Training, racing, gear, facial hair styles and thoughts from my push to become an elite cyclist.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ski Season Retrospective

Now that it's April my ski season is officially done, and with that in mind I thought now would be an appropriate time to post my end-of-season retrospective. 

It's no secret that cycling is my main focus.  In some ways it's an accident of circumstance that I got into nordic skiing, but I've grown to really enjoy it.  Previous posts have given you some insight into my usual ski workouts, so I won't retread the day-to-day details. 

In no particular order here are the things that were noteworthy about the season, either because they were of some minor significance or because they offer some interesting anecdote.

I skied with the top skate group in my weekly master's training.  Last year I started in the beginner category and moved up through the categories until I found myself skiing in the top category this winter.  Somehow I didn't consciously get into that group, but the guys I normally ski with were doing it and I knew I could keep up.  It was a great experience, and I think I really improved a lot because of it.

Classic skiing is still an anathema to me.  I made a concerted effort on several occasions to pick it up, and I did make some progress, but it's still not natural and I don't consider myself very good on classic skis.   I've gotten better, but I still have a lot of work to do. 

My worst skiing related injury this year was smacking my left knee cap on the top of my ski while attempting to learn classic.  It wasn't terrible, but it did slow me down and make me hobble for a couple weeks.  During that time I seriously contemplated ditching classic altogether and working on biathlon on classic weeks next winter.  At this point I could go either way on that. 

Every year for the past few years I've skied up to the Slayton Pasture Cabin at Trapp's at least once.  That streak ended this year primarily because I always found myself more interested in skiing for distance on rolling terrain rather than shelling myself on the long slog to the cabin.  I'm a little bummed about that, but in my mind the cabin route is more of a tourist's rite of passage than a true milestone.

I broke my first ski.  It was kind of cool to feel like I was pushing it enough to cause an equipment failure like that, but it's not covered under warranty and made my last day out a very expensive.  Fortunately it was my condition-specific Madshus X3's and not my Atomic World Cup all-rounders, but it still sucked.  Those things were hardly used and ran really well in soft snow.  It looks like I'll be replacing them with another set of Atomics instead.

For the third year in a row I didn't get my shit together to ride to the mountain and then go skiing.  Yes, the Hampsten has indeed proven to be elusive, partly because the conditions need to be just right but also because it's a logistical headache and nobody cares other than me.  There were a few days when I seriously considered it, but instead I opted to keep skiing for an extra hour rather than screwing around with windproof bib tights, two layers of shoe covers, icy roads and frozen water bottles.  

I didn't enter any ski-related events, including a winter triathlon or the Stowe Derby.  This one I feel semi-bad about.  Last season I did a winter tri and the running section almost killed me.  It wasn't that the 5k was more than I could handle, but I legitimately hadn't been running in the six months leading up to the event and I dug myself a deep hole in the 30 minutes it took me to complete the run course.  Out of 50 or so racers, I finished the run in about 48th position.  This year I had been working on running more often and made some real progress, but the winter tris are expensive to enter and the amount of gear required for them is ridiculous.  For the six hours of driving and the $100 entry/temp license fees I decided to stay home and get some real skiing in on real terrain instead of circling around a flat, Boston-area golf course for 75 minutes. 

Next season I'm seriously considering doing some longer ski events like the Lake Placid Loppet, the Keskinada Ski Marathon in Gatineau, PQ, or even the 10k Valley Cup at Ole's.  Maybe it'll happen, maybe it won’t, but I think November is going to be my down time since I won't be racing 'cross.  That way I can start preparing for ski season in early December and be ready for some racing in late January or February.

Like most things, my goals could change at a moment's notice, but I expect to do more mountain bike racing this summer, take it easy this fall, and then get an earlier start on skiing.  I won't have a trip to France next year so maybe I'll plan on doing the Craftsbury Spring Fling or some other late season race to keep me motivated.  Remarkably I can go uphill reasonably well on skis, primarily because I can actually use my upper body instead of just dragging it along. 

Maybe I'll even do another winter tri, but probably not.  I do see myself becoming more of a winter/summer guy and taking my time completely off in the fall.

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