Archive for November, 2009

Canmore, Alberta

On snow, finally!  Over the past week or two, much of the US biathlon community (those that aren’t in Europe preparing for the first World Cup) have converged on Canmore, Alberta for some early season skiing.  Canmore is a beautiful town situated in the Canadian Rockies.  I like it here- I always feel most content when surrounded by big mountains on all sides.

Sunrise at quarter after 8.

Although there isn’t a lot of natural snow yet, it has been cold enough for the Canmore Nordic Centre to turn on the snow guns and make a couple small loops.  The venue and shooting range also have evening lighting systems and I’ve enjoyed the night skiing here, especially when the moon is out.  It takes a couple workouts to remember how to ski and how to shoot with skis on.  Skis are a lot longer than summer rollerskis, and it can be awkward to get into the prone shooting position with long boards on your feet.  But skis are magical!

Currently there are about 3 km of manmade snow.

Freshly stone-ground skis require a ton of waxing and skiing before they become fast. Here you can see Anthony Bramante, Melinda McAleese, and Gary Colliander helping with waxing.

Shooting practice has been fun.  This range is much more exposed than our practice range in Lake Placid, so it is a good opportunity to practice shooting in windy conditions.  Before each practice, we “zero” our rifles by shooting on paper.   The coaches help us with a scope by watching where the shots fall on the paper.  They tell us how many clicks we have to turn the sight knobs and in what direction.  We adjusting the settings of our sights so that what we see through the sights corresponds to the center of the target.  Each day has a slightly different zero because variables such as temperature, wind, and lighting conditions, all affect the accuracy of the rifle.  Each time you come in to shoot during a practice or a race, you have to assess the conditions (wind and lighting) and determine whether or not they have changed since you zeroed.  If they have, you have to “take clicks” to adjust for the changes.  It takes a lot of practice to get a feel for how many clicks to take and even the most experienced shooters still struggle with it sometimes.  I am very much a rookie in this regard.

Zeroing at the Canmore Range

Today was our first race of the season.  It was a typical first race; things didn’t go according to plan.  I almost forgot my rifle at the start, I skied a downhill on the first loop a little too aggressively and ended up sliding down it in belly flop position,  when I went to shoot I couldn’t see through my sight because it became clogged with snow when I fell (so I borrowed a tool from a range official to clear it out), and then on one of my (many) penalty loops I tripped while trying to pass a girl and accidently took her down too (which I feel really bad about).    However, it is okay to start the season on the wrong foot-you get the tough races out of your system early and it reminds you to relax and laugh at yourself.

On Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving.  Carolyn and her husband Anthony hosted us in their room.  We brought in extra tables, chairs, plates, and forks from other rooms. Everybody contributed a different dish.  It wasn’t quite as good as being home, but is was a fun and wonderful feast nonetheless.  We had to wait over an hour after dinner before digging into the pies because we were so full.

My favorite cooking/baking activity is making bread, so I contributed the dinner rolls. Despite the mountains of food we had, people were disappointed when they discovered I had only made one small batch, so since the turkey was running late, I made a second.

Attack of the veggie-vampire! Grace Boutot and Annelies Cook prepare green beans for a roasted veggie dish.

Dueling turkeys! Carolyn Bramante and Walt Shepard have a carve-off under the guidance of Tracy Barnes-Colliander.

Our team will be in Canmore for another week and a half before taking off to Coleraine, Minnesota, where we will train and race until Christmas.


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The snow is starting to fly as I reflect on the past several months.  All and all, it was a great summer.  I spent about half my time in residence at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY doing a lot of rollerskiing and shooting.  The rest of my time was split between national team training camps, home (Barton, Vermont), and a vacation to Colorado.  Here’s the summary in a nutshell:


Our team traveled to Fort Kent, Maine for our first major training camp.  For those of you not familiar with Fort Kent, it is a small isolated town at the northern end of “The County” (Aroostock County) in Maine, within a stone’s throw of New Brunswick.  It rained almost every day of the camp, but we still had a blast.  We found plenty of entertainment when we weren’t busy training.

Bed Race_Women

"Interval training" with the National Team, i.e. celebrating Acadian culture by participating in a "bed race" in Madawaska, Maine. I am on the left, BethAnn Chamberlain is on the right, Annelies Cook is sporting the PJs, and the Barnes twins are pushing in the rear. Photo: Gary Coliander


Post-workout visit to a swimming hole in Fort Kent, Maine. Photo: Gary Coliander


During the summers of my college years, I worked at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory near Crested Butte, Colorado doing ecology research.  I missed the lab, the mountains, and the people, and I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to take a mental break from the training lifestyle, so I took a vacation to Colorado.  While I was there, I worked for a Dartmouth professor that I’d had doing stream research.  Among other things, we did a lot of electrofishing (catching fish by stunning them with a mild electric shock) and measured and tagged them so that they could later be recaptured to determine growth rates.   I also fit in as much hiking as I possibly could.


The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory sits on the sit of an old mining village at the base of Gothic Mountain.


Helping set up a nutrient addition experiment to study the diatom Didymosphenia geminata or "rock snot" in Colorado's East River.


Staying in open bay barracks for our 2 week training camp at the Jericho, VT army base proved to be an exercise in adaptability and good team bonding.  We survived the heat and moved on to Bethel, Maine for a week to play in the White Mountains.  I made it home at the end of the month in time to bike in the Echo Lake Road Race.  Of all the years I’ve participated, I’ve never seen it so muddy.  It was quite a challenge trying to navigate a sloppy dirt road on a road bike.


Waiting in line while Gary Coliander dumps a pitcher of icy water on teammate Laura Spector during a brutally hot and humid interval session at Jericho. Photo: Sara Studebaker

Animals (15)

Spending some time at home with my parents and the animals.


Fall is a beautiful season in the Adirondacks.  However I struggle at this time of year, especially with rollerskiing.  We spend a lot of time doing circles on our hilly rollerski loop here at Lake Placid.  I start to dream of gliding over the snow instead of over the pavement.  During one of our low volume training weeks, I traveled to New Hampshire and took part in a timberframing course at Moosilauke Ravine Lodge.  I joined fellow Dartmouth alums and students in building a new house for the Lodge crew to live in.


The rollerski loop in Lake Placid features a difficult uphill approach to the shooting range (under the roof on the left). In the background are the Olympic ski jumps.


Fall training at the Lake Placid practice range.


Learning to timberframe: Here is the partially finished crew quarters that I helped build at Moosilauke Ravine Lodge (Warren, New Hampshire).


The October Utah training camp is one of my favorites of the year.  I love long rollerskis up canyons, hiking along sage-covered ridges, and basking in the western sun.  The last major rollerski time trials of the year happen here.

Utah (11)

These are the "matched" rollerskis that we race on for time trials. They are calibrated to all be the same speed so the race is fair.


Competing in a time trial at Soldier's Hollow in Heber, Utah. Photo: Zach Hall

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