"NAWTA".... yep, you read it, "North American Women's Training Alliance!!!!" We recently finished our two week camp here in AK and it was awesome. My previous post chronicled some of our dryland activities and the second week we took our non-Alaskan friends to "Eagle," our glacier training facility just outside of Girdwood. I can't tell you how cool it is to have a world class facility less than an hour away from where we live - at our disposal! It was great to get to share it with other girls from around the country - not forgetting Canada too. They seemed to think it was a special place as well :)
We love our friends at Alpine Air!
The skiing last week couldn't have been much better. First of all, the weather cooperated. If you know anything about glacial weather systems or Eagle in particular - we hit the jackpot. I didn't have a single ski where it felt like I was continuously getting shot in the face with a pellet gun. The coaches didn't have to spend 5 hours in the middle of the night fixing the Pisten Bully (Groomer) ...why? Because after years and years of fundraising we got a new one! And finally, the last thing that made this camp unique is that there were no boys to complain about the plethora of vegetables or immense amounts of salad we made at meal times! Because, with the exception of the coaches, this was an all-girl's camp!
I could write about the training detail of the camp but I what I think is more notable is the "NAWTA" Alliance aspect of the camp. This camp represented all the top girls in North America coming together for one, okay, maybe TWO causes. To work on skiing faster and to have a GOOD time. We had girls from many different teams..... we are certainly friends but when the gun goes off, we are also fierce competitors - both with each other but more importantly, with the rest of the world. The unifying factor in the girls that attended this camp is that we all have one thing in common - to improve our results on the International circuit. Yes, it's true that in the past, the World Cup has been dominated by Europeans, particularly Scandinavians. They enjoy the luxury of living in a society that embraces our sport; they are the NFL players of Sweden or Norway. The girls over there have role models with Olympic Gold Medals around their necks, strong teams, and even stronger infrastructure to be a cross country (ski) athlete. An example of this is a story that Kikkan told about her recent trip to Sweden to train with Anna Haag.......apparently many of the restaurants in their town "Sponsor" the athletes such that after long training sessions, athletes can simply stop at a restaurant and eat/re-fuel, free of charge!
Anyways, the cool part about this camp and this group of ladies is that (I think) we all realize that we need to come together, and work together if we're going to be able to compete against the European girls. They have a geographic advantage - they enjoy short travel to races, going home on weekends or when they're sick. Racing each other throughout the summer and fall. Meanwhile, we're thousands of miles away in North America.
The first night's cook crew - check out Liz (on the left!)
Bringing a group of girls like this together does many things - first, it gives you a zap of energy and inspiration. It's great to compare roller ski blisters or commiserate about missing another concert with your friends or family reunion. We also have the opportunity to ski with each other, a lot. As Erik, my coach says, "steal some of their secrets and share some of yours." If someone else is really good at something that you need to improve, go ski 20k behind them and see what you can pick up. Then, let someone else follow you and do the same. In order to get better, we have to do this. We have to get better together, boosting each other to new heights. There are tons of other benefits... for example, getting to spend some quality time together in a low-stress environment. None of us are racing against each other tomorrow for the last spot on the Olympic team so we can do things like make cookies together or in some cases, watch a Justin Bieber movie..... (I choose ski work during this bonding opportunity)
Kikkan breaking in the new grill
Days and weeks on the road can get long and lonely and the ability to enjoy and relate to those you're traveling with is crucial. While these girls won't replace my husband or my mom or dad, after this two week period together they'll be better "Stand-Ins" than ever before!
I can't say enough good things about this experience so I think I'll just let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Enjoy!
Me and Diggins, making cookies... loads and loads of cookies...
Core/planks, etc - even on the glacier...
We rewarded Mikey for all his hard work and help with a big smiley-face cookie! Mike Rocks!
Turns out Jessie was using the cookie as a bribe for her first snow machine ride - ever. For the ride she got to use one of the coach's sweet onesies.
Need I say more?
The Rhyneer Clinic, my AWESOME sponsor. Check Dr. Rhyneer out for Orthopedic needs in Anchorage - He is "old school" in his approach to personalized attention and "new school" with techniques and procedures.
Crucial glacier equipment - the drying room
The facility is literally on the edge of the cliff, literally. One morning we actually experienced a 5. something earthquake. Funny enough, many of the Alaskans slept through it!
Me with Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist (2006, Torino) Chandra Crawford. Also, the brains and spirit behind Fast and Female!
Our best Lady GAGA or Michael Jackson Thriller pose... Fitz, Chandra, me & Kikkan with the White Out Glacier in the background
Skiing in shorts and a t-shirt - not a bad day!
Finally! Our new PB!!!! After years of fundraising and thanks to many generous gifts from the community we were able make this happen. Good thing our coaches are all around useful dudes.... to get the PB up to the glacier they took it apart, it was flown in via 6 (?) helicopter loads, then they put it back together. These guys have skills way beyond applying extra blue....
Mikey approves of the new PB
And so do we! (Holly, Kikkan & Kinsey)
The new PB makes awesome tracks. On Skate days the snow was as firm as it could be and we could skate two abreast. On classic interval day we had three tracks side by side! Thanks to Casey for his hard work and long nights driving the machine!
The facility from above.
Liz being contemplative...
Okay, this picture takes some explaining.... but here we are on one afternoon watching footage from World Champs in Oslo, Norway this past February. Almost the entire World Champs team was sitting in this room... we were sharing notes. For the first week of World Champs it was so foggy that there was literally 10-50 feet of visibility for the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP races. If you look at the windows, we were experiencing the exact same conditions on Eagle that very day! As Erik likes to say, Eagle Glacier provides us with all the conditions that we've recently found at World Champs and the Olympics: Raining, foggy, slushy - and sometimes bluebird.
The Alpine Air helicopter brings a re-supply of food for the "boy's camp" that started the night we left..... can you see the bacon?
Mikey and Casey detach the sling-load from the helicopter. Costco is our best friend!
We spent quite some times trying to get all the freezer and refrigerator good squeezed into storage. It's amazing how much FUEL a group of hard working athletes can go through when we're skiing 4-5 hours a day, everyday.
Here I am on the last day, the last ski with my NUUN bottle. These guys make some great sugar-free electrolyte fizzy drink mix. Check it out HERE. It's amazing how hydrated you have to be for optimal performance, even when you're surrounded by snow...
The Boss :)
Fitz and Becca excited about our new stationary bike! It's sweet to have an alternative exercise option up there. Your legs can get pretty stiff from the repetitive motion of only skiing - plus, if you're sick or if the weather is blowing 60 MPH, the stationary bike is a great option. Thanks so much to the ALASKA CLUB and Robert Brewster for this generous donation! We are eternally grateful!
On the last day of camp some folks opt to fly down while others opt to hike (Me, Jessie & Sophie)
Casey, Becca & Fitz hiking through the ferns, Fireweed, and Salmon Berries towards the end of the hike
And finally, here we are taking an "ice bath" trying to reduce the soreness from the 5,000 foot decent back into civilization!
This week is active recovery and I'm taking the opportunity to mix it up with training - some mountain runs, time on my bike, and maybe some yoga. We'll be back up on the glacier for August camp before we know it! Thanks for reading and have an AWESOME day!