On Snow in Fairbanks!

Fairbanks, Alaska gets a lot a bad rap for a lot of reasons. It’s almost always frigid whenever they hold ski races (many of them are inevitably cancelled) and the snow is likely the slowest I’ve ever skied on; It’s far away from everywhere in the United States (including Anchorage); The city is anything but special—a couple good restaurants, but it’s not high on most destination lists; It’s as dark as all get-out—high noon, which is around 1 or 2pm, is generally still kind of dusky—and that’s saying a lot from someone from Anchorage. But, I have to say, despite the cold, the distance and the darkness, Fairbanks is a really awesome place to ski. Birch Hill is definitely one of my top-five favorite ski venues. I haven’t skied there much since I finished high school—only twice in fact, and only once to race. Every time I do ski there, I have a great time, and I have pretty much always had good races in Fairbanks.

Last Wednesday, most of the APU team headed north to get some good training time on snow. Anchorage has been cold and clear of late, but no snow in a couple weeks. Fairbanks only got about four inches, but it was enough to have pretty decent skiing on the entirety of the Birch Hill trail system. While our focus for the weekend was to get in some good volume on snow, we also helped out with the Second Annual First Tracks Camp for Alaskan junior skiers. The camp is put on by Mike Hajdukovich of Challenge Life Youth Foundation and had about seventy-five junior skiers from Fairbanks and Anchorage participate. They had some coaching by various club coaches, as well as the opportunity to jump in some ski sessions with us and see how we train.

I skied about four hours per day, but not all of it was easy! Here is basically what our mini-camp consisted of:

Thursday
am: easy Level 1 distance classic ski to get used to being on snow again—2 hours
pm: easy L1 distance skate ski w/20-25 minutes of one-pole skiing for balance work—1.5 hours

Friday
am: 55 min warm-up L1 classic followed by 45 min double-pole specific strength on variable terrain, 20 min easy cool-down—2 hours
pm: warm-up 30 min L1-2 skate, 10km Level 3/Lactate Threshold (~34min), 55 min easy L1-2 distance warm-down—2 hours

Saturday
am: warm-up 30 min L1-2 classic, 10x50m double-pole overspeeds, 6x20m starts, cool-down 35 min easy distance—2:10
pm: sprint race workout: warm-up 45 min w/(1×1.2km L3 and 1×1.2km L4), mock sprint race consisting of 4×1.2km sprint race w/8-10min recovery between laps, cool-down 20 min easy—1:50

Sunday
am: 3-hour L1 over-distance ski “Tour of Birch Hill” split classic and skate
pm: help out with Fast and Female event in Fairbanks with some fun ski stations outside for 45 min (I was in charge of the sprint starts staion!) and 20 minutes of ZUMBA!!

As I write this, I am in the van driving home to Anchorage, exhausted but feeling like I had a really productive weekend, remembering how the snow feels and getting some good intensity on skis. Unfortunately, we might have to keep the rollerskis out for a little bit longer in Anchorage, so please do a little snow dance for us. We’ll have a couple time trials in the next couple weeks (hopefully on snow!) and it’s hard to believe that I only have THREE weeks until I leave for the first races of the season. Happy Halloween!

Here are some pictures from the weekend.

Awesome view of Denali on the drive north

A good lookin’ view with a good lookin’ team

Good morning Fairbanks!

Getting ready to ski in our bright new vests! These will be good to have for rollerskiing.

Has anyone seen my teammates?!

Evening ski in Fairbanks

Sunrise, sunset, all looks the same, just depends on what side of the stadium you’re on.

Coach and me

First Tracks Camp group picture (Holly Brooks photo)

We consumed A LOT of Subway sandwiches this weekend. Thanks Kikkan!

Fast and Female group and posters (HB photos)

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