Posts Tagged ‘Fast and Female’

What do skiing, mountain biking, sunburns, snowstorms, rainbows and lots of roundabouts all have in common? They can all be found in Bend, Oregon in the month of May.
For the first time in recent memory, the US Biathlon team sent a group of athletes to Bend for an early summer on-snow training camp. We left our rifles at home and focused on volume training. We skied an exhausting number of hours every morning, sharing the trails with the US Ski Team, Canadian Ski Team, Canadian Biathlon Team, and numerous club teams. Although we rarely completed the same workouts as the other groups (we are on different training plans) it was motivating to spend time around other elite North American athletes. I’d never seen so much representation of the different programs in one place. Nor could I predict which athletes I would end up skiing with when I started out in the morning.

One of many rainbow sightings.

Members of the US biathlon team, Russell, Lowell, Tim, Sara, Annelies and myself.

The first several days we had perfect corduroy and sunny blue skies.

Emil’s Clearing was the gathering point for all the different teams, and a great place to socialize during water breaks and wax touch ups.

Mixing it up during classic speeds with US Ski Teamer and fellow Craftsbury GRPer, Ida Sargent.

Hanging out with the local girls at Fast and Female. We danced, talked about goals and dreams, and worked on strength and agility among other things. I got to work with and get to know US Ski Teamer Holly Brooks, who I had only met once before this camp.

We watched but didn’t participate in Bend’s famous Pole Peddle Paddle race. I’d love to take part in it some day, but the logistics look challenging.

I spent most of my afternoon workouts mountain biking. There were tons of awesome single track trails, plus this gorgeous path along the Deschutes River.

The far side of the river looked like a rocky wasteland, filled with rugged volcanic rock. I spent an afternoon on my off day exploring “lava island.”. A few lone pine trees managed to grow in the rocks, and some pretty ferns sprouted up through deep cracks in the rock.

A tired crew enjoying our one off day. I had forgotten how comfy recliners are.

Normally we could enjoy winter up at Mt. Bachelor and then drive down to summer weather at our condo in Bend 25 minutes away, but the last morning we woke up to some wintry weather down low…

…which translated into a foot of new snow up on the ski trails.

I can’t think of a better place for ski training this time of year. I’m leaving feeling extremely tired, but happy. Bye bye Bend! …’till next time


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My version of March Madness consists of ski racing through sunshine and slush.  The biathlon season ended last weekend  with National Championships in Fort Kent, Maine, but several of us biathletes decided to hang out in “The County” (Aroostock County in northern Maine) for an extra week to race Spring Series and XC Distance Nationals with the xc ski community.  Between the biathlon and xc races, we signed up to race 7 competitions in 11 days, ranging in distance from a 1.3 km sprint to a 30 km marathon.

Rifle racks in front of the 10th Mountain Ski Lodge in Fort Kent

The final of the 7 races was a 5 km "hill climb," featuring a section of course that went straight up Fort Kent's alpine hill

The first couple of biathlon races at Nationals were some my roughest shooting days of the season.  The targets refused to go down despite my best effort, and I was starting to feel a little discouraged about what I had to show for a year of hard work.   I remember emerging from the penalty loop after skiing several wet slushy circles and being minutes behind most of the field with only one lap left to try to catch up.  It was the lowest point of the week and the finish line couldn’t have come soon enough.  Lucky for me, Tom Upham, a former ski coach and one of the best cheerers in the world, was right there yelling at me from the sideline.  “Smile Susan- remember to smile!”  I half heartedly set aside my grimace of frustration and attempted to smile.  Immediately I felt a little better.  I had almost forgotten to have fun, with is the biggest mistake a ski racer can make.  The week went uphill from there.

During a day off from racing during Spring Series, a group of women skiers, including many US Ski Team members, National Biathlon Team members, as well as professional and college racers from across the county, met at a small elementary school in Madawaska, Maine with a common goal: to share our love and joy of skiing with young girls.  Founded by Canadian xc ski racer Chandra Crawford, Fast and Female is an organization that seeks to inspire young girls to life healthy active lifestyles and help them become confident and empowered through sport (read more at http://fastandfemale.imworks.biz/default.asp).  Kikkan Randall, the United State’s top female skier, arranged to bring Fast and Female to Madawaska during these Super Tour races.  She recruited over half the finishers of the marathon the day before to help.  We spent much of the day on skis playing games with the girls, but also hung out with them and answered their questions.  When we were asked what our favorite part about skiing was, the answers varied from spending a lot of time outside, hanging around awesome people, traveling to cool places, and feeling physically strong and fast.  The common thread in all the answers: skiing is fun and makes us feel good.

The end of the season had several high points, shown below:

Lots and lots of warm sunny days. It's hard not to smile with this sort of weather. (Photo: Haley Johnson)

Endless miles of potato field "crust skiing." In the spring, cold nights and warm days create a hard crust on top of the snow and we can skate over everything without bothering with grooming.

Sprint to finish with Tracy Barnes-Colliander. After two rough races to start the national championships, I ended on a very positive note for the last biathlon race of the season and edged out Tracy to win the national title in the mass start (Photo: Nate Herz, fasterskier.com)

Momma Dunklee, Papa Dunklee and Susan Dunklee, enjoying the races together. (Photo: Kat Howe)

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