November 26, 2012

One down...

The Ostersund Range, pre-World Cup preparation.
Finally, the World Cup season has started!  Yesterday was the Mixed Relay here in Ostersund, Sweden and while it wasn't the start I had hoped to have, it was nice to get things underway. 

After a decent double pole, I was tripped up and fell going out of the stadium, landing in last right away.  After some effort to catch back up in the first loop, I used 2 extras to clean in prone.  Heading into standing I felt good - just trying to focus on my own race.  But the effort and the early season rust were stacked against me, and after using all 3 extra rounds, I still had 2 penalty loops to ski.  I skied my last loop as hard as I could and managed to tag off in not-quite-last place.  Susan, Jay and Lowell had solid races and were able to move us up to finish in 17th place.  It wasn't what we were envisioning, but I know I just needed to get a little of the jitters out and dust off my racing legs.
The view of the tracks from our hotel.  That green grass on the side is now covered with a nice dusting of white.
The women don't race again until Thursday's Individual, so we have a nice break to reorganize.  The weather is slowly improving; things even look a little wintry here after a dusting of snow fell last night.  It should be a fun week of racing here before we head off to Hochfilzen and hopefully some more sun!
Luckily, even in the dark the stadium has some nice views.

October 29, 2012

Never-ending Autumn

The women's team (plus Andrea Henkel) on a hike outside Midway, UT. (photo: Hannah Dreissigacker)
Hello from Utah!  The national team is wrapping up our annual training camp in Soldier Hollow this week.  It's always nice to be out here in Utah for the fall, and though in one week I'll be heading back to Alaska and below-freezing temperatures, this has been an amazingly long fall for me.

After our Germany camp, I headed to Alaska, where the autumn colors and temperatures were in full swing.  I was ready for training in tights and long sleeves, and the colors of an Alaskan fall were the perfect addition.  About the time the temperature started dropping to that uncomfortable not-quite-fall-not-yet-winter level, I headed out for a week in Boise.  The high-desert climate didn't disappoint, and I was treated to cold nights and mid-60F, sunny days.  It was great to be home for a few short (and busy!) days.  I only wished it could have been a little longer.  But Utah was calling, and I headed to the Heber Valley for our annual camp.  Temperatures and weather continued perfectly for our first week, but we were in for a surprise during the second week.  A drop in temperatures and an early snowfall delayed our second time trial race, but otherwise only provided us with some excitment.  A few days later, the snow was gone, and week three has begun with bluebird skies and warm temperatures.  As Hurricane Sandy bears down on the eastern US, we are glad to be enjoying the perfect training weather Utah is offering us.

Birthday celebrations in Alaska!  Mmm, pumpkin pie! (photo: Zachary Hall)
Part way up Bogus Basin Rd. outside Boise. A beautiful rollerski I always try and fit in when I'm home! (photo: Beth Studebaker)
The women above Orem, UT on a long hike/run. Our new orange jackets were perfect for hunting season... (photo: Hannah Dreissigacker)

On Sunday, I'll be heading back to Alaska and marking the end of my autumn.  One week in Alaska, then off to Sweden for pre-World Cup camp and then the racing season will be off and running.  It's crazy to think the season is literally just around the corner, but I'm feeling excited and ready. 

A view of the Boulder Mtns from Pioneer cabin outside Sun Valley, ID.  (photo: John Studebaker)
Ciao, fall!

September 4, 2012

Hallo aus Deutschland!


The end of the summer is pretty much upon us, and that means it's time for our final summer camp...Germany!  This year has been pretty similar to our camp here last year: we spent two weeks in Ruhpolding and are now in Oberhof for one final week before heading back home.  The main difference has been that Ruhpolding, which was busy and a bit crazy last year with all the different teams around preparing for World Championships, was much quieter and not quite as hot (which was nice).  Even without all the other teams, we had a very effective and intense couple weeks training on Ruhpolding's world-class venue.  Here in Oberhof, we're spending mornings in the skihall testing skis and getting some on-snow time to work on technique, and spending afternoons cross-training and shooting.  It's been a great camp so far, and, as usual, I figure the best way to convey what we've been up to is through pictures!  Look for my next update after our camp is over and I've settled in back in Alaska!

Overlooking Inzell, near Ruhpolding. (photo: Susan Dunklee)
My rifle all set for our Salzburg shooting test/analysis. (photo: Armin Auchentaller)
Susan and me enjoying a beverage after hiking up to an alm (hut) near our hotel.
Getting started on the brutal Rossfeld uphill time trial (it takes about 1hr to complete). (photo: Jonne Kahkonen)
Beautiful view while out on a mountain bike ride.
Running near Inzell. (photo: Susan Dunklee)
Rainpolding!  Actually, the weather was mostly very nice. (photo: Susan Dunklee)
The Oberhof Skihall. (photo: Susan Dunklee)

July 27, 2012

Olympic Time Again

As I sit watching the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremonies, I can't help but remember my experiences two years ago in Vancouver...and my dreams of success in two year in Sochi.  The Olympics are a great reminder to us winter athletes of what we're working for, and over the next 17 days, I intend to soak in the Olympic spirit from London and let it inspire me to push harder to reach my goals.  Only 559 days until Sochi 2014...

I haven't been great about posting lately, so here's some pictures.  To get more frequent updates, don't forget to follow me on Twitter and become a fan on facebook!

Kayaking...
gardening...
and site-seeing in Alaska.
Helping out some of the next generation of biathletes in Anchorage.
Hanging out with family...the next generation is due in October!
Passing through Hanover to say hello to my alma mater!
video
And of course, some time trial races in Jericho, VT.

May 23, 2012

Bend in Pictures

With only 3 more days left in beautiful Bend, Oregon, there's not much to report except positives.  The skiing has been great, the weather mostly fabulous, and the company perfect.  I even got to spend a couple days with my parents, whom I haven't seen since January.  All in all, it's been a successful trip...hopefully the last 3 days won't disappoint!

A couple of rainy afternoons have made for perfect rainbow weather...this one was pretty amazing.  Photo: Jonne Kahkonen
Annelies and me on a run down by the Deschutes River.  Photo: Lowell Bailey

The team! Can it get any more beautiful?  Photo courtesy of Lowell Bailey
video 
Of course, we've been doing a lot of technique work...I think the coaches make up new drills just based on what will entertain them most.  ;)

April 24, 2012

Week 1

Zach and I after a beautiful ski at Flattop in Anchorage. (photo: Christopher Hall)
No, I didn't fall off the edge of the earth, although I feel like I've been to all ends of it in the last month or so.  After World Championships in Ruhpolding, Germany (way back in March), I headed to the World Cup final in Khanty-Mansyisk, Siberia, Russia for a week.  The races there were good, and it was a nice place to end the season.  After a missed flight and a quick turn stop in Lake Placid, I was off to Alaska for some post-season relaxation.  I've been here since then, skiing and enjoying the winter-spring transition.  It's been great, as I've been able to ski more than I've ever been able to in the spring, and I've been enjoying all that Alaska has to offer: from spring crust skiing to beautiful coastal jogs.

Crust skiing outside Anchorage! (photo: Zachary Hall)
Last week, the first official training week of the 2012-2013 season, Zach and I went out to a small bush village called Kiana to teach kids to ski with the NANANordic program.  It was an amazing week, with lots of time on snow and lots of really happy kids learning to skate ski.  I can't imagine a better start to the season.  Hopefully I'll have the chance to get back to Kiana soon!

Kiana School (photo: Zachary Hall)
Who needs a water-belt when there's a hole in the ice?! (photo: Zachary Hall)
Skiing with some of the girls. (photo: Zachary Hall)
Playing Caribou tag...yep, that's a real caribou skull.  Only in Alaska! (photo: Zachary Hall)
My new fan club in Kiana! (photo: Zachary Hall)
Zach and Forest helping the kids play ice basketball biathlon. (photo: Sara Studebaker)
Sometimes everyone needs a little help! (photo: Zachary Hall)
Next week I'm headed back to Lake Placid for our first National Team camp.  It will be good to get back into the "normal" routine.  For now, though, I'm enjoying the beautiful Alaska spring days here in Anchorage!

March 10, 2012

Happy Women's Day!

Thank you to the Russian fan for the beautiful Women's Day flowers! You made my day!!

So I'm a couple day late...but these things happen with the excitement of World Championships. Let me break down the excitement since the Mixed Relay: I recovered from 2 penalties in the Sprint to qualify in 49th place for the Pursuit; I shot clean (20/20) for the first time ever in a 4-stage World Cup event in the Pursuit and moved up to 41st; with only 3 penalties, I scored a few World Cup points in the Individual, and Susan Dunklee had a fantastic day, placing 5th! We're now looking forward to the Relay event and these Championships on a true upswing. I'll then be off to Russia for the final World Cup competitions in Khanty-Mansiysk.

On the big screen during the Sprint race.

Coach Jonne with some final instructions as we prepare for the Relay.

March 2, 2012

Ready, Set, World Champs!

Mini Brazilian Biathlon fan at the Opening Ceremonies.

Usually when thinking ahead to a big event like World Champs, you envision all the possibilities. Something crazy might happen, something great might happen, someone's going to lose their cool for sure. But in all the times I envisioned the start to World Champs, it never went like this. I've never had a penalty in a relay, and the most I've been behind this year when tagging off to the second leg is 56 seconds. 1 penalty and 2:31 back later, I've learned that it has to happen to you at some point. The Mixed Relay was my day to realize this. Unfortunately it was my worst relay of the year on a day when it was most important, and my teammates had excellent days. Luckily, I have several more races to pick things up and make good things happen.

So, Sprint race tomorrow and Pursuit on Sunday. I'm ready to move forward!

Annelies and Susan enjoying the sunshine and an Alcohol-free beer for recovery!

February 23, 2012

Pre-World Champs...camp?

Ridnaun Panorama (photo: Zachary Hall)

Some would say that the toughest days to be a skier (or possibly any athlete) are the days you are supposed to rest. While it may be easy to rest for one day after a really intense and hard week of training, if that day turns into several, or the training hasn't been too tough, some athletes start climbing the wall. I've always been pretty good at dealing with my down-time. I work hard and enjoy training, but also love the times when I can go spend hours in a coffee shop, or sleep in and spend the day in my pajamas...or better yet, actually get dressed in "normal" clothing and not change all day!

The Schneeberg Resort and beautiful backdrop. (photo: Zachary Hall)

That said, this week has been a major test of my ability to fill the time. We're in Ridnaun, Italy for our pre-World Championships training camp, and "training" camp might be stretching it a bit. As we start the peaking process for the end of the season, the training is minimal. We've done the work and now it's time to fine-tune and kick it into top gear. That means most days only one workout, shorter workouts, and a little more intensity. Yesterday, for example, we had a threshold interval set followed by "tolerance" - basically when you go as hard as you can for short burst of time (15, 30 or 60 seconds)...and usually on tough uphill terrain. The idea is that this wakes up your muscles and reminds you how to go hard...finding that extra boost! We followed that tough workout with an 90 minute easy ski with shooting and an afternoon off today. Pretty nice.

One of the comfy sitting areas. (photo: Zachary Hall)

Luckily, we're in an extremely beautiful place. Ridnaun is known for nice sunny days, and a good venue right next to our hotel. The toughest part of our job right now is trying not to eat too much of the great (and plentiful) food here at the Schneeberg. We've been taking full advantage of the huge sauna complex, and the great sitting areas that have pretty decent internet. Even with all that, though, I'm starting to get antsy to race...which is precisely the point! I think I'm just about ready for Ruhpolding...

February 14, 2012

Ampumahiidon Maailmancup

View of our hotel in Joensuu, Finland. (photo: Susan Dunklee)

Hello outside world! After a week of basically non-existent internet, I'm back online! I did, however, use my internet-free time in Finland to pick up some Finnish. For example, the above, which means "Biathlon World Cup." They really like to use a lot of letters.

There's a lot to catch up on in just one week, which is a good thing! After some changes to the schedule due to extremely cold temperatures in Kontiolahti, the Mixed Relay was moved to Friday. We had some sickness on our team, but the final roster was strong, and we were looking forward to racing...if it was going to happen. The temperature hovered right around -20C for the whole morning, and at race time the officials had to call for a 30 minute delay before they finally decided it was just legal for us to race (-20C/-4F is the minimum temperature at which races can legally be held). The cold and race delay wreaked havoc on my warm up, so my first loop was a little rough. Luckily, I shot pretty well and my skiing improved enough that I had the 4th fastest last loop of the lead-off leg. I tagged off in 6th position. After some solid shooting and skiing by my teammates Annelies Cook and Jay Hakkinen, Tim Burke had a stellar last loop and moved us back into 6th place by the finish. It was the best finish for a US Mixed Relay team ever! I was just excited to be a part of it...and getting to go up on the podium made the chilly race more than worth the effort.

Annelies and I getting ready for the relay. (photo: Annelies Cook)

Team USA 6th place! (photo: Armin Auchentaller)

The weekend continued in excellent fashion for me. I had my first clean race (hit all my targets) of the season and skied well enough to land in 15th place. It was my best result of the season, and my second best World Cup finish ever. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. It seems that my luck in Oslo was not just luck, but the true turning point in my season.

What do you wear when it's this cold? A lot.

In Sunday's Pursuit I would start only 1:20 back from the leaders, and only about 20 seconds out of the top-10. Unfortunately, I think I had only 2 good races in me for the week, and I had used them up with the Relay and the Sprint. With 6 penalties I moved back considerably, but still managed 36th place and a few World Cup points to boost my standing to 55th overall. Despite this result, I am super psyched about the weekend. I feel like I'm in the perfect place heading into the end of the season and looking towards World Championships in a couple weeks.

Finland was beautiful, but I'm happy to be back with the sun and warmth! (photo: Annelies Cook)

Right now, I'm back in Antholz, Italy for a few days of rest and training before the whole team meets up in Ridnaun, Italy for the pre-World Champs camp. After crazy cold temperatures last week, today was +1C...we hardly knew how to dress! These next two weeks will be fun but focused, as everyone is trying to get some quality training in as we peak for Ruhpolding. Only 4.5 weeks left in the season...how quickly it always goes!

February 3, 2012

Rejuvenation

Antholz stadium, pre-World Cup craziness.

Sometimes all you need is a little time off to get things back on track. For me, it took some time with my family, a few days in Venice, and a week of solid training back in Antholz before I headed to Oslo and found my stride. While one race is far from proof I'm back on track, it's a great start, and there's plenty more chances to keep improving.

Tomorrow is the Pursuit here in Oslo, and hopefully things will go well enough to earn me a spot in the Mass Start on Sunday. For now, here's some pictures of my rejuvenation! :)

My aunt, uncle and parents joined came to watch me in Antholz and then spent a few days traveling around Italy. (photo: Thom Folan)

Our drive down to Venice through the Dolomites was incredibly beautiful...

Then we got to Venice, which was beautiful too!

Picturesque Venice (photo Thom Folan)

...or delicious. :)

Antholz was the perfect place to finish the week with some solid training. Great snow and inspiring landscape...perfect!