Thursday, July 12, 2012

Glacier Skiing!

I had already made plans for the first week of July; otherwise, I surely would have dusted off my skis and boots and headed to Anchorage for a master's training camp on the glacier.  On the glacier!  Just like the cool kids!  Now that I've read Travis Rector's report and seen his friend Shannon's pictures, I'm even more sure that it will be on my schedule next year.  Read on, and dream of groomed skiing in July!

As for glacier camp…wow, so much to tell.  Best thing to do is to look at pictures!  My friend Shannon has loaded up a bunch.  Start here:  
You can then go through the slides chronologically by clicking on the "newer" button.   
So the trip started on Thursday morning by taking an APU van from Anchorage down to Girdwood, which is 45 minutes south.  We then took a helicopter up to the glacier.  The facility is at an altitude of 5600 feet and is only a five-minute helicopter ride.  First they loaded all of our skis and bags into a sling which the helicopter carried up. It then took three loads of six of us to get up there.  In about 45 minutes all of our stuff and us were up there.  As you can see from the pictures, we transitioned from rain to snow!    
We then got set up.  The facility is incredible!  It can hold 24 people comfortably and is very spacious.  There's a large kitchen and living area, six rooms with bunk beds, electricity, showers, hot water, even a sauna!  We even got cell phone service up there.  It pretty much snowed the entire time we were there, with occasional clear skies.  The glacier is in a big bowl and they use a Pisten Bully to groom in a course.  Every year the course is different, and this year it is set up to mimic the race course at the world championship in Italy.  So the course was challenging and fun.  I was worried it would feel like a hamster loop, but it never did.  There was a 5k loop, with a 3k loop on top.  So even just a few loops was plenty to get good mileage.  To get to the loops you first do a 1k descent from the facility, which of course you have to climb up at the end.  Fortunately the course is also marked with wands so you can't get lost even if it gets foggy, which happened more than once.  
The first day it was pretty windy and pretty well fogged in.  We only did an afternoon session on the first day, and it was skate.  Being the first day on skis in six weeks, and knowing we'd be doing two workouts a day for the next few days, I kept it easy and just did 12k (two of the 5k loops and the ingress/egress).  That evening we got a wax clinic from Dylan Watts, one of our coaches, and a technique clinic from Erik Flora, the head of the APU program and the elite team coach.  Greta Anderson, another APU coach was also there.    
For the next two days our schedule was to get up around 7am, have breakfast, skate ski for a few hours, have lunch, relax and recover, get technique tips, then classic ski in the afternoon, dinner, video review, and then off to bed.  It was amazing and exhausting.  On the second day the weather improved and we got a good amount of sun.  At first the altitude and rust made the skiing challenging, but each workout got better and better.  Aside from skiing in July, one of the best parts was the coaching from Erik.  He really knows what to say, and how to say it so you can improve.  I felt like even in just the few days my technique really benefitted.  
The group we has was really fun.  There were eight from the APU masters group, then a few other Alaskans, a couple from California, a couple from Vancouver, and then a older Norwegian guy from your group whose name is escaping me.  Everyone got along well and worked well together.  Each night we rotated cooking dinner, cleaning responsibilities, etc. and it worked well.    
As you can imagine, it was exhilarating and exhausting.  I skied almost 100k in three days- and very challenging k's at that.  (Of course, at the last elite camp, in six days Holly skied 450k, so that pretty much puts it all in perspective).   It sounds like they'll do it again next year, but we're pretty much at the mercy of the other camps as to when we get scheduled.  I will, of course, let you know.  

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