Sunday, December 29, 2013

Martin Møller Fanklubb

Sometimes we want to go ski racing, but there's no snow.  And that's a bummer. When these situations arise, we have several options.  We can get all our buddies together and pool our money for a snowmaking system, or we can get all our buddies together to haul snow to the place where we want to go skiing.  Or we can think outside the box and do something totally different.  Like the Japanese, for example.  They built the first bullet train and they invented sushi.  This is not a group of people to be confined by convention. And I don't need to understand Japanese to know that when they don't have snow, they find other (arguably more interesting) uses for ski jumps than their prescribed use, as demonstrated in this video:

タイヤスキージャンプ

In Germany, however, they stay a little closer to convention. That's why, when there was no snow in Oberhof for this weekend's World Cup race, the race committee didn't just mosey off to the ski jumps with a bunch of old car tires for an afternoon of fun. No, they fired up the snowmaking system to produce a little ski loop and changed the 15k race into sprint race.  The snow wasn't quite ready for skiing the day before the race, so they sent the athletes indoors for official training in their ski tunnel. (I bet Japan doesn't have one of those.)


Speaking of Oberhof, our old friend Lasse was in Oberhof over the weekend, with the goal of meeting the qualifying standard so that he could represent Denmark in the Olympics next month.  And he did it! He met the standard, scoring 97 FIS points in the Tour de Ski prologue!  So he's in, right?  He made the Olympic Team?  Well, not quite. There's more to the story...

Anyone who's been to Greenland knows that Greenland is an autonomous country within the kingdom of Denmark. As such, they control their own internal affairs, but their international affairs are under the control of the Danish parliament.  My point is that Greenlandic athletes compete for Denmark.

In Greenland, there lives a man who calls himself Martin Møller.  But others call him "The Fastest Man in Greenland." (It's true - I found it on the internet.) Just like our friend Lasse, Mr. Møller has also met the Danish Olympic qualifying standard. But what's more, he's also beaten our Lasse in every single head-to-head matchup they've had this year.  Currently, Denmark is granted only one Olympic skiing berth.  So it would seem clear that Martin Møller is currently the obvious choice for this one spot.  I don't presume to know all the intricacies of the Danish selection criteria, but it seems to me that there would have to be a dramatic shift in the world of Danish skiing for this situation to change.


Martin Møller, Fastest Man in Greenland.
But wait! you say, why does Denmark only have one spot?  Why not two spots?  How could they get two spots so both could go?  Well, that question has been asked, and here's my basic understanding of the answer:  Mr. Møller, last year at this time, was ranked 735th in the world in sprinting.  But by springtime, he was ranked 490th with 133 FIS sprint points. This year, he's had a bunch of races well below 100 points (though most of those appear to be in distance events).  It's my understanding that if Martin Møller achieves a ranking within the top 300 in the world in sprinting, then Denmark will be allocated an additional Olympic berth and both Martin and Lasse will be on the Danish Olympic Team. (Why sprinting?  I don't know. Remember, this blog is mostly stuff I make up, rumors, and outright lies.)  Now, I'm no Stephen Hawking and I haven't tried to do the math on this, but from the looks of the FIS athlete bio (check it here) Mr. Møller is skiing considerably faster than he has since 2005, so maybe he'll make the top 300.

So what does all this mean to you, sitting there at your computer reading this, you ask?  This means that if you've been a fan of our Lasse Mølgaard-Nielsen, you are now, by default, a big fan of Martin Møller!  (Not that you shouldn't have been a fan already.  I've been to his hometown of Nuuk, and I found the city to be full of friendly, generous people, of which Martin Møller is probably one.)  If you want our Lasse to be on the Danish Olympic Team, you'll want to be sending all your positive energy not only to Lasse, but to Martin, too. But isn't that the way it is with teams anyway?  When one does well, it helps everyone on the team.

So that's the situation in the world of Danish ski racing at the moment, as I understand it.  Møller and Mølgaard are currently in a car on their way to Lenzerheide, Switzerland for a little training camp before their next races. Stay tuned...

Meanwhile, unlike Oberhof and Japan, we have plenty of snow around here. And it looks like there was plenty of snow in Whitehorse for Étienne's races last weekend. The paparazzi were out, and these photos found their way to my desk:



I'm pretty sure it's Étienne's first race in a Seawolf zoot suit.
And finally, in local news, the UAA Ski Team left Alaska late last night on a jet bound for Utah.  By now I'm sure they're getting settled in at their team house in the town of Midway, and will begin acclimatizing to the higher altitude at Soldier Hollow's Olympic trails and trying to get used to seeing the sun again.  The team's first race at the US National Championships is this coming Saturday. I'll be flying down to meet the team on Thursday. More updates will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

White Christmas / Brown Christmas

With World University Games over, people are on the move again.  Pati's visiting family back home in Switzerland and Lucky's in Schwarzwald for a few days before coming back to meet the team in Utah. I heard a rumor that Marine is already back from Europe, and spending Christmas in the Pacific Northwest. Lucky got a visit from his former teammate Lasse yesterday, who was passing through from races in Italy to more races in central Germany.  Here's the picture Lasse sent me.  The boys were relegated to running workouts because apparently there's not much snow in Fuwa City.


Meanwhile, for those of us here in Alaska, things are pretty white and wintry:


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Big Rich Wins Big Trophy!

Here in Anchorage, we raced Besh Cup 2 at Kincaid Park - 10 and 15 km skating mass start races.  Results were mixed, and you can find them here: Besh Cup 1 and 2 Results.

Meanwhile, across the border in Yukon Territory, Canada, Étienne Richard was busy winning what appears to be the Stanley Cup (See photo below). It seems the Mt. MacIntyre trail system still holds some magic for Étienne.  Didn't he win a junior national championship there a few years ago? Anyway, this weekend it was the Don Sumanik Memorial Races, and although I couldn't find any results on the internet, the photo below makes it pretty clear who won.  And what's even better - he doesn't have to figure out how to get that big piece of hardware home.  It stays in the trophy case at Mt. MacIntyre with Étienne's name on it.  Forever.
Photo credit: David Greer

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sprinting and Hospitality

Synnøve Bruland won today's sprint race in Besh Cup #1.  This is the first of six races used to select Alaska's team to compete in the Junior National Championships in March.  The Besh Cup is the premier racing series in Alaska. Synnøve was the top ranked skier on the start list (based on FIS points). Congratulations on her first win in Alaska!

Synnøve will start tomorrow's 10km mass-start skate race at the front of the chevron. The men (and boys) will be racing 15km, and all the UAA skiers who are spending the Christmas break here in Alaska are racing this weekend.

Synnøve on today's podium.
This evening, the team was invited to Crystal, Annika, and Urban Enkvist's house for dinner.  We were able to celebrate two things:  Synnøve's win in today's race, and the winter solstice; for the next six months, every day will have more daylight!  Thank you to the Enkvist family for your warm hospitality and delicious Swedish meatballs!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Government Peak

The UAA Ski Team recently held a 5-day training camp at the Government Peak Recreation Area trail system in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, and reported it was really great skiing on a nice trail system.  Now you can read all about the new ski trails in this Daily News article:  Read all about the GPRA trails here!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Recurring Themes

Recurring Theme #1:  Sprints at UAA Ski Team practice in the stadium and bad photography. Both of these things happen on a regular basis around here. This morning was no exception.

Recurring Theme #2: I get excited when it starts snowing really hard.  And it just makes me want to run out to the end of my driveway, take a picture down the street, and put it on this blog.  And that's what happened again tonight.  Same picture, different snowstorm.

Recurring Theme #3: UAA Ski Team Trivia:
Today's question:  Name a former UAA Ski Team member who has owned this automobile. (For reference, this photo was taken this evening.)

Good luck and good night.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Freestyle Flyer

The Seawolves who are in Anchorage for the Christmas break got to try out the foot of new snow we got on Saturday by racing in the Chugiak Freestyle Flyer race on Sunday.  ...and if you click on this link, you'll get to see the race results. Congratulations to Nicole DeYong, who won the women's race!
Andrew Arnold and Brandon Brewster. (Image stolen from Andrew's Facebook page and taken by Kimberly Del Frate)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Here and There

Apparently, Lucky's blog is the place to be these days (Link to Lukas' Blog) because there's a been a flurry of activity over there like I've never seen before.  He's got photos of Pati, Marine and Gofi in the sprint qualification round.  (Looks like it was pretty competitive.)

In other UAA Ski Team news, Anna Berecz finished 8th in the downhill yesterday. Congratulations, Anna!

And our team members in Italy will be happy to hear that we're getting lots of snow in Anchorage today - almost a foot so far and still snowing... Here's proof:
The Horseshoe Loop
Little Campbell Lake

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lousy Journalism

I’m no journalist.  I didn’t study it in school and I don’t know the first thing about it.  I steal everyone’s pictures and post ‘em here. And most everything I write on this blog is a blatant lie. Most of my research is done on Facebook, and if this blog were a college assignment, I’d have been expelled for plagiarism many times over, I’m sure.

And this blog post is no different. I was surfing around on the internet and came across this video. You’ve probably already seen it and you'll figure out pretty quickly that I stole it from him.  For those who haven’t seen it, I’ll post it here:  Hear an interview with Lucky and watch him ski!

And by the way, I guess any frequent cross-country ski spectators in Val di Fiemme are starting to get pretty accustomed to seeing that green and gold UAA zoot suit; it's not the first time they've seen it doing laps around their racing trails.  You may recall that Lasse was rocking the green and gold last year when he was competing in the World Championships.  You're the best-dressed ones out there, boys!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

More WUG

Want to follow our skiers at the WUG?  Of course you do!  Here's how to do it like an internet pro:

Results for all events are here: WUG Results for All Events!

Here's an article about Lucky's first race:  Test Your German Comprehension Here!

And remember, these are the WUG skiers associated with UAA:

Patricia Sprecher (Switzerland)

Martin Kapšo (Slovakia)


Anna Berecz (Hungary)

Marine Dusser (France)

Lukas Ebner (Germany)
And finally, here's an interesting little photo I saw earlier today. It's the French women's ski team, I suppose, since they're all wearing French colors and Marine's in there.  And the guy in the middle in the back - I guess he must be a team liaison or something - seems reasonable enough.  But the guy in the back on the left... now that's a guy who concerns me a little bit...  Team bodyguard?  Italian stalker? Maybe a dude who thought he was going to a Star Wars convention?  Regardless, this is the kind of engaging photo I'd like to see more of from WUG.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HT6-wGSJGK8/UqlsH21ZoTI/AAAAAAAAA0c/QhYgqH8NWeY/s1600/IMG_0194.JPG

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WUG

Back in the old days, the US Ski Team used to send a select team to World University Games.  The team was chosen using a tryout system:  usually the best two or three out of four races at US Nationals.  I had several friends who made the trip more than once, and I always regretted never making the team myself.  World University Games was held on odd-numbered years. And during the four years I was in college, those two odd-numbered years were the seasons when I was sort of overtrained and skiing like a sluggish, tired turtle. I heard nothing but good things from my friends who made the team, regarding the level of competition and the fun quotient.

Since that time, I haven’t given the World University Games another thought.  That is, until I heard a rumor recently that a bunch of our UAA skiers were planning to race at the World University Games (okay, this is ridiculous – I’m going to call it “WUG” from now on) this December.  Apparently, the USA doesn’t select a WUG team any more, and that’s why this event had slipped out of my consciousness. But I guess the WUG didn’t end just because the USA wasn’t selecting a team any more. I heard a rumor that the University of Wyoming is sending its team as the representative of US skiing.

Even if the United States of America isn’t taking this event seriously, that doesn’t mean other countries aren’t.  Germany, Switzerland, and France are fielding teams, and we just happen to have skiers from those countries on our UAA Ski Team who made the cut and were selected to represent their countries. Marine and Lukas flew to Europe last week, and Patricia left Alaska yesterday.  This year’s WUG has a lot of Alaska connections: the event is being held in Tesero (Val di Fiemme), Italy, Nevio Zeni’s hometown. Current Seawolf alpine skier Anna Berecz will be competing for Hungary. And I heard a rumor that former Seawolf Martin Kapso will be there, representing Slovakia. The WUG starts tomorrow.

Now that I’ve clued you in about the WUG and I’ve told you that a bunch of Seawolves will be there, I expect you’ll want to follow along and see how they’re doing.  You can do that by following Lukas Ebner’s blog.  Now, under normal circumstances I would never direct you to Lucky’s blog unless I wanted to set you up for disappointment because he typically only updates it every time Halley’s comet comes around.  Most of his blog posts start out with something like, “I know it’s been six months since my last post, but I’m going to start updating this blog regularly… starting tomorrow.” That’s fine, of course, because it means he’s spending his time on far more important and interesting things, like studying and training and enjoying his senior year of college instead of sitting in a darkened room, documenting his day-to-day life. But Lucky says he’s going to put something on his blog frequently during WUG, so let’s check it out and see if it happens.  (Personally, I hope he spends his time checking out Italy, racing, and doing WUG-related things instead; he can tell us all about it when we see him in Utah in a few short weeks.)   

Now look at these pictures I took today while zooming around in an airplane in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.  Not as exotic as the Italian Dolomites, perhaps, but fun in its own way: 
The Chigmit Mountains and Redoubt Volcano

Iliamna Volcano

Unalaska Island

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hillside Then And Now

Today, this is what was happening at Hillside....
If they're a rock band, who's the lead singer?
Skiing Drills

....but on Sunday, this is what was happening at Hillside:

Alaska Cup Day 2 - Relay

(Thanks to Team Videographer, Bob Arnold!)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cute Kittens!

Here are some flying kittens!:

Okay, now it's time to take a break from the cute kitten videos for a few minutes so you can watch some skiing. The UAA Ski Team's official home-race videographer, Bob Arnold, created this video from Saturday's Alaska Cup race at Kincaid Park.  I apologize in advance for being somewhere in the frame for 90 percent of the movie.  Enjoy!!!

(When you're done watching the ski racing action, you can go back to the kittens.)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Alaska Showdown Day 2

Once again, congratulations to UAF, who rocked us pretty hard this weekend.  I'm sure the results from the relay will be on the goseawolves website before long, so you can see them there if you're interested.  Or you could simply deduce the results by reading on this blog that this was a dual meet and the UAF skiers went faster than us.  Now look at some blurry photos:

The first leg in today's relay.
Synnove

Mackenzie

Brandon

Davis

UAA and UAF giving each other the cold shoulder. Obviously, each team brought their own photographer.

If you were watching Channel 2 News last night, you got an earful of Pati, the UAA Ski Team spokesperson, laying down the cold, hard facts of the day.  Credit for this photo goes to Tim Williams, whom I did not ask before stealing it from him.  I don't know what Tim is studying in college, but I hope it's not law.

Do you prefer professional photos instead of the blurry ones that I like to take?  If so, check out Bill Roth's crisp, clear pictures of today's relay here: http://www.adn.com/2013/12/08/3220815/2013-uaauaf-alaska-cup-skiing.html

UAA vs UAF Day One

The first race of the season is in the books.  Congratulations to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, whose skiers ruled the day.
Mackenzie

Synnøve



Alex (a "redshirt" skier this year, so not racing for UAA)

Davis
  • Étienne 

Andrew

Brandon

On the race course.

For video of Patricia, this is the place: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/photo.php?v=10152155779711019&set=vb.95865956018&type=3&theater

And for good action photos, this is the place: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/media/set/?set=a.10152156041756019.1073741885.95865956018&type=1

Story and results are here: http://www.goseawolves.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=58421&SPID=6369&DB_LANG=C&ATCLID=209334294&DB_OEM_ID=13400

And finally, if you check the KTUU Channel 2 Website during the next few days, you might be able to find the sports newscast from December 3, in which Andrew Kastning describes UAA's preparation for the first races of the season: http://www.ktuu.com/sports

Tomorrow is mixed-relay day.

Friday, December 6, 2013

UAA vs UAF Showdown this Weekend

When you look at all of Alaska's state university ski teams, it's pretty much beyond dispute that UAA and UAF are (by far) the two best Alaska teams competing on the NCAA circuit. But the question still remains: Which of these two powerhouse teams is truly the best?

Everybody's dying to know the answer to this question, so we're going to try to resolve it this weekend in UAA's (and probably UAF's) first race of the year.  That's right, it's time once again for the annual early-season Alaska Cup showdown, which alternates annually between Fairbanks and Anchorage.  The program for the weekend includes a 5km / 10km skate race on Saturday and a classic mixed-gender 4-person relay on Sunday.

We went out to Kincaid today to preview the racing conditions for tomorrow, and get ready with some pre-race intervals.

Pati, Mack and Nicole

Grommet, Etienne, Davis and Andrew

The boys.  (No, we don't have blue suits now.  That's a UAFer who jumped in on one of our intervals to try to steal our secrets.)  Sorry about the blurriness - it's tough to take pictures while trying to keep up with the group.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The ol' "Nose-Knees-Toes"...

I was disappointed that I had to miss last week's training camp at Hatcher Pass due to other obligations.  I did, however, get my hands on Andrew and Nicole's skating instructional video. My sources tell me that the team spent about 15-20 minutes doing these exercises before each skating workout...


As Tweetie says, "Your thighs are gonna burn, but you're gonna look good, Baby!"

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Training Camp

It's Thanksgiving holiday.  And for skiers around America, that means training camp!  The UAA Ski Team traveled about 45 minutes to their annual Thanksgiving training base:  the Strabel's place and Hatcher Pass.  I didn't join the team, so I have no first hand knowledge of what went on there, but I did see the training plan and I know it included five days' worth of team bonding, ski testing, and lots of kilometers of skiing.  I've raided some of the athlete's Facebook pages to come up with a few appropriate photos for this blog entry:







(Thank you to Davis Dunlap and Andrew Kastning for the pictures.)

As for me, I went to Girdwood for Thanksgiving, where we found the ski touring to be better than I thought it would be: