Glacier Update

It’s been a day of hurry up and wait. We were told to be ready to head to the helipad in Girdwood, Alaska to fly to the Eagle Glacier at 8:15 this morning. However, we got an e-mail at 8 O’clock that said it was snowing on the glacier. The new departure was set for noon. At 11:45 we got an e-mail that said the weather was still bad. The departure time from Anchorage was pushed to 4 p.m. The latest time is now 4:45 for a 6 O’clock flight. We have our fingers crossed. (Eventually we will make the decision to hike in if it doesn’t appear that we’ll be able to fly.)

I took advantage of the time this morning to go out for an hour and a half roller ski double pole session. I skied up Campbell Airstrip Road on the hills above the city.

Double Pole 002 (1024x683)

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Full Team Party at Kikkan’s

This is my second blog post in four hours. I think that might be a record.

The women’s joint U.S. Ski Team and Alaska Pacific University (APU) camp is a week ahead of the men’s edition. They concluded their two week camp and flew off the Eagle Glacier today. We are half way through our camp and will fly onto the glacier tomorrow. We took advantage of the one night of overlap by having a full group get together at my teammate Kikkan Randall’s house.

Kikkan's Party 004 (1024x683)

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Skate Threshold Intervals

This morning’s workout here at the U.S. Ski Team and Alaska Pacific University (APU) camp in Anchorage, Alaska was a skate roller ski threshold (level 3, a sustainable pace) interval session. Like most of the sessions this week, the format was one that the APU skiers do often. We warmed up for thirty minutes then started the intervals on the east side of the access road to Kincaid Park. The first interval was into the park on the bike path that parallels the road. The second interval was the same route in reverse, only this time we skied on the road. We then turned around and did it again, doing a total of seven intervals.

The intervals going into the park had a net gain of altitude. They took us between eight and nine minutes. On the way back we were skiing the course in about six and a half minutes. Also, we finished the return intervals with a short race; when we reached three hundred meters to go we sprinted for the finish line. We had a big group of guys pushing each other. It was a really productive workout.

During the session I felt that I was working hard, but my heart rate was right where I wanted it to be for threshold training. The course was pretty flat, and since we were able to work together, we were covering ground very fast. According to my Timex GPS Heart Rate monitor, our average speed for our fastest interval into the park was 2:23 per kilometer and our fastest average speed coming out of the park was 1:50 per kilometer. Those speeds are extremely fast, faster than we would ever be able to race in the winter (because skiing on snow is slower than roller skiing). To me, it’s great news that I was not only able to hang with the group at those speeds, but do so comfortably. In the past I have struggled when the speed gets faster than 2:30 per kilometer, but I’ve been working hard to improve my high speed skating and it seems to be paying off. Today’s session gives me confidence that my technique training is working.

You can seen all of the data from my Timex watch, including the elevation profile of each interval, a graph of the speed and of my heart rate, here. Also, here is some great video of the session from head U.S. Ski Team coach Chris Grover:

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Hatcher Pass Ski

It’s awesome to be back in a camp setting! This Alaska camp is a collaboration between the U.S. Ski Team and the Alaska Pacific University (APU) Elite Team. Because the camp includes so many athletes, the men’s and women’s groups are split and offset by a week. The women did the dry-land portion of their camp last week here in Anchorage and are training on the Eagle Glacier this week. We are following in their footsteps, a week behind.

Yesterday afternoon we did a strength session in the APU gym. It was cool to have so many high level skiers in one place.

Hatcher Pass Ski 002 (1024x683)

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Bonus Day in Park City

When I wrote yesterday’s blog, I was sitting at gate B9 in the Salt Lake International Airport, waiting for a flight to San Francisco to connect to a flight to Anchorage, Alaska.

Twenty Four hours later, I am sitting at gate B9 in the Salt Lake International Airport, waiting for a flight to San Francisco to connect to a flight to Anchorage, Alaska.

First yesterday’s flight was delayed due to a late inbound aircraft. Then the plane arrived but had a mechanical issue. My connection in San Francisco was only an hour, and it soon became apparent that I wasn’t going to make it. I talked to the gate agents and they looked at all my options. There was no other way for me to get to Anchorage last night and every United flight to Anchorage today was booked except for the same 7:25 p.m. flight out of San Francisco. So, my options were to fly to San Francisco last night, United would put me up and I would have spent all day today in San Fran. Or, I could go home and catch the same 4:50 p.m. Salt Lake to San Fran flight today. I opted for option B.

Emilia was nice enough to come back down to Salt Lake two hours after she dropped me off to pick me up. We went to a great Pho restaurant for dinner.

United kept my bags checked over night, which was really nice because I didn’t have to deal with them. Consequently, I didn’t have my running shoes or any of my roller ski stuff for a workout this morning. Instead I went for a four hour mountain bike ride. It rained over the weekend and the trails were in perfect condition.

Park City Mountain Bike 001 (683x1024)

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Technique Training

My technique coach Zach Caldwell has been in town for three days (six training sessions) to review the technique I’ve been “mindlessly” solidifying on the treadmill over the last month. Since I saw Zach on the east coast in early June, I’ve spent twenty nine and a half hours on the treadmill. Zach is happy with the way I’m skiing. He feels like I’m on a good path to be better next season. He said to me yesterday, “If you raced the Toblach World Cup today, you would do better than you did at it last season.” He is referring to the 15 kilometer classic World Cup in Toblach, Italy the week before the Olympics. In that race, I struggled because the terrain was flat and fast. My double pole was not strong enough for such a flat course, nor could I glide enough in my kick double pole and striding techniques. I am glad Zach feels I’ve improved in these areas. I’m excited to continue to work on my weaknesses, and I cannot wait to test them in a race come November.

On Thursday we had a productive classic session in the morning but a very tired and challenging skate session in the afternoon. Friday morning we got back on the treadmill with much better energy after a great night’s sleep. We were discouraged after Thursday’s session, but it very quickly became apparent that good energy made all the difference. Zach was much happier with what he saw. Here’s a video of him coaching me on the treadmill.

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