Sunday, July 27, 2014

A week on the edge...of Eagle Glacier, AK

Even Eagle Glacier can be beautiful on a rainy day!
The past two weeks have been some of the best of the summer so far. The second week of the USST/ APU camp in Alaska brought us all up to the Eagle Glacier where we had the opportunity to put in 27 hours of on snow training. Opportunities like this come at a premium but are worth every penny and every bit of effort! The Eagle Glacier is home to the Thomas Training Center where APU has been putting in the time with on snow camps for the past 14 years! (this was Kikkan Randall's 14th year up on the glacier!). This was my second trip to the Glacier and my first time being there with all girls!

Girl's Camp simply the best
What a great opportunity to gather a large group of focused, motivated and driven women all striving for the same goal; to be the best at what they do (XC-Skiing) in the World. With such a big group of women all sharing the same goal you would think the atmosphere would be competitive and tense after so many days skiing in circles and living in tight quarters on top of a mountain in Alaska. However, I was shocked at how the energy was completely the opposite! 

Training for the day brought to you by Rocky and Bullwinkle!
Each girl brought a different element to the dynamics of the group and everyone seemed to embrace each others talents by bonding over the moment. This camp was by far the most fun I have ever had at a training camp. 

Becca gets her art on!

Erik gets best smile award for all of her photos!

NMU Alumi - Rosie Frankoski '14 and myself '04

Sophie's master-piece

Holly Brooks, myself and Brian's mini gator!
I am usually pretty intense when it comes to my training, recovery and rest during training camps but up on the Eagle Glacier it seemed as though everyone was on such a similar page that every person enabled the entire group to train better, eat better and recover better! Wow! A "team" atmosphere in an individual sport is the best recipe for success!

Great group ready to get even faster!

A lot of the credit for this environment is obviously due to the coaches at the helm. They have worked hard to foster a cohesive group of US Athletes who seem to make history every weekend throughout the winter. A lot of credit also goes to the older athletes who have paved the way and brought up the next generation of athletes to their own level of success. Kikkan Randall has lead the way for the US since she entered the international racing circuit but she has also been instrumental in getting the next group of women, and those who will follow excited about the sport.

USOC Coach of the Year Erik Flora. After this camp I know why!

Coach Matt Whitcomb and Holly Brooks

Kikkan leading the way

While in Anchorage and on the Eagle Glacier I had the opportunity to ski with (behind) Kikkan and follow her effortless power and try to mimic her movements. Kikkan along with Liz Stephen, Jessie Diggins, Holly Brooks, Sadie Bjornsen, Sophie Caldwell and Ida Sargent have all been top ten in a World Cup! Even at 33 I am star-struck to be training and staying with them.

Celine Brun-Lie (our guest from Norway), Jessie Diggins, Sadie Bjornsen and Sophie Caldwel

The camp featured a lot of good moments to get to know each other through cooking, story telling, endless ski clean-up and of course hours spent skiing together. Attending this camp was not only a great opportunity for my skiing but also to get to know the ladies I will be traveling with on the World Cup this fall. 

I brought Basel the basil plant up to the glacier for some gourmet appetizers

One of our fabulous Dinner spreads

Diggins always had the highest energy!

Now back in Minnesota I am riding the excitement from my trip and passing on the energy and enthusiasm to the local Loppet Nordic Racing ladies I train with. We have a tough week planned and I am looking forward to it!

The LNR ladies chilling after a hard workout and a pancake feast!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Alaska Camp with the Ladies

Last Sunday I left Minneapolis for the first time in over a month! It's crazy to think about how much time on the road Brian and I spend, how much we want to just stay in one place for a while after the season is over and than how excited we are to get back on the road and do it all over again!

Camp Time!
Back into the clouds!
This time my travels brought me to Anchorage, AK to attend the USST/ APU and invited guests Training Camp. This camp has been held for the past 4 years but this is the first time I have been able to make all of the details work out so I could join. Last year Brian and I went up to the glacier in August with the Sun Valley crew and I had a blast. I knew this was opportunity I couldn't let pass me by.

So far we have completed the first week of dry-land training here in Anchorage. The sessions were extremely high quality and everywhere you look there were girls who have been in the top-ten on the World Cup, the World Championships and even the Olympics!!! As awe-struck as I am to be skiing along side them, or mostly behind, everyone of the super-stars here are extremely humble and down to earth.

A super fit group of ladies ready for bounding intervals.
World Champion, World Cup Winner and 3 X Overall Sprint World Cup Winner Kikkan Randall sporting her LLBean tote with me on the way to strength! 
Besides the great training partners I have also been exposed to a true "Alaskan Experience" this camp! My first encounter with any wildlife on this trip was actually a Grizzly Bear, this also happened to be the first time I have ever seen a Grizzly Bear in the wild. We were on a group distance run Thursday afternoon, not very far from town, when Matt Whitcomb yelled out "Bear". We all stopped and looked up the hillside to see a huge Brown Bear looking back at us. He moved slow and stuck his nose in the air but seemed like he would rather be on his way than bother with any of us. Thank Goodness! If that bear wanted to, he certainly could be down next to us in a heartbeat!

I was a bit intimidated about running I stayed Very close to the group!
The past couple of days have been filled with various other animal sightings including a mama Black Bear and her cubs and a mama Moose and her calves...all right from our dorm windows on the APU campus!!! Our 4 hour O.D. hike yesterday also allowed us to see some Dahl Sheep off in the distance scurrying along some steep rock outcroppings!

Mama Moose and baby

Mama Moose had a huge nose!
Today is our first off day and the day we fly into Eagle Glacier! This will be my second time in helicopter and I am a little nervous but also really excited. Today I am spending some time with the Moon Family. Stacey and Cheryl have been extremely generous and opened up their home to Brian and I for this trip and I am watching the Soccer World Cup from their comfy living room waiting for the call to head down to Girdwood! Lots of skiing to be done next week and I am looking forward to relaxing back here at the Moon's house when I get back into town :)

Off Day Waffle Party with the Girls!
Our Norwegian guest Celine Brun-Lie brought brown cheese from Norway to share!