Friday, February 17, 2017

Flying


Kincaid Park

Natalie Hynes and friends.

There's an airport nearby

Sadie Fox the sophomore. Sara Studebaker the coach.
For extra reading, check out this article about Skippy, who's racing in Japan this week.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

This Is Not Curling

Some people think curling and bandy are the same thing. They’re not. They are very different.

But it’s easy to see how folks could get confused. Both games are obscure sports played in northern countries on ice. Both sports have a fanatical following in the little corner of the world where they are played.  In the case of curling, we’re talking about Canada. And when it comes to bandy, it’s Sweden. And both games have a beer culture associated with them. 

But here’s where the differences begin.  In curling, the beer is often consumed during the match (think bowling). But in bandy, the first beer is rarely poured until after the match is over. Another distinction between the two sports is that only one of them is an Olympic sport.  I bet you’ll be shocked to find out which one. I’ll give you a hint:  It’s the one where you don’t wear a helmet but you do wear clothes like this: 

No, this is not an a cappella group. These four dandies are the members of Norway's Olympic curling team. You can tell they are real curlers by the way they hold their brooms, with the bristles up so they don't smoosh them.

If you know anything at all about Scandinavia, you probably know that Sweden and Norway have had a long and bitter rivalry. These two countries have been at each others' throats since long before the Birkebeiners carried Håkon Håkonsson over the mountains from Lillehammer to Rena in the year 1206. And it continues to this day.

Seawolf skier Hanna Slotte finished up her studies last spring and headed back to her Swedish home.  Naturally, with her college skiing career behind her, Hanna was looking for a new and exciting sport to dive into.  She took one look at the photo of the Norwegian curling team above and decided that a year or two spent at Meråker was plenty enough Norwegian culture for one lifetime, so she decided to do the patriotic thing and took up bandy instead.

Hanna. Dangling.

Hanna has spent the winter working her way up through the ranks of the Swedish bandy federation. And her success in her new sport has been so meteoric that she’s already earned a spot as an “anfallare” (attacker) on the Uppsala BOIS A-team in the "Allsvenskan" league, Sweden’s second division. That’s just one division below Sweden’s premier bandy division, comprised of the best bandy players in Sweden!


How are you going to get past this?

I was so impressed with Hanna’s success in this sport, and wanting to catch her in action before she got so big and famous that I wouldn’t be able to get access to her anymore, I skipped two days’ worth of UAA Ski Team practices earlier this week and took the UAA Nordic Ski Team Blog's private jet over the pole to try to catch a glimpse of number 19 in action in an Uppsala BOIS second division game. I was lucky to snag one of the last tickets for the game at the ticket window before they sold out. Here are a few of the photos I was able to get of Hanna in action.

Check out the "transfer" that Hanna picked up on her right elbow. And now check out the color of the opposing team's helmets. They don't call her an "anfallare" for nothing! You might get past Hanna, but she's going to make you pay.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hearing Voices

Andrew and Sara put me to work this past week as the stadium announcer for our series of home races. After a full day of hearing my own voice blasting back at me through Kincaid Park’s PA system, all I wanted during the drive home was to turn on the car radio and hear the soft soothing voice of a National Public Radio newsreader telling me sweet stories about Donald Trump’s newest scandal or latest tweet. But when I flipped on the radio, what did I hear?  I heard my own voice coming across the airwaves – in an interview that I’d done earlier in the week. I couldn’t escape myself!





But I wasn’t the only one in the interview. My segment was during the second half of the hour; the first half hour featured other guests. And as I listened to the discussion of the first half-hour, I realized that something sounded very familiar about it. I got the feeling I’d heard these people before.  But where and when had I heard these voices?  Why were they so familiar?


And suddenly it hit me!  It was those heavyfooting pioneers!  I'd been fascinated by the documentary about the innovative and revolutionary advances made by Corey Staab when he single-handedly pulled the underground sport of heavyfooting out of the shadows and into the spotlight. And here I was, witnessing another Corey Staab moment! I was listening to Jesse Jayson!



Monday, February 13, 2017

Weekend Pics

As you may be aware, we held the UAA Invitational college meet this weekend. Everybody was there. Trying to be the race announcer while simultaneously taking these pictures had a significant detrimental impact on the quality of both. But anyway, here they are. Your favorite Seawolf is likely in here somewhere**.

Toomas Kollo

Zacke Toresson & Pietro Mosconi

Zacke Toresson & Pietro Mosconi

Toomas Kollo

See how Zacke's tracks are the only straight-line tracks across the stadium?  That's what we like to see.

Hailey Swirbul

Hannah Rudd

Natalie Hynes

Sadie Fox

Michaela Keller-Miller

**...unless your favorite Seawolf's name Marcus Deuling, in which case there are no photos of him on this page because he wasn't feeling well on race morning and wasn't able to join our fun.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Cruising with Craig

This week's racing continues tomorrow at Kincaid Park, with an individual start classic race. I spent the evening with Craig in the Pisten Bully 600, laying out the specifics of how we'd like the track to be set for the race.
We found some University of Denver skiers out on tomorrow's race course.


Scoping out tomorrow's race course with the University of Denver

I rode along with Craig tonight in the 600 to lay out the details of tomorrow's track set

Here's Craig





I think everything will be marvelous.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Gird is the Word

We spent the day relay racing in Girdwood. By all accounts, everyone had a marvelous time. 

Peter Zug - master of the tracks

The start area

The relay start

Hailey. Fresh off a bronze medal last weekend at the World Junior Championships

Michaela. She skied really tough and won this battle, with encouragement from Sara and Hailey.

Today's relay winners: APU, Colorado and Utah.
Results for the Seawolf Invitational are at this link, in case you're interested in that kind of thing.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Homecoming

It's the week we've been waiting for since a couple years ago when it last happened - a week of RMISA racing here in Anchorage. Today we had a sprint race at Kincaid Park. Tomorrow it's relay time in Girdwood.  Over the weekend we're back at Kincaid for a couple more races. I'd have taken pictures today but I was too busy taking orders from Andrew and Sara. I did take a couple photos before and after our races, though, and here they are.

Kincaid Park, as it should be. Two years' worth of dismal winters almost made me forget.



We've had a healthy dose of ice fog this week. Here's the stadium, as seen from the tunnel.


Here's part of the race course from our upcoming UAA Invitational races on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Staycation


The past two winters of little to no snow, brown ground, and misery have lowered my expectations to the point where, if I see a patch of ice in my yard I think I'm living in a winter wonderland. If I see a couple snowflakes fall from the sky I think it's a blizzard.

Ever since Christmas, I have felt like I'm on a ski vacation every time I wake up in the morning and look out the window of my home.  There's a couple feet of snow in the yard. I have to shovel my driveway every now and then.  My street is narrower because of the encroaching snowbanks along the edges. And when I go skiing, I don't even bother to put my rock skis in the car! It all seems so strange.

But yet it's somehow familiar. I remember a time when these conditions were what we in Anchorage simply called "winter". The other day, after I'd come home from yet another glorious day of skiing on deep snow and perfect conditions at Kincaid Park, I saw a weather report which said that Anchorage's winter snowfall was currently one inch above average. How could that be?  It seems we're buried in snow! It was then that I realized that after the past couple of winters, my standards have dropped so low that I'm ecstatic if there's any snow on the ground at all. Winters like this - average Alaska winters - are the reason I moved to Alaska 25 years ago. I'd forgotten how much I love an average Alaska winter!

Later this week, we'll be racing in Girdwood. Here's Sara discussing logistics with Peter Zug of the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club in preparation for our 4x5km mixed relay.

The nordic team spent last Friday working at Alyeska as course officials for the alpine events at the Seawolf Invitational. Here's Quail keeping track of  her gate judging responsibilities while visiting with Charley, Anna, and Maria. (Maria was self-conscious about her weird body position in this photo, so I promised her it would be on this blog.)

Michaela on slalom day.

Lunch at the Bake Shop. A Girdwood tradition. Herbert Von Bismarck and Hannah Rudd.

Giant slalom day at Alyeska. The xc team are lined up in position to slow any crashing skiers before they go into the B-netting. That's former Seawolf Lex Treinen on the far right.
Alix

(Am I the only one who sees a slight resemblance between Alix and Rodger?)


Charley


Hughey

Curtis

Tony

Ski touring in Anchorage

A little backcountry action in the Chugach.

Glacier Valley. It's nice to have a normal snow year!