Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Birthday Blog

West Yellowstone sunset over the Rendezvous ski trails
From the time I was 12, I have spent nearly every Thanksgiving and, consequently, every birthday, in the beautiful West Yellowstone, Montana. Today I turn 25, a quarter of a century, and although some might miss being at home with friends and family, a ski festival birthday has it's perks.

1. More birthday wishes!

West Yellowstone offers some of the best early season skiing in North America and attracts hundreds (maybe even thousands) of skiers to the trails. First-timers, old veterans, racers, coaches, the young and the old(er) flock to West Yellowstone making for a huge crew of birthday well-wishers (in addition to providing ideal conditions for agility practice).
The Rendezvous ski trails are the literal rendezvous point for hundreds of skiers this time of year. Skiing and social hour!
The trails buzz with excitement as skiers take their first snowy strides of the winter, and, thanks in part to Facebook, nearly everyone on the trail wishes you Happy Birthday! Nothing like the constant hum of birthday hugs and wishes to make you feel special:)

2. Lots of snow!

Goob playing around in some fresh POW! 
Snow happens to be one of my favorite parts of winter and West Yellowstone (usually) has a lot of it. This means that I can ski, build snowmen, make snow angels and throw snowballs to my heart's delight and finish the day with hot chocolate and mini marshmallows.
About a 1:1 ratio of hot chocolate to marshmallows
Some might consider November to be a little grey and dreary, but in West Yellowstone, a November birthday means playing in that fluffy white stuff all day.

3. Presents galore!

Fresh poles, gloves, boots and skis galore! Many of the major ski companies send representatives to West Yellowstone for the annual ski expo which means stickers for days and also new equipment for the season. A West Yellowstone birthday means I get to try out my new Fischer skis and Swix poles, test my Toko gloves and Swix long underwear against the frigid temps, cruise the trails in some new Salomon boots, and show off our sweet PodiumWear suits. So many presents!

Annie showing off a bouquet of new Swix Triac Poles 2.0 and some fancy new Toko gloves! Thanks to Swix, Toko, Salomon, and Fischer for the presents !
Being in West Yellowstone for my birthday also means I get to spend the day with some of my favorite people and do that thing I love!
The #Annies on Annie street in Bozeman...maybe one of the best birthday "presence" around :)

We have a few more training days here before the SuperTour and first races of the season begin on Friday. The competition looks solid with some Canadians traveling down to compete and many other strong American skiers. We kick off the weekend with a skate sprint followed by a skate 10km (15km for men) individual start race on Saturday. First though, some birthday cake and a few more powder-filled adventures under sunny skies.

For those still searching for the perfect gift, check out the Women's Sports Foundation Face-Off Challenge! The WSF is helping cover some of my travel and training expenses this year and looking to grow the fund for future female champions. Annie and I did our own face off in the gym today in honor of the event...

Preeeetty intimidating!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Nordic Skier's Guide to Bozeman

From Vermont to the Mountain West :)
My last week in Vermont was a blur of packing tape, scribbled lists, suitcases, frozen snot, ski bags, birthday cards, name cards and bittersweet goodbyes.
Last run up the mountain looking across at Bromley Mountain
We started the week with bounding intervals on the SunBowl trails and a trip to Putney to gather skis from Zach at Caldwell Sport.
Goob checking out skis at Zach's shop. This was only a fraction of the total number of skis in their home right now.
I owe a huge thank you to Zach and Amy for helping me get my skis dialed in before heading West and can't wait to try the boards out on some fresh snow. We dedicated the end of the week to some last-minute prep for our SMS T2 send-off auction event on Saturday evening and the chaotic process of packing up and moving out for the winter. The entire SMS T2 team convened in Stratton one last time before heading out for the season and the event gave us a chance to raise a little money and also to thank the many community members who support our team.
Sophie and Jessie give Greg Marston a thank you hug. He was one of many who helped make the event a huge success! 
We were thrilled by the number of people who showed up for the event and, despite allegations that I was being used for my hand-writing, I have never been so excited to hand-write 100+ name place cards!
Boys for sale :)
The event was a huge success and I am really excited to announce that we met our matching grant goal of $25,000! Thank You!!!
Thanks You from SMS T2! (And to Hubert Schreibl for the team photos!)
On Sunday we said goodbye to Simi, Sophie, Jessie and Andy and wished them luck as they headed to the far north of Finland for the first World Cup races of the season.
Saying goodbye for the winter is always a little bittersweet but fortunately I get to see this one in less than a month!

Goodbyes are never that fun but the day was made better by celebrating Annie Pokorny's day of birth! She turned the big 22 in full western fashion complete with cowboy cupcakes that were the perfect send off for the trip to Montana.
Gourmet Cowboy Cupcakes..Yeehaw!
I am now happily settled at home for a few days before the rest of the SMS T2 domestic crew arrives for the first SuperTour races of the season in West Yellowstone, MT.
Home on the range
I grew up in Bozeman (not to be confused with Belgrade) so I decided to put together a list of my favorite hotspots in Bozeman for the nordic skier adventurer foodie on their way out West for the season openers.

The Nordic Skier's Guide to Bozeman*

1. Best lunch spot: Bozeman Co-Op

Any nordic skier knows that the best post-ski food meets 3 basic criteria: fast, filling, and, ideally, pretty healthy. The Bozeman Co-Op is a hometown favorite for just that and offers some of the tastiest lunch and snack options in town. I also highly recommend ordering "Cold Comfort" from the upstairs juice bar for those needing an immune boost after a long travel day.

2. Trail not to miss: Logger's Loop
Be sure to bring some extra food so you don't bonk..the trail has also been known as "Longest" Loop

Hard to beat Bohart on a beautiful  day
Loggers Loop. Although Bohart Ranch is known for its brutal race course, the rest of the trail system offers some real gems and Loggers is one of my favorites. A close runner-up is the forest service road that winds up Bozeman Creek on the south side of town that offers perfect terrain for a long distance ski.

3. Best coffee stop on the way to West Yellowstone: The Coffee Pot

The Coffee Pot Bakery and Cafe. Load up on caffeine and the biggest cinnamon roll you have ever set eyes on, this tiny place is right on the way to West Yellowstone and oh so tasty!

4. Best place to warm-up after the races: Norris Hot Springs
Take the long way around
Take the scenic route back from West Yellowstone after the last races and stop by Norris Hot Springs,  a naturally occurring hot springs in the Madison River Valley that offers live music a few days a week!

5. Best chai in town: Wild Joe's
So good and artsy and hipster

I'm partial to Wild Joe's which offers something like 6 different types of chai. Also a great spot to hole up and do some work for those of us who don't just ski all day. And if you are hankering for a cinnamon roll to go with your chai, check out Wild Crumb Bakery!

6. Best place to get some PT work done: Excel

Excel! This place is great and has a focus on athletic injury and physical therapy. They also work a lot with Nordic skiers so they know how to help you return to peak condition.

7. Best place to unwind after a big day on the trails: Ale Works

Don't forget to try a Moscow Mule, Bozeman's signature drink (Ale Works, Bacchus Pub, and Copper all offer good ones!)
Founded by Olympic silver medalist in GS, Christin Cooper-Tache and her husband and former World Cup skier Mark Tache, Ale Works is a Bozeman favorite offering local brews, tasty food (the fish tacos are my personal favorite), and a laid-back, skier-friendly atmosphere pretty much any day the week.

8. Best breakfast: Nova
Pancakes galore
Skiers gotta eat and this place will start your day right.

9. Best place to pick up some Toko gloves, wax, ski bindings, that iron you forgot or some hand warmers when the polar vortex hits the mountain west...Northern Lights or Bangtail Bike and Ski

Northern Lights has got you covered for a last minute hot box for you skis and pretty much all things outdoors. Bangtail Bike and Ski also offers a wide range of waxes and ski apparel in case the temps drop and you need to double up on layers!

10.  Best West Yellowstone ski experience. Moonlight Ski

Enjoy a Montana ski under the stars!

* These are purely based on my own opinion and merely offer some ideas for those new or visiting the Bozeman area for the Bozeman and West Yellowstone SuperTour races and ski festival.

See you out West!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Surviving Black Tuesday

Sunsets in November are hard to beat
I have a love-hate relationship with November. The month boasts the start of the ski season, jumping in piles of leaves, enough turkey and apple pie to satisfy me for a year, my birthday (!), and the early snowfall signals the approach of winter.
Annie Hart enjoying a nice November run in the woods.
However, November has a darker side. A confusing mix of snow, rain, colder temperatures and grey skies replaces the sunshine of the summer and picturesque fall foliage. The seasonal frustration combined with shorter, darker days, leftover fatigue from the last 6 months of training, and the anxious anticipation of the upcoming races typically comes to an ugly head during the first few weeks of the month, specifically, Black Tuesday. Often confused with Black Friday, Black Tuesday involves fewer red tags and more red eyes.
From snow...

To dirt...

To grass...

To leaves...just make up your mind November!
I experienced my first Black Tuesday last year when I had a full-on meltdown after my coach said I was not allowed to do intervals that day because he thought I needed more rest. The tears and temper tantrum that followed was not my proudest moment but it did offer some valuable insight. My coach was spot-on. If NOT doing intervals was making me cry, something was seriously wrong and I really did need bit of a break.

This year, I nearly forgot about Black Tuesday. On the heels of our fall camp out West and a trip to NYC for the Ski Ball, the SMS T2 team joined the SMS Juniors for a classic sprint simulation in Stratton last week.
Lining up for our sprint qualifier
Black Tuesday returned painfully and without warning. I don't think of myself as someone who cries a lot, but I'll be the first to admit that I had to borrow Annie's sunglasses after our second interval to mask the droplets on my cheeks. An hour later, we finished the workout and a little dried salt near the creases of my eyes was the only sign of my earlier meltdown.
Good thing I have these weirdos to keep me smiling :)
Maybe everyone has their own version of Black Tuesday, but the good news is that Black Tuesday is almost always followed by Waffle Wednesday.
And what goes better with waffles than BACON!?
After surviving the dark hole that was Tuesday everything else seemed suddenly easier and better. I also learned some things:

1. Crying at practice usually means I need a nap... or food... or both.
2. Black Tuesday is only one day. That means 364 out of 365 days in a calendar year are NOT Black Tuesday. That's a lot of really good days!
3. Black Friday is actually a great cure for Black Tuesday. Who ever said retail therapy doesn't work? If all else fails, a good cider donut can usually get the job done.

We also have a lot to look forward to for the rest of the month. First up is our SMS T2 send-off event  at Stratton. The entire SMS T2 team will be at the event this Saturday, which includes tasty food and cocktails and some awesome auction items including a gourmet 4-course dinner prepared and served by your very own SMS T2 women! Contact Sverre at for more info and hope to see you there!
A few of the SMS T2 women demo-ing the latest version of roller-skate drive-in dining... but this time with roller-skis and cocktail dresses!

Maybe not...but you will have to come to the fundraiser to find out!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Announcements and the Glamorous Side of Skiing

First of all I have a few exciting announcements! As per usual, I will list them...

1. My blog is now being featured on FasterSkier!

I will continue to post on this blog as well, but if you are a skier fan my blog can also be found on the FasterSkier blogroll, the premier online news source for all things nordic. Check out the new format and blog here!

2. SMS T2 is having a party!
Join Us!
On November 15th, SMS T2 is having a fun send-off event to get everyone fired up for the season and also to help raise some money to help pay for our coach and team expenses for the year. We have an awesome matching grant challenge on the table so every dollar raised will be doubled, up to $25,000. The event includes great food, drink, company, and some sweet auction items including Olympic swag from Sochi and a 4-course dinner catered by the lovely girls of SMS T2. Tickets are still available and any support is always welcomed. For more details, check out the SMS T2 website or shoot our program director, Sverre Caldwell, an email at Hope to see you there!

3. I went to NYC!
NYC skyline from Central Park
In general, skiers tend to be a pretty casual bunch. Sports bras and athletic shorts take over my dresser during the summer months only to be replaced by spandex and ski headbands when the snow starts to fly. My "work clothes" tend to be a little more winkled than the average YOPRO ("young professional"...the phrase is new to me too) and the tennis shoes in my shoe collection far outnumber the stilettos. That said, I LOVE getting dressed up so I was pretty thrilled to have an excuse to put on a black dress and heels last weekend and experience the classier side of ski racing.
              Jessie Diggins modeling "casual skier chic" complete with toe socks and compression tights
After wrapping up almost a month of solid training out West, including one week on snow in Canmore, Canada and over 2 weeks in Park City, I traded mountain views for cityscapes and headed for New York City. I joined Andy, Sophie, Simi, and Ben for a trip to the Big Apple to attend the annual NYC Gold Medal Gala.
                                        Andy and I classing it up and living large in the big city
The Gala is a huge fundraiser for USSA and features top athletes from Freestyle, Alpine, Ski Jumping and Nordic disciplines, including gold medalists Mikaela Shiffrin, Kaitlyn Farrington, Maddie Bowman and Sage Kotsenburg. Although the ski team athletes are the stars of the show, I was more than happy to tag along for the ride. The whole event takes place in the Whale Room of the Museum of Natural History and generates an impressive amount of support for USSA.
Just like Night at the Museum!
Sophie, Ben and I working the red (black?) carpet
Just hanging with my favorite dinosaur friend
Andy and I had an extra day in the city and checked out Central Park, The Met, and met up with some friends to explore the city.
Andy and I pretending to be city folk 

I also got to see one of my best friends from home, Elizabeth, who happened to be in the city. Such a treat!

Just like Night at the Museum!

Steps of the Met

Andy scoping out some of the armor

Knights of centuries passed
NYC reminds me a bit of the Montana Fair with countless lights, sounds, food, trash, music, and people everywhere. The cotton candy tastes better than you could imagine and the roller-coasters offer a temporary thrill, but by the end of the night, nothing sounds better than your own bed. Even though Vermont is looking a little gray these days I was pretty happy to return to the mountains and fresh air after a few days in the city. Sports bras and sweatpants never looked so good!

First signs of winter starting to appear in Stratton

Colder temps and the first flakes of snow welcomed us back to Vermont. We have two more weeks here before the SMS T2 team splits, with half the crew headed to Europe for World Cups and the other half headed to West Yellowstone for the first SuperTour races of the season. Heels are fun for a night but I'm psyched to be getting my spandex suit prepped and ready for racing!