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Archive for May, 2010

Although it may be blasphemous for me to say this since I am a snow-loving skier, spring is my favorite season.  The world feels like it is waking up.  Critters start to move around more, and everything in nature seems happy to be alive.  I start to see ducks paddling about in half-flooded yards, and woodchucks basking in the sunshine.  Even the inevitable rainstorms and resulting mud are welcome signs for me.  Following a downpour, I can almost watch the plants grow.  The earliest flowers, such as Coltsfoot, emerge alongside melting snow patches, and the budding trees create a verdant carpet inching up the mountainsides day by day.  As spring matures into summer, the Vermont landscape could be described a sponge painting with dabs of every possible shade of green, from yellowy birch to dark pine.

I must admit that I missed a couple of weeks of spring in the northeast to witness the wonders of the west.  I flew out to Colorado to visit fellow biathletes Lanny and Tracy Barnes in their hometown of Durango.  Another of our teammates, Andrea Mayo, who trains with the Maine Winter Sports Center, came along too.  The Barnes shared their love of all things outdoors with us, including  fishing, turkey hunting, hiking, hot springs, and mountain biking.  One day we journeyed over to Mesa Verde National Park and toured the ancient cliff dwellings in a snowstorm.  We spend a week camping high on a mountain pass so we could access the snowpack for crust-skiing before the sun softened it midmorning.  When we weren’t busy skiing or biking, we went treasure hunting.  We bushwhacked in search of deer and elk antler sheds, and we walked under the lift lines at Purgatory Mountain Resort looking for goggles, poles, cameras, and iPods dropped by alpine skiers during the winter.  Sometime in the next few years, the Barnes and I dream of unicycling in the famous Iron Horse bike race, which climbs over the 2 passes between Durango and Silverton, CO.   One afternoon, I started my training for this future adventure by unicycling up Coal Bank Pass.

Partway through my Colorado trip, I got some very exciting news.  I’ve been accepted onto the Green Racing Project’s (GRP) ski team, based out of Craftsbury, Vermont.   I’m psyched to move back to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, where I’ll continue to train as a biathlete.   I’m still on the National Biathlon Team (and will travel to several National Team training camps), but as a GRP athlete, I’ll lead a more balanced lifestyle that allows me to contribute to the local community.  A couple of years ago, the Craftsbury Outdoor Center revised it’s mission statement to “promote participation and excellence in lifelong  sports,” such as skiing, and to “use and teach sustainable practices.”  As a GRP athlete, I’ll be working on projects related to the Center’s mission.  Some projects I may be part of include maintaining a garden for the dining hall, planning a Kingdom Lakes Trail network through nearby towns, building maple sugaring facilities, starting an orchard, improving the biathlon range, and replacing the Center’s heating system with a more sustainable boiler unit.  The lifestyle of a professional athlete can be quite bland outside of training and this is something I have struggled with the last couple years.  I think being part of the GRP will be intellectually engaging, and provide me with a meaningful focus to balance all the training and racing.  For more information about the GRP, check it out: http://www.craftsbury.com/grp/grp/home.htm

Our crazy crew in Durango (from L to R, me, Lanny Barnes, Tracy Barnes, and Andrea Mayo, photo courtesy of Lanny)

My first ever broken ski. We spent hours finding jumps in the crusty snow. I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised when I busted a ski (check out my right ski, behind the foot). Luckily, it was an old beater pair that I’d had for 10 years.

Mesa Verde's Park Ranger Jo shows us Cliff Palace and describes the Ancestral Pueblo Peoples that lived there. They ate wild game, as well as corns beans, and squash farmed on the plateau above, and they found spring water under the cliffs. Very few of the inhabitants survived past age 30- I guess I'd already be past my prime.

Learning about turkey hunting and trying out the 12-gauge. (Photo: Lanny Barnes)

Who are those turkeys anyway???

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