Sunday, April 15, 2018

Spring Flings

From time to time, I cross paths with people who don't live in Alaska, and have never lived in Alaska. Often these same people tell me that they would like to visit Alaska, and they ask me when is the best time to come. If these people are active, sporty people like you and me, I tell them they should be able to find some fun stuff to do between March 1 and July 1. There's enough snow on the ground that you can go some places where you can't easily go any time other than springtime. And there's enough sun in the sky that you need the sunblock to keep from getting burnt to a crisp.

It's the best season for ski touring.

Snacks beside the trail

I like wearing this hat because it reminds me of my old friend Joe, who died long ago. Every time I'd wear it, he'd say "Asker.  Just Asker!!"

You can ski on the beach in Anchorage after work.

The trails at Kincaid Park are still in good shape.

I first met Kikkan Randall when she was in 7th grade. We were both out snowboarding at Arctic Valley. We've known each other a long time. We played on a beer-league summer soccer team together with her younger brother Tanner years ago, and she moved into my old apartment when I moved out. Before I was a volunteer assistant coach at UAA, I was a volunteer assistant coach on Wednesday afternoons at East High School when Kikkan was on the team. I didn't imagine back then that Kikkan would win the Olympics. But I'm really glad she did. Because if anyone is deserving of an Olympic gold medal, it's Kikkan. Celebrating this year's Olympic Team in downtown Anchorage this spring was pretty special.

Alyeska is a fun place to go skiing

Skiing near sea level

The biking is good in the spring, too. You can go to some pretty cool places.

Airplanes are a good way to get around, too.

And of course there's crust skiing.

There's good skiing in Prince William Sound

Pati's back in town!  Pati Sprecher has moved back to Anchorage after completing her master's degree in Switzerland. If anybody knows someone who knows someone who has a job available in tourism or marketing or both, please let Pati know; she's ready to become a slave to "the man"!

Springtime's a good time for ski testing. Here are the coaches helping Brandon and Michaela solve some ski riddles on the Anchorage trails.
But the best thing about springtime is that you can strap your skis onto the back of the motorcycle and ride to the ski spot, thereby combining two of the finer things in life.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Graduate Assistant

We were hanging out at the NCAAs in Steamboat, around the middle of the week, when Andrew suddenly announced, "Mario's going to show up here in a couple days and he's going to help us out."

You may recall that Mario, after graduating from UAA, got himself a job in New York City. But he travels a lot for work, and he just happened to be working in Denver during NCAA week. So he tracked down Andrew and offered to rent a car and drive up from Denver once his work week ended.  We were really grateful at the prospect of Mario's help in Steamboat. But as with any wax tech team, every member of the team has a role that suits them best, and the team develops a work style over the course of a winter that's best not messed with at the big championship. Marine is best out on the skis, on the snow, testing and reporting her observations. Andrew is in the position of having to make the final, big decisions, of course.  And I'm at my best when daydreaming and wishing upon stars. So where was the best place for Mario in this team?  The day before Mario's arrival Andrew pronounced, "It's not a very glamorous job and he's not going to get to see much ski racing and I kind of feel bad suggesting this, but where we REALLY need Mario is in the waxing tent, waxing our test skis, rewaxing test skis for new tests, and waxing the athletes' race skis as soon as we make our waxing decisions." 

Of course Mario was ready, willing and able to do whatever was asked.  I don't think he got a chance to put on a pair of ski boots all day. But those skis just kept coming off that wax bench, all morning long, from early in the morning until moments before the start of the women's (final) race. 

As it turned out, we had a pretty successful day. Apparently, we made good waxing decisions because we had fast skis and that contributed to our success out on the trail. It was a real luxury to have a dedicated wax bench man who just stayed there and pumped out the skis all day long, and we may not have had the same success in finding fast skis had we not had Mario on our team.

Before Mario climbed into his little rental car to drive back to the Denver airport to catch his flight, he said, "You know, next year the NCAA's are going to be in Stowe, which isn't too far from New York City, so just let me know if you want me to come and help."  I'm sure we'll be calling Mario!

Late at night, after everyone else had gone to bed, Mario had his "day job" to attend to... the life of a working man.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Living the Life

If you were here with us, these are the people you'd be hanging out with.

Sadie is knitting me a nice blue mitten. She says I can only have one because I need to be able to drive with my other hand.

The size of the bowl is directly proportionate to the size of the appetite.

Marine is still a bit new to the waxing game. She's struggling with proper fitment of the gas mask.

Here's Sadie, earlier today.



The boys gave it everything they had out there today

The alpine team came out and cheered for us today. It helped us a lot!

I saw this dog.

Here's Hailey getting an award. She's the one with the green flag.

Parents' Night!  Toomas' parents, Heidi & Tiit, are in town from Estonia to watch some ski racing and try out all of Steamboat's best skiing spots. And Hailey's parents, Bucky and Brick, drove up from Aspen to see their daughter get on the podium this morning. They all joined us for dinner at the team house tonight and they've made plans for a ski outing together at Rabbit Ears Pass tomorrow.

Earlier in the week, Anna participated in our UAA coach-exchange program. We're always happy to get Anna's insight and perspective that she brings from the alpine hill. For example, she was pointing out to Marine that her skis didn't match when this photo was taken. Andrew keeps close tabs on the coach-exchange program.

The other half of the coach-exchange program. The alpine skiers let me carry their jackets down the hill for them during slalom training at Howelsen the other day.

Marine took me out ski touring on the pass. We had a real nice time.

Andrew's annual trivia night contest here at the house. This year, the team who won was really intelligent.

If you're in the neighborhood, stop on by. We'll be here.

This is us, at the NCAA Championship opening ceremony.

The vibe in the Steamboat gondola was real good.
Dinner on the mountain. "On our own time"

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

NCAA Championship Team

Here we are, back in Steamboat. It's that time of year again. Here's our Seawolf NCAA Championship team.

Anna Berecz - Assistant Alpine Coach

Tony Naciuk - Men's Alpine

Sadie Fox - Women's Nordic
Toomas Kollo - Men's Nordic

Georgia Burgess - Women's Alpine

Marine Dusser - Assistant Nordic Coach

Sparky Anderson - Head Coach

Marcus Deuling - Men's Nordic

Alix Wells - Women's Alpine

Morten Kjerland - Volunteer Assistant Coach

Charley Field - Women's Alpine

Andrew Kastning - Head Nordic Coach

Eric Cruz - Men's Alpine

Natalie Hynes - Women's Nordic

Hailey Swirbul - Women's Nordic

Zacke Torresson - Men's Nordic

Dom Unterberger - Men's Alpine

Adam Verrier - Volunteer Assistant
The ski racing begins tomorrow...