Saturday, November 27, 2010

West Yellerstone

From Hannah:
I’m currently on the plane coming home from a fantastic week of skiing in West Yellowstone, Montana and the coaches have been pestering me about a blog post, so I figured I should write one.

Arriving at the airport

The Early Week:

You all heard about Rob’s luggage snafu, so I won’t go into that again, only say that aside from that ranty email he handled the situation very well and I was very impressed with his A, B, and C plans all ready to go. I really owe him for driving me up to Bridger Bowl to ski that day. I would have been pissed if I had flown across the country, landed in beautiful powdery snow and then was tortured by watching other people enjoy a winter wonderland. So lesson: always have back up plans and it sucks when your athlete has SNS bindings and you have NNN, but try to make the most of it anyways.

The first few days at altitude, it was definitely hard to adjust to the lack of oxygen. Some people just walked around on skis. I skied, but I also stopped for water (or just a breath) a lot. This adjustment was kind of trivial because the skiing was amazing, the nicest powdery hard tracks, corduroy, and light falling snow combination. It was especially nice to get back into classic striding V2 skating.

Mid Week:

Wednesday there was a cold snap (-20 at night, warming up to 1 by noon), so Rob and I skied for only just over an hour at a time in the morning and afternoon. When he told me this was the plan before the workout, I was kinda like, sure, but no way I’m actually going to head in after an hour. An hour in I was begging him could we please go back and warm up in the car. I learned that thermo belts with hot gatorade and those full face balaclavas (the ones that make you look like you’re about to rob a bank) are key to surviving cold weather.

To warm up from the cold, we also went to this cool ski shop/coffee shop called the Freehell N Wheel in town that had really yummy hot chocolate type drinks - I had an almond joy hot chocolate, yum, I’m definitely going back for that. The best part of that place, aside from the toasty drinks, was it was a major congregation spot for friendly cross country skiers. By midweek skiers from all over the country were in town and on the trails. There wasn’t really anything else going on in the town aside from skiers there for the festival. Imagine a world of only cross country skiers. Blissful.

Late week:

Thursday and Friday I entered the Supertour races. Rob has already provided most of these details. Thursday was both a skate and classic sprint prelim on courses that were point to point and mostly uphill. I had begun to think that I had adjusted to the high altitude, but I have never had such a head rush and nausea at the end of a race. I was talking to Justin Beckwith, who coaches GMVS, that evening back at the hotel and he asked me how the race went. I said, not the smartest thing I’ve ever done, which I mean, I was talking about a ski race, so I must have been feeling pretty crappy. The weird part was that my results from that day (which I hadn’t seen when I had that conversation) were better than I had expected. I was mid-pack in a SuperTour race at altitude that I had to race in 1º + windchill conditions. I will smoke it tomorrow, I thought!

Haha, that was a nice thought. Friday was a 10k skate - what I usually think of my specialty. I was bib #7 so placed before the A seed. No one passed me until maybe the 4k mark and from then until the end of the race I’m pretty sure the entire USST, APU, MSU and whatever other big ski powerhouses there are passed me. On the one hand, how often do Morgan Symth and Holly Brooks track you? It was inspiring in the sense that all these women were extremely strong, powerful skiers. Their muscles were bulging out of their ski suits. But it was also kind of depressing in the sense that I was dying. The lack of oxygen was frustrating. I started feeling anemic - I wanted to go harder and generate some speed, but I just couldn’t. I got the pity cheer from people, which is my absolute least favorite thing. I mean, either cheer for me because I’m having a great race and you’re excited to see how well I’m doing and you want to keep up my mojo, or just be quiet. Don’t say, hang in there, or just over the hill or a half-hearted Go # 7 when #45 probably just went by. The only thing that mentally kept me going were technique goals Rob had me set before the race. I had wanted a really smooth stride, and big V2. While I was definitely not getting any power, at least I had something to focus on beside how bad I was feeling. I think that’s a good thing to have before every race - to help go faster if you’re doing well and distract you if things aren’t. Results, I don’t even really want to mention for this race, they weren’t very pretty. Rob’s race experience was pretty similar to mine and we have decided to move on and blame it on being sea level flatlanders with only 5 days on snow.

In all, I was really glad I did both races. It was fun to get the bib on, line up in the start gate and motor through when the guy with his hand on your shoulder says “3”. Ski racing is still fun, even when results are bad.

Yesterday afternoon Rob and I went for a little ski into Yellowstone park on the river trail. It was a good little adventure and after a week of training and racing my brains out (Rob will vouch for my lack of coherency at about 3PM Friday) a necessary reminder of why I took up this sport in the first place. Here are some photos: (not to make anyone too jealous or anything...)

Then last night I travel waxed my skis at the Ski Expo (this every evening event where all sorts of ski, wax, binding, clothing vendors set up to promote their gear and give out posters, stickers and answer any questions). I was the demo at the Toko area, cleaning, brushing and applying a travel layer to all my skis while all the Toko reps answered people’s questions about Toko. The Expo also had all sorts of nightly talks, events, and classes. I went to one on Tuesday night called the Chemistry of Waxing. This big Swiss guy, Udo, the head chemist the head chemist of the Toko company demonstrated why you apply base paraffin, then HF, and THEN jetstream. Turns out the stuff binds together, but if you don’t put it in that order, it won’t. Jetstream on the bottom of a ski that wasn’t waxed with HF wax won’t bind chemically to the wax and will just rub off and basically be a waste of wax and all that money you spent on it. So a very educational trip too. :)

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