautiful town of Canmore with gorgeous, sweeping views of the surrounding Rockies. Any athlete that does a substantial amount of traveling will tell you their own horror stories getting to races; it’s all just part of the game.

Brian Halligan posing with all of our gear on the way 
The skiing has been amazing, especially after it began warming up. We’ve been treated to beautiful sunny skies and good snow conditions. The Canmore Nordic Center has been doing an amazing job with the snow that they have currently and there is natural snow in the forecast so we are crossing our fingers and hoping for more skiing. I’ve been taking a little different approach to this camp and focusing on putting in lots of base training before we start ramping up to the races. This is due to a variety of factors, but I am happy to say that everything is feeling great and I can’t wait for the first set of NorAm races this next weekend! 

Totally loving my new Rossi classic boots!
Treated to a nice sunset on one of our afternoon skis.

Prone shooting in Canmore
More updates to come.

Welly pondering life on a recovery run with a fantastic view

Friday, October 10, 2014

Utah Update

Jumping for joy in Utah!
Photo cred: Kat Howe

We were treated to spectacular views on our afternoon runs.
Photo cred: Kat Howe

As we head into our last week of training here in Utah, I thought I would do an off-day update in an effort to seem slightly more productive as I sit here with my feet up on the couch in the throes of post-race exhaustion. So far this camp has been full of valuable experiences that I am excited to have under my belt as we head toward our next set of trials races. I was worried that the onset of fall would bring a developmental plateau in my training. I’ve done so much work this summer that I didn’t know if the trajectory of my improvement would keep increasing as much as it has so far. If you had asked me a year ago where I thought I would be, I couldn’t have ever foreseen the opportunities that I have had this summer. Every week has been a new experience; from the great training program with MWSC up in Fort Kent to being invited to Lake Placid to train with the new USBA development group. I know I probably sound a bit like a broken record – but I cannot stress how fortunate I am that things have worked out this way.

Preparing fish for dinner
Photo cred: Kat Howe
Park City, Utah is a fantastic training venue. It’s gorgeous, for one, but is also home to the 2002 Olympic venue that features a full range and paved loops for skiing. These past two weeks have been host to many great shooting/skiing combination workouts. The highlight of these definitely had to be a joint head-to-head workout with both the US National team and the Canadian National team. After some more small adjustments on my rifle my shooting has made a comeback and I’m feeling much more confident. It was fun to be in the mix with a fantastic group of athletes. The workout consisted of a ‘mock’ mass start and then a relay shortly thereafter. The loops were much shorter than standard race distances, but with normal penalty loops. This meant that missing targets would set you very far back against the field (given the penalty loop was close to half the distance of the race loop). I was by no means near the front, but it was fun nonetheless.

This camp happens to also be the farthest west I will find myself for a while. Because of this, my parents decided to make the most of it and come visit for a couple days the first weekend we were here. We haven’t all been together since our trip to Scotland this spring so it was nice to see them and spend some quality time together. I was actually born here in Utah and lived in Park City when I was younger before we moved to Winthrop. It’s always been a sort of home away from home for me.
Aside from training at the venue in Soldier Hollow, the small MWSC contingent of Kat, Seth and myself have gone on plenty of other fantastic adventures. We hiked Mt. Timpanogos the first week, the second highest mountain in Utah’s Wasatch Range. It was a fun climb to almost 12,000ft in elevation. Next we classic skied to the top of Guardsman Pass where we were treated to a dusting of snow (insert excited dancing here)!  This week Katrina and I went for a gorgeous 19-mile run along the mid-mountain trail that connects many of the ski resorts in the area. 

Hiking Timp
Photo cred: Kat Howe
Happy campers at the windy summit of Timp
Photo cred: Kat Howe

Working our way up Guardsman
Photo cred: Kat Howe

Kat and I looking happy to see snow at the top of Guardsman
Photo cred: Kat Howe

Admiring the fall colors
Photo cred: Kat Howe

Kat and I close to the end of our awesome 19 mile run
Photo cred: Kat Howe
Probably the most exciting and memorable part of the week for me was the half-marathon that I raced as part of the North Face Endurance Challenge here at PCMR. We had signed up on a whim and I don’t think I completely realized what I had gotten myself into, but my heart insisted that there was no good reason not to jump into a half-marathon on these beautiful trails!

Seth and myself looking very optimistic before we started the half.
Photo cred: Kat Howe
Now probably the biggest gap in my judgment centered on the word race in this whole idea, having never done a foot race longer than 5k in my life. I’ve also never been much of a runner, so it was definitely a new experience to throw myself into. I’ve run plenty of long distances, but always at self-described ‘skier pace’ (a.k.a slow).  This summer it’s been a definite goal of mine to become a better runner to help my training. This resulted in jumping into many more running events, the most recent being the Tim Burke uphill run on Whiteface Mt. Needless to say, I survived the half (or at least enough to sit here and write a blog post about it the next day) and managed to have a ton of fun (I understand why people say these events are addicting now).  Katrina and Seth also ran and both did very well in their races. Kat ran the 10k and placed first in her age category, 6th overall. Seth also ran the half and was 7th overall, 2nd in his age category. I managed to also squeak out 2nd in my age group, but was not as high overall. All in all it was very fun. Maybe we will have an opportunity to race it again next year!

Seth and myself in the midst of an intense scrabble game
Photo cred: Kat Howe

We have one more week here before heading back to Fort Kent for a brief stint. It will be nice to return to the county, but I’m going to definitely make the most of the time we have left. Until then!
Admiring the view from the top of Timpanogos
Photo cred: Kat Howe

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Summer Rundown (and our journey to the Wild West)

Hello everyone! I know its been a long time since I last checked in, so I thought I would give you all a summer update as we head into fall training. This summer has definitely been one for the books; both in the quality of training and the number of great adventures I was fortunate enough to be included in.  I’ve definitely grown as a biathlete and a person during these past months and I’m looking forward to what this next block of training has in store as we head into my other favorite season (aside from winter) – FALL!
But before I get ahead of myself, lets look back on some of the highlights from my summer.  After Sugarloaf camp (which seems like years ago at this point) I spent a good chunk of time training out of Fort Kent and only going on the occasional weekend trip to train in Presque Isle or Canada. This was a great time to work on building volume in both training and shooting. These long hot summer weeks are crucial for building the base that will sustain my racing fitness during the winter months. Historically these weeks have never been the most exciting, but this summer I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful team to train with that pushed and supported me during the highs and lows. Thanks guys!
Sport climbing in Kamouraska, Quebec
Working on a lead climb in Kamouraska, Quebec

The MWSC crew had a great weekend up in Kamouraska, Quebec just a couple weeks after Sugarloaf. It was a good chance for both the MWSC Cross-Country and Biathlon teams to do some team bonding because we don’t normally get to see much of each other.

Celebrating with a Moxie and a brownie cake made by Kat!
A very happy birthday girl!
I celebrated my 21st birthday this summer! We celebrated with a fun BBQ games, and an awesome brownie cake made by Katrina!

Getting ready for the 6-hour Nordic Trails Festival Race in Presque Isle, ME

The next weekend a good contingent of MWSC athletes competed at the Nordic Trails Festival in Presque Isle. I ran the 6-hour race on a team with Katrina, Mikayla and one of our younger girls Sarah.  We scraped out the win over a team composed of coach Will, his wife Sarah and a couple others.

In the beginning of August we had our first trials races of the season in Jericho, Vermont. My goal for the races was to add to my small, but ever-growing pool of experience as I prepare for other trials races later this year. I was happy to see that my ski speed was much faster against the rest of the field over past performances. However, I did struggle on the range and accumulated too many penalty laps to be in contention for much against the other girls. We have our second set of trials (also in Jericho) coming up at the end of October.

 Pushing hard in the Uphill Run on Whiteface for the third time this summer
Photo by Alex Kochon
Getting some support from National Team Woman's Coach Jonne after the race
Photo by Alex Kochon
After Jericho I was back in Maine for less than a week before heading down to the lovely state of New York. This spring I was invited to USBA’s Talent Identification camp with a group of other athletes. At the end of August I had the fortune to be invited back to the follow-up ‘Talent Group Camp’. This was a fantastic opportunity to work more with the USBA coaching staff, as well as with new Development Coach Jean Paquet. I was introduced to many new shooting and skiing drills and I think it is safe to say that they have made a definite impact on my training and skill set moving forward. 
USBA Talent Group Camp

'XC All-Star Jam Session' hosted by Clare Egan for both USST and USBA skiers at the Lake Placid OTC

We had a rest week after the TG Camp and I took the chance to go visit some friends in Duluth. It was nice to reconnect with the team and everyone on campus at CSS. I might be taking a reprieve from classes at the present moment, but I still felt just as much a part of the community during my trip.

Visiting friends in Duluth
After going to MN I did a couple hikes in the Adirondacks. Fellow MWSC teammate
Welly Ramsey joined me for a great hike up Mt. Marcy
At the summit of Mt. Marcy
After Minnesota I moved back into the OTC to start another two weeks of training with the development crew in Lake Placid. We were there during the National Team’s ‘test week’. This provided a great opportunity to jump in on many physical and shooting tests (including revisiting my favorite test, the Uphill Climb on Whiteface).  It was a great couple weeks with a great group of people and I hope to see more of them in the future.

Well that’s about it folks for the quick summer rundown. We arrived late last night to our house in Park City, where we will be basing out of for the next couple weeks. The goal of this camp is to do a solid block of training at altitude before we start getting into the next set of trials races and then finally (hopefully)…. SNOW! I’ve already started my snow dances and the oncoming cold and colors of fall are a good indication that it is just around the corner.

Until next time!

Lake Placid ski jumps

Monday, July 14, 2014

Let's Get Mucky, Bucky -- Sugarloaf Recap

Shooting work at the CVA shooting range

Happy Monday everyone! The crew has just returned from an adventurous week down in the mountains of Western Maine. Last Tuesday we all piled in the MWSC vans and headed downstate to Carrabassett Valley.  Once there we unloaded into the dorms at Carrabassett Valley Academy, our home for the next five days. The camp is the first of a series of summer training camps put on by MWSC for qualifying Maine junior skiers. I think that these camps are a very valuable opportunity for younger skiers to experience a training lifestyle and learn from the wealth of experienced older athletes and coaches. Even though I am myself not a junior any longer I was still able to take a lot away from this camp that I can apply to the weeks of training going forward.

Photo of a happy Kelsey from the top of the Bigalows
photo cred: Kat Howe
Summer training camps have always been the highlight of my summer. I can still remember being a wee first year J2 headed down to southern Washington for the iconic Trout Lake training camp put on by the PNSA. There’s something utterly fulfilling about the sheer exhaustion at the end of a hard week of training that I’ve always loved.  I can still remember long OD adventures bushwhacking to the top of mountains and repeatedly jumping off the Trout Lake Bridge.  I forged friendships with other skiers that I still keep in touch with today. We would emerge from the weeks spent off rural Washington, Oregon and even California bruised, battered and yet utterly content with ourselves. From there we would already be looking forward to the next camp - the next adventure. Training camps help make up the skeleton of the skiing community. They help promote the reasons that we are all here in the first place - uniting around a love of skiing, training, and being active and healthy people. The winter racing season is so short and focused that often times we don’t find ourselves connecting with our competitors. These camps allow athletes to come together in a non-competitive atmosphere and create the relationships that will help carry this sport forward. 

Hiking in the Bigalows with a great group of girls

Bigalow Pano
That being said, this week was certainly very memorable. I was going through a spell of mountain deprivation and so I was absolutely giddy for the extent of our 5hr OD (over-distance) hike in the Bigalow Mountains.  We also fit in some great rollerskiing, bounding and strength sessions. I still feel like there is plenty of technical and aerobic work to be done in the meat of our volume training these next few weeks, but it’s empowering to have my highest volume week so far this summer in the books.

Pano from the Bigalows

Having my first Moxie after the OD hike

So happy to have Kat as my awesome training partner for these big volume weeks!!
I think everyone’s favorite workout probably had to be the Adventure OD on the final day of the camp. Coach Will Sweetser put together an orienteering adventure with points spaced out in the wilderness around CVA. Each point had a question that ranged from Bill Sweetser story problems to SAT vocabulary questions and were worth points based on the difficulty of the question and the difficulty of the location. I teamed up with Katrina Howe and Nate LaTourette and we found ourselves doing everything from wading down the river, running to the top of a mountain, bushwhacking through pucker brush in a dry stream bed, and getting mucky in a leech filled bog. The bog was probably the most memorable part of the adventure. Toward the end of the allotted time we found ourselves with the task of plunging and wading to the middle of a sizable bog to read a question stapled to a stick. I was first out into the mucky mess, shortly followed by my two teammates. We quickly realized we were not alone in the pond, which was also the home to the biggest leeches I have ever seen in my life (6 inches would probably be a conservative estimation). This prompted a very quick exit with lots of yelling before anyone even had time to write down and answer the question. However we weren’t about to leave empty handed and I returned once again to the mucky water. Despite the leeches I could feel swimming around my legs, I managed to write down the question and then we were out of there, hauling our soggy tails back to the start point. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to make it back before the time limit and were disqualified. I still rode home in the van very thrilled with how the day had turned out, full of adventure and good, mucky fun.

I wanted to feel taller than Kat for once. 

Swimming with the leeches

One of the bog questions

But above all of this high-quality training I think that what I am probably most excited about is that this camp helped me feel just that much more a part of the Maine skiing community. I loved getting to connect with the junior athletes and spend more time with my MWSC teammates. Everyone here has been so welcoming to me since I’ve arrived in the state and I hope to give some of that back while I’m here and help support all of these wonderful athletes.

Until next time!

After our bounding intervals up Sugarloaf Mountain

Some post-camp van serenading from the MWSC junior boys