Sunday, July 7, 2019

Regional Elite Group camp

Every year, NENSA hosts a Regional Elite Group (REG) camp, which is by invitation to skiers from New England and NY. The camp was held in Lake Placid this year, and Kathy and Alex were the CSU coaches there. Big group of CSU athletes: Madeline, Shea, Laura, Evie, Sofia, Alex, and Henry. In total, there were 21 REG boys, 21 REG girls, and 7 each of U16 boys and girls who had been invited for a slightly shorter duration camp. The other coaches were Matt Whitcomb, Justin Beckwith, Dorcas DenHartog, Colin Rodgers, Anna Schulz, and Jason Hettenbaugh, with Shane McDowel and Adam Terko coming for some of the workouts.

One thing I noticed about this camp was that our seven athletes who attended were right in the mix. It's not like we were some flatlanders off the back, our skiers were training and competing right there with some of the best skiers in the country. What's really cool about this is that at practice, it's not like those 7 athletes are way faster than anyone else - on any given day, every single athlete who was invited to REG camp will be beaten in an interval by one of their CSU teammates. This just goes to show the power of training with such a strong team, because by working together, the entire team has gotten faster. So, it may only be 7 athletes who were invited to that camp, but those of you who are training and racing with the kids who got "the tap" need to know that you are just as fast as some of the best skiers in the country. This is really cool, and is ultimately the whole point of gathering together skiers from different clubs.

The week started out nice and mellow, with a preview of the uphill run course on Whiteface Mountain. Luckily, the TT doesn't go all the way to the top. We did some hillbounding and ski walking technique, and a couple intervals to wake up the systems before tomorrow's race.

The next day was pretty rainy, but that made it nice for running uphill. That is one tough TT course, and of course both Kathy and Alex ran up it to see what it felt like (spoiler: not actually all that much fun in the moment). Really impressive display of guts and effort out there, with all the skiers laying it on the line. Results: Special shout-out to Shea for being our fastest woman up the hill, battling it out for third place.

That afternoon, the camp did an uphill double pole time trial at the Jumps complex, starting at the bottom and traveling only 800 meters, but also many many meters up. Boy did that look hard. Again, lots of class A efforts, and as a group, the coaches were really impressed with the level that New England juniors are skiing. We had the visiting superstars of Ben Ogden and Sophie Caldwell do the test with us, which was pretty cool to have a benchmark to compare your time to. Madeline showed how hard work can make you fast, ending up as the second junior and third overall (Sophie won) for the women. Alex B had a pretty solid attack of the hill as well, admitting that it was a little harder than Annursnac.

The next day we did a loooong hike, with the boys going over 4.5 hours. We had great weather, and everybody made it back in time for lunch. That afternoon we did some skate technique, and I can say that as a coach, it was great to work with a different group of coaches and pick up some new tips. Hopefully the athletes found this as interesting as the coaches did!
The girls' group on the hike

The next day we did the famed agility course, that included the NENSA rollerski ramps. These were super fun to play on, and the athletes all got a reasonably long time to warm up on the course before they started racing it for time. Again, some really impressive agility and ski skill being demonstrated! Alex and Henry proved that when you train together, you race together, and were separated by only 1.1 seconds. Laura led our women, for third overall, with Madeline just half a second behind her.

Agility podium 

Sofia navigating the agility course

Part of the agility course. I know agility looks like all fun and games, but some of it is safety. If you're rollerskiing and there is something in the road, you need to know how to jump over it. 

Matt Whitcomb with the full attention of the boys

Double pole time trial podium

Boys' group at the top of the hillclimb (only part way up Whiteface - that's a big mountain!)

U16 agility:

REG women:

REG men:

The U16s went home at this point, and the REG athletes had a few more workouts. First was a really great strength workout on Thursday afternoon, and then a nice distance classic roll on Friday morning.

Quite a great week of training, and great vibes all around.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Eva and Linden Go to Biathlon Camp

BANG BANG! This past week in tandem with the CSU contingent at REG camp, the first appearance of the CSU Biathletes happened just across the lake at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center! Eva Baumann, Linden Niedeck and EMBK-er Gil Cavalieros joined seven other biathletes from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to train with Algis Shalna, the National Eastern Regional Biathlon Coach. It was a packed-to-the-gills week with some electrifying experiences ;) .
 After arriving on sunday, dinner, and introductions we started with the most basic but important of drills: dryfire. Eva and Linden both started to get the feel of the rifle and prepare for the week to come. The next day was their first day at the range and IT WAS HOT! A cloudless day at the shooting range with no trees is a great opportunity to work on your tan (or get sunburned). After lunch, a quick hill bounding workout got the blood pumping and gave us the opportunity to work on our marching songs (A.K.A. Da Moose, Da Moose).
The next day also started at the range and was followed by a nice relaxed roller ski focusing on balance. A quick game of volleyball brought out some competition in Linden and Eva and continued into a game of knockout at the basketball court. 
Wednesday brought some action that was very shocking. After shooting at the range we headed out for our hike up Cascade mountain. It was supposed to be a nice day but the weather quickly turned for the worse and thunderstorms came rolling in. Out of caution we stayed below treeline. All of a sudden there was a bright flash and a loud bang as a bolt of lighting struck a rock less than a foot away from Eva and a group of 5 others. Sparks flew off the rock hitting 3 people directly in the feet and causing weird sensations of heat in the feet. After everyone got over the initial shock and assessed the situation everyone was able to slowly make their way down the mountain. After a delicious meal at the OTC and changing into dry warm clothes most of the symptoms from the lighting strike subsided and everyone continued on with their evenings. 
Thursday morning we got to sleep in until 8 which was quite nice. We had a nice shooting and strength circuit combo which was our first time shooting with a heart rate. Before we went to town, Clare Egen sat down with us to share her experience as a Biathlete. A quick bus ride later (with some Rammstein) and we were enjoying some tasty ice cream as we watched the magnificent sunset over Mirror Lake. We also ran into Alex, Henry, Laura, and Madeline in town which was a nice surprise.
Early the next day, Linden, Eva, and another skier got to ski at the base of the jumps for their morning workout; it was short but nice to be skiing before the morning dew had dried up. A quick swim in Mirror lake was a refreshing way to cool off.  Another hot one at the range was tied up with some ultimate frisbee where Eva and Linden went hard definitely breaking into L5! After fueling up with a delicious dinner, we all got our hands dirty with some Rifle Cleaning 101 and some video from our morning combos. Then, as the crickets began to chirp we hit the hay to get some well deserved shut eye before our final activity at camp: THE RACE!!
Saturday morning brought the threat of another thunderstorm, but nevertheless we persisted. After some dryfire, zero-ing, and warmup, the race was on! Starting with 1km loop then a round of offhand targets in prone followed by penalty and another 1 km loop, then prone targets in prone, finishing with a final 1 km loop! What a time!  Eva and Linden both shot well and got to feel how pacing was different in Biathlon but just as exhilarating. 
All in all, the week was one to remember! Eva and Linden both came away feeling excited, improved, and just generally good about their time at the OTC. They hope to visit it again soon, especially if it's on snow!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Western Mass Adventure Weekend

A handful of intrepid CSU athletes and coaches (possibly more coaches than athletes, but who is counting?) made the trip to Western Massachusetts for our first adventure weekend of the summer. Since there was a bike race using our usual rollerski route, we gathered at Jiminy Peak to meet up with some of our friends on the Greylock and Mohawk teams, that we know through EHS and U16s on Team Massachusetts. Our roll took us through some lovely countryside on rolling roads, into NY state, and past an intriguing tag sale. We had a moment of excitement when there was a rollerskier-bike collision, but luckily everybody was ok, with the exception of Owen's bicycle, which has now been shortened.

Owen before the bike was shortened

We had a nice crew, with David, Linden, and Alex from CSU, and Jakin, Corbin, Corban, Erika, Adam, and Justin from Berkshire Nordic, plus three younger kids who skied with their coach Jacob. Beautiful weather and beautiful roads!

After the roll, we headed to Williamstown, first for a *very* cold dip in Hemlock Brook, and then for some ice cream. Victor didn't seem phased by the cold water, so clearly they grow them tougher in Russia. After relaxing over the ice cream, we strolled up Pine Cobble, for the view, and then ate dinner at the slowest mexican restaurant I've ever been to. Good thing nobody was hungry.

CSU past, present, and future

The group who made it up Pine Cobble. David and Natalie joined us for the hike on Sunday, but not the hike Saturday.

By the time we got to Notchview, it was late, and we all went straight to bed. Morning dawned with a constant rain. Half the group, led by Tod, headed to the western side of Greylock for a looooong hike, and the other half headed to the eastern side of Greylock, for the mountain race.

Owen did the 5k race, and ended up in third overall! The guys that beat him were both 14, and he's 11 (turning 12 on Monday, happy birthday Owen!), so that was pretty impressive. In the longer race, Alex B, Heiner, Ari, and Alex all braved a very wet and very hilly mix of Type I and Type II fun. There were no tears, and a good time was had by all. Jacob (Berkshire coach) won the overall race, and Alex J won the women's race, with Jakin taking the junior title, and Heiner winning his age class as well. We ended up skipping the ice cream in Adams, because we were all too cold and wet, but Ari and Alex J managed to find ice cream in NoHo, because you can't have a mountain race if you don't follow it with ice cream.

The next adventure weekend will be August 2-3, in Vermont. Don't miss it!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

CSU and CSU Alumni Attack Mt. Washington

Perhaps someone will write up their Mt. Washington experience for the blog, but here are a few photos.  I missed people because almost no one was in CSU colors, so I apologize for that.  It was a very blustery day on top, but not nearly as dire as the predictions.  Lots of good results with both Gabby and Erik Vandendreis 1st in their age groups, Hannah and Madeline 2nd and 3rd in theirs,  Eliszabeth Anderson 3rd in hers, Tyler 3rd in his, Donna 4th behind CSUers Suzy West in 1st and Jackie Shakar 3rd in the women's 55 - 59 for a dominating CSU finish, Lisa 2nd in 60-64, Mary Lou Lowrie 4th and Jody Newton 6th in 65-69, and Fred Ross 1st in 70-74.  The women were 3rd open team, 2nd masters team, 1st seniors and 2nd veterans!
Lisa Doucett and Jody Newton

1st place approaching the Cow Pasture

1st place winner

2nd place winner

Heidi Caldwell (Craftsbury) chasing down 1st place for the tie

Tyler Lee

Gabby Vandendreis

Tom West

Donna Smyth

Lisa Doucett

Lisa Doucett

Tyler Lee

Rob Bradlee

Larry Berman

Erik Vandendreis

Fred Ross

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Wachusett uphill run #1

You know that summer training is truly underway once we've done a Wachusett time trial! The purpose of the TT is to get in a hard effort, some vertical feet, and to practice some of your race-day habits. We did a standard warmup, and hopefully everyone was able to do some evaluation on whether that was good for them or they need something different.

We'll be doing this time trial again in late August, so you can see how your times compare. The new course is a good mix of steep hiking and some dirt road running, without being so technical that you're being skill-limited.

Great to have such a large group of athletes and coaches out there on the hill! A huge thank you to Chris Daly, Robert Shycon, and Linda Dell for their assistance with timing.

Sunny, Approximately 75 degrees

Start Point
Carved bench approximately 50 meters due east of Wachusett Base Lodge deck, closest to base of Easy Rider carpet lift, adjacent to Mile Hill Road / Mountain Road.

Follow dirt access road across lower ski slope to Old Indian Trail, then follow Old Indian trail to Summit.
End Point: Touch Observation Tower.
Distance: Approximately 2.0 miles/3.2km. Elevation change: approximately 1000 feet/305 m.

Finish Order

Eli Gallaudet  20:02
Owen Matejka  20:30
Henry Johnstone  20:57
Christiaan Eikeboom  21:12
Sam Gallaudet  23:15
Ari O.  23:18
David Shycon  23:34
Mica Bodkins  23:41
Cat Johnstone  24:20
Sophia Scirica  24:29
Lucas Daly  24:41
Bryce Lublin  25:01
Ella Nichol  25:10
Francesca Kitch  25:21
Isabella Synnestvedt  25:41
Evie Walton  25:47
Barry Kitch  26:08
Ashley Bodkins  26:33
Ellie Sablak  26:48
Laura Appleby  27:39
Emily Appleby  29:58
Abby Stathis  31:16
Alex Jospe  DQ (wouldn't touch the base)

The post-run photo at the top! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Eastern High School Championships (and a brief mention of JNs)

At EHS this year, we had five CSU coaches on the roster, and almost all of the athletes. I was head coach, and Maddy and Peter Nichol were also coaching. Doro and Gunther had been planning to come, but Gunther came down with a stomach bug the night before, so they scratched (rightfully so!). Super thanks to all the coaches (Jeff Campbell, Kiersten and Ryan Touponce, Mark Pollard, and team leader Susannah Wheelright) for managing the extra workload - we managed to get through all the tasks, but missed having the Kerns along! 

CSU sent a big contingent to EHS. I think everyone had at least one race that they can be proud of - look back at the goals you set for yourself last spring, and evaluate your races - did you meet your goals? What did you do well? What did you not do so well? Answering these questions can help you focus on what you'll improve for next year.

After a long bus ride, we made it up to Fort Kent on Thursday evening, in time for dinner at Rock's Diner, and then a team meeting and some dynamic movements in our hotel. Friday morning, we had a lot of time to kill, so started with a morning jog/walk before breakfast, a few hours of study hall, and finally time to head to the race course in the afternoon for the 5k skate race. 

All results can be found here: 
Conditions were very wet, but not too slushy, and our skiers zipped around the course. The CSU boys were led by Linden in 4th place, followed closely by Connor in 6th, Devin in 7th, Julian in 16th, Lucas in 18th, Ben in 36th, Dwight in 42nd, and Patrick in 73rd. Really great to see these guys skiing so well! The girls were next, and it was more great performances - Mica in 2nd, Francesca in 13th, Tali in 22nd, Ella in 25th, Eva in 30th, Phoebe in 42nd, Flora in 54th, and Serena in 78th. That's some solid skiing. 

Devin leading the classic race

Full Massachusetts Team

It didn't get below freezing overnight, but the course was in amazingly good shape considering the lack of cooperative temperatures for Saturday morning's 7.5km classic race. It was a pure klister fest, and we definitely hit the wax, with Linden winning in commanding fashion! In an exciting turn of events, we had five in the top fifteen, with Devin on the podium in 3rd place, Ben in 5th (despite losing a pole!), Lucas in 6th, and Connor in 15th! Julian was 30th, and I just want to say that I remember working with Julian on his classic skiing when he first started at CSU, and I would not have pegged him at the time as a top-30 at EHS classic skier - proof that hard work really can make a difference! Dwight was 68th, and Patrick 77th, not quite the races they were looking for, but sometimes ski races go that way. 

The girls also had a great day, with Mica ending up in 3rd, Eva in 5th, and Francesca in 8th after leading the chase pack in 3rd for much of the race. Rounding out the top 10 was Ella in 9th! Tali was close behind in 12th. That is an impressive cluster of CSU skiers in the top 12! Flora used her great stride to ski to 40th, and Serena tried some different race tactics and ended up in 78th. Special shout-out to Eva, who has been almost 100% sidelined this winter with injury; coming back for a 4th place at a championship race is really impressive. Every CSU skier was a point-scorer for Team Massachusetts! 

After the classic race, we had a 1.1km skicross race. This was a super fun course, with two banked turns, a drop jump, some rollers, and a bicycle pump section. The entire course was in the stadium, which made a great spectating experience. In the boys' race, our friend from western MA, Jakin Miller, won the race, by three seconds - very impressive! Devin was the top CSUer, in 5th, followed by Linden in 16th, Connor in 20th, Dwight in 21st, Julian in 29th, Lucas in 32nd, Ben in 41st, and Patrick in 53rd. The girls had a bit more trouble on the course - at this point the slush was freezing into icy ruts, and the skiing got even more technical than it had been before. Mica took 4th, Eva was 20th, Tali 22nd, Elizabeth Anderson (skiing for CT) was 27th. We had some crashes in this race, so clearly need to spent more time making jumps and doing slalom at Weston! 

Sunday's Relay
Sunday at EHS is one of my favorite days of the year - the mixed-technique, mixed-gender relay! The weather had changed to cold and icy, with a wind, but everyone took that in stride (heh). 

The boys led off with a classic leg, and Linden and Devin skied to a clear lead, tagging off to Eva and Francesca in 1st and 2nd places. Ben was about 10 seconds back, tagging off in 7th (ish) to Phoebe, surrounded by Vermont suits, and Lucas was close behind them, tagging to Flora. Patrick was maybe 30 seconds behind Lucas, and tagged off to Serena. Good clean starts by all. 

The first leg of the classic girls race, Francesca roared up to the lead, and held it even with a tricky corner where our skis proved to be too fast and she took a tumble. Eva was right on her heels, in a mix with a few VT teams. Phoebe skied a great leg, really strong in her stride. Flora had a great final race of her highschool career, moving up a few places, and Serena skied past a few teams as well. 

The next leg was skate, and Connor had another really good skate leg, closing a little on the VT team ahead of him. Ayden came back from the dead, having been sidelined with a fever on Thursday/Friday, and had a solid skate leg, and Julian was just behind, on the team with Lucas and Flora. Dwight skied well, moving his team up a few places. 

The final leg was exciting, and Mica skied really well, but not quite enough to hold off Abby Streinz from Maine. Tali had a solid last leg, as did Ella, skiing the 11th fastest time. 

Elizabeth teamed up with another guest skier from Canada, and they both skied both legs, skate and classic. She had a solid race, moving them up a lot of places each time, and I personally enjoyed seeing the CSU suit out there :)

Too many teams out there to list off all the results, but I was proud of all the skiing that I saw out there today - lots of hard work, glitter, and guts! 

In the end, team MA didn't quite have the depth to match our second place from last year, but the CSU contingent were strong scorers for the team and in the overall - in the individual results, we did pretty well: 
1. Linden
2. Devin
8. Connor
11. Lucas
18. Julian
20. Ben
39. Dwight
65. Patrick

2. Mica
16. Eva
17. Tali
19. Francesca
29. Ella
44. Phoebe
50. Flora
73. Serena

A huge shout-out to John Buchheit, Terry Wong, Sheila Niedeck, Hannah Parker, and Ann Kitch for all they did to support the team - John and Terry probably put in about 48 hours of waxing and driving this weekend, with nary a complaint. WOW! 

A huge thank you to NENSA for putting on this event - the U16s and EHS relays are my favorite two days of the year. 

JN quickie report
Not being in Anchorage, I can't tell you stories, so you'll have to ask the individual athletes who made the trip. Here is a link to the results:

If you take a look at the Alaska Cup standings (which is what the various regions are vying for), you'll see that New England won the cup by 227 points - this confirms what I've been saying all year - that New England is THE fastest region out there right now, and making it to those top 6 in your age group is an incredibly difficult task, involving not just a lot of hard work, but a hefty dosage of luck. 

You can all check out the results online, but here they are summarized - 
U16 girls: 
Sofia (2nd skate, 31st classic sprint, 8th classic 5k)
Evie (26th skate, 6th classic sprint, 44th classic 5k)

U18 girls 
Shea (6th skate, 4th classic sprint, 18th classic 10k, anchoring a relay with Lilly and Schuyler that finished 7th)
Amelia (18th skate, 38th classic sprint, 50th classic 10k, anchored the relay that finished 9th)
Laura (30th skate, 10th classic sprint, 43rd classic 10k, scrambled for the relay that finished 11th, tagging to Madeline)
Madeline (57th skate, 21st classic sprint, 27th classic 10k, 11th place relay)

U20 girls:
Emily Nottonson (16th skate 5k, 20th classic sprint, 11th classic 10k, scrambled for the relay team finishing 9th)

U18 boys: 
Henry (24th skate, 55th sprint, 47th classic 15k, anchored the relay finishing 9th)
Alex (43rd skate, 48th sprint, 67th classic 15k, middle leg on a U20 relay that finished 16th)

U20 boys: 
Jacob (19th skate, 15th sprint, 24th classic 15k, and scrambled for the relay team finishing 9th)

Extra big applause for Sofia, Evie, Shea, and Laura for earning all-American honors! 

Hugs and high fives,

Coach Alex