Saturday, January 30, 2010

So many cheaters!

So they finally posted the team standings for the MN skinnyski series. After 3 races the Vakava Race Team is sitting in an all too familiar position - a close second to the dreaded Peter's Cheaters. We had put some good distance on the cheaters in the first 2 races of the 7 race series, but we lost 86 points in race 3 when we only had one guy in the skinnyski series race at Pepsi (others were skiing in the longer race). In a curious development, there are now 3 teams of cheaters (the other 2 teams are in the bottom two spots), and one can't help but think that Peter created these extra teams so that he himself could actually ski on one this year ;)

This weekend is a new race on the skinnyski series calendar - the Nordic Spirit race held at Spirit Mountain, Duluth. Should be interesting. I am not sure how deep Vakava's roster will be at this new race. I know some people are taking the weekend off. We can only hope the same is true for the cheaters.

Speaking of the Pepsi Challange: major kudos go to Angie Robinson for winning the race in front of Mary Beth Tuttle and Mel MacMillan (a Vakava podium sweep!). Vakava also took both men's and women's age-adjusted overall races (Mary Beth for the women, and of course Dave for the men). For the year the Vakava women have 4 of the top 5 spots in the overall competition, with Cheryl Dubois, Angie, and Mel in the top 3 spots (and Dave is winning the men's overall too). As if we didn't need further proof that Angie is having a great year so far, she is currently 3rd in the skier of the year (most improved skier) category.

The skinnyski.com photo galleries provide nice documentation of Angie's winning race:

"Tuck for speed"


"Get this extra water out of my way"


"Fist pump for the win!"

"Yeah, I skied pretty awesome"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

NYTs on CC Skiing

I thought it was kind of interesting that the New York Times had an article on cross country skiing and Olympian Andy Newell. ARTICLE

That led me to Newell's website, which has some pretty entertaining videos, like this

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Getting packed up

So tomorrow is the start of a month of living out of a suitcase again. I am spending the entire month of February working in a clinic in Hibbing, MN - spending the weeks drilling, filling, and pulling, and every weekend driving to a different ski race. I hope to still be able to spend one night a weekend in my own bed in Red Wing, but really I am trying to pack as if I will be gone for a month. This also means that tomorrow will be my last Wednesday night Vakava practice of the racing season. That will probably be the hardest part of being gone for the month - the training on my own. It is so nice to know that I will be getting at least one good hard workout with other skiers a week. At least I will see most of the team at the races!

Well, off to pack. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A quick call from Caitlin, another long post from me.

We had a big group at practice tonight. Seems to always be the case when Ahvo is going to be there. He really is something to see. He is so good with picking out minor (or major) changes in people's technique, and he is so quick for a 63 year old guy. We were working on V1 turnover on short uphills, and he can still "dance" up those hills with the best of them.

At the end of practice we had a group call with Caitlin Compton. All of us huddled around the phone and got to congratulate her for making the Olympic team. Caitlin seemed really excited to have everything work out. She said that when she got the call yesterday that she almost didn't want to answer it in case it was bad news. It has certainly not been an easy (or typical) road for her, but she has definatly put in the work and deserves her spot on the team. She told us that she is looking forward to putting in a good block of training at altitude before heading to the races in Canmore. She was also looking forward to catching up with fellow Twin Cities skier Garrott Kuzzy, and was quite optimistic that he would be on the team too within the next two weeks.

Last weekend was the second skinnyski series race at Boulder Lake. Vakava had a strong showing, although we will have to wait until the after Jan 22nd to hear which cheaters that Peter Hanson will cherry pick for his team. We are hoping to have a strong team for this year to at least give him a run for his money. The hardest part is picking a roster of only 12 (our team is 20+ skiers strong this year).

Personally my race was tough but fun. The conditions were not at all what I expected. I had visions of a fast, firm trail after the warmer weather earlier in the week, but the trail was mashed potatoes, and my poles punched in 6" or more every time I polled. In my opinion the conditions favored a skier with stronger legs and a bigger engine. I am more of an arms skiers and I tend to exploit my glide - neither of which was easy to do. That and I am not in quite as good of shape as I was hoping to be in this year. From the gun the pace was fast (the 10k skiers start at the same time and do one lap instead of three). There were only 3 guys who were able to go with the fastest 10k guy, and I was in the first chase group (which was probably 12 guys big). I spent most of the race in the first 3 of that group, spending what I considered to be a fair amount of time at the front doing some leading. At about the 20k point of the race I was in second or third in the group when my ski hit one of the large divots of mushy snow and in my state of off balance I polled between my legs. I went down hard, crotch first onto the trail. The other skiers in the group were able to avoid me, but I was left to pick myself up, try to convince my stomach move out of my throat, and make my way back to the group. That took me a couple of kilometers, but I was soon able to hang at the back and recover. By the last few kilometers as the pace was picking up I was able to move through the group to the top 3, and in the sprint across the lake I was only beaten by Nikolai Anikin to the line. It was a pretty good showing and a lot of fun.

Vakava results this weekend:
Seeley Hills:
22k classic:
5) Dave Bridges
22) Pete Thurmes

11) Michele Oja

42k classic:
18) Derek Wallen
37)Brent Oja
47) Kevin Ivens

1) Jojo Winters (winner... by almost 5 minutes)
11) Allie Rykken

Boulder Lake 31k freestyle:
5) Nathan Porath
11) Andy Schakel
15) Dave Christopherson (once again with the top age-adjusted time for MN skier of the year standings).
36) Mark Ahlers-Moore
74) Kevin Ivens (pulling the big 2-day double)

1) Mary Beth Tuttle (continuing her winning ways, both overall and age-adjusted)
3) Angie Robinson
6) Cheryl Dubois
8) Kathleen Dewahl
10) Mel MacMillian
11) Katie Splan
12) Nichole Porath
(Vakava ladies pretty much dominating the top of the standings with 7 of the top 12!)

Sorry if I missed anyone. That is a lot of people racing!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

An update

Here are some random thoughts:

1. One of my classmates that I spent Dec. in Hibbing with sent me a pic that he took while we were up there. One of the last nights that we were there we went out to the lake (there was no snow on the trails) and skied around. Two of them had never skied before, but one of my classmates in dental school is Renee Kinney (skied for Stillwater HS, U of Vermont and Team Birkie), and so between her and I there was equipment to use. It was fun to all get out on skis together.

2. I was very sad to hear that Cindy Brochman had passed away after her long battle with cancer. She ran with Nichole on the run n fun team, and I only ever heard good things about her.

3. I did the TC Championships this past weekend, and it was a ton of fun. I am looking forward to skiing it next year, and hopefully I will get out on classic skis a bit more before that race. This year I got out great at the start (and avoided the large pile-up), but I did not have the fitness to stick with the leaders. This kind of worries me, since I signed up for the long race at all of the big races this year (COLL, Mora, Birkie). It also could be because I am not as good of a classic skier. The skate race on Sunday went well. Even though I still lost more time to Bjorn and Matt than I would have liked, I was able to post the 5th fastest skate time of the day and catch a number of guys who beat me in the classic race.

Vakava skiers (and others we claim as our own) at TC Champs:

Men: 2nd overall-Bjorn Batdorf (1st in classic, 2nd in skate), 8th-Nathan Porath, 19th-Derek Wallen, 27th-Andy Schakel, 32nd-Dave Christopherson (1st in age group), 33rd-Ryan Atwell, 38th-Per Nelson, 50th-Kevin Ivens,

Women: 1st overall-Jojo Winters (2nd in classic, 4th in skate), 3rd-Kathleen Dewall (1st in skate), 5th-Angie Robinson (3rd in skate), 8th-Cheryl Dubois, 10th-Margie Nelson, 13th-Mel McMillian, 18th-Sara Conrad, 22nd-Katie Anderson, 24th-Allie Rykken

4. Bert Blyleven misses the baseball HOF by 5 votes. Seriously? Go Twins.