An elite athlete competing in the sport of bi

An elite athlete competing in the sport of biathlon: nordic ski racing combined with marksmanship

Monday, April 14, 2014

On board with Out There Biathlon!

So, in accordance with saving the best for last, here's the random news of my unorganized lifestyle in April.

April means taking some time off, some time easy, and some time to do what I feel like doing for training. Thus far the month has included more crocheting (yes, I realize winter is almost over), some birthday celebrations with MWSC teammates Austin and Mikaela, crust skiing, saying goodbye/good luck to Amber Dodge (MWSC devo/junior coach) who is moving on to new pastures in NH, crust skiing, some photography arts and crafts, cuddling with our two adorable kitties, some gym time rebuilding muscles that seem to vaporize in winter (and REALLY sore), spring cleaning, a snowshoeing adventure, watching Seth put my new road bike together, crust skiing, and sorting out fundraising possibilities for the coming season. With MWSC undergoing massive funding transitions, the support for the Olympic Development Team is not available to the degree that I've enjoyed in the past, so I'm trying to sort out where I can come up with +/-$7,500 to cover my travel and racing fees over the next year.

Which brings me to the BIG news of the month: I've joined forces with another team (don't worry, I still ski for MWSC and will wear the Snowrose over my heart), Out There Biathlon.
Out There Biathlon is a team of athletes from all over the world (Spain, New Zealand, Great Britain, Hungary, Brazil, Netherlands, and now the USofA!) brought together by a couple from Wisconsin who's young son took an interest in the sport. They created Out There and have been helping athletes such as myself find support  and visibility for the past four years. Please feel free to check out their nordic sports and camping store, also called Out There. So far we're still in the brainstorming phase so if you have any fundraising ideas for me, please share!

Last night, immediately after joining them, Out There created a Facebook athlete page for me and now, less than 24 hours later, it already has 169 likes! 

And because I know that blogs with lots of pictures are much more interesting, here are a few of my favorites from the start of April and spring (I use this word lightly as there are still +/-2 FEET of snow outside my door here in Fort Kent).

Seth snuggling with Eva after an early morning of crust-skiing adventures.

Arts and Crafts: a wood burning I made for Seth. It's going to get hooks along the bottom under the fox's feet and become a key holder! 

Our playful kittens trying to assist with my crocheting. To date they're only made a yarn-mess once. I was visiting a friend and had a partially-made hat sitting out on a coffee table. They (not sure if the culprit was one or both) took the hat under the coffee table, under the futon, through the railing on the stairs, up the stairs, around the corner and down the hall. That's where I found it after following the yarn tails from the skeins which were as I left them in a bag next to the coffee table. 
I should have taken a picture.

Amber helping Julia with her new fairy wings (a moving-out gift from Amber). We, meaning myself and all ages of MWSC athletes and our coaches, had a going-away ski and pot-luck dinner for Amber. She will be missed but I'm also sure she'll enjoy her new adventures in New Hampshire.

A view from my snowshoe hike on a particularly spring-like afternoon last week. 

The snowman who graced our front yard for only a few short days before Mother Nature did away with him. 

More arts and crafts: I printed a few of my favorite shots from the last few months and mounted them on 8x10 canvases so I can enjoy them on our walls! This is the cheap way of getting a lot of artwork hung up without paying to have them all professionally printed! 

My teammate Mikaela turned 19 this week and he family lives in Japan so Seth and I stepped in to help her celebrate! I made her a carrot cake complete with layers and cream cheese frosting. 

Seth smelling a green Kit Kat sent over from Japan in Mikaela's birthday box….he doesn't look like he's too sure about the Pistachio-flavored candies!

Crust Cruising! 
A bog I skied through on my return route after a perfect crust-ski last week. For those who haven't been (you're missing out), crust-cruising is when the spring sun melts the surface of the snowpack and then we get a hard freeze the following night, creating a hard "crust" that you can ski on. When a good crust forms you can ski just about anywhere that the sun has shined. The terrain for crust-cruising is just endless here in Aroostook County….lots of unplowed logging roads and thousands of open fields that turn into potato and grain crops come planting season.

You have to watch out for things emerging from their winter hiding spots when you ski the fields around here….we got a lot of snow and some rather large objects are just now melting out!

Seth taking a water break during a crust-ski in Stockholm, ME last weekend. No, the short pole is not broken…that's how much snow was still under the crust! 

Lydia waiting for others before chasing the boys up a big hill in Stockholm. At this point the sun was getting rather strong and starting to create a wet, sticky (and significantly slower) layer on top of the crust. We bee-lined it for the cars but still had a slow slog across some softening fields. 

Kam and Cody testing out the snow-depth and enjoying a snack break. 

Our crust-cruising crew! 

Tomorrow I leave what's left of winter and head into the heart of mud season. I'm headed home to NH to visit with family while helping them get the stand going. I'm looking forward to fresh cut greens and dirt under my fingernails! Bring on spring! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Season complete but yet it continues!

While my racing season might have been complete going on two weeks ago, the winter season has a strong grip on the east coast yet! Here in Fort Kent we have about 4 feet of gorgeous fluffy snow on the ground still and the forecast doesn't look like it'll be leaving any time soon. Most years we end our racing schedule just in time for crust cruising to start so we effectively miss any opportunity to really play during the best parts of winter. Getting this extension of beautiful February-like weather is a gift from Mother Nature that I plan on making the most of…but it has to warm up above the current -6 F temps first!

Here's a quick recap of my last month via pictures that I've been collecting:

Just prior to World Junior/Youth Championships in March I did some school visits with area classes who came to watch the races. It's always fun to teach kids about biathlon because they get so psyched about it! Here I'm teaching kids at Mapleton Elementary about target sizes for prone and standing.

I got a bag of Mapleton potatoes as a thank you gift! Those will last a while!  

And, despite my insistence that I wouldn't be racing in Presque Isle, they (ALL) wanted my autograph. 

During World Juniors/Youths I helped the US team:

Opening ceremonies with the US crew!

Local cheer squad decked out in appropriate colors!

On the first day (youth sprints) we watched in awe as Maddie took home 4th place in her first race against an international field. I think she even surprised herself with this one! 

Maddie and Mikaela after the flower ceremony. Sometimes it can be tough to watch others get the success you desire yourself but Mikaela was a first-class fan for Maddie and she has my utmost respect for putting on a huge smile for her friend, teammate, and roommate. 

I have tons of pictures from the remainder of the races in Presque Isle but I won't bore you with those, as they're all much the same. Right after the events in PI concluded I drove south-west to Vermont to help with a development camp for new/up-and-coming biathletes and to compete in the US National Championships. We got pretty lucky in the weather (in that it was warmer than the previous weeks) but Mother Nature did grace us with a sizable snowstorm right before the races kicked off. 

Fresh tracks down to the barracks through a foot+ of fresh powder…

Maddie and KitKat, two of the campers from Casper WY, enjoying a trek during the storm. 

The of the boys from the camp playing in the snow…I believe this was Pete (CA) and Christian (WY). 

The second race at Nationals was a night sprint, a rarity on the domestic circuit. We zeroed before dark and then women raced first so it wasn't too dark yet when I was shooting. Their trails are reasonably well-lit but there were a few spots that were definitely the exception, leaving you wondering where your skis were and if there was anyone right in front of you! 

Podium from the night sprint! 

The final morning of racing was a mass start that found me feeling exhausted from the quick turn around of competing the evening before. I skied as such but shot really well (I believe I only missed 3 shots) to complete a National Championship sweep (3 wins) on the weekend! 

Leaving the range after my final shooting stage of the season. I shot on point 16 and cleaned…such a good way to end a winter of mixed results. 

One more gold! 

After Nationals I went home to NH to visit with my family for a few days. I'm working on finagling some pictures from my stay, but it was a packed stay filled with house remodeling, a birthday celebration, a snow storm, plumbing lessons, and some crust skiing! Check back for an updated version of this post that will hopefully have some pictures. 

Our kitties (Luna on the left and Eva on the right).

One of my latest creations: bullet earrings made from the spent casings during zero at World Juniors in Presque Isle. 

Now that I'm back in the County we're making the best out of this extended winter. Last weekend we joined a crew of MWSC kids for a trek to Will's family cabin in Washburn. We built a campfire, cooked elk meat and hotdogs, shot stuff and played in the snow!

Building a fire on the pond...

Sarah, trying to harvest pine bows for sitting on around the fire, but struggling with skinny skis and REALLY deep snow!

Hanging out by the fire while the boys attempt to take down some targets in the background. 

Devo Girls are all smiles! 

Will's dog, Castor, enjoying all the extra company for playing in the snow! 

Our cats keeping each other company under the table...

We have just a little snow left here in Northern Maine! 

After we shoveled our way into the garage to retrieve the snowblower...

The path down to the house after Seth cleaned it out again….

Clear afternoon that doesn't really resemble spring at all (March 21st)!

Seth widening the driveway after the drifts tried to take over (again). 

Since I started writing this the temperature has risen to 0 degrees so I might yet make it outside before lunch today (it's 9:30am now). What to do: snowshoe or ski? Maybe both!