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Vermont-trained star Lindsey Jacobellis, currently the world's top-ranked woman in bordercross, is heading for PyeongChang.
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An Olympic Legacy
6 Great Outdoors
These snowshoe marathons are a chance to find out.
Can the Redneck Racing team turn out an Olympian?
Olympians in the Gates
Olympics: Freeskiing & Hockey
New backcountry, new AT rental centers, climbing places and a new MTB event.
Devin Logan's dual bid. Plus, a local hockey star makes the team.
A Different Type of Strength Training
Here's how to improve your vision. It just takes exercise.
A Double Threat
A Team on Target
Vemont-trained biathletes are on track to medal.
The Best Nordic Team Ever
The Old Guard Goes For Gold
Will Kelly Clark, Hannah Teter and Lindsey Jacobellis still rule?
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AN OLYMPIC LEGACY
2018 Olympic hopeful Ryan Cochran-Siegle of Starksboro, with his mother, 1972 Olympic gold medalist, Barbara Ann Cochran. Photo courtesy USSA
ermont, we own the winter Olympics. Seriously, how many states can say that half the U.S. National Alpine Skiing Team and more than two-thirds of the U.S. Cross Country Team have spent a significant portion of their lives living and/or training there? How many states can claim the first two athletes in any sport to secure a spot at PyeongChang? How many have trained five of the winningest winter sports competitors ever? We're talking about Mikaela Shiffrin, freeskiing phenom Devin Logan, and snowboarders Kelly Clark, Hannah Teter, and Lindsey Jacobellis. As we head into the Olympics, it’s also important to consider how they got to where they are and where the next generation of champions are coming from. More than half of the athletes on the U.S. National Cross-Country team have trained at Stratton Mountain School, under the leadership of Sverre Caldwell. On the A-list T2 development team are his daughter Sophie and nephew Patrick, Andy Newell, Jessie Diggins and Simi Hamilton. Right behind them, there’s Landgrove’s Katherine Ogden, Dartmouth skier Julia Kern, and the list goes on. Craftsbury Outdoor Center, has helped produce Nordic skiers Liz Stephen and Ida Sargent, and biathletes Susan Dunklee and Emily Dreissigacker. Stratton Mountain School’s strength stretches across winter sports. In snowboarding, there are Olympic medalists Lindsey Jacobellis, Alex Deibold and Louie Vito; Danny Davis and rising star Julia Marino. Burke Mountain Academy trained not only Mikaela Shiffrin but also Liz Stephen— an alpine racer and runner before coach Matt Whitcomb persuaded her to try crosscountry skiing—and Ida Sargent. Green Mountain Valley School’s former coach, Mike Day, now coaches Mikaela Shiffrin and several GMVS alumni are on
the U.S. Team. University of Vermont will most likely claim several grads in this year’s games, including biathlete Lowell Bailey and Canadian ski racer Laurence St. Germain, a computer science major who took the semester off from the NCAA circuit to race World Cup and train for the Olympics. UVM’s all-time record-holding player, Amanda Pelkey, heard on January 1 that she had made the U.S. Olympic Women’s Hockey Team, a dream she has held since she learned to skate on her front-yard rink in Montpelier at age 3. The depth of talent this year in many sports is so great that simply making the team in some sports is going to be as challenging as competing in PyeongChang. As Biddle Duke describes in "A Redneck in Korea?", to simply compete on the international World Cup circuit requires a hefty investment of funds as well as time. So why do it? Why invest the time? Why contribute money to an Olympic campaign? As Robby Kelley's grandfather, Mickey Cochran once said, "I felt it was excellent training for our youngsters to learn to reach for a very high level of perfection and to develop the skills to where they could be quite accomplished, not so much from the winning standpoint but just to experience the hard work necessary to excel. I think this is an invaluable lesson in life, and it’s what I hoped all our kids would learn from skiing." Considering the family Mickey Cochran has raised—four children and six grandchildren have skied for the U.S Ski Team and have brought home a slew of Olympic, World Cup and NCAA medals— that's been good advice. Just as important is the legacy Vermont's Olympians leave behind. Mickey Cochran's grandkids Robby Kelley and Ryan CochranSiegel are both vying for an Olympic berth. Putney Nordic legend John Caldwell's two grandkids, Sophie and Patrick, are likely to make the cross-country team. Stan Dunklee's daughter Susan is carrying on his Olympic legacy. Dick Dreissigacker and Judy Geer may have been Olympic rowers, but if Emily makes the Olympics, she'll be their second daughter to make the U.S. Biathlon squad. As of press time in late December, many of the Olympic teams had not yet been finalized. But we went ahead and made our best bets on who to watch for in PyeongChang. We're proud of all those who made the Olympic teams, and equally so of those who tried. —Lisa Lynn, Editor
JAN/FEB 2018 | VTSPORTS.COM 5
TOUGH ARE YOU? SNOWSHOE RACING MAY BE THE MOST CHALLENGING WINTER SPORT OUT THERE, BUT TRYING IT IS EASY WITH MAJOR RACES COMING TO VERMONT THIS WINTER. BY EMMA COTTON
im Van Orden is preparing to host one of the biggest snowshoe races in the country at tiny Prospect Mountain in the southwestern corner of Vermont. Every year, the location of the Dion US National Snowshoe Championships rotates between four different areas, and on March 9, the race will land in Woodford for the second time. According to Van Orden, snow has a lot to do with it. “Prospect Mountain is kind of an anomaly in the Northeast,” he says. “Most mountains in Vermont are in the 2,000-foot range, but this plateau is all above 2,000 feet, and it’s huge. It’s a snow trap.” Bennington’s less-than-fourhour proximity to Boston, New York City and Montreal makes it a good destination for international travelers, of which the event sees many. At the 2014 championships, held in the same spot, athletes
6 VTSPORTS.COM | JAN/FEB 2018
The U.S. National Snowshoe Championship will take place at Prospect Mountain for the second time this February. In 2014, the same event (pictured here) saw more than 400 participants. Photo courtesy Scott Mason.
represented 22 states and nine countries. Attendance at the championships has shot up from about 270 athletes in 2007, when they were held in Syracuse, N.Y., to 413 athletes in Bennington’s first championship in 2014. This year, Van Orden expects 500 participants, the Northeast’s biggest turnout yet. “Last time, we had a lot of athletes who were new snowshoers, and it opened
up the sport to a bigger audience,” he said. “Now, we’re thinking we’ll actually have to put a limit on the number of attendees.” Among international competitors and renowned runners, Van Orden expects to see Canadian Joël Bourgeois, a two-time Olympic runner and 1999 winner of the Pan-American Games, Huntington, Vt. native, Vermont
City Marathon champ and Salomonsponsored skyrunner Kasie Enman, and Josh Ferenc, an ultradistance runner from Saxtons River, Vt. competing. This year’s runners can expect an expanded set of races, with marathon and half marathon options. While these options might seem tempting to distance runners, Van Orden warns:
“A marathon on snowshoes is probably closer to running a 50-mile race on the road. It’s a different animal.” GETTING INTO THE SPORT Vermont has a snowshoeing history: sponsor Dion Snowshoes has been based in Bennington since 1998, and Tubbs Snowshoes was based in Vermont from the 1940s until 2008. It’s a good time to bring the championships back, as snowshoeing here is on the rise. Ever since Van Orden first tried snowshoeing, he’s been advocating for other athletes to give the sport a go. “A lot of other sports—running, triathlon, fatbiking—translate well to snowshoeing,” he says. A competitive Nordic skier (he raced for Middlebury College) and runner (in 2011 he was named both Trail Runner of the Year and Mountain Runner of the Year by USA Masters) Van Orden moved to back to Vermont from Los Angeles in 2007. He wanted to keep himself in shape during the winter, but didn’t want to pay $2,000 for a competitive Nordic setup. “That’s when a friend told me to try snowshoeing,” he says. “The top-ofthe-line snowshoes—the best racing snowshoes you can find—are $200. That’s all you need to buy.” Getting involved is easy, but the sport itself is not. Van Orden says he’s only run one race harder than a 10K on snowshoes: climbing the stairs of the Empire State Building. During a marathon on snowshoes, runners can easily burn 1,000 calories in an hour. “I can’t imagine a harder sport. We’ve had people pass out, or just give up and lie down in the snow. It’s every part of your body,” he says. “The snow grabs your shoes, causing you to trip and falter, and it’s hard to get that rhythm. You’re running on top of the snow for three steps, and then you punch in on the fourth. Your whole body gets involved in that. There’s a ton of core, and a ton of upper body. It’s fun.” Van Orden’s goal is to get newcomers to feel the same way he did when he discovered the sport. “When I tried my first race, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “And I loved it.” Those new to snowshoeing can give one of the state’s many 5Ks a try, like the Susan B. Komen Vermont Race for the Cure, which will be held at Stratton on Jan. 21, and the Winter Magic Snowshoe Race around Lowell Lake in Londonderry on Jan. 7.
READY FOR A MARATHON? Frigus | Feb 24 The Endurance Society’s annual snowshoe festival, FRIGUS, will be hosted at the Cortina Inn & Resort this year, with its 5K, 15K and yes, its trademark grueling marathon races. Each race has its own course: the 5K is a single loop, the 15K is a single loop with 1500 feet of vertical, and the marathon will consist of multiple loops, each with 1500 feet of gain. Endurance Society's Andy Weinberg notes: “We have more climbing in the longer distances, and the longer course will feature rolling wooded trails, a wider and somewhat groomed snowmobile trail section, and a rugged climb with some rocks and ice.” endurancesociety.org Peak Snowshoe Devil Winter Race, Pittsfield | March 3 If a marathon snowshoe race feels like a 50-mile road race, what does a 100-mile snowshoe race feel like? The aptly-named Devil Winter Race in Pittsfield is a way to find out. Peak Races offers four distances: a 10K, half-marathon, marathon and 100mile ultra-marathon. Each circles the same 6.5-mile loop with 1,200 feet of vertical, starting with steep flights of stone steps that lead to a winding path on ancient forest roads. Eventually, you emerge at an isolated stone hut with panoramic views of the Green Mountains. The race is named for its threatening descent into “Devil’s Throat,” shortly after the summit, where racers will find chutes and gnarly traverses. If you sign up for the 100-miler, beware: most do not finish this race. peak.com
The Woodford race will draw top pros, but there's a 5K open to beginners, as well. . Photo courtesy Scott Mason
(See more like this in Calendar, p. 33). At many of these events Tubbs and Atlas will offer snowshoe demos, and you can borrow some for the race. And for those
looking to test their endurance, the following snowshoe races are among the toughest there are.
Dion US National Snowshoe Championships | March 9-11 Prospect Mountain in Woodford, Vt. hosts two days of races. On Saturday, the classic 10K race includes 1200 feet of climbing, with a kilometer of stadium track, then 40 percent groomed Nordic trails and singletrack the rest of the way. A 5K Citizen’s Race will also take place Saturday— great for beginners. New this year, marathon and half marathon races are on Sunday. Both courses are on a 7K loop, shaped like an infinity sign with the aid station at its center. For all races except the 5K Citizen’s Race, runners must be current members of the U.S. Snowshoe Association. ussnowshoechampionships.com
JAN/FEB 2018 | VTSPORTS.COM 7
Bolton Valley and Magic Mountain launched backcountry programs this winter, with gear available to rent and clinics throughout the season. Photo courtesy Bolton Valley
TWO NEW BACKCOUNTRY CENTERS As backcountry skiing takes off, ski resorts are getting involved, too. Most allow uphill skiing and have designated sidecountry, but this year, two mountain resorts are pushing farther into the realm. One of the biggest barriers to backcountry skiing has been the high cost of gear. Backcountry skis and bindings cost a pretty penny and rental gear has been largely unavailable. That’s why this season Bolton Valley will host a rental fleet of Dynafit backcountry boots, skis and bindings. “What we want to do with our backcountry program is teach people about the equipment, about the right apparel, technique, and the rules about the backcountry to stay safe,” says Josh Arneson, Bolton’s public relations director. And in southern Vermont, Magic Mountain's backcountry program will debut this season. While the mountain has always welcomed and encouraged alpine touring, this year,
the resort has created a partnership with Salomon and will offer a full-service AT demo equipment and a rental center featuring the Salomon QST line. There will also be AT snowboard rental equipment featuring Weston splitboards. Magic will host guided gladed, sidecountry and backcountry tours out of its Learning Center. Uphill clinics will be offered on January 20th, February 10th and March 10th. Bolton will hold a two-hour "Intro to the Backcountry" classes on Saturday mornings, a half-day group backcountry ski on Sunday mornings, and guided backcountry lessons whenever requested. Bolton will also bring back its Tuesday night skimountaineering, or “skimo,” race series, during which skiers skin uphill and ski downhill. For more uphill events at resorts, see Calendar, p. 29.
8 VTSPORTS.COM | JAN/FEB 2018
Vermont’s Climbing Resource Access Group (CRAG-VT) has officially announced the opening of Lone Rock Point, a 55foot limestone cliff in Burlington, to climbers for the 2018 season. In an agreement with the Rock Point Center, which manages the 130-acre lakeshore property, eight climbers are permitted to scale the cliff at a time. Climbing the cliff was previously prohibited in part because of danger to rare plants, so CRAG-VT’s routes are designed to minimize impact. Both organizations encourage climbers to be stewards of the land. CRAG-VT also plans to acquire Bolton Dome (formerly known as Trailer Park Crag), the Burlington area’s original climbing spot. Though the area was closed in the late ‘80s because of a rift between climbers and the landowner, the current owners recently decided to sell their house, along with adjoining Bolton Dome, to CRAG-VT (with financial help, again, from the Access Fund). There are many steps ahead until the organization can open the area, including an additional $100,000 in fundraising. Last, Access Fund and The American Alpine Club recently awarded $10,000 in grants to eight anchor replacement projects across the country, and one of them went to (CRAG-VT). According to Steve Charest, a member of CRAG-VT’s board and co-owner of Petracliffs Climbing Center & Mountaineering School in Burlington, the effort to replace outdated climbing hardware in the Bolton Valley, Smugglers’ Notch and Wheeler Mountain areas has been ongoing. “A lot of bolts were installed in the early 90s, when there was less regulation,” he said. “Some of the early routes were simple hardware-store hardware. There’s a big difference between bolts manufactured for climbing and something you would use in construction.” As a result, engineer, climber and “good Samaritan” Greg Kuchyt has been replacing the bolts, making sure CRAG-VT is using appropriate metals, and replacing older three-piece expansion bolts with glue-ins, made of stainless steel, which last generations without rusting. “It’s basically just to preserve the climbing. It’s not that they’re so unsafe that they’re falling out of the walls,” Charest said.
race there.” The US Open was first held in 2003 and is notable for its simple two category format: Open Class and Amateur Class. Anyone can enter the Open Class and compete amongst the pros for a chance to prove their rank. Pros get cash purses and amateurs compete for bragging rights and some of the best prizes in racing.
KILLINGTON TO HOST US OPEN After spending years building out its downhill mountain biking to include a total of 27 miles of trails, served by three lifts, Killington Resort will be hosting the US Open of Mountain Biking. The event will take place from Aug. 1-5, the week leading up to the UCI World Cup at Mount Saint Anne. Two events will draw the world’s best mountain bikers: The USO Downhill will take place on a newly built race course coming directly off Killington’s 4241’ Peak. 2018 will also be the first year with a US Open Enduro event. “Killington has invested heavily in their bike program over the past few years and we are very excited about the opportunity we have to grow the US Open with Killington Bike Park. In addition to the resort itself, the entire Killington Valley is working hard to establish themselves as a major mountain bike destination and it shows,” says Clay Harper, US Open of Mountain Biking Event Director. The 2017 US Open downhill winner, Neko Mulally of the YT Mob race team, recently visited Killington to walk the newly proposed race course off of Killington Peak and sneak
NEW CLIMBING ROUTES FOR 2018
NEW TRAILS AND GLADES
Pros from around the world will compete on Killington's trails this summer. Photo courtesy of Killington Resort
in some riding. “It’s an awesome downhill and the week features fun events like whipoff and kids racing that bring us all together,” says Mulally. “The terrain and bike park at Killington are incredible and I can’t wait to
This fall, the state’s Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation asked Vermonters to weigh in on the first new plan in a quartercentury for the 26,000-acre management area that includes Camel’s Hump State Park and stretches as far south as Mad River Glen. The plan, as currently written, would create new multi-use trails and new backcountry skiing glades. The plan also includes 34 timber harvests over 3,800 acres of forested land within the next 15 years. The land includes Camel’s Hump State Park, Camel’s Hump State Forest, Robbins Mountain Wildlife Management Area and Huntington Gap Wildlife Management Area.
The new ski glades are in part a response to public demand, and in part an acknowledgment that people are already cutting ski glades on public land, said Michael Snyder, commissioner of Vermont’s Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. “It’s something I’m passionate about as a backcountry skier,” Snyder said, but the move to create state-sanctioned ski glades is also an attempt to put the brakes on private individuals who have been creating glades on public land without permission. The department is still looking for groups to partner with in this glade-creating effort, Nerenberg said, such as the various backcountry skiing organizations spread around the state. The land sits inside one of the largest extant blocks of habitat in the state. Large, connected areas of intact forest are important for wildlife and other forest organisms, he said. The public was invited to submit commentary in December and the plan has been underway since 2011. –With reporting by VTDigger
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JAN/FEB 2018 | VTSPORTS.COM 9
A NEW KIND OF STRENGTH TRAINING WITH THE RIGHT EXERCISES, YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR EYESIGHT AND PERFORMANCE. HERE'S HOW. BY EMMA COTTON
f you’re flying through backcountry on a powder day, navigating slalom gates, ascending a wall of ice or negotiating rapids in a kayak, strength is important. Most athletes dedicate time and effort to the size and power of muscles specific to their sport: skiers squat for their quads, kayakers work their core and arms, climbers gain grip strength. But most athletes neglect to train what is, perhaps, the most important muscle of all: the eye. “The whole computerized network called the human body works like this,” says pioneering sports vision specialist Donald Teig, who has worked with Olympic athletes and big-league national baseball, football and hockey teams. “Eighty percent of the information you get about your senses comes through your eyes. The eyes send those messages to your brain, and then the brain tells your muscular system how to react or move in a certain way that achieves the goal.” It seems obvious: With poor eyesight, a slalom skier will misjudge the gate’s location and turn too early or late, a baseball player may strike out or a golfer will miss a hole. Many athletes turn to prescription eye glasses, contact lenses or surgery to improve vision. But more and more, doctors are telling athletes that the eye, just like any other muscle, can be trained.
Nick Yardley, CEO of the Vermont-based eyewear company Julbo (pictured ice climbing here and running below), uses photochromatic lenses to avoid swtiching glasses and goggles during the day. Photo courtesy of Nick Yardley
“This has become the hottest new area for an athlete to gain a competitive edge.”
HOW IT WORKS The idea that you can train your eye and, in turn, expect better performance, is part of a new and growing field with the laborious title “visual neurocognitive motor training.” While vision training may not reverse your nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, it has been shown to dramatically improve certain visual skills: depth perception, peripheral vision field awareness, hand-eye coordination, contrast sensitivity, and even balance. Teig, who is now based out of Florida, has trained a network of more than optometrists across the country (including two in the Northeast) that he calls the “A Team,” who provide sports vision training. He’s worked with 15 Major League Baseball teams, several National Hockey League Teams, Olympic ski racers, football players, ballerinas—the list goes on. “In the past three years, there’s been a tremendous reaching out, at least to me, about this whole field,” Teig says. “This has become the hottest new area for an athlete to gain a competitive edge.”
10 VTSPORTS.COM | JAN/FEB 2018
you have 20/20 vision—and you’re in for something a bit more dynamic. While Clark has all the usual ocular gadgets—retinal cameras, retinoscopes, slit lamps—he also has a long string adorned with colorful, spherical beads, called the Brock String. He’ll instruct you to hold the string to your nose and look down it. When you do, you’ll discover that there appear to be two strings in front of your face, and they cross like an ‘x’ at the point where your eyes focus. Clark, who advised national shooting teams
—Donald Tieg training is geared at giving athletes quicker and more accurate decision-making skills. In the 1990’s, Teig worked with the U.S. Ski Team, and with ski legends like Tommy Moe to improve balance and reaction time. The skier stood on a balancing device in front of a screen. When an arrow pointing right was projected onto the screen, the skier would have to shift their weight to the right as quickly and as accurately as they could. Then, another arrow would come up, and point forward or back.
That’s what this is about.” Visual training comes in many shapes and sizes. A typical visit to a sports vision specialist is like a consultation with a physical therapist; you will be tested, the doctor will help develop a plan to improve your vision, and you will walk away with a prescribed regimen of exercises to practice at home. But don’t expect it to be your run-of-
as a captain and optometrist in the Army, will instruct you to look at the pink bead, then the green bead, then the orange, and as you do, the ‘x’ will change shape, growing either longer or shorter on either end. This is an exercise that vision specialists use to help you strengthen your ocular muscle balance; while using both eyes to make the ‘x’, your eyes are fortifying their relationship to each other. “The more muscle imbalance you have, the harder it is to be a good athlete, especially at a high level,” Clark says. “Almost everyone has a small level of muscle imbalance. But in baseball, the difference between hitting 291 and hitting 301 is two
“What you’re trying to do is make that
the-mill eye exam. Walk into optometrist
transfer between what your eye is telling
Thomas Clark’s exam room in Williston, Vt.
you and what your balance system needs
expecting the Snellen test—the chart with
physically strengthen the eye and the brain’s
to do, and do it as fast as you can, let’s say
lines of big letters at the top and tiny letters
connection to it. When an athlete repeats
over a one-minute period,” he says. “The
at the bottom that determines whether
these exercises, he or she can quicken
million dollars.” Exercises
the pace and efficiency of the electrical impulses that the eye sends to the brain. The more you practice, the more efficient those electrical signals become. As the field grows, researchers are developing more ways to test and improve upon the success of vision training. In 2014, psychologist Aaron Seitz and his team at the University of California Riverside gave 19 players on the university’s baseball team 30 25-minute sessions of vision training using an app he created, called UltimEyes. The results were profound: on average, players who used the app experienced a 31 percent improvement in visual acuity— meaning they performed better on a Snellen test. Seven of the players dropped to 20/7.5 vision, which means that at 20 feet away, they could read a line that most can read from only 7.5 feet away. Seitz also saw the team score 41 more runs than expected and win five more games than they were projected to at the beginning of the season. Trained players had 4.4 percent fewer strikeouts, and generally, the team saw better numbers for batting averages, slugging percentages, onbase percentages and walks. Teig has seen individual success, too. “I remember a baseball player who was really struggling, and it turned out that one of his eyes wasn’t working in sync with the other eye well enough to give him a high level of depth perception,” he said. “So we corrected the vision—we put on a contact lens—but we also started training his eyes to work together better as a team. He wound up leading his Minor League team in batting that year. He upped his batting average by a hundred points. We get those things all the time.” Because of the eye’s direct connection with the brain, those quick decisionmaking skills can also be augmented by visualization, or the practice of imagining, for example, a slalom course prior to skiing it. In the ‘90s, when Teig was providing optometric advice to the US Ski Team, he instructed skiers waiting for their race to “ski” the course in their minds, vividly picturing the turns, bumps and icy patches. Other Olympic athletes, like biathletes Susan Dunklee and Lowell Bailey, say that visualization helps them feel prepared on a course, and that preparedness can make all the difference. When Bailey won the Biathlon Worlds in February of 2017—the first time an American has ever medaled at Worlds—he told TeamUSA.org that he credited visualization. “In a sense, I had raced that 20K ten—if not hundreds—of times before I actually got to the starting line for the actual race,” he said.
AN OUNCE OF PROTECTION While vision training provides you with a solid anatomical foundation, it’s also important to consider equipment
Eyes, like any other muscle in the human body, can be trained.
5 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR VISION AT HOME 1. CHANGE FOCUS Try frequently changing focus between your computer screen and a picture hanging on the wall across the room, or a scene outside the window. This helps your focus flexibility—the ability to change focus from a faraway object to a near one, or vice versa. It also can relieve eye strain caused by extended time on the computer. 2. KNOW YOUR DOMINANT EYE Similar to being right-handed or left-handed, most people have a dominant eye. Understanding which eye dominates may help an athlete adjust body movements accordingly. An athlete’s dominant eye may process visual information more fully and accurately than their non-dominant eye. In target shooting, a dominant hand and dominant eye work together much more efficiently when they are on the same side of the body. If you have trouble hitting a target, you may need to make adjustments (such as switching the hand you usually use to hold a firearm) to make sure you are able to view a target or other goal with your dominant eye. 3. TRAIN FOR PERIPHERAL VISION You can improve your peripheral awareness, which involves perceiving what’s going on at either side of you without turning your head. To do so, try looking at a busy scene (perhaps on TV or a computer screen, or on a sidewalk) with your head turned to one side. Remember to practice from the left and from the right. 3. TEST YOUR SPEED VISION Dynamic visual acuity helps you to see objects clearly when they are moving quickly. While you may have 20/20 vision when sitting still, when motion is involved, your visual acuity could be worse. You can strengthen this skill using an old-fashioned record player. Cut letters of different sizes out of a magazine, put them on the turntable and — at arm’s length — identify them as they revolve. Use different speeds (33, 45 and 78 revolutions per minute, or rpm), and then progress to smaller letters if the test becomes too easy. 4. WORK ON DEPTH PERCEPTION Ever try to put the cap on a pen and miss? It might have to do with your depth perception. With good depth perception, you can make accurate spatial judgments, like how far away an object or person is from you. Some of this ability depends strictly on physical characteristics. For example, spacing between the center of your two pupils (pupillary distance) is thought to play a major role in how well you see in three dimensions. Improve this skill by pushing a pen cap onto a pen at arm’s length. Another method is to hold a very small pebble or BB at arm’s length and drop it into a drinking straw.
for both protection and performance enhancement. We’ve all heard the risks of exposing our eyes to UV light: cataracts, eye
growths and in extreme cases, cancer. Skiers, riders, mountaineers and ice climbers are particularly at risk from snow blindness, which occurs when the UV rays are reflected
from snow or ice into your eyes. It causes alarming side-effects like blurred vision, watery eyes and swelling. In the 2004 Iditarod, four-time champion Doug Swingley succumbed to snow blindness when he removed his goggles for mere minutes to get a clearer look ahead. His condition was so severe that a specialist based in Anchorage advised him not to continue, and Swingley forfeited the race. How do you make sure that doesn’t happen to you? For starters, make sure you have a pair of goggles that you don’t have to remove. While all sunglasses legally sold in the U.S., considered medical devices and thereby regulated by the FDA, will give you 100 percent UV protection, some work better for competitive performance. Nick Yardley, CEO of Vermont-based Julbo, emphasizes using goggles with a photochromatic lens, whose lightness level adjusts automatically to your environment, to avoid switching lenses during the day. Julbo’s Zebra lens adjusts to your surroundings in 20 seconds, and lenses by Zeal and Slate offer similar models. “If we’re skinning up Mad River in the morning and skiing down in the afternoon, you might be going up in bright light and coming down in thick clouds,” Yardley says. “The standard goggle is not going to be able to adjust to those changing conditions. So at some point of the day, you’re going to have a sub-performing pair of goggles through which you’re going to have to see what’s going on with the light and the terrain.” Or think about cross-country skiing on a trail through shaded woods that opens up into a sunny meadow. With a photochromatic lens, you wouldn’t have to worry about taking glasses or goggles off to see more clearly in forested areas. It thereby eliminates two safety concerns: risk of UV exposure, and the odds that you’ll get poked in the eye by a low-lying branch. And the right pair of glasses can help an athlete with depth perception, give them more access to their peripheral vision, and protect against fog. For example, Yardley advises against polarized lenses while skiing, because they tend to flatten terrain. “People use ‘polarized’ as a catch-all, saying that if a lens is polarized, that means it’s automatically better, but in a ski situation on the East Coast it’s actually inferior,” he says. While athletes often think about their boots, skis, or other gear, Yardley emphasizes that without good vision, everything else is lost. “When you’re a performance athlete, everything that you do, whether you turn left, right, whether you miss the tree, whether you go slow, is based on what you’re perceiving through your eyes,” Yardley says. “Allowing them to have maximum visibility of the surrounding terrain is a performanceenhancing tool.”
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GEAR & BEER
IF THERE ARE THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO GET THROUGH THE WINTER MONTHS, IT'S THESE: A GREAT PAIR OF SNOWSHOES, GLOVE AND BOOT HEATERS AND CRAMPONS.
DryGuy Force Dry
inter in Vermont means we don't stay indoors, we just change up our gear. If you're up for a hike these new tools are going to get you to the summit and back and keep you dry when you get back.
GLOVE & BOOT DRYER There are a number of heavy duty boot dryers you can get for alpine ski boots. But if you want something smaller and simpler â€” say for Nordic or hiking boots or gloves â€” DryGuy's Force Dry ($50) is smaller than a shoebox and weighs just 3.2 lbs., making it somewhat portable if you're headed out for a ski weekend. It doesn't heat up to the point where it can damage materials and it's swivel nozzles can direct the airflow to the toes or fingers.
CRAMPONS MADE FOR SUMMITING If you're hiking without snowshoes (or plan to traverse icy or rocky terrain) you'll want to strap on a pair of YakTrax's new Summit ($90) crampons. These are not your run-of-the-mill grippies that you might slide on over a running shoe but heavy-duty ice-eaters. Normally, that might translate to lots of chains and teeth, and yes, these have welded-steel chain links and 3/8-inch carbon spikes. But the rubber outer band and segmented sole plates make them very user-friendly. That, combined with the dialin Boa closure system, give these a great fit, no matter what boot you strap them on.
BACKCOUNTRY SNOWSHOES If you think one snowshoe can do it all, think again. While we love Dion snowshoes for running and racing, and Tubbs makes a great all-around snowshoe, the new asymmetrical Atlas Spindrift ($249.95) is what you want climbing mountains or hiking up technical terrain. Some of the things we love about this new model: Its serrated t-frame edges and cross-bar just below the heel really dig into hard snow and provide traction on ice. The crampon
just under the toe digs in like a shovel. It's enough to make you feel like Spiderman when going uphill and the heel risers pop up easily and then snap back down with a tug back. At 3 lbs 10 oz it's light, too. But perhaps our favorite feature if you're headed off for a backcountry snowboard adventure or just don't plan to wear the snowshoes all day is the Pack-Flat binding. Its urethane straps do pack down nearly flat and strap in fairly simply. You can also order replacements should they break or snap in the cold.
A NEW BREWERY ATOP NEW BACKCOUNTRY Some of the newest backcountry ski glades in Vermont are being developed off Hogback Mountain (site of a former ski area, which closed in 1986) in Southern Vermont. And the best news, there's now a cold microbrew waiting for you at the summit. The Wilmington Valley's only microbrew, Beer Naked Brewing was originally part of Pizzapalooza (scheduled to reopen this winter.) But last July, partners Jason Petrelli and Sara Jasinski purchased the historic Skyline Building at the top of Hogback. There, you can now settle in at the bar and order one of brewmaster John Watson's latest concoctions on tap, such as the seasonal hearty Maple Brown Ale or the Bombshell Blonde, a Belgian blonde golden ale that's a thirst-quencher. The brewery is only open Thursday through Sunday, from noon until six (though closing times seem to vary) and offers tastings and growlers to go. There are a few snacks and follow Beer Naked on Facebook to find out when there's live music. Or just skin (or drive) up the mountain in Marlboro.
BREWS & PUBS
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OLYMPICS: ALPINE SKIING ALPINE SKIING
Burke Mountain Academy grad Mikaela Shiffrin shows how to ski eastern ice at the inaugural Killington World Cup. Photo by Brooks Curran
S E T A G E H T IN
UT W B . D ORL . W E H IN G T K S N I A ERS T ILL C S A S I IR ONE P SK Y O R T E THE N EV F O I O T E UE S OM Q S A D E IS NG R A IN A T H S C A EON NT H Y O P M VER IT TO E K A TO M
S N A I P M Y OL I
t’s a sure bet that barring any injury, Burke Mountain Academy grad and reigning World Cup Champion in slalom Mikaela Shiffrin will be competing in PyeonChang, along with superstar Lindsay Vonn. Shiffrin is proving she can win at pretty much any event, not just slalom. In December alone, Shiffrin won a downhill and a GS World Cup race, and took home slalom wins at Killington, in Courcheval, France, and Lienz, Austria. Behind Shiffrin stand several promising women racers with Vermont ties and World Cup finishes including Burke grad, Nina O’Brien—a former national champion in GS, University of Vermont’s Paula Moltzan (who won Junior Worlds in slalom in 2015) and Dartmouth ski racer Tricia Mangan. Perhaps the one with the best shot of
making the team is Stratton Mountain School grad Alice Merryweather. Last March, Merryweather won the downhill in the World Junior Championships which earned her a spot at the World Cup finals in Aspen. There, she raced to a remarkable 19th, earning her World Cup points. Another University of Vermont racer, Quebec’s Laurence St. Germain, may also stand a chance: she’s one of Canada’s top-ranked GS racers and earned a 14th at the World Cup in Killington. This year, more than ever, the U.S. team will need depth if they want to do well in a brand new (and seemingly made-for-TV event): the team slalom, which has two men and two women duking it out on a dual slalom courses for a team title. When asked for his picks for that event, Doug Lewis, an NBC announcer and former
Olympic medalist from Middlebury, Vt., said: “A top team could be Mikaela Shiffrin and Resi Stiegler for women and Ted Ligety and Dave Chodunsky for men,” he says. “Or you might see Mikaela and Ted sit this one out if they have enough medals and want to get back to World Cup. On the men's side, there are a host of contenders from the Green Mountains: could longshot Redneck Racer Robby Kelley, or his cousin Ryan Cochran-Siegle make it? Cochran-Siegle posted some of the best times of any American at the World Cup races in Bormio, Italy, in late December. How about Green Mountain Valley School grads AJ Ginnis, Nolan Kasper or Drew Duffy? Or Middlebury College’s 2014 grad, Hig Roberts? “We’re looking to announce the team sometime the third week in January,” was
OIN ’S G
all Tom Kelly of U.S. Skiing would reveal. Even Lewis was shaking his head. “It’s really going to come down to how skiers do in January’s World Cup events. They have to have a minimum number of World Cup points to even qualify,” he explained. To earn World Cup points, a racer must finish in the top 30 in a World Cup event. The U.S. Team will have a maximum of 22 slots and can enter up to four racers in each of the events: downhill, super-G, combined, giant slalom, slalom and a new dual-slalom team event. And the team can only have 14 of either gender. Perhaps the biggest challenge is earning enough World Cup points to qualify. On the following pages, we look at how Starksboro's Robby Kelley faced that challenge with his own home-grown World Cup campaign.
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A REDNECK IN KOREA?
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CAN A SELF-DESCRIBED “REDNECK RACER” WHO TURNED DOWN A SPOT ON THE U.S. SKI TEAM MAKE IT TO THE OLYMPICS? IF ANYONE CAN, IT’S THE COCHRAN PROGENY. BY BIDDLE DUKE
just tried to make skiing a heck of a lot of fun. I told them (Marilyn, Barbara Ann, Bobby and Lindy): ‘Even if you don’t win a lot of races you can still enjoy the excitement of competing in them. But I also tried to make them realize that races are won in split seconds and require a lot of nitpicking and a lot of work on details. It takes this to do a good job at anything in life. Also, I’ve felt that every individual should strive to excel in something. I felt it was excellent training for our youngsters to learn to reach for a very high level of perfection and to develop the skills to where they could be quite accomplished, not so much from the winning standpoint but just to experience the hard work necessary to excel. I think this is an invaluable lesson in life, and it’s what I hoped all our kids would learn from skiing.” —Mickey Cochran
Kelley carving past gates he and Marshall set on the last of Mt. Mansfield's snowfields last May. Photo by Tucker Marshall
pring of 2015, three members of Vermont’s famous Cochran ski racing family, grandkids of Mickey Cochran, were invited to join the U.S. Ski Team for the 2015-16 season. Tim Kelley, son of one-time national champion Lindy Cochran Kelley, said yes, joining his cousin Ryan Cochran-Siegle on the squad. But in a move that surprised many, Tim’s younger brother, Robby, declined. Not because he didn’t want to compete on the international circuit, but because he wanted to do it on his own terms. Now, with the 2018 winter Olympics weeks away, Cochran-Siegle is likely to make the Olympic squad in GS and downhill. And Kelley, still doing it on his own terms, may also be on the short list for slalom. Not since Bode Miller formed his own “Team America” in 2007 has any American athlete competed successfully at the international level without the full help and support of the U.S. Ski Team. But, for several seasons, Tim and Robby Kelley—along with fellow Vermonters Andrew McNealus and Tucker Marshall and Julia Ford—traveled the international circuit as the homespun, self-funded, Vermont-proud “Redneck Racing” team. Scrappy and hard-working, the Rednecks turned up at the biggest ski races in Europe and North America, bringing with them more than a touch of underdog defiance and a healthy dose of fun. They competed against members of national teams that traveled with an entourage of coaches, team vehicles, ski technicians and trainers. Instead of sporting the U.S. Ski Team suits, the Redneck Racing team had sponsor Podiumwear make them speed suits designed to look like flannel shirts and denim overalls or hunter’s camouflage. Instead of staying at luxury digs, the Vermonters crammed into a single
The original Redneck crew (left to right): Andrew McNealus, Tim Kelley, Tucker Marshall and Robby Kelley. Photo by Susie Theis
hotel room, sharing beds, and sometimes floor space in other racers’ rooms. “We’d always rent the cheapest cars we could,” Robby recalls. “So two years ago at the Kranjska Gora (Slovenia) World Cup I was driving around a little convertible in the winter because that was the cheapest car they had. I felt pretty cool rolling up to the race with the top down.” Instead of having specialized training programs and fancy gyms, they rode bikes. To test his sprints, Robby played a game where he throws a football, and then races forward to catch it himself. (The caption for a video of this on the Redneck Racing Facebook page reads “Robby playing football with his friends.”) The Rednecks coached each other at the tiny Cochran ski hill in Richmond and at the Mt. Mansfield Ski Club in Stowe. For energy, they downed packets of the Slopeside Syrup the family produces from a sugarbush just off the slopes where Robby and Tim grew up skiing. To pay for their race entries and travel, the Rednecks raised money every which way they can: They have ongoing online fundraising campaigns and they signed equipment and other sponsors. Robby, who studied art and graphic design, made T-shirts. They sold like hotcakes. While Tim has since left World Cup ski racing and taken on to a full-time job coaching at University of Vermont, Ryan remained on the U.S. team, and Robby was still racing World Cup this season as a Redneck.
SKI RACING’S UNLIKELY ROYALTY Though they grew up skiing on a tiny Vermont ski hill with just 350 feet of vertical and three surface lifts, Robby and Tim Kelley and Ryan Cochran-Siegle come from one of the strongest racing lineages in the United States, and perhaps the world. The Kelley’s mom is the former Olympic ski racer and national champion Lindy Cochran Kelley. Her two sisters—Barbara Ann (Ryan's mom) and Marilyn—and her brother, Bob, were all Olympic skiers and champions in their own right. All three of Lindy’s children (Tim, Jessica and Robby) have made the U.S. Ski Team at least once. In all, 10 Cochran family members, spanning two generations, have competed for the U.S. Ski Team. As a junior skier, though, Robby failed to make the U.S. Ski Team so he enrolled at the University of Vermont where his brother Tim was also in school. There, his results on the college circuit earned Robby another look from the U.S team coaches. They offered him a national team spot for the 2011-12 season. Robby didn’t disappoint: he won both the U.S. National sand North American Cup in giant slalom. That was followed in 2012-13 with top World Cup finishes, 26th in the giant slalom in Schladming, Austria, and 28th in the Adelboden giant slalom in Switzerland. Then came setbacks. Robby wasn’t selected for the 2014 Sochi Olympic squad and, subsequently, was cut from the national team altogether. By that time, Tim had lost his U.S. Ski Team spot but was
winning for UVM—he was NCAA slalom champion in 2011—and winning FIS races (the elite international-level races). By 2014, both brothers were off the US Team but skiing well and looking to return to the highest world stage: the World Cup circuit. “I definitely feel like I have another level or more,” Robby said at the time. Tim and Robby were already traveling together off and on, sharing expenses and experiences and often teaming up to train with their Vermont buddies, Andrew McNealus and Tucker Marshall. Working together more officially was a logical next step. “We’re all from Vermont,” Robby said, “and we’re all trying to make it to the top.” Redneck Racing was hatched in the spring of 2014. For both Kelleys, the 2014-15 Redneck season was a success. Even though Robby’s 2014-15 results were excellent, they failed by a thin margin to qualify him for the team. The U.S. Ski Team coaching staff wanted Robby anyway. “Though he didn’t make the criteria for the B or the C team, Robby was nominated to the C team on coaches’ discretion,” head men’s coach Sasha Rearick said. “Robby and (then-U.S. men’s Europa Cup team coach) Ian Lochhead wanted to work together. Ian really wanted Robby in the group; he has a lot of respect for him.” The admiration was mutual. Still, Robby said “no.” “It was really difficult,” Robby said solemnly in a recent interview. “I really like Ian and I have a lot of friends on the team.” He paused, then added: “But I wanted my own program where I can focus solely on myself.”
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Out of the USSA’s operating budget of about $32 million (in 2016), about $21 million is spent on athletes. The money is used for everything from competitions to building the teams, Shaw says. Many of the stars on the tour, including Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin, Ted Ligety and Julia Mancuso, have earned the space to operate more independently while remaining key members of the team. Some get their own coaching and training regimens, among other things. They can pick and choose their rest days and races without fear of slipping in the coaches’ eyes. The successes that result from that independence are why Robby Kelley’s choice resonates. But Rearick is emphatic: skiers need coaching to reach their peaks. “The coach’s role,” he said pointedly, “is to guide athletes to places they can’t get to alone.”
MAKING IT AS A REDNECK “What’s a Redneck?” the website www. redneck-racing.com asks, and then answers: “Anyone who defies the odds of society and is lacking a general compliance with those who say you are done.” When Bode Miller went off on his own to form “Team America” in 2007, it was an acrimonious split with the U.S. Team, something that had been brewing for several years. His defection, his second “American” team on the World Cup, and his poaching of U.S. coaches, deeply irked U.S. Ski Team executives. Even harder for them to take was that Miller would go on to win the overall World Cup in 2008. But that was followed by an unsuccessful injury-plagued season and he subsequently returned to the U.S. team before retiring. Robby and Bode have some similarities: the two racers are both exceptionally talented skiers, and unconventional, creative people—“strong-minded,” is how Rearick described Robby recently. But Robby’s decision to turn down the national team came with no acrimony, and his case is clearly different. Bode left a fully funded slot on the A team where he was a star with wide name recognition and top-ten world rankings; Robby was ranked 52nd in the world and 6th in the United States in slalom and his C team offer came with a price tag. While the U.S. Ski Team helps defray the more than $100,000 it costs for a team member’s training, travel and coaching (among other things), those who are on the B, C and D teams have to fork up at least $20,000 of that from their own pockets. For Robby, that was just too steep. Robby’s choice raises perennial questions about U.S. funding for team athletes and whether the sport’s governing body, the United States Ski and Snowboard Association, has structured the best program to produce world champions. When I reached out to the U.S. Ski Team about Robby’s decision, both Rearick and USSA CEO Tiger Shaw got on the phone. “We wish Robby had accepted, obviously,” said Shaw, a former Olympian whose extended family still owns Shaw’s General Store in Stowe. “He’s a great guy and a terrific athlete. The coaches wanted him.” Rearick said his coaching staff encouraged Robby to consider the obvious upsides of joining the U.S. team—the coaching, the logistical support, the training facilities, the equipment technicians and more. Even with the pay-to-join fee, most athletes would never think of turning down an offer from the U.S. team; it’s every ski racer’s singular objective. And, if it comes with a bill, well, you scratch together the money from family, sponsors and friends and you do it. When decision time came, Robby conferred with coaches, mentors, family and friends. He knew the pros of being with the team. He added up the cons of going it alone. In addition to the coaching,
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Tim, Robby, Tucker and Andrew (standing) during "summer training" at Cochran's Ski Hill in Richmond. Photo by Susie Theis
off-slope training, physical therapy, ski and equipment preparation and behind-thescenes support, he’d miss intangible psychic and emotional benefits of working shoulder to shoulder with the best skiers in America. For Robby, it came down to money and the desire to design his own season and train independently. “I’m going to be getting more runs in, I’m going to be able to listen and respond to my own body,” he said. He would be able to rest and heal when he needed to, without worrying he might lose standing with the coaching staff. “I will be able to have total control over my race and training program, and I will be able to focus on slalom,” rather than following the national team’s training and racing script.
ROBBY’S O.P. When asked about Robby’s decision, his long-time friend and Mt. Mansfield Ski Club coach Scott Moriarty replied: “Expected. Robby is and always has been O.P. (on his ‘own program’). He’s always been committed to his own ideas and he has always followed through on his own ideas.” Since he was a teenager, Robby has had a reserved, soft-spoken manner about him, Moriarty says. And an inner intensity: He took all his sports very seriously. He’d fight for the wins, and take losses hard. “Robby and Timmy are kids with roots who are humble and engaging,” said Lori Furrer, the director of the Mt. Mansfield Winter Academy where both Kelleys were students. “They never made a fuss or complained about how hard anything was— they put their heads down and got it done.” Robby set fundraising goals to cover all his racing and training expenses. He’d train occasionally with Mt. Mansfield Ski Club (MMSC) and at Cochran’s—perhaps getting some coaching from his aunt, Olympic gold medalist Barbara Ann Cochran, and the mind-boggling web of other champion
family members, such as cousin Jimmy Cochran. So far, the independent thing has been working. “I’m able to work with different groups and I have had a lot of help throughout,” Robby reported. Having a top athlete decide to go it alone got Tiger Shaw’s attention, as the question of athlete funding is a chief concern. Shaw said he can justify charging U.S. Ski Team members but he’d rather not have to. “What people don’t understand is the overall financial picture, the cost of creating the infrastructure of what makes a team. We are actively working on a new campaign to bridge the funding gap,” Shaw said, in the hopes that in the future athletes like Robby may not have to cover so much of the cost— or any of it. The decision to charge some athletes is a matter of trying to include as many as possible on the team, Shaw explained. The various teams now comprise a record 200 athletes. The prevailing wisdom is that maximizing that number—exposing more athletes to top training and competition— increases America’s chances of producing champions. The alternative would be to cut team ranks and extend funding to every member, or to raise more money, which is what Shaw is doing. The other question Shaw and USSA higher-ups hear constantly: Why does the USSA charge while most of the top European teams don’t? As a rule, top European teams spend more per athlete than the Americans and don’t require athletes to share in the costs, Shaw concedes. That has a lot to do with the fact that in Europe, to varying degrees, ski teams get government funding. The Americans get none. The USSA raises all its funds from corporate and private sponsors and donors, and derives income from an endowment.
HIKING FOR A GATE If Robby has one trait that coaches look for, it is determination. Last season, he started off January 2017 strong with a 25th in the Wengen World Cup slalom. Then, in a night race at Schladming Austria, Robby also qualified for his second run—and a chance to earn World Cup points. But on that run, towards the end, he fell and slid almost through the finish. Instead of skiing off the course, he did what his family has taught him: he sidestepped back up three gates and skied to the finish, earning a standing ovation. “I basically always hike. It’s something I’ve always done. My parents told me to never give up, so I wanted to cross that finish line,” he said after the race. By the end of last season, Robby was ranked third among America’s men’s slalom skiers, making him someone for the Olympic selection committee to keep an eye on. As the snow melted, Robby kept skiing. One May afternoon, he and Tucker Marshall hiked up Mt. Mansfield and set up gates on one of the last ribbons of white left on the Nosedive trail. They made camp that night and got up just as the sun was rising so they could ski the “course” – a rutted, frozen slush pile — before it softened. Two months later, it was off to New Zealand and Australia to train and he earned up two podium spots in the Australia New Zealand Cup in late August. This December, it was back to the World Cup. Though Robby failed to finish in the top 30 in the first two World Cup slaloms of the season, he’s as determined as ever. And with four more men’s slalom World Cups coming up in January, the Vermont Redneck may be a long-shot but he is squarely aiming for the start house in PyeongChang. Biddle Duke is the former publisher/editor of The Stowe Reporter. This story was adapted from the original, which appeared in Vermont Ski + Ride Magazine in 2016.
FREESKIING & HOCKEY
A DOUBLE THREAT DOVER'S DEVIN LOGAN ALREADY HAS AN OLYMPIC MEDAL IN SLOPESTYLE. THIS YEAR, SHE WANTS ONE IN HALFPIPE, TOO.
Rather than sitting home and just doing 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. For the past few years, Logan has been living and training in Park City but often comes home to Mount Snow to teach a women’s clinic or to inspire younger skiers such as Caroline Claire, a rising slopestyle star who is now at Stratton Mountain
School. Logan credits some of her success to growing up in Vermont. “It makes you tough to ski in Vermont,” she said in an interview with Vermont Ski and Ride, just after the 2016 X Games in Aspen. “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: Like, I like to take a different line than everyone else, try something new.” That’s what the judges like to see too.
MONTPELIER'S HOCKEY STAR
LOCAL HERO AMANDA PELKEY COULD BE THE WOMAN TO WATCH WHEN THE U.S. FACES OFF AGAINST CANADA IN THE OLYMPICS.
Devin Logan, styling at slopestyle. Photo courtesy USSA
hen it comes to freeskiing (the category that includes slopestyle, halfpipe and skicross), there is one Vermonter who stands out: Devin Logan, or D-Lo as friends call her, a double threat in both slopestyle and halfpipe. It’s a little hard to remember that Logan, the kid from Dover, Vt. who won her first X Games medal at 17, is still only 24 (she’ll turn 25 on February 25). In 2016, Logan became the first halfpipe and slopestyle skier to ever win the overall FIS World Cup for best performance in freeskiing. She is also one of the few skiers —male or female— to compete at a high level in two disciplines. She won the silver in slopestyle in Sochi. And now she’s looking to medal in both disciplines in PyeongChang. Often, competing in slopestyle and halfpipe means two major competitions in one day, which can be exhausting and event schedulers don’t take her unusual dualcomp program into account. “Being the only female to compete in both slopestyle and halfpipe gets pretty rough during the season going back and forth between competitions,” she says. “But, again, I’ve been doing it for so long that I couldn’t picture doing anything else. In December, at the Toyota Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colo., (an Olympic qualifier) Logan finished second in halfpipe
behind France’s Marie Martinod, echoing her second-place finish to Martinod in last season’s World Cup event in PyeongChang. In the most recent event, the Dew Tour at Breckenridge in December, Logan was fourth in half-pipe and second in slopestyle, further improving her chances of making the highly competitive women’s team. Despite the fact that she makes her living launching enormous airs off 22-foot high halfpipe walls, Logan claims “I’m still afraid of heights.” Logan started skiing when she was two years old and grew up chasing her brothers, ski filmmakers Chris and Sean Logan (of Level 1 and Big Picture films), 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.” Her family moved to southern Vermont and she enrolled at Mount Snow Academy. 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 in New Zealand, she blew out her knee.
he first time Amanda Pelkey put on a USA Hockey jersey she was just three years old, skating on the rink that her dad in their front yard in Montpelier. “I still remember that time,” says Pelkey who is now a forward on the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team and got confirmation on January 1 that she was on the team of 23 headed to PyeongChang. After skating in Barre as a kid, then at the North American Hockey Academy in Stowe, Pelkey became the star of the UVM Catamount team and the all-time leading player earning 105 points, 49 goals and 56 assists. Despite her small stature—she is just 5 feet 2 inches—Pelkey can outskate just about anyone. ““It’s kind of a bittersweet situation because when I was younger, I was told that I’m a smaller player and need to be bigger, faster and stronger,” Pelkey has said. “I really took that to heart and worked through that.” At the Florida facility where she and the team
currently are training, she gets tested on speed and works on sprints and plyometrics. Training often starts at 7:30 in the morning and goes until 2:00 in the afternoon—a mixture of time on ice and in the gym. It’s a routine that, as a pro skater, Pelkey is now used to. After graduating from UVM in 2015, Pelkey became the first woman to sign with the Boston Pride pro team and six of her teammates, including star forward Hilary Knight, are Pride team players
as well. “It definitely helps to have been playing at the pro level with these women for the past few years. I’m just as proud of being a good teammate as a good player,” Pelkey says. Pelkey was on the team that won the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship gold medal in both 2016 and 2017. She also won two gold medals in the IIHF Under-18 World Championships and in the Four Nations Cup and helped the Boston Pride win the inaugural Women’s National Hockey League Isobel Cup in 2016. This past fall, Pelkey played with the U.S. Women’s Team in a series of games against the Canadian national team. The two top-ranked teams in the world have been going head to head and in the last game of the series, faced off in front of a crowd of 17,000 in Edmonton, Alberta. The game went into sudden-death overtime with Canada scoring a 2:1 lead. “It was amazing to realize that there were crowds this big coming out to watch women’s hockey,” says Pelkey, who is inspired by the rise she has seen in women’s soccer. “We still don’t make as much as the men do or get the level of support they do, but that’s changing.” With the NHL nixing men from competing at the Olympics this year, all hockey eyes will be on women's team Pelkey grew up skating on a co-ed team in Barre and in Florida, the women’s team often trains by playing men’s high school and Division III college teams. “I love it because to grow, you have to go up against the guys. And if you have speed, size doesn’t really matter,” says Pelkey. As for Pelkey’s secret? “My biggest advice to aspiring athletes is you have to love what you do. It’s a dream come true that I get to play hockey professionally.” —L.L.
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A TEAM ON TARGET
LAST YEAR, LOWELL BAILEY AND SUSAN DUNKLEE BECAME THE FIRST TWO AMERICANS TO QUALIFY FOR THE OLYMPICS, BECOMING FAVORITES TO EARN A MEDAL. BY EMMA COTTON
Susan Dunklee shot clean during the US Biathlon Worlds last February, which helped her become the first American woman to ever medal at the event. Photo courtesy of NordicFocus/U.S. Biathlon
hile a majority of the U.S. ski and snowboard teams won’t know who is headed for the Olympics until the third week in January (when the official teams are announced), two biathletes with Vermont ties have known for almost a year. University of Vermont grad Lowell Bailey and Barton’s Susan Dunklee were the first Americans to qualify in any sport, having earned podium spots at the Biathlon World Championships in winter 2017. At press time in late December, three of five spots on the men’s Olympic team had been decided (Bailey, Tim Burke and Sean Doherty) and two of the five women’s sports (Dunklee and Maine’s Clare Egan) secured via top 30 World Cup finishes. As for the last three spots on the women’s team? Two Vermonters stand a very good chance at qualifying. In December, both Emily Dreissigacker of Craftsbury and Chloe Levins of Rutland were named to the IBU World Cup team, the last stage of qualifying for the Olympics. The two Vermonters will be competing against Maddie Phaneuf of Old Forge, N.Y. and Joanne Reid of Boulder.
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Emily Dreissigacker, 29, has Olympic blood running through her veins. Both of her parents, Dick Dreissigacker and Judy Geer, competed in the Olympics as rowers, before going on to found Concept2, the rowing and erg company, and to build up the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. Emily’s aunt, Charlotte Geer, won a silver medal in rowing at the 1984 Olympics and her older sister, Hannah, competed in 2014 at Sochi as a biathlete. Emily grew up skiing at Craftsbury, her home turf, in the winter and rowing in the summer. At Dartmouth, she was a twotime All-American rower but after college decided to switch her focus to skiing and became hooked on biathlon. This December, Dreissigacker was the third American in the third IBU World Cup event, a 7.5 km sprint in Annecy, France. If she can keep that up at January's next two IBU World Cups, she’s likely to earn a spot. Rutland’s Chloe Levins, at 19 the youngest on the team, has also moved up the rankings. In December, the Middlebury College sophomore put in a
fierce performance in the IBU Cup trials in Minnesota, winning the 12 km mass start event, her first win as a senior, and earning a second in the 7.5 km sprint. Levins also comes from an a family of athletes: her father raced alpine for Middlebury College and her mother, an All-American golfer at Duke, played on the LPGA tour. In 2014, at age 14, Levins placed second of all women (not just juniors) at the Vermont State Amateur Golf Championship. Biathlon, which mixes the precision that golf requires, with the speed and aerobic conditioning cross-country skiing demands, seems perfect for Levins. And in the 2016 Youth Olympic Games, Levins placed fourth in biathlon, after starting in 22nd place and passing 18 competitors. We expect to see both of them join Bailey and Dunkel in Korea.
THE CONTENDERS SUSAN DUNKLEE, BARTON, VT On February 19, 2017 Susan Dunklee of Barton, Vermont stood on the starting
line for finals of the Biathlon World Championships in Austria’s Pillersee Valley. The snowy Ötztal Alps towered above her and 30 other women. At the time, the Craftsbury skier was ranked 15th in the World Cup standings. The gun popped and the women exploded from the mass start, pushing their skis in undulating V’s up the first hill of the 12.5-km loop. With Dunklee in 11th, the women pulled up to the first of four shooting stages. That’s when the unexpected happened: Dunklee fired five clean shots and pulled away, scurrying past women in the lead who were still lying belly-down to finish shooting. “Look who’s leading,” a commentator said as Dunklee pulled four seconds ahead. “It’s Susan Dunklee. Can she possibly, possibly do it for the United States—get their firstever title at these World Championships?” Dunklee, 31, didn’t miss a shot from beginning to end, arriving and leaving first from each of the four shooting stages. “I think we’re going to see a rise in American biathlon in the next decade,” the announcer
said. He was right. Lowell Bailey, from Lake Placid, N.Y., had already won gold at the same World Championship in the individual event. Dunklee fired off the final targets without missing a beat, heading for the finish line with a five-second lead. Exhausted at the final climb, Dunklee allowed Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier, the 2016 silver medalist, to overtake her. She crossed the finish line at 42:53, two seconds behind Dahlmeier, with her arms raised in exaltation. She was the first American woman to medal at Worlds, and in that moment, she knew she was headed to PyeongChang. It’s not the first time Dunklee has made a ground-breaking performance. At the 2012 Worlds in Ruhpolding, Germany, she placed fifth in the individual race, matching the best result ever by a U.S. woman. In the 2016-17 World Cup season, her most successful yet, she finished in the top ten in ten events. Biathlon is the only Olympic sport in which an American athlete has yet to stand on a podium, but this February, Dunklee (and Bailey) could change that. Dunklee’s strong season—not to mention the lack of competition from Russia after a state-backed doping program was exposed—has positioned her favorably. NBC has her on their roster of ‘Athletes to watch at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.’ So what has made Dunklee so good? It could be genetic. Her father, Stan Dunklee, raced cross-country alongside Bill Koch in the 1976 Olympics, and again in 1980. Her uncle, Everett Dunklee, raced cross-country in the 1972 Olympics. Born in tiny Barton, Vt., where her parents run Barton Veterinary Hospital, Dunklee was raised about a 30-minute drive from Craftsbury Outdoor Center. Her parents had met while racing on the University of Vermont cross-country team and Craftsbury was her playground. “From the time she could walk, she was skiing a cross-country loop around the backyard here,” her father Stan said. “She would have been about two years old. When we gave her brother some skis for Christmas, she grabbed his old skis and put them on.” Dunklee started racing in the Bill Koch Youth Ski League ‘lollipop’ division when she was 5. “By age 8, I knew my way around every trail at Craftsbury and most of the alpine trails at Jay and Burke as well,” she recalls. According to her father, Susan succeeds because of her ‘race head.’ “Her ability to zone in—some people have that, some people don’t, and she was blessed with it,” he says. “There are very few people I can say that about, and I’ve met a lot of athletes over the years.” And that’s one of the main things Susan is focusing on as she trains for the Games. “My goal is to go into PyeongChang feeling ready. When the start gun goes off I shift
"When the start gun goes off, I shift into fight or flight mode," Dunklee says. She credits her 'race head,' or her ability to focus, for much of her success as a biathlete. Photo courtesy of NordicFocus/U.S. Biathlon
Emily Dreissigacker dreamed of going to the Olympics for rowing, but two years ago, she started training in biathlon. Now, she's one of the country's top contenders. Photo courtesy of NordicFocus/U.S. Biathlon into fight or flight mode,” she says. “I’m not entirely sure how it works, but I can dig deeper in a race than I ever could during training, no matter how hard I try," she says. She adds: “However, I do think you can do a lot to prepare for high pressure situations. I try to keep my focus on what I need to do to perform well. I create a race plan ahead of time with simple, doable keys about what to focus on at each point during the race. My job is not to be Superwoman out there; my job is to stick to my plan. If I follow that plan, then I know I performed well, no matter what the result sheet says.” Biathlon, in particular, is a sport that
requires control. In the 12.5 km mass start, athletes transition from skiing, when they need speed and which raises their heart rate, to shooting, where motions need to be precise. Transitions are made throughout the course as skiers stop at four shooting stages. At each stage, they must hit five targets in a row, taking a 150-meter (490foot) penalty lap for each target they miss. To go from full exertion to full concentration is one of the unique challenges that biathletes have to master. “I use my heart rate monitor to make sure my physical exertion level during a workout matches what my coaches prescribed on my
training plan,” Dunklee says. “My max heart rate is just over 180 beats a minute. During a race my heart is beating almost three times a second as I am trying to shoot. So I focus on my breathing and shoot during the stillness between breaths.” In addition to her control, Dunklee is driven. In high school, she ran competitively for St. Johnsbury Academy and quickly rose to the top of her class in academics. “She was so disciplined,” Stan says. “Training started early, so she was at school by 7:30 a.m. or so. Sports practice started at 3:15, and she wouldn’t get home until 6 pm, and then she’d go upstairs and study until midnight.” Dunklee was recruited to Dartmouth for running, but changed her mind and joined the cross-country ski team. She graduated without ever shooting a gun, but then she got a call from the U.S. Biathlon Association inviting her to join their development team in Lake Placid. At 22, she fired her first rifle. “My first time on the shooting range was a warm May morning at Mount Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid,” Dunklee says. “I distinctly remember noticing the smell of gunpowder after taking my first shot—it was not a smell that I’d ever associated with cross-country ski training and it seemed out of place. Now I don’t even notice it.” Stan says he stepped back from being Dunklee’s coach, knowing early on that
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Lowell Bailey was the first-ever American to medal at a Biathlon Worlds, and last February, he became the first Americn athlete to qualify for PyeongChang. Photo courtesy of NordicFocus/U.S. Biathlon
biathlete Susan Dunklee’s silver medal
it might strain his relationship with her. But he snuck her tidbits of advice when he knew she was willing to listen, and served as inspiration as her career took off. “The Olympics were certainly a dream of mine from a young age, and having an Olympian role model to look up to in the family helped that dream seem more attainable,” Susan said. “The best advice I’ve ever received came from my dad: ‘Remember to keep it fun!’” “She’s a better athlete than I ever was, by the way,” Stan says. “I’ve learned never to underestimate her.”
LOWELL BAILEY, UVM GRAD Last February, University of Vermont graduate Lowell Bailey took gold at the Biathlon World Championships in Austria, winning the men’s individual competition by a 3.3 second margin. At age 35, he become the first American biathlete to ever medal at Worlds. That win also made him the first American in any sport to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. “Three-point-three seconds,” Bailey wrote on his blog the next day. “That was the margin when I toed the line. That was the margin of victory. And that is a number I will remember for the rest of my life.” In 2016, just a year before he won Worlds, Bailey had planned to retire. His wife, Erika, was pregnant, and after the World Cup circuit, he wanted to return home to upstate New York and pick up farming with her family. The multi-talented, fourtime Olympian would have also pursued a side-gig as a musician—he plays guitar, mandolin, sings and writes songs, and has
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Bailey has been an outspoken critic of Russia's doping program. In November, two more Russian biathletes were banned for life by the IOC. Photo courtesy of NordicFocus/U.S. Biathlon performed with multiple bands in the area. But then he received a call from what he calls a “fledgling non-profit” seeking to build a world-class biathlon training center on the West Coast. They asked him to continue competing through the 2018 Olympics while fundraising for their project on the side. With his wife’s encouragement, he accepted the job and fundraised while still competing. No American has ever won an Olympic medal in biathlon, and Bailey is poised to be the first. This past summer, Bailey managed to raise his prone shooting average from 94 to 95 percent and his standing average from 79 to 85 percent. (Biathletes are required to shoot both standing and prone, and missing a shot entails either a time penalty or an extra lap of skiing). And recently, he had another win. Bailey
(along with Susan Dunklee) was one of many athletes calling on the International Olympic Committee to ban Russia from the Olympics after a state-run doping program was exposed. In November, two more Russian biathletes were banned for life by the IOC. “When you put your entire life’s work into something under the assumption that you are operating by the same rules as everyone else on that field of play, and when you find out, no, that’s not the case, there’s a mix of anger, frustration, sadness,” Bailey told USA Today. During the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Bailey clinched the best-ever Olympic finish by an American, falling short of a medal by a single missed shot. This year, with Bailey’s World Championships gold and fellow
finish at the same event, the two are pushing the U.S. Biathlon team to an all-time high. Bailey has been a biathlete for most of his life. He started cross-country skiing at the age of four, and by 12, he was “skiing through the woods and shooting at stuff.” Growing up with the Lake Placid Olympic Center in his backyard, Bailey tried every Olympic sport he could—ski jumping, Nordic combined, alpine skiing, and luge— before settling on biathlon At UVM, Bailey competed on the Catamount NCAA Nordic Ski Team while competing for the U.S. Biathlon Team, until he realized that maintaining an elite status in both sports was impossible. He gave up his spot on the U.S. Biathlon Team, and went on to become a three-time NCAA Academic All-American as a Catamount. He returned to biathlon in 2005, after graduating. For many years, Bailey and fellow Adirondack skier Tim Burke would drive — or ride their bikes — from Lake Placid to the Ethan Allen Training Center in Jericho, Vt. to train year-round (on skis or roller skis) on the biathlon course. During the past year, he traveled the world to competing —with his wife and baby daughter in tow. “I feel so fortunate to have Erika supporting to me, and now with Ophelia—it’s a grounding presence,” he said after the Worlds. “No matter how you do in a biathlon race, when you come home, and you have a family, and you love them and they love you, that’s all you need.” Emma Cotton is the staff writer for Vermont Sports.
Orlean's Ida Sargent powers past a competitor in Canmore, Canada last season. Photo courtesy USSA
HOW THE WOMEN'S NORDIC TEAM CAME TO BE
HALF OF THE WOMEN'S U.S. CROSS COUNTRY TEAM IS EITHER FROM VERMONT OR TRAINS HERE. AND HERE'S WHY WE EXPECT THEM TO MEDAL. BY PEGGY SHINN
n any given day this past summer, you might have come across a group of sculpted athletes rollerskiing along a quiet road. Come winter, you might have caught an occasional glimpse of them skating at a break-neck pace at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center or the Stratton Nordic Center. And there is a very good chance that come February, you may see at least one of them standing on the podium at the Olympics. Of the twelve cross-country skiers on this year’s national team, seven are either from Vermont or train here. Burke Mountain Academy grads and northern Vermont locals, Liz Stephen and Ida Sargent are strongholds on the team. Farther south, Stratton Mountain School’s Sverre Caldwell has put together a powerhouse of a training team that includes his daughter Sophie Caldwell, her cousin Paddy and four-time Olympian Andy Newell of Shaftsbury. Caldwell’s Stratton Mountain School Elite Team, as it’s now called (supported for several years by the T2 Foundation for promising ski racers), has also lured to Vermont the likes of Jessie Diggins from Minnesota and Simi Hamilton
from Colorado. “It’s one of the strongest teams we’ve ever had,” says Tom Kelly of U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “And you’ll see most of them competing at PyeongChang.”
FROM SOLO STARS TO AN A-TEAM The story of how that team came to be, and of the women's team in particular, is one of the great backstories of the 2018 Olympics. It started with the women’s team, nearly twenty years ago, when Kikkan Randall, a young alpine skier and runner from Alaska, decided to switch her focus to cross-country skiing. The niece of two Olympic crosscountry skiers, Randall laid out a 10-year plan to win an Olympic medal. That has since become a 19-year plan that’s carrying Randall, now 35, into her fifth Olympics. Randall knew that if she wanted to reach her goals, she needed others to help. She had witnessed how teammates push each other and can make the process more fun—if done correctly. She openly welcomed competition and wanted other women to join her on the team. Matt Whitcomb, a Stratton Mountain School grad from western Massachusetts, was thinking the same thing. After
graduating from Middlebury College in 2001, he began coaching at Burke Mountain Academy. There, he caught the attention of U.S. head cross-country coach Pete Vordenberg. Whitcomb had a good vibe with the kids, and the Burke cross-country skiers looked like they were loving the sport. Of all the cross-country ski teams that Vordenberg had seen across the United States, he was struck by the Burkies’ camaraderie. This was what the U.S. team needed. Whitcomb was hired by the team in 2006 and became the women’s head coach in 2011. In November 2011, Whitcomb brought three other women on the full World Cup tour: 2010 Olympians Holly Brooks and Montpelier’s Liz Stephen, and Orleans’ Ida Sargent, a Dartmouth College student and Craftsbury skier. Then, in January 2012, Minnesotan Jessie Diggins joined them. Now, with five women competing in Europe, the Americans could field a relay team, even if the best they had finished to date was ninth. The relay, Whitcomb always said, was the true test of a team’s success. To win, or even make it into the medals, required four talented skiers—not just one—to keep the
team out front. In the Americans’ case, they had yet to show this depth. The turning point came in 2012. The team’s chances had looked especially dismal for a World Cup relay the previous season. In mid-February 2012, a World Cup stop in Nové Mesto in the Czech Republic featured a 15 km event in the classic technique on the first day, then a relay the following day—4 x 5 km for the women, 4 x 10 km for the men. With Randall on the sidelines nursing a cold and the entire team fatigued after the brutal 15 km race, where none of them had finished in the top 30, it looked like the team would again finish somewhere near the back in a World Cup relay. Rather than grimly accepting their fate, on the morning of the relay Brooks, Sargent, Stephen, and Diggins cranked up the music, applied face paint and glitter to their cheeks, and pulled on red, white, and blue striped socks over the legs of their speed suits. Randall had picked up four pairs of these striped socks at a German convenience store earlier in the season, thinking they might help stir up some good ol’ U-S-A team spirit. As the U.S. women warmed up for the relay, the other teams looked at them as if they had lost their minds. Who were these
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THE LITTLE TEAM THAT COULD
COACHES MATT WHITCOMB (FORMERLY OF BURKE MOUNTAIN ACADEMY) AND STRATTON'S SVERRE CALDWELL HAVE CREATED A POWERHOUSE TEAM OF VERMONT LOCALS AND IMPORTS.
Vermont has a legacy of top cross-country skiers that dates back to John Caldwell (who literally wrote the book on the sport,) and includes Olympic legend Bill Koch. Now, a new posse of top skiers is making Vermont their first (or second) home.
SOPHIE CALDWELL, PERU, VT The daughter of Olympian Sverre and Lilly Caldwell— and granddaughter of Olympian John Caldwell, Sophie Caldwell grew up on the trails at Wild Wings, near her home in Peru. Sverre, who has coached at the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) since 1980 (and is now Nordic director), never pushed Sophie to race. Instead, she played games with her siblings and friends, like pretending they were trolls hiding under bridges at Wild Wings. When she was 14, Caldwell went to Sweden. It was a fun spring trip to give the SMS kids a taste of international competition. Sverre joked that if Sophie won, he would buy her a car. Not only did she win, she beat Swedish darling Charlotte Kalla. Caldwell attended Dartmouth, where senior year she finished second at the NCAA championships, part of a UVM-Dartmouth sweep of the top six places. She had been thinking about teaching after graduation but decided to see how far skiing would take her, instead. She joined Olympians Simi Hamilton and Andy Newell on Stratton Mountain School’s new Elite Team. In her World Cup debut in December 2012—a freestyle sprint on the streets of Quebec City—Caldwell finished an eye-opening 14th. Fourteen months later, she made the finals in the freestyle sprint at the Sochi Olympics and—as Sverre, Lilly, and their neighbor, Bill Koch, watched on TV from their home in Vermont— Caldwell finished sixth, the best yet by a female American cross-country skier. Two weeks later, she took third in a World Cup sprint, and in January 2016, she won her first World Cup sprint. She won another World Cup in February 2017—on the PyeongChang course. This season, Caldwell, 27, has made it to the semifinals in all three World Cup sprints and will look to hone her fitness in January to make the final jump into the finals.
clowns with paint on their faces and crazy socks on their feet? On the course, the four American women were all business. With Diggins cheering from the sidelines, the women ended up finishing fifth in the Nové Mesto relay, the best finish by a U.S. women's team in a World Cup relay to date. And Diggins skied the fastest freestyle leg that day—even faster than Olympic champion Charlotte Kalla from Sweden. Five months later the team earned its first podium. After that breakthrough season, the U.S.
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Vermont's Nordic stars: Ida Sargent, Liz Stepehn and Sophie Caldwell. Sargent, at right, racing in Quebec's World Cup event. Photo by Reese Brown/USSA
IDA SARGENT, ORLEANS, VT Ida Sargent grew up near the Orleans/Barton town line and began skiing at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center when she was young. She always tried to keep up with her two older siblings, so they dubbed her “Little Me Too.” Sargent was soon racing up (in the next age category), beating her older sister, and had her eye on the Olympics. She wanted to attend Burke Mountain Academy because of the strong program that Matt Whitcomb created. Sargent then followed her siblings to Dartmouth and began making a name for herself internationally. In 2010, she finished fourth in the sprint at U23 world championships. She joined the Craftsbury Green Racing project—also home to 2018 Olympic biathlete Susan Dunklee—and was soon racing World Cups. In the past year, Sargent, 27, has jumped another level, earning her first World Cup podium finishes in the PyeongChang test event last February. This season, she qualified for the sprint finals once (finishing sixth in Davos in December behind Randall, in third, and Diggins in fourth). And at the Alpen Cup in midDecember, in addition to finishing third behind Caldwell in the sprint, she finished third in the 5km classic race.
women began racking up more medals, more trophies, and more titles. When Randall and her teammates took to the start line in glitter, face paint, and funny socks, their reserved European competitors no longer thought that the Americans were crazy. There was something about this American team that was working, and their sense of camaraderie rubbed off on their competition. The entire World Cup tour started to feel more like a family, where people began to realize that they could be both friends and competitors.
Strong classic skiers, Caldwell and Sargent will likely race in the sprint in PyeongChang (in the classic discipline at this Olympics), maybe the team sprint, and they could possibly make the 4x5 km relay as one of the two classic skiers.
LIZ STEPHEN, MONTPELIER, VT Liz Stephen was also one of Matt Whitcomb’s young protegés at Burke. She grew up in East Montpelier— where her dad was an attorney and her mom a physical therapist—and she ran for U32 High School. She also loved alpine skiing, and her family would drive an hour to Burke every winter weekend. When she was 14, she enrolled at Burke Mountain Academy. But by her sophomore year, she no longer enjoyed alpine racing. She was about to quit when Burke headmaster Kirk Dwyer convinced her to try cross-country skiing. Coach Matt Whitcomb drove to one of Liz’s running meets in Williston to convince her as well. Within a couple of years, she was a national cross-country ski champion (2006). She made her World Cup debut a year later, and in 2008, finished third in the 15 km freestyle at U23 world championships.
The women figured out how to bring the best of themselves to this American team, and created an environment where they felt at home, even when they were on the road for almost half of each year. They were inherently optimistic and happy for each other. As Whitcomb liked to say, “You don’t have to be best friends with everyone on the team, but you have to be best teammates.”
THE SEASON TO PEAK Now, going into PyeongChang, all seven women on the U.S. A and B teams have
earned at least one World Cup podium finish. This season alone, an American has finished on the podium in every major sprint race: Sadie Bjornsen, 28, finished second and third, respectively, in the first two sprints (both in the classic discipline), and Randall—now 35 and back from the birth of her son in April 2016—finished third in the final sprint (freestyle) before the holiday break. In that same race, Diggins and Sargent also made the final (top six). In mid-December, Sophie Caldwell and Ida Sargent traveled to Austria for an Alpen
Caldwell and Diggins (in her winning facepaint.)
is a four-time Olympian and World Cup podium finisher. He grew up in Lyme, New Hampshire, skiing, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors with his two older sisters—and nine Caldwell cousins. After attending Stratton Mountain School, Caldwell enrolled at Dartmouth, where he’s majoring in geography and economics. He was named to the U.S. Ski Team after his freshman year. The following year, he won the NCAA championship 10 km freestyle in 2015. A distance racer, Caldwell finished ninth in both the 15 km free and the skiathlon at the 2017 U23 World Championships last January, then made his World Cup debut. Look for 23-year-old Caldwell to make his Olympic debut in PyeongChang.
Photo courtesy USSA
Paddy Caldwell, Sophie's cousin, skating for the team at Davos. Photo by by Reese Brown/USSA
her third World Cup start in January 2012, she finished second. Since then, the 26-year-old phenom has racked up 14 World Cup podium finishes, including four wins, and four world championship medals. Diggins can sink deep into the pain cave and has been key in anchoring the U.S. women to four podiums in the relay. One of the best all-around skiers in the world, Diggins will likely compete in at least four races in PyeongChang, including the skiathlon, 10 km freestyle (she won silver in the 10 km free at the 2015 world championships), and the relay—again as the anchor. In December's World Cup in Davos, Andy Newell shows the form that's taken him to two Olympics. This will be his third. Photo by Resse Brown, USSA
An anchor of the women’s team—both physically and emotionally—Stephen, now 30, has finished consistently in the top 10 of World Cup races since 2013, including fifth overall in the 2015 Tour de Ski and second in the final stage—a grueling uphill climb—that year. In January 2015, she earned her first World Cup podium— second place in a 10 km freestyle race in Rybinsk, Russia. Like Diggins, she has competed in every relay for the past six years. A strong distance freestyle skier, Stephen will likely compete in the 10 km free in PyeongChang, as well as the relay.
JESSIE DIGGINS, SMS ELITE TEAM Diggins, originally from Minnesota, is also on the Stratton Mountain School Elite Team and recently bought a home in Vermont. She burst onto the World Cup scene when she was 19, fresh out of high school. In
Cup sprint (the Alpen Cup is the World Cup’s “minor league”). There, Caldwell beat Russian Natalie Matveeva—a four-time World Cup winner—for the win, and Sargent finished right behind in third. As the team, still in Europe, took a break from racing this December, they each took turns on the SMS T2 blog. Diggins wrote: “I’m looking forward to a chance to have a little mental break from the intensity that is World Cup racing and do some holiday COOKIE BAKING! I’m staying with Liz and Andy in a
ANDY NEWELL, SHAFTSBURY, VT Shaftsbury native Andy Newell was skiing at Prospect Mountain by age three and racing by five. He attended Stratton Mountain School and by 2001, was one of the top junior cross-country ski sprinters in the world. Newell has competed in three Olympics, and a month after the 2006 Olympics, he finished third in a World Cup sprint. It was the first World Cup podium for an American cross-country skier in 23 years. Now 34 and married to teammate Erika Flowers, Newell finished fourth in the team sprint (with Simi Hamilton) in the PyeongChang test event in February 2017. This season, he finished second in an Alpen Cup race in December. A strong freestyle skier, look for Newell to compete in the team sprint (freestyle) in PyeongChang and on the 4x10 km relay.
SIMI HAMILTON, SMS ELITE TEAM Simi Hamilton’s family is an institution in Aspen, Colo. His grandfather ran the Aspen Skiing Company in the 1960s and 1970s and his grandmother, Ruthie Brown, has one of the mountain’s most famous runs named for her, Ruthie’s. Hamilton is a climber and a downhill skier, but ever since he came east to attend Stratton Mountain School, then Middlebury College, he’s excelled at cross-country. Hamilton graduated in 2009, a three-time AllAmerican, and returned west to work as an EXUM mountain guide leading clients up Wyoming’s Grand Teton. But that fall, he returned to Nordic ski racing, won the national sprint title, and found himself on his first Olympic team in 2010. He had yet to compete in a World Cup. But at the Vancouver Games, he was the sole American who qualified for the sprint quarterfinals (after Newell crashed). He eventually finished 29th. Since then, Hamilton has competed in another Olympics (finishing fifth in the team sprint with Erik Bjornsen), four world championships (he finished fifth again in a team sprint with Bjornsen in 2017), and has finished on the World Cup podium four times, including one win. In December, Hamilton, 30, won an Alpen Cup sprint in Austria. One of the fastest sprinters in the world, Hamilton will likely compete in the classic sprint and team sprint (a freestyle race in PyeongChang), and the relay.
PADDY CALDWELL, SMS ELITE TEAM Like his cousin Sophie, Patrick “Paddy” Caldwell comes from good genetic cross-country stock. His father, Tim,
cottage in Seefeld, Austria, and Paddy and his family, Pat and Ida, as well as Simi and Sophie are also staying nearby so it’s going to be an awesome team atmosphere. Besides training hard and racing our brains out, we’ve found time for some other fun. The guys are all extreme cribbage pros by now, since they play an average of 3 games a day. I’ve been teaching dance class to the team for the past few weeks for our latest team music video cover, so we had a lot of laughs filming that!”
The team is, in many ways a family — both literally and figuratively. Paddy and Sophie Caldwell are cousins. Sophie dates Simi Hamilton and Andy Newell is married to SMS teammate Erika Flowers. But most of all, there’s a sisterhood on the women’s team that drives them. The women have learned to focus on the positives and help each other through the negatives of careers in a sport that garners few headlines in the United States. It’s a sport where they really could view the glass as half empty—having had to overcome
Peggy Shinn is a senior writer for TeamUSA.org and has covered four Olympic Games. The 2018 PyeongChang Games will be her fifth. She lives in Rutland with her husband and daughter. This article is partially adapted from her second book, World Class: The Making of the U.S. Women’s CrossCountry Ski Team, available at your local bookstore or on Amazon. com.
funding issues and injuries and illnesses in a brutally hard sport in which it takes decades to develop, and to compete against countries where doping has been rampant. But these women perpetually see the glass as half full. Through many ups and downs, they have had one goal in mind—to win an Olympic medal, especially in the team relay. But should they fall short of this goal, they know that the journey of creating this team has been worth it. It’s a dynamic that we all could learn from.
JAN/FEB 2018 | VTSPORTS.COM 25
THE OLD GUARD GOES FOR GOLD
SNOWBOARDING Dover's Kelly Clark goes big. Photo courtesy USSA
WHILE RIDERS LIKE CHLOE KIM, 17, HAVE ALREADY MADE THE TEAM, THESE VETERANS WHO GREW UP WITH THE SPORT IN VERMONT ARE STILL OUR MEDAL FAVORITES. BY LISA LYNN
f you ask Stowe's Bud Keene, the guy who coached Shaun White to two Olympic gold medals, whom he thinks will make the U.S. Olympic Snowboard Team, the former U.S. Olympic Coach of the Year doesn’t hesitate. “No question: Kelly Clark, Hannah Teter and Lindsey Jacobellis,” he says, ticking off the stars of halfpipe, slopestyle and boardercross. That’s not too tough a question: all three women grew up riding in Vermont and already own a slew of Olympic medals. Seasoned pros who are still at the top of their games, they are fair bets to medal in PyeongChang. We might also see Stowe’s Ty Walker, who competed in Sochi in 2014, and won the inaugural Big Air competition that same year, compete in the new Big Air event. And we are likely to see Julia Marino, 19, a Westport, Ct. skateboarder who went to Stratton Mountain School compete in slopestyle. The men’s side is more hazy. “Louie Vito – who went to Stratton Mountain School as well as another SMS grad, Burton pro Danny Davis — could be in there,” Keene says “and yet another SMS grad, Alex Deibold is a strong bet for boardercross.” While the team can bring up to 26 (with no more than 14 of each gender) to the Games, only four are allowed to compete in any one event. Sochi gold medalist Jamie Anderson and Chloe Kim have already earned enough top podium finishes to qualify, further narrowing the women’s field.
KELLY CLARK, DOVER, VT With a gold medal in the 2002 Olympics, and a bronze in 2004 and again in 2010, Kelly Clark (along with Hannah Teter) is
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one of the winningest snowboarders in the sport;s history. Clark grew up skiing with her family at Mount Snow, near their home in Dover, Vt. Though her parents were both avid skiers, Clark desperately wanted a snowboard. In 1990, at age 7, the first year Mount Snow was open to riders, she got a plastic snowboard from Walmart. Before even graduating from Mount Snow Academy, at age 16 she made the U.S. Team. Ten years later she became the first woman to land a 1080 in competition. She’s since been a long-time stalwart of the Burton pro team. At 34, this will be her fifth Olympics. Clark has survived numerous injuries, including a fall at the 2015 X Games which tore her hamstring off the bone. Though she still limps, but she is a queen of pushing away pain. After surgery in 2016 that had her bedridden for a month with her feet bound together, Clark was back. In early 2017, she won the halfpipe competition at the first Olympic qualifier, held last February at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., the ski town she now calls home. She then went on to win the World Cup test event in PyeongChang. At the next Olympic qualifier, December 2017’s Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Clark was second behind Chloe Kim, 17, and just ahead of Maddie Mastro, 17, two women exactly half her age, both of whom she has mentored. A devout Christian, Clark set up the Kelly Clark Foundation to help other kids find success through snowboarding and provide scholarships to aspiring student athletes. Mastro is one of the young snowboarders she has helped. Kim has already won enough events to qualify
for PyeonChang but Clark may find herself competing against Mastro and other for a spot. As Clark writes in a prelude to her new book, Inspire: “The greatest legacy I could leave would be to see my ceiling be the floor for the next generation. It is bigger than me, but it can start with me. In a performance-driven culture, it is difficult to find true meaning apart from success on the podium. I want people to see that success is an inside job.”
HANNAH TETER, BELMONT, VT “Hannah has this devil-may-care attitude but she is one of the winningest snowboarders ever in the Olympics,” says Bud Keene, who coached her to a gold in 2006. Teter also has earned a silver in 2010 and just barely missed bronze in Sochi in 2014. “She’s this hippy chic from Belmont who eats organic and non-GMO and does yoga in her yurt in Vermont when she’s home for the summer,” says Keene. “She may not do well all year long but when the time comes to do something big, when she drops in, she’s unflappable and nails it.” In the first OIympic qualifying event last January in Mammoth, Teter earned a third (behind Clark but ahead of Chloe Kim). But at this past December’s World Cup at Copper, she finished ninth, followed by a fifth in the Superpipe in the Dew Tour a week later, behind Clark, Kim, Mastro and Arielle Gold. Growing up in Belmont, Teter learned to ride at Okemo Mountain with her three brothers and went to the local Black River High School. Though Teter now lives near Lake Tahoe, she often comes home to Vermont in the summer and fall, where she’s produced maple syrup, Hannah’s Gold, which helped
Lindsey Jacobellis started riding at Okemo. Photos courtesy USSA
her raise $200,000 to help an impoverished village in Kenya. Her Sweet Cheeks Panties donate 40 percent of the profits to Children International.
LINDSEY JACOBELLIS, STRATTON, VT In December, in Val Thorens, France Lindsey Jacobellis broke her own record by racking up her 29th World Cup win in boardercross. That podium finish also secured her a spot at PyeongChang and kept her at the top of the world rankings. Not bad for a 32-year-old who has had two knee surgeries. Or for someone whom the public remembers best for losing the gold at the Torino Games when she was 20. Jacobellis grew up driving from her home in Danbury, Ct. to Stratton Mountain every weekend and, after doing well in the
Walker in the rankings, including Jamie Anderson, Hailey Langland and Julia Marino.
JULIA MARINO, STRATTON MOUNTAIN SCHOOL
Alex Deibold, in black, coming up on the lip in bordercross. Photo courtesy USSA
Friday night race series, was recruited to Stratton Mountain School. She won the Junior Worlds in 2002 and her first X Games gold the next year. Jacobellis’ style of riding is fast and smooth. It’s what allows her to shoot ahead in boardercross, where berms, 15foot jumps and icy banked turns challenge the four riders who are all jockeying for the lead. In Torino, Jacobellis had a huge lead and threw a stylish leap off the last jump—only to fall and be passed. She picked herself up and rode on for the silver. In 2010, in the Vancouver games, Jacobellis collided with Canada’s Maelle Ricker, lost her balance, hit a gate and was disqualified. Ricker went on to win the gold. Then, in 2012 at the X Games, Jacobellis tore her ACL and had the first of two surgeries. That might have been enough for someone else to throw in the towel. She didn’t, and by 2014 was back at the top of the game and qualified for Sochi. There, again she fell, missing the finals.
But with eight X Games gold medals and three FIS World Championship titles, what’s another Olympic medal have to do with it? For Jacobellis – a lot.
TY WALKER, STOWE, VT At just 16, Stowe’s Ty Walker made her Olympic debut at Sochi in 2014 and just a year later won the first Big Air contest. Though she was slated to compete in Big Air Fenway in 2016, she was injured during a training run. Since then, Walker has been busy studying pre-med as a student at Brown and was recently named one of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Young Changemakers for 2018. In that role, she’ll serve as an ambassador at the U.S. Olympic Youth Games in Buenos Aires next summer. Walker has taken time off from school to train. At the December Dew Tour she earned 9th in slopestyle, which is important since riders will compete in both slopestyle and Big Air. However, three other Americans stand above
Julia Marino, now 20, didn’t pick up snowboarding until she was 13 when, on a trip to Colorado with her parents she broke a ski. A skateboarder from Westport, CT, she picked it up riding quickly. So quickly that after snowboarding at Stratton on weekends, she signed up for Stratton Mountain School and soon made the U.S. Snowboard Team. In 2016, when Ty Walker pulled out of Big Air Fenway after an injury, Marino was offered a spot last minute. She took it and won. In last January’s first qualifier at Mammoth, Marino earned a bronze in slopestyle and at the Copper Mountain Big Air qualifier in December she earned silver and at the Dew Tour she placed sixth in slopestyle—the third American behind Jamie Anderson and Hailey Langland. Marino now spends most of her time out West training.
ALEX DEIBOLD, STRATTON, VT Alex Deibold also grew up commuting from Connecticut to Stratton on weekends to ski with his family. Deibold graduated from SMS in 2004 and ten years later, earned the bronze medal in Sochi in bordercross. He served as a ski wax technician in 2010 and shortly after made the team. On December 22, 2017 in Cervinia, Italy, Deibold finished fourth in a World Cup boardercross, moving him to 18th in the world and the fifth-ranked American. If he had finished on the podium, his spot would have been secured. Even so, there is a good chance he will join Jonathan Cheever (a part-time plumber from Boston who learned to snowboard at Attitash, N.H.) on the team. However, to get there he will have to also beat three-time Olympian Nate Holland and two-time Olympian Nick Baumgartner as well as Hagen Kearney and Mick Dierdorff — both currently ranked higher in FIS points.
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RACE & EVENT GUIDE
LISTING YOUR EVENT IN THIS CALENDAR IS FREE AND EASY. VISIT VTSPORTS.COM/SUBMITAN-EVENT OR E-MAIL EDITOR@VTSPORTS. COM. ALL LOCATIONS ARE IN VERMONT, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED. FEATURED EVENTS, IN YELLOW, PAY A NOMINAL FEE.
RUNNING & SNOWSHOEING
24 | Frigus, Killington The Endurance Society hosts its annual snowshoe festival with its 5K, 15K and trademark grueling marathon races. Stick around for the award ceremony to collect a gift and finisher medal. endurancesociety.org
JANUARY 1 | 30th Annual First Run 5K, Essex Junction Do your first 5K of the year, starting at the Champlain Valley Expo. Runners and walkers. runvermont.org 6 | Salomon Snowcross Relays, Stowe Compete as a team or as an individual in this winter trail running and Nordic ski relay race, hosted by Trapp Family Lodge. Demos, prizes and good times for all who attend. skireg.com 7 | Winter Magic Snowshoe Race, Londonderry Race a 3.5-mile loop split evenly between singletrack and snowmobile (VAST) trails that encircles Lowell Lake with views along the way. Dion snowshoes will be available for rent. dionwmacsnowshoe.com 20 | Baxter Outdoors Winter Triathlon, Craftsbury The Craftsbury Outdoor Center hosts a 15K winter-themed triathlon with options to snowrun, fatbike and Nordic ski. 5K snowrun and fatbike solo options are also available. baxteroutdoors.com 21 | Komen Snowshoe For The Cure, Stratton This favorite returns to Stratton Mountain’s Sun Bowl area with a competitive 3K race as well as a 3K and a 5K snowshoe walk. Free loaner snowshoes will be available from Tubbs (first come first serve). komennewengland.org
10 | Cupid 5K, Shelburne Runners indicate upon registration whether they are “attached” or “unattached.” Those who are available will have a designation, so potential suitors know they’re available. racevermont.com
MARCH 3 | Peak Snowshoe Devil Winter Race, Pittsfield Aptly-named, this race offers a 10K, half marathon, marathon or a 100-mile ultra-marathon distance, each with at least 1,200 feet of vertical. peak.com 9 | Magic Hat Mardi Gras 1-Mile Fun Run, Burlington Mardi Gras revelers cheer on the racers in this fast run through downtown Burlington during the March Mardi Gras celebrations. magichatbrewing.com 9-11 | Dion US National Snowshoe Championships, Woodford The championships return to Prospect Mountain with two days of races: the classic 10K race, with 1200 feet of climbing, and a 5K Citizen’s Race on Saturday, and marathon and half marathon races on Sunday. ussnowshoechampionships.com
SKI MOUNTAINEERING JANUARY 6 | NE Rando Race Series at Magic Mountain, Two courses include a full course with 7,000 feet of
vertical, and a shorter recreational course with about 1,500 feet of vertical. nerandorace.blogspot.com 10-11 | 24 Hours of Bolton, Bolton The Bolton Valley backcountry is the site of the first 24hour backcountry ski and splitboard event. Participants compete for the most overall laps in a 12-hour or 24-hour period. nativeendurance.com 20 | Bolton Valley Split and Surfest, Bolton The Catamount Trail Association hosts a splitboarding festival with clinics, backcountry tours and an obstacle course. catamounttrail.org 28 | Burke Backcountry Adventure, Burke This skimo race, part of the SkimoEast race series, has 5,000 feet of vertical gain, three climbs and at least one boot-pack ascent on each climb. Descent includes trees, black diamond trails, and bumps. skimoeast.com
FEBRUARY 18 | Camel’s Hump Challenge, Hinesburg The Alzheimer’s Association holds their 29th annual 13.5mile ski trek around Camel’s Hump, raising funds and awareness. act.alz.org 17 | Winter Wild Race Series, Ascutney A 3.1-mile trail run with 800 vertical feet of climbing. The course, designed by Jim Lyle, contains steep climbs, singletrack, double-track, winding descents, all to be navigated by headlamp. winterwild.com
MARCH 3| Skimo Challenge, Jay Jay Peak hosts a 9-mile skimo race with 5,250 feet of climbing. The course includes a steep boot pack, many transitions and off-piste descents. skimoeast.com 4 | Pico Skimo, Mendon Pico hosts a new race with three laps, gaining 2,000 feet up the mountain. endurancesociety.org
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JAN/FEB 2018 | VTSPORTS.COM 29
ONGOING Salomon QST Uphill Tour, Londonderry Middle-level skiers experience Magic Mountain from the bottom up in this guided group skin. Offered 1/20, 2/3, 3/3 magicmtn.com Salomon QST Intro to Uphilling Clinic, Londonderry At Magic Mountain, learn the basics about the specialized equipment used for alpine touring technique, etiquette, safety and more. $115 per person. Offered 1/20, 2/3, 3/3. magicmtn.com Salomon QST Demo Day, Londonderry Try the latest gear featuring Salomon QST skis, boots and Guardian bindings at Magic Mountain. magicmtn.com
ALPINE SKIING & RIDING JANUARY 6-7 | Skirack’s Annual Ski Swap, Burlington One of Vermont’s biggest ski swaps takes place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Grab skis, snowboards, cross-country gear and more. Drop your own gear off from Jan. 1 until Jan. 5 and get store credit. skirack.com 6 | Annual Ski The East Junior Qualifier, Jay Watch future champs send it on Jay Peak’s toughest terrain. jaypeakresort.com 7 | Pico Telemark Clinic, Mendon This course, for all ability levels, from beginners to advanced skiers, will emphasize skill demonstration, practice, and technique evaluation. catamounttrail.org 19-10 | FIS 2018 Freestyle World Cup—Aerials, Lake Placid Catch the pros and all the high flying action, on Friday at Whiteface with the moguls competition and concluding Saturday at the Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid for the Aerials Finals Under the Lights. lakeplacid.com
100 VERMONT TEENS
20 | SheJumps International Women’s Ski and Snowboard Day, Warren Celebrate female camraderie at Sugarbush as it hosts group ski and ride activities, games, raffle drawings, apres ski and more. sugarbush.com
9-10 | Carinthia Freeski Open, West Dover Some of the best pros flock to this annual slopestyle competition, hosted by Mount Snow’s Carinthia Parks, with a $7,000 cash purse. Built by Carinthia’s park team, the course promises to be spectator-worthy. mountsnow.com
24-26 | Telemark World Cup, Warren Sugarbush hosts this 3-day event featuring world-class, international competitors. Racers will participate in classic, sprint and parallel sprint races throughout the weekend. sugarbush.com
17 | Triple Crown Unconventional Challenge, Fayston The last leg of the Triple Crown Competition Series is a bump-off mogul challenge on Chute underneath the Single Chair. madriverglen.com
FEBRUARY 10 | Junior Castlerock Extreme, Warren Talented skiers (14 and under) are invited to compete in a highly challenging and technical run down Castlerock’s infamous Lift Line at Sugarbush. Qualifiers will head to the main Castlerock Extreme on March 10. sugarbush.com 10 | Boarder/Skier Cross, Smugglers’ Notch The Northern Vermont Tour of USASA hosts a BX/SX. with high banked turns and jumps. usasa.org 17 | Triple Crown Unconventional Challenge, Fayston The first leg of the Triple Crown Competition Series sends skiers down the Lift Line trail at Mad River Glen. madriverglen.com 17 | Harris Hill Ski Jump, Brattleboro Ski jumpers from around the world head to Brattleboro to compete on southern Vermont’s historic ski jump. harrishillskijump.com
MARCH 2 | Triple Crown Vertical Challenge, Fayston The second leg of the Triple Crown Competition sees how many vertical feet competitors can ski in a day. The record is 30 runs, or 60,000 vertical feet. madriverglen.com 3 | Smugglers’ Notch Extreme Skiing Challenge, Jeffersonville Take on Smugglers’ most challenging lift-accessed terrain in this freeskiing competition. Competitors are judged on line, control, fluidity, technique, and style. snscvt.com 3-4 | Slash and Berm Banked Challenge, Killington Snowboarders race a technical slalom course with curves, knolls and drops as it flies down Bear Mountain. killington.com
10 | Castlerock Extreme Challenge, Warren Advanced skiers tackle the terrain on Sugarbush’s Castlerock Peak to find the best skier on the mountain and claim a $1,000 cash prize. sugarbush.com 11 | Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge at Bromley, Peru Amateur racers take to a dual giant slalom course at Bromley for a chance to advance to the national competitions. bromley.com 17-18 | Ski the East Freeride Tour Championships at Jay Peak, Jay Skiers charge some of Jay Peak’s most difficult terrain in pursuit of the series championship. jaypeakresort.com
NORDIC JANUARY 13-14 | Rikert Eastern Cup, Ripton Rikert hosts this two-day racing event, with a classic sprint (1.3K for women, 1.5K for men) on Saturday and a skate interval start (5K for under 16, 10K for adults). rikertnordic.com 13 | 10th Annual Ladies Nordic Ski Expo, Ripton Rikert Nordic Center hosts this fun, social event taught by women for women. Instruction in classic, skate skiing, backcountry and telemark techniques. catamounttrail.org 27 | Winter Trails Day, Jeffersonville Smuggs’ Nordic Center staff will give tips for first-time snowshoers and cross-country skiers. Rentals and trail access for first timers are free. smuggs.com 30 | Craftsbury Marathon, Craftsbury This classic ski marathon is a wave start cross-country ski race of 25 or 50K, held on a 12.5K loop. craftsbury.com
WILL SPEND THEIR SUMMER AT KROKA
Ethan Allen Biathlon Club 2018 Winter Race Series
DATES January 4, 11, 18, February 1, 8, 15 TIMES 5:00 pm - Registration 5:30 to 6:00 pm - Zeroing 6:15 pm - Race Start WHERE Ethan Allen Biathlon Club Ethan Allen Rd., Jericho, VT
NEW: See our website for NEW mandatory
Safety Clinic information
Where will you be???
Kroka Expeditions ~ www.kroka.org Facebook.com/KrokaExpeditions
30 VTSPORTS.COM | JAN/FEB 2018
9-11 | Canadian Ski Marathon, Buckingham, Quebec Three days of long-distance ski touring across harsh, windswept terrain. The marathon follows a point-to-point format with four distance options, up to 20K per day. csmmcs.com/en 17-18 | 2018 Bill Koch Festival, Weston, Mass. The Leo J. Martin Ski Track hosts the 2018 Bill Koch Festival with a weekend of racing for all styles of Nordic skier. nensa.net 23-24 | Middlebury Winter Carnival, Ripton The Rikert Nordic Center hosts NCAA cross-country ski racing. The neighboring Middlebury College Snowbowl hosts alpine racing. rikertnordic.com
24 | Bog Burn, North Pomfret Nordic ski racers in third grade and higher compete in classic races with distances including 1.7K to 13K. nensa.net 25 | Stowe Derby, Stowe Participate or cheer on racers as they ski from the top of Stowe, down to the Stowe bike path and finish in the center of town. Race is open to fat bikes as well. stowederby.com
MARCH 3 | Relay For Life Nordic Style, Jay Teams and participants campout on the snow while taking turns for eight hours skiing or snowshoeing around the ski trails at Jay Peak’s Nordic Center. Live entertainment and food are available all night long. main.acsevents.org/ 5 | Strafford Nordic Relays, Strafford The Strafford Nordic Center hosts a sprint relay race for teams of two. Skate race in the morning followed by classic races in the afternoon. straffordnordicskiing.com 8 | 32nd Lake Placid Loppet Cross Country Ski Races, Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex Cross Country Ski Center hosts cross country races on the Mt. Houvenberg trails. There will be classic technique and free technique race starts for both the 25K and 50K races. lakeplacid.com 11 | 44th Mt. Washington Cup, Bretton Woods, N.H. Bretton Woods Nordic Center hosts a 10K freestyle race through their expansive, 100K trail network. nensa.net 11 | Bread Loaf Citizens Race, Ripton The Rikert Nordic Center hosts their classic 5K cross country race with the traditional loaf of bread for the winner, plus a lollipop race for the kids. rikertnordic.com
OTHER CHALLENGES JANUARY 30 | Memphremagog Skate Marathon, Newport Kingdom Games hosts 1, 5, 21, and 42K races plus a 42K untimed skate. The 1 and 5K races are free. kingdomgames.co
FEBRUARY 3 | Polar Bear 8 Hour Obstacle Challenge, Benson Run continuously for 8 hours on the 10K course with over 70 obstacles per loop. shalehilladventure.com 10 | Memphremagog Women’s Pond Hockey Tournaments, Newport Kingdom Games, Eastside Restaurant, and Newport City Inn & Suites host two days of pond hockey on Lake Memphremagog. memphremagogpondhockey.com
ONGOING Ethan Allen Biathlon Winter Race Series, Jericho Challenge fellow biathletes at this regular race series, held Jan. 4, 11, 18 and Feb. 1, 8, 15 at the Ethan Allen Biathlon Club in Jericho. eabiathlon.org
FESTIVALS JANUARY 7 | Uberwintern Fatbike Festival, Stowe Mountain Bike Vermont hosts a day of fatbike group rides, demos and hearty brews around a warm fire. mtbvt.com 26-28 | Smuggs Ice Bash, Smugglers’ Notch Winter’s biggest climbing event happens at the Notch and at PetraCliffs. Sign up for free gear demos, clinics, competitions, a party and prizes. smuggsicebash.com
3-4 | Vermont Ultimate Ninja Athlete Qualifier, Essex Obstacle course racers attempt to qualify for the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association’s regional competitions. ultimateninja.net
23-25 | Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival, Newport If you’re ready for a chill, join in one of the 25, 50, 100, and 200 meter swims in a twolane, 25-meter pool cut in the ice on Lake Memphremagog. kingdomgames.co
4 | Jack Jump World Championships at Mount Snow, Dover Complete with speed, racing action and great crashes, the Jack Jump World Championships return to Mount Snow’s racecourse. mountsnow.com
24-25 | 33rd Annual Kåre Andersen Telemark Festival, Peru Ski with some of the east’s best teleskiers in this two-day festival, full of clinics and free-heel camaraderie, with a classic race on Sunday. bromley.com 24 | Fatstock, Woodstock Vermont Overland invites fatbike riders to a race around the trails at the Woodstock Country Club and Nordic Center. vermontoverland.com
MARCH 3 | Winterbike, East Burke Kingdom Trails hosts a celebration of fatbikes with group rides, demos, races, food and beverages. kingdomtrails.org
STAY UP TO DATE! GET THE VERMONT SPORTS E-NEWSLETTER FOR UPDATES ON EVENTS, RESULTS AND NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE. SIGN UP AT VTSPORTS.COM
18-20 | Special Olympics Winter Games at Pico The annual Winter Games moves to Pico with alpine and Nordic skiing and snowshoeing for people of all abilities and age groups. specialolympicsvermont.org
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WHO WORE IT WORST?
OLYMPIC YEARS BRING OUT THE BEST... AND WORST.
BY PATRICK CALDWELL
ith the Olympics coming up, we need to talk about something: We need to talk about spandex. Spandex is an undeniably comfortable and stretchy part of the Nordic skier lifestyle. But not all spandex suits were created equal. We all have worn both ugly suits and good-looking ones, which begs the question, which suit was the ugliest? And so we introduce the Ugly Suit Hall of Fame. To scientifically determine the ugliest suit, we must apply some criteria to determine its Ugly Suit Score (USS). Category 1: How much did this suit clash? Clashing is a key part of an ugly suit. There will be big points awarded for multiple patterns, mixes of round and angular lines and for colors that God did not intend to be put together. Category 2: Was this suit “in” for its time? If a suit was relatively cool in its time it will not score well in this category. Category 3: How well did racers perform in the suit? This is really important. History is full of instances when successful people took uncool things and made them cool. Think of mullets, mustaches, or even shaved heads—all of which are objectively funny-looking and all of which became cooler for having been sported by successful athletes. If a suit was worn by Olympic or World Champions its legend as an Ugly Suit only grows. So, let’s get started.
1. USA 2006 OLYMPICS This suit is unique. What made it ugly was not it’s colors or patterns (which are benign) but a special feature, its hood. The hood was added for aerodynamic purposes, which still seems like a good idea in principle. In practice it was hot, claustrophobic, and didn’t significantly reduce drag—which was the only reason for its existence. As unique as the hood was, it did not feature excessive clashing so will score low in Category 1. Other than the hood it was pretty inoffensive, and the U.S. had some excellent races at these Olympics so it scores low in Category 2 and high in 3. Cat. 1: (10/20) Cat. 2. (4/10) 3. Cat 3.: (11/20) Total: (25/50)
2. JAPAN 2006 OLYMPICS This suit is really something. It looks like the screensaver on an old Macintosh, or perhaps a marble countertop. Unfortunately, 2006 was not a standout year for ugly suits, and a big reason is that it was an Olympic year. To avoid issues with sponsor logos most countries design completely new suits for the Olympics, which seems to me like an incredibly high-risk/high-reward thing to do before the most visible event in crosscountry skiing. No one from Japan won a medal in this suit (which isn’t a big deal
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UGLY SUIT HALL OF FAME Clockwise from center: USA, 2006; Japan, 2006; USA, 1992, Germany, 2016; Sweden, 1998 and, Norway, 1994.
since medals are so rare), but no: one in this suit came close to the best-ever Japanese finish at an Olympics either so it doesn’t score especially high in Category 3. Cat 1: (16/20) Cat. 2: (3/10) Cat. 3: (8/20) Total: (27/50)
3. USA 1992 OLYMPICS We, as a country have a great many things to be proud of: That an American biathlete (Vermont’s own John Morton, no less) once wore this suit is not one of them. I wasn’t alive at this point in time, but I have to assume someone phoned Richard Simmons and asked “Hey Richard, What do you think Uncle Sam would do Pilates in?” and he sent them a sketch of this suit. The stripes and scribbles clash beautifully, so it scores high in Category 1. But with 1992 being an Olympic year it did not seem as outlandish compared to its fellow 1992 suits as it does to our 21st century eyeballs. Cat 1: (18/20). Cat. 2: (5/10) Cat 3: (10/20) Total: (33/50)
4. GERMANY 2016/17 The Germans generally do a great job of recognizing national colors and framing body lines with consistent patterns. However, this suit, does not do those things. It takes the black, red, and yellow of Germany’s flag too far into the neon zone—which is regrettable, but is also understandable given the current fashion trends. The main problem here is the yellow polka dot matrix across the lower
body, which creates odd shading around the inseam and, more problematic, looks like someone threw up all over their legs. It wasn’t the only suit to use this template last year so it doesn’t score well in Category 1. However, Germans have kicked ass in this suit, and it’s hard to deny that it should score high in Category 3. Cat. 1: (16/20) Cat. 2:: (3/10) Cat. 3: (15/20) Total: (34/50)
5. SWEDEN 1998 OLYMPICS This suit is wonderful. It has a large amount of white space, which is a dangerous gamble with spandex, but its arms and legs are also covered with a blue/yellow checkered pattern that poses quite a few questions. Is this supposed to represent the Swedish flag? Is it some type of secret Scandinavian code? Did the athletes use it to play checkers when they weren’t wearing it? Regardless, its pattern scores well in Category 1. At the 1988 Olympics many suits used color blocking (i.e. all red legs, all white chest, all blue arms) so this suit was unique among its contemporaries and gets points in Category 2. As for Category 3, Olympic four-time gold medalist Gunde Svan wore this suit— enough said.
Cat. 1: (14/20) Cat. 2: (7/10). Cat. 3: (18/20) 4. Total: (39/50)
6. NORWAY 1994/95 This suit is the pinnacle of ugly suits. The Nordic Runes seem to have no rhyme or reason—but not in a Jackson Pollock sort of way, more in a Pre-K Art sort of way. The color blocking of the suit also gives the whole thing a medieval jester’s vibe. It scores very high in Category 1. Now, as you can see from the second skier in this picture, 1995 was a time of ugly suits so we can’t score it especially highly in Category 2. This suit however was worn by the second greatest Nordic skier of all time and won a LOT of races, and as such scores well in Category 3. Cat. 1: (19/20). Cat. 2: (6/10) Cat. 3: (20/20) Total: (45/50) Patrick Caldwell wears whatever suit the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team tells him to wear. Reprinted with permission from the SMS TT2 blog. Send all future/angry/ reactionary nominations to @smst2team on Instagram.
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