Saturday, April 20, 2013

Recharging: In Photos

Greetings from Hawaii's Big Island. After the season's conclusion, I jetted off here. It's pretty crazy to think that this Hawaiian adventure is my first proper vacation. After a last couple seasons past I would either trade in the cross country skis for an alpine or alpine touring set-up and head right back to my 5th grade class in Leavenworth after a visit with the grandparents. Or in my high school to University of Utah days, hop right into the track and field season. With the buildup to the Sochi Olympics coming, I thought are real recharge with Bettina along the Pacific would be just the ticket. What follows are a couple images and impressions from the time here.

The verdant green mountain and valley of Kailua. We headed across Oahu for some paddling to the Mokulua Islands.

Snorkeling Hanauma Bay is another must-do here in Hawaii. The amount and diversity of the fish I came across here was amazing. I wish I had another, better way to describe it.

I was stoked to run into some sea turtles here at Black Sand Beach. Since then, I've spotted turtles both on land and in the sea several other times.

Leaving in the morning at sea level and near-jungle, then hiking to the top of Mauna Kea at 4,200 meters (almost 14,000 feet) made for a morning of intense juxtapositions. This is the highest point of the Hawaiian Islands, and apparently the best astronomy and star-gazing spot in the world.

A selection of the observatories I came upon on the hike up Mauna Kea. The mountain was unlike any place I've ever been. For miles in any direction there is no vegetation - absolutely zero. I don't think Death Valley or anywhere else on the globe outside the Sahara Desert has anything on this place when it comes to harshness of living.

Another day trip I won't soon forget came from visiting Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. In the distance, the volcano is spewing fumes from the crater. We wanted to run around the whole crater rim trail. But we were turned around due to the toxicity of the air the volcano is currently producing. Being here was to get a little closer to feeling the heartbeat of the earth.

I'm sure, soon enough, my gaze will turn once again to figuring out how to glide on snow as fast and efficiently as possible.  Until then, good luck and viel spass!

Thanks for following along this season! To the best of times. And those that will be.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hanauma Bay: Swim with the Fishes

Today Bettina and I rented a couple of single speeds down the Oahu coast and made our way down to Hanauma Bay with some snorkel gear slung across our backs. Swimming along the coral reef with the turtles and fishes and Wolf Eels of the Pacific Ocean was pretty amazing. I guess the bay is like a little Channel Islands or Galapagos Islands, with some varieties fish found only in this little cove of the ocean.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Season: Finito

After seven months of snow and half of a calendar year spent racing, the view outside my window has changed, and kind of in a big way. I’m really looking forward to taking in the islands of Hawaii, relaxing, eating too much pineapple, swinging a golf club for the first time in three years, and of course getting in the water. I don’t think it would take too much for me to swtich gears and become a waterman: long-distance prone-paddleboarding, outrigger canoeing and some surfing are all on the agenda once the body feels fresh enough after the long winter of racing that ended with a fury with the World Cup Finals, Canadian Nationals, and just yesterday the US National Championship 50km.

 After stealing the 50 kilometer championship from the Canadians at the Whistler Olympic Park, I lost my race shape by a bout of illness. This made yesterday’s soft, sloppy 50 kilometer a real grind. The body wasn’t up for a top performance, but I hung in there and came on strong in the final kilometers to finish 7th overall, or 5th American. Sometimes you’re the hammer, sometimes you’re the nail…

Racing around the King’s Castle in the old town of Stockholm, Sweden during the World Cup Finals.

It’s kind of crazy to think back right now, about where my winter of white began, and all the stops and stories I picked up along the way.  Day one of the 2012/2013 season started on the  rollerski treadmill of the sport science laboratory at Montana State University under the watchful eye of Dragan Danevski and Dr. Dan Heil.  The mountain photo above comes from the peak of the Dachstein Glacier where I once again joined Petter Hagen and Team Sjusjoen for the first strides of the season back in October.

In chasing one’s dreams, you incur the tenderest of debts. There are couches and beds you stay on, meals and rides, conversation and companionship, mentorship and sponsorship, training partners and service technicians, and, and, and… 

In particular, I’d like to take this opportunity so give some words of appreciation to my parents. From the first strides on my step-in Epoke skis at age two, to chasing the Olympic dream for a fourth quadrennial, they have been there every step of the way. And Bettina. And Petter and Dragan. And the Bridger Ski Foundation and Team Sjusjoen. And Tor Arne and Guri Hetland for opening the doors to train day in, day out with the Swiss National Team while in Davos, Switzerland this winter and fall. And the US team for the expert ski service and help at the Scandinavian spring tour.

I will particularly remember having so many friends from the University of Utah days out cheering trailside at the national championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah, and having the opportunity to race in front of so many uncles, aunts and cousins during the Tour de Twin Cities.

The list goes on and on.  To all of you and many, many more, thank you.