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EXPERT TIPS FOR NORDIC SKIERS | 6 GREAT RAIL JAMS | TERRIFIC TURKEY TROTS

VERMONT

SPORTS

New England’s Outdoor Magazine

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NOV./DEC. 2016

OUR MADE-IN-VERMONT

HOLIDAY GIFT &

GEAR GUIDE THE BEST WAYS TO

BURN 1,000

CALORIES

HOW TO SAVE YOUR BRAIN

Rochester's Junior Olympian Grace Weinberg in action

CIRCUS

SCHOOL GROWS IN BRATTLEBORO


Be covered in fresh powder again. BE YOU AGAIN. THE RIGHT SPORTS MEDICINE PHYSICIAN CAN HELP. Our physicians provide comprehensive sports medicine care, no matter how complex the injury. Patients receive a course of treatment that’s ideally suited for them, built around the most advanced options available—whether operative, non-operative or a combination of both. So, if you live in the Burlington area, make an appointment with The University of Vermont Health Network's sports medicine specialists at UVM Medical Center. To make an appointment, call (888) 974-9783.

UVMHealth.org/MedCenter/SportsMed

The heart and science of medicine.


VERMONT

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NEW ENGLAND’S OUTDOOR MAGAZINE ON THE COVER: Pittsfield's Grace Weinberg is ranked among the top 6 lugers in the fastest sport on ice. Photo courtesy G. Weinberg.

PUBLISHER

Angelo Lynn - publisher@vtsports.com

EDITOR/CO-PUBLISHER

Lisa Lynn - editor@vtsports.com

STAFF WRITERS

Emma Cotton - emma.cotton@vtsports.com Evan Johnson - evan.johnson@vtsports.com

DESIGN & PRODUCTION

Shawn Braley - braley@gmail.com

MEDICAL ADVISORY BOARD

Dr. Nathan Endres, Dr. David Lisle, Dr. James Slauterbeck —University of Vermont Robert Larner College of Medicine; Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation

CONTRIBUTORS

Brian Mohr, Phyl Newbeck

ADVERTISING MANAGER

Christy Lynn - ads@vtsports.com

ADVERTISING SALES Greg Meulemans greg@vtsports.com | (802) 366-0689 Dave Honeywell | (802) 583-4653 dave_golfhouse@madriver.com

Stowe's Elle Anderson gets down and dirty in Belgium as she takes the international cyclocross circuit by storm. Anderon's story of rising to the top, overcoming depression and living with a foreign host who, recently, was arrested on suspicions of drug trafficking starts on p. 16. Photo courtesy E. Anderson.

5 The Start

13

SUBSCRIPTIONS, PRINTING & DISTRIBUTION

How we handle trauma can build or break us.

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EDITORIAL AND PRODUCTION OFFICE

7 Great Outdoors

Jennifer Peterkin | (802) 583-4653 dave_golfhouse@madriver.com Lisa Razo - lisar@addisonindependent.com

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Vermont Sports is independently owned and operated by Addison Press Inc., 58 Maple Street, Middlebury, Vt. 05753. It is published 9 times per year. Established in 1990. Vermont Sports subscriptions in the U.S.: one year $25. Canada: US funds, please add $5 per year postage.

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Staying Strong

Kicking off the Season

It's rail jam time, with prizes that range from pumpkins to 5 Gs.

10

Health

A Holiday Survival Strategy

Dr. David Brock on the best ways to burn 1,000 calories.

11

Gear

11 Gifts from $10 to $4,000

20

Feature

Circus School's Next Act

14

The Endurance Coach

Stowe's Ryan Kerrigan knows a thing or two about running and Nordic skiing.

24 Featured Athlete

Feature

The Littlest Luger

Regaining Consciousness

How skatepark owner Hannah Deene Woods survived a traumatic brain injury.

16

Featured Athlete

Feature

At 17, Pittsfield' Grace Weinberg is one of the nation's top lugers.

29

Race & Event Guide

Raising Elle

34 Endgame

the top of the cyclocross world.

Triathlete Karen Newman battled cancer once and won. And now she's at it again.

Raised in Stowe and Burke, Elle Anderson is battling her way to

Great gear from Vermont brands.

Dare to Walk Boldly

ADVERTISERS! The deadline for the Jan./Feb. issue of Vermont Sports is December 15. Contact ads@vtsports.com today to reserve your space!

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 3


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11/3/16 10:31 AM


THE START

STAYING STRONG HOW WE FACE ADVERSITY CAN CHANGE OUR LIVES, FOR THE BETTER.

“What does not destroy me makes me stronger,”

Winter is coming. Vices are already here.

—Frederic Nietzsche, Twighlight of the Idols

T

his issue of Vermont Sports has some powerful stories of not just survival, but of overcoming serious adversity. We didn’t intend it that way. It was only after hearing about triathlete Karen Newman’s second bout with cancer (see "Endgame"), skatepark owner Hannah Deene Woods’ recovery from a traumatic brain injury ("Regaining Consciousness") and cyclocross racer Elle Anderson’s struggle with depression ("Raising Elle"), that a theme seemed to emerge. Don’t despair: While these stories may sound like downers, they are not. The way each of these women has turned adversity around is truly inspiring. They support Nietzsche’s oft-quoted aphorism, "That which does not destroy us makes us stronger." And a growing body of research shows his words may have a basis in science. While we often hear of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), studies have also shown that people who have survived trauma of some kind can also develop “Post Traumatic Growth” or PTG. According to the National Center of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, based out of White River Junction, Vt., PTG is measured in five domains: (1) Perceived changes in self (becoming stronger, more confident); (2) developing closer relationships with family, friends, neighbors, fellow trauma survivors, and even strangers; (3) changing life philosophy/increased existential awareness; (4) changed priorities; and (5) enhanced spiritual beliefs. Hundreds of studies now support this growth: “A systematic review of 39 studies by Linley and Joseph (2004) suggested that positive change is commonly reported in around 30 to 70 percent of survivors of various traumatic events,” wrote researchers Stephen Joseph and Lisa Butler in an article summarizing the research on this topic, “Positive Changes Following Adversity,” that appeared in the PTSD Research Quarterly in Sept., 2010. The authors also cite another study that showed that "heart attack attack patients who found benefits immediately after their first attack had reduced re-occurrence and

morbidity statistics eight years later." In other words, looking for "benefits" or growth after trauma could have positive physical as well as pyschological impacts. However, their report also states that “distress and growth may co-exist—a condition often observed clinically in those who have suffered a significant loss.” Loss: that is a trauma so profound that it is hard to wrap your mind around. Physical pain can be overcome and medicated. Emotional pain is chronic. As we were putting together this issue, our hearts went out to the five families in the Mad River Valley who lost children in October in a fiery crash. It was caused by a wrong-way driver who, allegedly, suffered from PTSD. All five of the teenagers were athletes. Eli Brookens, an 11th grade soccer player at Harwood Union and skier who loved to hike to the top of Mt. Mansfield. Janie Cozzi was a soccer player and a student at Kimball Union Academy. Mary Harris, a Harwood Union soccer, basketball and lacrosse player skied whenever she could at Mad River Glen and Sugarbush. Liam Hale was an avid skier, golfer and mountain biker. Cyrus Zschau, a varsity soccer and baseball player at Harwood Union, skied Sugarbush as well. The Valley is a tight-knit community, part and parcel of the interconnected world of skiers and athletes around the state. It seemed that everyone who plays a sport in Vermont was somehow connected to these families. We mourn their loss and dedicate this issue to the memories of those five kids, to the strength and courage of their families and to the people whose stories are told in these pages: Hannah, Joe, Elle and Karen. May the holidays bring peace, courage and strength to them and to all of you. —Lisa Lynn, Editor

Restaurant opens for lunch Fri-Mon at 11:30AM AND Tue-Thu for supper at 4PM. Brewery opens every day at 11:30AM

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 5


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6 VTSPORTS.COM | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016

Photos courtesy of Herb Swanson

Wintertime on


GREAT OUTDOORS

Kicking Off the Season

BY EMMA COTTON

VERMONT’S SKI AND RIDE SEASON KICKS OFF WITH A GROWING NUMBER OF RAIL JAMS AND PRIZES THAT RANGE FROM $5,000 IN CASH TO PUMPKIN PIES.

S

ome people stare wistfully at their boards as they wait for snow to fall. Others create the slopes themselves. Every year, in the weeks before lifts start turning, students in Burlington kick off winter on their own. On Oct. 28, the University of Vermont pulled the curtain on winter with the season’s first annual rail jam, Dawn of the Shred. Champlain College's annual rail jam was Nov. 4. “This is the first time people are really putting their gear on since last winter,” said Dan Maurice, UVM Ski and Snowboard Club’s event coordinator. “It’s a way to bring our students together to celebrate the beginning of the season.” For days before the events, members of both college’s ski and ride clubs drive to

ice skating rinks in Burlington to gather Zamboni shavings and cart the “snow” back to campus in U-Haul trucks. “Sometimes we shovel snow until 12 o’clock at night when we have a class at 8 a.m.,” said Champlain College club president Neal Cummings. “That’s the coolest.” And the show always goes on, even with the 70-degree weather and rain that hit the Burlington area last year. Both UVM and Champlain College have partnered with Sugarbush to help them install rails on their respective quads. After the sun goes down, the events start under the lights, and the skiers and rider strut their stuff for the first time all season. This year, Champlain College expected over 300 spectators, and UVM expected

over 1,000. Prizes ranged from skis and snowboards to gift certificates and giant bricks of Cabot cheddar cheese. “It gets people excited to do what they’ve been waiting for all summer,” Cummings says. Champlain College’s club has taken a strong stance on safety, donating all proceeds from raffles, product sales and participant entries to Love Your Brain, an organization that raises awareness about traumatic brain injuries. It was created after snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a near-fatal head injury while training for the 2010 Winter Olympics (See “Regaining Consciousness”). As of press time, it was rumored that Pearce would make an appearance. “(Safety) is super important,” Cummings

says. “At the event, everyone is required to wear a helmet to compete.” He says that the jam’s location— dead center in the residential section of campus—attracts students and members of the public. “Those people who aren’t that passionate about skiing or snowboarding,” he says, “they’ll see this big showcase on campus, and it’ll kind of spark their interest or maybe get them to ski or snowboard a little more this year.” “Everyone who likes to ski and snowboard will be there, all of the industry heads will be there, pro skiers and pro snowboarders are there,” Cummings says. “So it kind of gets every like-minded person in one space, able to shoot the shit about skiing, about what you’re looking to do this

Airing it out on the rails at Stowe. New this year, enter a design for a new park feature and it may get built. Photo courtesy Stowe Mountain Resort

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 7


Clockwise from top: Groms get their start at the Mount Snow rail jam. Sugarbush brings the action down to American Flatbread. DJs set up on-slope at Stowe and Champlain College makes do, snow or no. Photos

courtesy Mount Snow, Sugarbush, Stowe and Peter Cirilly/Champlain College.

DESIGN & RIDE FIRST TRICK RAIL JAM | Stowe, Vt. | Nov. 19

year. It’s like a big family reunion.” But you don’t have to be a college student to hit the rails and get an early taste of snow. We’ve got a list of early rail jams around the state that are open to everyone. And if you’re taking advantage of these preseason opportunities, you might be lucky enough to see a few pros along the way. Freestyle skiers LJ Strenio (hailing from Burlington) and Christian Franchino (from Manchester) along with riders Lucas Magoon (who lists Killington as his home mountain) and Niko Cioffi (from Rutland) have all participated in Vermont’s rail jam scene. They’ve gone on to compete in national competitions, get sponsors and appear in ski movies. Snow or no snow, rail jams are a surefire way to get excited about the upcoming

season, and sliding and grinding on those rails will help you practice balance and coordination before the real deal begins.

T

HE BIG KICKER | Waitsfield,

Vt. | Nov. 19 Sugarbush and Mad River Glen kick off the winter season with a freestyle party hosted by American Flatbread, with a rail jam, ski movies, yard games, local food and drink and snow brought in from Sugarbush. The High-Fives Foundation will hold raffles (prizes include a season pass). The Foundation, among other things, has been raising money for the Five Families Fund, a charity founded after five Mad River Valley teens were lost in a tragic car accident in October. Cost is free for all attendees. sugarbush.com

8 VTSPORTS.COM | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016

The University of Vermont is partnering with Stowe for the First Trick Rail Jam, the first of Stowe’s Triple Crown series. And there's a cool twist: anyone can submit a design for the course. The winning design chosen by UVM’s Freeskiing Team will be built by Stowe’s park team. The event is open to all ages of skiers, riders and telemarkers, so long as they’ve purchased a lift ticket (discounted at $32). Don’t miss music, raffles and giveaways. Registration costs $20 and takes place in the Mt. Mansfield base lodge. Then head up to 5th Ave Terrain Park. Thanksgiving costumes are welcome. stowe.com

LOADED TURKEY RAIL JAM | Killington, Vt. | Nov. 22 The pre-cursor to Killington’s esteemed Rails to Riches rail jam, the Loaded Turkey has been a tradition for over a decade. First place winners in each category receive a frozen turkey, while second wins stuffing and third gets cranberry sauce. Top groms take home a pumpkin pie. All ages are welcome. Register at the lodge, then head over to the Upper Downdraft and strut your stuff. The top two gain coveted spots in Rails to Riches. killington.com

RAILS TO RICHES (Invite Only) | Killington, Vt. | Dec 5 If you’re looking for cold hard cash, Killington’s Rails to Riches is the place. Give it everything on this exclusive, custombuilt terrain in front of a tough-as-nails cast of pro judges (though Killington wouldn’t reveal their names). First place prizes include a $5,000 reward for top male skiers and riders, and $1,500 for top female skiers and riders, plus endless bragging rights for the whole season. If you weren’t invited, don’t feel bad—spectators can watch from the sidelines for free. killington.com GROMMET JAM | Mt. Snow, Vt. | Dec. 27 This one’s for the little ones. Enter your twelve-and-under to compete for prizes on a mini terrain park in this first of three Grommet Jams. Coaches and trainers from the Ski & Snowboard school will be around to help youngsters on and off the lifts (though kids need to be able to ride lifts on their own). This fun event includes raffles and a pizza lunch at the Carinthia Base Lodge. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and is limited to 70 participants. mountsnow.com


NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 9


go out and be a weekend warrior? Absolutely, this can be dangerous. You increase your risk for injury if you do something like that, particularly if you’re not accustomed to that level of activity. Interestingly though, if the activity that you’re doing is abnormal to your routine (and abnormal is a relative term in this instance), it can compromise immune function as well. If someone’s running 100 miles a week and they do something like run 50 miles on one Sunday, that might be relatively abnormal. If a person’s been sitting on the couch for the last six months and they decide they’re going to go out on the bike path and run six miles, that would be abnormal from a relative perspective. This can produce immune dysfunction termed an “open window period” for the next several hours, days and possibly weeks. It can make people more susceptible to getting the flu or getting colds if they overshoot an exercise bout based on their regular routine. Some other things to watch out for after a relatively extreme exercise bout are dehydration, heat sickness and possibly hypoglycemia and rhabdomyolysis.

HEALTH

THE HOLIDAY SURVIVAL STRATEGY THE BEST WAYS TO BURN WHAT YOU EAT THIS HOLIDAY SEASON. A Q&A WITH DR. DAVID BROCK

T

he holiday season is rapidly approaching and it’s kicked off by the biggest and most decadent feast of all: Thanksgiving. Most of us gobble up well over 2,000 calories in that one colossal meal—that’s more than the U.S, Department of Health suggests we eat in a full day. And with relatives soon to invade, presents to buy and thanks to give, it becomes easy to lose track of our health. Studies show that even nutrition-conscious eaters and fitness gurus tend to let loose during the holidays. With the help of Dr. David Brock, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist and Director of the Physical Activity and Wellness Laboratory at the University of Vermont, we’ve compiled a few ways to help you limit and burn excess calories and, more importantly, get you back out there exercising. —Emma Cotton VS: What’s the best way to work off a 3,000-calorie meal quickly? DB: That’s a good question—and it seems to be a popular one every year. Unfortunately, there isn’t a great solution in terms of a quick fix. There’s a lot of research that suggests all sorts of reasons for the way people metabolize calories differently. But I’m of the opinion that if you were to consume, say, a 3,000-calorie meal, and that was above your metabolic rate for the day, you’d have to expend that extra caloric intake so you don’t gain weight. VS: Can you really "walk it off?" DB: Most people burn about 100 calories per mile walking, but there is some variance there. The lighter you are, the less work it takes, so maybe you burn 85 or 90 calories. The heavier you are, the more work it takes, so maybe it’s 110 or 120 calories per mile. From a caloric expenditure standpoint, let’s just say you were to over-consume 1,500 calories—you’d have to offset that by about 15 miles of walking. It’s a considerable expenditure to compensate for.

Dr. Brock stays fit by snowshoeing, an exercise that can burn over 1,000 calories in just two hours. VS: What about running or hiking? How are those different? DB: If you were to run a mile, versus walking a mile, in the confines of that mile, you would burn a similar amount of calories. The difference is time—it takes you about 20 minutes to walk the mile, and let’s say about 8 or 9 minutes to run the mile. So from a time standpoint, you can burn more calories running, but the work performed is pretty much the same. There are caveats to that, though. For example, if the work is very intense, heart rate, core temperature, ventilation and other physiological responses continue to be elevated even after the exercise stops, so you continue to have a higher metabolic rate. So the higher intensity activity is the gift that keeps on giving, in terms of caloric expenditure. You are unlikely to experience this with flat walking because it’s relatively low intensity for most people. However, you may experience a similar post-exercise caloric burn with hiking a steep grade, even if you’re walking at 3 mph. The work being performed and the relative effort it requires really drives this. So a person running a quick pace may burn a similar number of calories as a person hiking a steep grade at a slow pace. VS: How long would that phenomenon go on for? Let’s say you ran for seven miles at an 8-minute-per-mile pace. DB: Say this eight-minute-mile pace was 90 percent of your maximal capacity—say that was a very quick pace for you. And let’s say you’re 120 or 130 pounds. You’d probably

10 VTSPORTS.COM | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016

burn 95 to 100 calories per mile during the activity of running seven miles. But because that was such an intense exercise for you, your core temperature, (which is normally 98.6 degrees for most people), might go as high as 103 or 104 at that intensity. Plus, many physiological systems— stress hormones, ventilation, heart rate, lactic acid—are all considerably elevated as a response to intense exercise. After the exercise bout stops, all of these systems want to return to the baseline resting state. This takes time and causes an individual’s metabolic rate to be elevated for quite some time after the exercise stops. In the literature it’s called EPOC, or post-exercise oxygen consumption, and reflects the energy required to return these physiological systems back to rest. In the end, the high intensity exercise bout of 90 percent of maximal capacity (in this case running 7 miles at a 8-minute-permile pace) would probably result in about 700 to 800 calories expended during the run, and maybe another 200 to 300 after the high intensity exercise stops for a grand total of 900 to 1100 calories burned. If the same person was to flat walk 7 miles at 50 percent of their max capacity, they may only burn around 750 to 850 calories. This can add up over time, but beginners and even advanced athletes should be careful to not make every exercise bout super intense. VS: Is there a danger in the mentality that you need to work something off immediately? DB: You mean if someone who feels poorly about overindulging decides they’re going to

VS: Is there one particular type of exercise that would burn more calories than others? DB: This question is often posed, not just to me, but to other exercise scientists. We tend to view things from a scientific angle: what will get you improved maximal oxygen uptake, higher lactate threshold, weight control, etc.? We can give you that answer, but when scientific expectations meet real life, the best activity for an individual is one he or she will stick with and one that works well with his or her interests and lifestyle. High intensity running might be the best for caloric expenditure, but if I hate running, I am unlikely to stick with it for very long, and therefore it does not produce the outcome I want. I always recommend people find an activity that they’ll continue to do. Find something that you really enjoy and try to have some social support. There’s no need to feel that you should try to work off that extra 1,500 calories the same day, or even in the next couple of days. I always try to explain the dynamic aspect of the term ‘energy balance:’ it’s really small perturbations that are the healthiest approach. If you were to overeat one day, be cognizant of that and maybe restrict calories a little bit the next day and the following day. Throw some exercise in there. It all seems to work out from an energy balance perspective.” If you’re talking about burning calories, is it more effective to mix up different kinds of activities? “If you’re strictly looking at caloric expenditure—I want to burn the most calories—do the activity that you can do the most intensely, that is the most work, and for the longest duration. No real secret to that.


When I do exercise prescriptions for people, normally the questions I ask first are, ‘What do you enjoy doing?’ ‘What are you currently doing?’ and then I try to increase what they currently enjoy doing. To specifically answer your question, I think mixing it up can convey many physiological and psychological benefits. Also, if you switch exercise around like that, it kind of confuses the muscles to a point where you don’t necessarily become super efficient. So if I was to run every day for six months, I’d become very efficient at running, and I mean that from both a metabolic standpoint and also from a mechanical standpoint. Believe it or not, when you do that seven mile run at month six, you’re actually burning fewer calories than you did at month one because you’ve become more fit and efficient with your caloric expenditure. Mixing it up is a great idea, particularly if you’re interested in losing weight. It’s also a great idea to combine strength training and cardio. A lot of people do only one cardiovascular activity like walking or biking or hiking or swimming, and they

combine that activity with a diet. In those cases, they actually end up losing a lot of skeletal muscle tissue as well. So yes, you lose body fat, but you also lose skeletal muscle tissue. And skeletal muscle tissue is the primary driver of your resting metabolic rate. Skeletal muscle tissue requires calories. If you start dieting, and the only exercise you do is cardiovascular activity, you’re going to be more susceptible to regaining that weight when you come off that diet because you’ve lost metabolicallyactive tissue in the process. So I always recommend that people combine whatever the cardiovascular activity they like to do with something like strength training or CrossFit or yoga so they can try to maintain some of that skeletal muscle tissue.”

Dr. David Brock is an associate professor in the Department of Exercise and Movement Science at the University of Vermont. He has a B.S. in human nutrition, M.S. in exercise science, and a Ph.D. in exercise physiology.

Nordic Ski

Fatbike •

Snowshoe

Winter in Vermont at your Pace Check out our event schedule at:

rikertnordic.com Open daily Nov - March

[ Mansfield FOUR WAYS TO BURN 1000 CALORIES 1. Push Yourself. Doing just a short, easy Turkey Trot might make you feel like you can indulge in a second piece of pie. But if you really want to burn off a full meal, do one that that’s a 10K or longer and do it at your max speed so your metabolism will keep working. A 150-pound person will burn around 1,100 calories running at a vigorous pace for two hours. 2. Try Something New: The more you practice one sport, the more efficient you become and the fewer calories you burn. If you’re a runner, try cycling. You can burn 1,000 calories with just an hour and a half of strenuous biking, at a pace of 14-16 miles per hour. If you are a cyclist, try a master’s swim class. 3. Do Both Cardio and Strength Exercises: While cardio can help you lose body fat, it can also cause you to lose skeletal muscle tissue, the muscles that connect with your bones. Having a good amount of skeletal muscle tissue keeps your metabolism high, helping your body burn calories more easily. Without it, weight can come back fast. A 30-minute strength training or lifting workout will burn around 100 calories, and 20 minutes of running at an 8-minute-mile pace will burn about 300 calories. A recent Kennesaw State University study showed that a CrossFit workout called Cindy (which consists of pullups, pushups and squats) burns 261 calories in 20 minutes. 4. Keep It Fun: Scheduling regular exercise, getting social support and keeping it fun is the best long-term strategy. You don’t need to burn those 1,000 extra calories all in one day, but you should ramp up your exercise and cut back on calories for a few days after overindulging. *Workouts are based on a 150-pound person. Calories burned will be slightly higher for those who weigh more than 150 pounds, and lower for those who weigh less.

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GREAT MADE-INVERMONT

GEAR GURUS

HERE’S WHAT TO BUY FOR YOUR FAVORITE ATHLETE, GEAR AND GIFTS FROM $10 TO $4,000. BY EMMA COTTON

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E LIKE TO SHOP LOCALLY all year round. But when it comes time to pick out holiday gifts, we make an extra effort to

find the best of what Vermont has to offer. This year, we discovered a number of companies—some new, some old—in the 802 with things we'd love to give (and get.)

Norton Vermont Toboggan

A FAMILY-SIZE TOBOGGAN

We’re dreaming of a white Christmas so we can fly down a hill with a few buddies on one of these swanky memory-makers. Norton’s Vermont Toboggans ($200) are so eyecatching you almost want to hang them on your wall. But it’s much more fun to pile the family on one of the larger sleds (the family sizes range from 6 to 12 feet in length) and barrel down the hill. Glen Norton and his family use a combination of ash and oak (the custom sled pictured has an added note of walnut for pizazz), stainless steel screws on the sled’s bottom and 3/8-inch skids that won’t easily wear down. The painstaking process (the entirety of which takes place in the Norton’s family basement in Barre, Vermont) lasts four days from start to finish, and involves carefully bending the

Reign Vagabond Pack

toboggan’s nose to avoid splitting the wood. Toboggans are available in children’s sizes and family sizes, and for the summertime, the company makes children’s wagons. And in case you seriously can’t resist hanging one on your wall, (we understand), there’s the Miniature Toboggans ($85), designed specifically for decoration. vttoboggans.com.

MITTS MADE FOR LINEMEN

We fell in love with Green Mountain Glove’s Chopper Mitt ($56) at first sight (and touch). From the reinforced padding between the thumb and hand to the careful doublestitching, these mitts not only show off some quintessential Vermont craftsmanship, but they will withstand heavy wear and abrasion to last you a lifetime.

Don’t be fooled by the name—they can be used for much more than chopping. They’re also ideal for shoveling, hiking and even skiing and riding, provided you’ve got the right liners. Founded by Richard Haupt in 1920, Green Mountain Glove is based in Randolph and has been family-run for over 65 years. The manufacturing process for each patented design is labor-intensive. Linemen who use the gloves on a daily basis (such as those who work for Green Mountain Power, Vermont Electric Co-Op, NS Central Vermont Public Service, to name a few) attest to the product’s durability. Kurt R. Haupt and Kurt A. Haupt, Richard’s son and grandson, respectively, also make custom women’s designs for driving and gardening on request. greenmountainglove.com.

A DAY-TO-NIGHT PACK

Reign Vermont’s Vagabond Pack ($52) might look like more of a purse than a daypack, and that’s because it is. But we can vouch for the fact that it’s the most durable purse around, and it’s the only purse you’ll want to take anywhere near the woods. This lightweight nylon bag is perfect for hands-free travel. With three zippers (one under the flap, one to the main compartment and one on the inside), a buckle to secure the front flap and a key tether, you can stay organized and have peace-of-mind that your cell phone and wallet haven’t moved since you last touched them. Small enough to store in a bigger pack at the lodge, the Vagabond pack can easily handle the nightshift, and the diverse array of available fabrics will match whatever outerwear you’ve chosen for the season.

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The Snurfer

Good Mix Blend 11

Skida Alpine hat

Green Mountain Glove’s Chopper Mitt

Vermont Soap Yoga Mat Cleaner

Concept2's Model D

Adjustable straps fit over any winter coat, no matter how puffy, and you can order a custom-made bag with wider straps. Company owner Bridget LaMell (based in Waitsfield) named her company “Reign” because she liked what it stands for: “to be prevalent and strong, to persist.” Her bags certainly fit the bill. reignvermont.com.

FLANNEL FOR EVERYONE

You can’t be caught dead in the Green Mountain State without flannel. While we invite you to get overzealous with Vermont Flannel’s pants, shorts, leggings, sleepwear, scarves, scrunchies and blankets, we thought we’d go with a classic: the flannel button-down, except this one doesn’t button all the way down. The Vermont Flannel Henley ($47.80) has the classic flannel feel, but it’s easier to slip it over your head on a chilly morning than it is to fumble with all those fussy buttons. Tucked into pants, you can pull this one off as Vermont-style formal. But no matter how you wear it, you’ll feel the flannel’s double-brushed softness, and you’ll benefit from the sturdiness of a tightly-weaved shirt that won’t shrink in the wash. Stitched and sewn in Barre, Vt., this product brings all the comfort of a locally-sourced product

made by the people who know flannel better than anyone else: Vermonters. vermontflannel.com.

A NATURAL SOLUTION

Maybe it’s just us, but for some reason the words “yoga” and “chemicals” don’t go together. Sometimes, de-toxifying our minds, bodies and spirits can be a sweaty mess, but there’s a Vermont Soap Natural Yoga Mat Cleaner ($19.99) that will clean up the residue and ensure that our mats don’t get sticky. Vermont Soap made the first all-natural yoga mat cleaner in the country, and its gentle formula uses coconut, olive and jojoba oil, natural rosemary extract and organic aloe vera to clean everything from exercise balls to foam blocks. To use, just spray directly onto the soiled surface, wipe down and air-dry. vermontsoap.com

THE HOME WORKOUT

Indoor rowing is a great, low-impact workout for the entire body, and Concept2’s Model E ($1,100) is one of the best indoor rowers you can find. This sleek machine comes in light grey and now black, with a finish that protects against scratches and a nickel-plated chain that requires

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little oiling. Only slightly different from Concept2’s popular Model D, used in indoor rowing competitions and in training by Olympic rowers worldwide, the Model E sits slightly higher off the ground, which allows for easier on-and-off system for those with compromised joints. Burn calories fast as you work through rowing’s four positions: the catch, which works your triceps and abs, the drive, (which works your glutes and hamstrings along with almost all the muscles in your upper body), the finish (which contracts your glutes, quads, back muscles and biceps), and the recovery (which enacts your triceps, abs, hamstrings and calves). Concept2’s eco friendly manufacturing facility is located in Morrisville. concept2.com.

THE ORIGINAL SNOWBOARD?

In the 1960s, Sherman Poppen conceived of something that would provide all the fun of snow sliding, but without the cost of a lift ticket. With a wooden board and handle on a string, Poppen invented “snow surfing,” (which was arguably the beginning of snowboarding—though the birth of the sport is a contentious topic). The folks at Vew-Do in Manchester are now bringing it

back. For the past few years they’ve been replicating the original Snurfer design, making the Snurfer Classic Racer ($119.95) available in your backyard. The Racer features the same V-tail concavity and 60/40 design of the original Snurfers, which make these boards equally great for kids and their parents. With a slightly wider cut than the original and EVA (ethylenevinyl acetate) foam replacing plastic pads, this new rendition has improved stability and better grip. Grip that rope and explore your backyard hills. snurferboards.com

A BREAKFAST POWER PACK

Here’s a perfect stocking stuffer for an athlete: a breakfast that packs a punch. Good Mix Blend 11 ($9.99) is a mix of 11 certified organic superfoods including chia seeds, Goji berries, raw cacao nibs, coconut and almonds, to name a few. The blend is high in protein, omega-3s, antioxidants and prebiotic fiber, making it a perfect start to a day on the slopes or trails. “Activate” the ingredients in Blend 11 by sprinkling a few tablespoons of water over half a cup of mix, then sticking it in the fridge overnight. The water triggers a germination process, activating the enzymes in the seeds, which enables you to


Orsden Jacket

Powe. Snowboard's Cowe Board

Vermont Flannel Shirt

Budnitz Model E

get the most out of the nutrients. Blend 11 tastes great mixed with berries or yogurt, or add a touch of maple syrup for sweetness. If you’re looking to get creative, the website lists sweet and savory recipes for carrot cake quinoa porridge, cauliflower, pumpkin, pine nut and paprika salad, nutty bliss bombs and more. Good Mix didn’t start as a local company—in fact, it started on the other side of the world, on the Gold Coast of Australia. But ever since founder Jeanie McClymont’s brother, Andrew, moved to Waitsfield, Vt., it’s been produced right in the Mad River Valley and available in farmers’ markets and co-ops around the state. goodmix.com

HATS FOR SKIERS

Worried about losing track of your loved ones on a winter run or Nordic ski? Not if they are wearing Skida’s color-popping hats. The snuggly fleece-lined Alpine Hat ($36) will keep you warm during days on the slopes or nights on the town, and you can rock the same line of patterns in its lighter cousin, the Nordic Hat ($30). Originally designed for cross-country skiers, the polyblend hats wick moisture, keeping you dry and adding the perfect layer of comfort for a winter trot or ride. They have a high

convenience factor, too—fiting perfectly under a helmet and slipping easily into the pocket of your winter coat. Unless you’re knitting your own hats and scarves, (power to ya), this Burlingtonbased company is as local as it gets, with their main line of accessories sewn by seamstresses in the Northeast Kingdom. Founded by skier Corinne Prevot, an alumna of both Burke Mountain Academy and Middlebury College, the company is staffed with outdoor-lovers who know what they’re doing when it comes to ski and snow gear. skida.com

THE LIGHTEST E-BIKE

Think how much you spend a year on a car, or on gas. And then consider this alternative: the new Budnitz Model E electric bike, $3,950. Designed by Burlington artist and inventor Paul Budnitz, the bike has a titanium frame (it also comes in Cro-Moly steel), a Gates carbon belt drive and a Zehus Bike+ 250W electric rear hub from Italy. And with all that, the bike weighs in at 29 lbs., making it (according to Budnitz) the lightest electric bike on the market. The all-in-one drivetrain is sleek, minimalist and grease-free and can power you along at 15 mph for a range of 20 to 100 miles. You

can choose to pedal or not, use Bluetooth to control the power output and when you get to work or your destination, turn on the automatic hub lock so it can’t be stolen. budnitzbicycles.com

AFFORDABLE PERFORMANCE SKIWEAR

Stratton skier and Dartmouth alumna Sara Segall and her husband are putting southern Vermont back on the winter apparel map with their new line of Orsden jackets ($330). “We wanted to create affordable, functional and stylish skiwear,” says Segall ,who has worked for such fashion brands as Hermés and Jones New York. We’ve tried two of her micro-twill jackets and you know what? She’s done it. The insulated jackets fit beautifully (the women’s has an asymmetrical diagonal zipper that keeps it from bunching up when you lean over), are warm, stretchy and have all the bells and whistles you’d want in a serious piece of skiwear: pit zips, a powder skirt, gusseted zippers, thumbholes in the sleeves, a helmet-compatible hood and a high collar. Best yet, at just $330 the jackets perform as well and are as well-made as ones twice the price. For now, there are just two models

(men’s and women’s) that come in a variety of muted colors but watch for more from this start-up. orsden.com

GIVE A COWE

There are few things more Vermont than a cow. And few snowboards that say Vermont the way Powe. Snowboard's Cowe ($399.98) does. The Vermontiness goes beyond the graphics—which feature the classic cow and farm scene with Camel's Hump in the background. Artist Adam Vindigni started the business with his older brother Eric shortly after he graduated from UVM in 2015. Powe. bills itself as an "environmentally conscious" company and it lives up to this by hosting clean-ups at ski resorts areound Vermont and by using sustainable materials. Boards are made using poplar and bamboo cores, biodegradable resins, hemp and volcanic basalt. The Cowe uses a "crocker" camrock camber with a 3 mm rise between the feet and a -3 mm rocker on the nose and tail. The Cowe was released this past August and only 40 are being made so jump on this if you want one. powesnowboards. com

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Veterans of Ringling Bros. and Cirque du Soleil, Serenity Smith Forchion and her twin sister Elsie Smith perform as a duo on the trapeze (left) and German wheel (far right). Photo by Jeff Lewis

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I

magine a trapeze, a single bar suspended high above a net, free to swing between two platforms. Two women stand on these platforms, one holding the bar in her palms. One launches, lets go and then flips once, twice, three times in open space. She seems to hover for a small eternity before her partner cleanly catches her and the two swing as one. It’s only after they return to the platforms and the bar lingers empty in the air that you realize you have been holding your breath. When audiences watch the dazzling performances of Cirque de Soleil, the Ringling Brothers or even Vermont's Circus Smirkus, this is the precise and effortless image that they’re presented. But as the performers soaring through the air, tumbling across the mats or juggling eight clubs in dizzying arcs will tell you, there’s

BY EVAN JOHNSON

One of North America’s finest circus schools is based in Brattleboro. With a new center on the way, the New England Center for Circus Arts is poised to grow. a world of hard work that goes into this demonstration of grace, strength and skill. Performers have to start somewhere and when it comes to the high-flying circus, they come to Brattleboro to hone their craft.

I

n an otherwise unremarkable red brick building not far from downtown, crisp fall sunlight streams through the wide third-floor windows while 11 students take turns flowing across the mats in tumbling

arcs, elegant blurs of limbs and torsos. Afterward, they lie on thick mats with their ankles hovering above the floor and work through what appears to be some of the toughest core circuit training imaginable. Rock band Green Day provides the soundtrack. Welcome to the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA), a figurative and literal launching point for hundreds of students from Vermont and beyond interested in exploring the ancient and delightful arts of the circus. Founders and twin sisters Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion, ages 45, run the circus school from an adjacent studio that’s been converted into an office space. In 2003, after careers as aerialists took them from Portland, Ore., to Tokyo, New York City and beyond, the twins moved north from western Massachusetts, where

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they had started their own circus company, Nimble Arts. In 2007, they founded the New England Center for Circus Arts as a broader circus training institution, providing recreational and professional circus training. While continuing to perform and coach, they maintain connections with some of the largest companies in the U.S. and around the world, including the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey, New Pickle Circus and Cirque du Soleil. “There’s a part of me that thrives off of the traveling and performing in a new city and a new place,” says Elsie. “But it’s also great to come back to a place where I can have pig poop on my boots and still go to the local coffee shop.”

Combining strength, flexibility and teamwork, Elsie and Serenity make the trapeze look easy.

Photo by Jeff Lewis

T

oday, the Center occupies space at the Cotton Mill industrial building and the former Austine School in Brattleboro provides the outdoor space for a trapeze. But just three miles north, huge bucket loaders and dump trucks kick up dust as they shuttle around earth, constructing what is to be NECCA’s future home. When it's done next summer, the building will feature a 5,800-squarefoot trapezium with a 40-foot ceiling, classrooms, library and a workshop. Serenity describes the new space as “a destination for visitors as well as a school.” “Like Tanglewood [the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Lenox, Mass.] or Jacob’s Pillow [a dance center and school in Becket, Mass] we want this to be a space that students and guests can appreciate,” she says. The move is needed as, despite using space from the Cotton Mill and the Austine school, the only place students can practice the trapeze is outdoors before the weather grows too cold. After breaking ground in early October, NECCA launched a $2.5 million campaign to make it a reality. The the first phase of construction is scheduled to be finished by June 2017. The new building will let NECCA take on more students. “We can teach circus skills to everyone in Vermont and you might discover it’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done and that it’s a home for you,” Serenity says. “Our task is to tell everyone they can do circus.” NECCA's students come in all shapes and sizes and from all backgrounds. The Center works with local homeless youth as well as teens and young adults with the Brattleboro Retreat; students who might otherwise never have a chance to swing from a trapeze or learn to juggle. It also offers 60 classes a week and the oldest student is 87. As a reward to his students for scoring highly on their standardized tests, the principal of a local elementary school signed up for a trapeze class despite his fear of heights. Five years later, he’s coming back for another class. World-champion

hand cyclist Alicia Dana from Putney (who claimed silver at the recent Paralympic Games in Rio), worked out at the center, using cross-training and inverted exercises to improve her riding posture. In a sports culture where athletes are funneled by peers or coaches into specific sports based on their body types or they self-select the sport they think makes sense for them, the circus takes a different approach, say the twins.

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“We live in our bodies, and I think everybody is an athlete,” Serenity says. “We lose that as we get older unless it’s fostered. We can discover what works for you. The question is: How can we adapt what we do to your body or do we adapt your body to what you want to do?”

F

or students who intend to make the circus arts their livelihood, the Center’s professional-level program

accepts auditions by video. Applications come in from around the world, including Australia, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Belgium, England and more. “If you can name a place, people are traveling from there and calling Brattleboro their home,” Elsie says. In one of the most memorable audition videos they’ve received, a man demonstrates his tumbling skills in the middle of downtown Denver, Colo., hand-


The co-founders and artistic directors of NECCA, Serenity and Elsie teach and coach circus arts at Brattleboro’s Cotton Mill where students, right (top and bottom) practice on both recreational and professional levels. Photo above by Jeff Lewis, right top and bottom by Evan Johnson

springing and cart-wheeling in the streets— dodging the streetcars as he went. For the groups of 18 students accepted into the three-year programs, the training is split between working out in groups and time practicing alone to develop an individual style and routine. During the most intense training periods, students strengthen the core, lower and upper body while developing their technique in their specialty area. “Instead of having you do twenty pullups, we’ll have you work through a routine to learn the technique and the specific skills,” Elsie says. The physical training is also paired with an academic curriculum where students learn how to write a biography, manage a personal website, apply makeup, make costumes and safely rig the apparatuses they’ll use. Students also learn the history of the circus.

B

lair Belt came to live and study in Brattleboro by way of Colorado, driving across the country in a bus she and her fiancé had converted into a tiny house. In her ten years practicing circus, she’s done physical theater, unicycle and stilts before settling on aerial silks, a type of performance in which artists perform acrobatics while hanging from vertical silks. She practices this as part of a residency program. While her training sessions at the Cotton Mill center are two days a week, the 24-year-old works out every day, alternating legs, core and arm workouts along with yoga and running. The soreness that usually follows workouts is something she’s come to

The trapeze demands grace, strength and coordination. The twins have it all in spades. Photo by Jeff Lewis expect and even embrace. “Everything hurts in the best way possible,” she says with a wide smile. “But being able to do the drops and the tricks that I do makes all the other days worth it. When I’m able to climb the fabric using only my arms, that makes the arm day completely worth it.” Belt’s residency program goes until

August 2017. She plans to spend 19 to 24 more months with NECCA as she prepares to start a career in the circus, first touring and then opening a theater in her hometown in Rockwell, Texas, with her fiancé who now works at Brattleboro’s youth theater. Faith Durnford and Jenna Ciotta are students in NECCA’s intermediate intensive program and train five days a

week in aerial hoop. “We all have different goals but a similar interest in professional performing,” says Durnford. While they complete circuit training, a tumbling-based training class, and work with instructors on their primary interest area, they’re also working independently on their active flexibility, cardiovascular health, strength training and handstands. During higher intensity workouts, it’s not uncommon for students to complete a 32-station cross training circuit with 60-second intervals of pull-ups, box-jumps, hollow-body rocks and more. Outside of training at the Center, they are also completing sprint and distance running workouts. Ciotta says her abdominal muscles seem to be constantly sore. “There is never a day that sneezing doesn’t hurt,” she says. Serenity says it makes sense for students to include this kind of variety in their training, and it’s a point she says recreationlevel athletes can use as well. “For longevity and health and for success as an athlete, it’s cross-training that’s even more important than specialization,” she says. “Your body will be more nimble, less prone to injury and you may last long enough to make a career in this.” Anyone can sign up for weekly classes at NECCA and student performances are free. Upcoming events include: Nov. 5, a Showcase of the Circus, and student shows on Dec. 3 and 4. On Dec. 16-18 there are special performances of The Flying Nut—A Circus Nutcracker at the Austine campus. www.necenterforcircusarts.org.

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REGAINING REGAINING REGAINING REGAINING CONSCIOUSNESS CONSCIOUSNESS CONSCIOUSNESS CONSCIOUSNESS MOST PEOPLE KNOW HANNAH DEENE WOOD AS THE OWNER OF A SKATE SHOP IN BURLINGTON. BUT THERE’S ANOTHER STORY ABOUT HER YOU SHOULD KNOW AS WELL. BY JOSEPH B. HEALY

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first met Hannah Deene Wood in South Burlington in 2014. My son, then 6, was gearing up to ride a skateboard as a guest at a birthday party at Talent Skatepark & Shop, which Hannah co-owns. She patiently showed him how to put a helmet on correctly and how to strap it to ensure the fit was secure. I was merely a parent chaperone, hunkered down with some work while the kids rode the ramps. Weeks later, I saw that Hanna was part of Brainfarmers, a Vermont City Marathon team running to raise money for traumatic brain injury. Snowboarder Kevin Pearce, who grew up in Vermont, was also running. Pearce had suffered traumatic brain injury too, the result of a horrific crash he had in Utah while training for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. I hadn’t trained and was in no shape to run myself. But I donated to the cause because, like Hanna, I had suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). IT WAS AN EARLY AFTERNOON in August, 2012, when I climbed an extension ladder to try to get our house cat out of a maple tree. Instead, I fell from the tree or ladder—I am not sure which. Apparently, in the hospital I was interacting with doctors and pulling out IV tubes. I was complaining of pain in my right wrist, my medical records show. It turns out, I damaged my right wrist, I suppose bracing or protecting my body during the fall. I don’t remember falling. I don’t remember voices asking me if I was okay, or my wife splashing me with water to wake me up. I don’t remember being intubated, or the ambulance ride to the nearest hospital in Littleton, N.H., or the helicopter ride to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. I remember nothing. The brain is us, our essence, who we are. It’s a mass of nerve tissue (neurons with interconnected filaments called dendrites and axons and glial cells) and blood vessels and is awash in chemicals and proteins and it blossoms out from the spinal cord.

lead to head or brain injuries. That summer I met Hannah, I was at work on a book about my brain injury, continuing recovery, and the discoveries I made and wanted to share about the function and processes of the human brain Hannah has a glowing personality and an indomitable spirit. She’s cool, fun, and engaging. She was inspiring, and I featured her story in a chapter titled “Brain Injury Survivor Stories” in my book, which was published last spring, Traumatic Brain Injury Handbook: How a Near-Death Fall Led Me to Discover a New Consciousness. Writing my book was an effort to offer some assurance and hope to caregivers and patients—not that I’m a perfect patient, far from it—that this is an injury from which we can recover. A longtime journalist, I wrote the book because that was the best way I knew to share current research with others.

Talent Skatepark & Shop owner Hannah Deene Wood is back at it, but always with a lid on her head. Photo courtesy Hannah Deene Wood

The results of the processes of the brain determine our personality and mental ability, our cognition, our intelligence. It’s an amazing, remarkable, incredible, truly miraculous organ. An adult human brain weighs about 3.5 pounds and, on average, is about 2 percent of our body’s weight. Yet it accounts for all of our performance abilities and efforts and peculiarities and individualities and brilliance. The brain is our totality. As a neuropsychologist said to me, “The brain affects everything.” I had truly never thought about that until I was 44 years old and woke up (my term for regaining consciousness) after almost three weeks of nothingness. I remember going up the ladder—and then I woke up almost a month later. I do remember some vivid dreams, mainly of water and water scenes

such as fly-fishing. I grew up on a lake, I love to fish, and I’ve spent much of my career producing fly-fishing magazines. These images were safe and familiar to me, or they were to my brain. These memories reside in my longterm memory bank, stored and awaiting recall when needed. I needed them in the summer of 2012 as I wasn’t laying down new memories: my brain simply wasn’t capturing any. I have no memory at all from the afternoon of Aug. 14 to sometime on Sept. 3 of that year. I know now that I was lucky. No, I was blessed, somehow and for some reason. Destiny means “the seemingly inevitable or necessary succession of events.” I was meant to write about my fall, to try to help support others with TBI, and to educate people about avoiding the risks that can

HANNAH WAS DETERMINED to show the positive outcomes of brain injury, and how we can not only survive, but also thrive. That was her theme at the 28th Annual Vermont Brain Injury Conference, held at the University of Vermont campus in Burlington on Oct. 5. As keynote speaker, Hannah Deene Wood was a force of nature. She talked animatedly about all the ways people can persevere and work at finding their better selves in the “new normal,” as the aftermath of brain injury often becomes known for the survivor. I’ve found this a different world from what I knew for most of my pre-injury life. Simple tasks that for 44 years I took for granted, such as remembering song lyrics or even recalling the day’s grocery list, are challenging now. If I don’t write down the list, it’s often gone. I need a few beats, too, before I can fully process and answer a question. It’s different, often frustrating not to recall one’s family grocery list, but I adapt and get on with life. I often think of this as a consequence of aging—it’s similar. “It’s okay,” Hannah said reassuringly several times to the audience of health

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professionals, care-givers, and those who’ve had TBIs in her speech at the conference. “You got this, you can do it.” Hannah told me she always thought of herself as a humanitarian—caring, loving, reaching out to others is what fills her up the most. Her motto is, “As the giver, I am the receiver.” AFTER ATTENDING COLLEGE AT UVM, Hannah managed a skateboard shop in Burlington and customers kept telling her that the city needed an indoor skatepark. One night, she met a manager of a skate shop from Massachusetts and they started talking; he designed and built skate parks professionally. Drawn together by their similar life interests, they ultimately decided to team up on a skateboard business in South Burlington, which they called Talent Skatepark & Shop. “We had just signed the lease at Talent and got our loan in 2001, and I was so excited. There was a wallpaper border at the top of a wall and I wasn’t going to open with that ugly wallpaper up there. The ladder was eight feet and it read ‘do not stand’ on one step but there were two more steps above that. I mean, what are the steps doing there if you can’t stand on them? And the top was big enough to stand on. I remember thinking, ‘I’m going to get so much done while (Dave’s) gone.'” Dave Wood was in Peabody, Mass., building a skatepark. At that time, he was Hannah’s fiancée and now is her husband. “I stood up there (on the ladder). I had an iron and scraper and I was heating the wallpaper and scraping and something happened,” she says. She fell on her left side on the cement floor below. She was taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care (now the University of Vermont Medical Center). “I had traumatic brain injury on the left side and I had shattered my collarbone,” she says. She was put into a medically-induced coma for a week and a half. Her brain was swelling badly. “I was intubated and I pulled out the tube 24 times and I destroyed my left vocal cord. That’s why my voice is a little bit weird,” she says. Her mother said she was like a circus contortionist because she would “manipulate, grab and pull” to remove the tube while she was restrained. She was moved to Fanny Allen rehabilitation hospital in Colchester, the town where she grew up. She was put on anti-seizure and anti-depression medications, and “probably pain stuff,” she says. She stopped taking it. “I didn’t want to be on any of it, because I didn’t think anything was wrong with me,” she says. The doctors wound up putting the meds into soup, and she ate that. She kept thinking she shouldn’t be in the hospital and, like many brain-injury patients, didn’t understand her circumstances. “I had an escape route that I can still see when I go over to Fanny Allen. If I shimmied

Author Joe Healy (above right) had an experience that was eerily similar to Hannah's which he writes about in his new book. Photo courtesy Joe Healy She and Dave married in 2002 and they have two daughters. “In raising them, the empathetic side of me is what I focus on— sharing the caregiver side,” Hannah says. “I’m the giver, and I receive. Like, when I donate blood, that’s the greatest feeling, it fills me to be brim, I’m high as a kite. My feeling then is: Hey, I just saved three people.”

Hannah celebrated her 15th anniversary or her TBI this past October and is still active in sports ranging from snowboarding to skateboarding, ziplining to Zumba. Photo courtesy Hannah Deene Wood down the window and there was enough of a ledge, I could edge my way over to the flat roof. And there was a pole, and if I could get to that pole, I was gone. That’s when they started locking me in my bed,” Hannah says. She was placed in a cage bed, and she said she would kick the bed the whole night shouting “get me out of here.” (Full disclosure: I had a similar escape plan when I was at Fanny Allen. The brain’s amygdala sends the fight or flight impulse—and I

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wanted to flee.) Because every brain is different, cognitive recovery is different for every patient. Hannah began work on speech pathology and cognitive therapy—in other words, recapturing daily life skills. When she was released from the hospital, she went back to work at Talent immediately. “I think I got out November 23 and we opened Talent December 21, the goal was to get it opened before Christmas,” she says.

KEVIN PEARCE WAS ONE of the skateboarders riding at Talent. He is a former top snowboarder who, after his accident and TBI, co-founded LoveYourBrain Foundation with his brother Adam. Hannah had her accident in 2001, Kevin’s crash happened in 2009, and then they reconnected. After they did, Hannah did a website search on the subject “head injuries” and this time one of the search results was the Kevin Pearce Fund with information about LoveYourBrain education and outreach campaigns. “All of a sudden, you could Google ‘head injuries’ and it wasn’t ‘you’re over, you’re done’ and all that negative stuff. I fell so madly in love with LoveYourBrain because it is what survivors need to thrive! As a head-injury survivor and the owner of a skate park, I probably sell as many helmets as anyone in the state of Vermont. LoveYourBrain is perfect,” she declares. “Love is everything.” Hannah has spent much of the past 15 years helping inspire others—such as she did at the October Brain Injury Conference. “Because we live in this McDonald’s society, we all want everything to happen so fast,” she said. “I think with my brain injury, it’s


gone in peaks and valleys. I’ve gone through weird slumps. I’ve had deep depression and that’s part of a brain injury,” Hannah says. “Not that my path has been so nasty, because it hasn’t been.” THROUGH THE SKATE PARK, Hannah is surrounded by the brightness and optimism of youth. Plus, she continued: “I escape through Zumba—it saved my life. I needed some women in my life, because skateboarding is all about little boys and their dads bringing the little boys to skateboard. Now that’s changing, girls are coming and that’s great. But I needed something to get me feeling alive. I went into a Zumba class, and the music started, and you have to move your body to the beat. That is so good for the brain. I became addicted to it. Everybody loves music and music is so healing and brings out a picture of that inner joy.” I spoke with her before the conference and she told me, “My brain is focused on figuring out how to deliver what I want to share with people. My focus is to keep moving forward and to challenge myself.” This year, for example, she participating in an event called Over the Edge to support the Flynn Center in Burlington, during which she rappelled down the side of the Courtyard Marriott. “It was amazing, and I’m so thankful I did it,” she said. She continued: “You have to survive your injury, but you also have to take it that next step and thrive with it. You can’t be complacent in your ‘new you,’ so to speak. You’re not the same person that you were— but that’s not a bad thing. You have to thrive with your injury, and move forward and celebrate life.” At Talent, Hannah sells a lot of helmets. “It’s absolutely bewildering to me that people dig out helmets from past years, it’s unbelievable what bad shape the helmets are in. I say, ‘Hey, hold on a second, take a look,’ and you see that the helmet is not doing its job, which is to protect your ‘hard drive,’ the most important job a helmet can have. People are receptive to that,” she says. “For me, selling helmets is so rewarding,” she continues. “It’s a gift to be able to fit someone, knowing that the helmet is doing its job and they’re protected. I don’t like people thinking that buying a helmet can be a gift, because it’s not, it’s a necessity. They shouldn’t have to give up their birthday gift to get a helmet. It’s a lesson when a parent says: ‘I love you, I want you to love you, here’s a helmet to take care of yourself.' It’s all preventative, telling them how to wear their helmet and why to wear their helmet, and they’ll listen." "And definitely having my story helps.” Joe Healy is the author of the 2016 book, Traumatic Brain Injury Handbook: How a Near-Death Fall Led Me to Discover a New Consciousness. He lives in Waterford, Vt.

THE BEAUTIFUL BRAIN

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ccording to the Brain Injury Association of Vermont (BIAVT), someone in the U.S. sustains a traumatic brain injury every 23 seconds, which means 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually. In Vermont, with our population of fewer than 700,000 residents, 8,000 people are currently living with a TBI. BIAVT literature says that, statistically, falls and car accidents are the main causes of TBI, and TBI rates are higher for men than women. The group’s literature also states: “TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, and/or emotions,” and that direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity, totaled about $60 billion in 2000 in the U.S. As folk who live active lifestyles (that’s one of the reasons we live in Vermont, right?) and read this publication, we need to be aware of the risks that can cause brain injury. Helmets certainly help lessen the force of impact, but they don’t fully protect your head and brain—particularly when your brain slams back and forth against your skull after an impact. (A recent stufy by Consumer Reports found that helmets that use a Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) reduced rotational force up to 43 percent, but the study drew no conclusions about what that might mean for injury.) Our brain is well protected by the skull, which is about 6.5 to 7 mm thick. However, our bony armor works against us when we fall or suffer an impact to the head, as the soft brain tissue slams against

or bounces off the skull, causing bruising (as with concussions) or contusions or hematomas (severe bruising and bleeding with traumatic injuries) in closed-head cases, both of which effect how the brain operates, either momentarily or over longer terms. A concussion is a “mild” TBI, symptomatically. After “mild” next in the scale are moderate and severe. The common result of a blow to the head is you see stars or have dizziness, a headache, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a funny taste in your mouth or feel nauseous, and become tired or lethargic. You may have difficulty remembering or concentrating or holding thoughts; you may seem fuzzy. You might have difficulty sleeping, as the brain “percolates” to recover regular function. You may be unsteady, as a blow to the head can affect your semicircular canal and tip your ability to balance. Due to all of this, you also may get irritable and cranky: you just don’t feel right. A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke tells us, helpfully: “Anyone with signs of moderate or severe TBI should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Because little can be done to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma, medical personnel try to stabilize an individual with TBI and focus on preventing further injury. Primary concerns include insuring proper oxygen supply to the brain and the rest of the body, maintaining

adequate blood flow and controlling blood pressure. Imaging tests help in determining the diagnosis and prognosis of a TBI patient. Patients with mild to moderate injuries may receive skull and neck X-rays to check for bone fractures or spinal instability. For moderate to severe cases, the imaging test is a computed tomography (CT) scan." With more serious head injuries, you might have difficulty with your recent memory. You can remember distant events in your thought continuum (longterm memories); however, the new stuff is more challenging to grasp and impossible to recall. This may be amnesia, an interruption in how you record and store memory. The brain isn’t encoding what’s happening to you, in other words. The jostling of the brain has caused a disconnect in the memory process. Doctors described this to me as the brain “not laying down memory,” as I experienced it for weeks. In this state, as far you as you know, the recent past never happened and there is no yesterday or tomorrow. We hear more and more about brain injury related to players in the National Football League or soldiers in the Middle East injured by the concussive blasts of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but anybody can suffer an impact to the head and damage the brain. A report by the Vermont Department of Education cites emergency departments in the U.S., treating an estimated 173,285 persons 19 years old or younger for sportsand recreation-related TBI (including concussions); 70 percent of these were youth ages 10 to 19. When I coached soccer for a season at the high school where I worked, we had to take a class in recognizing and diagnosing concussions. Players suffering a concussion had to rest from practicing and playing for a game or longer. The Vermont Department of Education states that high-school coaches must be aware of the fact that: "The law expressly prohibits a coach from allowing a youth athlete to continue participating in a training session or competition associated with a school athletic team if the coach has reason to believe that the athlete has sustained a concussion or other head injury during the training or competition. A coach is not permitted to allow such an athlete to reenter training or competition until he or she has been examined by, and received written permission from, a licensed health care provider to resume such activities. " Do all you can to keep your brain—and those around you—healthy. —Joe Healy

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 23


A FORMER SKI RACER FROM STOWE, ELLE ANDERSON IS BATTLING HER WAY TOWARD THE TOP OF THE INTERNATIONAL CYCLOCROSS CIRCUIT AND OVERCOMING OBSTACLES ONE BY ONE. BY LISA LYNN 24 VTSPORTS.COM | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016


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hen the weather turns cold, trails collapse into mud and rain coagulates into wet snow cyclocross racers smile. This is their season to ride, run and shoulder their bikes through the obstacles, terrain and weather the rest of us spend our lives avoiding. “There’s always a little bit of pain and misery to cyclocross. It’s the fact that you are pushing yourself and fighting the elements that gives the sport its magic,” says Elle Anderson. She continues, almost gleefully, “I remember one race in Bend, Ore. It was 10 degrees and it had snowed two feet the day before. We raced on a course that was completely snowcovered and, in places, packed down so hard it was ice.” She pauses, then says as an afterthought, “I think I finished second.”

A former ski racer who grew up in Stowe and went to Burke Mountain Academy, Anderson is quickly emerging as one of the top cyclocross racers in America. In January, 2016, she placed fourth in the U.S. Nationals and went on, three weeks later, to take 14th in the Worlds in Belgium Then, in April, she finished second in the U.S. National Criterium Championships. This past summer, she placed third in Woodstock, Vt.'s Overland Grand Prix, a grueling 49-mile “adventure” ride on what can barely pass as trails, roads, pavé and singletrack. The year before, mountain bike legend Ned Overend placed sixth in that race. What is perhaps most remarkable is that Anderson, 28, is going it alone: when she’s not working at her part time job at Strava, she is her own manager, coach, logistics planner, PR and social media guru and bike mechanic. And she’s doing so based in a foreign country: the epicenter of cyclocross racing, Belgium. Cyclocross is to Belgians what soccer is to Brits: a national spectator sport. “I will always remember that first race in Belgium," she says. " It was in late December in 2011—one of the really classic World Cups, in Namur, on one of the most challenging courses. It was like jumping into the very deepest end of the pool, there were so many steep drops and sharp turns. It was muddy and technical and there were literally tens of thousands of fans. I was scared—not just because the course was really hard but because there were all these people watching/” Instead of letting that deter her, Anderson embraced the challenge and decided to base herself out of Belgium for the 2014-15 living with strange families and racing on her own. She moved in with a cyclocross booster, Victor Bruyndonx and his mother—the same people who had housed Amy Dombroski, a 26-year-old national team member from Jericho, Vt., who was struck and killed by a car while on a training ride in Belgium in October, 2013. Anderson didn’t know much about her hosts before she moved in. “I didn’t know these people and I had no context over the phone or email but it seemed like a great opportunity.” She had faith in the fact that Dombroski had lived there. “Amy was the only connection. I really did feel like I could continue something and bring a piece of her on my journey. We both went to Burke, I always looked up to her and felt like—I still feel like—I am following her.” Instead of receiving the support that he might have offered, Bruyndonx, 77, verbally abused her. One night he was especially belligerent and grabbed her by

When she's not on the race circuit or at her parent's home in Stowe, Anderson trains and works in San Francisco. Photo by B. De Jesuss

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 25


the arm. She locked herself in her room and then, when she could, fled. She found another host home but she was shaken and soon sank into depression. In mid-October, 2016, after a two-year investigation, Bruyndonx was arrested as a suspect in a global cocaine smuggling ring, according to a Belgian paper. "The arrest was a relief, and not a surprise," Anderson said. "I didn't know about any cocaine when I was at Victor's house but as soon as I moved out many people told me stories about it. I guess I suspected it but not when I was living there," she said. “When the shit went down, being all alone in a foreign country, not having anywhere to go, not having any sense of safety or anyone I could trust—my vulnerability was a result of the psychological game that he played,” she told Velo News’ editor Chris Case, who has written eloquently about her struggle. “It took me a lot of time to recover. It was a process that brought me to a really dark place. In the back of my mind I never did lose hope. I knew it was part of the process and I would get back to where I wanted to be. The hardest part was being patient. For three months I forced myself to ride my bike and I hated it, but I forced myself to.”

At home in Stowe, top, Anderson takes a practice lap around the 'cross track she built in her parent's backyard. "Everytime I come back to Vermont I wonder why I ever left," she says. Photos courtesy Andesrson.

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t was not the first time Anderson faced a setback. Growing up in Stowe, the daughter of Lyndall Heyer, a former World Cup racer and three-time Junior National Champion and Scott Dorwart, also a ski racer and a former member of the U.S.

26 VTSPORTS.COM | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016

Cycling Team, Anderson (her last name is from her grandmother) seemed predestined to stand on podiums. She grew up at the Ski Inn, the B&B her parents owned near Mt. Mansfield helping her parents change the sheets between

guests and listening to the race stories they told at night. “When I think back it was my choice to be a ski racer and my parents never pressured me. But growing up at the Inn where all of Mom’s trophies were displayed influenced me. I looked up to my Mom so much and wanted to be like her. “ Anderson spent six years at Burke Mountain Academy training to be a downhill racer but was sidelined when she blew out her ACL. She spent her senior year in rehab for the ACL, only to have it blow out again at the national championships. “It was a one-two punch,” she recalls, “I felt betrayed by the sport in a figurative sense.” She was seven months out of surgery and only 80 percent of her way through rehab when she enrolled at Dartmouth. She had been riding her bike for rehab and by sophomore year, decided to put away the race skis and start riding in earnest. By her senior year, she had joined a cyclocross team out of Boston and in 2012 made it all the way to nationals. At that point, Anderson says, “I said to heck with road racing I am going to be a cyclocross racer.” Anderson’s rise was meteoric, “That first nationals I believe I was lapped by Katie Compton and I only got to race for 20 minutes before I got pulled by the officials,”


she says. But a year later she earned 12th place in the nationals and, in 2014, finished second.

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fter leaving Belgium at the end of the 2015 winter season, Anderson returned to her part-time job as a community manager for Strava, the software company in San Francisco where she’s been employed for the past five years. “They’ve offered me more and more flexibility as I improve my racing. They come to the table rooting for me. As a company and a culture they want to see me succeed and encompass the brand identity. It’s a great position to be in and they are excited for what I am doing.” She had been riding through the emotional pain, trying to stay on her game and working with a therapist on her depression. “As athletes, we are so driven and so hard on ourselves. It’s what pushes us to compete and succeed, it’s the driver,” Anderson says of her struggle. “You can’t turn it off, but it can hurt you too. It was driving me down instead of driving me up,” she says. "When I stopped ski racing it took me six months to forgive myself for turning my back on ski racing.”

Racing through mud in Belgium (top), Anderson is cheered on by throngs of spectators. Back in Stowe, (above) she sports her new signature kit from sponsor, Velocio. Photos courtesy Anderson, Velocio Then came the breakthrough. “There was a moment late last summer when I finally gave myself permission to put the bike aside for however long it would take.” And that was what it took. “I realized I had to let go and let my body heal. The turning point was letting go and forgiving myself and being compassionate to myself.”

It took 6 weeks. “And all of a sudden I decided if I keep riding my bike someday it will feel normal again.” “Normal” is back now and Anderson is back traveling nearly every other week, competing in 40 to 50 races across the U.S., Belgium and around Europe. So far, her finishes keep creeping

upwards. In October she finished 3rd at the Kermiscross in Ardooie, Belgium, 13th at the World Cup and then 6th two days later at the Grand Prix Blueprint Woerden, both in the Netherlands. Anderson is based out of Belgium, once again, but this time with her boyfriend, a Belgian pro surfer. Most importantly, her passion is back. “I’m really excited,” she says. “Thinking about my journey from an outside perspective I could completely understand if I hadn’t gone back. Yet by some miracle, I still have that dream of competing in Europe. It’s like if you’re a ski racer and you didn’t go to Austria and ski race. Europe is the final frontier, the pinnacle and heartland of cyclocross and to be anywhere else would be less satisfying.” She’s also coming into this season with a new perspective. “To be able to compete in a sport is such a privilege and it never really lasts for as long as we want it to last: It’s a gift for a short precious time. What happened last summer allowed me to dig even deeper, to gain that perspective and to be grateful for everywhere I’ve been.” You can follow Elle Anderson’s racing at www.elleanderson.us or on her page on Facebook.

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 27


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able to do it but I’d need to do another 100mile or 100K race this season and I may not be able to find one until next year.

FEATURED ATHLETE

VS: You talked about endurance sports as a lifestyle. Can you explain that? RK: We originated as hunter gatherers. It’s in our DNA. To move, breathe and travel cross country on our own combustion is the greatest gift we have and brings us happiness. That is when we are nearest to our spirit. We don’t need to hunt animals these days but we’re always hunting something and endurance sports teach us perseverance. There will be highs and lows and we need to keep running right through them.

THE ENDURANCE COACH Name: Ryan Kerrigan Age: 31 Lives in: Stowe Occupation: Nordic skiing and running coach at the Outdoor Center at Trapp Family Lodge Primary sports: Trail running and Nordic skiing

Kerrigan ran a 125K trail race in Quebec this fall.

Photo courtesy Ryan Kerrigan

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yan Kerrigan jokes that he never had a choice not to ski since his father brought him along to Harwood Union High School ski practices. Now, Kerrigan shares his love of skiing with other kids (and adults) as one of the founders and coaches of Stowe’s VTXC program. VS: How did you get to be such a strong Nordic ski racer? RK: I started ski racing as soon as I could walk because my dad was the coach at Harwood Union High School and it was cheaper to put me on the bus with him than hire a babysitter. I would say my best racing experience growing up was during my time at Green Mountain Valley School when we traveled to Europe to race German and Italian junior national champs. At the time the European clubs seemed so much stronger than the U.S. ones, as if there was something in the water. It was encouraging to get shoulder to shoulder with some of the best in the world and realize that they ski, breathe and bleed just as I do. There was no magic; just a healthy, active lifestyle. VS: Do you still race? RK: I’m still racing but these days I do more trail running than skiing. Winters are becoming less and less about me and more about the athletes I work with. VS: What is the most beautiful place you’ve travelled to for ski racing? RK: I traveled to Norway two winters ago to witness the Birkebeiner race. I didn’t race but just watching it was amazing. [The Birkebeiner is a 54K ski race which started in 1932. It requires participants to carry a backpack weighing at least 3.5 kg. which symbolizes the weight of the infant who was carried to safety across the mountains in 1206 and later became the King of Norway]. I did do the Engadin Ski Marathon in Switzerland which is in the St. Moritz area. It’s a 30K skate and the scenery was really amazing.

VS: When did you get serious about trail running? RK: I ran competitively in middle and high school until I went to GMVS and the focus became more on cross-country skiing, but running was always part of my soul. In the past there weren’t that many trail races in the area that excited me. Now there are these really cool, long events in spectacular areas. Now I know what it’s like to run for 22 hours. VS: What Ultra races are you doing? RK: This fall I ran the Vermont 50 for the first time. There were moments of hatred but I definitely enjoyed it and I earned the belt buckle for finishing in less than 24 hours. I just got back from Nova Scotia where I ran the Harricana which is a 125K point-topoint through the boreal forests of Quebec. It was spectacular. We started at 2 a.m. and we summited the highest mountain around 5:30 or 6 a.m. just as the sun broke a deep crimson red. I’ve never seen a red like that before. My goal is to do the Ultra Tour of Mont Blanc. I’m one point away from being

VS: What kind of work do you do at Trapp Family Lodge? RK: I work at the Outdoor Center and do trail building and maintenance of both the single track mountain bike trails and the wider ski trails. I organize events like the Trapp Mountain Marathon. I also work with the equipment retail and rentals. VS: Tell us about the Green Mountain Sherpas. RK: That’s something I do with my father. We call it Trails to Ales. We do very casual guided tours involving backcountry skiing, snowshoeing or hiking and ending with a brewery tour at the von Trapp Brewery or the Alchemist. Right now we only work in the Stowe area but my dad would like us to expand to Sugarbush. VS: How did you and Robyn Anderson come to start VTXC? RK: When I was a junior racer there weren’t many training opportunities other than high school teams or racing academies. We founded VTXC in 2009 to create an opportunity for high school kids to get together to train for their fall sports. It was a program that worked off the backbone

of the existing high school programs. We started small with eight kids. The running portion has grown steadily every year but the Nordic skiing has not. What has changed is we’ve added a masters program and that is growing, but on the Nordic front, people don’t run out to join skiing programs until it starts to snow. VS: Why did you add a masters component? RK: We wanted a broader sense of community. People thought we were running an elite training program but we’re not. There is a performance spin to it but not everyone is training for races. I work with 40 to 50 masters over the course of a winter and half of them are doing it with a race in mind but the others just want to be more comfortable on skis and have a community of people to ski with. VS: How tough was last winter for training? RK: It was challenging and it was emotionally very draining to keep people motivated throughout the season. I’m optimistic about this year. Sugarbush just put out a report that showed that the winters that come after bad winters are statistically better than average. VS: Are there any up and coming stars in the VTXC program? RK: It’s very difficult to tell. The great thing about endurance sports is that they are lifelong activities. Training and performance running or skiing—like life — isn’t a linear progression. You have ups and downs. As a coach it can be very difficult to tell who will succeed. There are some kids who are destined to do great things but you never really know because kids are full of surprises. I work with kids who want to run and ski fast and we hope to be able to provide that training, but the main goal is to teach endurance sports as a lifestyle. —Phyl Newbeck

RYAN KERRIGAN’S PRO TIPS FOR NORDIC SKIERS BUILD YOUR CORE. Do 10- to 20-minute core workouts including planks, crunches and leg lifts. Your core is integral to your balance on skis. TRY SPENST TRAINING. This consists of powerful jumps which mimic classic or skating technique. The goal is to generate power with each step. Make sure you warm up thoroughly before attempting this and then do three sets of 10 to 20 steps with plenty of rest in between. DITCH THE POLES. Practice skiing without your poles. This will help improve your ability to transfer your weight from ski to ski. PAIR UP. Find a buddy or a club to keep you on track. Winter can be challenging with limited daylight and cold temps and it’s easy to find excuses not to go out. Set a date to work out together and stick to it. UPGRADE YOUR GEAR. Inventory, clean up and upgrade your ski gear. If you’re investing in your health and fitness, you should invest in equipment as well. Otherwise you’re like a flashy sports car with bald tires.  Pairing up with a pal makes training more fun. Photo courtesy USSA.

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 29


FEATURED ATHLETE

THE LITTLEST LUGER Name: Grace Weinberg Age: 17 Hometown: Pittsfield, Vt. Family: Father, Andy; Mother, Sloan; Sister, Jade Sports: Luge, swimming, field hockey, soccer.

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race Weinberg discovered the fastest sport on ice by accident at age 11. Since then, she has made the Junior National team, recorded top finishes in World Cup races and earned a silver in the 2016 Junior World Championship Relay. Weinberg grew up in Pittsfield with a family of athletes. Her father, Andy Weinberg, helped grow the Spartan and Death Races and is the founder of the Endurance Society. Her mother is a former competitive cheerleader. Her younger sister Jade runs on the Rutland High School cross country team. To accommodate her training and traveling, Weinberg completed her high school at the Killington Mountain School in Killington, Vt. After graduating from the KMS a year early this past June, she’s focusing on luge while living and training at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid. VS: How did you get into luge? GW: I first got started in luge in 2010 in a slider search, which is how most of the people in the sport get exposed to it. It’s a program that goes around America in a U-Haul trailer with a concrete ramp on the back. In the summer the coaches ride to big cities and they let kids between the ages of 11 and 13 try it. If they see that you have potential, they invite you back to Lake Placid, N.Y. to the Olympic Training Center and you get to try it on ice for the first time. I was actually in Plattsburgh on a family vacation and we went to the bobsled ride in Lake Placid. They were closed and the guy working there said they were having slider search tryouts in Plattsburgh. We had to YouTube it the night before in our hotel room. I wasn’t even sure it was a tryout, but I had that adrenaline rush. VS: Is it easier or harder to learn the sport when you are that young? GW: When I tried out in Plattsburgh, N.Y. I was 11, which is the lower end of the spectrum. Most kids are 13. It was a pretty big advantage for me because when you’re young and your body hasn’t developed, it’s

At 17, Pittsfield's Grace Weinberg is among the top six in the nation in the fastest sport on ice.

Photo courtesy Grace Weinberg

easier to learn because you can grow into the sled. It’s an experience-based sport, so the more experience you have the better. VS: What is it about luge that speaks to you? Why do you love this sport? Luge is like nothing else I’ve done. We lugers say that by the end of the season it’s really hard to give us an adrenaline rush. At the top of the track, sitting at the handles, I get these butterflies in my stomach. At the bottom of the track, I’m out of breath and it’s because of that pumping adrenaline. It’s almost like a roller coaster, but there’s no brake and it’s exhilarating. VS: How fast are you traveling? GW: The fastest speed I’ve ever gone was 82.4 miles per hour and that was in Whistler, Canada. You have to be very focused in luge and it’s easy to let your adrenaline and nerves get the best of you. That’s why it takes a lot of experience to get used to that. In my mental preparation for the race, I visualize the track. I picture it in a way that I can see the curves and where I need to steer. I actually don’t think about the line, I think about keeping my shoulders back on the sled and absorbing the bumps. I try to clear my mind, but there’s an incredible amount of focus required. It’s not just laying down on the sled and hoping you make it. VS: How do you handle the risks associated with the sport? GW: There are definitely risks and luge is the fastest sport on ice: you can’t just put anyone on the sled. We take a lot of risks and with that comes a lot of focus, mental preparation and understanding the track. We walk the track and watch people slide on the ice before our runs. It takes a lot of skill and preparation to drive a sled properly. We’ve all had bad crashes and we’ve all hit walls. I hit a wall

30 VTSPORTS.COM | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016

yesterday. You live and you learn. VS:. What kind training do you do at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid? GW: I’ve been living at the Olympic Training Center fulltime since June. I’m one of only three junior athletes living here so I’ve been training with the senior national team. In the summertime we focus on training our fast-twitch muscles and training our bodies to be very explosive because one of the most important things about our sport is being very strong and fast at the start. The start is between three and six seconds long but a little time at the top might cost you a lot of time at the bottom Luckily, in Lake Placid we have an indoor start facility. It’s refrigerated all year and has three different start ramps to practice on. We also do a lot of power lifting, along with neck and core exercises. I like to think I started using my fast-twitch muscles in competitive swimming and then brought them to luge start handles. VS: What kinds of insight or tips have more senior members of the national team been able to give you? GW: Some of the top athletes have 10 to 15 years of experience so they offer a lot of good insights. I was a little intimidated moving in this summer, knowing that I would have to train alongside them. These are my future competitors, but they offer such good advice and they don’t treat us like junior athletes. They also give us a lot of help with things like living away from our parents for the first time. They’re inspiring and they let us know that they’re there for us. VS: You just got back from Norway. How was that? GW: Just a couple weeks ago, our coaches asked us if we would like to take a preseason training trip with the rest of the team to Norway. That was my first time going anywhere with the senior national

team and it was a great honor to be with their coaches and be in that atmosphere of a higher level of training and racing. We were in Lillehammer, which is where the 1994 Winter Olympic Games were held. This is a preseason trip that a lot of athletes take because the ice is known for being really quick and smooth at the start. We hadn’t been on ice since March. Luckily, the conditions were great and we were able to post record times on the track. All the tracks are different lengths and heights, but the Lillehammer track has the steepest women’s start. The first timing guide is three yards down the ramp and the next timing eye is going into the first curve Our hard work shows at the start and that’s the only part where you have control of your speed and you can accelerate yourself. The highlight was competing in the Lillehammer Cup in early October. There were only a handful of teams there from USA, Austria, Italy and Poland and we were missing the really dominant teams like Germany, Russia and Latvia. But we were able to get back to that racing atmosphere and my high point was posting the fastest start time in the race. That was exciting because that’s what I’ve been working on all summer. VS: What are some of your goals for the coming season? GW: This will hopefully be my last year as a junior. The program technically goes until you’re 20 years old, but my goal is to start being with the seniors at least part time by the next season. This season I’m hoping to get some topthree finishes in my World Cup races which start late October. My best finishes were tenth place last year. I’m trying to get some personal bests and beat all my times from last season. I’m feeling stronger, mentally more prepared and ready to take it on. VS: Are you thinking about the Olympics? GW: Absolutely. I’m trying to prepare myself for the 2018 games. They’re within my reach. I’m in the top six in the nation and they take the top three. Anything could happen in the next year. If I don’t qualify for South Korea, I’ll only be 20 and in that case I’ll go for the 2022 games. VS: The highest the U.S. has placed at the Olympics was in Sochi when Erin Hamilton won bronze. What do you think it will take for the U.S. to stand at the top of the podium? GW: The Americans are finally catching up with sled technology and we’re getting faster each year. We’ve shown that we have what it takes to make it to the podium and even the top. Anything can happen on a race day. — Evan Johnson


VERMONT

SPORTS

RACE & EVENT GUIDE

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IS FREE AND EASY. VISIT VTSPORTS.COM/ SUBMIT-AN-EVENT OR E-MAIL EDITOR@

VTSPORTS.COM. ALL AREA CODES ARE 802.

ALL LOCATIONS AREÅ IN VERMONT, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED. FEATURED EVENTS, IN YELLOW, PAY A NOMINAL FEE.

BIKING/CYCLING November 6 26th Annual West Hill Shop Cyclocross Race and 2016 Vermont State Championships, Putney, Vt. Cyclocross lovers tackle a challenging course over dirt and cornfields with one spirit-crushing hill for the title of Vermont Cyclocross Champion. Time divisions range from 30 to 45 minutes. www.westhillshop.com

RUNNING November 5 Fallen Leaves 5K Series, Montpelier, Vt. Low-key, three-race series on a flat and fast 5K race course that begins and finishes on the Montpelier High School track and incorporates the Montpelier bike path. Event repeats Nov. 12, 19 Contact: Tim Noonan, 802 223-6216. 6 Field House Half Marathon, Shelburne, Vt. RaceVermont hosts a half marathon, 10K and 5K races with a superhero theme. Donations from entrance fees will benefit the LeRoyer Employee Emergency Assistance Program at the University of Vermont Medical Center. www.racevermont.com

20 Santa Hustle 5K & Half Marathon, Newport, R.I. Santa Claus is comin’ to the Santa Hustle Rhode Island 5K & half marathon. Put on a Santa suit and see Newport like never before as thousands of Santas race along the streets and the oceanfront path. Jingle all the way through the course with candy and cookies, festive music, creative Christmas images and more. www.santahustle.com

24 Running of the Turkeys, Arlington, Vt. A scenic Thanksgiving 5K starts and ends in Arlington village at the Fisher Elementary School. www.bkvr.net

19 Westford Turkey Trot, Westford, Vt. Westford Elementary School hosts a 10K run, 3K walk/ run and a free 100 yd Tot Trot. Registration is $12 in advance and $15 the day of the race. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the racing begins at 10 a.m. All proceeds benefit Westford’s children and families. www. westfordturkeytrot.wordpress.com

24 Killington 5K Turkey Trot, Killington, Vt. The town of Killington hosts a 5K run/walk benefitting local charities. www.killingtonturkeytrot.com

20 Middlebury Turkey Trot & Gobble Wobble 5K and 10K, Middlebury, Vt. These races start in downtown Middlebury and feature chip timing, t-shirts for all entrants, raffle prizes and 20-pound turkeys for the winners. www.middleburyfitness.com 24 GMAA Turkey Trot, Burlington, Vt. A certified 5K on the UVM women’s cross country course. Walkers are welcome in this race benefiting the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. Race starts at 11 a.m. at the Gutterson Field House at the University of Vermont. www. gmaa.net 24 Goggle Wobble Turkey Trot, Websterville, Vt. 14th Annual Thanksgiving morning 5K Run/Walk race. Prizes for top two winners and first place runners in age categories. Sponsored by the Barre Congregational Church. http://bccgobblewobble2014.eventbrite.com 24 Annual Gobble Gobble Wobble 5K, Stratton, Vt. Stratton Resort hosts a Thanksgiving 5K around the base area. www.stratton.com

24 Jarred Williams Turkey Trot, Richmond, Vt. A 5K and 10K run starting at the Round Church in Richmond benefits the Jarred Williams Foundation. www. runsignup.com

25 Turkey Hangover Climb, Mount Snow Runners work off their Thanksgiving Dinners with a running race to the top of the Yard Sale trail. There will be prizes for the top finishers as well as the best costumes. The event is free. www.mountsnow.com

December 3 Newport Santa Run, Newport, Vt. Santas take to the bike paths in this 5K fun run organized by Kingdom Games. www.kingdomgames.co 4 Santa Hustle Maine 5K and Half Marathon, South Portland, Maine Santa Claus is comin’ to the Santa Hustle Maine 5K and Half Marathon presented by Bon-Ton. See South Portland, Maine like never before as thousands of Santas race along the streets. Jingle all the way through the course with candy and cookies, festive music, creative Christmas images, and more. www.santahustle.com 31 Central Vermont Runners’ New Year’s Eve Run, Montpelier, Vt. A 5K road race on rolling terrain though the state capital. Affordable, fun prizes, fast course, family friendly, walkers welcome. centralvermontrunners.org

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NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 31


SKIING (ALPINE and NORDIC) November

10 Telemark Primer at Bromley, Peru, Vt. A day of clinics for new to advanced telemark skiers taught by PSIA/NATO trained coaches. www.bromley.com

12 Catamount Trail Association Annual Meeting, Killington, Vt. Fans of Vermont’s Catamount Trail gather at Killington Grand Resort Hotel for an annual meeting, documentary screening, socializing and skiing. www.catamounttrail.org

10 Mad River Glen’s Ski Season Launch Party, Fayston, Vt. Mad River Glen launches into the 2016-2017 winter with a visit from Santa and live music from The Grift in General Stark’s Pub. www.madriverglen.com

19 The Big Kicker, Waitsfield, Vt. Mad River Glen and Sugarbush start the ski season at American Flatbread in Waitsfield with a freestyle party, rail jams, ski movies and more.. www.sugarbush.com

10 December Demo at Okemo, Ludlow, Vt. Test drive the latest equipment from top brands for free at the Solitude base area. www.okemo.com

22 Loaded Turkey Rail Jam, Killington, Vt. Killington starts its park season with a rail jam contest that awards a frozen turkey plus Thanksgiving fixings to the winners. First place competitors also get free entry into Killington’s Rails 2 Riches. www.killington.com 26 Craftsbury Opener, Craftsbury, Vt. The Craftsbury Outdoor Center kicks off their winter season with a tune-up race on a loop with manmade snow. Distances include 5 and 10K. www.craftsbury.com 26 Audi FIS World Cup, Killington, Vt. Racing stars Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsay Vonn take to the Superstar Trail in this FIS event. O.A.R. plays and ski films are shown at the Snowshed lodge. www.killington.com

December 3 Sugarbash, Sugarbush, Vt. Celebrate Sugarbush’s birthday with a party at the Gate House Lodge including drinks, appetizers and plenty of dancing. www.sugarbush.com 4 Cares and Shares Food Drive Day at Okemo, Ludlow, Vt. Donate at least five non-perishable food items, a new child’s toy, new clothing item, or $20 cash and receive a coupon for a $39 lift ticket good on this day. www.okemo.com 10 Demo Day at Mount Snow, West Dover, Vt. Skiers and riders test out the latest gear at this annual event. www.mountsnow.com

17 - 18 Eastern Cup Opener, Craftsbury, Vt. The Craftsbury Outdoor Center hosts a two-day race weekend with 5 and 10K races on Saturday, followed by a pursuit race on Sunday based on Saturday’s finishing times. www.craftsbury.com 17 Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge at Okemo, Ludlow, Vt. Okemo’s Bull Run trail is host to a free recreational slalom race series open to all ability levels. www.okemo.com 17 Opening Day at Magic Mountain, Londonderry, Vt. Magic returns for the 2016-2017 winter in time for the holidays. www.magicmtn.com 17 6th Annual Mount Snow Film Festival, West Dover, Vt. Ski movie buffs catch the latest releases and participate in a free raffle. www.mountsnow.com 17 Anniversary Day At Mont Sutton, Quebec, Canada On this special day, get your day lift ticket for $5, at yesteryear’s price. The traditional birthday cake will be served around 1 p.m. at the main chalet. Happy Birthday Mont Sutton! www.montsutton.com 27 Grommet Jam #1, West Dover, Vt. The youngest skiers and riders get a chance to try their best tricks at this competition for ages 12 and under. www. mountsnow.com

SKI SWAPS Nov. 5: Cochran’s Ski Sale Equipment drop-off: Nov. 4 from 6–8:30 p.m. at Camel’s Hump School in Richmond, Vt. Sale hours: Nov. 5 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Nov. 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m." Nov. 11: Wilmington Rotary Winter Sports Sale Equipment drop-off: Nov. 11 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Twin Valley Elementary School. Sale hours: Nov. 12, 9. to 3 p.m. Nov. 12: Waitsfield PTA Ski & Skate Sale Equipment drop-off: Nov. 11 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Waitsfield Elementary School. Sale hours: Nov. 12 , 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Nov. 13 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 12, 13, 16: Okemo Mountain School Ski and Snowboard Swap Equipment drop-off: Nov. 12, 13 and 16 from 10-3 p.m. in the Sitting Bull bar. Sale hours: In the Clock Tower Base Lodge Nov. 18 from 4-7 p.m.; Nov. 19. 9-5 p.m.; and Nov. 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 21: Cambridge Rotary Ski Swap & Sale Equipment drop-off: At the Cambridge Elementary School on Nov. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. Sale hours: Nov. 21 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Nov. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 3: Northeast Slopes Ski Swap Equipment drop-off: At the Northeast Slopes Ski Area all day. Sale hours: Dec. 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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ENDGAME

T

he gun went off signifying the start of the five-mile road race. It was last Mother’s Day weekend, 2016, and for a moment, I could not move. A pain in my back, more devastating than anything I had ever felt, held me back but I pushed past it. As a breast cancer survivor and worldclass triathlete with a slot to the 2016 AgeGroup ITU World Triathlon Championships in Cozumel, Mexico, I was used to pain. Nothing was going to stop me. Everyone shot past me; including my husband of 25 years. My body wasn’t cooperating. I wasn’t used to being in last place. Still, quitting wasn’t an option. I’d overcome “insurmountable challenges” numerous times in my life through sheer determination. I would finish no matter what. My pace slowed until eventually I could only walk. Each step was excruciatingly painful, but I put on a happy face, telling everyone I was fine. After beating breast cancer and then rising to the top in triathlon competition, even breaking a world record, I’d become the “overcomer.” And my book about that experience, Just Three Words, had recently been published and was healing and inspiring thousands. How could I admit something was wrong, when so many people looked up to me? While walking the final miles of the Mother’s Day race, the heat was penetrating my skin. The water stands had been taken away and no one else was left on the course. Now, I worried I might collapse on the deserted country road. I could no longer hide the pain, fear and doubt. The storedup tears burst forth. I lifted up a desperate prayer to God, feeling defeated. Three and a half years of my life had been devoted to writing my book and becoming an inspirational speaker. I’d sacrificed everything: family, friends, training, me-time. And now my dreams were being realized. Just days before, I’d stood in a packed room as the keynote speaker at a prestigious luncheon. The standing ovation went on for minutes. I was living on purpose, healing thousands. I thought I’d made it. Another shooting pain nearly brought me to my knees. Why now? Why this? As I cringed, I heard a whisper telling me not to lose hope; that I had the heart of champion. It gave me the strength to make it to the finish line, where I collapsed. My husband took me straight to the emergency room. It was there, on Mother’s Day Weekend, that I was told I had a compound fracture in my L5 vertebrae, due to metastatic Stage-4 cancer in the bones of my spine and pelvis.

DARE TO WALK BOLDY

SHE BEAT CANCER ONCE AND CAME BACK AN EVEN BETTER TRIATHLETE. BUT THEN THIS HAPPENED… BY KAREN NEWMAN

Karen Newman made it to the World Triathlon Championship this September—and carried the U.S. flag. I didn’t cry then. It wasn’t until I left the hospital that I wailed, not for me, but for my children. The thought of having to tell them, having them go through this again with me, was gutting. Two days later, I gathered our three boys in my arms and told them. And then I told the world: in person, on Facebook, in my blog. No more hiding, shame, or lies. I’d spent too many years living in darkness, afraid to be vulnerable or seek help for my eating disorder. I had believed the lie that if I told anyone, I would lose everything. Cancer helped me courageously speak my truth, break free, be vulnerable. From that place of freedom, love poured in. It changed my life, giving me strength and courage to carry on. The response has helped me see that nothing is too great to conquer. Love wins.

As I looked at our boys, the warrior inside me arose. I told everyone that I was going to race at the age-group World Championships just four months away. The dream seemed impossible. But I had learned through my life that nothing is impossible. For two months, I could not put on my own pants or socks, could not sit. But I did not give up on my dream of competing or beating cancer. Miraculously after radiation, thousands of prayers, and thanks to my unabashed belief in my body’s ability to heal, there is now no sign of cancer in my spine and the tumors in my pelvis shrank significantly. On September 14th, tears flooded my eyes as I put on my uniform and made my way to the start of the Aquathon (run/swim/ run) in Cozumel, Mexico. My husband kissed me and was cheering loudly when the

“As I cringed, I heard a whisper telling me not to lose hope; that I had the heart of champion. It gave me the strength to make it to the finish line, where I collapsed. My husband took me straight to the emergency room.”

34 VTSPORTS.COM | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2016

gun went off. This time, there was no pain— only awe and joy. When the announcer said I placed fourth in the world in my age group, I raised my hands and thanked God. I had chased my impossible dream and caught it. Later that night, my teammates gave me the honor of carrying the U.S. flag in the Parade of Nations. I carried it high and victoriously. The next day I raced in the sprint triathlon on a mountain bike, smiling and knowing that dreams really do come true. The words you speak and believe are powerful. Don’t believe the negative ones. Instead, consciously cling to those that bring life, and gift encouragement freely. Cancer was the wake-up call I needed to live life differently. If you are facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge, do not give up. Adversity can be a blessing if we change our perspective and fully embrace the lessons, gifts and love that are so readily available for each of us. I now clearly see God’s mighty hand working everything, once again, for good. Nothing is impossible, and miracles abound. Dare to courageously believe that the best is yet to come.

Karen Newman lives in Charlotte, Vt. She is the author of Just Three Words, the story of her first battle of cancer, and a world-class age group triathlete, a topic she wrote about for Vermont Sports Jan./Feb. 2016 edition. To learn more about Karen or to order her book see thekarennewman.com/. If you wish to support her in her fight against cancer, visit www.gofundme.com/Karen-sVictory


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Vermont Sports, Nov./Dec. 2016  
Vermont Sports, Nov./Dec. 2016