VERMONT BACKCOUNTRY ALLIANCE BUILDS MOMENTUM • READER ATHLETES • 100-PLUS WINTER EVENTS NOT TO MISS!
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SPORTS NEW ENGLAND’S OUTDOOR MAGAZINE
EDITOR/PUBLISHER Angelo Lynn C email@example.com STAFF WRITER Evan Johnson C firstname.lastname@example.org ART DIRECTION & PRODUCTION Shawn Braley C email@example.com ADVERTISING MANAGER Christy Lynn C firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING SALES Greg Meulemans C email@example.com | (802) 366-0689 Dave Honeywell | (802) 583-4653 C firstname.lastname@example.org READER ATHLETE EDITOR Phyl Newbeck C email@example.com GEAR AND BEER EDITOR Hilary DelRoss C firstname.lastname@example.org THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTING WRITERS John Morton, Annie Pokorny, Zach Despart THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Brian Mohr, Herb Swanson
SJ Grundon, 17, pops a back flip while training at Sugarbush Resort last February. Grundon, who lives in Lincoln, competes among the top freestylers in the world with hopes of making the U.S. team in the Winter Olympics. Photo by Waylon Wolfe
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BACKCOUNTRY ALLIANCE MOVES FORWARD At the second annual meeting of the Vermont Backcountry Alliance in November, 150 gather to discuss a year of progress and new areas that are being opened — but restraint is the message.
MEDICAL: ANATOMY 101
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
LINCOLN FREESTYLER AIMS FOR OLYMPICS SJ Grundon, 17, of Lincoln, trains throughout the summer and competes around the world all winter to pursue her Olympic dreams in freestyle.
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Pages 12-16 HOLIDAY GIFT GIVING GUIDE
Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
We preview more than 30 items that would be ideal gifts this holiday season.
The Green Mountain Club
TRAIN LIKE A PRO Here’s how to get in top shape before winter XC ski races.
Pages 20-23 100 EVENTS NOT TO MISS! ON THE COVER: Young racers from across the nation competed in the Junior Nationals at Stowe’s Trapp Touring Center last year. Photo by Herb Swanson
There's no lack of events and activities to pursue throughout the winter, just the motivation to get out and, as Nike says, just do it!
Page 26 GET STRONG, CLIMB INDOORS Indoor climbing gyms are growing in popularity with new competitions and a new facility in Essex Junction.
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publisher commentary Nothing like a foot of Thanksgiving powder spread across Vermont’s and New England’s mountains to get the winter juices flowing. More than a dozen alpine ski areas were open in Vermont the week before Thanksgiving — a record, says the Vermont Ski Area Association — and 1218 inches that fell from Wednesday to Friday made for happy skiers and riders on the last Saturday of November. Sweet. With winter at the door, you just have to hope your quads are in shape for full days of bump skiing, skis are tuned andwaxed (both Nordic and alpine), you’ve successfully stashed your road bike for the winter and got the fatbike out for an early spin, and you’re toning those leg muscles for the upcoming cross-country ski races that will be here sooner than you know. That just leaves… oh yeah, ideas for holiday gift-giving? Even if I get everything else checked off my to-do list this time of year, I usually postpone this until the very end. But maybe not this year. We feature a list four pages long for those looking for outdoor gear-related gifts. Our gear editor, Hilary DelRoss, spent the past couple of months selecting and reviewing the products she’s listed here, complete with comments on the products’ appeal. As always, buy local if and when you can — and, take it from me, shop early. That way, you’ll leave the last-minute chores to writing Christmas cards just in time for New Years.
by Angelo Lynn
In this issue we also recap the second annual meeting of the Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC) held in Rochester last month. The initiative has gained a lot of momentum in the past year, has already enhanced an area in the Braintree region, and is now associated with the Catamount Trail Association. To catch up, check out the report on pages 6-7. Lincoln teenager SJ Grundon has her sights set on making a future winter Olympics as a member of the U.S. Freestyle team, and is competing at the highest levels around the world as a 17-year-old senior currently attending Mount Abe Union High School in Bristol. It’s a heady trip that requires a lot of extra effort, time and money. But she’s training hard, is stoked about her prospects and has a great story to tell on Pages 10-11. Speaking of training hard, Annie Pokorny, who skis professionally for the SMS T2 team out of Stratton, has a full training regimen for those Nordic skiers looking to improve their times in shorter races like a 10K, or longer races like the Craftsbury Marathons. It’s all spelled out on Page 18. Get out and enjoy, give freely to others, be happy and merry.
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VERMONT’S BACKCOUNTRY SKIERS PLAN FOR THE FUTURE By Evan Johnson
ROCHESTER — To a hardy group of Vermonters, skiing here means far more than sticking to resorts and Nordic centers throughout the state. It also means getting out into the backcountry. “We’re using our legs and our lungs to get around and go to those places we want to be,” Brian Mohr recently told an audience of about 150 at the second annual meeting of the newlyformed Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC) held in Rochester in early November. “We’re seeing skiing come full circle and reconnecting with its homegrown, human-powered roots.” Mohr, who has been one of a dozen or more central Vermont residents who has helped establish the alliance, said that while the number of people enjoying backcountry skiing grows, the community has a responsibility to respond. “We’re thinking about the future and we want to take steps together as a community,” he said. “It’s a natural progression to take.” What started a year ago at a similar meeting in Rochester has now galvanized statewide discussion around backcountry skiing. Organized early
in 2014, the VTBC focuses on conserving popular areas, educating users and working with communities to develop strategies to preserve and manage backcountry terrain in Vermont. The alliance is headed by a group of backcountry-oriented skiers and riders, including Mohr, who is from Moretown; Amy Kelsey, president of the Catamount Trail Association; Jason DuquetteHoffman, president of Worth Skis; Neil Van Dyke, search and rescue coordinator at the Vermont Dept. of Public Safety; John Egan, Chief Recreation Officer at Sugarbush Resort; and David Goodman, Waterbury-based author of guide books on backcountry skiing. This year, the evening took a different format from the previous year. Attendees listened to presentations from landowners, the Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC) and the Rochester Area Sport Trails Alliance (RASTA). They brainstormed ways to develop backcountry skiing on state and nonstate land, opportunities for economic development and potential partnerships worth exploring. They reviewed what’s happened since last year and set their sights on the season ahead. But it wasn’t
all work: the evening ended with an extensive raffle of packs, jackets and ski tickets to local mountains, while live music and dancing closed out the night. One positive development in 2014, recalled several at the meeting, occurred in June when the Catamount Trail Association’s board of directors voted unanimously to include the VTBC as a program area of the CTA. The VTBC will coordinate backcountry programs within the CTA, which remains focused on maintaining the 300-mile Long Trail running the length of the state. The Rochester Area Sport Trails Alliance is
the first “pilot chapter” of the CTA – a possible step toward a chapter-based structure similar to the Vermont Mountain Biking Association or the Green Mountain Club.
BRAINTREE MOUNTAIN FOREST On a chilly morning this October, well before the first snows of the season fell, a group of 35 volunteers gathered on the side of a dirt road in the small town of Braintree, Vt., a few miles northwest of Randolph. Their packs were stuffed with extra layers, lunches and tools of all kinds – limb clippers, bucksaws,
owners from possible lawsuits. Speaking before the Rochester forum just three weeks after that first workday on Skidoo Mountain, Kendall said making the donation was a decision he was proud to make. “When you get off I-89 at exit four for Randolph, looking west you’ll see the Braintree Mountain Range. In the middle of that is this 1,500 acres that my wife and I took 40 years to acquire because both of us share a love of the Vermont land ethic and felt that this small piece of Vermont was worth preserving for the local economy and the public.” His remarks were met with a standing ovation.
OTHER GLADED AREAS
Above, Dan McKinley, a volunteer with the Rochester Area Sport Trails Alliance, works with a chainsaw during the October glade-cutting on Skidoo Mountain in cooperation with the Vermont Backcountry Alliance and New England Forestry Foundation. Opposite page, other volunteers work on the same project, while, top, the end goal is to create certain pockets of quality backcountry skiing in the state and national forests. Photos by Brian Mohr/Ember Photography
machetes, chain saws, cans of gasoline, protective chaps, gloves and helmets. The group was ready for a full day of work in the woods. Guiding the group was Paul Kendall, the local property owner, who, along with his wife Sharon Rives, donated a 1,547-acre parcel of property to the New England Forestry Foundation, a nonprofit that helps landowners preserve property. The parcel the couple donated, known as the Braintree Mountain Forest, extends west of Riford Brook in Braintree on up a ridge capped with four peaks rising to 3,030 feet, known locally (south to north) as Round Top, Double Top (or Twin Peaks), Skidoo, and 30-30. At the top of Skidoo the volunteers set to work under the direction of Kendall, RASTA member Zac Freeman and a forester from the New England Forestry Foundation. By clearing deadfall and selectively cutting overabundant species, like striped maple or hobblebush,
they created a 1,000-foot vertical drop with well-spaced trees that will make for excellent backcountry ski terrain. Kendall, now 72, first came to the Braintree and the Randolph area when he was nine years old. After he and his wife moved back to the area some 40 years ago, they gradually acquired more than 1,500 acres that now makes up the Braintree Mountain Forest. Recognizing the opportunity to collaborate, Kendall and Freeman worked together over the past year on a memorandum of understanding to develop three gladed skiing zones over the next five years. “Vermont is full of local opportunities to do wonderful things,” Kendall told the audience at this year’s RASTA and VTBC meeting. He credited a “wonderful land ethic” that is built into state laws, including Act 250, current use tax law and the landowner liability law, which makes the skiers responsible for their own safety and protects land-
RASTA is also exploring four more gladed zones around Bear Brook, Chittenden Brook and Goshen Mountain, all near the Brandon Gap on Route 73. The proposed action would delineate four zones totaling approximately 210 acres and authorize selective trimming to enhance skiable terrain. These proposed developments are undergoing an impact analysis and in late November, the Green Mountain National Forest’s Rochester Ranger District invited the public to submit their comments on the proposed glade development for consideration. The public comment period is open until Dec. 19. RASTA’s Freeman says the Forest Service can use the Braintree project as a model when considering the environmental impact of glading other areas of the forest. “It has a similar aspect, similar ridgeline and a similar area,” he says. “That way they know what worked and what didn’t.” As interest grows in other regions of the state, the VTBC looks to connect with communities that want to develop more local terrain and help them manage those areas responsibly. The VTBC hopes to develop strategies for areas that skiers already enjoy and pursue avenues to provide access to areas where communities would support maintaining land for backcountry skiing. Interested towns should contact Freeman or any local member of VTBC. Other opportunities for backcountry zones include the Sepp Ruschp Trail, named after the Austrian ski instructor at Stowe Mountain Resort. In the summer before VTBC formed, the Department of Forest Parks and Recreation and the Town of Stowe restored the trail that extends north along the Sterling Ridge. Now, the opportunity exists to develop gladed zones skiers can access by way of the trail. “That’s an example of an existing area where folks have been skiing on the
trail, but perhaps there’s an interest in doing more to maintain the zone and improve the skiing there with local support,” says Mohr. In 2015, the VTBC plans to develop a terrain management handbook similar to publications from the International Mountain Bike Association that will describe best practices for developing and maintaining backcountry skiing zones.
A SOFT OPENING The exact locations of the glades in the Braintree Mountain Forest and the zones around Brandon Gap have not been formally announced. A trail map for the Braintree Mountain Forest is expected next year. “We want to ease into this,” says Freeman. “We know eventually the word is going to get out. The signs are there at the trailhead and it’s only a matter of time before someone takes a picture and shares it with his or her friends. Some people will decide [backcountry skiing] is not for them, but others will keep coming back. By having this kind of soft opening, it gives us time to see how well it works.” This summer, the VTBC also worked with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to develop a code of ethics for backcountry skiing and riding. The Vermont Department of Forest Parks and Recreation, the Green Mountain National Forest and the Green Mountain Club also supplied input. The code emphasizes preparation and respect for local landowners. As part of that effort, the alliance also teamed up with Dun Cochrane, a forester for the Green Mountain National Forest. While working on his thesis for a master’s degree, Cochrane surveyed over 500 backcountry skiers, asking them what kind of terrain they enjoyed, how often they skied and their vision for Vermont’s backcountry skiing scene. The results of the survey indicated several areas of interest including: n Advocating for land management from a grassroots level n Providing backcountry zones that offer a variety of options for different user levels n Encouraging education in backcountry safety and stewardship. Cochrane also received thousands of comments while the survey was available online. While there was widespread support for the working group at VTBC, there was hesitation to develop too much terrain too quickly. “A lot of people were saying that we need to strike a balance between enhancing the access, but at the same time maintaining the character of the backcountry skiing experience,” he says. “We don’t want to love it to death and create a front-country skiing experience in the backcountry.”
Two Vermont Shops Partner to Offer Elite Nordic Service BURLINGTON/STOWE — Two of the state’s highest performance Nordic ski shops in northern New England have created a partnership that combines a wide selection of quality equipment at Burlington’s Skirack store with elite ski tuning services at Stowe’s Edgewise. This new convenient service allows athletes to spend more time training and less time traveling between Stowe and Burlington worrying about their equipment. Skirack’s Nordic Race Center, located at 85 Main Street in Burlington, offers a full selection of classic and skate skis from Salomon, Fischer, Rossignol, Madshus and Atomic, along with the best selection of boots, poles, clothing and accessories for racing and training. Skirack’s staff has decades of experience providing athletes with the right equipment and an ideal fit, tuned to that particular athlete’s body and level of skiing. Edgewise, located at 1940 Mountain Road in Stowe, is a specialty ski shop focused on serving racers’ needs, including service and equipment. Graham Lonetto opened Edgewise in 2003 after leaving his position as a World Cup serviceman with the U.S. Ski Team. The staff now includes many
former racers and coaches, including former Nordic Olympian Jim Galanes. Skiers can be confident that they are receiving the highest quality equipment fit by professionals at Skirack and then receive a precise grind from Edgewise to optimize performance. This Edgewise service will be available for new skis purchased at Skirack or skis athletes already own. “This gives all skiers access to World Cup level ski grinding services,” says Jake Hollenbach, VTXC team racer and Skirack Nordic fit specialist. “The service is second to none and the difference in performance is amazing.” Edgewise uses a Wintersteiger Race NC stone-grinding machine, the first to provide service to the public in the U.S. This is the latest technology in manual grinding and is the most precise, most consistent and most versatile machine on the market, according to Hollenbach. Stones and diamonds are specific to Nordic or alpine skis, and the stone is always true and vibrations are minimal. Edgewise offers the eight programmed grinds currently being used by athletes on the U.S. Ski Team. Each base grind is specific to the conditions and/or disciplines in which the user skis.
Edgewise in Stowe uses a Wintersteiger Race NC stone-grinding machine to tune Nordic skis from throughout New England, and has recently partnered with SkiRack in Burlington for tuning services. Edgewise is one of the first shops in the U.S. to provide such elite tuning services to the general public.
The Nordic staff at Skirack recommends the right grind for the customer based on temperature range and snow condition. The skis are delivered weekly to Edgewise for grinding and then given a hotbox wax treatment upon their return.
The partnership gives all skiers access to this elite level grinding service (skiers ship their skis to Edgewise from around the country for this service), as well as service from an elite Nordic retail shop.
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“Doc Says I Tore My Rotor”
ORTHOPAEDICS 101BASIC ANATOMY
Understanding the relevant anatomy is the key for successful treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal injuries. This article is intended as a crash course in basic orthopaedic anatomy.
JOINTS — There are 230 joints in the adult human body. A joint is simply the articulation or meeting between two bones. Articular cartilage is the bearing surface of a joint. Joints are usually stabilized by surrounding ligaments. When a joint comes fully out of position, it is called a dislocation. When it comes partially out of position, it is called a subluxation. If a joint is dislocated and stays stuck out of position, it needs to be set, or reduced. Often this can be done with just traction and relaxation. When a joint dislocates, it is more likely to keep dislocating. This is called joint instability. Commonly injured joints include the shoulder, elbow, small joints of the hand, hip and knee-cap joint. Therapy, bracing or surgery may be necessary to treat an unstable joint that keeps dislocating or subluxating. CARTILAGE — Articular cartilage is the bearing surface of a joint. It is normally white and smooth, like a cue ball, but slightly soft. Cartilage has no nerves or blood vessels in it, so unfortunately, when it is damaged cartilage is a tissue that cannot repair itself, like most other tissues can. Cartilage damage can occur from acute trauma or from overuse and degeneration over time. DECEMBER 2014
Arthritis is a disease of cartilage. There are many different types of arthritis. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. We still do not understand the underlying cause of osteoarthritis. Cartilage injuries can be treated non-operatively or with surgery, depending on many factors. Once full-blown arthritis develops, a joint replacement may be the best option for a symptomatic patient. A joint replacement involves putting new bearing surfaces in a joint damaged by arthritis. Doctors use different metals and plastics to do this.
MENISCUS — The meniscus is a specialized structure unique to the knee joint. Once thought to be irrelevant, we now know that the meniscus is an extremely important structure that provides cushion to the knee joint and also stability. There are two in each knee (medial and lateral). Medial is inside, lateral is outside. Meniscus tears are very common and can be related to trauma or wear and tear degeneration. Not all tears cause symptoms. Patients with symptomatic tears usually present with pain on the side of the knee where the tear is. The most common complaints are pain and clicking. Treatment can be non-surgical or surgical, depending on several factors (level of symptoms, age, presence of arthritis). Surgery involves either a repair or a trimming (meniscectomy). A repair is done when the tissue is healthy and has a good chance of healing. A menisectomy, or, more accurately, a partial meniscectomy is the most common procedure in orthopaedic surgery. It is done arthroscopically and the recovery is usually quick. However, meniscal loss is associated with the development of arthritis, so we make an attempt to do repairs in younger, active patients whenever possible. When patients say they have “torn cartilage,” they usually mean a torn meniscus, but the meniscus is a totally distinct structure from articular cartilage.
are called strains. Muscle tissue can heal on its own, although scar may form at the injury site. Most muscle injuries are treated conservatively without surgery.
LIGAMENT — Ligaments are structures that connect a bone to another bone. They help stabilize joints. Ligament injuries are called sprains and vary in severity from I to III. A Grade III sprain of a ligament implies a complete tear. Some ligaments will heal on their own with proper non-operative treatment. Common examples are the medial collateral ligament (MCL) of the knee and lateral ligaments of the ankle (associated with common ankle sprain). Some ligaments do not heal well. The best example is the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee (ACL). When surgery is performed, an injured ligament can either be repaired or reconstructed. A repair is when the two ends are sewn directly end to end or the end of the ligament is attached directly to bone. A reconstruction is undertaken when it
is felt that a repair will not work (most ACL tears are treated with a reconstruction). Typically, a tissue graft is used to replace the native ligament. The graft can be taken from the patient’s own body (autograft) or from a cadaver (allograft).
TENDON — A tendon is a structure than connects a muscle to a bone. Tendon injuries are called strains. Inflammation of a tendon is called tendinitis. Degeneration is called tendinosis. Tendon injuries are very common. Commonly affected tendons include the rotator cuff tendons (of which there are four), distal biceps tendon at the elbow, quadriceps and patellar tendons at the knee and achilles tendon at the ankle. There are a wide range of treatments for tendon problems, including medication, physical therapy, braces, injections (cortisone, platelet-rich plasma) and surgery. Acute, complete tendon ruptures are often treated with surgery, which is usually a direct repair of the tendon back to the bone where it tore off.
BEING PREPARED EDUCATION AND PRODUCTS FOR MAXIMUM PROTECTION
PHOTO Hansi Heckmair
BONES — There are 206 bones in the adult skeleton. A break in a bone is called a fracture. The treatment of a fracture depends on many factors, including the age and health of the patient, location of the fracture and the amount of displacement. Displacement is the amount of separation between the broken pieces. Some fractures are minimally displaced, while others are very displaced. “Setting” a fracture is also called a reduction. If a fracture is widely displaced, typically a reduction is performed in some fashion. Sometimes a fracture can be reduced, “closed,” with just manual traction and manipulation. A common example of this is a fracture of the distal radius (wrist fracture). Usually the fractured extremity is then immobilized in a sling, splint or cast. Sometimes the reduction is performed surgically and the fracture is stabilized with pins, rods, screws or plates. If the broken bone comes through the skin, it is called an open fracture (also known as a compound fracture). When that happens, the risk of an infection is much higher and surgery is almost always performed on an urgent basis. Bone is not like cement. Bone is a biologically active tissue with a blood supply. When a bone does not heal, that is called a non-union. A bone that heals crooked is called a malunion. Factors that affect healing include smoking, medical problems (diabetes), the amount of associated soft tissue injury and the amount of displacement.
By Nathan K. Endres, MD University of Vermont, Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service
LABRUM — The labrum is a specialized structure unique to both the shoulder and hip. It is a circular structure that goes around the perimeter of the shoulder socket (glenoid) or hip socket (acetabulum). It serves multiple functions, including helping to stabilize the joint. It is often torn when the joint is dislocated. It can also tear from degeneration over time. Surgically, it can be repaired or trimmed, much like the meniscus. The labrum, like the meniscus, has nerves and blood vessels, which explains why it hurts when it is torn and why it can heal on its own or with surgery. MUSCLE — There are 640 muscles in the human body. Muscle injuries are extremely common and can result from a single trauma or overuse. Muscle injuries
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LINCOLN — This time of year, most high school seniors are busy setting goals for the future: what college they hope to attend, which career they hope to pursue, what they want to accomplish before leaving home for good. Sarah Jane Grundon — known to everyone but her parents as SJ — has a goal more ambitious than most. She wants to represent the United States in the Winter Olympics as a freestyle skier. Seventeen now, she first clipped into bindings at age eight — much later than most Olympic hopefuls — but has since fallen in love with the sport. She now competes on an international level, and trains 12 months a year. “At this point I’m competing against the top 20 women in Canada, Japan, Australia and the U.S., and it’s inviteonly,” Grundon said. “It’s an honor to be at that level.” That training, which includes travel, lodging, competition fees, coaches and equipment, can easily top $25,000. So this year, Grundon has created an online fundraising campaign to help cover part the cost.
Lincoln freestyler sets Olympic goal By ZACH DESPART
GETTING STARTED Grundon has been in quite a few places in her short life. She was born in New York City, then her family moved to Mississippi, then back to New York, and finally to Lincoln nine years ago. She made her first turns at Mad River Glen and then moved to Sugarbush at age 12 when she decided to pursue freestyle. She said she was drawn to the multidisciplinary aspect of freestyle skiing, which requires skiers to have a diverse set of skills. Freestyle skiing is a relatively new discipline, which combines moguls, ski cross, half-pipe and slopestyle aerials. It first appeared in the Winter Olympics as a medal event in 1992. “Racing never appealed to me for some reason,” Grundon said. “I like the jumping and catching air and going big; stuff like that.” She said freestyle offers the opportunity (well, necessity) to improve in a number of different areas. “With racing, the only thing you can do is go faster,” she explained. “But with moguls, you can do a higher degree of difficulty or you can go faster or do tricks. Your technique has to look a certain way.”
SJ Grundon, a senior at Mount Abraham Union High School in Bristol, practices her skills at Sugarbush Resort this past February.
While many Vermonters would agree that Mad River Glen and Sugarbush are great mountains on which to develop as a skier, students who wish to compete at elite levels must seek training elsewhere. Grundon’s education has taken her to both sides of the Continental Divide and to Canada.
Photo by Waylon Wolfe
For the spring semester last year, she attended the Carrabassett Valley Academy, a ski school in Maine. She said she learned a lot there, but it was just too expensive to continue for another year, even with the scholarship she received. “The school itself costs $45,000 a year to go, so almost as much as college,” she said. So now, she’s spending the fall semester at Mount Abraham Union High School, where she intends to graduate next June. She also juggles a part-time job at the Bristol Bakery. But from December to March, she’ll train in Squaw Valley, a resort in California near Lake Tahoe. Grundon won’t be playing hooky though — Mount Abe will send her coursework to complete, just as if she were in school. She praised teachers and administrators for accommodating her travels. “Mount Abe has been very supportive in helping me bring my schoolwork to Squaw,” she said. “I was really excited to be back here at Mount Abe this year, graduating with the class I’d been with since 7th grade,” Grundon said, adding that she is glad to be able to attend the prom. As a senior, Grundon has sent applications to several universities, but she’s unsure how to balance going to college with ski training. She said some of her teammates have suggested taking a gap year before college, but Grundon said she’s leaning toward a schedule that allows her to dedicate winters to skiing.
ENDLESS TRAINING Just because it only snows six months out of the year doesn’t mean that Grundon’s training is part time. “Once ski season ends, I’m pretty much straight into the gym every single day,” she said. She also trains at a special ski center in Waterville, N.H. She likes it there because the facility has a bag jump (that thing stunt doubles fall into on movie sets, she explained) that allows her to practice new tricks without fear of injury. Grundon has also traveled to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, to practice. The mountain may sound familiar; it was the ski venue for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in nearby Vancouver. While the Olympics are her ultimate goal, Grundon said her best shot to make the national team is years away. She’d like to have a shot at the 2018 Games, but more realistically looks toward 2022. That’s because, she said, freestyle skiers don’t typically peak until their late 20s. So how does a teenager focus on a goal that’s so far in the future? By focusing on small steps that will help her along the way. “You have small stepping stones to
SJ Grundon, 17, works on a trick while training on the West Coast this summer. Grundon hopes to one day represent the U.S. as a freestyle skier at the Winter Olympic Games. Photo by Nick Preston
each other,” Grundon said. “But when we’re at the top, we’re competitive.” She said in the moments before a competition begins, some skiers try to intimidate each other. “I’ve had girls growl or bark at me,” Grundon said. “I think that’s the weirdest. Sometimes I’ll hit the gate with my skis to intimidate them a little. But I’ve never barked at anyone.”
“With racing, the only thing you can do is go faster. But with moguls, you can do a higher degree of difficulty or you can go faster or do tricks.” — SJ Grundon achieve that big goal,” Grundon said. “I might make it, or I may not. I really try to focus on the small goals.” Each season, Grundon sets new goals for herself, such as to improve her technique or master a new aerial trick. Some of the stepping stones include U.S. Junior Nationals, U.S. Nationals and NorAms, international ski competitions only open to the top athletes in North America (with some spots reserved for overseas competitors). They are held across the Northern Hemisphere’s ski season, from December to March.
Those big events are held over an entire week, while smaller, regional contests are held on weekends. Competitors collect points at each of the events, which are used to calculate who earns a spot on the U.S. Ski Team (it’s called earning your jacket, Grundon said). She said competition was fierce between athletes at lower levels, but not so much now that Grundon competes with the cream of the crop. “With the level I’m at now, there’s a select few of us, so we’re all friends with
Grundon credits her family’s support as invaluable to her success. While it was her idea to pursue skiing competitively, she said her parents, Holly and Bryan, have always backed (and bankrolled) her training. “My parents have been supportive through the whole process,” she said. “They’ll do anything to help me succeed.” Her father initially served as her coach, though he stepped away from the role as Grundon rose through the ranks. She has a younger sister, Carlyle, who is also athletic, but in a different way. “There are a lot of siblings in the mogul skiing community, but we didn’t want to be doing the same thing,” Grundon said. “She competes in mountain biking.” But while her parents give her all the support they can, Grundon said this year she needs more help to fund her skiing education. “In the past my parents have fully funded (training), but this year they just couldn’t because of the cost of school last year,” Grundon said. So, she created a campaign through the crowdfunding website rallyme.com, a website dedicated to raising money for athletes. She hopes to raise $7,200, and has received almost $2,000 so far, from 12 donors. Both individuals and businesses can sponsor her. If she succeeds, she’ll be able to train at the top facilities in North America, which will give her the best chance to accomplish her dream of making the national team. Though the prospect is years and thousands of hours of training away, Grundon is excited just talking about it. Asked what fuels her passion for skiing, Grundon said it is hard to describe because it is so close to her identity as a person. “I’m in the gate about to compete, and I’m nervous and my heart beats really fast but at the same time it’s relaxing,” Grundon said. “It’s all these emotions at once, but it feels normal to me because I’m so used to it.” She said there is no better feeling than the satisfaction of completing a perfect run. “It’s the most amazing feeling of accomplishment ever,” she said. “It just makes me feel happy.”
Gift Giving Guide
You’ll find a gift for everyone on your list this season with some helpful suggestions from our Gear and Beer Editor, Hilary DelRoss. You’re sure to please the picky and inspire the intrepid with this line up of unique and accessible ideas, some of which come from right here in Vermont.
Princeton Tec Sync LED Headlamp
Olloclip 4-In-One Photo Lens
AMK Ultralight/ Watertight Medical Kit.5
Stocking Stuffers BioLogic FixKit
Princeton Tec Sync LED Headlamp
The cycling enthusiast on your list will love adding the FixKit multi-tool to their mobile kit. It’s got all the standard allen wrenches and screw drivers but it also boasts a big 15mm crescent wrench for tightening axle nuts and pedals as well as an integrated chain breaker for a grand total of 20 tools in one. You can even open bottles with it! As a bonus, the neoprene case keeps this kit contained while also functioning as a handle cushion to protect your hands. $34.95
The Sync is a compact and versatile headlamp with five modes emitting 90 lumens in the brightest mode. Three separate LED bulbs – spot beam, floodlight, and red – have a maximum range of 250 feet and a burn time of 150 hours. The single arm bracket and power dial are easy to operate, change settings and pivot to aim the light where you need it. This light weighs only 3 ounces including three AAA batteries. It includes a lock mode so the light doesn’t turn on inside your pack or pocket. Made in the USA. $29.99
It’s a safe bet there’s a dog lover on your list and the Turnip is as much a gift for the dog as it is for their person. Ruffwear is known for making products that are resilient to even the most destructive canines. The Turnip is tennis ball sized so it fits into most ball throwers. Its oblong shape and natural latex rubber material bounce around upon landing for hours of entertainment – for both you and them. The rubber is a durable chew toy and gum massager and can be filled with treats. $14.95
AMK Ultralight/Watertight Medical Kit.5
Olloclip 4-In-One Photo Lens
The Olloclip is a ton of fun to use on adventures. Originally designed for the iPhone, the Olloclip got its start on Kickstarter a few years ago. The lens has undergone several modifications as new generations of iPhone were introduced and now includes an option for Android users. Four lenses are included in a palm-sized package: a 180-degree fisheye, wide-angle and 10x and 15x macro lenses weigh less than an ounce in total. It clips right over the phone, so you’ll have to remove your case before installing it. Installation is a snap and takes only a second or two and since it’s a physical lens, the Olloclip is compatible with any photo and video apps you already have installed on your phone. If you’re looking for a big bang for your social media buck, this lens fits the bill. $69.99
This first aid kit is a great fit for the whole crew, no matter what sport they’re into. Packing around this 4 ounce kit adds peace of mind without adding much weight. Contents stay dry and contained in the re-sealable waterproof liner and ripstop nylon case. It comes packed with many of the basic first aid items one person might need during a one or two day event. There is some room left over to add your own favorites, such as Glacier Gel blister dressings, which are a blessing for beat up ski feet. This first aid kit has your back in case you run into common trail ailments. $17
The old camp lantern’s got nothing on this string of 23 tiny camp lights. Set the mood, spruce up your space or start the party with these battery powered LEDs. The 10’ strands of white, red/yellow or blue/green lights fit in your pocket and weighs only 4 ounces so you can light the way no matter where you string them up. They also happen to be the exact length of ENO’s hammocks. Comes with a carrying case and runs on three AAAs with a burn time of up to 72 hours, plus they’re water resistant so you don’t have to worry if a storm passes through. $19.95
weather, Skida neck warmers, headbands and hats battle cold ears and necks headon. Available in either micro-fleece lined or unlined, each style rocks a fun, printed poly-spandex outer. Fabrics wick moisture so your skin stays warm and dry and the structured fit is snug and stays put during high-impact activities. Plus, the patterns add a bit of pizazz that can transition right into après. All styles come in an array of patterns – new ones are added constantly – and are sized for men, women and kids. Conceived in Middlebury, based in Burlington and sewn in northern Vermont – this company is keeping it local. $16-$36
Light & Motion Urban 2.0 Give your bikers a sense of security with this redesigned, waterproof commuter light. Side light emitters provide peripheral lighting for added visibility at intersections and on busy roads. The USB rechargeable L-ion battery runs for up to 1.5 hours on the brightest setting or 6 hours on low and includes a battery level indicator. Five lumen levels and color ways are available to suit specific needs. The Urban mounts on handlebars or helmets and easily detaches to carry as a hand held light between rides. Waterproof to 1 meter. Made in the USA. $69.99-$179.99
Skida Neckwarmer Born from the desire to explore and the need for gear that can keep up in winter
Lifestyle The Snurfer
Ibex Shak Spire Hoody The Shak Spire is a go-to mid-layer for men and women. This hoody has a full zip, thumbholes, front zippered hand warmer pockets and a scuba style hood that fits under helmets. Constructed with flat lock seams, this hoody was made to fit comfortably between layers while still looking good enough to wear on its own. Local bonus- Ibex is based in White River Junction. $175
AVEX Highland Travel Mug A necessary accessory for the commuters and adventurers on your list. The Highland Travel Mug is double-walled and vacuum insulated, so it will keep your hot drinks hot for up to 5 hours and your cold drinks cold for up to 14 hours. It also features an automatically sealing lid that prevents spills between sips and locks securely so you can stash this mug in your pack without it leaking. Available in 16 or 20 ounces in a variety of colors and finishes. Lifetime guarantee included. $22.99-$24.99
The Snurfer Ibex Shak Spire Hoody
Klean Kanteen Classic 27oz. Bottle
If you bring a water bottle with you everywhere you go, you’ll need one that can stand up to being dropped or bumped. The Klean Kanteen Classic is up to the challenge. Available in 27, 40 and now 64 ounce sizes with interchangeable cap options, this bottle can withstand the worst abuse for years of reuse, helping to minimize the unnecessary disposal of single use bottles. Snazzy new matte color finishes are available as well as the stainless finish. $19.95
Chandler 4 Corners Chalet Collection Knit Pillows Bring the nostalgia of the ski lodge home with you. These cozy and stylish accent pillows will be at home, no matter the location or décor. Find styles and colors that complement a cabin in the woods, slope side chalet or city apartment. The alpine inspired designs are knit with 100 percent wool, paired with a zippered velvet backing and filled with a down pillow insert. The classic designs in this collection were created by Poppy Gall, the founder of Isis women’s apparel. Chandler 4 Corners is a Manchester, Vermont based company. $125
Yaktrax Run AVEX Highland Travel Mug
Klean Kanteen Classic 27oz. Bottle
When the snow and ice make outdoor training treacherous, Yaktrax steps in to get you back on your feet – and keep you there. Ice traction from Yaktrax has been around for a while, providing stability to walkers, professionals and backcountry adventurers. Their newest line of overthe-shoe traction is designed for runners. A combination of removable spikes and steel coils provides traction so you can continue training throughout winter. Reflective heel tabs and performance straps provide additional safety and support. The Yaktrax Run can be worn in temperatures as low as ‑41°F. $39.99
Ruffwear Kibble Kaddie
Big Agnes Down Comforter Keep your loved ones warm this season with the gift of 600 fill down. The Comforter creates a versatile winter sleep system when added on top or inside another sleeping bag for extra insulation. It’s also great to take along on holiday travel visiting relatives and friends. Take it car camping or camp out on the couch. This is a full/queen sized cover that weighs under 3 pounds. Complete with rip-stop nylon and a water repellant finish for durability and quick clean up in case you spill some tea or wine while snuggled up. $299.95
The iconic Snurfer is back! The folks at Manchester, Vermont-based Vew-Do Balance Boards have replicated the original 1960’s design by Sherman Poppen. The Classic features the same V-tail concavity and 60/40 rocker design of the original Snurfers, which make these boards easy to ride for the whole family. The Nomad is also available in this new line, for a modern take on the old favorite. The original design gets a tapered facelift with increased nose width for improved agility and a channeled base and big, cushioned EVA foam pads for added control. Hang onto the rope and explore your backyard slopes on these edge-free boards. Made in the USA. $199.95-$139.95
Ruffwear Kibble Kaddie Chandler 4 Corners Chalet Collection Knit Pillows
Chaco Natilli Boot Not only are these boots super comfy thanks to the Luvseat foot bed from Chaco’s famous sandals, they also add a versatility to your winter shoe collection. These full grain leather and suede boots can be worn laced-up or foldeddown, revealing the printed jersey knit lining for additional style points. The aggressive EcoTread outsole, perfect for slogging through slippery commutes, is constructed with 25 percent recycled material. $135
Big Agnes Down Comforter
If your four-legged friend is your travel companion or adventure sidekick, you know transporting dog food can be cumbersome. Keep mealtime conveniently organized with this portable dog food carrier. It holds up to 42 cups of dry food and neatly dispenses it through a side chute with magnetic flap and a little help from the jug handle. The top rolls down and clips like a dry bag, which allows you to adjust its size as the volume of food inside fluctuates. The fabric is durable and the inside of the bag is lined for resistance to grease. Store collapsible water and food dishes in the side mesh pocket for easy access and clean up. It’s nice to have everything handy when you’re both hungry after a big day. $39.95
Patagonia Merino 2 Lightweight Crew
Optimus Elektra FE Cook System Ibex Woolies 150 Bottom
Nemo Helio Pressure Shower
Duckworth Comet Balaclava
BioLogic Bike Mount WeatherCase for iPhone6 and Galaxy S5
Metolius Ultralight Chalk Bag
Technical Patagonia Merino 2 Lightweight Crew
Duckworth Comet Balaclava
Patagonia’s mid-weight base layers are a super soft blend of 80 percent Merino and 20 percent Capilene. The Lightweight Crew has a slim fit with elastic thumb loops for smooth sliding underneath mid and top layers plus another loop so it can be hung up to dry after aerobic activities. The merino wool wicks sweat, resists stink and comes from a sustainable source in Patagonia. The Capilene is 100 percent recycled polyester. This is a great base for your cold weather wardrobe and works well with layering systems. Available in a men’s and women’s fit in several colors. $90
Wear this dual-layered balaclava as a neck gaiter or pull the articulated hood up under your helmet or hat for extra warmth. The outer fabric is Rambouillet Merino and the inner fabric is thin, micro-fiber polyester. This combination, titled Hydro-Poly by the folks at Duckworth, wicks moisture away from your face and into the wool to start evaporating. All the wool in Duckworth garments comes from a single origin – a third generation Montana sheep ranch – and is the largest grower of fine merino wool in the USA. The rest of the supply chain also remains domestic with processing, spinning, knitting and sewing done in the Carolinas. $45
Ibex Woolies 150 Bottom Woolies are woven from 100 percent merino wool fiber from New Zealand. Their ribbed weave construction allows for warmth and breathability to enhance moisture wicking. Full length and highwaisted, these tights are warm and comfortable as a base layer under snow pants and stylish enough to show them off as leggings or under a skirt. $85
BioLogic Bike Mount WeatherCase for iPhone6 and Galaxy S5 Your tech and stats-obsessed cyclists will love having the WeatherCase on deck. The case is water, snow and dirt-proof and a great choice for commuters who use apps to track their trips. The case itself mounts to handlebars via the in-
cluded bracket and hardware and is easily unclipped from the bike so you can use your phone separately without removing it from the case. The clear cover provides full access to the touchscreen, front and rear cameras and sealed zippers allow access to the headphone jack and charging port. Don’t forget to look up! $34.95
Optimus Elektra FE Cook System For the eco- and econ-conscious, this efficient cook system saves time and fuel with an average boil time of three minutes per liter and also has the capacity to simmer. This setup weighs only 16.5 ounces, not including fuel, and offers versatility as a modular system. It includes a Crux Lite gas stove, heat exchange pot and lid that also serves as a fry pan, a Piezo flameless igniter and a clip-on windshield. It’s the windshield that really amps up the gas conservation while allowing the stove to be burn efficiently in a wide range of conditions. Pack just what you need for a light weight trip or stow it all with a fuel canister in the compact storage bag. $94.95
Metolius Ultralight Chalk Bag Metolius developed the next evolution in ultralight climbing gear – the Ultralight Chalk Bag. While this was once an overlooked source for weight savings, Metolius found a way to cut an average of 80 grams from your kit while keeping the features you need without breaking the bank. $22.50
Nemo Helio Pressure Shower Clean up your crew and your gear after a great day outdoors. The stand-alone Helio Pressure Shower holds 11 liters of water pressurized via a hands-free foot pump. Pressure can maintain around five minutes of steady stream through the 7-foot hose and sprayer for outdoor showers, cleaning up at camp, hosing off muddy bikes or giving the pup a bath and, since it’s hands-free, you can re-pressurize while spraying. The Helio packs down to the size of a soccer ball and weighs only 22 ounces so you can keep clean on the go. $99.95
Osprey Tempest 20 GoMotion Fusion Backpack Light
Darn Tough Vertical Over-the-Calf Ski/ Ride Sock
DPS Wailer 99
Big Agnes Helinox Chair One
Scarpa F1 Evo Touring Boot
GoMotion Fusion Backpack Light
Big Agnes Helinox Chair One
The Fusion Backpack Light is a nice alternative to a headlamp when you want to get outside but you’re short on daylight hours. Evening runners, walkers, hikers, Nordic skiers and snowshoers will appreciate better depth perception from a beam emitted closer to the ground, away from the face. The light attaches to the front of each backpack strap and lays across the sternum, exactly like the sternum strap on your backpack. Three AAA batteries are included and are stored in a battery pack that can live inside your pack or worn attached to the back of it. Two red flashing safety LEDs are located on the battery pack itself and are meant to be displayed from behind. The main light in front offers 100 lumens and three settings with an adjustable beam width and angle. You’ll notice the difference when you look around without blinding your friends or becoming disoriented yourself. $59.95
Pull up a chair and check out this portable, and comfortable, camp seat. The Chair One packs down small inside its own carrying case and weighs just 2 pounds. The light and sturdy aluminum DAC hub pole construction sets up quickly and can support over 300 pounds. It’s small and light enough to be the go-to seat for all your seated events like camping, concerts, sports games, festivals and maybe even after a day of backpacking if you’re feeling fancy. Break out the Chair One when you want to get up off the ground. $99.95
Osprey Tempest 20 Influenced by the popular Talon Series for men, the Tempest has recently been added to Osprey’s line of women’s specific packs. Innovations in both series this season reduced weight and increased comfort. The mesh and foam harness and hip belt provide comfortable, load-bearing stability and extra-easily accessible pockets. The back panel has been reconfigured to include a foam air chimney to increase ventilation away from the body and the
hydration sleeve is accessed from the back of the pack. A helmet attachment can also be found on the exterior for hands-free storage between rides. Now adventurers of all shapes can experience this fantastic pack tailored to a variety of size and volume needs. $100
Darn Tough Vertical Over-the-Calf Ski/Ride Sock Darn Tough’s newest line of seamless ski and snowboard socks are a combination of 68 percent Merino Wool, 28 percent Nylon and 4 percent Spandex for warmth without bulk, bacteria or odor. The Vertical line includes twelve new styles for men and women in ultralight or padded construction. The padded version adds a bit of cushioning along the foot bed for a little extra comfort and support. Darn Tough socks are made in Vermont and include an unconditional lifetime guarantee. $23-$25
Scarpa F1 Evo Touring Boot Scarpa built the F1 Evo in response to the growing interest in uphill travel. This al-
pine-touring boot automatically switches from ski to walk mode based on whether the heel is locked into the binding or not. Designed to shine during both up- and downhill travel, the F1 Evo combines lightweight features like a tapered shape and BOA and strap closures to keep the weight down around 2.5 pounds with stiffness and power on the downhill from the carbon frame underfoot. Men’s and women’s specific versions are available so we can all head for the hills. $699
DPS Wailer 99 The Wailer 99 is DPS’ response to East Coast hard pack. This versatile all mountain ski utilizes PaddleTech Geometry, DPS’ proprietary blend of rocker and variable side cut, allowing the skier to engage the slightly cambered 18m underfoot turn radius to initiate smooth turns on hard surfaces. On softer and mixed surfaces, the gradually rockered paddle provides on- and off-edge performance – aka, a joy ride. Also available in the women’s specific version, the Nina 99. $799
Train like a pro
n cross country skiing, regular exercise allows you to access fitness that makes training feel easier, while race fitness allows you to dig deeper, go harder and ski faster when it matters most. Whether you’re a World Cup racer or keeping your sights set on local community races, the following weekly training plan will help you ski faster and reach your goals. The first step to racing competitively is showing up. To keep in the know about racing, clinic and expo opportunities around New England, sign up as a member of the New England Nordic Ski Association — at NENSA.net. The $45 membership fee gets you discounted race starts, ranking rights and access to a wide range of races and events. Once you’re a part of the community, it’s time to start training. • 6 DAYS A WEEK Most elite skiers operate on a six day training rotation, with one rest day. The week consists of distance, interval and strength training. Starting in the early winter, anyone who wants to feel strong racing from January to March should do some sort of endurance exercise every day (anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on your goals and fitness). Skiing would be best, alternating between skate and classic, but if you can’t get on snow,
running, spinning or bounding (bouncy running) with poles are good ways to train your cardiovascular system. • INTERVALS At least once a week, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday, racers do interval sessions to prepare for the intensity of weekend racing. If you’re training for a longer race (like the Craftsbury Marathon or Stowe Derby), less intense intervals will help you build your endurance base and make it to the finish line. An example of these kinds of intervals would be 3-4 by 8-10 minutes, skiing at an intensity of three on scale of 1-5 (1=easy, 5=as hard as possible). Start training six weeks out from your goal race and work from 30 minutes of total interval time up to 60 minutes of interval training, with four-minute breaks between intervals. For those who are training for shorter, faster races, like 5 or 10Ks, try doing more, shorter intervals. The traditional session for raising cardiovascular capacity is 4x4minutes, but mixing it up with 6x3min, or 4x5 minutes keeps things exciting. As races draw near, the length of your intervals should shorten and you should add harder sets to sharpen and refine your race speed. • STRENGTH TRAINING There’s a saying in the elite Nordic world
Gaining fitness before winter XC Ski Races
that racers like to follow: “keep the hard days hard and the easy days easy.” Rather than skiing as hard as you can on your distance days, take it easy so that you can really hammer your intervals. Another way to keep your hard day hard, if you have time for two sessions, is to follow your intervals with strength. Strength training in the winter helps fortify specific body zones so that you stay flexible and don’t get injured while racing. A typical strength session should be about 40-60 minutes long with blocks of mobility stretching, leg, arm and core strength (in that order). Don’t worry about heavy lifting during the winter. Instead, do body weight exercises that target specific strength zones (quads, hamstrings, triceps, lats and abs). Some examples of leg exercises include lunges, body squats, and bounding, while pull-ups, triceps dips and pushups strengthen arm ski muscles. Far and away, a strong core is a skier’s most dangerous weapon. Finish strength sessions with a core circuit of 5-10 exercises that will hit all parts of your stomach and back. We love rollouts, back ups, med ball throws and windshield wipers. • REST Finally, one of the most important parts of a successful training plan is rest.
By Annie Pokorny Always build recovery into your schedule, beyond just your day off. Take distance skis easy, get plenty of sleep and hydrate well. A pivotal part of recovery is your fuel, so make sure to bring along a carb and protein-heavy snack for the first 15 minutes after your session (when glycogen absorption is at its best) and start carbo-loading two days out from your big race. To feel rested and ready to go on race day, taper during your last week of training. Skip the intervals and replace them with a few sets of 10-second speeds, where you go as fast as you can. Following a plan and keeping a routine will help you feel strong, fit and ready when you step up to the line.
Annie Pokorny is a writer from Spokane, Wash., who skis professionally for SMS T2 at Stratton Mountain, Vt.
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Discover confidence, power and grace in your skiing ability. North American Telemark Organization provides the most complete Telemark and Backcountry ski instruction in North America. We offer a full winter calendar of Telemark instructional workshops, primers, adventure tours, camps, instructor training, and the worlds “biggest” Telemark Festival.
Dec 2014 Dec 6-7, Telemark Instructor Training - Sugarbush Resort, Warren VT Dec 13, Telemark Primer - Bolton Resort, Bolton VT Dec 20-21, Telemark Workshop - Bromley Resort, Peru, VT Dec 27-28, Telemark Workshop - Butternut Resort, Great Barrington, MA Jan 2015 Jan 3-4, Telemark Workshop - Mad River Glen / Camels Hump, VT Jan 10-11, Backcountry Skiing Instructor Training - Mad River Valley, VT Jan 17-18, Telemark Workshop - Whitegrass / Timberline, Canaan Valley, WV Jan 17-18, Womens Telemark Workshop - Mad River Glen / Camels Hump, VT Jan 24-25, Telemark Workshop - Bromley Resort, Bromley, VT North American Telemark Organization PO. Box 44, Waitsfield , VT 05673 1-802-496-4387 (phone) • 1-802-496-5515 (fax) • email@example.com For a complete winter calendar along with rates and registration information, visit www.telemarknato.com
CRAFTSBURY RESIDENT PLANS ICELAND RUN FOR THIS SUMMER By Evan Johnson
Craftsbury Common — This June, Pavel Cenkl, plans to go the extra mile — 171 extra miles for climate resilience. Cenkl, 43, an environmental humanities professor at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, is planning on completing a 275 km (170.8 mile), three-day solo run to highlight the growing prevalence of climate change and the role outdoor athletes and adventurers have in raising awareness. “Climate change impacts all of us, but athletes have a unique relationship to the outdoors,” Cenkl says. “And we have a connection to our changing climate through the daily choices we make about how and where to travel, what equipment to use, and how we choose to support climate resilience initiatives.” But Cenkl isn’t completing this run in Vermont, he’s traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to the tiny country of Iceland, were he plans to follow an ancient Viking path along both trails and roads. The landscape will feature rivers, waterfalls, glaciers, thermal springs, and high desert. Cenkl chose Iceland for this project because “the Arctic is among the places on earth where climate change is most apparent and most pronounced,” he says. Cenkl is an environmental humanities professor at Sterling College and teaches environmental humanities, including classes in writing, communications and environmental studies. He lives in Craftsbury with his wife and son. Pavel spoke with Vermont Sports about his goal for the run and the role that athletes and outdoor enthusiasts play in advocating for a sustainable future.
Vermont Sports: How long have you been a long distance runner and where does your interest in distance running come from? Pavel Cenkl: I guess it depends on how you define that. I’ve been running my whole life, but not competitively until I was well into my 20s. It was nothing I did in high school or college. What I’m most interested in is running in the mountains over longer distances. It was a natural extension from running and hiking with my family and working
with the Appalachian Mountain Club for several seasons. It was a natural means to get places faster. I worked at the Pinkham Notch hut for my first summer in 1988. Then I worked at a number of other huts in the years that followed, like Mizpah, Lake of the Clouds and Zealand. In the summer time, they’re full service huts and people pay to stay there, get two meals a day and a bunk. Part of the job is to make sure everyone is safe, but another side of it is packing the food in, cooking and things like that. In the wintertime it’s a
little bit slower and a bit calmer. In a hut like Zealand you can go skiing every day. A couple of years ago I started getting into longer races. Right now, the longest race I’ve done is a 50-miler, which is the approximate distance I’m projecting to do on the trans-Icelandic run per day. I’m also hoping to sign up for the Leadville 100 in the coming year. It’s something that’s been on my mind and I think I’m ready to take the next step. VS: Why Iceland and why now? PC: There’s a growing consensus, a realization that climate change is an actual thing that impacts places like Vermont and certainly even more so in the Arctic regions. We’re seeing villages on the Alaskan coast needing to move because of changes in the surf actually washing away parts of the town. We see glacial decline the whole world over, which has a significant impact on mountaineers and adventurers. The residents that live in those areas depend on some of those glaciers for a water supply. Iceland, too, has seen significant glacial melting over the past couple of decades. I like Iceland because I taught a course there in 2007 and I traveled there before then. It strikes me as a wonderful place symbolically because it straddles the North American continent and the European one. The mid-Atlantic ridge goes right up through Iceland and it straddles the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. It’s kind of between a lot of things and it’s in a central location. It represents,
for me, a focus on the precipitous nature of some of the world’s more remote places and the impact that climate change is having on them. VS: Describe the route you’re going to be taking. PC: I’m going from the Atlantic coast on the south to the north. It’s about 275 kilometers or 170 miles or so. I’m looking to break that up roughly into three sections of 50, 50 and 70 [miles]. The more challenging parts will be certainly in the middle. There’s a highland section away from the coast that has a couple of roads cutting through the interior of the island that are typically closed from early to mid-June simply because of the snowpack. I’m anticipating running there right as the road opens, so, obviously, it will be passable for someone on foot. I’m trying to limit the amount of vehicles simply because of the focus of the run. That section of the run is going to have a little more elevation gain. There’s a well-traveled, multi-day backpacking trail that goes parallel to the dirt road so I’m hoping — weather and conditions dependent — to follow that route. I’ve talked with folks in Iceland and looked at historical data of when those parts of the country are passable, I’ve thought about logistics with respect to where good spots would be to overnight. I’ll have some family members effectively crewing for me. I’m also planning on bringing a few people to potentially document the trip.
As much as I’m spending time talking about the trip, doing an occasional presentation here and there, having articles done and talking with people like Vermont Sports, it’s really after the completion of the run that I intend to leverage more attention to focus on the relationship of athletes to the environment. Part of it is that, ‘Yes, I’m going to do this thing and people can track my progress,’ but it’s after the fact that I want to talk more about the important role that athletes and outdoor enthusiasts have in climate-related issues. VS: And what would you say their role is in this discussion? PC: Athletes and others, including readers of Vermont Sports, spend a significant amount of time in the environment…and, as athletes, we have this engagement with the natural world that other people perhaps don’t have. We go through at a pace that is different from driving through it or seeing it from afar. I think we notice some of the changes in the environment and one could say the same thing of the people who are in agriculture or forestry and some of those professions. We certainly see and interact with the environment in very unique and special ways and have the opportunity to model responsible behaviors to others that are more casual users. VS: Describe your training for this kind of a run. PC: I’m out running as much as possible and that’s really the simplest way to say it. Right now, I’m running between 30 and 40 miles per week and I’ll be increasing that in the spring. It will be interesting to balance the running training with the ski training I do for ski marathons in the winter, but I’ve already started integrating more speed
work and strength training. I’ve also started focusing on the nutrition piece. One reason is because I’m old (laughs) and second because I’m training for something that’s at a greater distance and requires more endurance than anything I’ve done in the past. There are some students here completing projects studying nutrition and training for ultra races and we have a nutritionist as a member of our faculty, so I’ve got plenty of people to help support me. I’m very excited. VS: You’re currently accepting donations through an online campaign. What does the money go towards and why should people consider donating? PC: The donation is in two parts; for one, I need some support to be able to complete the project, which is fairly minimal. Anything beyond that goes directly to a pair of scholarships to help support students who specifically study the connection between outdoor recreation, climate change and climate resilience through the programs here at Sterling College and the University Centre of the Westfjords in Ísafjörður, Iceland. These are two small, environmentally-focused institutions that can really lend themselves well to helping students solve some of these challenges because of where they are located and their focus on this particular curriculum.
Cenkl currently has a crowd-sourced funding campaign to support his run and to fund two scholarships for students at Sterling College and the University Center of the Westfjords in Iceland to study climate resilience. It can be found at https://www. indiegogo.com/projects/kjolur-run-athletesfor-climateresilience.
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Event organizers! Listing your event in this calendar is free and easy. Visit vtsports.com/submit-event, and e-mail results to firstname.lastname@example.org.
calendar of events FEATURED EVENTS:
children under 14 may enter at $5. Vermont high school students may register separately with their team at a special rate of $5. www.craftsbury.com
JANUARY 31 CRAFTSBURY MARATHON A classic technique wave start cross-country ski race of 25 or 50k on January 31 at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. It is on a 12.5 k loop with three aid stations. The Craftsbury Marathon online registration begins on November 1, 2014. The fee starts at $60 and goes up in $20 increments to $120 on race day. Students starting at age 14 enter at half the adult rate and
December 3-4 WARREN MILLER’S NO TURNING BACK The Town Hall Theater in Middlebury hosts a screening of the newest release from Warren Miller Films. www.townhalltheator.org 6 WARREN MILLER’S NO TURNING BACK The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts hosts a screening of the newest release from Warren Miller Films. www.flynncenter.org 10 SKI BUM RACE SERIES Local teams of skiers, telemark skiers and snowboarders race down the Highline trail in the first race of the seasonlong series. www.killington.com 16 KILLINGTON TEST FEST Skiers and riders can demo all the latest gear for the 2015 season at the base of the Superstar trail. www.killington. com 17 SKI BUM RACE SERIES Local teams of skiers, telemark skiers and snowboarders race down the Highline trail in the first race of the seasonlong series. www.killington.com
FEBRUARY 7 – 8 CANADIAN SKI MARATHON A weekend of Nordic ski tours from Lachute to Gatineau, Quebec. Skiers may opt for the shortest 12k option, a series of tour loops, a half marathon or the longest 160k tour. www.csm-mcs.com
20 MOUNTAIN DEW VERTICAL CHALLENGE Okemo hosts a free race on the Bull Run trail open to all ages and abilities. Race registration starts at 8 a.m. The Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge Race starts at 11 a.m. Race awards and victory party begins at 3 p.m. Visit www. skiverticalchallenge.com. 26 WARREN MILLER’S NO TURNING BACK Okemo Mountain Resort hosts a screening of the latest release from Warren Miller Films. www.okemo.com
plunge the lift line course on the Paradise trail. This event is part of the Ski The East Freeride Tour. www.madriverglen.com 22 HOPE ON THE SLOPES Jay Peak hosts an eight-hour ski and snowboard event that raises money to support the American Cancer Society. Participants can compete in teams or as individuals in fundraising or vertical feet challenge. Contact: Bryan Smith, 802-327-2154 or bsmith@ jaypeakresort.com. www.jaypeakresort.com/ HOPE 28 SOUTHERN VERMONT FREESKIING CHALLENGE Competitors tackle the hardest trail at Magic to find out the best skier/rider on the mountain. The Black Magic trail under the chairlift is riddled with technical cliff bands at the top of the course, with a wide open pitchy section towards the bottom. The event is the second stop in the Ski The East Freeride Tour. Details are available at www.magicmtn.com
25 SKI FOR HEAT This annual fundraiser supports heating assistance throughout Vermont. Go to www.skiforheat.org for a list of participating Nordic centers and alpine resorts. 30 – 2/1 NASTAR CHAMPIONSHIPS Recreational skiers compete Okemo Mountain Resort against their peers in their ability group for a chance to qualify for the Nature Valley NASTAR National Championships at Snowmass, Co. www.okemo.com
February 21 UNCONVENTIONAL TERRAIN COMPETITION As part of MRG’s Triple Crown Series, the Unconventional Terrain Competition challenges skiers with signature “Ski It If You Can” steeps, cliffs, jumps, and rocks, as they
Ethan Allen Biathlon Club 2015 Winter Race Series DATES
Jan 8, 15, 22, & Feb 5, 12, 19
5:30 pm - Registration & novice clinic 5:30 to 6:15 pm - riﬂe zeroing 6:30 pm - race start
Ethan Allen Biathlon Club Ethan Allen Rd., Jericho, VT $10 per race or $50 for the six race series Bring a race volunteer and race for FREE!
24 BERKSHIRE EAST RANDO RACE Using climbing “skins” with alpine touring or telemark bindings (or even splitboards), racers start at the base of Berkshire East, ascend, then descend (on marked in-bounds ski area trails), as fast as possible, over multiple laps. www.nerandorace.blogspot.com 25 TELEMARK TURN CLINIC The Catamount Trail Association hosts an introductory level class for beginning and intermediate telemark skiers looking to develop and refine their skills. The clinic will be held at Pico Resort. www.catamounttrail.org
February 1 INTRODUCTION TO OVERLAND TOURING The Catamount Trail Association holds an introduction-level clinic at the Bolton Valley Resort on traveling the Catamount Trail or other backcountry terrain on lightweight Nordic touring equipment. www.catamounttrail.org 1 INTERMEDIATE OVERLAND TOURING The course will take the form of a teaching tour where the group will explore easier backcountry trails in search of teachable moments. The emphasis during this track will be learning by doing. www.catamounttrail.com 1 TELEMARK TURN CLINIC The Catamount Trail Association hosts an introductory-level class for the beginning and intermediate telemark skiers looking to develop and refine their skills. The clinic will be held at Bolton Valley Resort. www.catamounttrail.org
calendar of events 1 MAD RIVER VALLEY SKI MOUNTAINEERING RACE The Mad River Valley Ski Mountaineering Race tests the competitor’s endurance, equipment and skiing skills while skinning up and skiing from Mad River Glen to Sugarbush along the Long Trail. www.madriverglen.com 8 INTRODUCTION TO MOUNTAIN TOURING This track is intended for expert-level skiers and riders who are new to exploring the backcountry. This course will take the form of an instructional tour and will cover layering strategies, what it means to be prepared, navigation, efficient touring and uphill techniques, etc. www.catamounttrail.org 8 INTERMEDIATE OVERLAND TOURING The course will take the form of a teaching tour where the group will explore easier backcountry trails in search of teachable moments. The emphasis during this track will be learning by doing. www.catamounttrail.org 15 INTRODUCTION TO OVERLAND TOURING The Catamount Trail Association holds an introduction-level clinic at the Bolton Valley Resort on traveling the Catamount Trail or other backcountry terrain on lightweight Nordic touring equipment. www.catamounttrail.org 15 TELEMARK TURN CLINIC The Catamount Trail Association hosts an introductory-level class for the beginning and intermediate telemark skiers looking to develop and refine their skills. The clinic will be held at Bolton Valley Resort. www.catamounttrail.org 15 CAMEL’S HUMP CHALLENGE Camel’s Hump Nordic Ski Area hosts an annual backcountry loop traversing around Camel’s Hump, Vermont’s third-tallest mountain. The event is a fundraiser for the Vermont Alzheimer’s Association. Details are available on the event’s Facebook page. 22 INTRODUCTION TO MOUNTAIN TOURING The Catamount Trail Association holds a clinic for expert level skiers and riders who are new to exploring the backcountry. This course will take the form of an instructional tour and will cover layering strategies, what it means to be prepared, navigation, efficient touring and uphill techniques, etc. www.catamounttrail.org 28 BACKCOUNTRY BASH AT MOUNT GREYLOCK Using climbing “skins” with alpine touring or telemark bindings (or even splitboards), racers start at the base of Mount Greylock, ascend, then descend (on marked in-bounds ski area trails), as fast as possible, over multiple laps. www.nerandorace.blogspot.com
19 ONLY THE ESSENTIAL: HIKING FROM MEXICO TO CANADA ON THE PCT — Filmmaker
19 ETHAN ALLEN WINTER BIATHLON SERIES EABC holds a six-race winter biathlon race series on Thursday evenings under the lights throughout January and February. These races are open to beginners as well as experienced biathletes for distances of 5 to 7 kilometers freestyle technique. Safety clinic, instruction and shared rifles are available for novices. Awards are given at the end of the series. www.eabiathlon.org
and long-distance hiker Colin Arisman and the Green Mountain Club present the world premier of “Only The Essential,” which documents Arisman’s 2013 experience on the Pacific Crest Trail. The show starts at 7 p.m. $8/$5 for GMC Members. $5 raffle tickets http://www.colinarisman.com/
8 ETHAN ALLEN WINTER BIATHLON SERIES EABC holds a six-race winter biathlon race series on Thursday evenings under the lights throughout January and February. These races are open to beginners as well as experienced biathletes for distances of 5 to 7 kilometers freestyle technique. Safety clinic, instruction and shared rifles are available for novices. Awards are given at the end of the series. www.eabiathlon.org 15 ETHAN ALLEN WINTER BIATHLON SERIES EABC holds a six-race winter biathlon race series on Thursday evenings under the lights throughout January and February. These races are open to beginners as well as experienced biathletes for distances of 5 to 7 kilometers freestyle technique. Safety clinic, instruction and shared rifles are available for novices. Awards are given at the end of the series. www.eabiathlon.org 22 ETHAN ALLEN WINTER BIATHLON SERIES EABC holds a six-race winter biathlon race series on Thursday evenings under the lights throughout January and February. These races are open to beginners as well as experienced biathletes for distances of 5 to 7 kilometers freestyle technique. Safety clinic, instruction and shared rifles are available for novices. Awards are given at the end of the series. www.eabiathlon.org
6 GLOBAL FAT BIKE DAY The first annual Global Fat Bike Day celebration will be hosted by the Catamount Outdoor Family Center. Festivities include a scavenger hunt-style competition for competitive racers and novices alike. Demos, group rides, local food and drink round out the day. www.mtbvt.com 13 WINTER BIKE COMMUTING CLINIC The Old Spokes Home in Burlington hosts a free clinic on ways to stay warm and safe while commuting via bike. RSVP to veronica@ oldspokeshome.com
January 10 -11 RIKERT FAT BIKE ROUND UP The Rikert Touring Center holds a full day of fat bike riding with tours, games and a cookout. www.rikertnordic.com
28 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
5-8 2015 NORTH AMERICAN BIATHLON CUP RACE The Ethan Allen Biathlon Club in Jericho hosts official training on Friday, a Sprint race on Saturday, and Pursuit style race on Sunday. www.skireg.com 12 ETHAN ALLEN WINTER BIATHLON SERIES EABC holds a six-race winter biathlon race series on Thursday evenings under the lights throughout January and February. These races are open to beginners as well as experienced biathletes for distances of 5 to 7 kilometers freestyle technique. Safety clinic, instruction and shared rifles are available for novices. Awards are given at the end of the series. www.eabiathlon.org
23 – 25 SMUGGS ICE BASH The 9th Annual Ice Bash includes Ice Climbing, Mountaineering and Avalanche Clinics, the Friday Night Drytooling Competition, speakers and athlete presentations, public demos of ice climbing equipment, raffles and support for local Access Fund Affiliate, CRAG-VT. www. smuggsicebash.com
NORDIC SKIING December 6 – 7 CRAFTSBURY DEMO DAYS The Craftsbury Outdoor Center hosts demos of new
(Continued on next page)
calendar of events Nordic skiing equipment on ski trails. www. craftsbury.com 7 ZAK CUP SERIES: QUARRY ROAD OPENER A 10k skate race with a mass start in Waterville, Me. New England Nordic Skiing Association (NENSA) membership at the time of race is required for Zak Cup scoring. www.nensa.net 20 – 21 NENSA EASTERN CUP OPENER AT RIKERT Frost Mountain Nordic Ski Club and Rikert Nordic Center will host, for the first time, the opening weekend of Eastern Cup competition, December 20-21. Saturday’s classic races will be an interval start. Sunday’s freestyle races will be a mass start. Prior to Sunday’s races, there will be a Bill Koch freestyle race. This will be run in one to two waves depending on registrants. www.nensa.net 27 ZAK CUP SERIES: MT. HOR HOP A 10k skate race with an interval start in Westmore, Vt. NENSA membership at the time of race is required for Zak Cup scoring. www.nensa.net 28 SANTA’S REVENGE AND RESOLUTION RELAYS Sleepy Hollow Cross Country Ski Center in Huntington hosts a series of skate races. Santa’s Revenge will be a Freestyle 5-10k race (depending on conditions). The Resolution Relays will be informal 4X2k relays. 600m Lollipop at 9 a.m., 2k BKL to follow, Open Race to follow. Resolution Relay will follow the completion of all events. www.skisleepyhollow.com 28 – January 4 FORT KENT NEW YEARS NORDIC SKI FESTIVAL The 10th Mountain Outdoor Center in Fort Kent, Me. hosts biathlon and cross-country ski races in classic and skate divisions. www. nensa.net
January 10 ZAK CUP SERIES: BOGBURN CLASSIC A classic-style 13k men’s and 7k women’s race with an interval start in Pomfret, Vt. NENSA membership at the time of race is required for Zak Cup scoring. www.nensa.net 10 RACE TO THE CABIN A 5K classic point-to-point beginning at the Trapp Family Lodge Outdoor Center and ending at the Slayton Pasture Cabin. The race is mass start and self-seeded. www.trappfamily.com. 10 LADIES NORDIC SKI EXPO The Catamount Trail Association hosts their annual ladies Nordic skiing event at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe for a day of lessons and demos in classic and skate styles of skiing. www.catamounttrail.org 11 STOWE NORDIC MINI MARATHON A longdistance, non-competitive ski event at Stowe Mountain Resort’s Cross Country Center gives
children an opportunity to acknowledge their own abilities. Distances include 22k, 15k and 5k. Terrain is best suited for classic skiing. www.stowenordic.org 17 – 18 WOMEN’S WINTER ESCAPE An all-women’s weekend at Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center in Gorham, N.H. offers a variety of classic and skate ski clinics, yoga, equipment demos and preparation lessons. www.greatglentrails.com 17 – 18 NENSA EASTERN CUP/BATES CARNIVAL AT BLACK MOUNTAIN Black Mountain in Rumford, Me. hosts the Bates Winter Carnival on Friday and Saturday along with the NENSA Eastern Cup both Saturday and Sunday. Friday NCAA Carnival will be a mass start 15/20k classic event open to college athletes only. Saturday combined Eastern Cup and Carnival event will be a 5/10k interval start free technique event. Women and U16 will do 5k with the 10k for the men. Sunday will be an Eastern Cup only Classic 1.4k sprint race with heats. www.nensa.net 19 ZAK CUP SERIES: 41ST GESCHMOSSEL CLASSIC The 41st Geschmossel is a 15k (3x5k laps) classic ski race held on the Ammonooosuc Trail System of the Bretton Woods Nordic Center. www.brettonwoods.com 24 ZAK CUP SERIES: WHITE MOUNTAIN CLASSIC 30K The Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in Jackson, N.H. hosts a 30k classic race and the NENSA club championships. www. jacksonxc.org 25 14TH WOMEN’S XC SKI DAY The Rikert Nordic Center hosts a day of women’s-only day of tours and demos for skiers of all abilities. www.rikertnordic.com 31 34TH ANNUAL CRAFTSBURY MARATHON This classic New England ski marathon starts and finishes at the Craftsbury outdoor Center winding through open fields and wooded hillsides. There are 25k and 50k options for those just trying a marathon for the first time or returning marathoners. www. craftsburysupertour.com
February 7 and 8. This event is part of the larger USSA SuperTour Festival happening in Craftsbury January 29 to February 8. Saturday’s freestyle individual race will be combined with both the Dartmouth Carnival and USSA SuperTour, while the classic mass start Sunday will also be a SuperTour. Prior to the Eastern Cup races, there will be a joint Carnival/SuperTour freestyle sprint on February 6 in Craftsbury. www. craftsburysupertour.com 7 FLYING MOOSE CLASSIC The Gould Academy Competition Trails in Bethel, Me. hosts a classic technique, mass start and finish at field adjacent to Gould Academy Field House with most of the 10k or 22k timed race course on the Pine Hill Competition Trails. Youth/Bill Koch League events include lollipop, a 2.25k timed race or a 10k untimed mini-marathon. www.bethelouting.org
Nordic, take a sneak peak at the course for the 2015 Stowe Derby down Stowe’s Toll Road. One ride per person. www.stowederby. com
1 MOUNTAIN TOP PAINTBALL BIATHLON The Mountain Top Inn & Resort hosts their tenth annual biathlon at their snowshoe center. www.mountaintopinn.com 7 – 8 CANADIAN SKI MARATHON The Canadian Ski Marathon (CSM) is North America’s longest and longest running Nordic ski tour. Each skier can select distances of 12k or the maximum of 160k over the weekend. http://csm-mcs.com/en/ 7- 8 NENSA EASTERN CUP/DARTMOUTH CARNIVAL The Craftsbury Outdoor Center hosts the third weekend of Eastern Cup competition
14 NENSA EASTERN CUP SILVER FOX TROT
The Oak Hill Nordic Trails in Hanover, N.H. hold freestyle, individual starts at 15-second intervals for all. Eastern Cup/JNQ races, U16 boys followed by U16 girls and women: 5k, U18 and older men: 10k. http://www. fordsayre.org/nordic/silver-fox-trot/
22 STOWE DERBY This annual event races down the Stowe Toll Road on cross-country skis into the village of Stowe. This year features a fatbike division. www.stowederby.com
13 STOWE DERBY RECON For a donation to Stowe
14 TRAPPS WINTER MARATHON This Classic Mass Start 2 lap race is one of the most challenging courses in New England; featuring a designated ski change “pit” on the second lap area. This is evolving in the area of Nordic Marathon racing and will add an additional technical aspect to an already specialized and challenging course. http://www.trappfamily.com/ 21 RELAY FOR LIFE NORDIC-STYLE At Relay For Life NordicStyle, teams camp out overnight and take turns cross country skiing or snowshoeing while raising funds for the American Cancer Society. Register www. relayforlife.org/nordicstylevt or contact Danielle Woolsey, 802-872-6306 or danielle. email@example.com
calendar of events OBSTACLE RACING
16 – 18 WINTER DEATH RACE Much like the summer Death Race, but colder, Peak Races hosts a wintertime obstacle race with unpredictable obstacles to challenge both body and mind. www.peak.com
February 7 BENSON POLAR BEAR OBSTACLE CHALLENGE Shale Hill Obstacle Course in Benson, Vt. hosts a 10k race with over 65 obstacles in addition to hills, mud, snow and ice. www. shalehilladventure.com
January 17 COCK-A-DOODLE SHOE SNOWSHOE RACE A 5k and 10k snowshoe race to benefit the New Land Trust, Saranac, NY. This race is a qualifier for the USSSA National Championships. http://www. cockadoodleshoe.com/ 25 SIDEHILLER SNOWSHOE RACE A four-miler snowshoe race in Sandwich, N.H qualifies for the USSSA National Championships. www.acidoticracing.com
31–1 NORTH AMERICAN SPEEDSKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS Kingdom Games, in partnership with Marathon Skating International (MSI), has been selected by U.S. Speedskating to host the North American Marathon (NAM) on January 31 and February 1, 2015, on Northeast Vermont’s Lake Memphremagog. Distances include 1k, 5k, 25k and 50k. http://www. marathonskating.org/NAMLM2015
1 FIRSTRUN BURLINGTON RunVermont hosts their 27th annual 5k with half-mile mile and fun run distances for kids. www.runvermont.org
6 NEWPORT SANTA RUN Kingdom Games hosts a 5k run on the Newport Bike Path, Santa costumes are provided. www.dandelionrun.org
1 THE GREAT SKATE Kingdom Games hosts a 25-mile skate between Newport, Vt and Magog, Qc. Participants may use skates, dogsleds or any other means of non-motorized transportation. http://www. marathonskating.org/NAMLM2015
1 NORTHERN VERMONT SNOWSHOE CHALLENGE Smugglers’ Notch Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Adventure Center hosts a series of ½k, 3 ½k and 8k runs for varying ability levels. The 8k is a qualifying run for the USSSA National Championships.
STARTING MID-DECEMBER WE INVITE YOU TO GO ONLINE TO VTSPORTS.COM/SURVEY TO VOTE IN OUR ANNUAL
BLACK DIAMOND OF EXCELLENCE AWARDS PRESENTED BY VERMONT SPORTS
IT WILL BE UP TO YOU — LOYAL FANS AND SPORTS ENTHUSIASTS — TO NAME THE BEST OF VERMONT'S
. . .
GEAR SHOPS SKI SLOPES BIKE FITTERS, EVENTS AND RACES CLIMBING GYMS, INSTRUCTORS AND TRAINERS FOOD DRINKS AND MUCH MORE, PLUS, THIS YEAR'S OUTDOOR PERSON OF THE YEAR!
SURVEY WILL BE POSTED BY DECEMBER 15 AND WE'LL ANNOUNCE WINNERS IN THE FEB/MARCH ISSUE OF THE MAGAZINE. DECEMBER 2014
RUTLAND – On a frigid November evening, most of the windows on Woodstock Avenue in Rutland are dark and the parking lots are mostly vacant. But at the Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center, the neon “Open” sign is illuminated and the parking lot is mostly full. Inside, a crowd of 40 climbers are stretching, warming up and getting ready for the last night of the adult league. At 6:30 p.m. sharp, climbers rush to tie in and start climbing, looking to rack up as many points as they can before 8 p.m. – and the end of the fall league. Steve Lulek has owned the gym with his wife, Sherry, since 2003. Walking around, accompanied by a friendly spaniel named Bella, he knows many of the climbers by name and offers encouragement as they scale walls of 10 to 40 feet high with hand-and-foot holds arranged in levels of difficulty. Called sport climbing, it’s been a growing industry for much of the past decade. Lulek was first introduced to climbing while he was in the Army, training soldiers from the National Guard at the Army Mountain Warfare School in Jericho, Vt. Instructors were required to be proficient in skiing, mountaineering, climbing and navigating — a climbing wall was part of the fitness program. “There was no other way to go about it,” Lulek says. “If you want to train for climbing, you have to be climbing.”
“A lot of people are just looking for something to do inside and just stumble upon rock climbing,” says Matthew Butler-Bugher – or simply Boof – manager of the Essex facility, who discovered climbing in this way while he was going to school at the University of Maine. In 2003, he had just run a marathon and found himself tired of running. Since then, he’s explored rock climbing all over the country. The fun part, he says, is applying a “Northeast style” of outdoors climbing to the routes set in the gym, replicating moves on plastic holds bolted to the wall. “In the Northeast, the climbs are rated more difficultly,” he says. “There’s a different style of cryptic, less-straightforward climbing.” In January, the Essex Junction gym plays host to the Dark Horse Series, an annual series of bouldering competitions at MetroRock’s three gyms. “The idea was to put together a bouldering competition that wasn’t part of the big USA Sport Climbing Series that would be fun for people to compete in that would be recurring and a have a decent-sized prize purse,” he says. “It’s been growing ever since then.” Last month, the first competition in the series attracted some 300 climbers to the Everett, Mass. gym. Now in its sixth year, the series draws elite level climbers from all over the Northeast, attempting problems set by Dave Wetmore, a nationally ranked climber who has recently set routes for the 2014 Dominion River Rock Boulder Fest and headed the 2013 Citizen’s GoPro Mountain Games. Registration for the event is open.
CLIMB INDOORS By Evan Johnson
WINTER’S INDOOR SPORT Winters are busy times for climbing gyms, especially in the Northeast, when shorter days and colder weather sends many climbers inside to keep in shape and hone their skills. Rutland’s climbing league started four years ago, after Lulek noticed a desire to compete in an informal atmosphere. “I saw a lot of people bowling, and I knew they shouldn’t be doing that,” Lulek jokes. “I saw a lot people golfing, too, and I knew they definitely shouldn’t be doing that either. But what I was able to do was take the handicap system from both of those activities and apply it to our climbing community.” The league runs for nine weeks as teams of three or four complete as many climbs as they can in an allotted time. Handicaps are assigned to keep things even with relative improvement being the goal. The Luleks’ gym also organizes a “Plywood League” with climbers heading to gyms in Saratoga and Queensbury, N.Y., as well as to climbing centers in Quechee and Essex Junction. Bastion Auer from Wallingford has been climbing with the league for two years after a coworker invited him to join. It was his first time putting on a harness, but he’s continued to come to the adult leagues and now climbs three times per week. “It’s about getting into that physical and mental space where the stars align and you have a good night,” he says.
Maris Lynn, 10, works an overhanging bouldering Vermont’s newest rock-climbing gym in Essex Junction.
“When you’re in that right place, it can be like ballet.” Meanwhile in Burlington, Petra Cliffs Climbing Center continues its climbing activities as one of the longest-operating climbing centers in the state. “For anyone who wants to train for any activity, it’s easier to go indoors, get in a workout and take a shower before going to work,” says Tim Farr, a rock and ice climbing guide as well as a membership manager at Petra Cliffs. “It’s a lot easier to train that way instead of dedicating a full day to it,” he says. Next month, Petra Cliffs hosts a weekend full of events at their Briggs Street location in Burlington and on the frozen ice faces in Smugglers’ Notch, between Jeffersonville and Stowe. Now going into its ninth season, the Smuggs Ice Bash starts on Jan. 23, 2015, with demos and a dry-tooling competition that evening. This year, Farr says climbers can expect a challenge. “The trend is the first third of it is easy enough for most strong climbers to do, the second third gets quite a bit harder to weed out the strong climbers but not the stron-
ger ones, and the third tends to be incredibly hard and endurance-demanding. It’s very pumpy and technical,” says Farr. The competition draws crowds of well over 100 to see some 15 competitors going for the podium, including native son Will Mayo, a climber born and raised in Vermont who now resides in Colorado. Mayo already has numerous first ascents under his belt on ice and mixed climbing and has competed in many national competitions, including the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup in Bozeman, Mont. and the Ouray Mixed Competition in Ouray, Co. In neighboring Essex Junction, settled into the back of a parking lot on Susie Wilson Avenue, MetroRock, Vermont’s newest and largest climbing center, is also in full swing. Construction started last fall and the gym opened this August. The Essex Junction location is the newest in a chain of gyms with two Massachusetts locations in Newburyport and Everett. The massive facility features 11,500 square feet of walls up to 50 feet high for top roping and lead climbing and 5,500 square feet of bouldering terrain.
A UNIQUE COMMUNITY What attracts climbers to move inside to pursue their passion is more than just the frigid temperatures outside; it’s also about the community inside. Amy Wright, from Middletown she says she enjoys the different atmosphere of the climbing community she’s found in Rutland. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before because you’re still competing against people, but at the same time you’re helping each other,” she says. “You want everyone to win until the scores come out. Then you want to win.” Meanwhile, as Steve Lulek finishes totaling the teams’ points for the fall season at the Green Mountain Climbing Center, climbers change back into street clothes and attack a buffet of wings and nachos supplied by a local restaurant. On the last night of the league, the climbers enjoy each other’s company. Most will be back in January, eager to keep climbing until the snow melts. “We like it here,” says Rob Black, a climber of 53, who has been climbing at the gym since it opened. “With people like this and walls this good, I couldn’t care less what the weather’s doing out there.”
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Published on Dec 11, 2014