The Descent of Winter

Half an Adventure

Normally people think of the arrival of winter as a question of time: you just watch the days tick over as it gets colder and colder until we get to a point where we decide it’s cold enough to be winter, or we just wait for a specific date. Others will think of it geographically: it may already be wintry close to the north/south pole, and you wait for the northward/southward march of the next season. Here in the Allgäu, the season changes are particularly visible, especially if you look up and observe small changes in the high mountains. Winter starts up on the peaks, and slowly extends down to the valley. Let me elaborate, and tell a bit about my training in the last seven weeks.

High summer

I arrived in Southern Germany on August 26th, to a magnificent view of green mountains, green valleys and blue…

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My Winter in Summer

Half an Adventure

One of the things I often had to explain in the first half of the year was my answer to ‘how long are you staying in Germany?’ The answer is that I’m in Germany for 12 months, but broken up into a 7 and a 5 month block, with 10 weeks of Australian winter sandwiched between the beginning and end of the European summer. The reply to this was often: ‘wait, so you have winter when we have summer? Krass… (untranslatable) I’m now back in Germany, but first, a quick recap of the winter down under.

You could call it a winter of contrasts, with Falls Creek recording its coldest August in 26 years, and Melbourne its coldest winter in 26 years (although no one’s acknowledging the impact of the change in weather station). We had many sunny and cold days and plenty of great skiing. On the other…

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Sprang Series

See below for Kat Paul’s latest post from the Lake Mountain Ambassador Program weebly blog (originally posted on April 9).

Following my week in Truckee CA, I had my last set of races, USSA Spring Series at my home away from home, Sun Valley. The first race was a 10km classic; I decided to give this race a miss as I was still recovering from Junior Nationals. The second race was the skate sprint, I was feeling good, but the snow was rock hard, and very hard for me to get any power out of my legs. I missed out on qualifying for the senior heats, but as a junior I was able to race in the junior heats. I was dissatisfied with my rank in 7th place, but I knew I could only move up. The sprint course of the day was one I had raced many times and I knew my strategy, even though I was disheartened by the qualifier I had the upper hand mentally as I knew exactly what moves I would pull out. For the first round I finished in 1st place, putting my plan in action. As there were fewer juniors there were only 2 rounds. Next up was the A final. I was feeling good despite the tight turn-around between rounds. My plan was going well until the final straight, when I was about to make my move I slipped and fell. It was too late for me to catch up so I came in 6th postion. I was disappointed with my outcome but I had a great looking bruise on my leg that swelled up straight after. So at least I came away with something to show, just maybe not what I had originally intended.

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Finishing the season with a bang!

See below for a late reposting of Casey Wright’s last post from the Lake Mountain Ambassador Program weebly blog (originally posted on March 28).

I have now been back in Australia for a week and have been loving the opportunity to catch some summer weather before we plunge into another winter. Before I made the marathon journey across the pacific back home I had one more set of the races to complete before my season was officially over.

This year the final races of the US racing series (the USSA Super Tour Sprint Series Finals) were held in Sun Valley. After returning from Sweden I had about 2.5 weeks to recover and prepare for the races. During this time we experienced some unseasonably warm weather and as a result the snow conditions deteriorated. Despite the fact that the snow was melting before my eyes, I did not miss the opportunity to soak up some Vitamin D, and as such spent almost every session skiing/ training in a T-shirt.

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Spring Series and the end of the racing season.

Paul Kovacs. Elite Cross-Country Skier

There is something very special about Spring Series, and the week of racing that it brings. No other time of the year feels the same.

The racing is really serious, yet so relaxed and mellow. It’s a time when athletes come together for one more week of punishment after months of racing and pushing our bodies to the edge.

So many athletes are done with the season, burnt out, had enough, yet everyone still comes from all over the country to race and enjoy one more week together. Some athletes even come out of retirement just to participate in races they are so fun.

Are the courses easier? Is the competition softer? Do we ski less? Nope. This week we were racing at over 2200meters on a course that had a 6 minute continuous climb in it. We raced a total of 71 km over four races and some of…

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German Champs 50km Classic: Race Report

Half an Adventure

They’re done, it’s all over! With one final race last weekend, I wrapped up my longest race season so far, with my longest race so far. Going into this race I was pretty nervous about even being able to finish, given how tough the distance is psychologically, and I rarely do training sessions with 50km of skiing, nor races over 15km. Fortunately the race was moved from its original location in Garmisch, where the Kaltenbrunn course is famous for being brutally tough, to Bodenmais, a resort town in the Bavarian Forest, up near the Czech border east of Munich.

The first consequence of moving the race was that it was no longer an internationally-sanctioned FIS race, which meant I wasn’t going to be allowed to start, for a whole host of bureaucratic reasons that only Germans could possibly understand. Fortunately, my coach made a few phone calls, and a guest…

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Back in the sunny States.

Paul Kovacs. Elite Cross-Country Skier

I flew straight back to Anchorage, Alaska after Europe and the plan was to recharge, refocus and as one of the Australian coaches said to me “head to my happy place”. Over the course of the two weeks that’s exactly what I did. The conditions in Anchorage were almost perfect for training. No there weren’t endless kilometres of skiing there but what they had was really good quality skiing with some of the best trails I’ve been able to ski all year. That’s all thanks to their ability to make snow exclusively for the cross country trails. But the best part was that there had been a lot of melt out, so if you didn’t fancy skiing finding dry running trails was simple and again spectacular. Everything seemed to set up nicely while I was there. The weather turned to perfect blue bird days but with cool enough temperatures that…

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Playing with the Big Guns – Casey Wright

Re-posted from Casey & Kat’s blog (without some of the photo captions).
When I last wrote to you I was en route to Sweden to meet up with the Australian XC Ski team for a training camp in preparation for the 2015 World Championships. For 2 weeks we were based in Gronklitt, a small ski resort about 1.5hrs from Falun (the city where the World Championships would be held). My previous visits to Sweden during last northern winter were less than ideal. Due to a weather phenomenon referred to as the Polar Vortex, they experience an incredibly warm winter and very minimal snow fall. When I arrived in Sweden this year, it was anything but what I had experienced last time. The temperatures remained below 0 and there was plenty of fresh snow fall, allowing the environment to match my ideas of what Sweden should look like.

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The Best Ski Race in the World

Half an Adventure

Last weekend I once again drove into the Land of the Expensive (Switzerland) to compete in a slightly different race from what I’ve been doing the past three months. The Engadin Skimarathon is the third-largest cross-country citizen race in the world (I think), and the largest outside of Scandinavia. It’s held in the Engadine Valley, which contains famous ski towns such as St Moritz and Pontresina, which you would know from those posters that seem to come included with every ski apartment in Australia and America. The valley is perched up at 1800m, much higher than the vast majority of XC areas in the Alps, and thus has reliable snow and very cold nights, which keep the snow in good shape. The scenery is also stupendous; ever few minutes during skiing here you get a view which is breathtaking, although it might be the altitude which is taking your breath…

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World Champs/Lahti Recap

Jessica Yeaton

I apologize for slacking in the blog department- I traveled to Bozeman yesterday and realized it has been almost a month since my last update. I raced at World Championships in Falun and then at World Cups this past weekend in Lahti, Finland. The days have blurred together in my mind a bit- indistinguishable by their cloudy, gray, sleety, klistery nature. Yes, I’ll admit I was pretty jealous of my teammates down in Switzerland and Slovenia posting endless pictures of bluebird skies & scenic mountains- that extra blue perfection. But Scandinavia was amazing in so many other ways; the atmosphere in Falun was like nothing I have ever experienced before, something I will never forget. Take a country where Nordic Skiing is currently the #1 sport and add a World Championship event; I found that blue skies didn’t matter so much when I had 50,000 people out on course cheering…

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