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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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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Doping

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.

Alan's Cooking 002 (1024x683)

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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.

Long Run 001 (1024x683)

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