The US Telemark Team (Tanner and Cory) have caught the break stuff bug. First it was Tanners boots, three or four times. Then my skis started to de-laminate, then Tanner's skis went full "reverse camber race skis", then today I ripped a binding and plate off one ski, and destroyed the core of the other pair. I'll chalk it up to "we are just too strong."
Either way, we carry on. Tanner fixed his boots, three or four times, found a pair of skis that he can use for the rest of this camp until he can get set-up on the new pairs, and I have two pairs of skis barely limping into the next 3 days of skiing.
The point is, we carry on. Even if the equipment is not 100% perfect, there are adaptations to be made and techniques to be improved. We adapt, we improve, we carry on. I can only hope it shows up in the results!
Right now, I am residing in a place called "The In-Between." The snow has started to fly and I've got a few days of skiing under my feet. My dry-land has started to perk up, thanks Tanner, and I'm starting to build excitement for the first races of the season.
Ok maybe snow was on overstatement. On day one, our we arrived to temperatures around 10C / 50F and bright sun. A perfect day to be in the mountains, but a less than ideal day for glacier travel. We dodged rocks, small rivers, and precarious crevasses. All the same it was a terrific to get skis under my feet and slide around on some snow.
Day two could not have been different. Temperatures fell to around -10C / 14F overnight, and some light precipitation dusted the upper elevations with a fresh coat of snow! Unfortunately, this small snow squall also brought in some serious cloud cover. This made the skiing feel like being inside a ping pong ball, skiing on crazy refrozen glacier slush. Not necessarily ideal training conditions, but definitely a nice challenge!
Days three through seven were downright spectacular. Temperatures stayed near zero throughout the morning, giving us hard firm conditions with with to really dial in our technique. For me, this opportunity to spend some long hours deconstructing my form, identifying weaknesses or inconsistencies, and taking the time to really work on them was incredible. That goes for the skiing and the skating. We spent each morning working on skiing form, while the conditions were solid, and each afternoon working on skate technique. Sometimes up on the glacier, garnering some funny looks for the alpiners on the lift, and sometimes in the valley on roller skis if it was too sloppy on the glacier.
As it stands today, the skier that arrived a week ago, and the skier that is leaving today are barely recognizable. I've got a long way to go until I'm ready to race, but I cannot wait to see this process through. I think the final product could be really special!
I could definitely get used to the Austrian lifestyle. I've settled into a pretty nice groove here at the University. Although I haven't learned that much German, I have seen some spectacular mountains, enjoyed some delicious fermented beverages, and also put in some terrific hours in the gym. I guess I've done a little bit of studying too, but that's for another day.
The fun starts for real next week. I'll be on the glacier for the first on-snow autumn camp next weekend, and the plan is to be there just about every other week from now until the beginning of the World Cup schedule. I am more than thrilled to make a return to full-time World Cup racing.
Although I've had plenty of national level success recently, the last few years have been frustrating from an overall performance point of view. To sum it up, I've felt like a formula 1 driver, behind the wheels of a pimped out minivan. No matter how hard to try to pump it full of fancy fuel, and maximize it's performance, it's still a minivan....
Maybe that's an exaggeration, but the root of most of my issues is that I just wasn't getting very many miles on race skis. This season I'll have a teammate on the full world cup season for the first time since 2011-2012 ( Tanner Visnick), and a productive training partnership with the talented team from Great Britain. We'll see if I am able to translate the extra preparation into a World Cup podium or two!
However, there is one more challenge to racing a full World Cup season, and that is the small issue of financing it all. Rather than bore you all with the details here, I'll leave it at this: I am actively seeking a new lead sponsor!! It won't take much to make this season possible, and my potential for success is as high as it has ever been. If you or someone you know might be interested in joining me on this journey, slide over to my contact form , or send me an email , I promise you won't regret it!
Been a while since we last talked! Quite a bit has transpired since we last talked....Since then I've done quite a bit. Here's a quick recap:
Graduated from UNH, also grew a terrible mustache...
Moved across the country to Montana!
Joined an INCREDIBLE team at Montana Ale Works, learned about sustainable food systems, beer, service, and of course how to have fun doing it all!
Skied a LOT of powder....including a few all time days at none other than Cannon Mountain
Spent countless hours admiring the last best place
Won not one, but two National Championships! Jeff and I have been going at it for the last 10 years, He's gotten me, I've gotten him. We've learned a lot from each other, and racing against Jeff never gets old.
Finished my Masters, Exercise and Nutrition Science. Pictured here, my colleague Phil Ferrara, climber extraordinaire, and Herr Professor Doctor Seifert, more to come on him....
Moved BACK across the country....
Relocated even further to the beautiful Salzburg, Austria where I am currently working on my Doctorate.
Dr. Seifert heard about a position opening here, and I successfully applied to continue my academic career here. As I sit here, I can look up at a poster of Marcel Hirscher above my desk that has been relabeled "Hansi Seifert." I may not be his student anymore but I can't seem to escape his presence.
If all goes according to plan, I'll be competing in the full World Cup circut this year from my home base here in Austria. I'm looking forward to getting a full season of training and racing under my belt, and I'm excited for what this season has in store. Although I haven't raced a full schedule since 2012, I'm confident that I've still got some speed left in the tank, just have to coax it out!
Hope you'll stick around to see what comes next!
Long time no see! Last time I checked in here I was about to graduate from UNH, well quite a bit has happened since then:
My summer was quite a whirlwind of fun. Driving cross-country was an unforgettable experience, but one that I hope not to replicate anytime soon - my hamstrings are still recovering from that one. Now that I am here, I could not be more excited. I'm actually using my degree, personal training and teaching fitness classes, I am living in the most exciting city in the country, and I am surrounded by incredible mountain playgrounds. I've been staying busy out here, working at HealthBalance, serving beer and amazing food at Montana Ale Works, and most importantly preparing for the upcoming ski season. My physical preparation is going better than ever before. It's amazing how much more time I have when I'm not taking classes!
The coming season is incredibly exciting for a number of reasons, the least of which being my physical conditioning. First, I am excited to be able to live and train in such close proximity to my teammate Tanner Visnick. Tanner is not only a brilliantly gifted athlete, but he is a genuinely upstanding individual and fierce competitor. Along with Jeff Gay, Tanner and I have battled for national supremacy for the last few years, and I suspect that training together for the first time since 2012, when he was but a rising star, should be a mutually beneficial situation. Second, I could not be more stoked to contend for my second national title on home turf at Cannon Mountain in March. There is a lot of work to be done before then, but bringing telemark ski racing to Franconia has been a dream of mine ever since I joined the US team way back in 2008. I have no doubt that I will have a little home-hill advantage there even though I am living in Montana. Cannon has a rich history of ski-racing. Jean-Claude Killy swept the World Cup Downhill, Giant Slalom, and Slalom races in 1976, and the Franconia Ski Club has churned out top notch skiers for over 80 years, including the likes of Joan Hannah, Caitlin Ciccone, Ronnie Berlack, and most notably the legendary Bode Miller.
I'm a Montanan now, and I could not be more excited for a new start, a new race season, and more adventures!
To say that the 2015 Telemark Nationals did not go as planned would be an understatement. While I'm still happy I managed to salvage a couple podiums and 3rd overall...I did not ski my best all week, which is very disappointing.
Before I get into all of that, the crew at Sunlight, Ken Gay, and the rest of the organizers did a fantastic job hosting the races. They built us a huge jump, the race hill had excellent terrain, the crew did a great job keeping the course in good shape despite temperatures ranging into the 70's, and best of all they built a killer 360. It skied awesome in both directions, which is very rare. For a little mountain pretty far off the beaten path, it was a terrific venue to hold Nationals, and I can't wait to come back in the future and redeem myself!
I didn't exactly get off to the best start either, during the second run of the Sprint Classic on Friday, I had a huge wreck of the jump (I could talk about this for hours, if you are curious feel free to ask). which resulted in one broken ski, one broken pole, one very colorful and swollen thumb, and more aches and pains then I can count. I am very thankful to only walk away from a crash like that with the few injuries I have. Anytime there are enough forces involved to de-camber a ski, I have to count my blessings that none of my bones are de-cambered.
I guess you could say that for the crash on Friday really put me off my game for Saturday and Sunday. I'm not sure that's true, but I definitely didn't feel like myself out there. A few bumps and bruises are also no excuse mental errors.
On the bright side, there is no motivator like the taste of defeat. I will be back next year, I will be bigger, I will be faster, I will be stronger, and I will not make the same mistakes twice.
This week I am in Bozeman, Montana visiting the Exercise Physiology Graduate program (fingers crossed I get in), as well as getting in a little soul shredding at Big Sky and Bridger Bowl for spring break. A week off is definitely in order to get my head screwed on straight and lay out my training plan for the offseason. Then its time to get back to work!
The last week was one of the most exhilarating weeks of ski racing of my life, by a long shot. While I was not able to secure a medal, to ski as good or better than I ever have before, and certainly far better than I had been this year, or home turf (well mostly), is an incredible feeling. I could not be more proud of the effort.
Before I get to the recap, I wanted to thank the Organizing Committee, as well as the FIS officials (looking at you Urban) who made this thing happen. I was incredibly impressed with how the races ran, the volunteer gate judges, the timing and scoring, the meals and accommodations, everything was amazing. It is very rare that almost all the athletes say they had no complaints about the races, something that happened last week. I could not have been more proud to race on home turf!
Now on to the juicy part, to recap:
11th in the Sprint Classic - I threw down two runs that were for the most part without MAJOR mistakes and had moments of absolute brilliance. I have never been so nervous before a ski race before in my life. Although after three gates I was absolutely in the zone, all nerves gone. Getting this one out of the way was definitely a catalyst for the rest of the week.
5th in the Team Event - This one could have gone better for Team USA for sure, a little bad luck with weather, and a tough draw made it difficult for us to advance out of the first round, but thats ski racing! It was good to get a little of the "head-to-head" nerves out of the way for the true parallel.
5th in the Parallel Sprint - This event was far and away the most important one for me coming into the World Champs. If Telemark is going to become an Olympic sport, this event is going to play a HUGE part. So my number 1 goal coming in was to qualify for the Parallel. With that out of the was I felt like I could let it rip and make some moves. Again, a little luck and a timely exit of the loom by Jonas Schmid of Germany brought me into the second round, further than I had ever advanced before. I was unable to out-skate my good friend Antoine Bouvier of France in the second round, but I am incredibly proud the effort I put in. Also, upon review of the video, it became apparent to me that I can beat just about anybody into the wrap, I was right with or ahead of Jonas, undoubtably one of the fastest skiers on the planet, and beat Antoine, a World Cup Champion, and Bronze Medalist at these Championships, to the wrap twice! That being said my number one training goal this off season is going to be skating....that is without a doubt where I lost this race.
14th in the Classic - By the time Friday and the Classic rolled around, I was thoroughly spent...no excuse however, and I tackled 76 turning gates and two skates over 436 vertical meters of descent with as much vigor as I could. While the place seems ok, finishing almost 18 seconds behind the winner, even in a classic is a bit disappointing. Improving my anaerobic fitness will be another goal for this summer. I will also say that this course was impossibly far away from my wheelhouse. I am at my best when the hill requires tactical accuracy, high edge angles, and aggressive skiing, I like when the course punches you right in the face. This classic was so straight it could almost have been a super-g. I really struggled to find the rhythm of the course, and I definitely over-skied it. That is no excuse however, and I expect to be much closer nest year!
Also a HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you to all the people and sponsors who made this possible, especially Cannon Mountain, TelemarkDown, Crispi, Atomic Skis, all of the people who made donations to my season (YOU GUYS ROCK), and last but most CERTAINLY not least, my amazing parents, without whom I would have spent last week at school wishing I could have been in Colorado.
Now that I am back at school...one week until I leave for nationals! Time to defend my title!!
All photos by myself, Ayano Hata, and Sean Durrum
Germany has been a wild ride so far. I arrived on Monday afternoon to absolutely no snow everywhere except the race hill. It was so bad we drove two hours away to train in Kühtai, Austria. Which by the way, was absolutely fantastic rock solid snow (ice), tons of terrain, and easy lift access. Wednesday saw a little bit of snow and a day of free-skiing. Before there wasn't even enough snow to free-ski without worry of taking the edges right off the ski! Thursday and friday saw the temperatures plummet for two days of icy, crumbly, difficult snow. Which brings us to today. Oh what a day it was. We awoke to 10cm of snow on the ground, and it snowed for the rest of the day, HARD. It absolutely puked snow all day. Obviously the day you try to hold a world cup ski race, the skies unleash as much snow as they possibly can. Surprisingly enough the track was in great shape, so long as you don't mind ice and stayed in the race line! I was able to bump and bounce my way to a 13th place finish, which considering the conditions, makes me one happy skier. I obviously have some things that can be changed, i.e. jumping about a foot further in the second run, but all in all, it was a great start to the season!
Tomorrow we tackle the parallel, and I suspect we will we yet another new face of Germany as the forecast calls for a beautiful sunny day. With the new snow it should make for a perfect race!
With all the driving we've been doing on these crazy European mountain roads, my neck has taken an absolute beating. They are very much not afraid of accelerating through the sharpest of curves over here.
Also huge shout out to all the folks who have donated to my gofundme the last few days, definitely gets me fired up to race!!
The training in December was excellent, the weather was not so good. I spent the week before christmas between Mount Snow and Cannon training on beautiful mid-winter snow. After our little Christmas thaw however, all that beautiful white snow was reduced to off-white, patchy, sandy, stuff-we-east-coasters-call-snow. The last couple days of training have taken place on certified pond-ice. It just doesn't come any harder. Conditions aside, I have made excellent progress on my set-up, and I have felt terrific on my skis. I feel fast, I feel solid, and I could not be more excited to race world cup and a few weeks! Look out Europe here I come!
Be sure to donate (gofundme.com/telemarksnyder) and stay tuned for results and other updates!
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