Vakava Team Photo

Vakava Team Photo
Vakava Racers at the Mora Last Chance Race

Monday, November 29, 2010

When horrible things happen to skiers / The power to overcome

The world can be unfair, and people can do terrible things to each other. Sadly, cross country skiers are not immune from this pain. When a woman can't take her children out cross country skiing in a local park without being robbed at gunpoint and then sexually assulted in front of her kids (article here), it certainly drives this point home.

Cross country skiing is supposed to be safe. The ski trails are supposed to be a refuge away from the ills of society and the rush of the modern world. And when this refuge is invaded and the world spills onto the trails in all its horror I feel violated. It feels like the skiing community as a whole has been assulted.

But what defines us is not the terrible things we must endure, but how we come out on the other side. The woman who was assulted released a statement on a community forum. In it she said:

"At one point the boys (who were robbing her) asked for our skis. I wish they could have taken them and used them and experienced the pure joy of gliding in the fresh snow, getting winded from exertion and breathing in cool, fresh air. Please send them all the love you can muster. I think they really need it."


If that does not speak to the power of an individual to forgive, and the power of skiing, I don't know what does. I personally am in awe of her response.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Training or Exercising in Futility?

Fall has always been my least favorite time of year. It’s dark, cold, bad conditions for just about anything, and we’re supposed to be putting in a lot of hours. Not a good combination. This November has proved no different. I haven’t had my heart in my training lately so that is not helping either. I’ve been more in the mood to ‘nest’ in this weather than get out and train and hadn’t trained in a couple days. Dave came to my rescue today and got me out the door. We decided to try the U of M golf course since we figured it’d still have snow. Well, it had snow, sort of. It was more ice than snow, but we ventured out anyway. There is a fair amount of terrain there that we had to navigate in addition to bare spots and ruts so finding a good area to ski was tricky. Conversation was difficult above the noise of us scraping along but some snippets were… Angie to Dave, “Look, another fool!” as we spotted another skier, who wasn’t out long. Dave to Angie, “Come on!” in the tone you’d use to coax a puppy along. We finally picked our way to the north and east sides of the course and found some fairways that had decent coverage, few ruts, and were gradual enough that we could get up and down them reasonably well. Even so, it was rather comical to see each other hobbling and skittering along. I think my heart rate topped out at 110 since it was so hard to move around. All that said, I actually began to enjoy myself. It was a nice sunny day, I enjoyed the company, and I was even getting the hang of the ice at the end. I was thinking how it was good practice in case we have to race in conditions like we did at Pepsi last year. So it wasn’t so futile after all. (I’m still praying for a few inches of fresh snow rather than more freezing rain tomorrow though.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Minnesota Trails Magazine

So I got a copy of MN Trails magazine in the mail, and I guess I can now add cover model to my resume. The magazine did have great coverage of last year's MN Skinnyski Series (including a word-for-word copy of Mary Beth's Iceland blog entry - even including my editor's note!). Their team competition coverage was especially entertaining. It went:

"The team competition proved to be, once again, a duel between Vakava/Sisu and Peter's Cheaters. This rivalry has grown to epic proportions and taken on its own mythology. It is a story of good against evil: on the side of good the wholesome and hard-working Vakava racing team, and on the side of evil the Cheater's, a heartless group of mercenaries - recruited by mastermind Peter Hansen - who wouldn't recognize each other on the street. Good triumphed in the end, but there were some interesting moments along the way. Vakava came out with guns blazing at the Twin Cities Championships and scored a whopping 586 points to 541 for the Cheaters. And it was the Skinnyski team also showing some firepower with 581. Boulder Lake saw the two favorites surge ahead with 590- and 572- point totals, respectively. The Cheaters snuck ahead at the Pepsi Challange. Then it was the Muven Gruven squad who made up some serious distance at the Nordic Spirit race. Muven Gruven was best at the City of Lakes Loppet, too. Were we going to see a new champion? It was not to be, as Vakava and Cheaters brought in the muscle for the Mora Vasaloppet. Vakava showed its might with a dominating 595-point performance - just five points shy of a perfect score. Still. in the Skinnyski Series, it's never over until the ax swings at the Minnesota Finlandia. The Cheaters were game and topped Vakava by over 100 points, but it was not enough. The skiers in blue came out on top."

Vakava/Sisu 3525
Peter's Cheaters 3431
Muven Gruven 3167 2578
Hoigaard's/Breadsmith 1594

Nice recap. Couldn't have said it better myself!

Friday, November 19, 2010

First on snow practice

The twin cities got a bit of snow last Friday and Saturday, which was very nice. We have had a very mild fall so far, and that has made for some quite enjoyable training conditions (although now that I have a job with an hour commute each way, I am still figuring out how to fit it all in...). Where I live in Red Wing we only got about 3 or 4 inches, but that was still enough to get out to the high school ball fields for some skiing on Saturday and Sunday. It was warm slushy snow, and harries were kicking well on Saturday. Sunday I broke trail on skate skis, which was quite the strength workout. I had to V2 the downhills, and V1 everything else.

This Thursday Vakava had our first practice on snow. We opted to head to the U of MN golfcourse to find some pretty much untouched snow to try our hand at crust skiing. It worked pretty well, although that part of the cities definately got more snow than Red Wing, and the problem was that we would break through pretty often. It was still very enjoyable to be out skiing, and although conditions did not lend themselves to doing intervals, we still got in a good workout chasing each other around the course.