Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bridger S.F. Luminaries: Heather McPhie

One thing that makes Bridger Ski Foundation such a great organization is that they put serious support behind all kinds of skiing - alpine, nordic, freestyle, biathlon back in the day. I'm pretty sure if women's nordic combined ever made it to the five rings competition Bozeman would build a jump, start a team, and help support some serious talent for the red, white, and blue. Which brings us to Heather McPhie.

Heather McPhie is a talent just entering her prime. Just read that bio - a handful of World Cup wins, 3rd in last season's World Cup overall, requisite RedBull Sponsorship. Don't be surprised to see Heather sharing the cover of the Wheaties box later this spring. 

Action card layout by  DMLEUSCHEN DESIGN  from BSF's Countdown to Sochi Event

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bridger S.F. Luminaries: Hank Kashiwa

I first met Hank through his son, Hennie on the back porch of the Nystad brother's infamous Denver house. For a couple spring breaks during my University of Utah days I'd head to Denver (and perhaps the Black Hole, or some other Southern Utah locale for a desert adventure) to visit friends during a long weekend. What I remember most about Henni and Hank was how much energy both father and son had, and how great they were with guitars and lyrics. 

I first heard about the Yellowstone Club through Hank, the uber-exclusive resort on 13,600 acres outside Bozeman. Big hitters like Bill Gates, Justin Timberlake, Bill Murray and the like call the Yellowstone Club (probably one of many) homes away from home. At the time, I remember being, "Really, a place like the Yellowstone Club and a private world-class alpine resort only open to members could even exist?" Although I've still never been within the Yellowstone Club's pearly gates, I heard it really does exist.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The 100 Countdown with Bridger S.F. Luminaries: Scott Schmidt

With 100 days until the big show in Sochi, I thought to take an Olympian or pioneer of skiing from the Bridger Ski Foundation every day this week. Each of these individual's passion and dedication has helped paved the trail for myself and all the others to come. 

With Scot Schmidt I first remember him from the film The Blizzard of Aahs where Mr. Schmidt and Glen Plake brought a whole new attitude to alpine skiing in America. Seeing these two for the first time drop out of the cable car from the top of Chamonix's Aguille du Midi, then proceeded to ski harder than I'd then ever imagined, must have opened many kids' minds to the allure of big mountain skiing. I know it more than piqued my interest.   

Action card layout by  DMLEUSCHEN DESIGN  from BSF's Countdown of Sochi Event

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Snow in the Hills, Holsteins in the Stables

Somedays the light is just right, and you were lucky enough to have packed the camera in the back pocket. Somedays, this extra pound of metal and synthetic silver salts isn't a burden, and you have an image to remind you of where your strides took you. Here, the road up the Dischma to Durrboden doesn't disappoint.

With snow in the hills, the cows throughout Graubunden have now made their trek back down to the lower elevations in town. Thank you for all the time-honored work, the gruyere cheese has been mighty tasty.

If I could ever offer any expertise in picking a book from the cold winter months ahead, it would have to be The Lonely Breed. Written by none other than the brilliant athletics man from Australia Ron Clarke, The Lonely Breed chronicles twenty-one characters of the sport of running. Mr. Clarke's writing is sharp and introspective. He also fills the sentences with insight only a seventeen-time world record holder could possess. Consider this opening on the Kiwi Murray Halberg:

If one word can begin to describe Murray Halberg, it is perhaps ruthless. His whole attitude before a race, his demeanor, his bearing, all seemed to indicate to his opponents his utter invincibility. There is no doubt that Murray was a tough competitor. He was perhaps more feared by his opponents than any other world champion has ever been. 

There was something about the man which seemed to say 'I will win this race.' His reputation was always one of the tough, hardened and bitter competitor, who would give no quarter and expect none. And yet, when you get to know him over a quiet beer, or in an Olympic Village, he is the most friendly of characters -alive with personality, ready with a joke at any time, possessing a dry and remarkable sense of humor. It was my fortune to meet and run against Murray Halberg, and I feel he is one of the great athletes of our time. ... 

Here in this chapter, I  try to illustrate the very invincibility of Halberg. The race selected is not one of his wonderful wins in the Empire or Olympic Games, but rather one which he should not have won - but he knew somehow that he would win, and so did his opponents.
                                                                  *     *      *

Most of the hours of the days here follow the rhythm of the training cycle. I'm quite fortunate to have the opportunity to train with many different teams. This allows me to never check or curb my enthusiasm. It's pretty easy to put the whole of yourself into a session of 5x8min intervals when you have Toni Livers and Dario Cologna and others doing the very same thing you are, chasing the very same feelings, at that very same moment. 

Until the next time. -T

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Scenes from the Road: Ramsau am Dachstein Edition

The sleepy Austrian village of Ramsau am Dachstein holds a special place in both mine and many others' ski racing career. My first ever international trip, to the 2000 World Junior Championships in Slovakia's High Tatras began with five days in Ramsau to acclimate before the races began. For the last three years, I've spent two weeks in October skiing the serpentine trails atop the Dachstein Glacier. "The place where champions go to put in some heavy work" is how I would most succinctly describe Ramsau. I know of no Olympic champion - ever - that has not melted at lease few snowflakes with their skis at this venue. If there is, let him or her be named!

Ramsau rests at 1200 meters. The base of the gondola resides at 1700 meters. The top of the gondola rises to 2700 meters. The top spire of Dachstein reaches 2996 meters into the air.

Dachstein has been doing some home improvements. Today, you can ride to the top either in the glass enclosed gondola, or atop the gondola in a steel cage, open to the elements. Riding atop the gondola is highly recommended to those without a great fear of heights, or feats of engineering. Above, the tram's station awaits.

In my limited experience, snow cover at the Dachstein has never been better. Everyday, we skied on the the big loop, which took about a half-hour to ski. 

The last two years, I joined the Norwegian outfit Team Sjusjoen in Ramsau. This year, I teamed up with the Swiss Power Sprint Team. Here I pose with (L-R): Mauro Gruber, Eligius Tambornino, myself, Martin Jager. The Swiss Power team is led by Christof Schmid. In addition to coaching skiers, Mr. Schmid cut his coaching chops working in track & field, most notably the 800 meter world champion from 2001, Andre Bucher.

The Estonian National Sprint Team and Swiss Power combine forces at training camps throughout the year. This is a pretty sweet collaboration or national teams working together. It's also for this openness that I suspect I should be greatful that the two teams are happy to have me join them in their Olympic preparations. The Swiss Sprinters are great skaters. The Estonians are most talented in classic skiing. To have both teams to challenge each other with is an ideal situation. For those University of Fairbanks fans out there, NCAA alumni Vahur Tappan oversees the Estonian's technique and preparation, with input from Mr. Schmid.  In the picture above, Kein Einaste takes on Marco Kilp in table tennis. The Estonians ruled on the small table, the Swiss on the tennis hardcourt.

Alaska has its Bridge to Nowhere. Dacstein must have been jealous. Now they have their own Stairway to Nowhere.

Until next time, Ciaoti und Viel Spass!