Zach and Amy in Park City

This post is going to be short and a little scattered. My apologies, but I’m exhausted and looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

Tuesday afternoon I finished off an 18-hour 4-day training block with a hot 2.5 hour double pole around Park City. In the last couple days the quality of my sessions has deteriorated. It’s a good time for a change of pace (with technique work) and some rest.

During the ski I noticed that they are building a new bike path along the frontage road from Kimball Junction to Jeremy Ranch. I ski that frontage road often. It is a perfect extension to my usual town loop. There isn’t too much traffic on the road, but the pavement is a little rough and the cars drive fast. The bike path will be a wonderful addition, making it safer and more pleasant.

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The Tour de France has been on the televisions in the U.S. Ski Team’s Center of Excellence lately. I used to love watching the Tour. In the early 2000′s (when I was in middle school and high school) I watched every stage. My father and I would tape (on VHS) the live coverage on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) so we could watch it at a reasonable hour and fast forward commercials. It would ruin my day if somebody told me the results before I watched it. I would only watch OLN’s live coverage because I wanted the “authentic” commentary of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, not the human interest stories of prime time. I was engrossed in every rider, every climb, every sprint and every crash. I picked my favorite riders and felt for them every step of the way.

Now, I am disgusted by the Tour. Every time I walk by the screen I see an update on Alberto Contador.

I cannot say conclusively that Alberto Contador used illegal performance enhancing methods. I have read through some of the 2012 decision from the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) which stripped Contador of one of his Tour titles and banned him from the sport for two years. The evidence that Contador cheated seems overwhelming to me.

The anti-doping system in sport is not perfect, but I hope and believe that innocent athletes rarely get convicted. It seems to me that this story-line recurs often: people are suspicious of an athlete-athlete gets caught-athlete denies wrongdoing-athlete eventually admits to cheating.

With an understanding that it is possible for innocent athletes to be convicted of cheating, a justice system is necessary to allow sport to exist in a fair and reasonable way. As long as I am dedicating my life to being the best cross country skier in the world, I must have faith that the justice system is doing all it can to keep the playing field clean and fair. If I don’t believe in the system, I cannot believe that I am competing on a fair playing field and consequently cannot believe in my ability to accomplish my goals.

With this faith in the justice system, I believe every convicted athlete should be banned from international sport for life. Competing in sport is a privilege, not a right. There should not be second chances. Cheating undermines the foundation of sport. Sport is an activity that brings passion, camaraderie, entertainment and happiness to the people involved in it, from the athletes to the coaches, the trainers to the managers, and especially the fans. Cheating athletes make the entire sport meaningless. Sport is defined by arbitrary rules. The race or competition is held to see who can perform best within the given guidelines. Doping in a cycling race is no different than showing up on the starting line on a motorcycle. If the athletes are not following the rules, there is no reason to hold the competition.

No sport needs any single athlete. When a sporting event allows a convicted doper to compete, even an athlete that has served their two year ban, the rules are degraded to mere suggestions.

A two year ban in an endurance sport is nothing. Athletes take years off all the time for injuries or illness or to pursue their business interests or studies. For a cross country skier, a two year ban that doesn’t include an Olympic Games could be viewed as an advantage because it is an opportunity to focus on training without the distraction of racing. A two year ban is not nearly a big enough deterrent to cheaters.

I considered Austrian cross country skier Johannes Deurr a friend. On the world cup circuit he was friendly, kind and engaging. During the Olympics in Sochi, Duerr was caught for and later admitted to using the banned substance recombinant erythropoietin (EPO).  Duerr is suspended for two years. If he returns to the World Cup circuit after his ban, I will be angry and sad for the sport. His participation would do to World Cup cross county skiing what Contador’s participation is doing to the Tour de France.

COE Training

My friend Zeke Tiernan has an excellent blog about training for ultra-marathon running while being a middle school teacher, husband and father of two. He wrote a post about, among other things, the long run we did on Thursday. In the post, he was incredibly (and exaggeratedly) complimentary of me. I’m honored. The post is a fun read, check it out here.

With how much indoor training I’ve been doing lately, I feel like I’m injured again. Yesterday morning I spent three hours skating on the treadmill, yesterday afternoon I did strength and this morning I was back on the treadmill for a two and a half hour classic ski.

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McCoy Flats

It took me and Emilia awhile to get out of Aspen yesterday. After my long roller ski and our breakfast at the Maroon Bells, we had to clean the house and I took the time to put up a blog. It was 2:30 before we rolled out of town. We stopped at the grocery store for road food, eight pounds of blueberries and seven quarts of organic lemonade (of course we didn’t consume all of it on the drive).

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38 Mile Run

Yesterday I had a morning bounding session with the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) team, but they were off in the afternoon. I was on my own for my strength session, and my girlfriend Emilia Wint needed to do a gym session as well. The two of us had the strength room to ourselves, and coach Eric Pepper opened the gym for us and stayed throughout the session to assist with anything we needed. The session was focused and productive.

Yesterday evening the entire SSCV team had a potluck/barbecue. It was a great opportunity for me to get to know the athletes and their parents. I am proud to be a member of the SSCV Nordic Team. My good friend and recently retired teammate Sylvan Ellefson was there. I had not seen Sylvan since he was on the World Cup last winter. We had to take a selfie together.

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Vail Ski and Bounding

Driving west from Denver into the mountains, it takes an hour and a half to get to Summit County (home of Breckenridge, Keystone and A-Basin ski areas and the towns of Dillon, Frisco and Silverthorne). It then takes another half an hour to get to Vail. This morning I had to be in Vail at 8 a.m. for a workout with the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) junior team and Emilia had to be in Summit County at 11 a.m. for a doctor’s appointment. Rather than ask her to drive an hour round trip to drop me off, I devised a complicated plan.

On Sunday I had lunch with my parents. Sunday afternoon my dad drove from Denver to Aspen (which is further west than Summit County and Vail). I sent him with a bag of overnight clothes and shoes. He dropped them with Vail coach Eric Pepper on his way through. I forgot to send him with bounding poles, which I needed for this morning’s workout. Luckily, Emilia’s friend Sydney was driving from Denver to Aspen on Monday evening. She took my poles and hid them in the bushes on top of Vail Pass.

Yesterday afternoon Emilia dropped me off in Summit County, on the Dillon side of the Dillon Dam Road.

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Castle Pines Mountain Biking

I would be surprised if anyone has ever used this title for a blog post before, at least not when referring to the Castle Pines suburban neighborhood just north of Castle Rock, Colorado. Emilia and I spent the night at my grandparents house here in Castle Pines, and I did my two hour and forty five minute mountain bike from the house this morning. Incredibly, I was able to do 90% of the workout on dirt, much of it on single track, without riding the same trail twice. There are two small trail systems designed for mountain bikes. One of them has about 20 minutes of riding, the other about 30 minutes. Much of the riding is smooth and fast.

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Boulder and Castle Rock

Emilia and I left her parents’ house in Denver early this morning. We had coffee with one of her friends then headed to Boulder to have breakfast with her agent. (Emilia is a professional slopestyle skier.) The breakfast was a chance for them to catch up and talk a little about the business of Emilia’s skiing. I have been thinking recently that an agent could help me manage the business side of my career and could help me make new partnerships with companies. Listening in on Emilia’s meeting this morning reaffirmed my belief that I could benefit from working with an agent. Now I just need to find somebody to work with. I have pursued this in the past without luck. The answer I have gotten from perspective candidates is that there isn’t enough money in cross country skiing in the U.S. to make it worth their time. However, I believe there is potential to create a lot of value with a combination of world class results and personal marketing. My teammate Kikkan Randall has done it well. I am asking around, exploring my options and seeking somebody with experience who understands the value in international cross country skiing.

After breakfast I headed out for a classic technique-focused roller ski in some neighborhoods in the south part of Boulder.

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