September 7, 2013

Oberhof Ski Hall

More video blogging from Germany!

Training in Germany's ski hall is fun (though skiing on a 7 minute loop for 2 hours can get a little repetitive).  We love being here because it gives us a great chance to get on snow in September!  Here's a look inside the Oberhof ski hall.


September 6, 2013

Ruhpolding Video Blogging

Check out my new video blog! Curious about the Ruhpolding venue?  Here's a little peek at the range area and a more difficult part of the course.  The US Team has had a couple weeks to work on this course, which should benefit us this winter at the World Cup!   

 The Ruhpolding stadium area.
Ruhpolding World Cup course section

September 2, 2013

Germany Training Camp Is...

...sometimes sunny...
(photo: Leif Nordgren)
 ...sometimes foggy...
Susan on top of Rossfeld.
 ...a culinary experience...
Saturday afternoon workout ending with drinks and snacks at the Alm!
 ...lots of time on the range...
Boys waiting for slowfire drills to start in Ruhpolding.
 ...lots of "wild" life watching...
Hannah and Susan make friends with the cows near the Backeralm.
 ...2 weeks finished, 1 to go.
Auf Wiedersehen, Inzell und Ruhpolding...Hallo Oberhof!

July 14, 2013


Hello, internet world!  I have been woefully absent from blog, twitter and facebook for the last little while, but summer is the time when things just happen and technology falls by the wayside.  I've been traveling around a lot since early June, and though many athletes will tell you travel is the worst for training, I think when that travel brings you to places and people you love, it can actually be beneficial.  So here's my last month in review...

Sunset off Brooklyn, NY looking towards Lady Liberty. (photo: Luke Studebaker)
After a week of solid training in Lake Placid and a brief stop in Brooklyn, NY to see my brother, I headed to Alaska where a "heat wave" was in full force.  Much to the dismay of the Alaskans, temperatures were hovering in the mid-70s F with jumps into the 80s F (about 27C)!  I, being from the hot Great Basin Desert of Idaho, thought these temperatures were just wonderful.  I don't think I've ever worn shorts and a tank top in Alaska - until this June!  It was perfect training weather, and the heat coupled with the drought they were also experiencing made for great adventure weather as well.  It was a fun couple weeks training and hanging out with Zach and enjoying the seemingly eternal sunshine.

Alaskan summer barbecue!
The baby moose were everywhere...a true training hazard at times! (photo: Zachary Hall)
Backpacking near Crow Pass through tall grass... (photo: Zachary Hall)
...and crazy river crossings! (photo: Zachary Hall)
Pioneer Peak
Everlasting and beautiful Alaskan sunset.
Just after the 4th of July holiday, I headed for a brief visit to Massachusetts, were my extended family was renting a beach house for the week.  I was only able to stay the weekend before heading back to Lake Placid for training, but it was great to see my family and connect with the next generation!

Baby Eva! (photo: Mike Taveras)

Now it's back to the grind in Lake Placid.  It's been really rainy here while I've been away, but the weather seems to have turned and we may actually have some dry training sessions this coming week.  Everyone is excited to be back together working hard, and we're all taking advantage of the summer with barbecues, dips in the lake, and blueberry-picking hikes.  It's going to be a great month!
The women's team happy to be back together (chocolate mousse helps, too)!

June 9, 2013

Spring Training

Sunny, snowy Bend!
This spring has been pretty great for training.  I've been able to get in lots of on-snow skiing between Alaska and Bend, Oregon.  We've also had some great focused treadmill technique sessions, including a VO2 Max test, and some solid shooting work with both slowfire and combo training.  In addition, I was able to spend a week at home in Boise, visiting old friends and training in my old stomping ground. 

Lactate testing in Bend.
Dad and Uncle Ray de-bone chickens...quite the process, but with delicious results!
The beautiful Camas Prairie in northern Idaho.
I'll be in Lake Placid for one more week and then will be heading up to Alaska for the midsummer sun...and some training of course!

A midnight Alaskan sunset.

May 20, 2013


The 2013-2014 season has officially started.  Well, the training season anyway.  After a great first week of training in the Alaskan Arctic, Anchorage Spring meant lots of running (and some crust skiing!) before I headed off to Lake Placid.  We began with a week of shooting-intensive work and then traveled to Bend, Oregon to find late season snow.  There's definitely less snow here than last year, but the skiing is still great and being able to put in training hours on skis instead of rollerskis in May is awesome. 

April crust skiing at Portage Glacier in Alaska.
Zach and me overlooking Blackstone Bay...a beautiful, if windy, view!
Mornings in Bend mean great skiing conditions....
...and afternoons mean perfect biking and running weather!  I love Spring in the West!
After spending next week at home in Boise, Idaho, I'll be back in Lake Placid for two more weeks of camp and then off to the land of the midnight sun (Alaska!).  I'm feeling motivated and excited for summer training.  Only 263 days until the Olympics begin....onward to Sochi!

May in Lake Placid can still mean chilly weather, but it doesn't mean we can't start making things perfect!

May 2, 2013

Arctic Adventures

There's nothing like starting the Olympic season off by working with kids.  Last week, I finished up a two-week trip to the Alaskan Arctic with NANANordic.  The NANA region encompasses 11 main villages, and I was lucky enough to visit two of them to work with the kids and teach them to ski.

So much excitement to go skiing! Photo: Zachary Hall
My trip started off in the small town of Deering, where three of us coaches worked with the 37 kids during their school day and then skied with them for a few hours after school.  Such small groups made it easy to get to know all the kids and really work with them, and Deering, which is right on the coast of the Kotzebue Sound, was beautiful and provided easy terrain for the new skiers.  I was able to do a "Biathlon Day" demonstration (without the actual shooting part) with the help of my boyfriend Zach, who was the director for the two villages we visited.  It was a great week, and while we were looking forward to the bigger village of Buckland, we were definitely sad to leave the people of Deering.

All set and ready to ski!  Photo: Zachary Hall
There was lots of racing happening...
Demonstrating Biathlon for the 3rd and 4th graders in Deering.  Photo: Zachary Hall
Biathlon Basketball!  Photo: Zachary Hall
Before we could work with the kids of Buckland, though, we had to get there.  NANANordic's mission is to bring skiing to the Arctic region, so skiing between villages (when possible) is highly encouraged.  The trip between Deering and Buckland is 48 miles (about 77 kilometers).  Zach and I were more than game to make the trip and were told the best way was not to follow the snowmobile trail, but to ski point-to-point on the ice and then cut in to the trail at about the 30 mile mark.  This route makes the journey mostly flat, with one big climb over Buckland Mountain at the end before you descend into the Buckland River drainage.  The day we were to head to Buckland, we awoke to blue-bird skies and chilly temps, so we put all but a backpack's worth of gear on the plane and got started.  The ski was absolutely beautiful.  We saw a seal out on the ice, plus a fox and two moose once we hit land.  The conditions were perfect without clouds or wind to worry about, but the ski was tough.  30 miles on the pack-ice of the Kotzebue Sound, followed by a rolling 18 miles on uneven snowmobile trails with a total of not more than 1.5 miles of downhill to rest on, made for a strenuous day.  We made it, though, and skied happily into town 11 hours after starting out.  There were several kids waiting for us at the school who were ready to start skiing right away.  While we were thrilled to see so many kids excited to ski, we were simply too tired and headed into the Buckland school to find the Principal waiting for us with real beds for the night.  In the NANA region, most visitors stay in the schools, and most of the time that means sleeping on the floor.  So having a mattress to lay down on after a long day of skiing was huge.  That ski was one I'll always remember; while difficult and exhausting, it was beautiful and left me feeling pretty satisfied...I mean, how many people can say they've skied between Deering and Buckland?  Probably only two.

We made it pretty close before the seal disappeared down this hole into the water.  Photo: Zachary Hall
Zach navigating the ice ridges as we round a point on the Kotzebue Sound between Deering and Buckland.
Four new coaches joined Zach and me in Buckland the next day, and we set about getting organized to ski with the kids on Sunday and then during and after school for the three following days.  Buckland was a world away from Deering in the feeling.  It's one of the bigger schools in the region, with about 175 kids, and we had nearly all of them come out during their scheduled school hours.  After school we had to schedule two sessions so that all the kids who wanted to ski could.  I only wish Nordic skiing had been as popular in my school as it was in Buckland.  It was amazing to see how excited these kids were to ski with us, and how much fun they had.  If we had let them, they would have skied until 11pm (it wasn't getting dark until after that each night).  Each day we would finally have to coax them all back to the school so we could have dinner and rest so we'd be ready to do it all again the next day.  It was exhaustingly awesome.

Send it!
Lots of Kindergarteners in Buckland!
Rapt attention from the younger set on "Biathlon Day."  Photo: Eric Packer
So week one and two of the 2013-2014 training season saw me on skis almost 10 hours each day.  Now I'm back in Anchorage settling in to a more normal training routine and getting ready to head back to Lake Placid for the first camp of the year next week.  The Sochi Olympic Games are about nine months away, and I think things are off to a great start!

March 17, 2013


The finish-line in Khanty represents the finish of not just one race, but one more season.
And that's a wrap!  In some ways this season has flown by, and at other times, I feel like I've been over in Europe forever!  In general it's been a tough season for me, and I'm looking forward to taking a little break, re-focusing, and getting set to charge ahead towards the Olympics in Sochi just 11 months away. 

Sun-drenched Khanty-Mansyisk shooting range.
We've had a fun last week of racing here in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia - some great results for our team, and some heart-breakers.  But regardless, it's been a fun weekend to end on.  We finally found winter (it's COLD here!) and our wax techs placed a close 3rd in the wax tech biathlon competition on Thursday.  They (and we) were pretty excited.

Wax tech Mattias behind the scope.
Gara tags off to Toni in second place early in the race.
Pretty happy with third place!
Tomorrow we head to Munich where we'll spend the night before heading home on Tuesday.  I'll be making a quick turn-around and heading south for some relaxation and sun!  It should be should be a nice month off.  So, ciao 2012/2013...bring on the Olympic year!

See you later, Russia!

March 8, 2013

Welcome to Sochi!

The Laura Biathlon Stadium; Olympic venue for 2014!
The World Cup's most anticipated stop this year is undoubtedly the new venue in Sochi - which will play host for the Olympic Games in February 2014.  It's safe to say that all the athletes and staff were eager to check out these new courses and get a feel for the area, so excitement was pretty high as we began our travel from Oslo to Sochi.  Travel days that end or begin in Russia are often long and can be difficult.  Gun control in Russia is serious, and papers must be in order (often many times over) well in advance of arrival.  We are lucky to have a staff that is very on top of logistics, so our entry into the country was relatively smooth.  Unfortunately, we had to wait for all the athletes on our flight to clear customs before our bus could leave the airport for the future Olympic village.  After an additional 2.5 hours waiting around, we finally arrived at our house (after what probably would have been a beautiful gondola ride up the mountain, had it not been midnight and thus pitch-black out). 

Susan enjoying the (dark) gondola ride up to the future Olympic village.
The accommodations here at the village are great.  We have a good sized house with 5 double rooms and a good sized common area.  All but two of the athletes are in one house (some of our staff is up here in the house, and some stays at the bottom of the gondola since all the housing is not yet finished in the village), so it's been nice having some good "team time" together.  While the accommodations are great, the food leaves a little to be desired.  Russian food is pretty different from what we're used to, and between the lack of fresh vegetables and fruits and all the mysterious-looking meats, it's tough to adapt to.  Eating gluten-free has been an especially tough challenge, but I was prepared, bringing some cereal and bread with me, and between myself and the 4 or 5 other athletes that are gluten-free, we've been having some luck getting the cooks to label things and have some form of GF carbohydrate for us to eat.  Buckwheat is a popular choice, and has become a staple of my diet here!
One of the cabins in the village, with the amazing mountain view behind!

Construction is nearly constant here. The Olympic village is nowhere near will be interesting to see what everything looks like next year!
A view from the walk between eating and our house - the venue is in the trees in the middle of the picture, and the cabins are off to the left at the bottom of this little hill.
The venue itself is amazing.  The building used for timing, jury meetings, doping control, media, and a host of other things, is the largest ever built for a biathlon stadium.  The stadium is huge and well-designed, and no-doubt will be packed next year.  Despite having to check our rifles in and out of a locked room each day, and the endless circulation of shuttles between the village and the stadium, things have come off without any major problems so far. 

The stadium, with lots of space for spectators and the massive timing etc. building behind.
The courses are some of the most difficult on the circuit.  The climbs are monstrous, and depending on conditions, the downhills can be tricky (several athletes had pretty bad crashes in the Individual race, causing some injuries and broken rifle stocks).  Working on V1 climbing skills will be paramount to doing well here next year.  However, the range approach is downhill into the flat stadium, which provides good rest before shooting.  And you can't beat the view...the Caucasus Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to the venue and village.  While these are certainly not my favorite courses, I'm looking forward to improving my climbing ability and working  hard to better fit my skills for the next time we're here.

Skiing up the first big uphill out of the stadium. The Sochi venue is nothing if not picturesque! (Photo: Jonne Kahkonen)
This weekend racing continues with Sprints on Saturday and Relay races on Sunday.  Unfortunately, we only have three women here, so won't be fielding a relay team.  The Sprint should be exciting, though, and next week we head to Khanty-Mansyisk for the final races of the season.  It's about 11 months until the Olympics, perfect timing to be checking out the venue, and just enough time to work out the kinks and come back stronger next year!

One of our fabulous wax techs, Gara, and me enjoying some beautiful ski testing weather!