November 23, 2010

Hej från Sverige!

A view of the Östersund biathlon range with the lake in the background.

It's winter here in snowy Östersund, which suits me just fine as I'm putting the final preparations in before the first World Cup, which starts exactly a week from today! Trials in Canmore are over, and the rest of the WC Team will be joining us in the next few days. Congrats to Laura Spector, Russell Currier and Lowell Bailey for making the World Cup team, and to Tracy Barnes, Annelies Cook, Zachary Hall and Bill Bowler for making the IBU Cup team. The IBU Cup Team heads to Europe in a little over a week for the second and third IBU Cup in Martell, Italy and Obertilliach, Austria.

Being here a few days early has been nice. The training has been great, as the snow here is a plentiful mix of man-made and natural. A few teams have been here for the past week, but most are just starting to arrive, making the atmosphere feel more and more like the World Cup. I've been staying in town for the past few days which has allowed me to explore Östersund a bit more. On Friday, I'll move up to the hotel at the venue, where we'll be through the races. It will be very convenient to be right at the race venue, cutting down on travel and logistics for the races.

They continue to make more snow and perfect the trails. This weekend the range will be getting buffed out and World Cup ready. Its hard to believe the races are so close after so much preparation, but my mindset is switching over to race mode. Hej World Cup!

The tracks in Östersund at 4pm-ironically the lightest time to be skiing!

The pumpkin pie I wish we were having on Thanksgiving. One thing's for sure, the Swedes will feed us potatoes!

November 13, 2010

Hello, Goodbye!

A snow gun going full-blast in Canmore trying to make up for a snow-less November.

I thought this post would be a hello from Canmore, Alberta, Canada, where USBA is currently having it's on-snow camp and December World Cup/IBU Cup trials. However, it is instead a hello from the Albany airport, where I am currently killing time waiting for a shuttle back to Lake Placid.

The quick version of the story is that, until yesterday, there was no skiing at all in Canmore. So, the National Team coaches and staff decided that those of us pre-qualified athletes should leave Canmore and head to Sweden early where there is already 5km+ of great skiing. This has meant a lot of shuffling of tickets and last minute preparation, but here I am, just 6 days after leaving, back in Albany and heading to Lake Placid for re-packing and a quick turn-around for Sweden.

I'll be off on Wednesday for Östersund, the site of the first World Cup, and am looking forward to a more relaxing lead-up to the first races. It will be nice to be there early and hopefully I'll have more time to explore the city than I did last year. It's going to be hectic couple of days back in Lake Placid, but well worth it to get good skiing in sooner. I'll keep you all posted as I continue to country hop!

Östersund here I come!

November 1, 2010

Something New

As some of you may know, my boyfriend and fellow National Team member Zach Hall is gluten intolerant. For those who don't know, gluten intolerance is, very basically, an inability to break down the protein gluten (found in rye, wheat and barley). Zach's intolerance is thankfully not celiac disease, which is the same general idea, except instead of having an upset stomach and GI issues, celiac sufferers can become violently ill when they eat gluten in any amount.

Zach has been able to manage his intolerance with only a few issues (mostly while on the road, when language barriers can present a problem), and since going gluten-free his junior year of college, he's seen a steady improvement in his results. Recently, there's been a lot of news about other sports teams going gluten or wheat-free (namely the Garmin Slipstream Cycling Team, featured recently in Men's Journal). Since Zach and I share many meals anyway, I decided to try it while at our Utah camp. What I found was that my legs felt lighter and less tired, I was recovering faster, and I lost a couple pounds (putting me at my race weight in October, something I've never been able to accomplish). So I've decided to go gluten free for the season and see how things go.

Like Zach, I expect to encounter some issues, especially while traveling. However, since it is not an allergy that keeps me from eating wheat and gluten, it will be less worry-some for me. That's not to say that I won't be trying to keep this diet 100%. Luckily one of my sponsors, PowerBar, has several wheat and gluten free products that range from recovery bars to drink mixes to snack-type bars. I've already ordered several boxes to take with me to Europe. (Note: if you have issue with oats, many of these products will not be suitable for you. Check out celiac disease and oats here.)

PowerBar stash! The drink mix label was a casualty of travel, but what's inside is the Endurance Beverage in Lemon-Lime.

I'll be keeping close tabs on how I feel and what I eat to make sure I'm getting enough of the right nutrients, but I'm confident in my decision. Hopefully it will yield the results on the ski course that I am looking for!