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CLIMBING GYMS ON THE RISE | HOW TO SAVE YOUR ACL | NEW TAX BREAKS FOR TRAILS?

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New England’s Outdoor Magazine JAN./FEB. 2017

THE ATHLETES OF THE YEAR + FAT BIKE FESTIVALS!


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.

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NEW ENGLAND’S OUTDOOR MAGAZINE ON THE COVER: Sophie Caldwell of Peru, Vt. crests a hill at Quebec's World Cup in 2016. Photo by Reese Brown/USSA

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Angelo Lynn - publisher@vtsports.com

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Lisa Lynn - editor@vtsports.com

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Emma Cotton emmac@addisonindependent.com

DESIGN & PRODUCTION Shawn Braley

MEDICAL ADVISORY BOARD

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

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Brian Mohr, Phyl Newbeck

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Christy Lynn | (802) 388-4944 ads@vtsports.com

ADVERTISING SALES

The Kingdom Trails are calling all fat bikers with the Winterbike festival returning this March 4. Photo courtesy Kingdom Trails

Greg Meulemans | (802) 366-0689 greg@vtsports.com Jennifer Peterkin | (802) 388-4944 jenniferp@addisonindependent.com Michael Giorgio | (802) 388-4944 michaelg@addisonindependent.com Dave Honeywell | (802) 583-4653 dave_golfhouse@madriver.com

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EDITORIAL AND PRODUCTION OFFICE Vermont Sports | 58 Maple Street Middlebury, Vt. 05753 | 802-388-4944

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. Email lisar@addisonindependent.com

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5 The Start

11

A new study demonstrates the economic value of trails to our state. By Lisa Lynn

We try new grippy shoes, shades that fade in the shadows, face tape and solar-powered gloves.

7 Speak Up

12

Private Land, Public Good

A New Use for Current Use Is it time to compensate landowners who allow public recreation on their property? By Tim Tierney

8

Great Outdoors

Fat Times Around the state, new trails and new festivals are feeding Vermont's fat bike fervor.

Gear

Winter Beaters

Feature

Climbing on the Rise As indoor climbing becomes one of the nation's fastest-growing sports, Vermont's new rock gyms keep pace. By Emma Cotton

17

Feature

Athletes of the Year These 18 Vermonters put on some pretty amazing performances in

28

Health

How to Save Your Knees How do you prevent an ACL tear and what do you do if you can't? Dr. Ben Rosenberg and Dr. James Slauterbeck have the answers.

31

Calendar

Race & Event Guide

34 Endgame

Backcountry Breakfast Club Start your weekday with a little backcountry adventure. By Alex Showerman

2016.

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THE START

OF PRIVATE LAND AND PUBLIC GOOD "We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it—for a little while.”

ENJ

—Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

For the past six years, the town, the Sports Trails of the Ascutney Basin, the Trust for Public Land and others have worked hard to revitalize the land that was part of the MFW-owned ski resort that closed in 2010. They built trails, put in signs and, this season, launched a rope tow. The 104 acres were home to 5 miles of some of the best beginner trails for fat biking and mountain biking. Purjes noted, as reported by The Vermont Standard, that he would be open to renegotiating the lease if there was some tax incentive. At present, no such incentive exists at the state level. Vermont has a long history of private landowners graciously opening their property and trails to the public for mountain biking, hiking, snowmobiling, hunting and other outdoor recreation. The best example of this is, perhaps, the 100 miles of Kingdom Trails that crisscross the properties of 55 landowners in the Northeast Kingdom. In turn, mountain bikers alone contribute more than $6.5 million a year to the local economy. Is it time, as Kingdom Trails executive director Tim Tierney writes in "Speak Up," p. 7, for Vermont to give tax breaks for private land that’s kept open for recreation, the same way it does for logging or agriculture in the “Current Use” program? In support of that concept, Tierney cites the new study produced by a coalition of outdoor recreation partners, including the Catamount Trail Association, the Kingdom Trails, the Green Mountain Club

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and the Vermont All-Terrain Sportsman Association (VASA). The study showed that annually: n Trail users spend more than $9 million on lodging, food and beverages. n The trail systems help support 365 jobs. n The networks generate more than $2.2 million in tax revenues. n The total value to the state (as gauged by this limited study with out-of-state users of just four trail systems) is $30 million. This gives us just a tiny glimpse of the importance of trails and outdoor recreation to the Vermont economy. But is that reason enough to give private landowners a tax break if they open their property? If you consider that more than 80 percent of Vermont forestland is privately owned and thus vulnerable to land sales or the whims of a landowner, the answer might be “yes.” But, by the same token, if all landowners

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n December 16, Dan Purjes sent a letter to the town of West Windsor, Vt. that in 30 days his company, MFW, would be revoking use of 104 acres of land that have been key to the rebirth of Mount Ascutney’s trail system. It was a little like giving a kid coal for Christmas—or, more accurately, taking away last year’s gifts.

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who allowed a trail to cross their back 40 (or 20 or 10) were to get tax breaks, it could impact the state’s coffers and its ability to fund new trails, parks and other recreation. There’s no easy answer except to hope that Vermonters continue to maintain and respect the neighborly, open-borders ethic that has made recreation here what it is and helped build a strong community of athletes and outdoorsmen and women. That’s the Vermont way. As for Ascutney’s trails? “We knew this might happen, but it did take us by surprise,” said Michael Bell, STAB’s executive director. He also added: “We’re Vermonters. We’ll adapt." — Lisa Lynn, Editor

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 5


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SPEAK UP

A NEW USE FOR "CURRENT" USE

A NEW STUDY PUTS A VALUE ON OUTDOOR RECREATION IN VERMONT. IT MAY ALSO HELP MAKE A CASE FOR TAX BREAKS FOR LANDOWNERS WHO HOST TRAILS. The Kingdom Trails, a 100-mile network of trails that cross the land of more than 55 property owners, has been a proven case of the value a trail system can bring to an area. A 2014 study showed mountain bikers alone bring $6.5 million to the area annually. Photo by Herb

BY TIM TIERNEY

T

wo big things happened recently that could impact outdoor recreation. On December 8, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act, which will allow the U.S. Department of Commerce to appraise outdoor recreation’s overall impact to the gross domestic product (GDP). This act legitimizes the outdoor recreation economy. The official statistics will boost the protection, management and importance of public lands across the country. Vermont, long an outdoor playground for residents and visitors, is home to a myriad of recreational outlets, ranging from small, community-based trail systems to statewide systems. The Long Trail alone has been an accessible retreat for 105 years. But only a few studies have been conducted to demonstrate the economic impact of certain industries or recreation activities. Snowmobiling in particular has shown its importance to the state’s economy through these impact studies. On November 29, four organizations (The Green Mountain Club, Catamount Trail Association, Vermont ATV Sportsmen Association and Kingdom Trail Association) announced the results of an economic impact study done via a matching grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the coordination of the Vermont Trails and Greenways Council. The study was the first for most of these not-for-profit entities which maintain, manage and operate to provide recreational access. The overall economic impact brought by out-of-state visitors for Vermont’s economy totaled over $30 million. This controlled study, done with outof-state participants, brought to light accurate figures of spending habits, length of stay and services used. It has sparked interest in gathering more information and will be used as a springboard for a more

Swanson/Kingdom Trails

comprehensive study with all trail-based activities. This, in turn, can give us a more authentic picture of the true statewide impact. The subsequent investigation will also include a detailed account of intrastate spending, second home ownership, and industry retail sales. Already, the picture painted by our current study reveals that outdoor recreation is a solid leg of Vermont’s economy through job creation and destination development and is a revenue producer. The hope is that this data will also be a catalyst for a change in perception. If a forest treadway that’s built and maintained with good management practices generates dollars at a local, regional and state level, then one can say that this trail system is a viable forest or agricultural product, grown and nurtured by Vermonters, for Vermonters. Trails are woven into the fabric of the working landscape and the economic and health benefits just keep growing. The unique aspect is that many of these venues depend on the generosity of private landowners as well as on access to public land. Vermont has long known the value of its forest and farm land and first passed the use value appraisal program (Current Use) in 1978. Now, about a third of Vermont’s total land area is enrolled in Current Use.

The purpose of the law was to allow the valuation and taxation of farm and forest land based on it remaining in agricultural or forest use—instead taxing it based on its value in the market place. However, there is no current way to offer tax incentives to landowners in Vermont who host trails. Neighboring states Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine have Current Use programs that include recreation. Massachusetts’ Current Use programs were created to give preferential tax treatment to those landowners who maintain their property as open space for the purposes of "timber production, agriculture or recreation." Taxes for this program are calculated using 25 percent of the current assessed value. In New Hampshire, Current Use discounts may accrue if a landowner is willing to file a recreational easement permitting the public to come upon the land unimpeded for non-motorized recreation. Maine has several criteria for Current Use determination, including one for open space whereby a tract must be preserved or restricted in use to provide a public benefit. Benefits recognized include public recreation, scenic resources, game management and wildlife habitat. At present, Vermont has a statute protecting the landowner’s liability from

public use on his or her property. Recently, the state also made it more enticing to donate a permanent conservation easement. For many Vermont landowners it’s a tradition to share their land. For others, it’s a way to help the community and grow their local economy. Yet change of ownership, increased taxes and land use change always threaten this relationship. Easements are expensive and not always open or practical for trail placement. Hopefully, these studies will encourage discussion and consideration of ways to encourage increased stewardship and growth of managed outdoor recreational trails. A certain first step would be to create a simple means to offer a tax incentive for those who provide this public benefit and economic driver. It will be a small investment with a huge return. Tim Tierney is the executive director of the Kingdom Trails, a non-profit that maintains and promotes a network of more than 100 miles of trails on public and private land in the Northeast Kingdom.

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 7


Fat Times FAT BIKE FESTIVALS AND RACES ARE TAKING OFF AROUND THE STATE. PUT THESE ON YOUR WINTER “TO DO” LIST.

More than 25 miles of fresh-groomed trails await at Winterbike, which returns to the Kingdom Trails this March. Photo by Herb Swanson/Kingdom Trails

8 VTSPORTS.COM | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017


GREAT OUTDOORS

Y

ou might think the busiest weekends of the year at East Burke’s Wildflower Inn might be July 4 or Labor Day, not the dead of winter. Not so, says owner Jim O’Reilly. Two years ago, more than 400 people showed up at the trails just outside his doorstep to participate in the third annual Winterbike. The festival, started by Kingdom Trails and Mountain Bike Vermont, even drew a crowd last year—and that was after it had been officially cancelled due to lack of snow. This year, Winterbike is back on March 4 with group rides, demos, races, vendors,

bonfires, beverages and more. Riders can demo or rent a fat bike, buy a $15 trail pass at the winter headquarters (a yurt at 2059 Darling Hill Rd.) and head out on 25 miles of groomed singletrack, which now extends to the west side of Darling Hill. Winterbike isn’t the only fat tire festival. The fat tire year kicked off with Uberwintern, a fat bike festival in Stowe on Jan. 7. On Feb. 11, a new event, Fatscutney, debuts with a 10mile singletrack race, Nordic and snowshoeing events. The same day, Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton hosts the non-competitive Ripton RoundUp. On Feb. 26, The Stowe Derby, the classic ski race that sends people screaming down from the top of Mt. Mansfield on trails into the town of Stowe, will feature both skinny ski and fat bike divisions again this year. If you’re feeling studly, you can enter all three starts (skate, classic and fat bike start at separate times) to compete for the Fat Meister prize. Also on Feb. 26 is Fatstock. Brought to you by the same folks who put on the Overland Grand Prix, Fatstock bills itself as “a fat bike race in beautiful Woodstock, Vt. on a long, circuitous, epic course.” Anyone who knows race organizer Peter Vollers will take the “long, circuitous, epic” part seriously. For details on all of these, see our Race & Event Guide, p. 31.

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 9


[ MANSFIELD

O R T H O PA E D I C S

]

Get back to the trails you love. Welcome to the 21st century community hospital. Welcome to Copley. Don’t let chronic knee, hip, or shoulder pain keep you from hitting the trails you love. The experts at Mansfield Orthopaedics can help with state-of-theart treatments designed specifically for you. Match that with the warm, personalized care Copley is known for. Top medical care to help you get back to the activities you love. Our physicians: Nick Antell, MD; Brian Aros, MD; Bryan Huber, MD; John Macy, MD; Joseph McLaughlin, MD and Saul Trevino, MD. To make an appointment with a Mansfield Orthopaedic Specialist at Copley Hospital, call 802.888.8405

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10 VTSPORTS.COM | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017

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GEAR GURUS

WEATHER BEATERS

HERE’S THE GEAR YOU NEED TO BEAT WINTER AND KEEP THOSE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS. Anti-Freeze Face Tape

Julbe Aero Lite with Zebra Light lenses

Seirus SolarSphere Brink

Arctictalon 275

R

un a marathon. Lose 10 lbs. Exercise outdoors every day. Those are all great resolutions to make in early January. But come February when the mercury drops below 10 degrees and ice builds on the trails, those resolutions get harder to keep—unless you’re outfitted. Here are four products that can help you beat winter.

GRIPPY SHOES If you like running on dirt roads, but hate negotiating ice, you are going to love Arctictalon 275 ($130) from Inov-8. These shoes do for running what studded tires do for snow biking: give you incredible grip and control, not to mention the peace of mind of knowing you’re not going to slide down that icy incline on your butt. This is a shoe local athletes swear by and one of the best studded running shoes we’ve seen. The sole has tiny tungsten carbide spikes

embedded in 7 mm lugs that provide traction on the most uneven surfaces. The Protec Shank is aligned with the spikes, protecting the center of your foot yet letting the shoe flex. Best, there are small gaiter hooks. With all these features the shoe still weighs in at a mere 275g / 9.625oz.

FACE SAVERS Sunscreen protects you from the sun but what do you do to protect your face against frostbite? Studies show that putting petroleum jelly or other products on your face is not only ineffective but can make the situation worse by providing a false sense of security. Anti-Freeze Face Tape ($4.95) won’t warm your face, but it does protect against the wind that whisks heat from your face and can lead to frostbite. Each packet comes with three patches pre-cut to fit your nose

and cheeks, plus a fourth you can modify on your own. More and more Nordic skiers and runners are starting to use face tape so if you see someone running with patches of blue (or pink or tan), don’t think it’s Halloween. Another way to warm up your nose? Run or ski harder: a 2006 study showed that nose skin temperature rose from 49 degrees F at rest to 65 degrees F during exercise.

also have an anti-fog coating, are shatterproof and highly scratch-resistant. The lenses are used in several models. We like the 32-gram Aero Lite frames ($190 with the Zebra Light lenses, $130 with regular polycarbonate lenses) for its snug, aero fit (designed for smaller faces) and huge field of vision. People with larger heads may prefer the slightly wider Ventura RX 470 model with beefier frames.

RESPONSIVE GLASSES One of the challenges of running or Nordic skiing in Vermont is that you are often coming in and out of the woods into snowfields so bright your eyes hurt. Julbo has solved the dilemma of what glasses to wear with the Zebra Light lenses. Activated by UV rays, the lenses transition from light (basically clear) to dark (the category 3 tint that’s common for sunglasses) in about 25 seconds, regardless of temperature. We tested them (see vtsports. com for our short video) and they work. They

SOLAR-CHARGED GLOVES Seirus has a new glove that uses the energy of the sun to increase warmth by 10 percent. The

Seirus

SolarSphere

Brink

Glove

($49.99) is made from synthetic insulation and a fabric that absorbs the sun's IR rays. Waterproof and remarkably affordable, the gloves have the added benefit of being super light and have a touchscreen compatible thumb and forefinger.

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 11


At MetroRock in Essex, kids climb the walls—or at least the boulders. Photo courtesy of MetroRock Station.

12 VTSPORTS.COM | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017

THE F O E ON S E M O HE T C E N B I S G BIN ORT P M I S L C G N S A ING WI P O E R E K G T IS OOR D FASTES Y, VERMONT N I NEW R F T O N U W E TON CO L T S O C A A ITH E MM W Y E B C . A S P YM G G N I CLIMB


T

hree hundred feet above the ground, Burlington’s legendary climber Peter Kamitses presses his fingertips into a crack on a sheer cliff face. His heavy breath breaks the air’s silence, and his helmet bobs as he looks up and down, examining the rock. The toe of his black climbing shoe taps the cliff in a wide arc, searching for any nub to support him as he pushes upwards. No luck. His arms begin to tremble. His breath gets louder. The entirety of his body weight is held up by his right foot, pressed with friction’s grip against the almost featureless crag. “I’m out,” he calls to his climbing partner, who is standing over a hundred feet below. His right toe skids. Kamitses’s body slips from the wall and he falls, down, down, three long seconds down. Halfway to the ledge, his rope—a ridiculously fraillooking lifeline—snatches him upwards. He screams as his feet bounce off the rock. He dangles for a moment, then screams again— this time in ecstasy. He is safe, having lost only distance and the progress it represents. (The entire moment is captured in a video; see vtsports.com for a link.) Most climbers who have visited this site, Moss Cliff in the Adirondacks, were aid climbers. For over a decade, Kamitses has been free climbing this face. He uses only his body strength, unsupported, to ascend the routes, but is protected by a rope that’s anchored down the cliff. For the past few years, he’s been working to establish a new route that no one has ever climbed before. When he’s done, it will likely be rated a 5.14b—the hardest ascended climb in the Adirondacks. He’s calling it “The Lifeline.” “If you ask any climber, ‘what’s the beta?’ you’re asking them, ‘how do you do the route?’” he says. “The process of refining beta—that’s addicting for me.” Kamitses fell in love with climbing in the 1990s while on a pre-college trip to Australia with a friend whose father had scaled the big walls of Yosemite. Later, while studying at University of Vermont, he began climbing New England’s rock faces, where he has had many of his most memorable learning experiences. Now, he’s well-known for being the first to ascend some of the most difficult climbs in the Northeast, including Oppositional Defiance Disorder, a 5.14 in the Adirondacks, and Vermont’s two hardest climbs: The Hardway, a 5.14a, and Stoning the Fascist, a 5.14b, both at Marshfield Ledge. Summer will find him climbing around New England, but at this time of year, your best chance to catch him in action is at one of Vermont’s growing number of climbing gyms, including Burlington’s newest gym, MetroRock Station, where he is a co-owner.

SCALING NEW HEIGHTS When Kamitses first started seeing walls as recreational playthings, outdoor climbing was a sport reserved for the extreme

PetraCliffs' 14-foot-tall bouldering stations hold 64 boulder problems that range from a V0 to v10+. Photo courtesy of PetraCliffs.

athlete, and indoor climbing gyms were far less popular. Gyms allowed outdoor core climbers to keep their fingers chalky in the off-season. Otherwise, they were kids’ birthday party venues, visited only occasionally by athletes looking to get fit. Now, rock climbing is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. Close to 4.6 million Americans climbed in 2015, according to a report by the Physical Activity Council. Popularitywise, it’s overtaken traditional sports like gymnastics and track. And while the sport collected fewer than 20,000 newcomers between 2007 and 2014, from 2014 to 2015 it grew by a whopping 148,287, accruing

130,000 more climbers in a single year than it had in the previous seven. Climbing gyms have been a big part of that growth. And Vermont, among the healthiest states in America, is no exception. Three climbing gyms—PetraCliffs in Burlington, and Green Mountain Rock Climbing Centers in Rutland and Quechee— have hosted Vermont’s climbers long before the sport was trendy, and some for over a decade. While the veteran gyms are still going strong, new facilities are cropping up around the state, proof that Vermont’s climbing community is on the rise. MetroRock, part of a chain of gyms

connected to their main hub in Boston, opened in August of 2014, at the height of the popularity explosion. After working as PetraCliffs’s route setter and traveling to set routes in different gyms across the Northeast, Kamitses spearheaded the decision to open the new gym with a push from MetroRock owner Pat Enright. He felt that Burlington’s growing cadre of climbers was stunted by the existence of only one local gym. “It was a no-brainer. Someone should have done it a decade ago,” Katmitses said. “And the owners of PetraCliffs, Steve and Andrea Charest, they’re still doing great. So there was room for a bigger gym, as well as the other gym to still exist. Friends of mine, a lot of them, climb at both gyms, and one of the route setters for me sets there as well. So there’s plenty of room.” Several Vermont ski resorts have installed climbing facilities, as well. This past summer, Stowe opened an indoor climbing center called Stowe Rocks as part of the Spruce Peak Adventure Center. It features a bouldering area and 16 top-ropes, each with three to four routes, which vary in difficulty. Smuggler’s Notch is finishing up a 26,000 square foot Fun Zone, which will be home to a double-sided 30-foot climbing wall. You can find smaller rock walls in hidden corners all around the state—for example, Sugarbush Resort is home to a wall, which is part of the Sugarbush Health and Racquet Club, and The Edge, a fitness center in Williston, has a rock wall that is free to use for gym members. In the coming year, a group of climbers plans to open a bouldering gym called the BrattCave in Brattleboro. The gym will be housed in the Cotton Mill, a large brick building that houses over 60 artisans and small businesses—including the New England Center for Circus Arts. Though Tom Mizrahi, an organizer, says there isn’t a huge climbing community in Brattleboro yet, he hopes the gym well get potential climbers excited. The group is looking to raise at least $10,000 through crowdfunding before the gym can become a reality. Meanwhile, the state’s long-serving gyms are expanding programs and seeing new members. Steve Lulek, owner of the Green Mountain Rock Climbing Centers in Rutland and Quechee, started SIRCA, the Scholastic Indoor Rock Climbing Association, which has recruited 39 area middle and high schools that now offer rock climbing as a team sport. He also sees outof-state visitors much more frequently now than ever before. “We’ve seen an up-tick in the summer, and a little bit in the winter when skiers are here, because climbing is becoming more normal in the big cities,” Kamitses says. “People are here from New York skiing, and then afterwards they’ll come down and get in a couple of climbs because they’re part of a gym down in their own city. We’re seeing

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 13


put them 40 feet up on a ladder, let alone a vertical rock wall. You’re going to be very aware of what you’re doing.” If the mental challenge makes up half the appeal, physical fitness takes the rest. Lulek first discovered the lure of climbing when he started and ran a mountaineering school for military and National Guard personnel in Jericho, Vt. Since then he’s taught outdoor phys ed classes at Castleton College and UVM, and he teaches a twice-weekly class called ClimbFit, which combines cardio, climbing and muscular development, at his Rutland location. Lulek tries to get newbies to see climbing as a “functional fitness” activity, meaning it both originates from and promotes natural movement. He uses bouldering (a type of climbing practiced without a rope on artificial “boulders,” which are low to the ground) for most of the class’s workout. “People who climb two to three times a week at the gym, if they took their shirts off, you’d just see all these abs,” Lulek says. “It’s the external obliques that really get used, and a little bit of the six-pack, and all of the core stabilization muscles.” At first, climbers typically over-depend on the forearm muscles, but after sticking to the sport for a few weeks, they begin to

Stowe's new climbing center, Stowe Rocks, is home to a 40-foot tower, a 12-foot bouldering station and 50 top-rope routes. Photo courtesy of Stowe.

use the shoulder muscles—the anterior, medial and anterior deltoids—when pulling themselves from hold to hold. Accomplished climbers have a good

that now where we’ve never seen it before.” PetraCliffs co-owner Andrea Charest says that along with those who attend PetraCliffs’ thriving summer camp and mountaineering program, thousands of visitors walk through the door each year. Now, that gym is looking to expand as well. “We’ve been looking for about two years for a new building to grow, ” she said. “We want to modernize things a bit while keeping the same feel that we have. There’s definitely a different feel here than at other gyms—just that warm community feel.” With more than 400 commercial climbing gyms popping up around the country, and many, like PetraCliffs, looking to expand, rock climbing’s sudden explosion might be more than a trend. Many youth programs, like Lulek’s, are becoming more popular, and kids are growing up having incorporated climbing into their lifestyle. “It’s accessible for them,” Kamitses says. “With a lot of sports, there is a super high level of skill needed. You can’t just go play tennis or golf or something like that—you’re not going to have a good time if you’re not an athlete, or you’ve never tried it before, and then you’re not going to want to go back. Indoor climbing is going to give you a taste of success. So it hooks people.” Though Kamitses and many other long-time climbers would take outdoor cliffs over pulling plastic any day, indoor

balance of definition in the quads and Peter Kamitses drilled in MetroRock's first-ever hold in 2014. Photo courtesy of MetroRock

hamstrings. Lulek says, unlike the workout you might get from working on a machine, climbing promotes “real strength.” “If you take an old Vermont farmer—he may have a belly on him, but that guy has moved real things, creating total muscular strength tendons and ligaments,” he says. “All the joints are strong. That’s what happens with climbers. You’re not just developing the muscles, you’re developing the tendons and ligaments—and they’re pulling in all directions. If you go to a regular gym, you do the repetitive bicep curl, but when you climb, your bicep is working at all angles.” For Kamitses and others, climbing is almost a form of mental and physical therapy. “When you’re climbing, it’s just

climbing has been responsible for most of the boom. Much of the growth can be attributed to millennials living in urban areas, the Physical Activity Council report says, and many of them will never make the transition to the outdoors. “Some people never climb outside,” Kamitses says. “They go into climbing gyms because it’s super fun. It’s a social atmosphere, generally, because you do one full-out effort on a 50-foot indoor wall, and then you need to rest for 20 minutes. So you hang out and talk to other people and belay your friend.”

14 VTSPORTS.COM | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017

THE MENTAL/PHYSICAL CHALLENGE One of the appeals of climbing is that it involves both mental and physical gymnastics. Ascending a wall requires climbers to push fear away, work through a puzzle and, ultimately, quiet the mind. “It cuts everything out of your brain, and it’s like forced meditation,” Kamitses says. “It’s a super universal thing to be scared of heights, because if you fall from high and hit the ground, that’s bad. Every human gets put into this heightened state when you

instant focus. Every bit of clutter and clatter in your brain goes away, and you’re only thinking about what’s going on right in front of you, the next hand moving," he says. Kamitses adds: "After a long day of climbing, my brain feels refreshed in a different kind of way because I haven’t had that monkey mind running around, and thoughts of all the other bullshit in life— problems with relationships and work and blah blah blah. In that way, it’s therapeutic.”


WHERE TO CLIMB THE WALLS

the walls rise 45 feet. Currently, you can boulder the bottom section of all the walls in Rutland’s gym. In 2017, a new section will dedicate an entire side room to bouldering. While the climbing options are extensive, the gym’s best quality is the staff’s eagerness to teach. Matt Digan, general manager at the Rutland gym, says “We’re always out on the floor giving tips on technique, whether they’re to first-time climbers or people who have been coming here for years.” Along with the casual instruction and Lulek’s SIRCA program, which allows school-age students to climb as a team sport, Lulek’s ClimbFit classes allow veteran climbers and newcomers to use climbing as a fitness tool. The class, which is offered Tuesdays and Thursdays, uses bouldering and cardio. It usually involves working with a weighted jump rope, core training on a stability ball, leg routines with squatting, and finally, 30 minutes of lead climbing. For those looking to climb for fun, the gyms offer adult leagues, which take place from September to November, and from January to March. “We meet on Thursday night, we have a great time climbing, we submit scores, and then everybody goes out for post-climbing beers and appetizers and stuff like that,” Digan said. A day of climbing costs $15 at both gyms, and memberships start at $45 per month. vermontclimbing.com

Luckily for Vermonters, there are great climing gyms within an hour’s drive of most corners of the state. Most of these gyms will rent you equipment (shoes, harness, safety gear, chalk) for a fee of $5 to$10.

PETRACLIFFS, BURLINGTON Andrea and Steve Charest bought PetraCliffs in April of 2012, but their history with the gym started long before. Steve, who studied Outdoor Education while attending Johnson State, started interning with PetraCliffs in 2001, and he was on the committee that hired Andrea a few years later. The two fell in love with climbing— and each other. They married and now have a climber-baby six months on the way. And the gym seems to be the perfect place to raise a child—or to find your inner child. The 26-foot-tall walls hold lead climbing, top rope terrain and over 44 routes ranging from the easiest 5.5’s to advanced 5.13’s. The separate, 14-foottall bouldering stations hold 64 boulder problems that range from a V0 to v10+. Andrea and Steve attest to the closeknit, family-friendly atmosphere that the gym seems to be founded on. “You can be climbing next to a four-year-old on one side and a world-class climber on the other,” Steve says. “It’s that kind of blending of the community, where it doesn’t matter, your skill level. You’re right next to each other.” An adult full-day pass at PetraCliffs costs $16 and includes all types of climbing, while bouldering passes are $12. Monthly memberships start at $52 for adults. The PetraCliffs experience extends far beyond the gym. With a full mountaineering school, PetraCliffs guides lead outdoor rock and ice climbing trips, backcountry skiing and avalanche training. (Prices range from $100 to $245, depending on the number of people attending). petracliffs.com

METROROCK STATION, BURLINGTON Inside Burlington’s newest rock gym, climbers dangle from nearly 60 top ropes, draped down 50-foot faces. The faces hold more than 110 routes, which range from kids’ level at 5.4’s to 5.13’s. A giant tower set squarely in the center is the main station for top rope and lead climbing, and behind it, groups of boulderers gather near the topout wall (which includes a space to sit once you reach the top), called the “Whale’s Hub,” to cheer each other on. The gym boasts 4,000 square feet of bouldering terrain. Toward the back of the gym, climbers can practice their balance on a slackline, and lower walls with five auto belays create a safe climbing space for kids. Upstairs, a 35-degree bouldering wall called “The Peacemaker,” complete with ice holds, helps outdoor and ice climbers train for extremes.

STOWE ROCK & SMUGGS' FUN ZONE

MetroRocks' top roping and lead climbing walls reach 50 feet high. Photo courtesy of MetroRock. A day pass at MetroRock starts at $18, and for those who want to keep coming back, memberships start at $70 per month with a $49 activation fee. The gym offers an “Intro To Climbing” class, in which instructors teach new climbers basic technique and how to belay safely. MetroRock also offers weekly yoga classes, which are free for members and cost $5 for non-members, and an adult clinic, which meets once a week and integrates core exercise and fitness into a set climbing regimen. The gym is designed entirely by Kamitses, who traveled to Bulgaria to lay out his plan with the largest wall manufacturer in the world, called Walltopia. “I designed every wall, angle and panel,” he said. “It was kind of a dream come true. I was like a kid in the candy shop.” Kamitses is also MetroRock’s lead route setter, so he’s constantly thinking about the placement of holds to create challenging and rewarding climbs for all levels of climbers. Kamitses says he changes the routes every week. “Basically, we’re refreshing the challenges of all abilities. So you get to be

super creative. You build movement for climbers.” metrorock.com/burlington

GREEN MOUNTAIN ROCK CLIMBING CENTERS, RUTLAND & QUECHEE In 1996, Steve Lulek peeked into the building that is now Rutland’s Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center. Up in the left corner, the newly-established gym’s owner, Josh Bruckstein, was working away on construction. Lulek walked inside and asked for the man’s name. “My name is Josh, and this is my gym,” Bruckstein said, to which Steve replied: “I’m Steve, and I’m going to own this gym one day.” Bruckstein

angrily

told

Lulek

to

leave, but over time, the two developed a friendship and Lulek has now owned the gym for 14 years. Five years ago, Lulek acquired another gym in Quechee. The Rutland gym has 30 top ropes that drop down 30 feet. Each rope has several

Sometimes you need a break from the slopes, but want to keep your muscles active. That’s why many resorts now feature slope-side climbing gyms or walls. This summer, Stowe Mountain Resort opened Stowe Rocks at the heart of the new Adventure Center at Spruce Peak Plaza. At the center is a 40-foot tower that rises in front of windows that face the slopes and a 12-foot high bouldering wall. The center’s 50 routes, some of which are modeled after outdoor climbs at Smuggler’s Notch, are designed for climbers of all abilities, and include both bouldering and top rope terrain as well as eight TruBlue auto belay stations. Best, you can grab a pizza or burger at The Canteen and still watch the action. Day passes are $30 ($26 for kids) and include equipment and a beginner’s climbing class. Season passes are $450, and $280 for residents of Lamoille, Washington and Orleans counties. stowe.com Just over the mountain, the folks at Smuggler’s Notch are installing a new 26,000-square-foot Fun Zone, which will include a double-sided, 30-foot rock wall (along with a laser tag arena, mini-golf, and a slot car track). The area is set to open this spring. smuggs.com

routes, which range from 5.5 to 5.13. Quechee’s gym holds 26 top ropes, and

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 15


16 VTSPORTS.COM | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017


VERMONT'S

ATHLETES

Devin Logan, hitting the high points at the 2016 U.S. Visa Freeskiing Grand Prix in Park City, Utah. Photo by Melanie Harding/USSA

F

or

a

state

whose

entire

population is roughly the same as that of Denver, Colo., Vermont turns out some pretty amazing

athletes. This past year was no exception, with Vermonters taking the podium at world championships around the globe and performing some impressive feats

OF THE

YEAR

of endurance from Hawaii to the Czech Republic. We asked both readers and coaches to nominate Vermont's top athletes of 2016. Here are our favorite stories and performances—from both full-time pros and weekend warriors.

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 17


ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

CHAMPIONS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

THEY CAME, THEY SAW, THEY PODIUMED. THESE PROS PUT THE WORLD ON NOTICE IN 2016 BY WINNING EVENTS IN NATIONAL AND GLOBAL ARENAS.

Logan gets high at the 2016 Freeskiing Nationals at Copper Mountain, Colo.. Photo courtesy USSA

THE MOST VERSATILE WORLD CHAMPION

"You know what? I'm afraid of heights," says Devin Logan. Photo by Sarah Brunson/U.S. Freeskiing

While the ski world spent much of this past year with eyes glued to World Cup champ (and Burke Mountain Academy grad) Mikaela Shiffrin, another Vermont-bred skier quietly set a major World Cup record. On March 11, Devin Logan became the first halfpipe and slopestyle skier ever to win one of the FIS World Cup’s biggest trophies: the Freeskiing World Cup. The 23-year-old freeskier from Dover, Vt. makes her living launching enormous airs off 22-foot-high halfpipe walls. Early last season, she dislocated her shoulder training for the Dew Tour and, at the Aspen X Games in early February, had what she called “a couple of good crashes” during a training run. She turned in a

18 VTSPORTS.COM | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017

lukewarm performance at the X Games and failed to podium at Boston’s Fenway Big Air. But that didn’t dampen her drive. Instead, Logan doubled down in the two disciplines she competes in: halfpipe and slopestyle, turning in consistently good performances at FIS World Cup events around the globe. Her hard work was rewarded: On March 11, D Lo, as friends call her, made history as the first freeskier to win the overall FIS crystal globe. Not just the first woman, the first freeskier, to take home one ofthe biggest trophies in skiing: the one that rewards all-around performance in multiple disciplines during the 34-stop FIS World Cup tour. Logan came into the final event in Tignes, France ranked seventh in slopestyle

and second in halfpipe, just 20 points behind the leader. Her closest challenger for the overall Freestyle Skiing World Cup crystal globe was ski cross athlete Anna Holmlund of Sweden, who was just one point back. To beat her, Logan only needed to complete a training run in Tignes. One of the few freestylers to compete in two disciplines, Logan did, and the trophy was hers. Often (and as was true at the X Games), competing in slopestyle and halfpipe means two major competitions in one day. “Being the only female to compete in both slopestyle and halfpipe gets pretty rough during the season, going back and forth between competitions,” Logan said when Vermont Sports sat down with her after the X Games in Aspen. “But I’ve been doing it for so long that I couldn’t picture doing anything else.” Logan does admit to one thing: “Did you know I’m afraid of heights? Like I hate even looking down from the gondola sometimes. But when I’m in the halfpipe and I’m in control, it’s different. I just don’t get scared.” Logan started skiing when she was 2 years old and grew up chasing her brothers, ski filmmakers Chris and Sean Logan, around Mount Snow. “They were always super supportive of me, encouraging me to do whatever they did—whether it was playing football or park skiing,” Logan says. “When I was six, I wanted to be a ski racer but they talked me out of it and I just kept following them into moguls and doing airs.” At 15, she was second in the U.S. Halfpipe championships. In 2011, at 17, she won the overall AFP (Association of Freeskiing Professionals) halfpipe title, and did so again the following year, also winning two X Games medals. Then, in 2012 she blew out her knee. Rather than sit home and just do rehab, Logan got certified that year to be an AFP and FIS judge, giving her a greater insight into how to excel in competitions. She came back the following year stronger than ever, winning silver at the Sochi Olympics and again winning the AFP tour. Logan credits some of her success to Vermont. “It makes you tough to ski in Vermont,” she said. “Growing up in those conditions where it’s almost always cold and icy, you have to have a lot of passion. I think it makes me like a challenge, as in, I like to take a different line than everyone else, try something new.” She pauses and adds “And hey, if I don’t do well, at least I had fun trying.” Logan now spends much of her time in Park City training but her family is still in Vermont, and over the holidays she was back at her old stomping ground at the Carinthia park in Mount Snow—this time to help teach other women. —Lisa Lynn


ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

Lea Davison's technical skills (demonstrated above, at La Bresse, France) helped her earn a silver at the World Championships in the Czech Republic (below). Photos by M. Cerveny/Specialized

and then go into survival mode. Once is

THE OFF-ROAD PIONEER

enough for me, but if Specialized asked me

Jericho’s Lea Davison started out 2016

to go back I would, because of the support I

with four flat tires in her first World Cup event of the season and finished the year in early December at a grueling race in the jungles of Costa Rica. In between, she earned a silver medal at the World Championships in the Czech Republic and finished seventh at the Rio Olympics, besting her 11th place at the 2012 London games. Davison’s World Championship finish was her second silver World Cup medal and the best finish for any American since 2001. With that in her pocket, Davison had high expectations for the summer Olympics. “I did the best I could in Rio and that’s all you can ask for on any given day,” she said. “Seventh was better than I did in London in 2012. At one point I was 11th, but there was no way I was going to finish in the same spot so I fought my way to a better finish.” Just in case Davison hadn’t challenged herself enough, this past December her sponsor, Specialized, sent her to Costa Rica to take part in La Ruta de los Conquistadores, which is billed as the only mountain bike race to go from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. The three-day route covers 161 miles with 29,000 feet of vertical gain over five mountain ranges. The New York Times has called it "the world’s toughest bike race." Davison finished the grueling competition

received from them.” Although her season was a strong one, Davison is just as pleased with the progress

made

by

aspiring

mountain

bikers throughout the country who are part of Little Bellas, the girls’ mountain bike mentoring group she founded with her sister, Sabra. “It’s so exciting,” she said. “I was in Philly the other week for my annual strength training camp, and we have a chapter in the city so I was able to go to dinner with the mentors there. This is just an amazing network of females across the country.” Davison is looking forward to her upcoming season, but for those who want to look back on 2016, GoPro is about to release a series of videos (see vtsports.com for a second of all women and 43rd out of 328 entrants. The cycling course in Rio may have been no walk in the park—the 5K route included rock slab jumps and a 40-degree log staircase—but those obstacles paled in comparison to what Davison experienced in Costa Rica. The first day of la Ruta de los Conquistadores took place on narrow paths through a jungle, often riding through knee-deep clay-like mud. Organizers warned that cars could not enter the jungle, and those suffering from

medical emergencies were pretty much on their own since the vegetation was too dense for a helicopter rescue. In addition to heat, humidity and water crossings, racers had to worry about predatory animals, including jaguar. The third day required riders to carry or roll their bikes single file across several railroad bridges constructed with uneven wooden ties, many slick with oil, above a murky river. “I felt like a zombie,” Davison recalls. “The stages are six hours and I’d race the first hour

link) which follows her last year. Though Davison’s career requires her to travel around the world (we reached her by phone in December as she was doing a photo shoot for LL Bean in the Virgin Islands), she never forgets her roots in Vermont. “The support of the Vermont community was amazing over the past Olympic season. It continues to surprise me and give me motivation and encouragement, she said.

—Phyl Newbeck

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 19


ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

THE

FITTEST MAN IN THE

WORLD

After finishing second twice, Mat Fraser finally lifted his way to winning the title "Fittest Man on Earth" and took home the $275,000 prize purse. Photo ®2017 CrossFit Inc. Used with permission.

O

n July 24 in Carson, Calif., Colchester native Mat Fraser, 26, entered the final stage of the CrossFit Games with 39 of the fittest men and women in the world. In the five previous days of sun, sweat and brutal competition, he had quickly separated himself from the pack. Now, this was the moment Fraser had been waiting on, his chance to finalize a title he had sought for three years: “Fittest Man On Earth.” He entered StubHub Tennis Center for his last event, called "Redemption." To claim the top spot, plus $275,000 in prize money, Fraser needed to complete a rotation of pegboard ascents (a pull-up-type obstacle course in which the athlete climbs up a wall using only pegs) and thrusters (CrossFit’s name for squats with barbells). Fraser powered through a total of six pegboard ascents and 45 thrusters and sprinted to the finish line, taking first. With that, Fraser had won the CrossFit

Games by almost 200 points, the largest margin in history. Arms pumping in victory, he lapped the stadium while the crowd exploded in cheers. The one thing that was going through his head then? “It was a huge relief,” he said. This wasn’t Fraser’s first go-around with the CrossFit Games. An unknown rookie, he snagged second place in 2014, losing only to Rich Froning, a legendary CrossFit champ who was taking his fourth first-place win. “I couldn’t have been happier,” he said. “I was the unknown. There were no expectations.” Fraser’s confidence soared in 2015. A heavy favorite going in, he wanted to win—and badly. He adjusted his training by focusing most of his energy on his weakness: cardio. With an accomplished weightlifting background (he came into CrossFit with a 315-pound snatch), he figured he didn’t have to worry about strength. But while his cardio training paid off, he fell behind in strength performance and took second

20 VTSPORTS.COM | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017

place again in 2015—this time to Ben Smith, a professional CrossFit athlete from Virginia, and the same athlete Fraser beat this July. Smith has competed at the Games every year since 2009. “It was the biggest disappointment I’ve ever experienced,” Fraser says. “I had expectations built up, so when I came up short, it was just devastating. (Second place,) in my eyes, was the worst place to be. I was the number one loser. I tried to convince myself to start training again, and it took a long time. I was (messed) up. I didn’t want to train, didn’t want to come to the gym, didn’t want to face my friends, didn’t want to do anything.” It may have taken some time, but when Fraser did get back to the box (a CrossFit gym), he made a few simple changes in his training. To take the 2016 Games, Fraser approached the entire CrossFit lifestyle more seriously. Looking back, he says, it’s

probably the simple changes that helped him soar into the number one spot. “The big thing I changed during the 2016 season was the regular sleep schedule—not staying up until 2 a.m. watching Netflix, not eating trash,” he says. “I always felt like you could out-train a bad diet, so I was eating donuts, ice cream, anything I wanted. And it was enough to catch up with me.” Leading up to this year’s Games, Fraser stayed on a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day whether he was training or on vacation. He also radically changed his eating habits. While he’s test-driven CrossFit’s prescribed Paleo diet (which typically includes vegetables, fruit, nuts and meat), he veered elsewhere when he didn’t see the results he wanted. Instead, Fraser has gone back to the basics: he cut out desserts, now drinks plenty of water and eats big breakfasts. His rule of thumb: if it feels good, stick with it.


“One thing I’ve found that I really love is I eat rice at every meal. Plain, sticky white rice. I’ll put it in my eggs in the morning. At lunch or dinner, I’ll usually have a meat over a pile of rice. It felt great, so I just incorporated it into everything.” In training, Fraser works heavily on his weaknesses. He often asks himself, “If I went to a competition, what workout would they release that I would place dead last in? I think about what workout that would be and how I would fix it.” But, as Fraser learned in 2015, it’s important not to over-train in one area. Fraser excels at weightlifting—so much so that he was invited to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in 2008 and 2009. But he had to drop his training after a back injury required surgery. He now understands that his fitness routines need to be all-encompassing. His daily regimen contains the same cardio, strength training, gymnastics and metcon (a CrossFit term that’s short for metabolic conditioning) combinations you would come across in a normal CrossFit class. The schedule helps him focus on weak areas, then to switch to something else, so he doesn’t miss a beat. He’ll start with 20 minutes to an hour on an air bike or a Concept2 indoor rowing machine. Then, he’ll move to weight-lifting, where he does mostly deadlifts and squats. “There’s usually some kind of gymnastics component,” he says, “whether it’s up on the rings, doing muscle-ups and flying around up there, or doing kipping pull-ups.” (In a kipping pull up, you swing your legs and snap your hips to help get your chin over the bar. They’re done quickly with a high number of repetitions.) Handstands and handstand walks are some of Fraser’s regular tricks. From gymnastics, he heads into metcon that includes “As Many Rounds As Possible” (AMRAP) of any given skill. “That’s the generic CrossFit thing: pick a set of reps and do it as fast as you can,” Fraser said. “Pick a time domain, like 10 minutes, and do as many as you can.” A couple of times a week, Fraser works on specialty skills. He’ll hit the pool with a swim coach or weight train with the same local Phys Ed teacher, Chris Polikowski, who got him into Olympic weightlifting when he was a teenager. “A buddy and I were seeing how much weight we could put over our heads, and one of the coaches saw us and was just like, ‘Please stop. That’s awful,’” Fraser said. “He told us if we wanted to learn how to do it properly, there was a guy in the next town over, in Essex. The elementary school teacher ran an after-school weight lifting program. He’s still there. I started going over there every day after school, and

CONTINUED NEXT PAGE

MAT FRASER’S 5 ESSENTIAL MOVES FOR A TOTAL WORKOUT, YOU CAN FIND A CROSSFIT PROGRAM NEAR YOU. OR, ACCORDING TO MAT FRASER, YOU CAN ALSO KEEP IT SIMPLE BY BUILDING YOUR OWN ROUTINE WITH THESE FIVE CLASSICS MOVES.

W

hen Greg Glassman—a cyclist, gymnast and weightlifter—wanted to start a jack-of-alltrades-type program that enabled athletes to become well-rounded and physically prepared for anything life might bring, he founded CrossFit. Sixteen years later, the program is wildly popular with more than 7,000 gyms across the country, including 11 in Vermont (for a list, see the course finder map on www.crossfit.com.) CrossFit encourages members to build 10 particular physical qualities: strength, stamina, cardiovascular/ respiratory endurance, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, balance, accuracy and agility. The program includes weightlifting, sprinting and gymnastics, along with other key high-intensity regimens that vary depending on the day. Using consistent variables, such as specific distances, movements, and weights, the CrossFit program strives to produce measurable results. CrossFit’s “WOD,” or workout of the day, is completely scalable depending on fitness level. In other words, a workout might call for squats with 135-pound weights, but if that’s too easy, or too hard, you can scale as needed. The WOD can be found on CrossFit’s website and in classes at the nearest box. But if you want to set up your own workout program, Mat Fraser recommends these five essential moves, tailoring the number and speed at which you do them to your fitness level. Beau Teal, head coach and owner of Burlington CrossFit, says it’s less about the number or repetitions, and more about the stimulus and the load. “There’s no formula or perfect way to do it,” he says. For an efficient workout, set a time limit and choose two of the exercises below—for example, pull-ups and squats. Paying attention to form, do say, 15 pull-ups and 15 squats, or as many you can, making sure that your heart rate is elevated and you’re feeling the burn. —E.C.

THE SQUAT:

“Every girl wants to look good in a pair of jeans. Every guy wants to look like the linebacker. Some of those people are running 5Ks to try to get in shape and it’s like, ‘No, that’s not giving you the results you want. How ‘bout a squat?’”—Mat Fraser. In a perfect squat, the athlete’s feet are shoulder-width apart, the back is straight, and the knees should align over the toes. The hips should extend just below the knees when the squat is complete. Squats build your leg muscles, including your quads, hamstrings and calves.

THE BURPEE: “It’s a full-body workout. It doesn’t matter how good a shape you’re in. If they’re easy, go faster.”—M.F. Start your burpee in a squat position. In one motion, move into a squat-thrust by placing your hands on the ground, shoulder-width apart in front of you, then kick your feet straight out behind you to finish in a plank position. Bend your elbows and bring your chest to the floor in a push-up position. Jump your legs forward into a frog position. Jump upright. Then squat to repeat. Burpees help athletes maintain arm

Before he found CrossFit, Fraser was training to be a weightlifter. Photo ®2017 CrossFit Inc. Used with permission.

strength, core strength, leg strength, endurance, coordination and explosiveness.

THE DEADLIFT:

“They’re so simple that they get

overlooked, but the results are incredible. I’ve seen gym members who are 75, 80 years old, and they deadlift. We have guys in the back room who are pulling five or six hundred pounds, and you can just scale it.”—M.F. Approach the bar with your feet shoulderwidth apart. Set your hips backward while keeping a small arch in your lower back (this is important to prevent injury.) Bend your knees until your hands can grip the bar. Keep your head angled so that you’re looking 5 to 10 feet in front of you to prevent neck strain. Inhale deeply and straighten your legs to stand with the bar, then exhale. Bend the knees and hips to lower the bar to the ground once again. Done correctly, the deadlift will strengthen the back muscles, glutes, core muscles, leg muscles, forearms and shoulders.

THE PULL-UP: “My dad does pull-ups standing on a band that has 100 pounds of tension on it, so he does pull-ups with half his body weight. For me, I might strap some plates on to add weight. You can do chest-to-bar pull-ups or regular pullups—and scale as needed.”—M.F. While pull-ups come in many variations that work different muscle groups, the most basic form will give you a great back and arm workout. Find the right grip width by pointing your elbows out to the side (not forward, but along the same plane as your chest) and keeping your forearms straight . Keeping your shoulders down and back and your elbows to the side, hoist yourself up until your eyes are level with the bar. Then, lower yourself (but not enough that you’re hanging from the bar) using only arm strength. Keeping your lats activated, pull upwards again.

THE PUSH-UP: “It’s simple, and it gets overlooked and gives you results.” —M.F. Start your push-up with hands at shoulder-width apart, planted firmly below your shoulders. Good push-up form requires your neck and head to stay in line with your torso, your shoulders back and your back straight. Lower your chest to about an inch above the ground, then use your whole range of motion to push yourself up. Push-ups activate your chest, shoulders and triceps and help stabilize your core. JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 21


ATHLETES OF THE YEAR CONTINUED - THE FITTEST MAN

Fraser worked hard on his weakness: cardio. Photo ®2017 CrossFit Inc. Used with permission.

started doing it with football, and then it started taking over football.” A huge part of Fraser’s progress, he says, is doing whatever it takes to learn. “I find an expert in each area,” he said. “This year, after the Games, my lowest-placing event was deadlift. I wanted to find a specialist in the deadlift, so I contacted a guy out of California who’s the world-record holder, and I was like, ‘Hey man, teach me how to deadlift.’” Fraser’s wellness regimen continues after he leaves the box, the pool or the track at the end of the day. Every night, he stretches for an hour and spends another rolling out. He also gets weekly massages. “I wasn’t stretching in 2015—doing any body work, nothing. I would come in, train my heart out, really give 100 percent in training. Then, as soon as I left the gym, I was done putting effort in.” And that might be another reason why Fraser didn’t see the gold that year. Studies show that stretching reduces muscular tension, which stunts muscle growth. Stretching also helps with muscular efficiency, meaning your muscles require less energy to perform at a higher rate or, say, do more reps. Stretching is an important component in blood flow, too, which circulates important nutrients to your muscles. Fraser’s approach is all-inclusive, and

engrained in every part of his life. He’s walking proof that true fitness involves much more commitment than a few hours at the gym. But when it’s all said and done, Fraser says, the most important thing is having a good time. “You see the people who, in two months, lose 50 pounds and then you see them two months later and they’ve put it right back on,” he says. “That’s probably because they weren’t enjoying the process of losing the weight.” Though Fraser graduated from University of Vermont in 2015 with a degree in engineering, the fitness lifestyle is turning into a successful career. Despite that, he says he’s not in it for the glory of winning or the prize money. “I like the life I’m living,” he says. “Even when I do well and get a nice paycheck, I just say, ‘Okay, I got a nice paycheck.’ I’ll put it aside or put it in savings, and keep living the life that I’m living. I try to live simply in terms of where I live and the car I drive.” Fraser says that besides travel, (he’s been all over the States—not to mention Switzerland, Italy, Australia and Dubai) his life hasn’t changed all that much. And his favorite people, including his sponsors, are the ones who haven’t looked at him differently since he acquired the title “The Fittest Man On Earth.” “They’re the ones who support me, and when I got second place, they treated me the exact same as when I got first place. They’re just good people.” For those looking to take their training to the next level, or for those getting heavily into fitness for the first time, Fraser has some advice. Don’t buy thousands of dollars of equipment, he says. Don’t complicate your life with machinery you don’t know how to use. Simplify your workout, and enjoy it. “If you’re done in 20 minutes, good. Be done,” he says. “Don’t dread going into the gym every day, because then you’re going to do it for a month, and as soon as you take the weekend off, you’re never going to come back. Build on it gradually, take your time, keep it simple, and just make little changes.” If you’re looking for Fraser, you’ll find him at Champlain Valley CrossFit in Williston. Staying true to his roots, Fraser trains in his hometown box almost every day, and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. “The fact that this actually turned into a career that I can live off of is mind-boggling to me. So I’m going to do this as long as I can. I get paid for just hanging out in the gym all day and having fun.” —Emma Cotton

22 VTSPORTS.COM | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017

A team of one, Elle Anderson runs her own race program from San Francisco. Photo by Ben De Jesus

CYCLOCROSS CHAMP

A

fter a year of personal trials that were tougher than even the hardest

cyclocross course she ever faced, Elle Anderson made some big leaps in 2016 as former ski racer from Stowe, Vt., proved herself a very versatile athlete. The year started in January with a fourth in the U.S. Cyclocross Nationals. Then, in April, jumped into the U.S. National Criterium Championships as a road racer and took second place. This past fall, she started off her European 'cross season with two strong third place finishes in races in Belgium against some of the toughest competitors on the international cyclocross circuit—the Kermiscross Ardooie on October 20 and then the Soudal Classics Hasselt on November 19. For the 28-year-old who manages her own professional race program, these victories held added meaning because, as she told Vermont Sports in “Raising Elle,” Nov. 2016, “There was a moment when I

Winters are spent racing the European circuit.. Photo courtesy Elle Anderson

finally gave myself permission to put the bike aside for however long it would take.” At that time, following her first year racing alone on the European circuit and living alone with a foreign host, Anderson fell into depression. Her host was verbally abusive and, as it was discovered this past October, a suspect in an international cocaine smuggling ring. When his abuse got to the point where she had to lock herself in her room, Anderson fled—but the experience shook her. After spending time in San Francisco, where she works for the cycling software and computer company Strava, Anderson began to recover. She came home to Stowe and rode the trails behind her home last summer. “What happened last summer allowed me to dig even deeper and gain perspective and to be grateful for everywhere I’ve been,” she said. In her first race on the World Cup circuit this season, she earned a 33rd-place finish. But count on Anderson to keep fighting her way toward the top. —L.L.


ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

Liz Stephen in the 2016 World Cup Pursuit in Quebec and, below, Sophie Caldwell (left) and Ida Sargent training in Alaska. Photo top by Reese Brown/ USSA and beloe by Matt Whitcomb, U.S. Ski Team

THE NORDIC SPEED DEMONS

“She has been skiing really well so [a podium finish] seemed likely, but a win was more than expected,” he wrote in an email after watching his daughter's win the sprint in Germany last winter. “You could see that she was gaining confidence with each race,” he continued, “and it all came together for this one.” A big part of the sprint win was the teamwork and training the women's Nordic

It's no secret that Vermont is a training ground for the U.S. Ski Team. In fact, more than 20 percent of the alpine ski racers on the team trained in this state. But what is more remarkable is the depth Vermont has brought to the U.S. Nordic women's team. In 2016, three Vermonters—Sophie Caldwell, Liz Stephen and Ida Sargent—helped the U.S. team ski to one of its best seasons in history. In June, 2015, Sophie Caldwell, a 26-year-old Nordic ski racer from Peru, Vt., wrote down a goal and then posted a picture of herself holding that goal on Facebook. It read: “Be on the World Cup podium.” Mission accomplished. On January 5, 2016, in Oberstdorf, Germany, Caldwell claimed her first World Cup win. The race was the fourth stage of the Tour de Ski, but each stage is considered its own World Cup race. “I really surprised myself,” she said, explaining that her forte is freestyle (skate) sprints, not classic (traditional kick-and-glide). “But I’m thrilled.”

A few weeks later, Caldwell and Montpelier’s Liz Stephen helped their team (which included Jessie Diggins and Sadie Bjornsen) ski to a second place in the 4x5 kilometer relay in Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic—the first relay win ever for an American team. Then, this past November,

in her second World Cup event of the 2016/17 season, Caldwell placed 11th in the Davos World Cup sprint. One person who is not surprised at Caldwell’s performances is her father, Sverre, the Nordic program director at the Stratton Mountain School.

team has put in. Right alongside Caldwell, are Liz Stephen and Ida Sargent, forming a dream team of Green Mountain athletes. Stephen, 30, who lives in East Montpelier, started off as an alpine racer at Burke Mountain Academy. But she quickly figured out that she could be as competitive going uphill as down. A strong runner as well, at 15, Stephen switched to Nordic an is now one of the world's best climbers. In 2016, she posted the second-fastest climb in Italy's brutal 9 km Alpe Cermis, on the final stage of the Tour de Ski. The year prior, she posted the best finish of any American in the Tour de Ski, fifth place overall.

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 23


ATHLETES OF THE YEAR That year, 2015, was a big year for Stephen. After finishing 12th at the 2014 Olympics and spending 11 years on the U.S. Ski Team, Stephen had considered retiring. Instead, she began working with a sports psychologist. She learned to set very specific goals for each race and then visualize how she would accomplish them. It paid off. In 2015 she was named female Skier of the Year by the Nordic website, FasterSkier. This past year, that paid off. In the Nove Mesto relay it was Stephen, the third of the four U.S. team members, who pulled ahead from the pack, allowing final racer Jessie Diggins to ski to a second place finish—the best ever for the U.S. team. Rounding out the trio is Ida Sargent. Growing up in the Northeast Kingdom, the Orleans native learned to ski at age 2. She too went to Burke Mountain Academy and then Dartmouth and has been a regular fixture at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. After making the World Championship team in 2011 and 2013, she went to the Olympics in 2014. Sargent's individual finishes ranked her 23rd in the overall World Cup standing for 2015/16 but she helped her team ski to a fifth place in the team sprint in Planica, Slovakia. This season, she's come back even stronger, starting out by winning the FIS Australia New Zealand Cup in New Zealand this past September. Look for the three women to help the U.S. team continue to move up in the rankings this 2016/17 season. —L. Lynn and Peggy Shinn

Tara Geraghty-Moats started ski jumping at this hill at Storrs Pond, near her home in West Fairlee, Vt., at age 9. Photo by Oliver Parini

THE HIGH FLYER On October 10, 2016, even before the first snow fell, Tara Geraghty-Moats added “National Champion” to her growing resume as a skier. The 23-year-old from West Fairlee, Vt., soared 92 meters and 102 meters on her two ski jumps at the Lake Placid, N.Y. event, earning 250.5 points and finishing exactly ten points ahead of her close friend, local hero Nina Lussi. For Geraghty-Moats, winning ski jumping’s national championships was an especially sweet victory. In the summer of 2015 she had been suspended from the U.S. Ski Team for failing to make a final payment toward her training and travel. Geraghty-Moats didn’t let that stop her. She trained at home on her own that summer and fall, improvising workouts and working on an organic vegetable farm to raise money so she could travel the World Cup circuit on her own that winter. That meant competing in events in Japan, Russia, Khazahkstan and Finland, among

others. Her best finish was 11th at the World Cup in Almaty, Khazakstan. Geraghty-Moats has been “hooked since the first time I jumped.” That was at age 9 at the tiny jump at Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover, N.H., near her home in West Fairlee. Home-schooled since the third grade, Geraghty-Moats is an all-around athlete. She competed in her first Vermont 50 bike ride on her own at age 10, earned medals at the Nordic Junior Nationals and made

24 VTSPORTS.COM | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017

the U.S. Development Team for ski jumping by 15. Then, at age 16, Geraghty-Moats had a bad landing on a jump. She tore three ligaments, her ACL and broke her tibia.“My doctor said I would never jump or run again,” she says. She proved him wrong, began training for biathlon and in her third race qualified for the Worlds in 2011. But she never gave up her love for ski jumping. In 2013, after a year training and going to school in Sweden she jumped back

into ski jumping. In 2014, she earned third at the Nationals. This season, Geraghty-Moats is one of three Americans (with Nina Lussi, former World Cup Champion Sarah Hendrickson and Nita Englund) competing on the World Cup circuit. In the first two events, Geraghty-Moats had yet to move into the top 30. But it’s a long season and this is one determined Vermonter. —L.L.


ATHLETES OF THE YEAR ICE PRINCESS

Montgomery farm girl Elle Purrier leads the pack. Photo by St. Albans Messenger.

Grace Weinberg has been cruising down icy tracks for seven years. Now, at age 17, the Pittsfield, Vt. native and Killington Mountain School grad is ranked among the top six lugers in the nation. Weinberg practices at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid and through her hard work, has recorded speeds up to 82.4 miles per hour. In 2016, Weinberg helped her team take the silver medal in the Junior World Championship Team Relay and won silver again at the Norton Junior National Championships. The luger hails from a family of athletes who set her up for success. Her father, Andy, is the founder of the Endurance Society, and helped grow races such as the Spartan Race and the Death Race. Her mother is a former competitive cheerleader, and her sister runs for Rutland High School cross country team.

FAST TRACKERS TO WATCH

THEY MAY NOT HAVE MADE THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PODIUMS THIS YEAR, BUT WATCH OUT: THESE SIX ARE JUST GETTING STARTED. SWIMMING SENSATION Anyone who paid attention to this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro knows the name Katie Ledecky. The five-time Olympic gold medalist currently holds the world record in the 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle. But a name you may hear more of is Hannah Cox. The Hartland, Vt. native only started swimming year-round her freshman year of high school, but Cox made it to the Olympic trials in January, 2016. There, Ledecky set a world record in the 400-meter freestyle. Cox was just seven seconds back in the four-minute race. She was seeded 13th out of 109 women who qualified for the trials and finished eighth in that race. The Vermonter graduated high school this spring and now swims for the University of Arizona in Tucson. She credits her coach, Dorsi Reynolds of the Upper Valley Aquatic Center who traveled with her to the event, for her success.

STEEPLECHASE FARM GIRL Another contender in the 2016 Olympic trials was Montgomery’s Elinor “Elle” Purrier. The University of New Hampshire student finished third in the steeplechase in the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in March and then third in the Outdoor Championships in June. Purrier, UNH class of 2017, was one of the youngest contenders in the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., and placed 28th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Growing up on a dairy farm just south of the Canadian

border, Purrier raised her own pigs, helped with the family’s 60 head of cattle, hunted deer in the fall and played basketball in the winter. Her high school coach, Andrew Hathaway, started the Richford High School cross-country program in 2010 and slowly added mileage to Purrier’s runs. That strategy appears to have worked.

fourth in the pursuit. Athleticism runs in the Rutland natives’ blood. Her mother is a former pro golfer. Her father, Jim, was an alpine skier at Middlebury College. Following in the footsteps of her father and two of her siblings, Levins now studies and Nordic skis at Middlebury College. Though she’ll have to put down the rifle for a few years, she plans to pick the sport back up again and go pro after college.

BORN TO RACE GATES

Chloe Levins competing in biathlon. Photo USSA

A BIATHLETE ON TARGET Chloe Levins came into the biathlon world with a golfer’s training in precision and a Nordic skier’s aptitude for intense aerobic exercise. In January, 2016, she won each of her three races in Anchorage, Alaska’s Youth Biathlon Trials. Then, she flew to the Youth-Junior World Championships in Romania, and finally, in February, she landed in Lillehammer, Norway to compete in the Youth Olympics, where she was

Another Vermonter with a genetic disposition to podium is Ryan CochranSiegle, 24. The son of 1972 Olympic slalom gold medalist Barbara Cochran, he’s been carrying on the Cochran ski racing legacy ever since winning the 2012 Junior Worlds in downhill and combined. In 2013, Cochran-Siegle was sidelined with a blown ACL and MCL. He returned to race in 2014, but then sat out 2015 to rehab and strengthen his knee. He was back with a vengeance in 2016, scoring his first World Cup giant slalom points and earning three top-five finishes at the U.S. Alpine Championships last spring. On December 29, 2016, at the World Cup alpine combined event in Santa Caterina, Italy, Cochran-Siegle came from a 50th place start to finish 12th in the Super G and then had a strong enough slalom to place in the top 10. Oh yes, and on a bike, he won “Sufferfest,” a U.S. Ski Team cycling event that attracts former and current racers and sends them on an 8.8-mile ride up Provo Canyon in Utah.

Gravel and mud suit Ansel Dickey just fine. Photo courtesy A. Dickey

GRAVEL KING Another Killington Mountain School grad to watch is Ansel Dickey, 21. Dickey came to Vermont to ski but stayed to bike, inspired by KMS cycling coach Peter Vollers. During his senior year, Dickey made the U.S. National Junior Team as a road cyclist. He now races for the Astellas Professional Cycling Team around the country, but comes back to his second home in Woodstock often. This past year he won the U23 New England Championships for the second year in a row and, in July, he was 10th in his age group in the U.S. Cycling Amateur Nationals. In 2016, Dickey also led the pack at two of the toughest gravel grinder races in the country—both in Vermont. In April, he won Rasputitsa, the often-snowy gravel grinder in the Northeast Kingdom. Then, in August, Dickey led the pack at Woodstock’s grueling Overland Grand Prix. Dickey admits that though 2016 was a tough year he found his stride in gravel racing. “I totally fell in love with gravel racing and riding the amazing backroads in Vermont,” he says.

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 25


to end. If he had done hiked it this year, he would have nailed a hat trick few have accomplished: three human powered traverses of the length of Vermont in one year on three different trails. Last winter Forgays, 50, left his home in Bristol and navigated the length of the Catamount Trail. “We headed north first to the Canadian border, hoping to find more snow and then did the southern part, which was solid ice,” he says. He followed that up this summer by spending five days riding the Cross Vermont Bike Packing Route (a.k.a. XVT BR), 300 miles of off-road riding linking singletrack and old forest roads between the Massachusetts and Canadian borders.

ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

ULTRA PERFORMANCES

VERMONTERS ARE KNOWN FOR STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE. HECK, WE SURVIVE WINTER, DON’T WE? BUT IN 2016, SEVERAL VERMONTERS WENT ABOVE AND BEYOND IN THEIR FEATS.

Ultra runner Aliza LaPierre faced her toughest race in 2016.

ULTRA RUNNER

OCEAN PADDLER

When it comes to ultra trail running, Williston’s Aliza LaPierre, 35, is a pro. What else can you say about a woman who started 2016 with the Bloomfield, Ct. Traprock 50, moved on to win California’s Miwok 100K (and placed 11th overall) and then, in August, headed to France to race the 166K Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc? The former ice hockey player and para educator didn’t win that one, she was 23rd finishing in 35 hours, 40 minutes. But she did more than most in simply finishing the grueling race. The event sent runners between three countries: Italy, Switzerland and France and over mountain passes with a total elevation gain of 31,496 feet. As LaPierre told Vermont Sports in 2015 (just after she finished second in Japan’s 105-mile Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji): “My ultimate goal is to see what I’m capable of and push others to see what they’re capable of and, of course, to have fun.” Of course, everyone’s idea of fun is different. For LaPierre, fun also meant finishing up 2016 by winning a 50-kilometer race in Lynchburg, Va. appropriately called the Mountain Masochist Trail Run.

By comparison, crossing the 32-mile body of water between the Hawaiian islands of Molokai and Oahu by paddleboard might seem like a piece of cake. But throw in 12-foot waves, sharks, winds and tides and you can start to understand why this channel, Ka’iwi Channel, is also known as the Channel of Bones. Molokai to Oahu, or M2O, as it has been nicknamed, is the most prestigious race in paddleboarding. Dr. Bob Arnot of Stowe has raced it several times since 2012, but this year, at age 68, he became the oldest to ever complete the race, making the crossing on a SUP in 7 hours, 43 minutes. Arnot, a TV correspondent, trained all summer with Russ Scully, of Burlington’s WND&WVS surf shop. Scully also competed, racing in the standup twoperson team with pro big wave surfer Chuck Patterson. Their team finished in 5 hours, 38 minutes.

SKY RACER Ultra runner Kasie Enman may have cut back on her racing since having her second child. But that didn’t stop the Huntington woman from finishing second this past season in the 50K National Championships at Tamalpais Headlands in California. Enman also took second in the Whiteface Sky Race (part of the world Skyracing circuit she dominated in 2015), finishing the Adirondack trail marathon in 3:18:18.

Enman, still running strong. Photo by Oliver Parini

CHANNEL SWIMMER While there are plenty of trails to train on in Vermont, there are fewer places that offer ultra swimmers the challenges of open water. Lake Memprhemagog is one and swimming in it in March (without a wetsuit) is one way Paula Yankauskas trained for her English Channel crossing this past fall. Several Vermonters have done the Channel swim, (most recently Wallingford’s Bethany Bosch in 2014), but this year the 62-year-old veterinarian from Hyde Park became the oldest woman to ever swim from England to France. She completed the 23-mile journey in just over 16 hours. That wasn’t her longest swim: In 2014, Yankauskas swam the length of Memphremagog, 25-miles, in 19 hours, 55 minutes.

26 VTSPORTS.COM | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017

Lynn, center, flanked by two of his daughters.

RAW POWERLIFTER

TRAIL BLAZER

This past October, Emerson Lynn came in second place overall (all age classes for his weight division) for the bench press at the 100 Percent Raw World Powerlifting Championships in Eerie, Penn., with a lift of 297.6 pounds. He placed first in the 65plus division at the same meet and is now ranked number one in the nation in both his 60-plus and 65-plus weight class (which is 148 pounds.) The publisher of the St. Albans Messenger also holds the world record for his age group (60+) with a bench press of 300.7 pounds set in 2012 and is ranked 7th overall (for all ages) in his weight class, nationally, with that same lift. Nor is Lynn at his peak. He benched 308 pounds this past October, but that weight was disqualified when one heel came slightly off the mat. Lynn only competes in the “raw” events, which ban all drugs (competitors

Born and raised in Vermont, Ian Forgays has hiked the Long Trail three times, end

are drug tested) and any use of support gear such as a bench shirt or squat suit.

HOW WE CHOSE OUR ATHLETES OF THE YEAR In addition to asking you, our readers, for suggestions for our Athletes of the Year, Vermont Sports reached out to some of the top athletes and coaches in the state for nominees. Among the criteria: Athletes had to either live in Vermont or have family here and continue to spend a significant amount of time doing their sport here. We also looked to recognize a variety of sports and achievements. Many thanks to Jess Cover of Run Vermont; Bud Keene (freestyle ski and snowboard coach and 2006 Olympic Coach of the Year); backcountry skier, photographer and adventurer Brian Mohr; Tao Smith, headmaster of Killington Mountain School; Peter Vollers of the Killington Mountain School and Overland Tours; Andy Weinberg, founder of the Endurance Society and Phil White, organizer of the Kingdom Games events. Think we missed an athlete? Send us an email at editor@vtsports.com.


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HEALTH

HOW TO SAVE YOUR KNEES

EVERYBODY KNOWS SOMEONE WHO HAS HURT A KNEE OR TORN AN ACL. HERE’S THE NEW THINKING ON WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE INJURED. BY DR. BEN ROSENBERG

T

here you are at your favorite ski hill, ripping down a run on a big powder day,

cutting or twisting place higher demands on

when come into a turn a bit late and get tossed into the back seat. You turn

their knees. They are more likely to benefit

quickly to recover and suddenly your knee goes “pop.” You plow into the next

from surgery than those who primarily

bump and go down. It hurts some, but the unsettling sensation is that your leg

do straight-ahead activities like jogging,

went one way while the rest of you went another. You stand up and gingerly try to bear weight. The knee buckles and down you go again. After a couple of choice expletives, you come to the realization that you are not going to be skiing down. As you sit in the snow waiting for the ski patrol to arrive you can’t help but start to think about what will come next. This scenario is an all-too common description of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL.) A rope-like ligament that connects the femur to the tibia, the ACL plays an important role in knee stability. ACL tears are usually accompanied by knee pain, swelling and difficulty bearing weight. These initial symptoms generally improve over several days (or weeks), and it may appear that the knee has recovered.

biking or hiking. I like to use the concept of “exposure risk” when discussing options for treatment. By “exposure risk” I mean the number of opportunities the athlete has to reinjure his or her knee. A 15-year-old high school soccer player has a much higher exposure risk than a 45-year-old recreational runner and cyclist. An athlete with a higher exposure risk may be better served by surgical treatment of his or her ACL injury.

However, if the ligament does not heal solidly (and unfortunately it often doesn’t),

A person with a more solid knee or

the knee may continue to feel unstable. Or, it may feel OK for a while, only to give way

“tight” joints before an injury may still have

again when you return to twisting sports. There may also be other injuries to the meniscus

good stability after an ACL tear. A more

(cartilage) or ligaments that may lead to pain, instability and inability to participate in

loose-jointed person may find the knee to

sports. That’s when the orthopedic surgeon gets a call.

be very unstable after a tear, as they depend on their ACL to hold their knee in place even

DO YOU NEED SURGERY? A common misconception is that all ACL tears require surgery. Sometimes they do, but not always. In fact, while many athletes benefit from surgery to stabilize their knee, others may do well with non-surgical treatment. Several factors determine whether or

for lighter, everyday activities. not a patient will require surgery, including presence of other injuries, age, activity level, desired sports participation, condition of the secondary stabilizers (other ligaments, cartilage and muscles) and, importantly, patients’ personal preference. As a general rule, athletes who participate in sports which involve jumping,

Your surgeon should review all these

Athletes who choose non-surgical treatment still need to diligently rehabilitate their knee to allow maximal recovery and return of function. If the athlete and surgeon agree that surgery is preferred, there are a few important choices to make, including timing of surgery, repair vs. reconstruction, graft type and return to sport criteria.

WHEN AND HOW TO HAVE SURGERY? One of the most common complications after ACL surgery is knee stiffness. Surgeons know that if the athlete goes into surgery with a stiff knee, the chances of ending up with a stiff knee after surgery are much higher. For this reason, ACL surgery is usually delayed until the initial swelling has abated, a limp has been resolved, and range of motion (especially the ability to fully straighten the knee) has returned. In some cases, surgery may be undertaken sooner,

factors with you and work with you to decide what's the best treatment. Physicians call

this

making.”

process

“shared

decision

Ideally, the athlete should feel

that he or she has weighed all the abovementioned considerations before making the choice about treatment.

Falling with your hips behind the knees can set you up for an ACL tear.

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 29


IS IT A TESTOSTERONE THING? NEW RESEARCH MAY EXPLAIN WHY WOMEN ARE MORE LIKELY TO TEAR AN ACL. Women are 10 times more likely to tear their ACLs than men, and new research out of Johns Hopkins University may explain why. After testing two groups of male rats, one set with normal testosterone levels and one set that had been castrated, researchers found that the castrated set had much weaker ACLs. “The primary implication of the study is that testosterone may contribute to the ACL’s ability to withstand tensile loads and may be one of multiple factors responsible for the disparate ACL injury rate between men and women,” says William Romani, a physical therapist and sports medicine researcher who was a visiting faculty member in the Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering from 2009 to 2015. The study was published in the Sept. 20, 2016 edition of the medical journal The Knee.

Working with a physical therapist before and after surgery will help reduce recovery time. especially if there is a severe cartilage injury that causes the knee to be “locked.” Most patients with ACL tears will work with a physical therapist to help guide them through the process of getting the knee ready for surgery and recovering after. The next question is what type of surgery you should consider. In the 1960s and 70s, when ACL injuries first started to be treated surgically, surgeons attempted to repair the ACL by stitching the torn ends together or reattaching the torn ligament to

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION

the bone. Unfortunately, these early repairs were often unsuccessful, leading surgeons to develop techniques to reconstruct, rather than repair the ACL. Reconstruction involves removing the old, torn ACL fibers and using a tendon graft, attached through drill holes in the knee, to replace the ligament. ACL reconstruction with a tendon graft is usually successful at allowing athletes to return to a sport, although the procedure

can be associated with significant pain, swelling and prolonged rehabilitation. Recently, a few centers have been reexamining the concept of repairing the torn ACL, using more modern fixation and rehab techniques. The jury is still out on this procedure, however, and the vast majority of sports medicine knee surgeons still recommend ACL reconstruction. The tendon grafts most commonly used for ACL reconstruction include using the patient’s own hamstring tendons (the cords

“Knee-

arms together, placing your feet together

WHEN CAN YOU BE BACK AT IT?

Friendly Skiing” shows what you can do

and keeping your hands forward over the

to reduce your risk.

skis.

Rehabilitation after ACL surgery is often as important as the surgery itself. Here in Vermont we are fortunate to have both excellent sports medicine knee surgeons and excellent physical therapists who specialize in treating athletes. When to safely return to sports after ACL surgery is a hotly debated topic. I tell my patients to expect a 6- to 12-month recovery period. For those athletes that do a seasonal sport, during the first season back the knee is rarely 100 percent. Return to play may be affected by the type of graft used, the presence of other injuries, history of previous knee injury and type of sport. Ultimately surgeons and therapists want to protect you from reinjuring the knee and having to go through the process all over again, so we often err on the side of caution. If you do have a knee injury, ask plenty of questions, and follow the advice of your surgeon and physical therapist.

injuries

commonly

happen,

A few conditions innocently set a

This helps keep the thigh in line with

skier up for injury: attempting to get up

the downhill ski and reduces the twisting

off the snow after falling while you are

FALL CAN GREATLY

moment. The uphill ski can then be used

still sliding, attempting to make a big

for weight transfer and your body will be

REDUCE A SKIER’S

recovery when you are off balance, or

positioned for recovery or a controlled

attempting to sit down on the rear of the

bailout.

LEARNING HOW TO

RISK OF AN ACL TEAR.

ski when you lose control. Why? Because in all these situations you are loading up the tail of the ski with

BY DR. JAMES SLAUTERBECK

pressure, creating a “phantom foot.” As

F

the tail gets loaded with pressure, the or more than 35 years, University of Vermont’s Dr. Robert Johnson MD, and his team of Dr. Jasper

ski acts as a spring: it transmits loads

Shealy and Carl Ettlinger, have been

The first step to preventing this is

studying skiing injuries and looking at

to understand what gets you into this

how to prevent them.

position in the first place. After studying

through the knee and acts like a lever or a rudder, rotating the knee.

In what has become one of the most

hundreds of injuries, the researchers

well-known studies in skiing, they asked

found that there are six primary elements

Sugarbush ski resort’s skiing employees

that set you up for injury:

If you do fall, don’t fully straighten your knees. Keeping them flexed will lessen the load on them. Don’t try to get up until you have stopped sliding (again, that will lessen the loads). And don’t put your hand or arm out to break your fall, as that will twist your body (or potentially break your arm or wrist.) Skiers spend lots of time learning how to ski and ski better. This research suggests we might also be well served in learning how to fall. Dr. James Slauterbeck played football

(patrollers, instructors and others) to

1) Falling with the uphill arm behind

watch a video training program aimed

the body, 2) Falling to the rear of the ski,

at Arizona State and is still active in

at decreasing knee injuries. The program

3) Getting into a position with the hips

many sports, especially cycling. He

was an overwhelming success. When

below the knees, 4) Removing weight on

works with many young athletes as

it rolled out at other resorts, it helped

the uphill ski, 5) Placing weight on the

part of his practice as an orthopaedic

decrease anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)

inside edge of the downhill tail part of the

surgeon in South Burlington and an

injuries by more than half. (To learn

ski and 6) Having the upper body face the

Associate Professor of Orthopaedics

more, visit www.vermontskisafety.com/

downhill ski.

in the Department of Orthopaedics

kneefriendly.php) By helping skiers learn how ACL

that run behind the knee) or a portion of the patellar tendon (the tendon that runs from the lower end of the kneecap to the tibia.) Tendon grafts that come from a patient’s own tissue are called “autografts.” Sometimes, in order to avoid having to remove the patient’s own tissue, surgeons use cadaver tendons, called “allografts.” There are pros and cons to autografts and allografts, and you should have a full discussion of the risks and benefits of each graft type with your surgeon prior to making a decision about which graft to use.

If you recognize you are out of control or are falling, try to react by keeping your

30 VTSPORTS.COM | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017

& Rehabilitation at the University of Vermont College of Medicine

An avid skier and a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon who’s been practicing in Middlebury for more than two decades, Dr. Ben Rosenberg has treated hundreds of athletes with knee injuries, many with ACL tears.


VERMONT

SPORTS

RACE & EVENT GUIDE

LISTING YOUR EVENT IN THIS CALENDAR IS FREE AND EASY. VISIT VTSPORTS.COM/ SUBMIT-AN-EVENT OR E-MAIL EDITOR@ VTSPORTS.COM. ALL AREA CODES ARE 802. ALL LOCATIONS ARE IN VERMONT, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED. FEATURED EVENTS, IN YELLOW, PAY A NOMINAL FEE.

NORDIC SKIING & SKI MOUNTAINEERING January 14 | Ladies Nordic Ski Expo, Stowe, Vt. The Catamount Trail Association and Trapp Family Lodge host this opportunity for women to work on classic, skate and backcountry skiing, taught by some of the best female instructors in the Northeast. catamounttrail.org 18-Feb. 22 | Green Mountain Skimo Race Series Bolton hosts the first uphill event in the Green Mountain Skimo Citizen Race Series. Routes are 1.5-3.5km long with 700-1000 feet of climbing and descending. Racing begins at 6 p.m. sharp and participants will ski as many laps as they can in one hour. Seven more events are held, as follows: Jan. 25, Bolton; Jan. 28, Stowe; Feb. 1, Bolton; Feb. 4, Sugarbush; Feb. 8, Bolton; Feb 15, Bolton; Feb. 18, Sugarbush; Feb. 22, Bolton. catamounttrail.org 28 | Craftsbury Marathon, Craftsbury, Vt. The 36th Craftsbury Marathon, the largest ski marathon in New England, will feature a redesigned course aimed at reducing the number of laps racers have to ski. Distances include 16.5km, 33km and 50km. skireg.com/2017craftsbury-marathon

February 4 | Nordic Rendezvous and Back To The Barn Tour, Ripton, Vt. Cross-country ski, fat bike or snowshoe on scenic trails that lead to the cabin where Robert Frost wrote with hot chocolate and luminaries along the way. After, Bread Loaf Inn hosts a hearty dinner and dance party in front of the fire. rikertnordic.com 5 | Brandon Gap Backcountry Area Ski and Splitboard Tour, Brandon, Vt. Join RASTA, The Catamount Trail Association and VTBC in an exploration of more than 15,000 vertical feet of backcountry terrain. The six-hour-long tour is open to all abilities. rastavt.org 5 | Oarsmen Ski Classic, Stafford, Vt. Watch former Olympians and Dartmouth rowers battle it out on the snow for winter bragging rights. staffordnordicskiing.com 11 | Ski To Dine, Goshen, Vt. Ski with a guide for 15 kilometers from Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton to Blueberry Hill Inn in Goshen and enjoy a four-course seasonal meal at the Inn. Headlamps and your own equipment are required. Call Blueberry Hill for more information at (802) 247-6735. 19 | Camel’s Hump Challenge, Huntington, Vt. In this rigorous wilderness ski touring experience, backcountry Nordic skiers traverse around Camel’s Hump to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Contact Mary Rockwell Thon, mthon@alz.org. 25| Winter Wild Uphill Race, Ludlow, Vt. Anyone with skins, snowshoes or running shoes can ascend Okemo Mountain’s three-mile course with over 1,000 vertical feet. winterwild.com

26 | Stowe Derby, Stowe, Vt. Ski or just cheer on skiers and fat bikers in this crazy descent from the top of Mountain Road down to the Stowe bike path and finish in the center of town. Classic, skate and fat bike divisions. stowederby.com 27 | Silver Fox Trot, Hanover, N.H. The Dartmouth Cross Country Ski Center is the site of a Bill Koch League freestyle race for young racers. A citizen race will follow the BKL race, with distances to be determined. nensa.net.

March 4 | The Frigid Infliction, Bolton Valley, Vt. This 8-hour winter adventure requires you to navigate using a topographical map and compass. Snowshoe and cross country ski through the course and be ready for surprises. gmara.org 5 | Jay Peak Skimo Challenge, Jay, Vt. One monster randonnée race challenges the advanced ski-mountaineer. The course is 8 miles with 4,920 feet elevation gain. jaypeakresort.com 18 | NE Rando Race Series "The Sun," Peru, Vt. Bromley hosts a randonnee race with over 4,793 vertical feet with a skintrack, but with no bootpack. nerandorace. blogspot.com

ALPINE SKIING & RIDING January 18 | Night Rider Series and Rail Jam, Bolton Valley, Vt. The first event of the Night Rider Series will start off with a rail jam in Hide Away Park. Come ride with your friends and win prizes. boltonvalley.com

All

Sports medicine

all the time!

When the outdoors is unkind, we’re here to help.

Nordic skiing. Our winter specialty. Decades of X-C ski wisdoms and ski fitting guidance.

For care from providers who understand your drive to get back to the sports you love, call today. Chiropractics | Physical & Occupational Therapy | Podiatry | Sports Medicine

Sharon Health Center

To schedule an appointment call (802) 763-8000 12 Shippee Lane, Sharon, VT | www.giffordhealthcare.org

49 Brickyard Lane, Putney Vermont

westhillshop.com

802-387-5718

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 31


28 | Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge Series, Warren, Vt. Sugarbush hosts the eighth event in a series of free, casual ski and snowboard races for all ages. Held at ski resorts throughout the Northeast. skiverticalchallenge.com 29 | Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge Series, Woodstock, Vt. Suicide Six hosts the ninth event in a series of free, casual, ski and snowboard races for kids and all ages. The festival is held at various ski resorts throughout the Northeast. skiverticalchallenge.com

Ethan Allen Biathlon Club 2017 Winter Race Series

DATES January 12, 19, 26, February 9, 16, 23 TIMES 5:00 pm - Registration 5:30 to 6:00 pm - Zeroing 6:15 pm - Race Start

February 18 | Triple Crown Unconventional Challenge, Fayston, Vt. The first leg of Mad River Glen’s Triple Crown Competition Series sends skiers down the Lift Line trail at Mad River Glen. The Unconventional Terrain Competition is New England's first “big mountain" competition. Skiers are challenged on steeps, cliffs, jumps and rocks, as they plunge down the relentless Lift Line course. The second and third legs challenge skiers to a mogul course and to as ski as much vertical as they can. . madriverglen.com 18-19 | Harris Hill Ski Jumping, Brattleboro, Vt. The 90-meter Harris Hill Ski Jumps hosts two days of jumping, music, tailgating and a climb to the takeoff for an up-close look at the jumpers as they fly by. Part of the United States American Ski Jumping tour and Fred Harris Memorial Tournaments. harrishillskijump.com 25 | Southern Vermont Freeskiing Challenge at Magic Mountain, Londonderry, Vt. Junior freeskiers (ages 15-18) head to Magic Mountain to show off their skills on Red Line trail. skitheeast.net

March

WHERE Ethan Allen Biathlon Club Ethan Allen Rd., Jericho, VT

NEW: See our website for NEW mandatory Safety Clinic information

Info: www.eabiathlon.org

3 | Triple Crown Vertical Challenge, Fayston, Vt. The second leg of Mad River Glen’s Triple Crown Competition Series sees how many vertical feet competitors can ski in a day. madriverglen.com 4 | Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge Series, Bolton Valley, Vt. Bolton hosts the 21st event in a series of free ski

Kingdom Swim

LAKE MEMPHREMAGOG — NEWPORT, VERMONT WWW.KINGDOMSWIM.ORG

NO LANES • NO LINES • NO LIMITS NEKOWSKA 2017 SWIMS JULY 29TH, 2017 July 1 - Son of a Swim

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July 15 - Georgeville or Bist July 29 - 9th Annual Kingdom Swim August 12 - Crystal Lake August 13 - Island Pond August 14 - Echo Lake August 15 - Lake Seymour August 16 - Massawippi

Thank you to the Sponsors and Partners of Kingdom Games: Eastside Restaurant, Kingdom Brewing, Brault's Slaughterhouse, Couture's B&B and Sugar Shop, Community National Bank, Burke Mountain, Jay Peak, Eden Ice Cider, Caledonia Spirits, Derby Village Store, Kinney Drugs, Newport City Inn & Suites, Vermont Sports Magazine, Passumpsic Savings Bank, Lakeview Aviation, Parker Pie, NEK Tasting Center, Newport Natural Café, Ciderhouse Bar & Grill, Mike's Tiki Bar, White Caps Campground

32 VTSPORTS.COM | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017

and snowboard races and festival events held at various ski resorts throughout the northeast. skiverticalchallenge.com 4 | Castlerock Extreme Challenge, Warren, Vt. Advanced skiers tackle the terrain on Sugarbush’s renowned Castlerock Peak to find the best skier on the mountain and claim a $1,000 cash prize. sugarbush. com 4-5 | The Kare Andersen Telemark Festival, Peru, Vt. Bromley hosts professional telemark clinics from beginner to advanced levels all weekend. A classic telemark race will be held Sunday morning. bromley.com 5 | High Fives Fat Ski a Thon, Warren, Vt. Get out your fat skis and head to Sugarbush to lap the Summit Quad for a good cause. Each lap completed on “fat” skis of 70 millimeters or more will raise money to support the High Fives Foundation. sugarbush.com 5 | Jack Jump World Championships at Mount Snow, Dover, Vt. The Jack Jump World Championships return to Mount Snow, complete with speed, racing action and, undoubtedly, great crashes. mountsnow.com 10-11 | Carinthia Freeski Open, West Dover, Vt. Mount Snow’s acclaimed Carinthia terrain challenges freeskiers to compete for a $7,000 cash purse and tons of gear for prizes. mountsnow.com


11 | Triple Crown Mogul Challenge, Fayston, Vt. In the third leg of Mad River Glen’s Triple Crown Series, skiers are challenged with moguls on the Chute trail in front of a Single Chair audience. madriverglen.com 11-12 | Slash and Berm Banked Challenge, Killington, Vt. Snowboarders race a technical slalom course with curves, knolls and drops as they fly down Bear Mountain. killington.com 12 | Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge Series, Bromley, Vt. Bromley hosts the 22nd event in a series of free casual ski and snowboard races and festival events held at various ski resorts throughout the northeast. skiverticalchallenge.com 18-19 | Ski the East Freeride Tour Championships at Jay Peak, Jay, Vt. Skiers charge some of Jay Peak’s most difficult terrain in pursuit of the series championship. jaypeakresort.com

April 8 | Annual Sugar Slalom at Stowe, Stowe, Vt. Originating in 1940 and one of the oldest ongoing races in the country, the Mount Mansfield Ski Club’s annual Sugar Slalom celebrates spring with serious racing, serious fun and sugar on snow. teammscc. org 8 | Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge Finals, Jay, Vt. For the second year, Jay Peak hosts the final event in a series of free casual ski and snowboard races and festival events held at various ski resorts throughout the northeast. skiverticalchallenge.com

Ongoing Killington’s Dos Equis Ski Bum Race Series Local teams of skiers and riders race in pursuit of ski bum glory and points every Wednesday. Starts 12/9. killington.com Ski Bum Race Series at Stowe Stowe’s recreational ski league starts up with races every Tuesday. Race every week and improve your team’s standings. Starts 1/5. stowe.com Innkeepers Ski Bum Race Series at Bromley Bromley hosts weekly ski bum races every Wednesday from January to the end of the season. bromley.com Middlebury Ski Club Ski Bum Races The Middlebury Ski Club hosts Friday ski races on the Allen course at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl. middleburysnowbowl. com

ICE SKATING & SNOWSHOEING February 11-12 | Smugglers’ Notch Family Snowshoe Festival & 16th Annual Northern Vermont Snowshoe Challenge, Jeffersonsville, Vt. Smugglers’ Notch hosts two days of free demos, games, and snowshoe tours, open to all abilities. smuggs.com 18-20 | Fourth Annual Memphremegog Ice Skating Festival, Newport, Vt. Kingdom Games hosts 1, 5, 21 and 42 kilometer races on a 1 kilometer oval, plus a supported Adventure Skate on a cleared trail north up Lake Memphremegog as far as weather and ice conditions permit. 25 | Snowshoe Festival, Goshen, Vt. Join the Endurance Society for 10K, 30K, 60K snowshoe race and a fun 5K Sled/Run race, starting at the Blueberry Hill Inn in Goshen. snowshoefestival.eventbrite.com

March 10, 11 | Peak Snowshoe Ultra, Marathon & Fun Run, Pittsfield, Vt. Peak Races hosts 10K, half-marathon, marathon and 100-mile snowshoe races on a 6.5-mile loop with 1,200 vertical feet on each lap. peak.com

March 3-4 | Annual Winterbike Festivial, Burke, Vt. Hundreds head to East Burke as The Kingdom Trails and Mountain Bike Vermont host winter’s biggest bike event and party with fatbike demos, lunch and beverages, music, fire, sugar on snow, games, races and swag. kingdomtrail.org.

FESTIVALS & FUN

prevention, recognition and treatment of injuries and illnesses in the backcountry. Get Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification or Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification upon completion. gmara.org 22 | Photography Outback Tour, Warren, Vt. Tour with a Sugarbush photography guide and capture the wildlife and backcountry of the SlideBrook basin on camera. Camera and snow boots required. sugarbush.com

February

January 14-28 | Stowe Winter Carnival, Stowe, Vt. Stowe’s 43rd Winter Carnival returns with sports events, ice carving competitions, ski movies, Kids Carnival Kaos, a broomball tournament and a beer garden. stowewintercarnival.com 20-22 | Smuggs Ice Bash, Smugglers’ Notch, Vt. Winter’s biggest climbing event happens in the Notch and at PetraCliffs in Burlington. Sign up for free gear demos, clinics, slideshows, competitions, a party and prizes. smuggsicebash.com 21-22 | Wilderness First Aid Workshop, Waterbury, Vt. This sixteen-hour course focuses on the

2 | Rock Climbing Abroad And At Home, Waterbury, Vt. PetraCliffs' Andrea Charest speaks about her experiences climbing and backcountry skiing internationally. gmara.org 4 | Special Olympics Vermont Penguin Plunge, Burlington, Vt. Plunge into frigid Lake Champlain to raise money for sports training during Special Olympics, Vermont’s largest annual fundraiser. specialolympics.org 4 | Polar Bear Obstacle Challenge, Benson, Vt. At the Shale Hill Adventure Center, unlimited bragging rights go to whoever completes the most laps of this 10K , 80-obstacle course in 8 hours. shalehilladventure.com

FATBIKING January 7 | Überwintern Fatbike Festival,Stowe, Vt. Mountain Bike Vermont hosts a day of fatbike group rides, demos and hearty brews around a warm fire. mtbvt.com

February 11 | Fatscutney Fatbike Race, Brownsville, Vt. Sport Trails of the Ascutney Basin (STAB) and Ascutney Outdoors present the inaugural Fatscutney Fatbike Race–10 miles of singletrack with prizes, ski events, snowshoeing and gear demos. stabvt.org

Welcome to our slice of Nordic Heaven. 95k of meticulously groomed trails. Affordable trailside lodging, delicious, ample meals. Warm, welcoming lodge, fitness center, and waxing facilities.

11 | FatBike Roundup, Ripton, Vt. A day of fat biking at Rikert Nordic Center in collaboration with Green Mountain Bikes and Frog Hollow Bikes. rikertnordic.com 26 | Stowe Derby, Stowe, Vt. Ride or cheer on fat bikers in this crazy descent from the top of Mountain Road, down to the Stowe bike path and finish in the center of town. Classic, skate ski and fat bike divisions. stowederby.com 26 | Fatstock, Woodstock, Vt. The Woodstock Inn and Resort and Overland host a race over "epic, circuitous terrain" regardless of weather. vermontoverland.com

Hope you’ll visit! Mention this ad when reserving for 15% off midweek stays, or 10% off your second night of any stay.

Details at craftsbury.com/VSLodging

© John Lazenby

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 | VTSPORTS.COM 33


ENDGAME

THE BACKCOUNTRY BREAKFAST CLUB

A LITTLE MID-WEEK, EARLY-MORNING ADVENTURE IS ALWAYS WORTH IT. ESPECIALLY WHEN CHORIZO BURRITOS ARE INVOLVED. BY ALEX SHOWERMAN

A

t 4:45 a.m. in late December, my alarm jolted me awake. It was still dark out. I went to hit snooze, but then I told myself, “Get up, it’s always worth it.” Bleary eyed, I pulled on base layers, fumbled to put in my contacts, then grabbed my pre-packed necessities: skins, helmet, goggles poles, and splitboard and threw them in the trunk of my car. Before departing, I ran back in to snag the chorizo sausage, chopped peppers, onions, spinach and eggs from the fridge. It was a weekday and we had to be back to the car by 10:00 a.m. so my touring partner could get to the office. But first we needed a mini-adventure. Backcountry Breakfast Club was born when my good friend Alek Jadkowski, a local pilot and engineer, and I were trying to capture a bit of the sense of adventure and freedom we had last spring while backcountry skiing and riding in Iceland for three weeks. There, our days were simple: wake up, cook breakfast, find an intriguing mountain to climb and ski, cook dinner repeat. The freedom of having no real plans and the simplicity of cooking outside were part of a routine that never got boring. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of routine that works when the real world beckons and bills need to be paid. We came up with Backcountry Breakfast Club as a way to incorporate a little bit of that adventure into our everyday lives. Each week we pick a new area to “explore,” bring along our necessary cooking gear and a meal. The goal is to skip the instant oatmeal and make a ‘gourmet’ breakfast in the backcountry using local ingredients I usually pick up at Pete’s Greens Farm Market the day before. Our plan that December morning was to poke around the Bolton backcountry, ride a few of our favorite lines and make chorizostuffed breakfast burritos. We skinned up in blackness, but just as we reached our destination the sun began to light up the surrounding mountaintops. To the north, we could just catch Mount Mansfield peeking in and out of the clouds. Below, we scoped out our powder lines. Hungry and missing coffee, we discussed whether we should make breakfast here or rip our skins and drop in. Our thirst for powder outweighed our need for caffeine, so we decided to drop in. We hooted and hollered as we charged our way down the powdery chute, every turn enveloping us in a white wave. “That was awesome! Another lap or breakfast?” Alek asked as we high-fived at the bottom. “Let’s go hit that one more time, then we

Nothing tastes better in the backcountry than a Southwestern burrito breakfast.

BREAKFAST CLUB TIPS 1. Have a partner. You also should always have a partner when venturing into the backcountry. Plus, if you don’t have someone to meet, it’s easier to hit the snooze button. If you can’t ditch your partner, you have to get out of bed.

Showerman preparing the breakfast for champions. Photo by Alek Jadkowski

can get to breakfast.” I replied. We were having such a good time that I ignored my need for food. In the skin track I started to ponder about what kind of mindset I would be in when I started the workday of writing, pitches and networking in Waterbury Center. What I’ve noticed is that a morning mini adventure offers four key benefits to kickstart the day. Breakfast Club, I realized gives me the following things: 1. A sense of accomplishment. After a mini adventure in the morning, I feel as though I have done something for the day. This sets me up to tackle my real to-dos with gusto. 2. A clean slate to stay focused. I’ve already done something that I wanted to do for the day, which means I can focus on work without feeling like I am missing out. 3. A chance to disconnect. When I go into the backcountry my phone stays off, giving me a chance to unplug from email, Facebook, and all the other distractions of the modern world.

34 VTSPORTS.COM | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017

4. Better health. The past four years I’ve worked for employers who had flexible schedules and enabled my morning adventures. Since then, the health benefits have been noticeable. I have lost more than 40 pounds and I rarely get sick. After our third and final lap of the day, we decided it was time to finally get to breakfast. We pulled out the stove and a lightweight, packable French press for some locally-roasted Brave Coffee while we cooked up our Southwestern breakfast burrito. The sound of the sizzling pan and the smell of the peppers, onions, spinach and chorizo, seemed foreign but welcome in the peaceful forest. Bellies full, we loaded up our packs, skinned back to the parking lot, high fived and made our ways to start the workday. Back at my desk by 10:30 a.m. and feeling fulfilled, my mind was clear. Alex Showerman has written for Mountain Magazine, Backcountry and Transworld Snowboarding. He lives in Waterbury Center.

2. Know where you are going. Make sure you have a good game plan, including where you are planning to go, where you’ll set up breakfast camp, how long the adventure will take and when you will be back at the office. 3. Always prep the night before. Heading out the door for a pre-work mission means getting up several hours earlier than you are used to. If you still have to pack, that means you have to get up that much earlier and face the daunting task of getting your gear together. Make sure your backpack is packed, there’s fuel and your stove, and prep and pre-chop the ingredients you need and keep them in a baggie in the fridge, ready to go. 4. Have a plan for coffee. If you’re a coffee person, make sure you have a plan. Put it on a timer, or know what stores are open early enough for you to grab your morning joe. 5. Always get up. Whether it is to chase pow, or watch the sunrise from a local summit, getting up is always worth it.


PHOTO / RACHID DAHNOUN

POWDER STASHES, NOT POWDER ROOMS. WE MADE IT JUST FOR YOU. The new Osprey Kresta featuring women’s-specific fit and focused features for quick skins and fast descents.


Vermont Sports, Jan./Feb. Issue  
Vermont Sports, Jan./Feb. Issue