SMUGGS ICE BASH: CLIMBING TIPS FROM THE PROS • READER ATHLETES • 100-PLUS WINTER EVENTS NOT TO MISS!
SPORTS NEW ENGLAND’S OUTDOOR MAGAZINE FEBRUARY/MARCH 2015 | VOLUME XXV NO.4
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LONG SKATERS GO THE DISTANCE
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Spencer Knickerbocker of Brattleboro takes flight at Harris Hill in mid-February. See story on Pages 6-7.
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SKI JUMPERS TAKE TO THE SKIES
Pages 8-9 SPEED SKATING RETURNS TO LAKE MEMPHREMAGOG
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Kingdom Games drew a crowd of racers off the shores of Newport.
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FEATURES Thousands of spectators gathered at Brattleboro’s Harris Hill to watch some of the world’s best jumpers on this much beloved stage.
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PUBLISHER COMMENTARY NEWS BRIEFS MEDICAL: CARTILAGE INJURIES CAN BE A PAIN IN THE KNEE GEAR AND BEER CALENDAR OF EVENTS READER ATHLETES
PRO TIPS AT THE SMUGGS’ ICE BASH Ice-climbing seminars at Smuggler’s Notch drew dozens of climbers interested in learning new techniques.
Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
Pages 12-13 Ski Vermont
CURLING SWEEPS INTO VERMONT
The Green Mountain Club
New clubs get a toe-hold in Vermont, including this club in Rutland.
Pages 14-19 2015 BLACK DIAMOND WINNERS The Best in Vermont's Outdoor Industry as judged by YOUR votes. ON THE COVER: Tom Keane, center, cruises through a turn on Lake Memphremagog followed by Charles Beaudoin and Jake Maarse during a Kingdom Games event. Photo by Herb Swanson
Pages 20-21 EXTREMUS LONG TRAIL TREK Three teams of 10 set off on a 50-mile, overnight ordeal in January to reach Applachian Gap in Buel’s Gore, but extreme cold played havoc.
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by Angelo Lynn
Winter brings out the bear in some people. I’m not talking about that part of our personalities that’s grumpy because of the Arctic blasts we’ve endured this winter, but that part of us that’s grizzly and gritty; that polar bear part that thinks it’s fun to brave the elements. Bring it on, we say, and then fling ourselves into the cold like huskies rush to the trail. Witness those fearless fliers of winter — ski jumpers at Brattleboro’s Harris Hill, who scale flights of stairs and rungs of ladders to a perilous chute 90-meters long that hurls jumpers’ slender frames — mounted on impossibly long skis — as far as 100 meters into the void and down again (Pages 6-7). Witness ice climbers who claw and kick, muscle and finesse themselves up the icecovered cliffs of some of Vermont’s fiercest looking mountain sides on the coldest days of winter. Why? For the sheer fun of it, and the simple challenge to survive a sport fraught with risk. We talk to pros at the Smugg’s Ice Bash for tips to help get you started climbing Vermont’s frozen playgrounds (Pages 10-11). Witness, long skaters whose sport requires them to have the stamina and aerobic fitness of a marathoner and the balance of a figure skater to hone their ability to maneuver up to 18-inch blades underfoot that are as sharp as knives. There’s risk here, too, as it’s all too easy to catch the tip of your blades on the ice, sending you sprawling with the inevitable scrapes and bloody gashes that follow (Pages 8-9). Witness, those intrepid souls who test their mettle by undertaking 36-hour-long adventure treks in sub-zero weather along the spine of the Green Mountains just to say they made it — or not. It’s about not leaving any team member behind while navigating by compass, losing and finding the trail over and over, hiking and snowshoeing and backcountry skiing through the darkness of night. It’s the story of the Extremus Long Trail Trek that set off from Smuggler’s Notch south to Appalachian Gap in Buels’s Gore by the aptly named Endurance Society, and the havoc that frigid temperatures impose (Pages 20-21). But wait, there is a hint of sanity tucked in the relatively balmy ice rink in downtown Rutland where friends and teammates gather weekly to contemplate the next strategic toss on the shuffleboard-like lanes of the Rutland Curling Club. This is a sport that makes you feel more genteel — but still skilled, intent and focused — than bear-like. It’s also spreading throughout the Green Mountain State with a local club near you (Pages 12-13). Sanity, of course, is a relative term. The Arctic freezes and coastal snowstorms of New England make living here appear on the verge of craziness not only to someone from Texas, but also for those area residents who prefer to hunker down and hibernate inside. Doing extreme sports in the winter, with temps dropping below zero with wind chills adding to the danger, just pushes the edge a bit further. But pushing that edge is what makes the adventure so worthwhile. Reward is a consequence of effort. The more you put into to something, the more you get back. I can’t imagine the thrill of soaring through the air for 300 feet after flying off the 90-meter jump at Harris Hill. The photos tell it all — leaning far out over your 263mm skis, hands to your side, body in that perpendicular plank position, head up, chin out and looking down the runway as the landing approaches in the split seconds that must seem like eternity. Pounding heart. Focused mind. I know more the joy of ice climbing: the satisfying clunk of an ice axe well swung, the freedom of moving fluidly up vertical faces of solid ice; the use of balance and strength, force and focus; the fun of mixing rock and ice climbing to reach a summit or whatever goal is in front of you. But whether it is ice climbing or ski jumping, long skating or pond hockey, skiing or curling, the satisfaction gained is directly related to effort in the moment. If you do anything half-heartedly, you get that in return. If you give it your all, that is also what you get back. That’s why you see so many big, toothy grins and hear the hearty laughter among those who embrace the winter with gusto. It’s not an easy season. You have to commit, jump all in. And when you do, the experience is all that much sweeter.
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Urban Susnik of Slovakia soars over spectators’ heads on the first day of FIS competition at the Harris Hill ski jump in Brattleboro.
Photos by Herb Swanson
By Evan Johnson
Brattleboro — In the early 1900s, Brattleboro local Fred Harris smashed his skis to bits when he launched off a jump he made himself in his hometown. He wrote about the experience in his journal. But after several more attempts of hurling himself off a snow-covered ramp (and presumably breaking more pairs of skis), he finally stuck the landing. Not long afterward, he would spearhead the construction of a formal ski jump, now known as the Harris Hill ski jump. What started as one man’s relentless pursuit continues to draw spectators and jumpers alike to a field a short distance away from downtown Brattleboro. “Think about it,” says Fred’s daughter Sandy Harris, who works on the event’s organizing committee. “What
TAKE TO THE SKIES AT
other ski jumping event can you think of that’s run entirely by volunteers in the middle of a cornfield?” Harris isn’t joking. Located a short drive from downtown Brattleboro, the 90-meter ski jump is the only one of its kind in the state. Billed as “the original extreme sport,” jumpers take off at speeds of nearly 60 miles per hour and soar distances of more than 300 feet. It’s a high-flying tradition that’s 93 years in the making at this local hill, which held its first formal competition in 1922. The history of Harris Hill is littered with notable skiers, such as Torger Tokle, a Norwegian who came to the United States in 1939. Tokle won the competition there three times from 1940 to 1942, earning him the nickname “the Babe Ruth of Ski Jumping.” After he was killed in the Second World War, his brother Arthur won the event four times and later competed in the 1960 Olympics. Art Devlin, of Lake Placid, N.Y., won the Harris Hill ski jumping event six times between 1946 and 1958, the most titles of any jumper at Harris Hill. Brattleboro’s own Hugh Barber became the only hometown competitor to win the event, a feat he accomplished three years in a row from 1972 to 1974. Since its opening, Harris Hill has hosted nine national championships, starting in 1924. At its peak in 1951, the jump set athlete and attendance records with 168 athletes and more than 10,000 spectators. The local jump’s continued existence is due to the work of its caretakers. Volunteers added more than 2,000 feet of snowmaking pipe in 1985 and a $20,000 judging stand in 2003. In 2005, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association ruled the jump unsafe and refused to sanction any further competitions. The venue sat idle for three winters as volunteers weighed different plans and funding models until supporters collected a total of nearly $600,000 to reopen the hill in 2009. Behind the jump’s 93 years is a committed team of volunteers directed by Liz Richards, the organizing committee’s vice president. Richards has been helping organize the event for 10 years and says their behindthe-scenes work is evident every year when the cars fill the parking lot. “Nobody has the crowd that Brattleboro has,” she says. “They just don’t. At ski jumps in Lake Placid, you’ll see maybe 20 people standing around. I think we’re a lot closer to what a ski jump event is like in Europe, where they have thousands of people that come out.” The annual event requires more than 200 volunteers working 4,000 hours, $100,000 in fundraising, 340,000 pounds of snow, 5,500 spectators, ten dump trucks of wood chips and sand, 300 pizzas, 700 hot dogs and 200 sponsors. “That’s why everyone likes to come to Brattleboro,” she says. “We put on a good show.” And Harris Hill put on a show this past Presidents’ Day Weekend with plenty of ski jumping action from 30 jumpers representing eight countries – the broadest international spread in the hill’s history. The weather was overcast with heavy snowfall at times and temperatures well below freezing. But spectators crowded around the outrun and hiked the steep metal staircase to claim a place alongside the slope. Saturday’s Pepsi Cup competition saw impressive performances from both local and international skiers. Native Vermonter Spencer Knickerbocker grew
Above, a ski jumper flies past the judging box at Harris Hill, while Matthew Polz peers down toward the landing. The event drew 30 jumpers from eight countries in its 93rd year of competition. Photos by Herb Swanson
up in Brattleboro and was the first to test the jump prior to its reopening in 2009. He went to high school in Lake Placid, N.Y. and after graduating spent three years training fulltime on the US Nordic Combined Development Team in Colorado. At 22, he now lives in Norwich, Vt. and plans to attend college for a degree in business or history. While he hadn’t jumped in three months, Knickerbocker still bested a field of six Americans to win the open division with jumps of 86.5 and 93 meters for a winning 224.5 points. “I hadn’t jumped since summer jumping and I wasn’t sure how it would go,” he said after his winning jumps. “But this was for fun and when I have fun, I jump well.”
In the afternoon’s FIS Cup Competition, Ziga Mandl of Slovenia took first with distances of 96 and 89.5 meters for 248 points. Kevin Bickner of the Norge Ski Club in Illinois took second with 93.5 and 86.5-meter jumps for 232 points. Another Slovenian, Ernest Prislic, followed him closely behind, jumping 92 and 86.5 meters for 229.5 points. All of them began jumping at early ages; Prislic began jumping at age four on a small local hill. “You go step by step,” he says. “That’s why I’m not scared on the bigger hills. It’s not scary when you’ve been doing it for 15 years.” All of the top finishers have Olympic ambitions. While competing together, jumpers maintain a friendly atmosphere. After their jumps in Brattleboro, they will jump in Lake Placid, N.Y., Iron Mountain, Michigan, and then Hinterzarten, Germany. “I see these guys every weekend so we have to get along,” says Prislic. Sunday afternoon’s jumping was delayed by a half hour while crews cleared the 90-meter jump and landing area. The longest jump of the weekend was Sunday afternoon, with Ziga Mandl jumping 100 meters, just two meters away from the hill record set in 2010 by Chris Lamb. Lamb opted to not compete in the FIS competition on Sunday; rather he competed in the Open class, beating a field of five other American jumpers with distances of 96 and 89 meters for 243.5 points. Spencer Knickerbocker took second, jumping 81 and 88.5 meters for 202 points. Had Lamb won the top class, he would have been only the sixth skier to retire the cup and the first since Vladimir Glyvka of the Ukraine in 1996. In FIS competition, Turkish skier Samet Karta jumped 92.5 and 94.5 meters to win with 248.5 points. Slovenian skiers Ziga Mandl and Ernest Prislic took second and third respectively. The win for the Turkish team came at their first appearance in the Harris Hill event. Speaking through an interpreter, the 22-year-old Karta said they looked forward to returning to Vermont and the Harris Hill jump. “This hill is one of the best,” he said.
Returns to Lake Memphremagog By ByEvan EvanJohnson Johnson
NEWPORT — After a 30-year hiatus, about 20 hearty competitors from the United States and Canada braved temperatures well below zero for marathon skating’s return to Lake Memphremagog. The races were held Jan. 31-Feb.1 on a 700-meter loop named for Newport physician and endurance athlete Hutch Jenness. Jenness began speed skating in 1983 after the Dutch national team visited Newport to train. In 1985, Jenness was training for the Elfstedentocht, a 200-kilometer race through 11 cities in the Netherlands, when he fell through the ice and drowned near Georgeville, essentially ending distance skating in the area. This year, after receiving certification from international skating’s organizing body, Marathon Skating International, race director Phil White consulted with Jenness’s family and received their permission to name the loop in his honor. “I know he’d be thrilled at speed skating’s return to the lake,” White said. On Saturday, Joseph Franz of Essex Junction won the 1K race on the speed skating oval but lost the 5K to his son Parker who edged him at the finish line by 0.134 seconds. Craig Stevens of Peekskill, N.Y., crossed less than half-a-second behind Parker Franz for third. By the time the 25K race got underway that afternoon, temperatures on the speed skating oval had crept up to around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. For the 17 skaters going the distance, frostbite was a serious concern and most of the racers had done their best to cover every square inch of skin. Jake Maarse of North Gower, Ontario, beat out Tom Keane of Somerville, Mass., on Saturday by about a second with a time of 1:00:08. Charles Beaudoin
Above, Jake Maarse holds the lead ahead of Charles Beaudoin and Tom Keane through a turn around the 700-meter speed skating oval. Below, Tom Keane heads the leaders group on the shores of Lake Memphremagog in Newport, Vt. Photos by Herb Swanson
finished third with a time of 1:04:30.9. Three men over the age of 70 completed the 25K race, including Willem Langenberg of Edmonton, Alberta, who finished fifth, less than eight minutes behind the top-finishers. On Sunday’s 50K race, Maarse and Keane skated together well ahead of the pack, but Keane turned it on in lap 66, setting a course record with a lap of nearly 30 kilometers per hour and dropping Maarse by about 100 yards at the finish. Keane finished with a time of
2:01:04, followed by Maarse with a time of 2:01:13. Catherine Kwiecien finished third with a time of 2:14:41.1 and Langenberg took fourth, three minutes behind Kwiecien, who took first in the women’s division. Organizers had also planned a 25-mile “border buster” skate north across the Canadian border. However, freezing rain and six inches of snow covered the route they intended to take. “It was smooth enough to skate, but it was granular like oatmeal,” White said, describing the
Clockwise from top left: A skater arcs a turn; skaters cruising on the oval track on the shores of Newport; and Jeff Brodlieb sports an injury with good humor after a fall on the ice.
conditions. After working through the night plowing and spreading water to smooth the loop, White decided the cross border skate would have to wait until next year. While last year’s skate drew a similar sized crowd with only 10 days’ notice, White said he had expected the skate to draw a larger crowd but said the Newport area still has a ways to go to match skating’s popularity in the American Midwest or northern Europe. White said he is considering establishing a distance skating club in Newport that would attract more athletes and hold more regular events. “The sport of distance skating is still growing on this side of the ocean,” he says. “The community of outdoor skaters is still much smaller than the indoor skaters. The real difficulty is getting them to come skate outside.” Skater Jake Maarse says people need to be more adventurous. “[Ice skating] is not the same as sitting by the fire in the living room,” he says. “But once you set your mind to it you can withstand quite a bit of cold. I think in this way Vermont has a great attitude towards winter.”
Talking Technique with the Pros at the
By Evan Johnson
JEFFERSONVILLE — On a cold January morning, the base area for the Smuggs’ Ice Bash was packed with climbers of all abilities getting ready for a day in one of the Northeast’s best ice climbing destinations. Bash organizer Tim Farr has been guiding in the area for the past four years and said while the official guidebook lists about 70 known ice routes, when you add that to the number of routes that combine sections of both rock and ice, a technique known as “mixed” climbing, that number is even higher. “There’s a lot of variety to be found in the area,” he said. “And when you combine that with the way the ice forms every winter, no two seasons are alike.” With professional guides from Petra as well as guest guides from around the Northeast on hand, advice for anyone just starting was readily available and I was looking to learn as much as I could and hopped from one group to the next. The clinics I encountered in the Notch were working on the more straightforward techniques of selecting routes, placing protection and ascending a variety of rock and ice faces with the aid of tools and crampons. Here are some of the top ice climbing tips from the day:
your tools or moving too quickly will cause you to “barn door” – swing uncontrollably away from the wall – or to tire yourself out. A common mistake for beginners is using the tools too aggressively or relying on them too much. Instead, it’s important to think of them as a source of balance as you move your legs up. Aim for a space the size of a basketball directly above your head, but not so high that your arms are extended. The curved shafts of today’s modern ice tools often require more precision than power. All it takes is a swing of the arm and flick of the wrist, and you’ll be able to find a reliable placement. Give yourself three attempts to “stick” it before pausing to shake out your arms. If you don’t get it in three swings, try somewhere else. And as always, don’t forget to keep breathing.
GETTING (SAFELY) OFF THE GROUND The first group I came upon was at a rock and ice face called the Mystery Wall, where a group of five led by Petra guide Matt Bresler and assisted by Cam Latimer, a student instructor with the Wilderness Program at Saint Michael’s College, were working on an introduction to combining climbing tools and techniques on rock and ice. While newer equipment and improved techniques continue to open up previously unexplored terrain, climbers always examine the quality of the ice they are attempting to scale before they step of the ground. These factors include its structure, the terrain above it and recent changes in temperature. Ice can be a fickle thing, Latimer cautioned, explaining that warm temperatures mean melting ice, but if the temperature drops too quickly, the ice becomes brittle and breaks when you climb. When placing belays on ice, climbers are careful to monitor the vector angles created by multiple screws, as this will have an amplifying effect when force is exerted on the system (i.e. when someone falls). Your stance on the ice/rock is important when placing protection. When placing the protection your weight-bearing arm should be straight and gripping a well-placed axe. You may have to knock away some soft ice to clear
Climbers at the Smuggs Ice Bash show off their skills on the icy walls of the Smugglers’ Notch in Jeffersonville. Clinics focused on skill sets needed to place protection and move efficiently up rock and ice faces. Photos by Dominique Powers
a spot for the teeth of the screw to solidly dig into more solid ice. Traveling in a high alpine environment comes with an entire world of risks to be considered. Gullies, where many routes are found, are often nicknamed the “garbage chutes” of the mountains and can rain chunks of rock and ice on unsuspecting parties. Climbers will loudly yell to warn people below of falling debris. If you hear someone yell, “Ice!” Don’t look up to see
where it’s coming from.
MOVING UP Movement up the ice requires familiarity with the tools and the best technique for how to use them, not just physical strength. Guide Michael Wejchert was leading a more advanced clinic on movements on ice and offered a few tips of his own. Movements while ice climbing emphasize fluidity. Incorrectly placing
Ian Osteyee, sole guide and owner of Adirondack Mountain Guides was holding a clinic of his own on climbing some of the more challenging surfaces, such as when ice is thin or has formed inconsistently. The first step he said is to watch your feet. Osteyee gave a brief demo. “It’s hard to think of your boots as tools instead of simply footwear, but you have to when you’re ice climbing,” he said. Much of the movements originate with basic climbing technique, but a great place to start is with your feet, which will give you more stability and reserve your energy. You can kick the points into the ice so they bite or you can place them in pockets, on edges or any irregularities in the surface of the ice, much the same way you would use the soles of your shoes while rock climbing. The more effective you are with your feet – and those toe points – the more you’ll reserve your arms. “Just kick once,” Osteyee said. “Never place a blind foot. If it doesn’t stick, find somewhere else.” Placing your toe points works well if the ice has lots of featured and isn’t a uniform sheet of ice. Here just think as though you were rock climbing. Again look where you want to place your crampons before making any move. You are looking for any sort of feature that you can place your crampons on. A common mistake is to angle your heels too high, causing the front points to pop out. Keeping your heels level increases the amount of force on the front points – pushing them further into the ice and avoiding slips.
CURLING SWEEPS INTO VERMONT By Evan Johnson
Rutland — It is Sunday evening and that means curling night at the Rutland Rocks Curling Club. At 6:30 sharp, a steady stream of people enters the lobby of the rink, carrying brooms and duffle bags with changes of shoes. Everyone wears red nametags, greets each other with a friendly hello and helps themselves to the platter of brownies someone has laid out on a paper plate. Since its humble beginnings in the 1500s, today curling is played in 46 countries and is an Olympic medal sport. Canada leads the way with around 1 million curlers. And Vermont with its frozen lakes and skating arenas in nearly every town is another hotspot, with multiple clubs around the state welcoming members. Founding Rutland club member Nancy Murphy wears two patches on the sleeve of her jacket, indicating her as a certified curling instructor from the USA Curling Association. In 2007, Murphy attended trainings in Massachusetts to become an instructor and get the Rutland club off the ground. “I went from not knowing how to curl to being able to teach it,” she says. “It’s a little shuffleboard, a little bocce and a few other things.” The club had its first open house on Dec. 30, 2007 and has since grown to nearly 40 members coming to curl weekly, driving from Middlebury, the Rutland area and even as far away as Bennington. “It’s small, but it’s very dedicated,” Murphy says. “We have some people that don’t actively curl, but still join the club every year because they want to support the community.” After signing in, the group heads out onto the skating rink, which has to be specially prepared for the event. The ice is sprayed with water, which freezes in lumps on the surface, creating a textured surface similar to that of a pond or the frozen marshes of Scotland where the sport is presumed to have originated in the 16th century. The curling stones weigh precisely 42 pounds and are made of special high-density granite, imported from Scotland. “The granite has to be of a certain composition to withstand the repeated strikings,” club member Phyl Keyes explains. “Apparently the granite here in Vermont isn’t up to the task.” Members at the Rutland club say the sport is rooted more in tradition and sportsmanship than hardnosed competition, a point they emphasize at the start of every match, when teams mingle, shaking hands and wishing each other a cheery “Good curling!” “You wish each other well,” says club president Dean Mooney. “You compliment each other and the other team on good shots. It’s all very polite.” Other pieces of good curling etiquette include
Curlers at the Rutland Rocks Curling Club take to the ice every Sunday night. Top, club president Dean Mooney signals the angle he wants the stone to take, while curlers (above and opposite page) launch stones down the lane.
avoiding distracting movements when a curler is in position and keeping the ice clean. The sport also depends on the honor system and players are expected to call their own infractions.
Like shuffleboard, bocce or golf, curling requires fine control and technique to accurately send stones as close as possible to the “button,” the center of a target shape located at both ends of a 150-foot long curling sheet. At one end, Bruce Jenson crouches in the hack, or starting position, while at the other end of the curling sheet, Dean Mooney waits in his role as “skip,” or team captain, and estimates the speed and direction of travel the stone will need for the best placement. With an outstretched arm, Mooney indicates to Jenson how he wants the stone to curve. By turning the handle on the stone towards his body, the stone will curl inward. Turning it away will result in an outward turn. With a push, Jenson glides forward on the Teflon soles of his curling shoes, sending the stone down the ice with a low rumble. Meanwhile, sweeper Mary Lou Webster follows alongside the stone at a pace that could be described as a fast shuffle. Mooney observes the progress of the approaching stone. As soon as he yells “Sweep!” Webster attacks the ice directly in the stone’s path with her broom, sweeping vigorously. The sweeping smoothes the textured ice, reduces friction and thus causes it to slide further. The sweeping can cause a stone to slide an extra 10 feet or more and when thrown with a fine enough technique, can even curve around opposing team’s stones.
If you’re interested in exploring the unique world of curling, contact any of the three curling clubs around the state for open houses, learn-to-curl clinics or to join: GREEN MOUNTAIN CURLING CLUB: The Green Mountain Curling Club has been around since 2005 and curls at the Bedford Curling Club in Bedford, Quebec, ten minutes across the I-89 border crossing, every Sunday morning. www.greenmountaincurlingclub.org
RUTLAND ROCKS CURLING CLUB: The closest club for interested curlers in the Champlain Valley area has existed since 2007 and curls every
As the stone approaches, Mooney calls out for Webster to lessen the sweeping, slowing the stone to ensure it doesn’t carry too much momentum. The stone comes to a stop with a satisfying clack against the red-handled stone of the opposing team, which skirts out of the scoring zone. “Great shot, Bruce!” Mooney calls down the ice to Jenson, who flashes a thumbs-up. Then, they go skating or shuffling back to the other end. On average, an athlete can walk up to 2.5 miles in a full match. Bruce Jenson tossed his first stone when the Rutland Club opened eight years ago. He has been curling ever since.
“When I was a kid I liked pitching pennies,” he says. “This is kind of like that or playing marbles – except with 42-pound marbles on ice in the freezing cold. I’m 69, but I love throwing rocks.” Nearby, playing in a different match, Holly Citro was enmeshed in her old game. She grew up in Burlington and used to watch curling on television “constantly” with her father, who was born in Canada. “I was always fascinated by it,” she says, “and when I found out that Rutland had a club I knew it was for me.” At the end of January, a handful of members will head to the Schenectady Open Bonspiel to compete against clubs from all over the Northeast. On Feb. 22,
Sunday evening from November until March. www.rutlandrocks.com
UPPER VALLEY CURLING AND THE WOODSTOCK CURLING CLUB: Originally formed as the Woodstock Curling Club in 2008, the club has expanded to include members in the Upper Valley and neighboring towns in New Hampshire. www.uppervalleycurling.org
the Rutland club will host the third annual “Verspiel” with the three other clubs in Vermont coming to the Rutland arena for a full tournament. Members receive pins from the different “Bonspiels” – or curling meets – they attend and wear them on their fleece vests, jackets or hats. Mooney says the sport is gaining momentum as more than just a feature during the winter Olympics. The club hopes to attract members from neighboring Castleton State College. “We’re seeing it growing in leaps and bounds every year,” he said.
VERMONT SPORTS PRESENTS
SPORTS Black diamond w
d winners The Best in Vermont’s Outdoor Industry
Here they are … the winners of this year’s Vermont Sports’ Black Diamond of Excellence awards. Thank you to the hundreds of Vermont Sports readers from around New England who cast ballots and shared their opinions on the people and places that make this state’s outdoor scene one of a kind. Voters told us which ski resort had the best glades (Jay Peak, Mad River Glen), the best groomers (Q Burke, Okemo and Stowe) and where to go for a pint at the end of the day (Montpelier’s Three Penny Tap-
room, The Matterhorn in Stowe and Bear’s Den in Burke). Readers also told us the best place to buy a mountain bike (Village Sports Shop in Lyndonville) and the best place to ride it (Kingdom Trails). We learned – or maybe just confirmed – who made the best merino woolens (Ibex and Darn Tough), but the hundreds of ballots we received refused to divulge the location of Vermont’s best fishing hole (“A good fisherman never reveals his secrets,” read one entry).
Readers also shared some of their favorite retail stores, including Onion River Sports in Montpelier, Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington, and Village Sport Shop in Lyndonville. Readers also shared what they enjoy the most about Vermont Sports and what we can be do to make this magazine even better. We appreciate the candid advice. And so, without further ado, your 2015 winners are …
VERMONT SPORTS GEARHEADS
Black diamond winners
The majority of Vermont Sports readers—72 percent in fact—buy most of their gear in person at local shops. So you’re experts on who has the best customer service, where to go to get your hardtail fixed, and what store will get you suited up properly for your next triathlon.
BEST CLIMBING SHOP
BEST GEAR SHOP Village Sport Shop, Onion River Sports, Outdoor Gear Exchange
BEST HIKING/BACKPACKING/ CAMPING SHOP
BEST BIKE FITTER Onion River Sports, Fit Werx, Village Sport Shop
BEST BIKE REPAIR Onion River Sports, Village Sport Shop, East Burke Sports
BEST NORDIC/BACK COUNTRY SKI RETAILER Outdoor Gear Exchange, Village Sport Shop, Onion River Sports
BEST SKI/SNOWBOARD REPAIR Village Sport Shop, East Burke Sports, Skirack
Village Sports Shop
Village Sport Shop, Fly Rod Shop, Middlebury Mountaineer
BEST PADDLING SHOP Umiak, Village Sport Shop
Onion River Sports, Village Sport Shop, East Burke Sports
BEST SKI TUNER
BEST FISHING SHOP
BEST KIDS BIKE RETAILER
Village Sport Shop, Umiak, Outdoor Gear Exchange
Onion River Sports, Skirack
BEST TRIATHLON GEAR SHOP
BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE RETAILER Village Sport Shop, Onion River, Outdoor Gear Exchange
Outdoor Gear Exchange, Onion River Sports
BEST RUNNING GEAR SHOP
BEST ROAD BIKE RETAILER Onion River Sports, Village Sport Shop, Fit Werx
Outdoor Gear Exchange, Eastern Mountain Sports, Climb High
BEST PLACE TO BY A CAR RACK Onion River/Onion River Direct
BEST BRAND OF CAR FOR GETTING TO AND FROM ADVENTURES
Subaru, Toyota, Honda
BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE AT A GEAR SHOP Outdoor Gear Exchange, Onion River Sports, Village Sport Shop
BEST MERINO WOOL PRODUCTS MANUFACTURER Ibex, Darn Tough, Smartwool
BEST BOOT FITTER Outdoor Gear Exchange, Alpine Options, Race Stock Sports
Outdoor Gear Exchange
VERMONT SPORTS GOING DOWNHILL
Black diamond winners
Nearly 53 percent of our readers downhill ski, and nearly 10 percent snowboard. So you know where to go for the best bumps, trees, groomers, and pow.
BEST VERMONT SKI/RIDE AREA Burke, Jay, Stowe
BEST TERRAIN PARK Jay, Burke
BEST SNOWMAKING Jay, Magic, Killington
BEST POWDER: Jay, Burke, Sugarbush
BEST BUMPS Jay, Mad River, Sugarbush
BEST TREES Jay, Mad River, Burke
BEST GROOMING Burke, Okemo, Stowe
BEST MOUNTAIN FOR KIDS Bolton, Smugglerâ€™s Notch, Burke
MOUNTAIN WITH THE SICKEST PARTIES Killington, Jay, Stowe
BEST SKI/RIDE DEALS Burke, Sugarbush, Bolton
BEST LIFT Single Chair (Mad River Glen), Castlerock (Sugarbush), Tram (Jay)
BEST RUN Paradise (Mad River Glen), Lookout (Stowe), Dipper Doodle (Burke)
BEST LIFT ATTENDANT Bogo (Sugarbush)
BEST SKI INSTRUCTOR Rebecca Skandera (Stratton)
BEST SNOWBOARD INSTRUCTOR Dean Zorn (Jay)
BEST RENTAL FACILITY Jay, Burke, Sugarbush
A skier rocks the recent abundance of powder at Mad River Glen ski area.
Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
VERMONT SPORTS GETTING SKINNY
Black diamond winners At Vermont Sports, we loooove Nordic skiing. And you do too, judging by the enthusiasm in voting in this category! Whether you sharpen your metal edges for a journey in the backcountry or you’ve got your waxing down to a science for your next ski marathon, Vermont offers it all. Here’s what you named the best.
BEST NORTHERN VT NORDIC AREA Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Kingdom Trails, Trapp Family Lodge
BEST CENTRAL VT NORDIC AREA Morse Farm, Rikert Nordic, Blueberry Hill
BEST SOUTHERN VT NORDIC AREA Grafton Ponds, Prospect Mountain, Viking Nordic
FASTEST NORDIC AREA TO GROOM AFTER A SNOWSTORM Trapp Family Lodge, Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Kingdom Trails
BEST NORDIC INSTRUCTOR Dan Voisin (Morse Farm) Skiers at a race at the picturesque Craftsbury Outdoor Center.
Photo credit Kris Dobie
What would skiing be without après? Dissecting the epicness of your runs over any one of Vermont’s world-class microbrews is key to transitioning from a day on the mountain back to regular life. Here’s how to do it in style.
BEST APRÉS SKI HANGOUT:
BEST [MEAT] BURGER:
BEST APRÉS SKI LIVE MUSIC VENUE:
Three Penny Taproom (Montpelier), Bear’s Den (Burke), Matterhorn (Stowe)
Three Penny Taproom, Prohibition Pig, Matterhorn
Pickle Barrel (Killington), Jay Peak Village
BEST VEGGIE BURGER:
BEST LOCALS’ APRÉS SKI VENUE:
BEST VT BREWERY:
Trout River Brewing, Hill Farmstead, Alchemist Brewing
BEST VT SPIRITS: Caledonia Spirits, VT Spirits, WhistlePig Rye
BEST BARTENDER: Roger (Tamarack Grill, Burke), Kevin Kerner (Three Penny Taproom, Montpelier), Jerry Goto (Mad River Barn, Waitsfield)
Bear’s Den (Burke), Three Penny Taproom (Montpelier)
BEST SKI-CENTERED INN/HOTEL: Hotel Jay
BEST APRÉS SKI BAND: Dave Keller Band FEBRUARY/MARCH 2015
The Long Trail
VERMONT SPORTS ON THE GROUND
Black diamond winners
We know you hate sharing your secret favorite places, so thank you to those of you who did. You’re helping others enjoy the outdoors, just like someone did for you back when.
BEST CLIMBING GYM Petra Cliffs
BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL NETWORK Kingdom Trails (almost unanimous)
BEST STRETCH OF ROAD FOR ROAD BIKING
BEST HIKING TRAIL NETWORK
BEST FISHING HOLE
“Not Tellin,” & Big Falls (Troy)
BEST BIKE PATH
VT Rt 100, App Gap, VT Rt. 16
BEST WHITEWATER Jamaica (West River)
Fortitude Fitness, Xtra Innings Performance (XIP)
Stowe, Kingdom Trails, Burlington Bike Path
VERMONT SPORTS MAKING IT HAPPEN
Black diamond winners
There are so many people and organizations doing amazing work, and many of them do it for little to no credit. This is our small way of starting to say “thank you” to all those who make it happen.
OUTDOORS NONPROFIT WITH THE MOST PUBLIC BENEFIT Green Mountain Club, Run VT, Vermont Land Trust
Tough Mudder (Mt Snow), XIP Bypass Series (Burke), Spartan Race (Killington)
BEST RACE ORGANIZER
BEST BC/TELE/AT EVENT
Phil White (Kingdom Games), Gary Kessler (GM Stage Race)
Telefest (Mad River Glen)
BEST TIMING COMPANY 802 Timing
Onion River Snowshoe Romp, Romp to Stomp (Stratton)
BEST RELAY RUNNING RACE
RACE WITH THE BEST PRIZES
VT City Marathon, 100 on 100
BEST MARATHON OR HALF MARATHON VT City Marathon, Covered Bridges Half Marathon, Leaf Peepers Half Marathon
BEST 5KM/10KM RUNNING RACE Burlington Color Run, Vermont Corporate Cup, Leaf Peepers 5km
BEST TRIATHLON/DUATHLON VT Sun Triathlon Series Rebecca Brady, left, and Amelia Kaufman raced the entire Middlebury Maple Run half marathon in this three-legged uniform. Below, about 750 racers start the Maple Run (dubbed the Sweetest Half), which is held annually in early May.
Photos by Angelo Lynn
BEST OBSTACLE COURSE RACE
BEST SWIM RACE OR SERIES Kingdom Swims
BEST NORDIC RACE OR TOUR Craftsbury Marathon, Camel’s Hump Challenge, Stowe Derby
BEST ROAD RACE OR TOUR
BEST SNOWSHOE EVENT
Race to the Top of VT, XIP Bypass Series
RACE WITH THE BEST CROWD VT City Marathon
MOST INSPIRING FEMALE ATHLETE Liz Stephen
MOST INSPIRING MALE ATHLETE Ben Werstler
BEST PERSONAL TRAINER Ben Werstler (Fortitude Fitness, Lyndonville)
BEST PHYSICAL THERAPIST Ben McCormick, Northern PT
BEST ORTHOPEDIST OR GROUP Mansfield Orthopedics
Green Mountain Stage Race, Onion River Century Ride, Dirty 40
BEST OUTDOOR WRITER
BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE RACE OR TOUR
BEST OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER
CircumBurke, Leaf Blower (Stowe), VT 50
OUTDOOR PERSON OF THE YEAR Tim Tierney of Kingdom Trails
BEST CENTURY RIDE Onion River Century Ride, Kelly Brush Ride FEBRUARY/MARCH 2015
Extremus Long Trail Trek By EVAN JOHNSON
ENDURANCE SOCIETY CO-FOUNDER Andy Weinberg takes a breather on the Long Trail on Jan. 18 during a multi-day trek along the spine of the Green Mountains that inaugurated the society’s schedule of extreme sporting events.
VERMONT — On Saturday, Jan. 18, well before dawn, with the temperature hovering around zero, a group of 50 hikers boarded a bus at the Blueberry Hill Inn and Ski Center in Goshen and drove north. At around 5 a.m., their ride dropped them at the Smugglers’ Notch Road in Stowe, a short distance from the southbound trailhead of the Long Trail. They then started walking south in groups of 10. Their goal was to reach the Appalachian Gap in Buel’s Gore by Sunday evening. It would be a 50-mile hike through day and night along Vermont’s historic Long Trail, gaining and losing over 20,000 feet of elevation change in temperatures well below freezing. Along the way, they planned to summit nine mountains including iconic and recognizable peaks like Mount Mansfield (Vermont’s highest at 4,393 feet), Camel’s Hump (4,083 feet), Mount Ethan Allen (3,866 feet) and Molly Stark Mountain (3,662 feet). “This will be a great team build-
ing adventure,” promised the organizers of the event, the Endurance Society, on their website. “We will all need to work together to go the distance safely.” They also didn’t downplay the extreme nature of the hike: “Expect frozen water bottles, frozen fingers and frozen toes.” Unsurprisingly, the trek was called “Extremus.” It was the inaugural event of the Endurance Society, a new series of ultra-distance events organized by two Vermonters and hiking partners Andy Weinberg and Jack Cary. Weinberg, a former Middlebury resident who now lives in Pittsfield, is known for organizing extreme and challenging events, including the Spartan Race obstacle races and the Death Race, a yearly race in which competitors endure challenges that push their physical and mental limits over several days. Cary is an accomplished through hiker and endurance racer. The two met through The Death Race. The Endurance Society is a series of endurance events that Weinberg said
will “create unique, mind-blowing adventures for endurance and adventure enthusiasts.” Apparently Weinberg and Cary know their audience. The inaugural event was for members only and the 50 available slots were filled within 24 hours after registration opened; a waiting list of another 50 hopeful participants formed after that. The group of 50 was split into teams of 10, headed by group leaders that included retired combat medics, experienced hikers and ultra-distance runners. While they advanced through the trek on foot, a group of 30 volunteers traveled south by vehicle, meeting with the teams every eight to 12 hours to resupply food and fluids and to monitor participants’ health. The journey started with an ascent of Vermont’s tallest peak, the 4,393-foot Mount Mansfield and traveled along the Long Trail. Temperatures dipped to eight below zero. After reaching that summit, participants began to drop out due to fa-
tigue and mild hypothermia. The large group size, in addition to the freezing temperatures and deep, unbroken snowpack, caused the hikers to move slowly, Weinberg said. “Some of these people are pretty hardy,” he said. “But they’re from Boston and New York and not used to these kinds of conditions. Some people had poor clothing so they wound up sweating too much.” As they moved, each group took into account the remaining daylight and the times at which they could rely on their support crew. On that Saturday night, after more than 18 hours of hiking through deep snow, one group took an evacuation route on the Bolton-Trapps trail connecting the Von Trapp Family Lodge and Bolton Valley Ski Resort to where their support crew waited. Weinberg said the situation was growing urgent. “We had to get some people out of the woods,” he said. “We were having some trouble finding the route and a lot of people were standing around. At
that time it was 11 o’clock or midnight and we noticed hypothermia starting to set in on some people. We chose to get those people down to Bolton Valley. Once they got down to the vans, they realized they could pull the plug.” The remaining group hiked through Saturday night and into the dawn of Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon the remaining hikers decided to quit after reaching the summit of Camel’s Hump, opting to take the Burrows Trail off the mountain toward the town of Huntington rather than continue on the Long Trail. They had traveled roughly 30 miles. After starting with 50 athletes, the number had dwindled to 11 — including leaders Weinberg and Cary. Not completing the distance, Weinberg said, was a different experience for him. “I’ve been putting on these events for years and one of the goals of these long distance events is you finish what you set out to do,” he said. “But in this event, we were focusing more on the performance of the group. You could only move as fast as the slowest person in your group. You had to work with that person to make sure they were safe.”
NEXT UP: WINTER RACES The inaugural weekend event was not a race, but a group trek. The Endurance Society’s first official race open to the public is called “Frigus,” and it is scheduled for Feb. 28, 7 a.m.-10 p.m., in Goshen. Frigus will feature divisions for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing in distances of 10, 30 and 60 kilometers, as well as a sledding contest in which competitors will run 5 kilometers, carrying their sled to the top of a course,
and then sled down. Registration for the combined snowshoe, ski and sledding race has sold out. Weinberg and Cary are also planning a series of open-to-the-public races in May called “Infinitus” in the Moosalamoo Recreation Area with distances of 8K, 88K and 888 kilometers. Runners will have 10 days to complete the longest distance (about 551 miles). Obstacle races, bicycle races and an open-water swim are also planned. Weinberg said he hopes the race will attract a variety of athletic abilities. “We like the small, intimate races,” he said. “They’re usually pretty insane and pretty challenging and they’re not for everybody, but we try to offer some distances that could be for everybody.”
members as far away as Germany, Latvia, Sweden and Israel. Weinberg and Cary are happy with their inaugural event. The society plans to reattempt the Extremus group trek again next winter, but will alter the trip to include cut-off times to keep groups from moving too slowly. They also plan to let the groups meet sooner to plan ahead. Despite not completing the full
length of the 50-mile hike, participants were satisfied with the experience, Weinberg said. “It was definitely different than what most people thought,” he said. “When you sign up for a race, you expect you’re going to race individually. But this was a group trek so you had to work together with your team, be smart and work together.”
RACE WITHOUT A NAME The Endurance Society also has announced a members-only race scheduled for June called “Sine nomine,” which translates to “without name.” Other than noting the starting date, time (1 a.m.) and registration fee ($379), the society’s website doesn’t give any hints about what the race will entail. Media coverage, blogs, spectators and public discussion of the race are expressly prohibited. The event will take place on private land in rural Vermont. Those who register will get an application, which must be accepted. They will be sent a list of mandatory gear and approved food and drink containers. The website says, “Attendees found on the course with unapproved gear items will be immediately disqualified, escorted off the private property, and unwelcome at future events.” The Endurance Society has 2,000 members so far, Weinberg said, with
ON SAL E! FAT bikes…your next 4 season toy. We sell, rent, and love Salsa fat bikes! Exit 4, I-91, Putney Vermont
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Chiropractics | Physical & Occupational Therapy | Podiatry | Sports Medicine
When the outdoors is unkind, we’re here to help. For care from providers who understand your drive to get back to the sports you love, call today. Sharon Health Center
To schedule an appointment call (802) 728-2777 12 Shippee Lane, Sharon, VT | www.giffordmed.org
24HoursofGreatGlen.com • August 8-9, 2015
news briefs FISH & WILDLIFE DEPT. EXPANDS WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREAS IN ADDISON COUNTY
August 8-9, 2015
"This Ain't Our First Rodeo"
MARCH 1, 2015
1 Mount Washington Auto Road, Gorham, NH
Experience when you need it most With Mansfield Orthopaedics, you have a comprehensive healthcare team – skilled doctors, nurses, and support staff – using advanced techniques and technologies. Backed by communication and collaboration. We treat you the way we want our family to be treated. Exceptionally. • • • • • • •
Sports Medicine Fracture & Trauma Care Foot and Ankle Care Hand and Shoulder Care Arthroscopic Surgery Joint Replacement In-Office Diagnostic Arthroscopy Josesph McLaughlin, MD; Bryan Huber, MD; John Macy, MD; Brian Aros, MD, and Saul Trevino, MD
A P R AC T I C E H O S P I TA L O F CO P L E Y H O S P I TA L
528 Washington Highway, Morrisville 6 North Main Street, Waterbury
SUMMER CLASS OFFERS TOUR OF VERMONT FOOD SYSTEM
2/9/15 8:26:41 AM
Food Systems Summit on food justice. The Tour concludes at Middlebury with an immersion in climate change and global food systems. With its invitation to students from around the country, the Summer Study Tour is the latest achievement of the Vermont Higher Education Food Systems Consortium, a six-school collaboration advancing Vermont as a leading center for the study of local and global food systems. “The Consortium is tapping Vermont’s agricultural traditions, unrivaled educational opportunities, and entrepreneurism to introduce students to new ways of thinking and earning school credit in agriculture, science, community development, law and policy,” noted Paul Costello, the project facilitator. “Vermont sets the standard for healthy food, innovation, beautiful and productive working lands, and food systems education.”
MONTPELIER — Leaders from education and agriculture are collaborating on a “movable feast” of study where undergraduate and graduate students advance from the classroom to the fields, forests, businesses, and offices that make the Vermont food system one of the most unique in the nation. This June, the 21-day Vermont Food Systems Study Tour kicks off from the University of Vermont with three days on building an urban food system. Next, students head to Sterling College for an in-depth look at artisan cheese and rural revitalization. Vermont Tech will follow with an intensive on dairy and the carbon economy, after which students proceed to Vermont Law School to study food system advocacy in the context of GMOs. Conservation is the theme at Green Mountain College, and then the course of study returns to the University of Vermont for the
MAGIC MOUNTAIN EXPANDS UPHILL TRAVEL POLICY WITH ‘HIKE ONE, RIDE ONE’ DAY-TICKET OFFER LONDONDERRY — Magic Mountain’s uphill travel policy got even more friendly recently by introducing an expanded uphill policy that offers a free lift token to any skier or splitboarder who successfully climbs the 1,700 vertical feet to the resort’s summit. Magic Mountain is an industry leader when it comes to supporting uphill skiing. The resort introduced one of the first official (and least restrictive) policies in 2008 and continues that tradition with
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Area, which is consistently a favorite destination for Vermont hunters and anglers,” said Jane Lazorchak, land acquisition coordinator for Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “In addition to being popular with wildlife enthusiasts, protecting these forests and wetlands goes a long way towards improving flood resiliency and cleaning up Lake Champlain.” Another recent acquisition has added 20 acres to the Lewis Creek WMA in Starksboro. While the parcel was small in size, it contains three tributary streams of Lewis Creek and consists largely of mature hardwood forest. In 2000, the 2,020-acre Lewis Creek WMA was expanded to connect with Huntington Gap WMA to form a large contiguous tract of public land. This recent addition is the result of a donation of land by two local landowners. “We are pleased to accept this generous donation and thank these landowners for helping to preserve the future of Vermont’s wildlife and open spaces,” said Lazorchak.
FERRISBURGH – Wildlife enthusiasts in northern Addison County have something to be excited about. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department recently closed on properties that will expand two popular wildlife management areas (WMAs). Lower Otter Creek WMA in Ferrisburgh added 75 acres to the existing 738acre property. The WMA consists largely of wetlands and floodplain forest near the mouth of Otter Creek. These wetlands and floodplain forests serve not only as quality waterfowl habitat, but also help to control flooding and improve water quality in Lake Champlain by mitigating the effects of nutrient loading into the lake. The new acquisition opens up additional opportunities for bird-watchers and hunters to access land, as the new property was previously posted against all access. The property contains deer wintering habitat and is considered high-quality habitat for the federally endangered Indiana bat. “We’re excited to continue to expand Lower Otter Creek Wildlife Management
its most recent policy: Hike One, Ride One. The rules of the new policy are simple: Uphill skiers and splitboarders let the base lift attendant know they are climbing to the peak, and when they reach the top, the upper lift attendant hands over a token redeemable for the free lift ride. The Free Turns token must be used in the same day, and skiers can receive no more than one per day.
By Nathan K. Endres, MD
Cartilage Injuries can be a Pain in the Knee CHANCES ARE, anyone reading this right now has dealt with knee pain. Whether you’re a skier, boarder, climber, hiker, runner, biker or maybe even a paddler – most of us have had a knee problem at some point. Some knee problems seem to get better and go away, while others can linger and interfere with activities and, sometimes, just daily life. There are lots of causes of knee pain. One of the most common causes is articular cartilage damage. Articular cartilage is a specialized tissue made up of water, collagen and cells (chondrocytes) surrounded by a matrix. Cartilage is the bearing surface of any joint. Normal cartilage provides a nearly frictionless interface to allow for smooth motion. In the knee, cartilage covers the end of the femur (thigh bone), the top of the tibia (shin bone) and the back of the patella (knee cap). Normally, cartilage looks white and shiny — like the inside of a coconut, or a cue ball. It is good at resisting compression, but not as good at resisting shear forces. Articular cartilage does not receive a blood supply, so cartilage injuries cannot heal on their own like injuries to other tissues. However, cartilage also has no nerve supply; so many cartilage defects do not cause any pain. Pain related to cartilage injuries may actually come from the underlying bone or from irritation of the lining of the joint. The menisci are also very important structures, which are unique to the knee and related to articular cartilage. There are two menisci in each knee, one on the outside (lateral) and one on the inside (medial). They function essentially as shock absorbers and protect the articular cartilage from undue stress. Therefore, injuries to the menisci, which are very common, can lead to cartilage deterioration. Cartilage damage comes in different forms and presents in different ways. The damage may be a single, focal cartilage defect, like a pothole in an otherwise normal road. Or, the damage may be broad and diffuse throughout the whole joint. The general term for this scenario is arthritis or arthrosis. Cartilage injuries can occur from a single, traumatic event or from chronic overload and steady deterioration over time. People with symptomatic cartilage injuries typically complain of activity-related pain and swelling. Sometimes mechanical symptoms such as catching, grinding or locking are present, especially if there
loading the joint in the process. What is also helpful is to know exactly where the cartilage damage is in the knee. For example, a common location of cartilage damage is under the kneecap, which can lead to pain in the front of the knee, especially with stairs. Quadriceps strengthening can be very helpful for this problem, however, doing deep squats and lunges to strengthen the quadriceps may aggravate the problem and lead to more pain and no results. A more effective way to strengthen the quadriceps in this scenario would be to do straight-leg raises or short-arc quad strengthening exercises. A physical therapist, or athletic trainer, can really help by prescribing and overseeing the right type of strengthening program. is a loose piece of cartilage floating in the joint that causes the knee to intermittently get stuck. Evaluation of cartilage injuries usually involves standing x-rays to assess for arthritis and often an MRI, especially if arthritis is not seen on x-rays.
TREATMENT OPTIONS There are a number of treatment options for cartilage problems, depending on the patient’s symptoms and how much the problem is affecting their quality of life. Sometimes, just a period of rest can be helpful to allow the knee to calm down and allow swelling and inflammation to subside. Activity modification can also be a good idea. The more load the knee joint sees, the more likely a cartilage problem is to become symptomatic. Running and jumping sports may aggravate the knee, whereas lower impact activities such as biking, swimming, cross-country skiing and using an elliptical machine may not. Weight loss can also be extremely helpful in reducing symptoms related to cartilage damage. A strengthening program can also be very helpful. Building endurance in the muscles that surround and support the knee can lead to a substantial improvement in symptoms. Think of your muscles as shock absorbers. If your muscles are trained and fit, such that they don’t fatigue quickly, they can help absorb more stress and take pressure off the joint structures. Key muscles include the quadriceps muscles, hamstring muscles and even muscles around the hip, low back and abdominal region. It isn’t so much brute strength that matters, rather building endurance in those muscles. The key is to go about strengthening those muscles properly without over-
BRACES Using a brace can sometimes be an option. An unloader brace is designed to take pressure off a specific area of the knee. For example, a common location of cartilage wear is on the inside of the knee. A medial unloader brace may be used in this situation to unload the inside of the knee. Lateral unloader braces are also available. These braces are typically worn when performing high impact activities. Medication can also be helpful. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS, Advil, Aleve, Motrin) are the most commonly used and can be very effective at reducing pain and swelling. There are also a host of oral supplements (e.g. glucosamine/chondroitin) that are marketed as treatments for cartilage problems. Anecdotally, these can be helpful; however, there is limited scientific basis for these supplements.
INJECTIONS Injections may serve a role. Corticosteroid injections are sometimes used to reduce pain and swelling, but cortisone is not particularly healthy for tissues and may actually promote further deterioration or degeneration. Typically, cortisone injections are reserved for patients who already have arthritis and are not commonly used in younger patients, or patients who have more focal cartilage injuries. A major area of interest right now is the use of biological injections – specifically platelet rich plasma (PRP) and stem cells. These injections are now being used to treat pain related to cartilage deterioration, but as of yet the evidence supporting the use of these injections in that setting is very limited, and although there is prom-
ise, no definitive conclusions can be made. Hopefully, with additional research we will know if they really work.
SURGERY If all nonsurgical treatments fail, then surgery for cartilage damage may be an option. The type of surgery depends on the location and extent of the damage. For an isolated cartilage defect, when the rest of the cartilage is healthy, a cartilage repair procedure may be indicated. There are a host of cartilage repair procedures described, including micro-fracture, cartilage grafts and cartilage cell transplant procedures. All of these can be potentially successful in the right setting. Often cartilage repair procedures are combined with other procedures that address knee alignment issues, ligament instability and/or meniscal deficiency. When someone has more diffuse cartilage damage and essentially has arthritis, cartilage repair procedures may no longer be a good option and the best surgical option may be some type of joint replacement. There are multiple different types of joint replacement options, but essentially a joint replacement involves replacing the cartilage bearing surface with a new bearing surface, typically a combination of plastic and metal. Sometimes only a portion of the knee joint is replaced, which is called a partial knee replacement, or “uni”. When there is more extensive damage throughout the knee then a full knee replacement is performed. These procedures can be quite successful at eliminating pain and symptoms and restoring a good quality of life. The key to any successful surgery is picking the right surgery for the right patient, setting realistic goals ahead of time and proper rehabilitation.
Nathan K Endres , M.D. University of Vermont, Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service McClure Musculoskeletal Research Center Robert T. Stafford Hall, 4th Floor 95 Carrigan Drive University of Vermont
It's good on top
NEW REGISTRATION SYSTEM FOR APPALACHIAN TRAIL IMPLEMENTED TO MANAGE OVERCROWDING HARPERS FERRY, W.V. – In order to enhance the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) experience for thru-hikers, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has launched a new voluntary registration system for those attempting to hike the estimated 2,185-mile-long trail in one year. The registration system, available at www.appalachiantrail.org/thruhikeregistration, exists to ease impacts from the increased number of hikers expected after the release of two hiking related films, “Wild” and “A Walk in the Woods.” In recent years, the A.T. thru-hike experience has at peak use times suffered severe overcrowding at the southern end of the trail. Crowding intensifies because hikers tend to start thru-hikes around specific dates, such as March 1, March 17, and especially April 1 and weekends. Overcrowding puts undue pressure on the finite number of shelters and camp-
sites and on the water, plants and wildlife near these accommodations. “With a large number of new hikers expected along the Appalachian Trail in 2015 and 2016, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy hopes that this new voluntary thru-hike registration system will allow hikers to know in advance when overcrowding along the trail will exist, and then adjust a thru-hike start date to his or her advantage. The solution is simple, the hikers need to spread out,” said Morgan Sommerville, the ATC’s regional director. Users of this voluntary registration system should keep in mind that it does not provide hikers with guaranteed spaces along the A.T. or serve as a substitute for any required permits. At this time, registration is only open for 2015. Registration for 2016 will be available on Dec. 1, 2015.
U.S. FOREST SERVICE PUBLISHES NEW RULE FOR OVER-SNOW VEHICLE USE ON NATIONAL FOREST
Climbers celebrate gaining the summit of a rocky crag. Photo by Angelo Lynn
RUTLAND – The U.S. Forest Service has released the final policy rule for managing snowmobile and other “oversnow” vehicle use on national forests and grasslands. As directed by court order, the policy requires that roads, trails and areas where over-snow vehicle (OSV) use can occur be specifically designated by local Forest Service managers. Previously, managers had the discretion to decide whether to designate specific areas for over-snow vehicle use on National Forest System lands. In the new rule, an over-snow vehicle is defined as “a motor vehicle that is designed for use over snow and that runs on a track and/or a ski or skis, while in use over snow.” “The Forest Service always seeks to provide a wide range of motorized and non-motorized recreational opportunities,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “This policy maintains community input and local decision-making so that those with knowledge of local areas can decide how to best balance natural resource issues with legitimate recreational uses of national forest land.” The new rule was the result of a 2013 federal court decision that the existing travel management rule violated the Executive Order governing off-road vehicle use on federal lands in giving the agency the discretion to determine whether to regulate over-snow vehicle use. The court ordered the Forest Service to issue a new rule consistent with the Executive Order. While this is a significant change for western states with expansive open areas where over-snow vehicle trails and areas are not specifically designated,
it will have little if any impact on how snowmobile opportunities on the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) are currently managed. The GMNF has a designated snowmobile/OSV trail system that the public can continue to use and which they will continue to refine. At this time the public may continue to ride on all trails posted as open to snowmobiles on the National Forest. The GMNF Land & Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) is fully consistent with the new rule and states that motorized vehicles shall not be allowed off NFS roads and trails and that motorized trail vehicles shall be allowed only on NFS roads and trails, which are designated for that use. In addition, a Forest Supervisor order issued in April 2010 prohibited operating OSVs off NFS roads except on trails designed for that use. “We do not anticipate the need for any change in our Forest Plan nor in the way we currently manage the existing designated trail system”, said Acting Forest Supervisor Dee Hines. The GMNF does not currently have a comprehensive map of OSV designated trails available to the public and plans to produce one as soon as it is practical. The new rule will preserve existing decisions governing over-snow vehicle use that were made under previous authorities with public involvement; allow decisions for over-snow vehicle use to be made independently or in conjunction with decisions for other types of motor vehicle use; and require local units to create over-snow vehicle use maps separate from use maps for other kinds of motor vehicles.
gear and beer
by Hilary DelRoss
GEAR: K2 Panoramic Splitboard and skins
Backcountry, sidecountry and uphill travel are growing segments in snow sports – and not just in the ski sector – as more snowboard manufacturers also offer splitboards in their seasonal line up. The Panoramic is K2 Snowboarding’s go-to splitboard, which has been available for the past four seasons. The Panoramic features an all-terrain rocker, consisting of a flat base with rocker at the nose and tail. This shape claims to offer enough lift for floating on powder while maintaining maximum contact in ski mode. Bamboo strips in the core add strength to the base and a flexible tip and tail help initiate turns, which provides welcome assistance against the rigidity of the included Voile plates. This board is available to purchase alone or as a kit with Voile hardware and K2 skins, making it a good choice for beginners entering the sport, since almost all the components are included. The directional shape of the board, its light weight and setback stance aid in turning and control of the board during up- and downhill travel, again making this a good choice for those transitioning from downhill snowboarding. The rocker is fairly minimal and the board has a low profile, which can make downhill turns feel responsive but can stunt uphill travel if ski tips get hung up in heavy snow. The top sheet has a matte finish that tends to hold snow more than the glossier materials typically used. As part of the kit setup, K2 skins come pre-cut to match the shape of the sidecut and length of the skis. Low profile “ZClip” attachment points clip quickly and easily into eyelets on the nose and tail of each board minimizing the risk of attachments to slide off or the skin to shift. This also prevents snow from collecting underneath the skins or skins peeling off when climbing. K2 also offers an upgraded baseplate/ binding as part of their integrated “Kwicker” system. K2’s pin-less plate, binding and boot system is designed to cut weight and speed up the transition between walk and ride modes. Have fun exploring new or favorite terrain on this board and be sure to go forth safely. The board is available in sizes from 154 to 168 cm; $599.95 for board only or $899.95 with Voile kit and K2 skins.
14th Star Brewing Co. Maple Breakfast Stout
Head brewer and owner, Steve Gagner, dreamed up 14th Star Brewery while serving in Afghanistan. Now, he creates traditional varieties with a nod to the local
flavors found in his hometown, St. Albans, Vermont – aka Maple City USA. Maple sugaring season is right around the corner and there’s no better time to start thinking about all the ways to enjoy it. 14th Star’s Maple Breakfast Stout pays homage to the long tradition of sugaring in Vermont with well-planned and locally sourced ingredients. This dark brown stout holds a short, foamy head when poured into a pint glass. A combination of malts produces toasty aromas of chocolate and coffee. Sweetness from pure Vermont maple syrup from St. Albans and honey from French Hill Apiary (also in St. Albans) balance the barely-there hoppiness and roasted coffee and chocolate flavors. Oats added to the malt lend a full, smooth mouthfeel. This 5.5% ABV brew is so flavorful and complex you’ll want to order a second round. Available on draft in select locations across central and northern Vermont or stop by 14th Star Brewery during the Vermont Maple Festival (or anytime) for a tasting and growler fill up. While you’re there, pick up a 22-ounce bottle and take a look at the label artwork featuring Gagner’s grandfather tending to a maple evaporator.
Hilary grew up in southern New England where she developed her love of nature and outdoor recreation, including learning to ski at Rhode Island's only ski hill. After exploring the Rocky and Cascade Mountain ranges, she transplanted to the Green Mountain State where she snowboards, skis, hikes, bikes, kayaks and stokes campfires from her home base in Montpelier.
Nordic Racing: How to Get the Most Out of Mass Starts by Annie Pokorny Few moments define the beauty of Nordic ski racing better than the silence before the start gun of a mass start. In that 10 seconds of stillness, where lines of racers lean over their poles and pause for the start, potential is tangible. Unfortunately, so is race anxiety. The challenge is to learn how to use that excitement to your advantage. To many veteran racers one of the best aspects of Nordic skiing is racing a mass start. It epitomizes the appeal of modern racing. They’re fast paced, tactical and, sometimes, a little dangerous. From sprint heats to marathons, confidence in the start will set the tone for the rest of your race. That confidence is important, because while you can’t win a race in the first 100 meters, you can lose it. When you walk into a big race, two mindsets will ensure that you walk out safely: tactics and tranquility. It all starts with a plan. Tactically, whether you’re sprinting or in a marathon, it’s never a good idea to empty the tank in the start. Especially now that most mass starts are
For distance races, work your way to the lead pack and sit in and wait until later to make a move, because leading requires much more energy than drafting behind someone. distance races, you must find a way to make up ground while not exhausting yourself. Whether you’re in the first wave or the last, working your way up should be a goal in the start, but you should do so in a way that won’t toast you for the rest of the race. Additionally, if you have the choice, start towards the outside of the chevron, and always keep space in view where you can go if you start to get boxed in.
If you’re in the center of the pack, own the space in front of you. If someone tries to take that space, don’t let them have it! That said, if the space in front of you happens to be the entire course, it’s almost never a good idea to lead out of the start unless you are absolutely certain you can drop the pack immediately. For distance races, work your way to the lead pack and sit in and wait until later to make a move, because leading requires much more energy than drafting behind someone. While a good understanding of tactics is great, knowing that you can calmly execute your plan is better. In order to make those tactical moves without panicking, enter the race with a healthy dose of self-confidence. Part of that confidence is a sense of calm. Instead of trying to move as fast as possible, darting from side to side or obstructing competitors, the best racers in the world weave through mass starts with a sense of grace and ease. Trust yourself, your skis, and the training you’ve done. They will all get you to the
finish line. Walking into the start, stand up tall, take deep breaths and gather a sense of calm before the storm. Because racing can be like a storm. One of my former coaches told me that racing is like a twister where the racer is at the eye of the storm. When you step to the line, music, announcements, stress over conditions and energies from other competitors, spectators and coaches will all swirl around you. What great racers do is take that energy and convert it into something tranquil. Something called confidence. That, combined with a good plan, will get you to the finish line safely and efficiently, maybe even first.
Annie Pokorny is a writer from Spokane, Wash., who skis professionally for SMS T2 at Stratton Mountain, Vt.
CRAFTSBURY MARATHON AND SUPERTOUR WRAP-UP By Evan Johnson CRAFTSBURY — Fresh snow and elite-level racing action were on display at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center with a registered 450 participants in the annual Craftsbury Marathon on Jan. 31, followed by the USSA SuperTour on Feb. 6-8. Normally held as a linear race between Craftsbury and Greensboro, the Craftsbury Marathon was held on a groomed 12.5K loop this year, as it has been in three of the past four years. Marathon director, John Broadhead said weather conditions wouldn’t allow for a consistent trail to form with adequate coverage. “We’ve tried to do that, but we just haven’t had any luck with the weather,” he said. “The logistics of a 50K linear course are pretty awesome and we just haven’t been able to do it.” Race organizers avoided a delay in the start of the Craftsbury Marathon, as temperatures lingered just above just above -4 degrees Fahrenheit. First aid staff monitored racers for signs of frostbite, and race officials decided to go ahead with the scheduled 9 a.m. start. Elizabeth Youngman of Sun Valley, Idaho finished first in the women’s 50K with a time of 3:13:19.1, seven minutes ahead of Vermonters Jane McClelland and Lindley Van Der Linde, taking second and third, respectively. In the women’s 25K, Emily Hannah, of Steamboat Springs, Co., took first with a time of 1:35:32.2 followed by Madeline Leopold from Middlebury, Vt., who finished at 1:43:29.4. Megan Killigrew followed 20 seconds behind Leopold for third. For the men’s 50K, Patrick O’Brien, racing for the Craftsbury team, took first with a time of 2:36:03, ahead of secondplace finisher Chris Ziegler at 2:39:54.2, and Dylan McGuffin who finished third at 2:41:30.8. Dartmouth Ski Team member Magnus Bigelow won the men’s 25K with a time of 1:22:18.8, followed three minutes later by Chris Nice from Hanover, N.H. with a time of 1:25:15.6. Jake Hollenbach, racing for the Vermont Cross Country Ski Team took third with a time of 1:26:57.5. In the USSA SuperTour races, US Nordic Ski Team member Kris Freeman dominated in four out of his five races,
starting with the 1.6K sprint, his first sprint victory since 2009. Freeman skied a tactical race to beat Alaska Pacific University’s Reese Hanneman in the closing meters as the two neared the finish line. With a time of 2:59.07, Freeman bested Hanneman by 0.06 seconds to take the win. In third was Alaska Pacific University’s Eric Packer, who skied in sixth for much of the race before surging through the pack on the final hill. He trailed Freeman’s time by 2.03 seconds. Behind Packer in fourth and fifth were a pair of University of Vermont skiers – Jørgen Grav (+2.72) and Cole Morgan (+2.84), who were the first college skiers. The 1.4K women’s sprint featured Bridger Ski Foundation’s Jennie Bender, finishing in 3:01.29. A charging Erika Flowers from Stratton Mountain School T2 followed 1.9 seconds behind. Middlebury College’s Heather Mooney claimed the remaining spot on the podium 4.2 seconds behind Bender. In the 10K freestyle, Freeman continued his winning streak, finishing with a time of 25:04.3. University of Vermont skier Rogan Brown followed 38.3 seconds behind. APU Alexander Treinen took third, 1:04 behind Hanneman. In the women’s 10K, Mary Rose sprinted from third at the 5K mark to finish 10 seconds ahead of the entire field with a time of 30:10.3. Behind Rose was a tie for second place between Erika Flowers and University of New Hampshire’s Anika Taylor. With a time of 30:20.5, Flowers and Taylor earned a rare podium tie. Freeman made his time at the SuperTour a three-peat, by winning the 15K classic race as well. Freeman established a comfortable lead over the rest of the field by the 10K mark and finished 20 seconds ahead of the skiers behind him. In closely-contested battle for second, Gordon Vermeer of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project barely edged Lex Treinen of Alaska Pacific University, diving across the finish line just .01 seconds ahead of Treinen. Following a strong season-long performance, Freeman was named to the US World Championships team and will compete in the FIS World Championships in Falun, Sweden from Feb. 18 – March 1.
2015 Skills Certification Courses Hulbert Outdoor Center, Fairlee, VT
Wilderness First Aid / CPR
Wilderness EMT Module
Optional: American Heart Association CPR (Heartsaver) Cost: $45
Cost: $260 (meals, lodging, course materials) $200 commuter (lunch, course materials)
April 11-12 • May 30-31 • November 21-22
Wilderness First Responder
Cost: $615 (meals, lodging, course materials) $500 commuter (lunch, course materials)
EMT WILD Day
Cost: $150 (lunch, course materials) December 12
May be used as first half of a WEMT bridge course with SOLO. Cost: $925 (meals, lodging, course, materials) $740 commuter (lunch, course materials)
ACA Canoe Instructor Certifications
April 11-18 • May 18-25 • December 14-21
Level 1 and 2 (2 day training): Cost: $390 (meals, lodging) $310 commuter (lunch)
Wilderness First Responder Review (Recertification)
Cost: $290 (meals, lodging, course, materials) $240 commuter (lunch, course materials) $45 CPR Re-certification May 16-17 • November 21-22
Levels 1, 2, and 3 (3 day training): Cost: $475 (meals, lodging) $380 commuter (lunch)
May 30-June 1 • June 5-7 ** 10% Military Discount is available for all of our Skills Certification courses
For more information or to register, please contact Lynn Daly at 802-333-3405 or check our website http://tinyurl.com/HOC-2015-Skills
reader athlete By Phyl Newbeck
Age: 48 | Residence: North Pomfret | Family: Sweetheart, Stephanie; three dogs (“our crew”) Addie, Bootie and Lola Occupation: Recycling consultant | Primary sport: Ultra running and skimo (ski mountaineering) racing
THERE’S NO QUESTION JONATHAN VASS IS AN ENDURANCE JUNKIE. FROM ULTRA-RUNNING TO RANDONEE RACING, HE’S HAPPIEST WHEN HE’S WORKING HIS HARDEST. DESPITE THE FACT THAT HIS PRIMARY SPORTS ARE RUNNING AND SKIING, THE MOST MEMORABLE EVENT HE’S TAKEN PART IN INVOLVED HIS MOUNTAIN BIKE. VS: How did you discover the New England Rando Race series? JV: I bought Kilian Jornet’s movie A Fine Line and was completely hooked before I even tried the sport. Then I discovered Jonathan Shefftz and the New England Rando Race series. Last year was my first season and I went to five races, including two from that series.
VS: So you had no experience with rando racing before that? JV: I grew up ski racing, including competing in Italy, but I wasn’t familiar with ski mountaineering racing. I did as much research on skimo as I could and then I bought the essentials: boots, bindings, skis and skins. I made do with the pack and clothing I had and just showed up for the races. Everyone was so friendly and inviting and other racers helped guide me with advice on racing, training, and equipment choices all season. Now I’ve got some better gear, including a racing backpack that allows you to go through the transition stages without taking your pack off.
VS: How do skimo races work? JV: Every race is roughly 10 miles with some backcountry skiing, some skinning and some boot packing. There is usually a short course option, depending on your ability. The races start with us lining up together and placing our skis in the snow. You run a quarter or half mile and lock into your skis, which already have their skins on. Then you skin to the top of the mountain and ski down something treacherous, like the edge of a black diamond or something through the woods. The course is marked with little flags which are often very hard to find. At a certain point on the mountain you take off your skis, latch them to your pack and boot pack up at least 200 feet vertical. Then you put your skis
back on and either skin a little further or ski down to a certain spot where you put your skins on and go back up and do it again. The races usually have three laps. It’s really exciting and it’s just such an amazingly diverse group of people. There are world class athletes and last year there was a woman who raced with her kids. Everyone shows up on different gear.
VS: What do you love about it? JV: The racing is fierce, there’s no doubt about that, but the informal loose atmosphere is welcoming and fun right from the start. We gather outside for the rules and course layout and then sort of wander down the road together to the starting area. If you love to endure and suffer and have really cool gear, it’s a great sport.
VS: Let’s talk a bit about your ultrarunning. JV: I ran cross country in high school and college, but then I didn’t really do anything until 2006 when I happened to find a copy of Triathlete Magazine on the floor of our recycling facility. I hadn’t even heard about triathlons before, but I decided I wanted to do it so I got a coach and trained. First I ran the Vermont City Marathon and after that I did triathlons and unless I was sick or injured I finished in the top 20 percent. All that training led me to the Ironman course in St. George, Utah. That course no longer exists because it was too difficult. Less than half the racers finished. I finished, but it was during that race - I remember the exact moment was at mile 16 of the run – that I decided that since people were telling me I was a great runner I should try ultra-running. I was done with triathlons and never looked back.
VS: And you switched right then and
there? JV: I went right in and raced the Vermont 50. This year I did the Vermont 100, but I had to drop out at mile 70 due to a pre-existing injury. I left in great spirts, though. It was a breakout year thanks to skimo. I finished fourth at the Twin State 50K in Windsor and ran an 8:35 at the Pinelands 50-miler in Maine which is a 10:17 pace. I look forward to doing the Vermont 100 next year after I get a few more ultra-races under my belt. This year I helped with the set up and clean up, as well as running. It was nice to be involved because it goes right by my house, so it was exciting to be part of it.
VS: How do you train for skimo? JV: Last year I didn’t train at all. I was running 50 to 70 miles a week, but that was it. This year I’m doing a lot of uphill training, trying to increase my pace. I wear a backpack with weights in it and I’ve even worn some ankle weights. Skimo is an amazing sport and I really want to do well. I got left in the dust last year. It was really a learning experience for me on how to use the equipment.
VS: Tell us about your most memorable race. JV: That would be the Mad River skimo race. It starts at Mad River and you go up Antelope and jump on the Long Trail and it’s just beautiful out there. You’re on the knife edge of the ridge, exposed to the elements heading down to Sugarbush North. It’s amazing to be out there in the woods. Then you come out and ski down to the bottom of FIS and then boot pack up FIS and ski down the edge of it which was icy, scaly and treacherous. Then we skied down to Slide Book, put our skins back on and skinned all the way up Sugarbush South and then skied down to the base. That was an
amazing race and at the end they gave us each a free Sugarbush ticket for the rest of the day, which was really nice of them. Skimo races are really inexpensive and most resorts give us a pass for the rest of the day which makes them really attractive. I finished in the middle of the pack, but everybody gets something cool, often from skimo.com which is the main sponsor.
VS: Do you do other sports? JV: If mountain biking was a religion I’d join it. The most incredible thing I’ve ever done was finish the Leadville 100 mountain bike race and earn a silver buckle. I ride my mountain bike a lot. I love my road bike, too, but I don’t get on it nearly enough.
VS: What is the appeal of these endurance sports? JV: I love pain and torture. I’d rather be out there all day than just do an hourlong race. I’m an endurance junkie. If you’re going to train that hard, it might as well be for an all-day event. I think it’s more exhausting to do a sprint triathlon than to run 50 miles. — Phyl Newbeck
Phyl Newbeck lives in Jericho with her partner, Bryan, and two cats. In the winter she alternates skiing with Nordic skating, while the summers find her on her road bike, swimming or kayaking. She is the author of Virginia Hasn’t Always Been for Lovers: Interracial Marriage and the Case of Richard and Mildred Loving.
reader athlete By Phyl Newbeck
Age: 21 | Residence: Fairlee | Family: Mother, Elizabeth Geraghty | Occupation: Full-time athlete, part-time student Primary sport: Ski jumping
TARA GERAGHTY-MOATS STARTED SKI JUMPING AT THE AGE OF NINE AND NEVER LOOKED BACK. SHE HAS COMPETED INTERNATIONALLY IN BOTH CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING AND BIATHLON, BUT SHE’S LOOKING FORWARD TO SPENDING HER FIRST WINTER ON THE WORLD CUP SKI JUMPING CIRCUIT.
VS: What’s the appeal of ski jumping? TGM: I love being in the air and I love the fact that it’s something kind of extraordinary. A lot of people look at ski jumping and think it looks pretty impossible. There’s a certain draw to a sport that gives you a thrill and not that many people can do.
VS: When did you start jumping? TGM: I started when I was nine years old in Hanover and Lebanon, New Hampshire. Hanover has 10, 20 and 35 meter jumps and Lebanon has 10, 25 and 50 meter jumps. Ski jumping is a bit like gymnastics regarding the age timeline. You can start young, but you begin with jumps that are small and conservative like a three-meter jump. You progress step by step. By the time athletes get to the World Cup level it looks really dramatic, but it takes years and years of practice and small steps.
VS: How frustrating has it been to have limited competitions for women? TGM: It’s been very frustrating. There is beginning to be an international level for Ladies Nordic Combined for younger girls, but I’m at the high end of the age bracket for that. The development curve is really slow since they’re taking a long term view of it. I’m very happy, though, that my ski jumping is progressing and I’ll be on the World Cup circuit this year.
VS: How have you advocated for more levels of competition for women? TGM: I just like to let my athletic ability speak for itself. I worked on the petition for the International Olympic Committee, but it’s really the generation that’s
a little older than me that did more. I grew up jumping and trained hard and enjoyed the sport and that’s mostly what I’ve done. I do like to encourage the next generation of girls to jump. This summer I coached at summer camps in Lake Placid and Park City, Utah.
VS: You also compete in cross-country skiing, don’t you? TGM: I do every winter sport I can, whenever I can. I love being outdoors and feel that every kind of skiing helps another kind of skiing. I started competing in cross-country skiing when I was eight and I started biathlon when I was 17. I went to Junior Worlds four times for biathlon during the years that I had to give up ski jumping due to injury. [Geraghty-Moats broke her leg and tore ligaments in a training crash in 2009].
VS: But this year it’s just ski jumping, isn’t it? TGM: This winter will be my first time competing in just one sport. I’ll start off with training camp in Slovenia and Germany and then the first World Cup competition will be in Norway. If that goes well, I’ll compete in Japan, Slovenia and Austria, but that will depend on the first few competitions.
VS: Tell us about your most memorable competition? TGM: I think the most memorable was when I was 16 and competing in Park City. I wasn’t on the national team at the time but I was competing against other team members on the 90-meter jump in the summer nationals. It was the first time I podiumed at an event
like that. It sparked my interest to take ski jumping all the way and to compete internationally.
VS: What international competitions have you done? TGM: I was on the Continental Cup ski jumping circuit for a while, but because of my injury I had to take four years off so I haven’t jumped internationally yet.
VS: How did you spend your summer? TGM: Since I’m only training for ski jumping right now I spent the summer in Lake Placid and Utah training. It’s the same equipment but you land on plastic and it’s really very comparable to snow. Ski jumping is a year-round sport now, although I take a little bit of a break in the spring and a short break in the fall. People think landing on the plastic must be rough, but it doesn’t hurt. The hill is steep so it’s more like landing on a slide. It doesn’t matter what you land on, you’re not crunching to a stop. It’s not the most dignified thing when you fall, but it’s not a big deal.
VS: Where do you see yourself in a few years? TGM: I have to see how things go on the World Cup circuit this winter. There are 16-year-olds winning medals, but last year there was also a 40-year-old silver medalist. There’s no age limit for ski jumping; its how every individual feels and how their life is going. I’ll do this for as long as it’s fun and my body feels good. I’ll also continue going to school with a goal of sports science, coaching or maybe being an EMT. Right now just going to classes and focusing on school is an important part of my life.
VS: Do you ever get to ski for fun? TGM: I ski at Mad River Glen a lot. I grew up skiing there and they’re helping to support me this winter. It’s something I really love to do and Mad River is where I developed my love for downhill skiing. Whether it’s there or in the backyard with friends and family, skiing is more than a job. It’s my life and I love what I do.
VS: Is it difficult to find women’s skis?
VS: Do you have other sponsors?
TGM: The equipment is exactly the same except for length. Since every ski jumper starts small, I just have shorter skis than the taller men. Now that I’m at a higher level my skis might need to be more flexible than those for guys my age, but it’s just small details.
TGM: I do. The U.S. Women’s Ski team has a lot of sponsors, but we also do individual fundraising. The U.S. Ski Team has helped set up a framework to help us but we are virtually the only country on the ski circuit without government funding. It’s an interesting set up and it’s not ideal.
VS: Where do you go to school? TGM: I take on-line classes at Community College of Vermont through the Vermont State College network and with DeVry University, which has a partnership with the U.S. Ski Team.
— Phyl Newbeck
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calendar of events ALPINE SKIING
host the annual AFP-certified event with a cash
28 SOUTHERN VERMONT FREESKIING CHALLENGE
7 – 8 JAY PEAK SNOW LEOPARD CHALLENGE
Quebec will make up a weekend of USSMA-
sanctioned randonee racing. This year’s races
Okemo hosts a free concert series that
are sanctioned as Category II, meaning the
culminates with a huge outdoor concert
courses will have approximately 4000 vertical
extravaganza in the Jackson Gore courtyard.
and a wide-open pitchy section towards the bottom, to find the best skier on the mountain. The event is the second stop in the Ski The
feet, five to ten transitions, 50 percent off-piste
East Freeride Challenge. www.magicmtn.com
in each category. In addition to the race, prizes
grand prize of $500 cash goes to the winner and
14 -15 SLASH AND BERM BANKED SLALOM
a dollar from each entry fee will go towards The
Killington hosts a banked slalom race in The
Snow Leopard Trust. www.jaypeakresort.com.
Bolton Valley hosts a free ski race open to the gender and age group to compete for medals
Stash terrain park. Riders will be rewarded for picking the best lines and nailing the best
8 TRIPLE CROWN MOGUL CHALLENGE
tricks on rock jibs, log rides, rainbow trees and
The third and final phase of Mad River Glen’s
miniature buildings. The action continues on
Triple Crown Series is a mogul competition on
Sunday with a Shop Team Invite only banked
MRG’s black diamond terrain. The awards for
slalom event. www.killington.com
are given away throughout the day. www.boltonvalley.com
the series will follow. www.madriverglen.com
6 – 8 SPECIAL OLYMPICS VERMONT WINTER GAMES This annual three-day competition offers four winter sports for athletes to compete in: Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, Alpine Skiing and Cross-Country Skiing — creating an everlasting memorable event for all involved. www.suicidesix.com 7 CASTLEROCK EXTREME CHALLENGE
Sugarbush Resort Hosts the third stop of the Ski The East Freeride Tour on the challenging
14 SUGAR DAZE CONCERT
skiing and a sub-three-hour finishing time. A
28 MOUNTAIN DEW VERTICAL CHALLENGE AT
public. Skiers and snowboarders are divided by
amateur divisions. www.mountsnow.com
Jay Peak, along with Owl’s Head Resort in
technical cliff bands at the top of the course
The Carinthia terrain parks at Mount Snow purse for the pros and prizes for skiers in the
Competitors tackle Black Magic, riddled with
13 – 14 CARINTHIA FREESKI OPEN
for a piece of the $1,000 cash purse. www.skitheeast.net
Castlerock trail. Competitors pick the best line
8 EXTREME SKIING CHALLENGE
15 MOUNTAIN DEW VERTICAL CHALLENGE AT BROMLEY
Bromley hosts a free ski race open to the public.
Junior and adult freeskiers show their stuff on
Skiers and snowboarders are divided by gender
the Madonna headwall, an ungroomed steep
and age group to compete for medals in each
with a double fall line descent filled with cliffs,
category. In addition to the race, prizes are
bumps, trees, chutes, and stumps. www.
given away throughout the day at a mountain.
12 – 15 VERMONT OPEN
Stratton’s freestyle series hosts competitions in
In this even your only opponent is the
rail jams, slopestyle, big air and banked slalom
demanding Vermont backcountry. There are no
divisions – all with $20,000 in prize money up
winners or losers – just those that finish. This
for grabs. www.stratton.com
event is open to all types of gear as you trek
21 MAD RIVER GLEN BACKCOUNTRY CHALLENGE
along the spine of the Green Mountains. www.madriverglen.com
Your Four Seasons Complete Bike Shop
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calendar of events Featured Events:
21 THE C.O.M.P
Carinthia parks at Mount Snow host the third plaza-style snowboard competition.
February 27 – March 1
Telemark Race Festival at Pico Mountain
Lake Placid Nordic Festival
Vermont Adaptive hosts a telemark race festival at Pico Mountain. Registration is available on-site on the day of the race and includes lift ticket for the day and a party and raffle at the event’s conclusion. Medals go to the top men’s and women’s finishers. The proceeds of this race go to the center to help impaired individuals to be able to enjoy the sport of skiing.
21 SPRING DEMO DAY
Okemo hosts a full day of demos from top ski and snowboard companies at the Okemo base area. . Participants can visit the demo tent area in the Jackson Gore Courtyard to test-drive the latest in equipment at no charge. A credit card imprint and signed waiver is required. www.okemo.com
Whiteface Ski Resort hosts Nordic ski, waxing and orienteering clinics, demonstrations, dinners and parties, discounts on demos, rentals and merchandise, sales and touring all culminating on Sunday, March 1, at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Cross Country Ski Center with the running of the 33rd annual Lake Placid Loppet 50K and Kort Loppet 25K.
21 SILLY SLALOM AT BOLTON VALLEY
Bolton Valley hosts part boarder-cross, part slalom, part slopestyle and all fun. Costumes
dancing on the deck après ski.
are encouraged while you race this fun on-
snow course under the warm spring sun.
4 – 5 SUGAR SLALOM AT STOWE This classic race, organized by the Mount
the Bear Mountain Quad and the party at the lodge below. www.killington.com
2 1 – 22 SKI THE EAST FREERIDE TOUR CHAMPIONSHIPS
Mansfield Ski Club combines top-level racing
Jay Peak hosts the final round of the Ski
action and a fun springtime celebration.
the East Freeride Tour over two days. The
The Sugar Slalom is held in a Mardi Gras
preliminary runs will be on Saturday on Green
Using climbing “skins” with alpine touring or
atmosphere with on-slope barbeque, and
Beret or Upper River Quai trail (depending on
telemark bindings (or even splitboards), racers
costumes while licensed USSA racers ages
conditions) where the competitors will get a
start at the base of Mount Greylock, ascend,
10 and up compete for points. Sugar on snow
chance for 1 run to win over the judges. The
then descend (on marked in-bounds ski area
awaits the racers at the finish line.
finals will be on Sunday down The Face Chutes,
trails), as fast as possible, over multiple laps.
11 – 12 BEAR MOUNTAIN MOGUL CHALLENGE
where overall standings are judged based off of two runs. www.skitheeast.net
28 BACKCOUNTRY BASH AT MOUNT GREYLOCK
The Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge is a 21 – 22 SPRING
spring rite of passage at Killington. The bump
and jump venue rises from Outer Limits, one
Vermont Adaptive hosts a telemark race
1 TELEMARK RACE FESTIVAL AT PICO MOUNTAIN
of Killington’s toughest runs, in plain view of
(Continued on next page)
commemorate warmer days: live music and fun family events, pond skimming and the duct tape derby. www.bromley.com 21 – 22 24 HOURS OF STRATTON For one night only, Stratton lights up the trails for teams of skiers and snowboarders who ski and ride all night, while raising money for the charitable works of the Stratton Foundation. www.strattonfoundation.org 27 BUD LIGHT REGGAEFEST Mount Snow hosts a weekend of Reggae music and events including pond skimming and the duct tape derby. www.mountsnow.com
28 SPRING FLING RACE & PARTY
Magic Mountain hosts a celebration of spring with its annual race, BBQ, live music and
calendar of events take advantage of free cross-country skiing
includes lift ticket for the day and a party and
and snowshoeing tickets, as well as rentals,
8 6TH ANNUAL FROZEN ONION RACE III
raffle at the event’s conclusion. Medals go to
the top men’s and women’s finishers.
Onion River Sports and the Millstone Hill Trail
healthy snacks, hot cocoa and a bonfire.
Association host a mix of single and double
For more information, visit www.bcbsvt.
track racing on trails. The event starts at 9
com/snowdays, call (802) 764-4828 or
7 – 8 NORTH AMERICAN TELEMARK FESTIVAL
a.m. and includes demos, warm food and
Mad River Glen hosts the 40th edition of
drink and a bonfire. www.onionriver.com
telemark skiers. Events include demos, clinics
28 VERMONT OVERLAND MAPLE ADVENTURE RIDE
The Rangeley Loppet features a 25K loop at
and races. www.telemarknato.com/festival
Part of the Woodstock Maple Weekend,
the Rangeley Lakes Trail Center in Rangeley,
this ride travels 25 – 30 miles on narrow
Me and includes a 25K classic race, a 25K and
gravel roads around Woodstock, stopping for
50K freestyle race. There is also a 25K tour. Aide
refreshments at a working sugarhouse.
stations are every 8k. For more information,
MAGIC MOUNTAIN RANDO RACE
28 RANGELEY LAKES LOPPET XIX
the world’s largest and oldest gathering of
Using climbing “skins” with alpine touring or telemark bindings (or even splitboards), racers start at the base of the mountain, ascend, then descend (on marked in-bounds ski area
trails), as fast as possible, over multiple laps. www.nerandorace.blogspot.com
28 VINTAGE NORDIC SKI DAY
The Vermont Ski Museum hosts a 5K-ski race on vintage skis at Oak Hill in Hanover, N.H.
Event also includes demos from Alpina, Elan
15 CATAMOUNT TRAIL CLASSIC FUN-RAISING TOUR
27 – 3/1 LAKE PLACID NORDIC FESTIVAL
and Fischer and an exhibit from the Vermont
Throughout the three-day festival there
Ski Museum. For more information, call Mike Silverman at 603 643 6534.
A classic tour designed for the experienced
will be ski, waxing and orienteering clinics,
skier with a sense of adventure prepared
demonstrations, dinners and parties, discounts
for the unexpected runs from Bolton Valley
on demos, rentals and merchandise, sales
Resort to the Trapp Family Lodge. This event
and touring all culminating on Sunday, March
raises funds for the CTA’s Ski Cubs Youth Ski
1, at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Cross Country
Ski Center with the running of the 33rd annual
A 10k Cross Country Ski and snowshoe race
Lake Placid Loppet 50K and Kort Loppet 25K.
at Great Glen Trails and the Mt Washington
21 BROMLEY RANDO RACE
March 1 SKI & SHOE TO THE CLOUDS
Auto Road. 4K at the base then 6K up the
Mt. Washington Auto Road with a 2,200 feet
Using climbing “skins” with alpine touring or 28 SNOW DAYS AT MOUNTAIN TOP INN & RESORT
elevation gain. www.skitotheclouds.com
telemark bindings (or even splitboards), racers
start at the base of the mountain, ascend,
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont presents
then descend (on marked in-bounds ski area
free community events for Vermonters in an
1 STRAFFORD NORDIC RELAYS
trails), as fast as possible, over multiple laps.
effort to encourage physical activity during the
Sprint style relays Teams of two in divisions
winter months. At Snow Days, attendees can
from Bill Koch League through Masters age
BIKING/CYCLING February 27 – 3/1 WINTERBIKE Kingdom Trails celebrates fatbike culture with a full day of fatbike demos and events including races, games and group rides at the Kingdom Trails headquarters in East Burke. www.kingdomtrails.com
categories. The classic race is in the morning,
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Five fully furnished cabins in the heart of the Northeast Kingdom. Enjoy snowmobiling, mountain biking and hiking right from the front door. Just nine miles from Burke Mountain. Direct access to the VAST trail network. Email, call or visit our website to reserve a cabin
8 RIDE FOR THE BRIDGE INDOOR CYCLING MARATHON
First in Fitness hosts an indoor cycling (spinning) marathon to benefit the Cross Vermont Trail’s campaign to build a bridge across the Winooski River in East Montpelier and associated trails. Use First in Fitness indoor bikes or bring your wind trainer. www.crossvermont.org
calendar of events followed by the skate race in the afternoon.
an on-snow demo for racers to preview next
year’s equipment. www.trappfamily.com/
3 VT HIGH SCHOOL NORDIC CHAMPIONSHIPS State championships hosted at Rikert Nordic
7 PEAK 2015 SNOWSHOE CHAMPIONSHIP
14 – 15 FROST MOUNTAIN GRAND PRIX
Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton hosts the
An ultra-distance snowshoe race includes
third annual grand prix event for skiers
100 mile, marathon, half marathon, and six-
ages 10 to 14 and is the second half of the
mile options. The course will be a rugged 6.5-
Center in Ripton, Vt. www.RikertNordic.com
Noram Championships held in conjunction
mile loop in the Green Mountains. Each loop
6 – 8 BKL FESTIVAL
with Quebec ski club, Club Defi. For more
has 1,200 vertical. The snowshoe marathon
The Mountain Top Inn and Resort in
information, contact Keith Wilkerson at
is the National Snowshoe Championship;
there will be a prize purse.
Chittenden, hosts the 2015 Bill Koch League Festival with a series of classic and skate style races. www.mountaintopinn.com
15 SECOND ANNUAL COCHRAN’S NORDIC X CHALLENGE
7 BRETTON WOODS NORDIC MARATHON
14 SNOW DAYS
Cochran’s Ski area hosts a festive and
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont presents
competitive Nordic ski cross race for all ages
free community events for Vermonters in an
is a classic technique x-c marathon for
with uphill, downhill, slalom gates, jumps
effort to encourage physical activity during the
recreational and competitive skiers at the
and obstacles, all on one pair of skis. Free
winter months. At Snow Days, attendees can
Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton
pancake breakfast for competitors.
take advantage of free cross-country skiing
Woods, N.H. The event includes full and
and snowshoeing tickets, as well as rentals,
half-marathon distances. All participants are
healthy snacks, hot cocoa and a toasty bonfire. 21 RELAY FOR LIFE NORDIC-STYLE
invited to post-race awards banquet in resort
At Relay For Life NordicStyle, teams camp
out overnight and take turns cross country
skiing or snowshoeing while raising funds 8 41ST MOUNT WASHINGTON CUP SKATE RACE
for the American Cancer Society. Register
The 41st Mt Washington Cup is a 10KM
www.relayforlife.org/nordicstylevt or contact
Beginning and ending at Shelburne Health &
21 SPRING FLING 5K/10K Fitness on Athletic Drive (at the Field House),
Ammonoosuc Trail System of the Bretton Woods Nordic Center. Registration fee
this race follows a scenic country out-and-
21 BOB’S BIRITHDAY BASH AND RIKERT RANDOM
includes race entry and Trail Pass for the day and entry to the awards celebration with food
Come celebrate Robert Frost’s birithday with
and drink. T-shirts will be given to the first 75
the third annual Random Relays. A totally
random day fo great fun ending with Bob’s
A 50K and a 50-mile race on paved and
birthday cake! Costumes encouraged. Bring
gravel roads in southern Vermont and New
14 SNOW DAYS AT Q BURKE MOUNTAIN RESORT
something to grill and enjoy the end of season
Hampshire, connected by the 500-foot
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont presents
celebration; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cornish-Windsor covered bridge. Contact
free community events for Vermonters in an
effort to encourage physical activity during
the winter months. For more information, visit
28 TWIN STATE 50
O BSTACLE RACING
14 CARL JOHNSON MEMORIAL SKI-A-THON
28 FRIGID INFLICTION
15 THE MAPLE RUSH
Great Glen Trails in Gorham, NH hosts a ski-
Bolton Valley hosts a 10-hour adventure
This fat bike and Nordic ski race is on
a-thon with all money raised going directly to
race with topographical map and compass,
groomed Nordic trails and single track.
ALS research. www.greatglentrails.com
Prizes. Info at www.bikeskirace.com
postholing and tyrolean traverse.
14 TRAPP LAGER MARATHON
Hosted by the Trapp Family Lodge, this will be a 25K or 50K classic ski marathon and
24 11TH ANNUAL SARATOGA LIONS DUATHLON
Held at Saratoga Casino and Raceway at 8 a.m. Format is a 5K run, 30K bike, 5K run. www.saratogaspringslioins.com/duathlon
is part of the Swix New England Marathion Series. Racers will ski a winding 25K loop
on scenic trails and enjoy an after party and
28 ROMP TO STOMP OUT BREAST CANCER SNOWSHOE SERIES
awards ceremony with live music, good food,
28 MUD & ICE QUADRATHLON
Ski, run, paddle & bike to celebrate the end
and Austrian style lager. Representatives
Stratton Mountain Resort hosts a series of
of the season hosted by Craftsbury Outdoor
from Salomon, Atomic, Rossignol, Madshus
snowshoe walks and runs from 1K to 5K in
Center and its own multi-sport maniac, Keith
and other ski companies will also be hosting
support of the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
out & about NORDIC SKIING HAS BEEN a part of my life for 55 years, and as I approach the start of my seventh decade, I had assumed that I have experienced just about all the rewards the sport had to offer. Not so. I remember being an eager high school skier, long on enthusiasm but short on talent, thrust into a cross country race in place of an injured teammate. I discovered to my astonishment that pushing hard had a positive impact on the result. For a kid who was pathetic in junior high basketball and baseball, who “played” four years (mostly J.V.) high school football on the bench, and who still holds a school tennis record by losing 32 consecutive singles matches over four years, this revelation that success was possible in Nordic skiing, simply through hard work, was transformational for me. By my sophomore year in college I had earned a spot on the varsity team, but was by no means exceptional. That year the final winter carnival of the collegiate season, which was also designated as the Eastern Intercollegiate Championships, was hosted by Middlebury at its Bread Loaf campus near the spine of
By John Morton
AFTER 55 YEARS, A NEW JOY OF NORDIC SKIING
the Green Mountains. As I recall, it was snowing hard and we were scrambling to find a wax that worked well in the accumulating powder. It was all classic technique back then, skating wouldn’t emerge for another decade. I believe we started at minute intervals, so in the falling snow, we were completely alone within seconds of leaving the starting gate. I remember thinking a worthy goal for the race would be to hold off the good skiers starting behind me for as long as possible, then, as they each tracked me, to hang on to them for as long as possible. But a couple of kilometers into the race, before I heard any panting from behind, I spotted a ghostly shape through the falling snow on the trail ahead. I soon recognized the skier as Brian Beattie, one of Dartmouth’s top racers and a member of the U.S. Nordic Combined team. At first, I was terrified that if I had caught Beattie so soon, I must have started much too fast and I would certainly burn out long before the end of the race. But I didn’t feel winded so I respectfully tracked Brian and got an encouraging remark in return. From then on, it was full speed
ahead. I never felt tired. I just seemed to fly through the snowstorm. No one was more surprised than I to learn, when the results were posted, that I had finished first — ahead of several more experienced skiers. In the decades since, whenever I hear of any athlete (a golfer, basketball player, major league pitcher, even a NASCAR driver) being “in the zone,” and appearing to win effortlessly, I know exactly what they are talking about. Although racing and training for competition constitutes the majority of my time spent on skis, there have also been plenty of memorable, recreational outings. Fifteen years ago, several Nordic skiing friends encouraged me to join them in an event called the “Ski Across Finland.” For a week in March, 200 cross country skiers, representing more than a dozen nations, skied from the Russian border near Kuusamo 444 kilometers west to Tornio on the Swedish frontier. We ate reindeer stew washed down with blueberry juice. In the evenings, we restored our aching muscles in stifling hot saunas, followed by rolling in the deep snow. This was a week of kicking, gliding and double-poling
through a part of the world where skiing is not just a sport, but has been a central part of the culture for centuries. That was an adventure and experience to treasure. There have been many other adventures and escapades on skis through the years, but few have brought the joy of one of my recent outings. My granddaughter, Hazel, who is not yet two and a half, loves the outdoors, winter and skiing. Her parents have bundled her up, tucked her into a pulk (a small, fiberglass, Scandinavian sled designed to be pulled behind a cross country skier) and taken her out on the trails. But Hazel prefers to have the cold air on her rosy cheeks and to see where she’s going, so I offered to carry her in a backpack. There is an entirely new level of enjoyment in having the small voice of your granddaughter squealing in your ear, “Faster, Papa, faster! More down hills, more down hills…!” John Morton is a former Olympic biathlete and Nordic ski coach. He lives in Thetford Center where he designs Nordic ski trails. You can reach him through his website, mortontrails.com.
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Published on Mar 15, 2015
Published on Mar 15, 2015
Vermont Sports brings you the winners of the 2015 Black Diamond Awards, ski jumping, long distance skating, ice climbing and more.