Monday, December 31, 2012

Holiday Road

The team is regrouped again after several weeks apart for the holidays.  We're all here in Utah now for US Nationals, except Karina and Cara who will join us in a couple days. Our accomodations for the week are an enormous house in Heber.  There's plenty of room for all of us, and plenty of extra bedrooms in case Coach Andrew spontaneously decides to recruit a bunch of additional athletes this week. Most of the team flew overnight from Alaska, arriving in Utah in early morning, and they report very good skiing here at Soldier Hollow.  The coaches, after dropping off the skiers, drove back down the hill to Salt Lake City to buy $1,400 of groceries at Costco and pick up a couple of team members on a later flight. Lasse directed his sous chefs in preparing a huge spaghetti dinner for the rest of us, while the coaches prepared the team's test ski fleet for tomorrow's testing session. Tonight is New Year's Eve, but considering that we spent all of last night on an airplane, we will be going to bed early tonight and catching up on sleep instead of going out carousing. Tomorrow is a day for ski testing and pre-race preparation, and then our first race is on Wednesday - a classic sprint race.

Western Utah

Dinner preparation in our kitchen

Viktor bought Lego cars for the team.  The skis were neglected while Lukas and Viktor focused on another kind of racing.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Lasse, Lukas, Marine, Galen and Maya have already traveled to Utah a few days ahead of the team for a little extra preparation for the US Nationals next week.  Yesterday, they went to visit Robert Redford at his Sundance Resort. Apparently, Redford wasn't available to go skiing with them, so they went without him.  But they reported excellent skiing on some really nice ski trails.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Scattered to the four winds

The UAA Ski Team members are spread around the western / northern hemispheres this week, before gathering up again next week for the real start of the college racing season in Utah.

Karina went home to Norway for Christmas, while Marine went to France and Cara went to British Columbia.  Lukas, Lasse, and Patricia spent the holiday break training and racing in Anchorage, but the two L's have gone to Utah early for a few extra days of on-site race preparation for US Nationals next week. Davis, John, Galen, Sarah, Brandon and Maya were home in Alaska for the holidays.  Viktor's girlfriend Amelia came to visit from Sweden, and though Viktor is generally a happy guy, I haven't seen him smiling as much as last Saturday when Amelia was in town. Coaches Andrew and Tor spent the holidays with their families - one of the last chances they'll get this winter to spend a solid week of quality time with their families for a while, as the racing / travel season will be hectic from now until late March.

This weekend, the team gathers together again in Utah for the US national championships at Soldier Hollow.  We have skiers coming in from around the world, but by Sunday night we should all be under one roof again.

Last week, we had two fairly big races in Anchorage: races 1 and 2 of the Besh Cup series, which serves as qualifier races for junior skiers hoping to compete at the US junior national championships.  Results can be found here:

Here are a couple pictures of Davis in the second Besh Cup race, in Chugiak:

And as for me, I decided to spend Christmas week in the southern California desert, riding my bike in the sunshine.  Tomorrow I'll travel back to Anchorage where I'll have just a few hours to drop off my bike, grab my ski bag, and fly back south to Utah where I'll meet the team for a week of racing at US Nationals.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Darkest Day of the Year

It only gets lighter starting now...

Tomorrow is the first race in the Besh Cup series - a classic sprint race. That's followed by a distance skate race on Sunday. It's going to be a cold weekend. We went out for training today on tomorrow's Kincaid Park sprint course, and it was not warm. Not one little bit.

Here are a few pictures from today's training and from a flight I took yesterday over Prince William Sound.

(None of the people in the foreground of this photo are members of the UAA Ski Team)

Mt. Marcus Baker in the background - highest mountain in the Chugach Range.

That's Eagle Glacier and the Eagle Glacier Nordic Ski Training Center in the foreground.  If you know where to look, you can see the bunkhouse in this picture.
The front range of the Chugach and the Anchorage hillside.

And one more thing:  here's a newspaper article about the new trail in Girdwood that we've been training on a lot lately: and here's a video about the same trail.  Check it out:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Anchorage Cup Team Sprint

The UAA Ski Team raced in today's Anchorage Cup Team Sprint race.  The Anchorage Cup is the local ski club's citizen race series.  Racers in these events range all the way from skiers with Olympic and World Cup experience to skiers who have never been in a ski race before.  For us, it was a good training opportunity; most of our skiers raced in two separate events: a men's or women's team and a mixed team.  It gave them a chance to race two races with two 1.2-kilometer legs.  This made for four hard intervals in a race environment.  And no matter how hard you do intervals, there's nothing quite as hard as actually racing.  I think all three of us coaches found that out the hard way today!

Start of the Women's Team Sprint

Pati leading at the end of leg 1


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy Trails

It makes me happy when I'm driving out of the parking lot after going skiing at Kincaid Park and all the new snow that fell during the workout poofs up over the hood of my car and onto my windshield.
The UAA Ski Team was a happy ski team today.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Galen again...

Like everyone, I like to start each day with a big bowl of Grape Nuts and a review of Ski Racing Magazine for all the best skiing news. So naturally I wasn't surprised this morning when I came across this:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Girdwood Time Trial

The team is nearing the end of another "block" of high-intensity training.  Today, we had a skiathlon time trial on the trail that has the best conditions currently - the new Girdwood 5km trail.  It snowed overnight but the Girdwood Ski Club volunteers had the entire trail groomed before we even arrived there this morning.  Thank you Girdwood Nordic Ski Club!

There's video available at  You can search for "adamverrier2" and you'll find all the UAA ski team videos there on the "adamverrier2 channel", including today's videos, in chronological order. This allows the skiers to analyze their own technique, with or without the coaches' input.

At the start/finish area.

Viktor, Lukas, and Lasse, during the classic portion.

Sarah Freistone
For tomorrow, it's a sprint relay on the new man-made loop at Kincaid Park!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Galen of the Mountain

I hope you haven't been scrambling to your computer every hour, looking for updates on this blog, because I haven't been very forthcoming with the updates lately for a couple of reasons. For one thing, nothing's really changed around here lately.  It's still clear and cold, day after day.  They're still making snow at Kincaid and the fake-snow loop that we can ski on gradually gets longer and longer.  Furthermore, my work schedule has had me on a whirlwind tour of the islands lately (Unalaska and Kodiak) and I haven't had a chance to get together with the team much. I did get to spend a few hours in town on Wednesday morning between flights - I spent that time wisely - at a UAA Ski Team workout at Kincaid Park. I was just in town long enough to see Lasse and Viktor go head-to-head at the end of the workout in a double-pole sprint showdown.  In the opinion of the entire coaching staff they both lost - disqualified for rules violations.

Tomorrow evening, everything might change.  The weather is forecast to warm up and bring snow - we're all hoping.  But as I flew in from Kodiak this evening over Kincaid Park, it looked like they were blasting out the fake snow from the snow guns all over the stadium.  So whether we get snow or not, we are now beginning to have pretty good snow coverage at Kincaid, and that will only make our training conditions better day by day.

An old photo found its way into my hands earlier this week - a photo of myself with an eager little squirt, fired up for some ski racing in Fairbanks ten years ago.  He's a lot taller and faster than I am now and wearing green and gold ski suits instead of blue and red ones, but he still likes his ski racing!
So I thought it was appropriate to go out to the garage and snap a picture of the poster that's over my wax bench.  Galen gave it to me when he was eleven years old and the advocate and "poster child" for Denali KidCare. If you can't read the fine print under the photo, it says Galen is the youngest person ever to climb North America's highest mountain.  And if you're wondering what Galen's referring to in his "ps - na na" message, you'll have to ask him yourself.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I don't care if the snow is real or fake

Here are a few pictures taken at Kincaid Park this afternoon by the local TV weatherman:

There's nothing more that needs to be said.

Groundhog Day

People in Anchorage are fond of saying “If you don’t like the weather here, just wait a few minutes and it’ll change.”  But this is totally inaccurate.  People who make this statement must not go outdoors very much.  Unlike some other parts of Alaska, where the weather truly does change quickly, dramatically and often (like the Aleutian Islands) Alaska’s topography and geography makes for “trendy” weather in Anchorage.  Early last winter, for example, we got into a pattern in which it seemed like the jet stream brought every single snowstorm straight to Anchorage and parked it here.  This pretty much continued all winter and we ended up breaking the city’s all-time record for snowfall.  This summer and fall was rainy – from beginning to end.  Lasse’s parents claim that they were able to come here for a three-week visit in July with only three days of rain, but of course I don’t believe them.  They must be in denial about their decision to take a soggy, miserable Alaska vacation instead of spending that time soaking up the rays on the beach beside the Baltic Sea.

But last month, as soon as it got cold enough to snow, the sun came out.  And it’s been out ever since.  Every morning is like the movie “Groundhog Day”.  I don't like to look a gift horse in the mouth, and it sounds pretty bratty to complain about beautiful sunny weather, but skiers are starting to curse at the sun.  We’re in a familiar Alaska weather pattern, with a big bubble of high-pressure over central Alaska, preventing any stormy weather from reaching us here in Anchorage, and every storm goes around Anchorage instead of through it.  According to the National Weather Service, we have only received about a quarter of the typical snowfall for Anchorage so far this fall – three inches. And there’s no change in the weather predicted. 
Nevertheless, there is a little bit of snow in town, and we have been skiing on it with our rock skis.  And the cold temperatures and lack of snow do not seem to have wiped the smiles off our skiers' faces.

In other news, the Ski Club’s long-awaited snowmaking project at Kincaid Park is coming closer to fruition.  Snow guns have been installed and connected to the irrigation system on the ski trails and the system is pretty much all in place and ready to go.  The word around the club is that the TechnoAlpin experts are scheduled to arrive in Anchorage today to teach the Club how to operate the system, run water into the pipes, flip the electrical switches and see what happens.  The theory is that with four to five days of continuous operation in cold weather, the club could put down snow on a four-kilometer loop.  But first, they need to find out if the system works or if additional troubleshooting is necessary.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Girdwood Reunion

I haven't seen the team in a long time.  I've missed them.  I was traveling to the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, Kodiak and Cordova - warm, windy, rainy places.  Meanwhile, they traveled to Powerline Pass and Fairbanks - cold, dry places.  But today I finally caught up with the team again - in Girdwood, forty miles south of Anchorage. 

Girdwood has a long but inconsistent history of cross-country skiing.  In the late sixties, the US Junior National Championships were held in Girdwood.  But eventually those trails became overgrown and the only evidence they ever existed are a few trail markers still nailed to those big old spruce trees.  If you know where to look, you can still find some of them.  There have always been trails through the Moose Meadows, and informal backcountry trails farther back in the valley, but no dedicated, wide, consistently groomed trails suitable for training and racing. A few years ago, Deb Essex got it into her head that Girdwood needed a ski club and a new set of ski trails. So she founded the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club.  And now, after several years of organizing, lobbying, fundraising, and finally tree clearing and bulldozing, Girdwood has a new, modern 5-kilometer cross-country ski trail. And it's fantastic, with demanding uphills and some fun downhills, too.

The new trail in Girdwood is a great asset for Anchorage skiers because while Anchorage is located in a northern temperate climate, Girdwood is in a rainforest.  Girdwood gets about a zillion times more rain than Anchorage, and about a zillion times more snow, too.  Sometimes when we have only a few inches of snow in Anchorage, they have several feet in Girdwood.
This picture isn't from today.  It's from last year.  Just in case you don't believe me when I say it snows a lot in Girdwood.

The trail work is still being finished up.

Pati doing no-pole drills today.

Karina, Cara, and Sarah.

Viktor and Lukas.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Phairbanks in Photos

Pictures from this weekend's Alaska Cup races in Fairbanks:



Viktor (looking VERY American) & Marine
The Black Knight
Galen of the Mountain
Looks like the womens' team went buff-shopping together.  Here's Maya and Cara in matching neckwear.
...and Marine
Can you guess what Davis' college major is?  That's right - aviation technology.  Given the choice, the Black Knight prefers to fly.
Viktor working his way up through the field on Sunday.
66.6 percent of Team Ginger
There are more photos where these came from, but if you want to see them you'll have convince Davis Dunlap (or perhaps Russ Dunlap) to be your "facebook-friend".  Thank you, Russ!