Wednesday, April 15, 2015

If you like snare drums, you're going to love this movie!

Having recently finished up a grueling winter of coaching a college ski team, Andrew figured it was time for a little break, so he traveled around the state of Alaska teaching kids to ski. Or at least that's what I thought he was doing until I came across this video. Apparently, Andrew was shirking his responsibilities again and was off dodging rocks last week on his telemark skis in the Brooks Range near Anaktuvuk Pass.

(Click on the picture to watch the show.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cross-country Waterskiing

At least one member of our team is not ready to end the ski competition season just yet.  Can you guess who?

(Click on the skier to see the video)
(Click on Hanna to see more photos)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say...

...don't say anything at all.

Well, it hasn't been quite like that, but this winter (if you can call it that) has been less than inspiring weather-wise, and I just haven't been able to drag myself to the keyboard and let you, the loyal and committed readers of this blog, know what's happening around here.  And I'm sorry for that.

So it's been like this:
First of all, we survived the NCAA Championships.  That's probably the best way of putting it.  We ended up ninth as a team.  We would have preferred to do better, of course.  But we also could have done worse. Fortunately, Clement came through with a sixth place in the mass-start classic race, and Sean skied a really solid slalom race and finished eighth.  Those two results brought in a lot of points for us, and the team thanks them for it! But the rest of the team were a little frustrated during NCAA week.  Manon had a pretty severe cold all week, though she tried her best and even skied the first lap of the mass-start race in 3rd place before falling back later in the race as her illness caught up with her. Mackenzie and Kathi felt flat all week, as did Etienne and Alex.  They all reported feeling like they just didn't have a "racing gear" all week.

Debriefing after Clement's sixth place race in the mass-start classic race.

The men's podium in the classic race.

Mackenzie and Sean after Sean finished eighth in the slalom.

The men's slalom podium.

The Seawolves '15
The Oosik Classic happened last weekend in Talkeetna.  You can read about it here: Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman article.

So the racing season is over, for the most part.  This is usually the time of year when UAA skiers start asking me if we can go "crust skiing" now, and I have to tell them to be patient and wait another month because all those many meters of snow in the mountains need to pack down and warm up and freeze over, and we still have another four weeks of groomed cross-country skiing at Kincaid Park and Hillside here in town, and  four more weeks of backcountry powder skiing ahead of us before we can start thinking about bringing the skate skis out for some crust cruising in May. But this year is not like other years.  In fact, this year is not like any other year in history.  This was the year of no snow. Alaska has never had a year as bad as this - ever - and if you don't believe me, you can read this news article from the Daily News. So this lack of snow means that our ski trails here in town are completely without snow. The places where we go backcountry skiing are brown dirt. The lake where we like to go skate skiing and look at glaciers is completely ice-free. If there is going to be any crust skiing at Turnagain Pass this spring, we're going to have to hike uphill through the woods to get to the snow, because it's completely snowless at the road. It's a pretty bleak situation around here. This is the first winter in my entire life where springtime has arrived and I've looked back and thought, "...but wait a sec - we never had winter!"  It's a pretty bizarre feeling for me.

Well, it's not completely snowless out there.  Hatcher Pass still has groomed ski trails.
Hatcher again.
This weekend was Skimeister weekend at Girdwood.  There wasn't any snow on the nordic trails, so we skied an insane cross-country course on the alpine hill.  Hey Sparky - keep an eye on this kid in the orange as a future UAA prospect.  He sent it big time in the GS course on Waterfall!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Greetings From New York!

We just got done waxing skis.
It's after 1AM.
We have to get up early so we can wax more skis.
Race tomorrow - 10K skating for men and 5K skating for women.
No time to write.
Look at these pictures.

Here's Alex getting acquainted with the racing trail.



In the basement.

Casa UAA.

Team dinner at the Alpine House.

Fourth Annual UAA NCAA Trivia Game at the Alpine House.

Everybody wants to be Eric Heiden in Lake Placid.

Kathi and Mackenzie

Our Nordic team: Manon, Alex, Kathi, Etienne, Mackenzie, Clement

The entire UAA Team

The Wildcard came prepared with a lot of lumber.

There's nothing wrong with the ski conditions here.

Paradise. (I can't believe I just wrote that)

Hey you guys -  I found Sara!

Here's a UAA Ski Team trivia question:  When and where was the last NCAA's where the waxing area got flooded and we were all walking around in deep water with high-voltage power cords submerged? Tonight in the waxing basement it was deja-vu all over again. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Your Seawolf Starting Lineup...

We've arrived at our team house in downtown Lake Placid New York after an overnight journey across North America by air. It's great to see snow again, and we're exhausted from the lack of sleep on the plane but happy to be here and ready to race!

Mid-load-out at Logan airport.

Saddle up.

Head Coach:  Andrew Kastning
Coming off a week of little sleep as the host of the RMISA Championships last week in Anchorage, Andrew's goal for the day is to stay awake until 10pm before going to bed.

Assistant Coach: Sara Studebaker
Sara knows Lake Placid like the back of her hand after spending more than her fair share of time at the Olympic Training Center here. Sara is our local guide to everything Adirondack.

Clément Molliet comes to the NCAA Championships off a bunch of top-five finishes in RMISA races this winter.
Alex Mahoney aka Wildcard. One of the most exciting guys out there - you never know what's going to happen when Alex goes to the starting line.

Mackenzie Kanady.  Having a breakthrough year. Caught a cold during the RMISA Championships.  Then got healthy again. Ready to race!

Manon Locatelli got off to a frustrating start to the college season, but has steadily gotten faster and faster all winter.  Third place in the RMISA Championships last week shows the upward trend continues. The timing could be perfect... 
Étienne Richard. He's finally back among his beloved maple trees!  Étienne obviously feels at home here, and is relaxed and ready for some fast Adirondack skiing

Kathi Schratt. Her freshman year of college. Her first NCAA Championships. Her first trip to New York. Her best races of the year were last week at the RMISA Championships.  Kathi is ready. 
That's me, the team's porter and waterboy. The last time I saw this much snow in Lake Placid was around 1982 during a mid-winter camping trip in sub-zero temperatures at the KOA Kampground north of town in our family's 1971 13-foot camper that we towed behind the station wagon.  We were probably fortunate to have escaped carbon-monoxide poisoning on that one.
Home sweet home.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Week That Was

Seven days ago at this time, we didn't have hardly any snow on the ground and we were in the middle of three days of steady rain. We'd scrapped our original plan to race our first two (of four) races on the new Girdwood racing trail because there was no snow at all in Girdwood. Not even a thin film of ice. Just brown dirt and gray rocks. Skis hardly glide on that kind of surface. Clearly,we'd have to move all the races to Anchorage.

We did have a thin sheet of ice to work with at Hillside, and there was the snowmaking loop at Kincaid. Unfortunately, the rainstorm was flooding Kincaid's ski stadium, turning it into a stadium-sized lake.

There was some nervousness among race organizers and coaches. There were many questions, but few answers.

Seven days later, we can look back at four successful cross-country races on good racing snow conditions. The alpine team also reported perfect racing conditions at Girdwood - a frozen tilted sheet of ice - the kind of racing surface alpine ski racers prefer.

Anchorage Daily News articles and lots of great photos of the week's racing are available at these links:

Monday's Skate Race at Hillside (I posted this one earlier this week - you might have already read it)

Wednesday's Classic Race at Kincaid

Friday's Skate Race at Kincaid

Saturday's Mass-start Classic Race

UAA Athletics' Website

And Bob Arnold's Race Videos Are Here (thanks Bob!)

The regular RMISA season has concluded and now six athletes, two coaches and I (the team's porter, navigator and cheerleader) leave for the NCAA championships in Lake Placid, New York in just five days (Friday afternoon)! It looks as though UAA's cross-country team at NCAA's will consist of Mackenzie Kanady, Manon Locatelli, Kathrin Schratt, Alex Mahoney, Etienne Richard, and Clement Molliet.

We've had a season in which we've produced a lot of results that are close to the top, but not quite at the top... yet. Several of our skiers have shown a clear improving trend over the past few weeks, with some top-five placings very close behind the winners, and we're very optimistic about this positive trend going into NCAA's.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

24 hours

Scenes from the day:
The RMISA coaches pitched in with shovels to get the race course ready for racing.
Kathi.  And Moose. On the race course.

Think this job isn't stressful?
Manon.  Her best college result yet...
Kathi.  Her best college result yet...
Hanna again.
After today's ski race, I rode my bike to the airport and caught a flight to Kodiak Island. There's clearly not much snow in Anchorage.
The Chugach Range behind Anchorage.
Harding Icefield.

Descending into Kodiak.  Hey, it looks like there might be surfing after work this evening...!
...nope. No waves at the surfing beach.