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.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Water on the Lens

Is the Alaska Pacific University team the best ski club in the world?  I really don't know.  I'm a busy guy and I don't have time to start doing a bunch of research to answer that question.  But they've got Kikkan Randall, the best female sprinter in the world for the past three years.  Holly Brooks has been in and out of the World Cup red group in recent years.  Sadie Bjornsen has been scoring world cup points ever since she left the UAA Ski Team and went across the street to APU. I think I saw a list recently that had Sadie's little brother Erik (UAA Ski Team alumnus) listed as 68th on the World Cup list in distance points. Reese Hanneman won a national championship last year. And Eric Packer is no slouch... 

Maybe there's a club or two in Europe that have a group of faster skiers than APU has.  I don't know.  But that's not what matters.  What matters is that APU has fast skiers.  And UAA has fast skiers.  And we all got together a couple days ago for a rollerski time trial.  I won't bore you with results, but I will bore you with amateur video, which you can find at  THIS LINK . 

D got me a Gopro camera for my birthday.  I'm learning how to use it.  That'll be obvious in the video.  That's why it's called amateur video. Now go make me some popcorn!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

**genesis 7:15

From deep in the forest near Anchorage, training looked something like this yesterday:
Clement & Mario

Etienne & Alex

John & Brandon

Davis & David

Mackenzie & Pati

John picking up a few pointers from Andrew and Sara.

**And they went...two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dressed for Success

***Attention - Spy Photos Below!!!***

Mandy Kaempf is a woman who skied for the UAA Ski Team a few years back. She was really fast! So fast, in fact, that she won the NCAA Championship in 2005! Here's a picture of her doing it:

Notice anything unusual about the photo above?  That's right - she's only wearing one glove.  You and I might think it's strange to only wear one glove, but when you take a step back and think it over, maybe it's US who are weird, not Mandy.  After all, there are plenty of very successful people in sports who have been spotted wearing only one glove.  For example:
Arnold Palmer - greatest golfer ever?

Steve is apparently a pretty good baseball player.

...Don't know exactly what's going on here, but it looks interesting.

...and of course, the King of Pop himself. How many gloves? Just one.
So that brings us to our paparazzi spy photo, taken this morning deep in the forest, by our blog staff photographer whose job it is to bring these kinds of compelling images to you, the reader of our blog:

Here's Kathi Schratt, our new UAA freshman skier, bringing her own style with her to Alaska.  Has she already been one-gloving it for years back home in Germany?  Did she know about Mandy's 2005 NCAA win and thinks the one-glove thing is the key to skiing success in America?  Did she mistake her finger for a piece of broccoli, try to cut it in half with a knife, and is now using that big fluffy mitten for protection? We don't know. Ask her yourself. Here on the UAA Ski Team blog we're more interested in asking the questions than finding out the answers.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ski Team Alumni Reunion

The plan was to get together with Steffi, Karl and Paul Schauer - all former UAA skiers - and a couple other friends for a day of hiking up Winner Creek Valley and packrafting down Twentymile Valley.  But there were concerns about high water and flooding in the upper portion of Twentymile River, and the possibility of hurricane force winds and torrential rain over Blueberry Pass. Paul is a hydrologist at the US Geological Survey, so he knows about these things, and he suggested we make an alternate plan. We called an audible and went north instead of south, to the Matanuska River for a little kayaking and packrafting.
The UAA Nordic team during the Schauer / Hiemer era, in 2009.  Recognize any faces here?

Karl and Paul during their UAA Ski Team days.  The guy sitting behind them was keeping his eye on these two donkeys.
My history with the Schauer boys goes way back.  Here I am hanging out with them in Greenland in 2002.  Look at the size of that camera around Paul's neck - it's almost as big as his little brother!
I drove across town to meet the group at Paul's house but I accidentally ended up at the wrong address. The guy who answered the door told me I had the wrong house, but after I apologized and was walking back to my car, a woman came running out of the house across the front lawn and said, "Wait! Did I hear you ask for Paul Schauer... THE Paul Schauer?"  I was pretty impressed that these people knew the UAA skier who'd won the New Mexico NCAA Invitational race a few years ago.  " If you're looking for Paul Schauer, the kayaker, we don't know him, but of course we know who he is.  We've heard he lives one block that way," she said, pointing south. "Are you going boating with him? We're kayakers, too, but we're from Montana and the water's a little too cold for us here... good luck!" It was then that it occurred to me that I was planning to go boating with THE Paul Schauer - (check the link):
Paul (Notice the elbow pads. I don't know about you, but I don't normally go boating in places that require body armor.)
A couple minutes later when I arrived at the correct address, Steffi had troubling news:  the Schauer boys were talking about paddling some "big, brown water" today and this kind of talk was making Steffi think that maybe she'd be better off spending the day at the museum. It suddenly occurred to me that my lawn really needed to be mowed, and I'd been meaning to clean the garage, too. But it turned out to be a misunderstanding; the Matanuska would be easy Class II water after all, and we'd have a nice relaxing float together.
Four fifths of our group:  Steffi, Emma Brooks, Paul and Karl. (If you look closely, you'll see that Steffi is trying to get a small carbonfiber sliver (from a paddle) out of her hand, but I'm pretty sure I know what she was thinking at this point in our day: Is this sliver big enough that I can use the "I have an injury" excuse?)
Steffi and I were thus put at ease about the paddling that awaited us, but the trepidation came back double at the put-in when Karl put on a helmet with a face mask and Paul put on a one-piece survival suit that had a rip cord attached to the front, a parachute on the back, a klettersteig rig wrapped around the side, and a bunch of other rocket-propelled doo-dads and knick-knacks that could be unleashed in an instant in case of any kind of emergency.  Suddenly, Steffi and I were once again looking for hiking options in the area.

This is how Karl retrieves a lost paddle - with a special paddle-biner attached to a throw bag, attached to a life jacket, attached to Karl.

The Schauer boys comparing gadgets.

Meanwhile, Karl generously offered to let me use his best paddle jacket while he used his old leaky one because, as he told me " probably have a lot better chance of having to take a swim". At this point, Steffi and I were starting to think of ways we could end things painlessly in case the situation got dire out on the river.
If there was to be trouble ahead, my emergency plan was to use my knife to sink my boat and get it over with quickly.
The thought of drowning scares Steffi. If the boat flipped, she figured she'd go straight for the wrists to avoid drowning.

Paul and Karl grew up in Fairbanks, where the wintertime temperature is usually around 300 degrees below zero. And they learned to paddle (and worked as guides during their youth) on the rivers of the Brooks Range, north of the Arctic Circle. So whenever the temperature goes much above freezing, they start overheating and need to jump in the river to cool off.  The Matanuska is relatively warm - it's fed by the Matanuska Glacier which is a few miles northwest of where we're paddling in it. So by the time the river gets to where we are paddling, it's several degrees (at least) above the freezing.
Never miss an opportunity to practice a rescue.

Fun on the beach. I think Karl was doing backflips or something.
The "Helmet of Death" survives another day.
I hadn't seen Karl and Steffi in far too long - not since July in Bavaria.  Nor had I seen Paul since last Wednesday on Kodiak Island.  And it was fun to meet Emma for the first time.  As it turned out, this was the right trip, on the right river, with the right people - a day I won't soon forget!