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Archive for November, 2013

Evening activities in our cabin at Ă–stersund: cozy reading on the couch, a sewing project spread across the floor, online research for a school assignment. We are all absorbed by our individual projects.
20131118-220714.jpgSuddenly a squealing noise sounds from out in the parking lot. We look up at each other confused. What in the world?!?

Then realization dawns and there is a rush to the door. We pull on our boots as fast as we can, grab our coats and head outside, giddy with delight. The wax techs have arrived!

Sure enough, there is the Boxer cargo van and the VW right behind it. Out of the Boxer climb Gara and Hansi, two of our wax technicians. The source of the pig-like squealing was Gara’s special barnyard animal horn. It can make a variety of animal noises: moos, whineys, and clucks. Blaring it upon arrival and departure is one of Gara’s trademarks.

The first order of business is hugs all around. Gara takes three of us in a bear hug at once. The wax techs are a cherished part of our winter-time family and we haven’t seen them in months. They are a crazy bunch, hailing from Czech, Germany and Sweden. Every day they collaborate with us over ski care and entertain us around the dinner table with their relentless banter. They work incredibly hard but also help keep the team atmosphere light.
20131118-220909.jpgThe techs had driven all the way up from the team’s base in Bavaria carrying skis, waxing eqiupment, new Adidas uniforms, and personal gear that we had left in Germany. They had intended to arrive a day earlier, but missed the ferry by 10 minutes and got stuck in Hamburg for an extra 24 hours.

“How was ‘Hamburger’?” we ask. “We heard you missed the ferry to Sweden. Did you hit traffic?”
“Ah, it’s Gara’s fault. Four or five times we stopped for him to pee,” Hansi explained.
“Nay! It’s because Hansi stopped for food,” Gara countered.

Within a few minutes, the rest of the team and staff has emerged from their cabins to greet the new arrivals. We chit chat and catch up as we start unloading numerous boxes and heavy duffels. Many hands make light work, and in a short order all the luggage has been sorted and carted away.
20131118-221009.jpgMuch of our biathlon family is back together now and we are ready for the routines of the racing season.

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Happy belated Halloween from the “US Figure Biathlon Skating Team!”

My teammate Hannah has competed in the Climb to the Castle uphill rollerski race four different years. She is known for always racing in a different figure skating outfit, which she finds in a Lake Placid thrift shop. This year, she brought all four outfits out to Utah so we could have Halloween costumes. I wonder if any figure skaters have ever dressed up like biathletes for Halloween?

20131031-214731.jpg (Photo: Sara Studebaker)

Speaking of thrift stores, we listened to Macklemore’s music a lot last winter on the road. “Thrift Shop” and “And We Danced” are some of our team’s favorites. We couldn’t believe our luck when we found out Macklemore and Ryan Lewis would be playing in Salt Lake during our Utah camp on the evening before our rest day. We went, and we danced, and we had a really, really, really good time.

20131031-151319.jpg (Photo: Erik Lewish)

One of our tasks this week has been to teach our Italian coach, Armin, how to carve a Jack-o’-Lantern. (His lantern is second from left.)

20131031-215233.jpg (Photo: Armin Auchentaller)

That got us wondering about the origins of moden American Halloween traditions. Apparently Irish and Scottish settlers brought over the Jack-o’-Lantern idea, but they originally used turnips. Pumpkins, after all, are native to North America.

20131031-215838.jpg (Photo: Annelies Cook)

A few weeks ago, I was nominated to become an Athlete Ambassador of the US Olympic and Paralympic Team for Tomorrow program. I am honored to be joining 11 other Athlete Ambassadors from around the country to give back to our communities and promote Olympic ideals and healthy lifestyles. On Wednesday, I visited Parley’s Park Elementary School in Park City and had a captive audience of 400 kids. We talked about Sochi and how cool it is that a common love of sport brings the whole world together. I shared my love of biathlon and why I love training and spending lots of time outside.

20131031-214611.jpg (Photo: Linda Jager)

In the coming weeks, my home club team, the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, will be visiting several schools in northeastern Vermont to talk about skiing, goal setting, and environmental sustainability. Ida Sargent and myself will be returning to our hometown elementary school in Barton. Some of our teammates will be visiting Greensboro, Irasburg, and Lamoille. Stay tuned for future outreach opportunities. We hope we can continue to expand these visits in future years.

One of the highlights of our National Team training camp in Utah every October are the rollerski biathlon races. This year was particularly special for me because my Craftsbury teammates were all out here. A few of them raced, and the non-biathlon folks cheered really, really loudly. They brought posters and sidewalk chalk to draw on the track. Thanks guys!

20131031-151157.jpg (Photo: Pepa Milocheva)

I was psyched to “clean” one of the races! (Cleaning means you hit all your targets.)

20131031-214818.jpg (Photo: Gordon Vermeer)

Training has been phenomenal out here. We’ve done tons of rollersking, running, hiking, lifting, and mountain biking. I really enjoyed biking Park City’s Mid- Mountain trail.

20131031-151428.jpg (Photo: Erik Lewish)

Towards the end of a long, hard training camp, it can become a struggle to roll out of bed in the morning. We were feeling tired at the start of this workout a few days ago, but after an hour climbing up a canyon, we hit the snow line. The valley floor was quite drab, but high in the Wasatch foothills we were energized by a magical snowy wonderland. Winter is coming!

20131031-222223.jpg (Photo: Annelies Cook)

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