Monday, October 20, 2014

Wishful Thinking

It snowed this morning.
Sylvie Kastning loves skiing. 
She can't always go skiing whenever she wants to.
But she can always dream.


Scenes From The Week That Was

This is how Davis Dunlap rolls himself a fatty.

John Farr has that look in his eye that says..... actually I don't know what that look says but it's creeping me out a little.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Designed For People Who Make Things Happen

They say hindsight is 20/20, and I suppose it is.  We can all look back in time and easily identify trends, inventions, decisions and events that changed the course of history.  Some for the better, and some for the worse.

We can say the same for our beloved sport of cross-country skiing.  As much as we all care about this sport, we have certainly gone down the wrong path from time to time.  And clearly, our biggest mistake was the big change in the early 1990's from one-piece zoot suits to two-piece racing suits.  Just as every American alive in 1963 remembers where they were when John F Kennedy was assassinated, I remember exactly where I was in 1992 when I heard the shocking announcement that some of my college teammates wanted to switch from our comfy, worn-in, urine-yellow University of Wyoming onesies to two-piece zoot suits with that tight uncomfortable elastic waistband right around the middle! My teammates told me "everyone" was switching to two-piece suits, and they were better if you had to poop. I realized right then and there that a small (but important) part of our sport had died.

For the next decade or so, it seemed you couldn't buy a one-piece racing suit if you wanted to, but fast forward twenty years, through skiing's dark ages to the present time, and what do you see?  You see the Norwegian national team wearing one-piece zoot suits again!  You see APU wearing onesies!  It's like a renaissance!  A rebirth!  All is not lost after all!

But here's the greatest news of all - UAA has just ordered a shipment of one-piece racing suits for the team, and we're going to look fabulous in them! Let me ask you something: when you climb out of the warm steamy bubble bath and sit down to relax in front of the fireplace on your bearskin rug with a glass of cognac, do you wrap yourself in a lycra spandex robe?  No, of course you don't!  You want the luxurious feel of terrycloth..  Terrycloth is made from natural cotton.  It absorbs water and moisture to get it away from your skin.  Terrycloth was invented by the gods and sent down to us to be used for our comfort, and frankly I'm surprised we only use it in towels.  In the seventies, though, people were a lot smarter than we are now, and they put terrycloth to far better use in far more products. I remember a wonderful green terrycloth shirt I had in fifth grade.  And a couple of my friends were even named "Terry".  I was so jealous.  

The UAA Ski Team is usually at the cutting edge of everything, and I'm proud to be part of it all. Below is a sneak preview of our new one-piece racing suits for the coming winter: 

When you look good, you feel good.  And when you feel good, you race fast!  You can't deny that we're all going to look delicious in these new ski suits. And at the end of the ski race... straight to the awards banquet.  No need to change outfits!  The wording of the ad says it all: "Designed for people like you who make things happen. With a fit that makes the most of your body... and a look of smooth, sexy comfort." The men will most certainly be getting the version with the hood.

I'm really starting to look forward to this year's race season.  Now, I just need to start growing a nice mustache...

Saturday, October 4, 2014


This morning, we rollerskied a lap around Anchorage. We have hundreds of kilometers of paved multiuse trails throughout the city for rollerskiing, and it's become a tradition on this team to do a 50km+/- rollerski loop from the UAA campus down Campbell Creek to the ocean, along the shoreline, and back up Chester Creek back to UAA just before the snow arrives and we switch from wheels to skis. The weather forecast led us to believe that we'd probably be slogging through an inch or two of new wet snow. But fortunately, the overnight snow never came and we had good conditions.

(Notice the new snow on the Chugach Range east of town.)
After about 45-50 kilometers of double-poling, we arrived at Andrew's house, where he and Sara had been slaving over breakfast, which they had waiting for us when we arrived.

Chefs Andrew and Sara
Well, it's nice to have these multiuse trails available for a nice long, safe double-pole workout.  But rollerskiing isn't always so safe. Sometimes rollerskiers and automobiles don't mix well together. Sometimes rollerskiers crash when attempting to ski down huge downhills. And that brings us to the story of Kjetil Dammen, former UAA skier, who skied for us in 2005 and 2006 before returning to Norway to begin his professional racing career. Now he races for Team LeasePlanGo, focusing on the Swix SkiClassics marathon series (Marcialonga, Vasaloppet, etc).  Kjetil was out for a five hour rollerski tour with his training buddies Thomas Alsgaard, Oystein Pettersen and a few other guys about seven weeks ago when they had a massive crash on a big downhill with bad pavement.  Several skiers were injured, but Kjetil got the worst of it with a pelvis broken in three places. Ever since then, Kjetil's been lying in bed because his doctor won't let him put any weight on his leg. But this week, he got permission to get up and hobble around a little bit.  He's hoping to be back in racing shape by January.  His big racing goal, the Vasaloppet, isn't until later in the winter, so he's hoping to be back to 100% by then. But don't take my word for it, you can read all about it yourself here, here, and here

Get well soon, Kjetil!
By the way, you can also check out BraDammen (#46) and his UAA racing suit (worn by another guy) on this Norwegian TV ad from a few years back.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I used to organize a ski marathon.  But I didn't name the race after myself.  I named it after a walrus' penis. Until recently, I've never had any type of sporting event named after me. So I'm very proud to be able to say that there is now a rollerski race with my name on it.  Thanks, Andrew!

Yes, it's that time of year again. Time for the Vicious Verrier Time Trial. We start in east Anchorage and ski uphill for six or seven kilometers or so. I don't know how far it is. Andrew and Sara probably do. It's a pretty good fitness test, as it's pretty much all uphill, including some steep sections.  I rode it on my bike while the skiers were rollerskiing it, and I barely made it to the finish line.  But I did manage to get some video, and I've put it on this blog for your viewing pleasure.  I don't have time to sit around and do a bunch of fancy editing; I have a life to live.  So what you get is the raw video. The messy truth. Take it or leave it.

Vicious Verrier himself at the start line, trying to avoid frostbite. (Thanks to Etienne for loaning me his parka)

Kathi, Manon, David.

David, Kathi, Alex, Davis, Manon, Brandon.

Clement, Mackenzie, Etienne, Mario.


Mario, Kathi, Manon, Clement.



Brandon, David, Davis, Clement, Mario & Pati.

Manon & Kathi.


Monday, September 29, 2014


While Sara couldn't make it to practice on Saturday because she was invited to Utah for a big retirement party to celebrate the end of her US Biathlon Team racing career, the rest of us went to Eklutna Lake for a little duathlon action.
That's Sara holding a picture of herself in a bar in Utah with Max Cobb, President and CEO of US Biathlon.
Running long distances is hard work and it makes your legs real tired. I know this because I've gone for a lot of very long runs.  Rollerskiing for more than a few hours isn't so easy either. There's a lot of road vibration, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one who starts getting sore elbows after a couple hours. We wanted to do a long distance workout today, and Andrew's prescription was to divide the workout into rollerskiing and running.  We started by rollerskiing uphill from the village of Eklutna to Eklutna Lake, where we switched out the rollerskis for the running shoes for a lakeside run.
The road to Eklutna is good for rollerskiing.

It's so good I took two pictures of it.

Smiley and The Graduate (Lucky Ebner).


Kathi, Mackenzie and Pati.

I like this picture because it looks like I did a really lazy job of photoshopping Davis into it.  But he did that all on his own, in real time.  I don't know how or why.

It wasn't very windy at Eklutna Lake.

Yes, it was about training, not about being tourists.  But sometimes it doesn't hurt to stop 30 seconds for a photo.

Etienne, Mario, Manon, Davis.

Pati, Andrew and Alex.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Playing in the Sandbox

Today was the day for sprints with the alpiners at the sand dunes at Kincaid Park.  It's never an easy one.  We had four hurlers and that's a pretty good indication that the intensity was about right.
The warm-up run. Manon and Sara.

Andrew, Clement, Sara, Manon.

The first set - up the steep and deep side of the dune.

Between sets - moving from the steep side to the sunny side of the dunes.

The women.

The men.

Tired people.

Not satisfied with pictures?   Here's the video (link)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Basher Road

The other day, we went rollerskiing from the UAA campus.  It looked something like this:

Davis and Sara in front of the new sports building.

Etienne and Davis.

The gang, plus Reese Hanneman from APU.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Mario invited me along on a trip to the grocery store with him yesterday. We had a nice chat. He told me some funny stories about his struggles to understand English during his first few days in Alaska. On his first day in town, Marine and Clement invited him to go out for a hike. Mario said sure, it sounded like fun! But though he didn't admit it, he didn't actually know what "hiking" was. Would they be out for a long time?  Would they do this activity in the city?  Maybe on a boat? Should he bring a helmet? They parked the car at the base of the mountains near Anchorage and started walking uphill. This wase fun and good exercise for Mario, but after 45 minutes or so, he started wondering, "Hey guys, when are we going to start hiking?"

Over the weekend, D and I rode some motorcycles to Hatcher Pass and went hiking.  Winter will be here soon.  We found a little bit of snow in the mountains.

Looks like Mario has figured out what hiking is now.  Here's a video from Clement, Marine, Etienne, Erik Bjornsen and Mario in the mountains above Anchorage on Sunday.  Clement must have robbed a bank up there on Wolverine Peak; he's dressed like a bandit on the way back down.