Ptarmigan Feathers

It's been another fun and busy weekend. After a couple days of easy recovering from CO we jumped back on the training wagon. I really want to do better at the college races in Winter Park, so I've been putting the hammer down.

After practice on Friday, my new roomate Clay and I went for some extra-curricular training up the Ptarmigan couloir. We skied about 5k into a stiff headwind with some flurries of snow coming down. The couloir is a sweet S turn that climbs a couple thousand feet at probably 45 degrees to the ridge of Ptarmigan peak. The snow conidtions were great, and we made good time, but we had to turn around before the top, before it got too dark. Just for practice, we played with the rope, and set up a running belay with snow picket anchors. Lots of fun had by all.

Clay goin' up around the bend


Tough 21k

Yeeha, Sunday was a tough tough race. Conditions were perfect, but I just didn't get up on step. I had a hard time staying with anyone in the mass start, and though I kept a steady pace, it wasn't very fast. I pulled a 37th in the college race, as bad as I've placed in a while. I got 34th in the classic race despite feeling pretty ok about my race. I really enjoyed myself down in CO, I just wish I had more satisfying results. No excuses though, I'll try and make up for it at Winter Park in 2 weeks. Until then it's back on the training wagon.

I went for a morning training ski on Sunday before leaving Aspen on our 18 hour travel North.

Some perfectly beautiful morning skiing.


10k Hypoxia special

Wahoo! Nothing like 8000' of altitude to get your heart rate up. Today's 10k featured bluebird 30F weather, perfect snow, and very little O2. I've yet to see any results, but I felt strong today despite my sea level blood. Over the last 2 years of travelling up to race in this thin air, I feel like I'm starting to figure it out. I feel stronger than last year too. I hope the results reflect that.

Tomorrow's race should be a good time. The Owl Creek Chase is a 20k point to point skate race. It sounds like we ski up and over a pass. 10k of solid V1 to start us off, with the steepest part at the top. Whew, gotta hit the good pace tomorrow!

Pushing through the pain.
Photo by Jaime Bronga.



Yahoo! Sunshine, fast snow, and altitude. We must be in the Rockies! Aspen, CO to be precise. Took us a while to get here, but we've made it. Just in time too. We dodged some epic weather conditions in Anchor-town yesterday and today. Sounds like high winds and deep puddles on top of ice. Yikes.

Our first CU invite race is tomorrow morning. Looking forward to a good altitude classic race.

Here's where we'll be skiing:

Jaime, Rachelle and Steffi enjoying the venue.

Trails on fancy golf courses surrounded by expensive bungalos.

This sure beats Anchorage right now!


Race Race Race

It has been a tough three days. Good and tough and tiring and fun. Friday we raced a 10k classic race against the other Rocky Mountain schools. My race was only ok. I felt like I skied well, but I didn't have much pep. Saturday was a mass start 15k classic. We had a big field with 110 racers or so. I like mass start races best, and it was pretty fun, but again I felt tired. Today we had another 15k mass start, this time skating. On the first lap, I felt about how I had all weekend: drained and lacking that extra snap. On the second lap, out of nowhere I felt super awesome! I picked up the pace quite a bit, and had that perfect feeling as I went over the last hills into the finish. Gotta love endorphins! UAA had an historically excellent weekend. We won the Seawolf invitational! That marks our first ever men and women combined alpine and nordic victory in our Rocky Mountain division. Not to be our last either. Now I'm pretty well exhausted, and I have to go back to school in the morning to boot.

I've picked out a pretty interesting school schedule this semester. I have 4 day weekends! But, I have to pay for it on Mondays. I have class with no real breaks from 8:30 until 3:45. Then a 3 hour break to go skiing, then class again from 7 till 9:30. Then Tuesdays and Wednesdays are pretty normal with a couple classes. Thursday through Sunday though, I can do as I please.

Wednesday we leave for sunny, warm Aspen, Colorado for the Colorado University invitational. Should be a nice change. It's darkish and coldish here.

I was unable to capture images of the events. Electronics and bare fingers and the cold wind at Kincaid weren't mixing. Maybe next time.


Nationals into College Racing.

Well, the remainder of the Nationals races failed to happen, for me anyway. The classic distance race that I was really looking forward to was cancelled, and the sprint was postponed until yesterday. I wanted to do the sprint race, as I'm usually best at double poling, but with back to back to back college distance races, it didn't make sense to kill myself sprinting in the cold. Today for my 21st birthday, I get to race a 10k classic, tomorrow a 15k classic, and Sunday a 15k skate. School starts on Monday. Wednesday we leave town for the Colorado invite down in Aspen. Gotta love ski season!

The UAA women's team won the US national college cup, Congrats to them! And one of our Freshwomen placed 4th in the nation at yesterday's sprint race, Way to go Amy! UAA men were second for the US college cup. We'll know after this weekend how UAA does in the first two college invitationals. So far we're looking good.


10k of skating fun

Today's race went off without a hitch. UAA did pretty well. I did pretty well according to the results. 110th, and beat some people I don't usually beat. It hurt a lot. I actually didn't feel that great. It was a 2 lap course, and the entire second lap felt pretty bad. The craziest part was that for some reason, I couldn't see straight. I may have frozen my corneas or something. Or maybe it was the anaerobic brain, but my eyes were tracking really slowly, and felt cross-eyed. It's a good thing I know that course really well. Tomorrow I'll wear glasses.


US Nationals, sort of...

Well, for the last two days we've been skunked for ski races by the weather over at Kincaid park. Anchorage is hosting the US Cross-Country Skiing National Championship races this week. All of the big-wig, super-fast US skiers from the entire nation, and everyone else for that matter, came up here to race. Pretty nice for us locals to have the home snow advantage. However, the weather is unusually cold even down here in Anchorage. It has been hovering around -10F for about a week. Unfortunately, we can't have a legal race until it warms up to -4F.

It's really sort of a silly game. Everyone shows up early so they have time to prep and wax skis, check in, ski the course, warm up, stretch, and leave extra time for contingencies. That's pretty standard pre-race routine. Multiply that by 600 or so racers, add coaches, wax technicians, race officials, volunteers, and spectators. Kincaid becomes a crazy place. Then, as soon as everyone is in full on race preparation mode, delay the race by a couple hours. The race officials think that maybe if we wait for a while, it will get warm enough to race. So we wait. Then, as the new race start time approaches, the process begins again. Then the race is officially cancelled for the day, postponed until tomorrow. Repeat the next day.

It's pretty tricky to mentally prepare for races as it is, even tougher if you're not sure you'll race. Sitting around trying to relax and reserve energy while being nervous and excited to race, and wondering what the temperature is and whether you'll race and being in a big noisy room with hundreds of skiers is tricky too.

So today, after the race was cancelled, I went to the mountains. Near them anyway. I decided to do my ski training out at Glen Alps. I skied for about an hour up the valley. The sunlight is pretty low angle, so I was in the shade, but it was a beautiful day nonetheless. It was super relaxing to be skiing away from all of the ski racing craziness that was Kincaid. That will surely help me keep a positive outlook on the upcoming races.

Some of that low angle light on the Wedge.

Denali and friends across the inlet too!

Tomorrow we are supposed to have a 10k skating race, again if it is above -4F. Looking forward to a fun race, I hope.

More as it happens...