Friday, April 10, 2015

Khanty in photos...

I made it to Khanty! 

... and there is an important race tomorrow but it might resemble Alyeska's slush cup a bit... 

It's called the "Ugra Ski Marathon"

 And it's not really freezing at night....... It could be a shin-deep slush 50k suffer fest out there tomorrow. Unfortunately there is no salt in sight. 

 On the way here you could buy Putin Paraphernalia in a vending machine if you wish.... 

After 18 hours of travel! Yikes! 

 That's for me! 

 Russian biathlete ladies, complete with gun iphone case.... 

 Kilometer 20 earlier in the week, before the rain started

 Building a stadium in the middle of..... ???

More building 

 Lots of high level Russians will be in attendance including men's Sochi 50k Alexander Legov... 

 The accoms.... 
 Borscht for lunch! 

 Boots with the fur 

 The first few days of the trip were pretty quiet. Luckily I made some new friends from the Mongolian Paralympic team! 

With Batmunkh (pronounced "com-bolt")  We trained together for the whole ski Thursday!

And then we had a gift exchange. I am bringing how the beautiful painting that I am holding and I traded some athlete cards and Alaska smoked salmon (not pictures but they DID receive it) 

 Two strong legs, one strong arm & a great spirit! 

 New Carbons! (Thanks Salomon!)

 It's quite barren and flat around these parts.... 

And here is what we found in the city..... 

 The Internets decent so I can't complain! 

 Apparently the race will be televised in Russia although I haven't been able to nail down any of the details. 

Phones with translation apps come in handy for on the go communication! 

When jogging, watch out for uncovered man-holes. Reminds me of somewhere else I've been (Sochi!)

Last ones a "fast" one? 50 k's to go and then three days of traveling home and I will be done! 
Check back for a race report to see what happened..... 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Raclette to Rhubarb Pie to Siberia....

It’s “travel Monday” and I’m enroute to the last ski race of the year. Here’s what's on tap for the day:


4:30am wake up
4:45am “hike” to the tram
Tram to the airport
Fly Zurich to Berlin
Fly Berlin to Moscow
Fly Moscow to Khanty-Mansiysk
Shuttle to hotel, arrive 1:45am, Tuesday.... I hope! 

Last week I was in Chamonix, France. Sounds awesome, right? I’m guessing it conjures up ideas and pictures of sunshine and powder skiing in your mind. But… it wasn’t quite like that. Instead Chamonix was grey, rainy, and had no snow for Nordic Skiing. Thus, I spent much of the week horizontal, in bed resting up for my solo adventure to Siberia. I went on slow jogs, ate Raclette with my host family, and wandered through French artisan shops filled with stinky cheese, lumpy sausages, beautifully colored macaroons, and endless tourist trinkets. The weather wasn’t even good enough to make the 55 Euro trip up the Aiguille du Midi cable car for the famous view of the French Alps and Mount Blanc so perhaps I’ll have to return someday for Chamonix to redeem itself.
Highlights of the week included:

1)   A morning at the Salomon factory in Annecy, France where I picked up a new pair of “carbons for Khanty!”

Alex (Charly) Haas, Malone, Me & Frise

2)   Getting to know Anouk Faivre Picon better. I met Anouk a few years back on the World Cup. She’s on the French National team and has always been friendly.  For a few years now she’s been offering a place to stay and I finally took her up on it. Chamonix is actually not her home but rather her boyfriend, Mathias Wibaults parents place. (This year Mathias has been racing FIS Marathon Cup, just like me & will also be in Khanty).  I am very grateful that Anouk and her family let me stay with them as it was a really busy time. Anouk just finished her season and was in the process of buying an apartment & new car, training to pass a test to become an alpine ski instructor, and planning a surprise 30th birthday party for Mathias. One night we shared pictures from our respective lives and she showed me photos from all her tropical spring trips – after the 30th beach shot I had to ask her to stop J ….. that just sounds too good right now!

Anouk preparing Raclette

3)   Spending time with Lionel Wibault. Interestingly enough, Lionel was actually a technician for the US Ski Team Alpine team in the 1970’s!  Lionel is also a 30-year mountain guide for Chamonix Guiding Company and an accomplished painter. Lionel empathized with my “road & travel fatigue” and his words of encouragement were just what I needed. 

Lionel in his studio. I love the fact that he has a relief map in his studio. A true mountain man at heart! 

 The front door to the studio

 The lovely Wibault residence. Thank you so much to the entire family for their hospitality! 

Lionel's painting of Mathias racing

Lionel's books of his expeditions. Each line of each book (double sided) lists a trip that Lionel has either gone on or led. Talk about experience! 

A rainbow of Macaroons

Country hopping..... France to Switzerland
 Raclette with the family: Lionel, Hannalore & Anouk 

 Hot Cheese. Per tradition it's then spread on potatoes, meat, and pickles. Ala French cuisine! 

Taking the train on Easter from Geneva to Zurich.... 

Arriving at Chelsea's house (AKA storage locker!) just in time to help with Easter dinner. If I haven't said so before, Chelsea's help this winter has been crucial to the success of this endeavor. I literally and physically cannot carry all my belongings. So, this winter Chelsea's Zurich apartment has provided me with a "ground zero."  Between every trip I return to her place to do laundry and re-pack. She lets me crash on her couch and always provides some high quality English conversation. Without her help this wouldn't be possible so - Thanks Chelsea! 

Empty wine bottle as a rolling pin - why not? 

Easter Rhubarb Pie

This is what I'm traveling so far to chase (the Overall FIS Marathon Crystal Globe in the center.) My race is this upcoming Saturday, April 11th.  If you want to learn more about the Ugra Ski Marathon check out there website HERE.  Assuming I have Internet in Khanty I'll post a mid-week report. 

And - a Fasterskier article about going to Khanty: 

Last but certainly not least I am counting the days until I can see my boys!  After four months on the road I'm really ready to go home. Hold on Rob & Buggz, I'm one step closer each day! 

PS. If you're looking for a fun read check out my friend Gretchen Wieman's blog, "Gretchen Loves Anchorage."  Here you can find a post of her recent Ted X talk that she gave in Anchorage titled, "Dream it. Do it."  I was honored to be one of the many "dreamer-doers" that she interviewed for her talk. She found some good stuff :) 

Wish me luck on my travels to Russia! 
(with crossed fingers)