Sunday, July 21, 2019

CSU Summer camp

Summer camp was a total blast this year, with a couple workout switches that everybody seemed to enjoy, and really good vibes among the team. 

Almost everybody arrived on Sunday, and we headed out for a long-ish classic ski, with several speeds. The highlight for some groups might have been the discovery of wild strawberries along the bike path, and sometimes you just need to extend those recovery sections by a bit so that you can pick more strawberries. Priorities. That night, we played some get-to-know-you games, and skiers got fully moved in/exploded into their dorm rooms. 

Morning comes early here, with a jog on the shaded back roads and some sort of dynamic stretching, mobility, yoga, or breathing exercise, to get us primed for a full day of activities. First up were some really hard uphill skate intervals, under a hot sun. Everyone practiced using different mantras or other techniques to eke out more speed, and we saw a ton of really hard efforts. Great stuff. 

After lunch and a nap, it was time for the afternoon workout, which started with some really intense ultimate frisbee. Can you put skiers into any competitive environment and expect them not to play hard? After that, we did a great strength workout using Winchendon's fancy gym, which may have made us a little late for dinner, but luckily there was still food. After dinner, Victor gave a nice presentation on exercise science, and the various energy systems that we use. I followed that up with a brief review of goal setting, and skiers got the chance to work on their goal pyramids for a bit, before the ever-exciting fire drill. 

This morning dawned bright and sunny again, and we headed out for a distance run on the Wapack trail, with some groups going point-to-point and some doing a more controlled out-and-back. The blueberries were in fine form, so if you want a nice day out hiking and picking blueberries, we highly recommend the Wapack. After lunch and a nap, our afternoon workout was an agility course by the field house, which looked like a ton of fun. Limited bandaid use this year! 

Big Burt with wheels off the ground


 Clara just floats

 Ella B on one ski (she's supposed to be)

Ellie after the pavement drop

Emily rounds a cone, all business

Ethan on the slalom

Greg making circles

Laura making tighter circles

Lucas dancing among the cones

Mica picking up speed


 Mirra around the cone

 Noah coming in hot to the slalom

 Does Phoebe ever NOT smile?

 Pretty sure Shea is talking back

Sofia with a trademark skinned knee, but a super aggressive position

Taking in the view of Boston skyline from the overlook over Binney Pond

Results from the timed portion of the agility

After dinner, it was time for mini golf. In bad news, we had to go somewhere other than Tweedos, because they were closing early tonight, but I'm sure we'll be back to Tweedos next year, because that's an integral part of ski camp. 

The next day was our adventure triathlon day. Victor led the morning jog with some swimming drills, so that we'd be ready to go when we hit the water, and then we divided into groups and took off. Everybody started with a nice rollerski on some beautiful pavement, up from Bonds Corner to Dublin. From there, it was into the lake, and everyone managed about 20-25 minutes of swimming. Victor set up a shorter lap in shallower water, and a longer lap that went into the deeper water, and he and Cate lifeguarded. No rescues required! I tried the swimming too, and it was definitely one of the hardest things I've done in a loooong time. 

On top of Monadnock, there were a ton of people, as usual. Alex Burt had run out of water, so here you see a photo of him paying some random kids to take some of their water. He then managed to convince them that he was on the US Ski Team, and that they were giving water to a future Olympian. He and Devin have some new Instagram followers, now. 

Hillbounding technique

Some rollerskiers before the adventure triathlon

Candid skits photo

Coaching staff, missing Ursula

CSU goes swimming. Nobody drowned!

Lifeguard Victor

The whiteboard was crucial

After the swim, groups headed out on various different lengths of hikes. One group did a full monty over the top of Monadnock, about three hours, and others did out-and-back excursions on the Pumpelly trail. It was a long day, and we all enjoyed our ice cream at Kimball's after the adventuring. 

That night, Amie, Kathy, and Cate led a listening session for that athletes to have some input on how CSU should be run in the future. It was a very productive session, and a lot of good stuff came out of it. After that, Ethan presented a little bit about skiing in college, how it works, who are the players, and how to get involved. Interesting stuff, and nice to hear from the horse's mouth! 

Thursday morning it was time for some hillbounding. Unlike past years, we eschewed the dusty eroded trail up Watatic, and stayed on the golf course, where we set up a loop, with different cones indicating where you had to put in an attack. Athletes did a certain number of loops as a hard effort, with several attack sections, focusing on pace change and good bounding/ski walking technique. It was nice to not have to drive too far, and then in the afternoon we had another strength workout in the beautiful Winchendon School gym. That night, each fire team group did a skit, which brought a lot of laughs. 

It was hard to believe that Friday was already our last day. We loaded up the vans and headed out to the NH border for a beautiful rollerski, doing the traditional "lollipop" loop. Quick lunch and wrap-up meeting, and then just like that, camp was over. Huge thank you to Mona, Robert, and all the coaching staff for another wonderful week at summer camp! 

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!