Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sjujsoen World Cup Opener - in Pictures!

The first stop on the World Cup is over and this makes one week that I've been in Europe. Here are some pictures from the weekend: 

Walking into the venue the first day we weren't quite sure what to expect... 

 But Marit does... basically tons & tons of press and attention - check out the Norwegian ski  paparazzi   - simply on a training day!  What is super impressive is that yesterday was Marit's 47th World Cup win where she finally surpassed the "king" of Cross Country Skiing, for the most World Cup wins by any athlete (I believe....) 

Tad Elliot, my Salomon Complete buddy.... 

 Every morning and night the ground here in Lillehammer has been completely COVERED in ice making it really difficult to run, even treacherous.  I'm hoping to get a pair of Salomon's new "Spike Cross" running shoes that have spikes drilled into the soles. It's literally the only way to run over here right now! They look sweet too: 

Salomon Spike Cross

The bottom of the shoe

 Canada's van for the season with the famous picture from World Champs - these guys have gotten a ton of mileage out of this picture, rightly so. 

Two of the three nights at the hotel we've been served "Christmas Dinner" in an ornate buffet.  As far as we can tell, the World Cup coincided with some super fancy function. The result, we got to "experience" the buffet too.  And, an experience it was.... I've never seen anything like it. The food really seemed like art, rather than edible, nutritious food.  Check out some of the crazy pictures below.... I think there must have been close to 50 different kinds of meat when you include all the seafood, sausages and even lutefisk - basically rotten fish.... 

 The Norwegian wedding cake rocked my world as two years ago, Rob and I had one at our wedding made by our good friend Ase Haugen:

Back to the "God Jul"...... 

Sadie and Ida with the crustaceans.... 

 Saturday night was Graham Nish's Birthday - Happy Birthday Graham! 

And now.... it's relay day! 
USA face painting, pre-race
 Here I am rounding the final corner anchoring the women's relay.  The other teams are Italy, Russia, Germany & Poland.  Out of this five I won a photo finish for second place! Good sprint action and a great result for our team! (photo courtesy of Kikkan!) 

The women's team: Ida, myself, Kikkan, Sadie & Liz
(photo from Kikkan)

 The men's start

 Ski race, typical Norwegian style: "Hey, do you want to go sit on the frozen ground, light a fire, drink bad black coffee and watch people ski circles in spandex?" (The answer - YES!) 

 Casey and Sadie spectating.... 

 Bird followed closely by the Russians


 The men's lead pack, leg 3

 APU Girls: Holly, Kikkan & Sadie 

 Tad Elliot (center of the picture) skiing at great leg 3 for the US men's team 

 Kris Freeman, Andy Newell & Tad Elliot while waiting for men's anchor, Simi Hamilton

 The whole men's team 

Last but not least, an anonymous plate that was filled with food for no less than one minute - before being inhaled with not one, but TWO forks. It was impressive. 

One more day training here in Lillehammer and then the journey to Kuusamo, Finland for the Ruka triple! I can't wait! 

Thanks for reading!!!! More soon! 
Holly :) 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bye bye Torsby Tunnel!

Three days in Torsby and two training sessions on the 1.3k loop in the tunnel proved to be just about perfect.  While the tunnel is a huge asset at the disposal of the athletes that use it (particularly in the summer) I prefer skiing on natural snow!  It is however, easy to see why so many skiers from this area have had International success.  The ski tunnel which is open year round is also connected to paved roller ski loops, winter race trails, complete with a large spider web of single track, dorm rooms, and a cafeteria.  In essence, you can snow ski, roller ski, run, lift, eat and sleep just a couple of steps away..... 

In just a couple of minutes we're going to load our gear and head to Sjujsoen where the 2k loop is rumored to grow to 3.75k in time for this weekend's World Cup opener.  It's been really nice to have some piece and quiet in Torsby before diving head first into the chaos.  Coming over one week later than originally planned I was worried whether I'd have enough time to adjust to the time change.  My second night here in Sweden was a bit rough (I wrote a 7-page paper in the middle of the night) but overall, the transition has been smooth. 

I'm excited to drive to Sjujsoen, stoked to race and ready for the adventure which is the next five weeks! Bring it! 

 My last, nostalgic 20oz Pumpkin Spice Latte I treated myself to in Seattle.... I knew it would be a while before my next opportunity - and if it did arise, it would probably cost $15! 

 Sadie and I took a roller ski tour of Torsby for our "break-in" workout... this included a bike path through the local cemetary. 

 In Sweden they are serious about their marathons. In fact, Sandra Hansson and Daniel Tyndal (sp?) recent Vasa Champs are both here training in the tunnel too! 

 For a 1.3k loop the tunnel actually has some good terrain with two relatively large hills.  The "snow" here is wild. It feels like true styrofoam and when there is lots of traffic, like quick sand. Apparently the "snow" is changed 1x per year so in real life it has a nice yellowish tinge to it.  I can't help but wonder what percentage of the surface is comprised of snot-rockets! 

 Sadie and I in our Fast and Female bandit-buffs! 

  Yesterday there was almost enough frost to ski! 

That's it for now! Thanks for reading and check back soon! 
Holly :) 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lack of Snow, Tons of Snow & Sjujsoen!

We just got word that the World Cup races scheduled for next weekend in Norway are on!  The only caveat.... there is currently bare ground at the chosen venue, Sjujsoen!  But, leave it up to the Norwegians to pull off a ski race in sub-par conditions!  This morning over a cup of coffee Rob likened it to the US cancelling the Super Bowl.  While the first World Cups of the season aren't a championship event, maybe this is better compared to a regular season NFL game.... 

The cool thing is that I am familiar with Sjujsoen.  Last season a bunch of us chose Sjujsoen to conduct our pre-World Champs training camp.  Sjujsoen is a small ski resort located right outside (above) Lillehammer.  When we were there they had AWESOME skiing and great trails.  The groomers groomed constantly so there were always fresh tracks.  The Norwegian Birkebeiner course also goes through this area.  

I am certain that this trip to Sjujsoen will be a bit different. We were just instructed in an email from Chris Grover, the US Ski Team Coach to organize bringing roller skis for training.  Apparently the snow situation in Kuusamo, Finland, the next stop on the World Cup is bare at the moment as well. 

As difficult as it is to leave Alaska where there is plenty of snow and the conditions are quite literally PERFECT I'm excited to go.  I certainly don't train my butt off year round to stay at home and train!  If only the World Cup could come to Alaska!  

More soon - we have a classic sprint time trial ON SNOW this morning! 
Holly :) 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

APU Program Wide Update....

People often ask: What is APU? How does it work? You're a University team that isn't NCAA - What does that mean?  These are all good questions and yes, the format (if you will) of APU can tend to be confusing to people looking in on us from the outside.  However, here it is in a nutshell: We are community ski club based within a University such that skiers of collegiate age can attend school (undergrad or graduate) while pursuing ski racing at a high level.  Our community program is then built both below and above the University-based team in age.  We have APU skiers as young as 11 and as "senior" (!) as their mid-eighties!  In all, our total program membership involves over 200+ people directly on a regular basis.  It's RAD.

 My sunrise ski at Glen Alps yesterday morning

Here we are, a small club in Anchorage, AK that has duel goals of winning Olympic medals and teaching 11 year old how to huck jumps! Or, making it possible for University students to attend online classes while at training camp on Eagle Glacier and teaching a mother of four to V2 alternate. 

Erik Flora, the APU elite team head coach and APUNSC Director wrote a great update to our programs at 3am this morning - I thought it was worth sharing.  It explains what each group has been up to the past couple of weeks!

APU Program Members

Winter is off to a great start! We have already had groups skiing at Glenn Alps, Hillside, Hatcher Pass, and Russian Jack. Glenn Alps and Hatcher Pass have mid-winter conditions. With snow in the air, it is a good time for program update. Of course there are 100 more items, here are a few.

Junior Program has had a strong off-season of training. We have had full programs with lots of new faces and athletes reaching a new level of fitness. Part of the group participated in last weeks camp in Fairbanks. Next up is an early season snow camp in Hatcher Pass where they will focus on volume and technique (plus a whole lot of fun!). High School skiing started this week. Impressive as two junior team members were named to US National Training Groups Tarynn Hunt-Smith and Thomas O'Harra.

Devo's have been ripping up with coach Charlie, Erin, and Dylan. This group keeps on getting faster and faster. It is amazing to watch this group as they continue to have fun and explore the joys of ski training. Keep an eye out, if you see a group of unusually fast moving-jumping-excited kids blasting through the woods and across the trails. It is a good chance it is the Devo's!

Master Programs are in full-swing with Noon, Evening, and One-day Women Groups. Winter session has started off well with mix of dry-land and skiing at Hatcher Pass. The move to 2 and 5 day options has been a great way to get more people involved and enjoying ski training. We are excited to add a coach to the Master Programs this winter. Calisa Schouweiler is going to join Dylan and Sam for Evening Masters, Noon Master, and Women's One-day. Calisa has a strong background in coaching. She will start in mid-November. More to follow.

The Elite team is getting ready to travel. We have had a good summer with most athletes setting record amounts of training and new PR's on interval courses. APU members Kikkan Randall, Holly Brooks, Sadie Bjornsen, and Lars Flora are heading to Norway next week to compete on World Cup. The rest of the team will focus on early winter domestic race series starting in Fairbanks, racing West Yellowstone, Bozeman, SilverStar BC, ending at Kincaid at Besh cup 1 and 2. After Christmas we are competing in Maine at the US Nationals, World cups, Alaska Races, and World Junior and U23 World Championships in Turkey. APU added more athletes to US Ski Team programs: Kikkan, Sadie, Erik Bjornsen, Kinsey Loan, and Celia Haering. Plus Men and Women current Super Tour Leaders Lars and Holly. The Elite team was on tonight's 10 o'clock news, click here<> to watch. Best community outreach ye
 ar to date with athletes really busy hosting Fast and Female events, helping at kids events, and working at junior camps.

Coaches have stepped up community support of nordic programs. Two of our coaches, Dylan Watts and Sam Sterling, are going to help with local high school programs. Dylan at West HS and Sam at East HS. Eric Strabel at Regional Elite Group camp at Hatcher Pass. Eric and Charlie will coach at Junior Nationals. Casey Fagerquist stepping up this fall to help World Cup waxing during fall schedule. Erik Flora coached 3 US ski team camps and First Tracks High School camp in Fairbanks. Plus we hosted a new Alaska "open" Junior Glacier Camp. This is a good year for coaches to extend their experience to help strengthen Alaska and US skiing.

Good for our programs, Anchorage skiing is really good for early season right now. Glenn Alps and Hatcher Pass are race ski ready with good coverage. Russian Jack and Hilltop are skiable, but quite a few rocks/grass. The NSAA did a great job rolling Hilltop today. Let's help Nordic Ski Club of Anchorage set record sales of trail pins. The more support they get, the better grooming we will see! click here<> to join.

This is a great club to be a part of. I look forward to seeing everyone on the trails!


Erik Flora
APU Nordic Ski Center

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Down with the Monster!

Monster Blog Posts that is..... I'll admit: I have been procrastinating with my posting because I have a nasty habit of being all-inclusive with my posts. I won't write unless I have time to do a really, really good job and honestly, I'm crazy busy and those ultra productive long time windows don't present themselves very often.  So, my goal is to make smaller posts more often - let's see if I can do it? 

Hatcher's Pass, AK (this season!)
In theory I'll have more time for blogging & tweeting in just a few days.  My initial plane ticket departs from Anchorage late Saturday night and I'm scheduled to arrive in Oslo, Norway shortly thereafter.  However, the word on the street is that Beitostolen and really, all of Europe are suffering from lack of snow.  The entire US team is scheduled to compete in FIS opening races November 11-13 but they are threatening cancellation due to lack of snow.  Apparently just about every skier in Europe has flocked to Munio, Finland where organizers managed to save 3k's worth of snow from last year (!) to roll out for training.  No offense to Munio, Finland, or the entire continent of Europe but I'm happy to be in Alaska rather than battling it out on a small gerbil loop with everyone else and their mom! 

Enough about that though - here are some pictures from the lack couple of weeks....  in reverse chronological order, ENJOY!

 Our neighborhood get OVER RUN with kids on Halloween - plus we had a sweet snow storm.  Here I am with Ariana, my neighbor who dressed up as ME for Halloween. (I was super touched!)  Oh, and our snow/pumpkin man was a popular part of the night as well.  Lots of trick-or-treaters got their pics taken with him! 
 We (as in a big part of the APU crew) spent the last couple of days up in Fairbanks getting some quality time on-snow and helping out with the first annual "First Tracks" state-wide high school ski camp.  Approximately 65 kids from around the state received coaching from our coach, Erik Flora, and got to chase the APU elite team around Birch Hill for four hours per day.  There were some tired pups at the end of this camp, including me!  I was really impressed by the level of fitness that many of the skiers in the group had - plus, everyone had a fantastic attitude! 

As if the First Tracks camp wasn't enough busyness we capped off the long weekend with the first ever Fast and Female Fairbanks. Big props to Becca Rorabaugh for making it happen in her home town. It was a blast!
 Erica led an awesome yoga session 

 Erik Flora giving technique pointers early in the am, Birch Hill/Fairbanks

 Me and Ana, my team sprint partner!  Ana's fitness and toughness was especially impressive.  Last Saturday she skied with Kikkan, Becca, and myself for hour 4 on the day - after our team sprint relay.  We weren't skiing slow and this first year J2 hung with us for the last hour of the day!  Watch out for her in the races this year girls! 

Hanging with some of the APU junior girls :) 
Tired junior girls putting their feet up after a hard day's training:
On top of high quality skiing and coaching this camp was top-notch in the fun factor as well.  Friday night featured a Halloween dance complete with DJs and an official photographer.  The APU junior girls went all-out 80's for the event!  A big shout out to Mike Hajdukovich and his organization, Challenge Life for doing a KILLER job in organizing the camp! (Check out his awesome website to learn about the cool basketball camps he hosts in remote Alaskan villages and towns).

 I had to add some pictures of the APU junior boys who have also been rocking it at training. These boys made L5 bounding look easy the other day!

 So fast the camera can hardly capture it! 

 Here's a token shot of my Halloween costume.  I wore it for a running race last week and for the entire three hour OD in Fairbanks on Sunday! 

 Last week we also had an APU/AMH night were athletes and coaches help our juniors and masters hand-pick new set ups for the upcoming season.  Here I am with the Albo sisters and Salomon Complete packages!  SWEET! 


There is a saying that is repeated often on our team: "If you want to be a swimmer, swim.  If you want to be a skier, ski!"  Well, that is exactly what we have been doing!  Even though it's only the second day of November my timing has been on step this year as skiing at Hatchers was ready the day after I returned from Park City and skiing here in town at Glen Alps just got good - the day after returning from Fairbanks.  So far this fall alone I've logged 25 quality hours on snow. Add that the 75 hours of glacier skiing I did this summer and I've been SKIING!

Here are a couple shots of Hatcher's Pass, an incredibly dependable early season ski spot for South Central, AK. (Special thanks to the Strabel family for doing a KILLER job with the grooming up there too!)

 Lovin the skis! 

 Erik and Reese - not sure what's going on here? 

 The team skiing in tracks, on Swix extra blue! 

 My friend Linda has a beautiful garden and she hooked me up with these brussel sprouts (my favorite veggie!) that she grew!

On the way home from the Park City altitude camp I had a quick layover in Seattle to see my family.  Here I am with my dad, Farmor (grandmother in Swedish) cousin Zahra & my mom.  In our family we had four separate trips to the airport in one day.... a bunch of jet-setters! 

Last but not least, I have to include some pictures from a weekend trip I took at the end of the altitude camp to Bryce Canyon, Utah.  When I made arrangements to attend the PC camp I knew I would be tired and ready for a change of pace at the end of a solid two week block. This summer my training has been incredibly ski-focused and I knew that I could benefit from spending a day in the red rocks with some good girlfriends!

The spectacular Bryce Canyon with the moon overhead! 

That's a wrap for now.... I certainly didn't succeed in killing the monster - (the post ended up huge as always!) but I'll post again in the next couple days.  In the meantime, cross your fingers for snow in Norway & thanks for reading! 

Holly :)