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Race Tales

SkiPost Archives

Each tale generally contains a race story and some waxing or training advice.  Enjoy, and email us at with questions and comments. 


Olympic Tales: Estonian Gold

Heber, Glycemic Index, Cera tips

Learning to Ski Tips

Olympic tales: Lighting the Fire

Noque and Kikkan's Jr. tale

Birkie and Rodent Victors

Strong Like Bull-Strength Training

Be the Bunny-Spenst Training

Pre-Season Ski Preparation

Kick Waxing for Snow Type

What are we doing out here? Finding Focus.

Thanksgiving Factory Team Style

2000 Silver Star Nor/Am

Chamberlain and Swenson Reign in Quebec Continental Cup Chaos

Domination of US Cross-Country Skiing National Championships

2001 Mora Vasaloppet

Getting prepped for the Snow Mountain Stampede, Tips for tackling hills at altitude, Birkie Epic, Demystifying Swix’s Cera F

Subaru Factory Team claims both the Men’s and Women’s American Ski Marathon Overall Series Titles

Summer Ski Care

Gold Rush Wax Report: Spring Waxing Tip

Marcus Nash E-Tales
Marcus Nash intro

Marcus in Bend

Marcus at the Fischer Factory

Marcus in Austria

Marcus in Fairbanks

Marcus from the World Championships

Marcus’ College skiing – don’t be dumb, stay in school.

Kikkan Randle E-Tales from World Junior Championships




Noque and Kikkan's Jr. Tale


Grooming and conditions at this year's Subaru Noque were as good as they could have been considering the record low snow levels, but conditions were rather quirky nevertheless. In a place where three, four feet of snow generally cover the ground, removing every last bump and stump is not a priority.
In past years the skate event drew the strongest skiers, but this year the classical race was a points race for the overall American Ski Marathon Series title and so was stacked with elite racers.
The race started with a monster 6km double pole across the long narrow lake of the Dead River Basin. It then climbed up into the rolling glacial terrain above Marquette where it twisted, turned, climbed and bumped around the most scenic terrain of any ski race in the Midwest, before descending (that doesn't mean it's all down hill) into Marquette for a flat run to the Superior Dome in down town Marquette.
The men's race broke up as soon as the course jumped from the Dead River, and started climbing. Still the only non-Subaru skier in the lead group was Justin Freeman, who will qualified to race for the US in the late season World Cup races this spring. Freeman was shucked from the lead by a strong attack by Subaru's Magnus Eriksson that also left teammates Dave, Chad, and Scott chasing hard. From there on the Subaru foursome was away for good. Magnus managed to pull away and win over the youngest member of the team, Dave Stewart, who skied an extremely strong race to finish second.
In the woman's race, Subaru's Unni Odegard, whose three fellow Subaru Teammates all made the US Olympic Team and so are not racing the Marathon circuit, skied alone the whole way and won by many, many minutes over the next woman.

The Subaru Factory Team used Swix LF 7, covered by HF 7 and Cera F 200 for glide. For kick they ironed in a combo of Swix VG 35 and Extra Blue as a binder and covered it with Swix VR 45 and 50. It worked well…

Magnus Eriksson - Subaru Factory Team
Dave Stewart - Subaru Factory Team
Chad Geise - Subaru Factory Team
Scott Loomis - Subaru Factory Team
Justin Freeman - New Hampshire
Nathan Schultz - Subaru Factory Team

Unni Odegard - Subaru Factory Team

New-snow conditions normally do not call for any sort of binder wax, because the snow isn't abrasive and the binder will be too slow. But when there are rough or icy spots sprinkled along the way, it is a good idea to have something as a binder. For this reason we mix a binder wax and a regular wax - such as Swix VG 35 and extra blue, which should then be covered with the day's kick wax. Remember: rough up your kick zone and iron in the binder/hard wax combo, let cool, and cover with the day's wax.


Bozeman's Kristina Trygstaad-Saari skied her way to 6th place in the 5km, at the Jr. World Championships in Schonach, Germany.

Here is a story from Schonach, written by 2002 Olympic Team member Kikkan Randall.

Hello everyone from the Black Forest of Schonach, Germany. There is green grass showing and rain has been falling off and on but we are skiing at the World Junior Championships nonetheless.

The whole event kicked off on Monday night with a wild and exciting opening ceremony!! There was a lot of great singing, dancing and some great fireworks!! I would have to say that Schonach has put on the best opening ceremonies by far!!

The first race was contested on Tuesday with a 15k classic mass start for the women and a 30k classic mass start for the men. The rain held back and some sunshine broke through and the races went off without a glitch. I had to sit out the race due to a cold I picked up. So I used my energy to cheer on teammates Lindsey Weir, Tara Hamilton, Kristina Trystad-Saari and Jordan Seethaler. These ladies represented our country very well with a top 15 result and a top 30 result (Weir 14th, Hamilton 26th).

The slushy snow however made it difficult to ski consistently and I missed 2 or 3 pole plants before the top. Then it was down and around a wide curve, heading toward a bridge. I was bracing myself for a road crossing just ahead when I flew over a large hole, whew, that was close. The next challenge was two hills in a row. I was getting into my groove now, feeling pretty good and catching the Australian that started ahead of me. As I came into the next downhill however, my ski got caught in a pile of slush and I face-planted. I scrambled to get up and keep going but I had lost a lot of momentum. I stayed focused though and reminded myself that the fall had given me a nice rest and now I would be charged to really gun it over the top of the next hill, which I did. Going into the next downhill I found my legs to be a little rubbery.
The second day of racing concluded today with a 5k freestyle for the women and a 10k freestyle for the guys!! After a couple of good days of rest I decided to give it a go today. My morning started off well with a wakeup call from the local church bells at 7am and a random selection to have my blood tested for illegal substances. As I headed out on the course to warm up I was greeted by rain, slush, puddles and a very gusty wind. I was in high spirits though as I warmed up with some Canadian friends. Soon it was time for me to enter the start area but not without being stopped to have transponders (time reading devices) strapped to my ankles. Next it was on to ski marking and then to a 50m patch of slush where I spent the next 14 minutes running back and forth. At 10:19:30, when most of you were still asleep I headed out into the wind and onto the course. The first kilometer was mostly downhill and it gave me a nice slingshot into the first climb. I
began to ski with a quick tempo, trying to relax. There after. Although I was frustrated that my race had not gone the way I planned, the good news of my teammate's 6th place finish (Kristina Trystad-Saari) made my spirits rise. Kris tight U-turn and skated hard into the next hill. I had caught the Australian now and cruised by my USA coaches. They told me that I was skiing in the top 10, right where I wanted to be. The next few climbs began to take there toll however, as I passed 2 kilometers and my legs began to feel like lead.
I managed a good tempo over the next hill but I knew I didn't have enough left. By 3 kilometers my legs were too heavy and I had to make a tough decision. With the sprint two days away I had to decide if it was worth it to expend all the energy I had left today to finish a race that had already turned bad. I decided to save my legs for the sprint on Saturday and began to just ski the rest of the course. As I went by my cheering teammates I felt terrible for not being able to give them something to cheer about. At
3.5 kilometers I fought through very dirty, slow snow and passed US coach Miles Minson. He could tell I had decided to save my legs for the sprint and encouraged my decision. I finished shortly tna's result is the best American distance finish (not including sprint results) ever!! It is exciting because it shows a lot, more than ever, promise for American skiing success in the future.

We cannot rest on our laurels or ponder on our defeats however!! There is still a relay ahead and history to be made.

Bye from Schonach for now!!


Olympic Tales: Lighting the Fire

Lighting the Fire
Kara Salmela's Olympic diary
Subaru Streak Stretches
Bonus paraphrase - altitude symposium.

(by Pete Vordenberg):
The idea, maybe the whole idea, of the Olympic games is to inspire. The 2002 Winter Olympic motto, "Light the Fire Within," is almost embarrassingly corny, but it is absolutely true to the idea of the games. Everything I have ever wanted to be came first from watching someone else do it extraordinarily well.

It's amazing how emotional momentum works. Ever since elementary school I have been on sports teams, from baseball and soccer to jr. ski clubs, college ski teams, to Olympic and US Ski Teams. My experience is that the performance of a team as a whole is absolutely dependent upon the attitude of the coaches and team members.
One good result can turn into many. Preparation is most important, but good preparation can be destroyed by a negative environment. Andrew Johnson's stellar finish in the Men's 30km on the first day of the Olympics helped put some momentum into the overwhelmingly positive attitude that fills the US men's team at these games.

Then there is Beckie Scott. These day's everyone claims to know Beckie Scott and the cool thing is, most of them do. This is one of the most friendly and approachable humans to ever bow her head so as to have an Olympic medal slipped around her neck.
Hell, I've surfed with Beckie Scott, but the point is, Beckie Scott, this knowable, likable, drug-free and always grinning person's person took Olympic bronze, and as she did, all of North American cross-country skiing could suddenly see themselves in a whole new light - as contenders at the highest level.

When John Bauer left the stadium after the start of the Olympic relay in dead last place all the crowd around me sagged, and even I thought, 'oh no'. But John moved up in the field and interest in the race started to pick up, and then in full view of the whole huge crowd lining the trails and filling the bleachers at Soldier Hollow, John fired himself past the field into second place and the crowd around me stood up two feet taller and let loose an animal roar.
I don't know what it was like for Kris Freeman who was to take over the baton from John to see his teammate in second place, among the top group and dropping many of the world's best, but I imagine it was like throwing the toaster into the tub.
I bet Kris thought if John could do it so would he.
And he did do it, and so did third leg Justin Wadsworth, and last leg Carl Swenson who sprinted in a few feet behind Austria's Christian Hoffman for fifth - our best place ever.

As JD Downing told me, the coolest thing about it was that afterward, all they could talk about was how next time they can do even better.

I'm not embarrassed to tell you that after watching the men's relay and seeing Beckie Scott take third in the pursuit, I left the Olympic venue with my fire within burning hot.

Inspiration is transferable. A bunch of athletes trying and succeeding on skis is inspiration to the skier and the student, and the cop and the kitchen staff.
The idea of the Olympics is that they make you want to do what ever you do, as well as it can be done.

As the Bullet Turns- Olympic Diary Feb. 13th, 2002
By Kara Salmela, US Olympic Biathlete and part of the Salomon Athlete Force

On my way to the venue today I was watching out the window and I saw a child about 10 years old jumping on a trampoline. I watched him for a while trying to jump as high as possible and then he did a Johnny Mosley dinner roll!
Without skis of course, but a pretty decent dinner roll anyway. I was so impressed. And I thought to myself, this is what the Olympics are about. Inspiring children to start dreaming.

I was a child like that boy once, watching the Olympics and imagining that I too could be there someday. I also thought to myself, well no matter what happens today I will try my best and enjoy the experience.

That is just what I did too. I skied really well and was able to ski a whole loop with one of the best German women. And after yesterday's training where I only missed 6 out of 85 shots, I really thought I was going to have a great race today. Had I hit all my targets I would have been top 15.

That's the frustration in Biathlon... getting it all to come together on the right day is rare. Talk about fun though. Skiing in front of 15,000 fans in America!!!

Biathlon is getting unbelievable ratings. In Germany it took 26 percent of all viewers. This is making heads turn at MSNBC and in the International Olympic Committee. My Brother-in Law, Chad is commentating for the races and he had a little extra stress today because many of the big-wigs from MSNBC and the IOC were there breathing down his neck. Apparently, Chad is doing a fantastic job and the spectators leave the venue enthusiastic about this new sport they originally knew nothing about.

The couple my parents are staying with came today and were so excited, they want to come back to all the races.

I will start in the pursuit on Saturday as number 49, three minutes out from the leader. We will be shooting four times so there are lots of
Opportunities to move up.

Anyway, I really truly hope that there are lots of kids out there that see the Games and become inspired to dream. Dreaming leads to all different kinds of personal growth. As Socrates once said, "The quality of life is determined by its activities."

-- Kara

Subaru Streak Stretches

The Minnesota Finnlandia was won in a sprint to the finish by Subaru Factory Team skier Scott Loomis. Second went to Subaru's Magnus Eriksson, third Subaru's Phil Bowen and fourth, Subaru's wax tech Bjorn Weisheit, known to some as "hefeweisheit."

The Next race is the Birkie, I hope. There is little snow so please keep tabs on the state of the race at

Bonus paraphrase from the Altitude Symposium:

Some of the top Olympic sports doctors and physiologist in the world attended Colorado Altitude Training's World Wide Altitude Symposium in Heber City, Utah this past week. They batted about many nuances of altitude training and altitude simulation, often in fairly heated tones.
In the end it was generally agreed that some sort of altitude 'treatment' (either training or sleeping) was a vital part of race preparation, and basically could not be done without to achieve world-class success any more. Knowing exactly how best to use altitude treatment however is a highly individual and not yet fully understood.
Many present, such as the US Figure Skating Association and the Norwegian Olympic Organization (Olympia Toppen), have already been using Colorado Altitude Training's altitude room and tent technology for their athletes. Many others were there to find out more about it and discus the ideas behind altitude training/sleeping and a few others were there for the pure love of debate.
Dr. Jim Stray-Gunderson, a long time US ski supporter, now working for the Norwegians, fielded most of the questions in his patented Texas style straight shooting manor.
When questioned about the ethical considerations of using altitude simulation, he responded (to paraphrase) that he failed to see any difference between an altitude room and a sauna. If one were living in Norway and had to compete in the heat and humidity of Atlanta, there would be no ethical debate concerning training in a Sauna (which people do). Both Sauna and altitude room, he said, are simply manipulating the present environment to imitate another, and in fact sitting in the room (where the symposium was) where it is 70degrees is simply imitating the conditions of spring or summer, when outside it is clearly winter.
For more info please see


Learning to Ski Tips

World Cup Victory for USA's Demong!
Learning to Ski
Noque update
Olympic Biathlon Team
Jr. World Report
Important Kikkan Correction
Dream of It Rewards


USA's Billy Demong (Fischer/Salomon/Swix) won a World Cup Nordic Combined
Event last weekend! The Nordic Combined team has a great shot at some serious gold in Utah next month.


The Subaru Factory Team is staying up on the North Shore of Lake Superior at the beautiful BlueFin Bay resort in Tofte, MN. We're between the Pepsi Challenge and the Subaru Noquemanon in Marquette, MI.
Though we are a racing team, everywhere we go we try to give a free ski and wax clinic or go for a ski with the local junior team, or in some way involve ourselves with the local ski community. Sometimes we get almost 200 people, and sometimes we get two. It doesn't matter; the participants always come away with some new ideas and end up skiing at least a little easier or faster and that's the idea.
Over the years we've found that some tips strike a cord with some people, some tips don't strike a cord with anyone, and some strike a cord with everyone. Here are a few that seem to help everyone.

Getting up: When you fall down you're often sort of tangled up with skis and poles. Roll on to your back with arms and legs in the air, like a dead bug, and then flop over on your side laying all your limbs, skis and poles off on one side. Remove or forget about your poles. Pull your legs in so that you can get your weight right over your feet - so that no pressure is pushing the skis forward or back. Push yourself up into a crouch (with your hands, not your poles), and stand. The key is getting your equipment untangled, forgetting about using your poles and getting your weight centered over your feet.

Staying up: To keep from falling you will need to assume an active, well balanced posture (see below). The trick to saying upright is keeping your weight centered. While skiing down hill focus on bending the ankles, knees and, importantly, keeping the hands down and in front of you. Catastrophe strikes when your weight gets behind you, and rising up and letting your hands get high and behind you is a sure way to take the most spectacular kind of tumble.

Neanderthal: Most sports demand a centered, balanced and active position, and skiing (all techniques) is no different. Start from the feet: weight should be evenly spread over the whole foot. Bend forward at the ankle, which also bends the knees forward - so your hips are centered over your feet. Gently round the back from the tailbone through the shoulders - generally bad posture, but good for skiing. Let the shoulders hang loose in the sockets so that the arms hang down and in front of the body. You'll look kind of like Neanderthal man, only probably not as hairy, at least in some cases.

Down the track: Focus all motion in the direction of travel. Swing the arms forward down the trail. The forward swing of the arms originates at the shoulder, and must be relaxed to allow the muscles to recover before the next push.
In classical, kick the forward swinging leg down the trail. The faster forward you drive that leg the quicker and more powerful your kick "back" will be. In skating and classical look forward down the trail rather than side to side.

No Poles!: Skiing without poles is the number one key to learning to ski and improving your technique. Kids learning to ski do not need their poles at all and will take to skiing in the most natural way possible with little or no instruction. Be like a kid, play with out poles and you will find the fastest, easiest way to move on skis.


The Subaru Factory Team will be giving free ski demos between 2 and 8pm at the expo and sprints. Our wax tech will be testing wax and will put out some wax recommendations for the race at the expo.

From the race officials:

Marquette, MI - The Noquemanon Ski Marathon appears "highly likely" to be run on its regular course, race officials announced today. Periodic snowfalls and cold temperatures have improved the course conditions significantly in recent days, and additional accumulations are forecasted over the next week. There was concern in recent days that the January 26 race would have to be relocated to Blueberry Ridge due to lack of snow in certain areas on the Noquemanon trail.

Trail Chief Tom Mahaney reports that trail crews have surveyed the course and find 90% of it to be in skiable condition, with a snow base of six inches or more. "We just inspected the course and we're real pleased with how much it has improved over the last few days", stated Mahaney. "It looks like we'll be able to use most, if not all, of the entire 53 kilometers. We've pulled all the trail crew from Blueberry and have them working on the Noque course. We'll be running the Bombardier pulling snow in from the sides, hauling snow, and shoveling right up to race day if necessary to get the entire course in the best possible condition."

Forecasts call for continued snow accumulations of three to four inches each day over the weekend with additional snow mid-week. "Any additional snow now will ensure the course is in top shape for the race," stated Jon Mommaerts, Race Director. "The race is on, we've got a full line-up of events and it's going to be a great weekend for Nordic skiing! We've also got unconfirmed reports of an Olympic team member racing. Between the Rossi Team and Subaru Factory Team, we have 20-30 top competitors coming in this year hunting for American Ski Marathon points. This will be the most exciting race yet."

For more information on the Noquemanon Ski Marathon and U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame Half Marathon, call 1-888-578-6489


The Olympic biathlon team has been named and is as follows:

Lawton Redman
Jay Hakkinen
Jeremy Teela
Dan Campbell

Rachel Steer (Fischer/Addidas)
Kara Salmela (Salomon)
Andrea Nahrgang
Kristina Sabasteanski (Fischer/Salomon)

Congratulations to all!


At the Nordic Combined World Championships, American Alex Glueck skied his way from tenth after the jumping to take second (!). One spot behind him in third was American teammate Nathan Gerhart. Both are members of the super strong Steamboat Winter Sports Club.

2002 US Olympic Team member Lindsey Weier took 13th in the 15km classical at the cross-country Jr. World Championships in Schonach, Germany. Tara Hamilton finished 26th, with Kristina Trygstaad-Saari in 43rd.
In the men's race the first US finisher was Zack Violett in 40th.

Keep up with the action at


2002 Olympic team member Kikkan Randall, of Alaska and team Gold 2002 was incorrectly listed as using Swix poles in the last two SkiPosts. Kikkan and Marcus Nash (who was also incorrectly listed as using Swix) use only Yoko poles and Yoko gloves. The mistake was all mine, and I apologize for it.
Please visit Yoko on line for further info on their products and athletes.

SkiPost's mission is to bring cross-country information and inspiration to the skiing public in order to promote the sport of cross-country skiing and enhance all skier's enjoyment of it. Please let me know if you have any ideas, corrections or constructive criticism that will aid us in our mission. Thanks, and good skiing - Pete Vordenberg


(From Factory Team director, Andy Gerlach)

Why not let your passion for cross-country skiing get you free stuff?

The Factory Team's dreamofit-rewards program is designed to thank you for purchasing or simply testing our Factory Team partner's products.

Participating Partners: Subaru, Fischer, Salomon, Craft, Swix, Rudy Project,
Elpex Roller Skis, Yakima, Gary Fisher, Ultimate Direction, Extran, Colorado Altitude Training, Boulder Center for Sport Medicine, Master Skier, and the West Yellowstone Conference Hotel Sun Spree Resort.

Purchase any of our partner's products and gain one point per dollar spent.

Additional Incentive programs:
Subaru Purchase: Double Previously Accumulated Points
Subaru Test Drive: 500 points per car driven
Fischer Salomon Swix Demo: 100 points
Attend a Factory Team Clinic: 200 points
Participate in a Subaru Popular Series Event: 50 points
Get others to join SkiPost e-tale service 10 points per address

Redeemable Rewards as of (1/22/02)
1000 Points: Subaru Factory Team Hat or Subaru Ski Cap
2500 Points: Subaru Factory Team Fleece
5000 Points: Subaru Factory Team Duffel Bag
10,000 Points: Two nights stay at West Yellowstone Conference Hotel Sunspree
Resort (Not valid at special events or holidays)
25,000 Points: 5-Year American Birkebeiner entry, FT Fleece, 2 night stay at
West Yellowstone Conference Hotel Sun Spree Resort with private lesson from Factory Team member during Fall Camp or West Yellowstone Rendezvous.

All purchases or participation requires authentication by the dealer, retailer, representative, or Factory Team member. Regarding SkiPost e-tale prospects, simply supply potential member e-mail addresses. (Dreamofit reward items may be substituted or modified by Factory Team staff due to availability)

dreamofit rewards:
Program Verification Form
Endurance Enterprises, Inc.
201 S Wallace #9B2G
Bozeman, MT 59715

Please present this form at the time of purchase or sampling of Factory Team's partners' products or services. Make additional copies for additional product.
Once dreamofit headquarters receives this form, a confirmation will be
e-mailed to you and any applicable dreamofit rewards will be sent within 6-8 weeks.
Entire form must be completed, readable, and verifiable. Include copy of receipt.

Please Print
e-mail address:
Telephone Number:
Product Purchased/Event Attended:
Telephone Number:
Salesperson/Contact (please print):
Salesperson/Contact Signature:
Subaru Vehicle Identification Number:
Ski's Serial Number:
Model Number and or name:
Final Cost to Consumer:

Heber, Glycemic Index, Cera tips

Come visit with some Olympic stars in Heber City!
Wax suggestions for the Subaru Vasa, Cera tips
How helpful is the glycemic index? Further marathon-prep tips.

Swedish stars confirmed to meet with public at Heber City Hospitality
Suite! Medallists, Per Elofsson and Mathias Fredriksson to speak!

The Cross-Country Ski Fan's Dream!

This February's Olympic games bring the World's best to Utah. The Heber
City Hospitality Suite brings them even closer.

The Subaru Factory Team would like to invite all cross-country ski enthusiasts to stop by the Heber City Hospitality Suite after each cross-country and biathlon event to share stories from the day, hobnob with Olympians and Olympic Champions (including the Swedish National Team at noon on February 16th!), look over and even purchase some of the latest in cross-country skiing, health, fitness and winter equipment from Fischer, Craft, Subaru, CAT and many others. Take part in athlete discussions and press conferences, grab a bite to eat and something warm (or cool) to drink, grab a free cheering bell and other free goods, as well as get the latest info on race schedules, results and goings on around the Nordic venue.

The Hospitality Suite, located at 906 South 300 West, Heber City Utah will be open to the public from 2pm to 6pm daily with additional hours for special events. For more information and to receive a schedule of all the special events go to and sign up for our SkiPost e-tales.

The Subaru Factory Team is excited to bring you this intimate addition to the Olympic games and we look forward to seeing you there!

Saturday's Subaru Vasa, in Traverse City, Michigan

The course is rock solid and skiing conditions are good for the Subaru Vasa, but the snow is very dirty. Here is the wax suggestion (even if it snows, unless it gets a lot colder, the wax stays the same).
Brush the ski with coarse bronze brush to freshen base and help remove dirt and grime. Next, clean the ski with hot wipe of CH10 or Base Prep (apply the wax and scrape it warm - removes dirt).
Iron temperature is important, because, though a scrape or scratch in the base looks bad, no damage is as bad as a burnt base. Check iron temp and melt in a layer of LF8. We generally use something like 2 to 4 iron passes of 4 to 8 seconds from tip to tale so as not to overheat the base. Let cool, scrape, brush.
Check iron temp, and apply a layer of HF8 as you did with the LF 8. Let cool, scrape and brush thoroughly.
Apply Cera 200.
Here is Swix's recommended method for applying Cera.
Sprinkle cera down the length of the ski, one pass down each side of the groove. Check iron temp (!), iron one pass per side of groove moving the iron fast enough and look for the bright stars. Let the ski cool 5 minutes, and lightly brush up (not off) the cera with horsehair brush. Make one more quick pass down the ski with the iron and let the ski cool completely before brushing again with horsehair.
We suggest a medium structure for the Subaru Vasa race.

We're sorry, but there is no wax report available for the Mora Vasa at this time. Look for the Subaru Factory Team on Saturday and for their posted wax suggestion.

Glycemic Buzz

The last skipost regarding getting happily to the finish of a race brought quite a few emails. It seems more than a few out there are coming to grief with 10km or so to go. I think training, pre-race prep and pacing are perhaps most important, and should be looked at before secretes like the coke/coffee combo, or which sports drink is best, etc are taken into account (though they are also good to explore).
Fuel is however very important.
There has been a lot of buzz lately about the glycemic index. The glycemic index (GI) ranks foods based their effect on blood glucose levels. It's been a tool of diabetics for some time, and has caught on as a tool of sports performance. It should be noted that most of the GI research has so far been done on non-athletic folks and there is a big difference between what our bodies do with carbos and what a more sedentary person's body does with them.
A food that raises the blood glucose rapidly has a high glycemic index. The idea is that one should avoid eating high GI foods before a competition so as not to create a drop in sugar levels while racing, but to use them during and after a race or training to maintain and replenish glycogen supplies quickly.
I think that this can be fairly helpful, but that there is more to it, and that as is the case with many performance related things, you have to experiment with it for yourself. There are no rules.
Some things to keep in mind when using the GI is that one food will affect different people very differently; also, how it is prepared and how long it is cooked can seriously affect its GI ranking. How much is eaten also comes into play, as does what it is eaten with, when it is eaten (empty or full stomach, after training, before…), as well as other factors.
My personal experience is that these variables make using the GI alone as a performance tool unreliable, and I am fairly sensitive to blood sugar levels. However, I know others who find it quite helpful.
In the end, I think that checking out a list of high vs. low GI foods (readily available on the net among other places) is a good idea, and that taking that information and experimenting with the consumption of different types of food before, during and after an event may get some people a few more km down the trail.

Some other ideas:

Final preparation: Take it easy the week and especially the few days before the event. It is quite possible that many are starting the race with the tank a bit low. Skiing long or medium hard to hard depletes your glycogen stores. You cannot get in good shape the week before your race. The time for that is in the months before, right before the race is time to tune up with some easy skiing, some short (!) bursts of speed or a little (!) race pace work, aimed at feeling good, rested and excited not at getting in shape. The workouts should not break down the body.

When I can, I follow some variation on this commonly used routine:

Sat: race.
Sun: long very slow distance.
Mon: off.
Tues: (off, if tired) otherwise speed or very easy.
Wed: very easy distance.
Thurs: off.
Friday: easy with speed.
Sat: Big Race.

Pacing: Start at your own pace. (You know who you are.)






Olympic Tales: Estonian Gold

Subaru Streak Continues
Estonian Gold. From Smoking Bus to Just Smoking
Lars Flora Olympic Tale
USA: 12, 16, 22!
Canadian's: 6, 14, 25!
Heber Coffee

Subaru Factory Streak continues. Local boy does good.

Last Saturday's Subaru Vasa was won by Subaru Factory Team's Nathan Schultz, who also placed third in last Sunday's Mora Vasa - completing the weekend double in fine style.
Subaru Factory Team skier, Chad Giese won the Mora in front of his old hometown fans. Chad grew up in Mora and has always wanted to win his hometown event. Congratulations, Chad, and welcome home.

Estonian Gold: From Smoking Bus to Just Smoking

As juniors my friend Cory Custer and I undertook a self guided racing tour of northern Scandinavia, then called the Polar Cup. On this trip we ran into a skier from a country, then newly liberated from Russia, called Estonia. His name was Andrus Veerpalu. He was the only one from Estonia on the Polar Cup that year, and was scrapping his way along on a slim budget like Cory and I. He wasn't much for conversation, but in the Polar Cup final relay Cory, Andrus and I teamed up, and won.
It was many years later a group of us young American racers were again on a self funded training trip to the summer snowfields of Norway. The Estonians, including Elmo Kassin, Jak Mae and Andrus Veerpalu had driven an old gray van, taking the ferry from Estonia to Stockholm and then driven from there to the west coast of Norway. The trip took them much longer than expected, as they had to continually stop to fix their van. They were all crowded into a single room at our hotel, and spent most the time they didn't spend training trying to get their van to run. It was a rusty old thing of soviet construction that coughed and barked when started and lurched with a great bellow of smoke into reluctant motion with much fancy pedal work and no little shouting.
That was 1993. Today Veerpalu took gold in the men's 15km classical and his long time team mate, Jak, took third.
These guys raced seriously and trained hard, in spite of many adversities for many, many years before they got even close to winning. I wish them hearty congratulations.

Lars Flora's Olympic Tale

At the Olympics for the US cross country team a predetermined start list for each event is decided by previous Olympic Trial races, time trials, and current fitness and health. After I was named to the team, I was confident I would be competing in the thirty-kilometer skate and the sprint race. In reality, I was focusing on the sprint race. That meant starting on the January 15th no more hard classic intervals or races. I would be doing all my hard workouts on skate skis. Guess what? I am the number sixth starter in tomorrow's fifteen kilometer classic race. Today Carl Swenson, our team Captain, and I spent three and half hours waxing, testing, and cleaning six pairs of classic skis for tomorrow's race. Carl took three and I took three and we narrowed it down to two pair of skis for me. One pair of Carl's and one pair of mine. Carl was helping me test for two reasons. To help a fellow teammate out and he might be in the same position for the pursuit race. Carl and I were put into this situation because one of the worst possible things happened to one of our teammates. A head cold hit him (Justin) a day before the thirty. After all said and done, I am sitting here watching the figure skating getting ready for my first hard classic race in just under a month, and none-the-less it's the Olympic 15km classic race. I did end up going to the Opening Ceremonies. What an experience. The big highlights of the evening was taking my picture with President Bush and Lance Armstrong, and walking behind the American Flag. My heart pounded as I walked out into the stadium among thousands of people and looked up at everyone in the stands. I have never felt anything like that before. Last night we had our Friends and Family team dinner. The US Ski house in Park City invited all the cross-country athletes and the families to have dinner with each other. It was fun to meet all the families and to get a chance to talk to our families. Definitely, the moms were the most excited people in the house. Until next time, I hope everyone is enjoying watching the Olympics and best wishes to all.

-- Lars Flora, Fischer/Swix/Salomon. US Olympic Team

USA and Canada score top results

Canada's Beckie Scott took 6th today in a race won by Norway's Bente Skari. Bente started right ahead of Beckie, and it was fun to see Beckie skiing over the hills not far behind Bente. Her teammate Sara Renner took 14th.
Two day's prior to the race I watched the Women's Olympic half pipe competition with Sara and a whole crew of others. I asked Sara what place would satisfy her, and she answered, "top thirty," so before I could even finish my question. I guess it'd been on her mind some.
In the men's race, massage therapist (Rolfing specialist), three time Olympian John Bauer skied himself to a12th place finish, the best US Olympic result in many, many years. On top of that Patrick Weaver, a paint specialist at Home Depot in Bend, OR and two time Olympian, finished 16th, which is also the best place other than John's 12th for many years.
Kris Freeman, first time Olympian, took 22nd.
The US has a lot of positive momentum after great results at junior worlds, junior Biathlon worlds, and at this Olympics.
Let's keep it rolling!

Heber City Hospitality Suite

Wrap up your day of Cross-County Ski racing at the Heber City Hospitality Suite. Best coffee in all Utah, brewed by Saecco machines.
Check it out:

The Hospitality Suite, located at 906 South 300 West, Heber City Utah will be open to the public from 2pm to 6pm daily with additional hours for special events.

(Don't forget to visit with the Swedes on the 16th a little after noon.)


Birkie and Rodent Victors

(Rilling info)

"That was really, really hard," said Subaru's Nathan Schultz holding a brat sloppy with mustard and kraut in one hand and a cold beer in the other after the finish of this year's Birkie.
"I think there were fewer Italians when I raced in Italy."

Ten of the top-fifteen in this year's Birkie were Italians. Among the horde of Italians were Carl Swenson, competing for the Subaru Factory Team who finished third behind Italy's Mauizio Pozzi, one of Italy's better world cup skiers from a few years back, and France's Stephane Passeron, who was second in last year's Birkie as well. Subaru's Schultz finished 9th and Subaru's Dave Chamberlain took 14th with the every tenacious Marc Gilbertson also in the mix.
The Women's race was a purely American affair, sort of, with Bozeman's Jeannie Wall winning in front of Brooke Baughman from Idaho and Subaru's Unni Odegard who is technically Norwegian but who has lived in Boulder, Colorado for almost five years, finishing third ahead of a whole herd of other American's.

This year's Birkie was a heavy rilling race. Big structure was important for breaking the suction between ski and snow after about 15km where the snow was more saturated with water. Swix HF 8 and Cera 200 was the wax of the day, but a large grind and/or a big rill in the ski was necessary to have fast skis in the later portion of the race.

Rilling creates structure in the ski base that combats suction in wet snow. It is created with a rilling tool. Most rilling tools come with varying sized rill patterns for different wet-snow conditions. Basically the wetter the snow the bigger a rill one needs, but there are nuances to it. When the snow is new, as it was in the Birkie, and wet the snow is often slower snow than when the snow is old and wet.
Rills are not good in any dry snow condition.
Skiers often rill before or through the second to last layer of wax (i.e. the HF layer -before applying Cera).
To cut the rills into the ski, which makes the rills sharp and long lasting, rill before or after applying the last layer of wax. To press the rills into the ski, which makes the rill edges round and the rill less permanent, rill through the wax as it sits molten on the ski. It is fine to cut the rills into the base after you have applied the Cera layer. This is often done when skiers are unsure what size rill they will need come race time, and so they rill just before the start.
I highly recommend checking out the Swix wax booklet, sold for about $5 at most ski shops for info on rilling and all aspects of waxing.

The wet- new snow conditions spread skiers in the elite wave out as soon as they reached the wetter portion of the course.

"What I find it hard to believe," said Subaru's Erik Wilbrecht, "is that, in a race of 6000 people, I skied all by myself for 15km without even seeing another skier. I thought everyone behind me must have quit and I was the only one still out there."

No Erik, I, at least, was still back there.

Hope everyone had a great Birkie!


It is hard to imagine celebrating victory knowing that you have cheated to earn it, and yet they do not slink away clutching their ill gotten medals like foul rodents, but stand smiling, joyful, even teary eyed before us and before the world and tell us how happy they are at having stolen many lives worth of dreaming and work from clean athletes the world over, an how glad they are at having totally dishonored themselves, their country, family, friends, their sponsors, their sport and all of sport.
Some were caught at this year's Olympics, some at last year's world championships, but most were not, and some we will see racing again in only a few years. While it is fact that Beckie Scott should be awarded the Gold Medal, with the way things are, it is an unlikely eventuality.
The rules are too lax, testing too limited, punishment too forgiving.
There is a long culture of cheating, a culture in which cheating isn't seen as wrong, but as only another part of the game. It is this culture shared across many countries and among many athletes, coaches and administrators. It's a culture that allows the smile you see on the faces of these rodent victors, and this culture that makes them cry out like victims when the trap actually manages snatch them by the tail. It is a culture that is perhaps cultivated by and certainly tolerated by most the world's international sports federations, and it is a culture that cannot be let live, if sport is to survive.

In the mean time do not let the cheaters and filth within the cross-country rob you of the joy of skiing, the sensation of skis on snow, and cold air, and power and grace in motion, and rest assured, your North American heroes are more heroic than their results show.

Do not lose faith in our sport. Drug users have been around for a long, long time; it is catching them that is new.

For more info check out:, and

Strong like Bull-Specific Strength Training


I am happy to report that as I type this snow is falling past my window (Bozeman, MT - Oct 4th). It started falling this morning as I was doing my specific strength routine, and has picked up considerable steam since. It will probably peak as I head out for my second training pass of the day, but I don't mind. When it snows in the fall it's a reminder of what I'm doing out training and it gives me an extra boost of energy. I hope you too are getting excited, for the time is near!

Elite, recreational and novice skiers alike can increase their enjoyment and performance this winter by working on ski specific upper-body strength and strength endurance.
Whether you are racing, touring or backcountry skiing, arm, back and stomach (core) strength are essential to making the most of your outing, avoiding bogging down on steep sections or with slick wax, and gaining considerable time on your opponents (who aren't as well prepared as you). At the same time, while there is a place for beach muscles, that place is not at km 40 of the Birkie. Here are a few methods to gain strength that is specific to cross-country skiing.

Novice and Recreational skiers: folks just getting into cross-country skiing and those who ski recreationally - even those blessed with bulging biceps, can struggle on skis simply because they haven't built up the proper muscle groups in the proper way. The key is doing many repetitions using ski specific muscle groups. This doesn't require a trip to the weight room, or any equipment, or for that mater much an investment in time. Some favorite skier exercises are dips, crunches and sit-ups, pushups and, (gulp) pull-ups. Dips can be performed with a chair or, if you're strong, two chairs. Simply sit on the chair normally and grip the chair's seat on either side of your rear with your hands (so the heels of your hands sit flush on the chair). Stretch your legs out before you or prop them up in front of you on another chair (makes dips harder). Slide your butt off the chair so that your arms support the bulk of your weight. Bend your arms at the elbows as if you were lowering yourself timidly into a hot tub. Rapidly straighten your arms, as if the tub is too hot - and repeat. To make dips easier pull your legs in so that they support more of your weight.

With pushups, keep your hands and elbows narrow to focus on the back and triceps rather than the chest. With both exercises, go from a near straight arm to a 90degree bend. To make pushups easier support your weight on your knees rather than your toes, or do pushups against a wall instead of the floor. Pull-ups can be done in any playground, on a laundry pole, a stout tree limb, etc… to make pull-ups easier, put your feet on a chair to support some of your weight. In general you want to be quick on the up motion and slower on the lowering motion. Do one to three sets of 20 to 40 repetitions of each exercise. Stomach work is quite important and doing a variety of crunches and sit-ups in a virtually non-stop and varied routine of 5 to 10 minutes will yield big results in only a few weeks (Barb Jones, 4th on the current Olympic selection list, does an 8 minute routine of 8 exercises of a minute each, almost every morning. The routine includes a variety of stomach crunches and leg lifts). The whole workout can take as little as 10 to 20 minutes - and, done 2 to 5 times a week will really make skiing easier and more enjoyable.
Recreational skiers (as well as racers) will also benefit by using ski poles for hiking and running in the weeks before skiing. Kayaking and other upper-body intensive work is also recommended, but don't forget to try to combine upper and lower-body work in a ski specific fashion for maximum crossover effect.

Racers: Racers can incorporate all of the above into a circuit routine and will benefit by visiting a weight room 2 to 3 times a week and working on a more balanced selection of muscle groups as well as including a few power and maximum strength exercises into the routine - in addition to doing ski specific, endurance oriented lifts and exercises. Please see for more info and email with your questions.

The area where most racers can make grand strength gains is in specific strength. Specific strength is carried out on rollerskis and on skis. It is doing long distance efforts as well as shorter (interval like) repeats using the upper-body only.
Classical distance workouts of 30mins to 2+ hours where one double-poles only or double-poles with a kick only are very important to developing upper-body strength (Every Thursday Olympic contender Barb Jones does a 20 mile double-pole only workout - ten miles all up hill with some very steep sections and then 10 miles back down.)
Skate distance workouts where one uses only the V2 technique accomplishes a similar thing.

It is best to take on challenging terrain so that a variety of tempos, and techniques (within double-poling, V2, etc) can be used, even if that means struggling over the tops of a few hills here and there.
Shorter, repetitious sessions are also very important, and for most skiers who are comfortable at a medium intensity, doing harder repetitions will absolutely help increase speed as well as strength.

There are a number of on ski/rollerski exercises to practice in a specific strength session. The first is double-pole sprints of 15seconds to 2minutes. Use both flat terrain and gradual to very steep up-hills.

The second is single-pole drills where one uses the arms much as one would while classical striding, only using the trunk a bit more actively and not using the legs at all. As with double-poling, efforts can range from an all out 15seconds to a more race like 2-3minutes.
The third is simple double-pole with a kick for sprints and longer intervals as well as distance sessions.

Other exercises are Nerds (standing stalk-up right, locking the elbows at the side and using the triceps only - so called because they look nerdy). Stomach only (double-pole, but lock your arms next to your body and crunch down with your stomach - only really good on a very steep up-hill - and even nerdier looking than nerds). Back only (stay up-right, lock your arms out fairly straight and push the arms through, in a stiff double-pole motion, without compressing with the upper-body at all).
Personally I only do double-pole, single-pole, double-pole with a kick, some classical sprints and perhaps a few nerds - the other exercises are not to my liking, but some people do them.

In Sweden (I trained in Sweden for a year after high school) all we did for specific strength was double-pole sprints and distance double-pole sessions - 15 x 15second all out double-pole sprints and then an hour hard, fast double pole home - and that seemed to do the trick.

An example specific strength workout: warm up for 20 minutes classical rollerskiing. Pick a long gradual hill; do 5x 15seconds double-pole only, then 5x 15second single-pole, then 5x 15 double-pole w/kick - all of them with the throttle wide open. Follow that with 5x 1-2min of each exercise. Recovery between repetitions should allow you to go full out on the 15second sprints and faster than race pace on 1 to 2 minute repetitions on all repetitions.

This is only an example and as is the case with all training start with a manageable, but challenging quantity and build from there.
At Northern Michigan University, a school that turns out fast ski racers year after year, they do a program like the example above. In the early fall they start with about 4km total work and built to 9km total work by snowfall, and continue with specific strength into the winter until a week or two before the big races rolled around.
For more info on training and all aspects of skiing, be sure to pick up The Master Skier this fall and winter, or, even better, subscribe at There are some great articles coming out in the Master Skier this year - by experts and authors from around the world.

Also visit and email your ski questions to

A reminder: this service is made possible with the support of all the great sponsors of the Subaru Factory Team:

Soon to come:
Pre-Season Ski Prep - including racing and recreational prep info, stone grinding, and info on finding a ski's kick-zone.


Be the Bunny-Spenst Training
Getting prepped for the Ski Season


Email contents:
Spenst Training
Beginner pre-season prep tips

Spenst Training

What is Spenst training? Spenst training is a well-worn mode of training that is practiced in some form or another by world-class skiers the world over.
Spenst is a Norwegian word that, according to Jon Aalberg (Olympian '92, '94, director of cross-country at the 2002 Olympics), means either explosiveness or literally "Boing!"
Spenst training involves ski specific plyometric exercises that develop power, explosiveness, balance and strength.
If you are looking to gain that extra snap in your technique, learn to accelerate over the tops of hills, around corners, sprint to the finish, improve balance and strength, or just impress your friends at parties, then spenst training is for you.
Ski technique has always demanded a quick, dynamic kick, for both skating and classic, and spenst training is a great way to develop it. Often it is the skiers who seem to be skiing with the least effort that have the most dynamic kick. Their secret is a dynamic push and then relaxation of the pushing muscles.
Spenst is a great addition to training and it yields noticeable results with a fairly small time investment of 10 to 15 minutes a week.

Goal: develop power and balance.
Means: several short repetitions of the following exercises with full rest. Gaining maximum distance with each jump - going as far as possible in the shortest number of jumps. Generally one takes between 10 and 20 jumps in a row (10-20 seconds of work) followed by a good recovery (about 2 minutes should suffice).

Type of spenst exercises:
One-legged hop: This is a spenst training staple. As the name suggests you will be hopping on one leg - up a hill. Start with a tame grade and build toward a steeper hill. Take 10-15 jumps on one leg moving continuously up the hill (don't stop between jumps, but keep your momentum going); walk slowly back down the hill and take the same number of jumps on the other leg. Repeat 2 to 3 (or more as you build up to it) times.
Stationary Skate hop: Simply jump sideways back and fourth as if skating from leg to leg aiming for max distance with each leap. Make sure you have your balance on each leg before you leap again. You can use your arms as if you were skating. You shouldn't move forward, but should leap directly sideways off the whole foot, side to side, in the same place. Take 10-15 leaps per leg, rest, repeat.
Bunny hop: Return to the hill where you did the one legged hops. This time hop with both legs at once. Unlike the one-legged jumps, hesitate slightly between jumps so that energy must be regenerated with each jump. This is a killer, and can cause soreness as well as loud guffaws, snarks, snorts and general hilarity among spectators.

Organization of workout: Warm up very, very well. Stretch thoroughly and begin slowly to make sure you are warm enough. The goal is not to work out your aerobic system, so take your time and recover well between each set of jumps so that you can make maximal efforts with each jump and each set of jumps.
Placement of workout in the week: It is best to place spenst training after a bit of rest because for it to have maximal effect you should be fresh enough to perform the work maximally.

Example: Midway through an easy distance run or after warming up (the Jr. team I trained with in Sweden for a year did spenst as part of an interval workout) stop at a nice grassy hill. Stretch out some; perform a few easy one-legged jumps, side jumps and bunny hops (bunny hops can make your whole body sore if you're not careful). When you are ready, take 15 one-legged jumps up the hill. Walk slowly down the hill and then take 15 jumps on the other leg. If it is your first outing take not more than 2 times up the hill per leg. The idea is to try to get further up the hill with the same number of jumps each time. Do the skate jumps, and bunny hops and be creative with jumps of your own creation. Just remember it isn't spenst if it isn't explosive - more isn't better. If you are too tired to jump far, or if you feel any twinge of pain or pull, stop (start slowly to avoid injury!) Warm down well. The whole spenst routine can take as little as 10 minutes and so on a day when time is limited spenst is a great workout option.
If running and jumping is not in your repertoire, power can also be built on a bike with 15 to 20 second sprints up a very steep hill. Do some sprints seated and some standing, some in a tough gear and some spinning in an easy gear to work all the muscles. Explosiveness of this kind is more difficult to build on rollerskis, but like on the bike, sprints of 15-20 seconds on a steep hill are effective.
The Subaru Factory Team does offer coaching packages. Please visit For questions and free advice please email

Beginner prep tips

All skiers, be they Olympians or weekend tourists, are made in the summer and fall. The primary concern of cross-country skiers is developing the aerobic system. Great aerobic gains can be made between now and the first snowfall of the year. Running and walking yield the most effective and time efficient means to tax the aerobic system. Cycling and inline skating are good alternatives also, but as they are not as weight bearing or, especially in the case of cycling, as sport specific and so are not as effective.
It is important to be as sport specific as possible, even for recreational and novice skiers. The reason for this, according to physiologist Owen Murphy from Montana State University, is that people's perceived level of exertion is so high when skiing that, if they haven't built up to the specific efforts of skiing, and no sport offers as high an energy expenditure, they quickly become fatigued, frustrated and turned-off to the sport. Including some running or hiking in rolling and hilly terrain a few times a week can make a huge difference in ski specific fitness which translates into cruising along and enjoying beautiful ski tours rather than simply huffing and puffing along with great effort.
It is very beneficial to hike with ski poles as skiing is a quadrapedal sport and getting used to taxing both the upper and lower bodies simultaneously is a great benefit since we are basically bipedal creatures. Also using poles helps take the load off the knees, especially descending hills. Hiking poles should be about 2 inches shorter than your classical ski poles.
Helping to set up a basic training program for novice skiers is something that we (with assistance from the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine) can help do - free of charge. Simply email More specific training programs are offered by the Subaru Factory Team, see

Hope you enjoyed the training tips and can put them to good use,



Pre-Season Ski Preparation


Is it too soon for a pre-season ski prep email? There has been groomed skiing at Lone Mountain Ranch - Big Sky, MT (great skiing: 1800-514-4644) for 4 days; there are groomed trails at Bohart ranch - Bozeman, MT (season trail pass holders only), and the first Nor/Am races are three short weeks off in Fairbanks, AK. The time has come…

SkiPost contents:

New racing ski preparation
Stone grinding
New recreational ski preparation
Finding the kick zone
Did you miss the last 3 skiposts?

New Racing Ski Preparation:

Whether your ski is new or newly stone ground this is a good way to prepare them for the season. It is adapted from the Swix method for pre-season ski prep.
Take each ski and brush it from tip to tail with a soft Swix nylon brush a few times to loosen and remove any dirt that might have landed on the bases. Next define your classical kick zones (please see below).

On the glide zones and skating skis start with a Swix T-89 blade tool and delicately swipe it from tip to tail (drag the blade down the ski, rather than pushing it or will dig into the base), removing any extra PE hairs. Continue 2-3 times until there are no more hairs. Next, proceed with a "hot wipe" cleaning with Swix CH10. While the bases are new or newly ground, take extra care with heat. All PE bases are very sensitive. As the ski base absorbs soft wax over time, the wax will decrease the risk of overheating the base. But when the skis are new, they are very sensitive. Using inexpensive irons that emit inconsistent amounts of heat will easily damage the base with heat. Once you have dripped wax from tip to tail, start at the tip and proceed with one long swipe with the iron all the way to the tail - repeat the process. Waxing in this manner, with a good Swix waxing iron, will increase wax absorption while decreasing risk of overheating the base.

Next, scrape the bases while the wax is still warm. This will essentially "clean" the base of any dirt, loose surface hairs, and any other materials that may be sitting on the base. Let the bases cool down and proceed with at least 5 layers of Swix Base Prep (soft wax only!). Allow the Base Prep to cool completely in between each waxing. You can scrape and brush each time or re-iron the wax once or twice. The more you wax them, the better - five times is minimum. Your skis are now ready to accept the wax of the day!

Stone grinding:

What is stone grinding? Grinding and waxing guru James Upham lists a good description of what stone grinding is and how it works on his website. I asked James, who runs the Glide Factory in New Hampshire and who reads a little Harry Potter in his spare time, to explain stone grinding. "What is Grinding?" he shouted. "It is magic! And I am a wizard! Don't be a muggle and have slow skis!" I was taken aback initially, but he went on. "Actually, through my experience (highest levels of ski competition and racing service) I've found that there is nothing magical about making skis fast - we can all be Harry Potters - just like there is nothing magical about making your body fast through proper training."

Basically stone grinding, James told me, flattens the base, removes PE hairs and puts a pattern in the base that combats friction, suction or to some degree both. It also removes the old hardened top layer of base and reveals a new, soft under-layer of base that absorbs wax better. James has been grinding skis for the Subaru Factory Team as well as many of the USA's fastest skiers and biathletes for several years now and offers super grinding at great prices. Grinding skis can help make your old boards new and your new boards even faster.

Get your skis stone ground if:
- they have spent the summer without glide wax on the base.
- you haven't waxed them very often (but want them to be fast).
- they are naturally stone ground from too many low-snow outings.
- the bases are wavy (not flat).
- the base has odd, dull looking patches (base burn from iron heat, too little glide wax) or the whole thing has a dull sheen if any sheen at all.
- the base looks and/or feels hairy (you get kick without kick wax).
- bases dry out (look white in patches) after a short ski.
- the skis do not glide as well as your ski buddies' skis.

Recreational skis:

The fundamentals of ski care that apply to racing skis also apply to recreational skis. A ski glides well, lasts a long time and stays free of ice and dirt build-up if it is glide waxed often. Even for recreational skiers who aren't interested in going fast, skiing shouldn't be any harder than it has to be, and so a ski that performs up to its ability will be a lot more fun to use than one with a torn-up, dried out base.

The minimum amount of care that should be afforded a ski base is a yearly (yeowch!) waxing and base tune-up that almost any ski shop can do for a very reasonable price (see for a list of good Nordic retail shops). Waxing them a few times a year will really help. If you want to do this tune up yourself, it can be done easily and inexpensively with the Swix T-89 base prep tool as outlined above - you can use it more aggressively, especially if the base hasn't been waxed for a while. After using the T-89 apply a few layers of soft glide wax as outlined above. We recommend using a Swix iron, but since many recreational skiers use fabric irons, they must be very careful with iron temp (racers or any skier who invests much time, money and energy in their skis should never use anything but a pure waxing iron or they risk wasting their time/money/energy investment - we recommend Swix's iron). If it's smoking - it's way too hot! During the ski season it will help considerably to use a wipe-on wax such as Swix F-4 before and more importantly after skiing to help protect the bases. If you have any ski care questions please email I get help on these questions from Swix and Fischer so if we don't have the answer, we'll find it for you.

Dialing in Your Kick Zone:

Different snow conditions call for different methods of kick waxing. Finding the kick zone and understanding the versatility of your skis for various conditions can aid your racing efforts and help you enjoy pure recreational skiing because you will know how to wax your skis so they perform optimally in a variety of snow conditions. Here we'll cover the Swix method, a variation on the Fischer test board method, the eyeball method and the on-snow method.

The Swix recommended method of finding the kick zone requires a friend, a very flat surface and a piece of normal typing paper (they suggest A4, 60 gram paper, but any fairly normal typing paper will do). Place the paper under the ski and stand with the body-weight equally distributed on both skis. For all these tests you must stand with your feet on the ski where they would be if you were skiing on them - on the bindings. Have the friend move the sheet of paper towards the tip. At the point where the movement comes to a stop, mark with a pen on the sidewalls. This point represents the forward front of the kick zone for cold, dry snow conditions (hard kick waxes such as VR 40 or Extra Blue).
Next, fold the paper once and repeat the process. Where the paper stops represents the forward front of the kick zone on freezing point conditions (soft kick waxes such as VR 60 or a red kick wax).

Finally, fold the paper once more so that it is 4 times its original thickness. Repeat the process by moving the paper as far forward as possible. This time the stopping point represents the front of the kick zone when using klister.

The rear of the kick zone normally ranges from under the middle of the foot back to the heel of the boot. Very, very seldom does the kick zone extend beyond the rear of the heel. Often a klister kick zone will stop under the mid-foot while a hard wax kick zone will extend back to the rear of the heel.

Generally the length of the kick zone, using hard waxes, is approx. 55 cm, from the heel.
For klister it is slightly shorter, around 50 cm. Remember these are just initial, though often accurate, guidelines - see the on-snow method below.

All Fischer retail shops are equipped with a Fischer test board. The test board enables the customer to find not only the kick zone but also the exact right ski for their weight. While using the test board is the best way to do these things the way they measure the kick zone can be duplicated to some degree at home.

Again you'll need a friend and a piece of paper and the flat surface (one reason the test board is so good is because few of us have access to a flat enough surface - irregularities in floorboards, tables, etc can lead to incorrectly marked kick zones).

This is not Fischer's exact method, but a variation on it. Stand with your feet on the ski where they would be if you were skiing. First, to determine that the ski is not too stiff for your weight, stand on one ski with all your weight on the ball of your foot (you are standing on one leg) with the paper under the ski beneath the toe. If the paper can be moved, the ski is too stiff. If it cannot be moved it is not too stiff.

Next, to determine the kick zone, stand flat on the ski so your weight is on the whole foot (you're still on one leg) the paper should now move, the forward most point you can move the paper is the shortest possible kick zone - for klister skiing. Repeat for both skis.

Next, stand on both skis with your weight evenly distributed. Move the paper fore and aft marking the furthest points of movement. This is your hard-wax kick zone. Again the rear of the kick zone should be near the heel of the boot.

The on snow method is a necessary step toward finding the right kick zone. Since it is easier to add wax while out skiing than remove it, start by waxing your skis only within the shortest kick zone - if you have used the Swix or Fischer method use those marks. If you have not used them then start with the eyeball method. Holding the skis base to base, grasp your skis on the bindings and give them a squeeze that is hard enough to get them to almost touch in the middle. sight down the space between the skis and note where the wax pocket appears to be (the space between the skis, where the bases aren't touching). Start by waxing well within that zone - from the mid-foot forward.
For this exercise do not sand the kick zone and do not iron in any binder wax. Simply ski on your skis applying wax forward two inches at a time, until you are satisfied with the kick. Ski on them for a time and check the wax periodically for wear. If there is considerable wear then you maybe waxing too long (at least for those conditions). If there is little or no wear continue adding wax, until you reach the wear point.

All of these methods are only starting points to find the kick zone. Though these methods are often accurate, snow conditions, technique, experience and other variables make experimenting in a variety of conditions necessary. Don't be afraid to bend or break the rules.

A good example of this was at the World Cup 15km last year in Heber City. After the race (After!) we learned that all the International Fischer racers, including Johan Muhlegg waxed well forward of their normal kick zones. Conditions were new, loose-in-the-track, cold, dry snow on top of warmer, wetter man-made snow. While many racers scrambled with warmer wax, which was too sticky, the top racers used colder wax layered far forward on the ski (Swix VR 40 was rumored to have been Johan's race wax that day - but how he used it was more important).

Have patience and have fun playing on your skis.

If you are new to SkiPost and would like to receive the e-tales you missed this fall, please send me an email requesting them. The topics were:

Improving economy (saving time)
Spenst (be the bunny)
Specific Strength (strong like bull)

Topics to come:

Fairbanks Olympic Qualifiers (race tales from the season's first Olympic qualifying races on Nov 3&4).
Kick waxing for snow type.
As well as more training info and ideas…


Kick Waxing for Snow Type

Kick Waxing for Snow Type
Also: Silverstar Nor/am sprint races
Snow type is important because it describes the type of snow crystal, and the kind of snow crystal determines the hardness of wax to be used.
Temperature serves to influence snow type, and air temperature serves mostly as an indicator of snow type. Like most things it is not really possible to break snow type down into perfect categories. There are degrees of each snow type and these degrees are largely determined by degree of temperature, humidity, and age or amount of abuse the snow crystals have endured.
The first task is to define a few categories of snow type.

NEW FALLEN SNOW - Below freezing
Falling and new fallen snow is characterized by relatively sharp, well-defined snow crystals. Generally calls for a harder kick wax.

FINE GRAINED SNOW - Below freezing
This is the intermediate transformation stage of snow type. While the crystals are still fairly sharp, with fine-grained snow it is not possible to identify the original snow-crystal shape because of transformation. Generally calls for a softer kick wax.

OLD SNOW - Below freezing
The final stage of transformation is to old snow. Transformation has rounded the snow crystals even more and the snow surface is made of uniform and well-rounded grains. Could call for a klister, but more likely softer hard wax.

WET CORN SNOW - Above freezing
Wet snow results from warm weather and can affect new, fine or old snow. Generally the grains lose definition and there is "loose" water in the snow. Generally demands a softer klister, but can also call for a soft hard wax.

FROZEN or OLD CORN SNOW (Melted and re-frozen) - Below freezing
When melted snow refreezes it forms large grains connected by frozen melt water. The snow surface is hard and icy. Generally demands a hard klister.

The next task is to understand what these snow types mean for waxing. Kick in classical skiing is achieved when snow crystals penetrate the kick wax when the kick wax is pressed to the snow. Glide is optimized when the wax is able to let go of the snow crystal when the wax (kick zone) is lifted from the snow after the kick. Kick wax then must be sticky enough for the snow crystals to penetrate, but not so sticky as to grip the snow when the ski is un-weighted or lifted from the snow. Just as a sharp knife is required to cut tough steak only a sharp crystal easily penetrates a hard kick wax. A dull butter knife is adequate to cut soft butter, and dull snow crystals can penetrate a soft kick wax.
A hard kick wax used on dull crystals won't kick. A soft kick wax used on sharp crystals will not glide.
Current air temperature makes a relatively small difference in wax compared to snow type. For instance new fallen snow demands a hard wax at -9degrees centigrade and a warmer hard wax at 0degrees centigrade. However, at -9, a hard wax will work for new fallen snow, but at the same temperature on old corn snow, a klister is needed.
The charts below give an example of waxing for snow type.

Please note: VR is Swix's top of the line hard wax. KR is Swix's top of the line klister. The lower numbers are harder waxes. For instance, VR 40 is similar to extra blue and VR 60 is similar to red, KR 60 is similar to red klister. Each VR wax and KR klister is labeled with both the temperature and snow type in which it works best.

New Snow VR 30/ blue-green VR 40 or VR 45 VR 45 and VR 50
Fine Grained VR 40/ extra blue
VR 45 and VR 50 VR 50 and VR 60
Old Corn KR 20 Plus KR 40 KR 45 and KR 50 KR 45, 50 and 60


New Snow VR 50 and 60 VR 60 and 70 VR 70 or 75
Fine Grained VR 60 and 70 VR 70 KR 50 and 60
Old Corn KR 50 and 60 KR 50 and 70 KR 60 and 70

These charts are simply guidelines and examples. Waxing is a science, but the number of variables and constantly changing conditions make it also an art. Often snow type and temperature are different on different parts of a ski course and/or change during a race or ski outing. At the same time, as stated above, it is often not possible to categorize snow into an absolute snow type. Even so, it is important to understand the basic idea of waxing as they pertain to the variables of snow so as to build art into the science rather than reaching blinding into the wax box.

As can be seen in the above charts many conditions call for using more than one wax. Layering waxes can be done in many ways. Generally a hard wax such as VR 30 or KR 20 or 30 is applied to the sanded kick zone (80 grit for klister, 100 for hard wax) and ironed or heated in (especially in fine grained, old corn or even cold new snow and always for long races or ski outings). After it has cooled the wax or waxes of the day are applied.
The waxes of the day can be applied either from hard to soft, mixing soft, hard, soft, or soft covered with hard.
Soft waxes are covered with hard waxes and klisters are covered with hard waxes when conditions are variable and/or changing and a soft wax sticks too much while the harder wax is too slick. The hard wax serves to protect the softer wax from sticking to the snow, while the soft wax gives the hard wax a cushion into which the snow crystals can penetrate. This is a tricky process where proper application is paramount.
Even more difficult is layering hard waxes on top of klister. This is a widely used technique in changing, variable conditions especially where old and new snow are mixed and especially around 0degrees centigrade. Be sure you cool the under layers totally before applying the over layers, and apply and cork the over layers with a delicate hand (have patience!).
Another layering method is layering hard, warm, hard waxes. In this way you effectively create your own wax that best fits the specific conditions (VR 50 is too slick, 60 too sticky but both are almost right - together they are perfect).
In most cases one should simply start with the hardest (coldest) wax that should work according to the snow type and temperature and then simply add warmer waxes as needed thus layering warmer (softer) on top of colder (harder). To avoid ending up with too many layers of wax or too warm a wax add a little at a time, add thin layer by thin layer, corking each layer upon application.

Have patience! When testing wax it is often the case that a wax will not work for as many as a few km of skiing (more often, less than that, but if it doesn't work right away give it a little more time - especially in new, wet snow). Let the wax cool after corking and then ski the wax in. If you decide that it is too slick after some skiing, then add one or two layers only of the warmer wax.
Generally you will ski on 4 to 8 thin, even layers of wax. It is important to learn your skis and your ski's kick zone so that you know how many layers you can add and how long forward and backward on the ski you can wax in different conditions.

Start with the basics and keep it simple.


Subaru Factory Team's Tessa Benoit won the night sprint ahead of a strong US and Canadian contingent. The race was held under the lights in front of an amazingly large and loud crowd in Silverstar, BC last weekend. It was snowing hard and just below 0degrees. The Factory Team used Swix HF 7 covered with Cera 200, and all our racers made it to the late rounds of elimination (Subaru Skier Pat Casey took fourth).

Please visit for more information and see for more info on waxing and Swix wax.

Much thanks to Subaru for their support of North American cross-country ski racing.



What are we doing out here? Finding Focus



Quotes on time use
Tips for focus
Season Opener in Fairbanks (Olympic Selection)
Dressing to ski

Maximizing training time is always of utmost importance. Here are some quotes regarding organizing and using your time effectively.

"When planning training, the emphasis should not be on what you will do, but rather how your body and mind will react to what you do. The goal is not simply to fulfill training, but to elicit a positive adaptation in your body and mind through training - to become faster, fitter or whatever your goal may be.

Keep at the fore of your mind the goal of training, be it to get faster or to become fitter. Too often secondary means to the goal become the goal itself. For instance, in an effort to improve health and fitness one may deem weight loss important. Weight loss can then become the sole concern often at the expense of the true goal, health and fitness. For many athletes attaining a certain number of training hours is important to becoming faster, but when accumulating training hours becomes the goal, it is often at the expense of actually becoming faster. A good motto is: Train, Don't Strain.
In other words, do only what it will take to reach your goal - not more, and not less."

- Subaru Factory Team, Boulder Center for Sports Medicine Pocket Guide to Cross-Country Ski Training. Look for it this winter. Preview it at It's free.

"The most fascinating thing about top athletes is their focus. They are at all times aware of what it takes to achieve and reach the goals they have set for themselves. Every time they train it is to achieve something specific. Every workout has a purpose. An easy training session is only successful if the tempo/lactate/heart rate was kept down. A level 3, interval session is only successful if the heart rate is kept within the pre determined levels. The athlete always has a certain type of training in mind and does everything to achieve the objectives of the day. If the training session is done too fast, too slow, too long, too short that means he/she did not achieve the objective of the day.

It might sound like the athletes are up tight. This is not the case at all. They just know what it takes to become good and what their bodies need and can take. They do not train two sessions every day, they do not train when they are sick, they are not obsessed with training, they have lives outside of training, they take days off, they work or go to school and best of all; they have a healthy perspective on sports."

- Trond Nystad, Subaru Factory Team alumni and coach of the Denver University ski team (National Champions in 2000 and 2001), after an extended visit back home with friend Bente Skari and other top skiers.

"Use the smallest effective dosage."

- Warning on a bottle of medicine, and good advice in general.

Here are a few things to focus on in training:

- Technique. Pick one or two specific things per workout to work on. See the next issue of The Master Skier for some thoughts on skating from Norway's Skating Project, and reference articles on "New Skate" in last year's Master Skier. Trying to focus on technique in general is less effective than focusing on a few specific aspects of technique.
Here are some general technique pointers to focus on:
Initiate the double pole with a crunch of the stomach muscles.
Keep the hips high in classical skiing - through the whole stride.
Maintain a light, quick rhythm on the up-hills.
Swing the arms forward from the shoulder.
To relax the whole body, focus on relaxing the face.
Initiate the skate or classical kick by dropping your weight onto the ski.
Breath in sync with your poling.
Look ahead and change your tempo with the terrain.

- Developing aerobic endurance. In general aerobic distance workouts exceeding two hours must be in level 1 (talking pace), aerobic distance workouts under an hour are in level 2 (harder to talk, but still comfortable), aerobic distance workouts between an hour and two can be a mix of level 1 and 2. Those training a higher overall training volume, or doing a lot of intensity (hard) training should keep their aerobic distance work in level 1.

- Explosiveness. Add short bouts of bounding and jumping (reference the "Be the Bunny" e-tale) to a workout.
On snow, add no-poles-skiing to a workout and don't be afraid to tackle some challenging terrain.

- Speed. Add short bouts of speed to a workout. Speed must be controlled, but challenging. Adding 10 to 20 15-20 second bursts of speed to a distance workout helps you learn a new speed and develop dynamic, effective, efficient motions - it's also fun.

- Lactate threshold. Work under the threshold. For most of you that means working at an intensity that you can maintain for up to an hour and a half. It's hard, but comfortably hard, challenging, but maintainable. Most skiers can make great progress in their fitness doing this type of intensity training. Going harder, in this case, is not better.

November 3rd saw the season's first Olympic Selection race (see this issue of The Master Skier for a description of Olympic selection criteria).

Skate Sprint Race

1. Beckie Scott. Canadian National Team
2. Aelin Peterson. Independent.
3. Kikkan Randall. Gold 2002, Fischer/Swix/Salomon Athlete Force
4. Tessa Benoit. Subaru Factory Team

1. Torrin Koos. US Ski Team.
2. Lars Flora. Gold 2002, Fischer/Swix/Salomon Athlete Force
3. Pat Casey. Subaru Factory Team
4. Carl Swenson. US Ski Team, Fischer/Swix/Salomon Athlete Force

15-km Freestyle. November 4th.

1. Kris Freeman, US Ski Team, Fischer/Swix/Salomon Athlete Force
2. Andrew Johnson, US Ski Team
3. Pat Weaver, Bend, Bend, OR
4. Justin Wadsworth, US Ski Team
5. Lars Flora, Gold 2002, Fischer/Swix/Salomon Athlete Force
10-km Classic
1. Beckie Scott, Canada
2. Nina Kemppel, US Ski Team, Fischer/Swix/Salomon Athlete Force
3. Amanda Fortier, Canada
4. Sara Renner, Canada
5. Milaine Theriault, Canada

Olympic Selection continues on November 22, 23, 25 in Silver Star, BC. The race for the Olympic team is very close, with few who look to have a clinch on a trip to the Olympics, and many who have a legitimate chance.

Dressing to Ski

Staying comfortable is vital to enjoying the sport and to performing at your best. The body functions optimally within a very narrow temperature range. Too hot and performance and enjoyment suffers. Too cold and performance and enjoyment suffers. Cross-country skiing offers a very challenging temperature control situation. The outside temperature is often cold but the body produces a tremendous amount of heat as a bi-product of work. If you dress too warmly you overheat. If you don't dress warmly enough you freeze. The key is clothing, and the most important aspect of dressing is long underwear. Pick long underwear that have a tight fit, water wicking weave yet are soft-spun so they can channel air along the skin. This kind of long underwear will allow for ideal temperature control in a wide variety of environmental conditions - from cool, to freezing, to rain, sleet, wind and snow.
Because staying comfortable is vital to enjoying the sport, let alone performing well, we highly recommend Craft clothing ( which we have found (after testing many, many brand, to be the absolute best.

Yet to come,
More tips on waxing, training, skiing…
Feel free to email with questions



Thanksgiving Factory Team Style

By Scott Loomis

For cross-country ski racers, Thanksgiving is traditionally a difficult holiday to try to spend with family (unless, of course, they too are x-c ski racers).  It always coincides with with either an early on-snow training camp or the season opener races.  I was just discussing this with my teammates last week in Silver Star, and I realized that I hadn't been home for Thanksgiving since 1993.  Everyone else had similar stories, although Carl Swenson had us all beat -- he hadn't been home for Thanksgiving since 1986!

    I can remember my parents trying to entice me into returning home for Thanksgiving back when I first started racing full-time.  Now they don't even ask....they know I won't be able to join them.  This may sound a bit depressing, but it really isn't.  Every year for Thanksgiving, wherever I am, I am always surrounded by a huge family of friends/fellow ski racers.

    This year in Silver Star I was living in a house with twelve other racers, many of whom were also my teammates.  There was no way that we were going to let Thanksgiving go by without a proper turkey dinner, so after the last race was over we all returned to the house and put together a

Thanksgiving feast the would have put Martha Stewart to shame.  Everyone pitched in with the cooking:  Phil Bowen cooked up his ski circuit-famous cranberry sauce from scratch.  Nathan Schultz and his wife made piles of apple stuffing.  Carl Swenson mashed more potatoes than any man should ever have to mash.  Barb Jones baked biscuits from scratch (to soak up our home-made gravy, of course).  This was no ordinary Thanksgiving smorgasbord -- this was a feast for x-c ski racers in the midst of mid-November training.  So the bowls and platters of food were piled high and going back for seconds and thirds was the norm.

    Not only did we have enough food to feed the twenty-one people at the feast, but we also had enough for some righteous turkey sandwiches for lunch the next day.  So, Thanksgiving really isn't all that bad on the road I must say.


2000 Silver Star Nor/Am

Dave Chamberlain

The races in Silver Star were a good start to the season for the Subaru Factory Team, placing at least two members in the top ten in each competition.  The week was complete with sun, clouds, a classic race, crappy skiing, snow storms, a sprint race, great skiing, and a very tough 15km race, as well as rumors that, depending on who you talked to, ranged anywhere from the Quebec races being moved back to Silver Star to the whole Continental Cup circuit being held in Silver Star for the next three years due to the weather forecast.  Gotta love the rumor mill.

Since most members of the team were more focused on training well rather than racing fast while in B.C., it was a pleasant surprise to put in some good results.  In the classic race, a tough course and falling snow couldn't keep David Chamberlain, Carl Swenson, and Scott Loomis from the top ten, with Chamberlain fifth, Carl sixth and Scott ninth.  Nathan Schultz also had a good race.  In the prelim. round of the sprints on Friday afternoon, both

David Chamberlain and Carl Swenson qualified for the evening final round.

In the end Chamberlain ended up taking the victory in the evening sprints with Carl finishing in the top ten.  Sundays skate race was a tough one, but still the Subaru team put in a strong showing, with Carl only seconds from winning the race, finishing second, Nathan Schultz finishing strong in fifth place, and David Chamberlain sneaking into the top ten with ninth place.

Most of the team members will reconvene in a week for the next set of races in Valcartier, Quebec.  With a few weeks to rest after the first set of races, the Factory Team should have some solid results.

Subaru Factory Team's

Chamberlain and Swenson Reign


Quebec Continental Cup Chaos

December 9- 10, 2000

Subaru Factory Team ( ) skier Carl Swenson won Sunday’s 10km skate race to earn the number one overall ranking for the Continental Cup. Chamberlain finished third on Sunday and is standing second overall.

There wasn’t much snow in Quebec and the race organizers were unsure where the races were going to be held.  Due to the poor snow conditions the races were moved an hour north of Quebec City, on a logging road, dead center nowhere.  The official race accommodations were army barracks.  Although there were twelve wax rooms, there were only five keys to the wax rooms and all of them had been given to five Canadian teams.  Fortunately they were willing to share a wax room with us.  The daily two-hour drive, Army barrack living, constant hunt for wax facilities and uncertainty about racing, all made the weekend chaotic.

As if this was not enough to deal with on Friday the temperature dropped rapidly and it looked likely that the races would be called off.  However, on Saturday we all showed up ready to race, got our race numbers, tested skis, warmed up and then the race organizers canceled the race; it was –23 Celsius.  In spite of the complications and disappointment our spirits remained high and we were on task and ready for fast racing.

Fortunately, a few high clouds rolled in Saturday evening raising the temperature just enough to hold the races Sunday. Swenson racing on Fischer RCS Skate-Cut Cold and Swix CH4 pulled off a narrow victory over US Ski Team skier Justin Wadsworth who just edged out Swenson’s Factory Teammate, Chamberlain.  Nathan Schultz came in 7th, and the race was close with the top twenty men all within a minute and twenty seconds.

In the women’s race, Subaru Factory Team skier Tessa Benoit placed 5th and Barb Jones snuck into 7th.  Tessa and Barb stand in 3rd and 4th on the American points list, but both of them feel they’ve got better races ahead.

It’s been snowing all week here in Quebec, the weather is cold but not too cold, there are two races this weekend, and we are ready. 

Fischer, Salomon, Swix Athlete Force

continue domination of US Cross-country Skiing National Championships

Subaru Factory Team challenges US Ski Team.

Nina Kemmpel claimed her 14 National Cross-country skiing championship Thursday in the Women's 5k classic event. Fellow Athlete Force members Wendy Wagner and Jessica Smith all skiing with the Gold 2002 club, finished off the US National Championship Podium.

US Ski Team member Justin Wadsworth held off first year senior Kris Freeman and US Ski Team veteran Marcus Nash to pick up the 10k classic crown.

Subaru Factory Team skiers Barb Jones and Carl Swenson placed 5th in their respective races. “Today was the best classical race of my life.  I felt like a new person classical skiing wise.  Skating has been more my thing - I can’t wait for the skate race Saturday”  said Barb Jones who was the 4th American.  Carl Swenson was also the 4th American and like Barb had his best classical finish ever.

            “I plan on competing smartly and wasting as little energy as possible in Saturday's skate race," said Carl. He is looking forward to the World Cup in Utah, which begins this coming Wednesday.

            Subaru Factory Team skier David Chamberlain finished 6th and was the 5th American.  “I felt good; it’s a tough field and any mistakes show up in the results.  It’s fantastic to compete against the likes of Carl and the other greats.” said Dave.

            Tessa Benoit of the Factory Team finished in 9th (5th American).  “I was surprised to be so far up on the results to be honest.  It wasn’t my best day, but I kept pushing in spite of that and it paid off.”  Said Tessa.

            Again the team had great skis.  The temperature was in the twenties, and was very cold over night leaving the snow cold even as the day warmed.  We used Swix LF 6 under LF 4 for glide and a binder of Swix special blue ironed in with the new Swix VR 45 layered under VR 40 for kick.

Saturday is the last race at nationals.  The women race a 15km mass-start skate, and the men’s skate race is a 30km mass-start.  Mass start means that everyone starts together (that is 230 men all starting together and 160 women).  When the gun goes off, it’s an absolute all-out sprint with lots of contact as skiers jockey for position.  It’s an exciting race and the Subaru Factory Team and the Athlete Force is ready!

2001 Women's 5 km  Classic US National Cross-Country Skiing Championship Results

US Place Athlete    Time             Team                        Skis      Boots            Poles Misc

1   Nina Kemppel  15:44.3 US Ski Team            Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Athlete Force

2   Wendy Wagner15:52.8 Gold 2002                Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Athlete Force

3   Jessica Smith   16:14.3 Gold 2002                            Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Athlete Force

4   Barb Jones       15:15.1 Subaru Factory Team    Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Athlete Force

5   Tessa Benoit    16:38.2 Subaru Factory Team   Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Athlete Force

6   Tara Hamilton  16:38.7 Winterstars               Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Athlete Force

2001 Mens 10Km Classic US National Cross-Country Skiing Championship Results

US Place Athlete Time             Team                            Skis            Boots            Poles Misc

1 Justin Wadsworth  27:48 US Ski Team            Atomic, Rossignol, Swix

2 Kris Freeman         28:00.US Ski Team             Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Athlete Force

3 Marcus Nash          28:02 US Ski Team             Fischer, Salomon, Yoko, Athlete Force

4 Carl Swenson         28:18 Subaru Factory Team  Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Athlete Force

5 David Chamberlain28:21 Subaru Factory Team  Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Athlete Force

6   Robert Whitney    28:31.Gold 2002             Fischer, Salomon, Swix, Athlete Force

If you have any questions on this etale or any cross-country skiing question just email us at

2001 Mora Vasaloppet

Cross-Country Ski Fans:

The weather is looking cold for the Minnesota Finlandia in Bemidji, MN this Saturday. Swix CH 4 over Swix LFG4 to be the glide wax of the day on Cold Base skis - again!  Remember, when the weather is cold it is very important to scrape and brush your skis thoroughly.  Any leftover wax on the base adds a lot of friction.  Use a sharp plastic scraper and brush your skis twice, once after you scrape and once after they have been outside and you have skied on them.

This is the same glide wax application that allowed the Subaru Factory Team  to take 5 of the top 8 places at last weekend’s Mora Vasaloppet.  For those of you Classical skiing, iron in Swix Extra Blue and then cork in Swix VR30. Barb Jones used this combination to win the Mora Vasaloppet classical Race.

In Mora’s 58 km freestyle event, the Factory Team was lead home by David Stewart, vying for Rookie of the Year honors, with his third podium finish of the season. Stewart, who is aiming for a spot on the 2006 Olympic team said, "I was thinking, I'm out here with five Olympians, this is so sweet.  I was happy to be in the lead group of 8, and that I was able to push it to the end even though I couldn't get Marc or Patrick; they were too strong."

Marc Gilbertson and Patrick Weaver pulled away from the final group with 15km to go.  The lead group had been racing fast from the gun, and while one or two skiers would get away here and there it became obvious when the real break was made.  Factory Team skiers Pete Vordenberg (last years Mora winner) and Magnus Erickson worked hard to keep the hard charging threesome of Gilbertson, Weaver and Bower from powering away from the top group of racers, but with about 20km to go Gilbertson and Weaver snuck off the front, and what seemed a small gap suddenly grew to 10 seconds, then to 20.  Factory Team skiers Stewart, Phil Bowen and Pete Vordenberg fought hard, but the two leaders were gone for good.   They were simply the stronger skiers on that day.

"Ecstatic with my third marathon podium of the year (Craftsbury and Lake Placid Loppet)," said Stewart who is also racing the Minn Finn this week and the Birkie next week.  "I think I'm getting faster each 50km. I've done three and have felt stronger in each one. Technically I improve each time.  You get so tired and you have to ski well to keep any kind of speed."

Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to Marathons.  The initial pace is often fast, there are many attacks, changes of pace throughout the event, and it is a two plus hour event.  One has to remain relaxed and let the skis glide in order to stay strong all the way to the finish. 

It is also vital to drink throughout the event.  We generally drink a bottle of Extran every 7-10 km.  Dehydration is a key factor in performing well over the last 10km.  Take the time to drink -- it is more than worth it. Especially when it is so cold.

Good luck at the MinnFinn.

For any questions on Cross-Country Skiing email us at

Getting prepped for the Snow Mountain Stampede

Tips for tackling hills at altitude

Birkie Epic

Demystifying Swix’s Cera F

Tomorrow is the Subaru Snow Mountain Stampede near Winter Park, Colorado.  We have Factory Team Wax Tech Stian Gronas on hand.  Temperatures are dropping into the teens at night and reaching the high twenties during race time. Stian is recommending Swix HF7 and Cera 200 for glide. For kick, Swix Extra Blue should be ironed into your kick zone tonight and you should come prepared to add 6-8 layers of Swix VR 40, 45 or 50 depending on the snow temp at race time.

As for the race itself, the high altitude and challenging course make smart pacing a vital.  A good way to tackle the course is to break each hill into three sections.  In the first part of the hill focus on maintaining the momentum you bring to the hill.  In the second part of the hill, the meat of the climb, maintain a relaxed pace that allows you to move steadily up the hill without going under.  It can be helpful to focus on keeping your skis gliding and your breathing rhythmic and under control (rather then powering through the middle of the hill and going under by the top).  In the last part of the hill aim to regain momentum that you can take with you down the other side.  Remember, it takes a long time to regain your composer after you’ve gone under at altitude, so in the long run keeping the pace steady and smooth will pay off in the end. We hope this helps.

Last week was the grand American Birkebeiner. The clear skies, cold hard tracks enjoyed the day prior to this year’s Birkie gave way to spitting snow, sleet, and half a foot of new, deep, soft snow.  The Birkie is the Birkie for a reason.  This year almost 7000 skiers shared in what was, from the start, an epic adventure.

The Subaru Factory Team placed the whole team in the top 20. Unni Odegard third place showing placed the colorful Factory Team uniform on the podium once again. Unni finished behind Antonina Ordina who was finishing in the top ten in the world only a year ago and right ahead of the world’s most dominant woman skier ever – Lubov Egorova.  Subaru Factory Team’s Laura McCabe was the top American woman in 5th, and her teammate Nathan Schultz was the top American male finisher in 7th

This year’s Birkie brought to light a wide spread confusion over the use of Swix’s different Cera F products.  No one was sure when the snow would come, how much would end up falling, or how warm the temperature would rise with the arriving storm.  Due to the new cold snow arriving in abundance the Subaru Factory Team ended up using LF 7, HF 7, and Cera F 100 – we had super skis. 

Here are some general guidelines to help clear up the different types of Cera F:

Cera 040 is for old, cold snow (less then 28 degrees).

Cera 100 is for new, cold snow (less then 28 degrees). 

Cera 200 is for warm snow (over 28 degrees).  This is the most often used type of Cera.

Cera 080 is for very wet snow with extra water.

Subaru Factory Team claims both the Men’s and Women’s American Ski Marathon Overall Series Titles

Magnus Erickson and Unni Odegard of the Subaru Factory Team pulled into the parking lot of the West Yellowstone Conference Center Hotel at 4:45 am after a flying and driving epic from Vermont to Montana.  At 5am Factory Team wax tech Stian Gronas began waxing their skis while the two travelers caught 3hrs sleep before the final race of the American Ski Marathon Series – The West Yellowstone Rendezvous. 

“We had one objective today and that was to clinch the overall Marathon Title for both men and women,” said Factory Team director Andy Gerlach.  “To do that Dave Stewart or Magnus had to win the race.  Had Gilbertson won the race the title would have been his.”

The objective was simple.  Fulfilling it was not.  Marc Gilbertson would take the title if he won, and if he failed to keep pace, his teammate Pat Weaver could take the title if he managed to win.  The key for Subaru was to keep Magnus and/or Stewart in the lead group and as fresh as possible for a late race show down.

The snow was very fast and the track hard -- in the end, the race would be skied in less then 2hrs.  The Subaru Factory Team used Swix HF 7 and Cera 040. 

“I had the best skis in the race, I could pass on any down hill at will,” said Subaru Factory Team skier Pete Vordenberg, who fought to keep the race together by always skiing in second place no matter who was leading.

The team of Gilbertson, Weaver, John Bower, and Peter Webb took turns at the front driving the pace.  From the start they tried to form a break that was free of Subaru skiers, but with Vordenberg always in second and latched to the leader they could never get anyone from their posse clear.  For their efforts, however, they did whittle the lead pack down, and among the dropped was overall title contender Dave Stewart of Subaru.  The race was coming down to a Gilbertson-Erickson duel.  After a dialogue in Swedish between Vordenberg and Erickson, Magnus, who had been skiing at the back of the lead pack trying to reserve strength, moved up and made himself ready for the inevitable late race attacks and surges in pace.  When the final attack came on the course’s toughest hill Magnus would not be dropped.  Then, at the finish Magnus emerged from the sprinting lead group of 7 and was able to hold off Gilbertson by a foot for the win.  In victory he pumped his hand in the air once, and then headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

The victory and the overall title were secured.

In the women’s race Subaru Factory Team’s Unni Odegard quickly distanced herself from everyone in the field but Jeannie Wall.  Unni’s only Marathon loss this season came in the American Birkie where she placed a very respectable third.  For Unni it has been a season of domination.  She was running on three hours sleep and to clinch the title had only to finish the race, but just finishing wouldn’t do.  Wall ended up over half a minute behind Unni, in second.

Factory Team has now won the ASMS overall for 5 years straight.

Summer Ski Care and Storage

For classical skis one should use a wax remover and fiberlene to thoroughly clean all kick-wax and klister from the kick zone, sidewalls and tops of the ski.  Next, the glide zones must be cleaned.  You clean the glide zone of a classical ski (tips and tails) the same way you clean the whole base of a skate ski.  This is done using a soft wax such as Swix CH-10.  With your iron at a low temperature (so as not to over-heat the base) drip a generous amount of CH-10 on the entire base. Next, slowly heat the wax and the base by walking the iron from tip to tail.  A generous amount of wax is used as a protective layer so the base is not exposed to too much heat.  Walk your iron in a slow continuous motion from tip to tail as many times as it takes (about 5 slow passes) until the whole base is covered in a molten, liquid layer of CH-10.  Fischer bases respond very positively to low heat.  This simple method allows for superior wax absorption, and the heat from the iron will open up the pores in the base allowing the dirt, grime and filth hidden therein to rise up into the molten wax.  While the wax is still molten, take a sharp plastic scraper and scrape the liquid mess off your ski.

Next, while the base is still warm, use fiberlene to wipe off the remaining wax.  Let the ski cool a little bit.  As the base cools, the pores squeeze a little more wax and dirt out.  Gently scrape the base again and brush with a nylon brush.

The next step is applying the summer layer of wax to the base. 

A thick layer of CH-6 will protect the base and will not melt as easily in the summer heat as something soft like CH-10.  Swix Base-prep should be another good wax for this duty – it’s new so I haven’t tried it over the summer.

You do not need to apply any wax on the kick zones of your classical skis, but if you feel compelled to do so, use a hard kick wax such as Swix Special Blue – don’t glide wax your kick zone as that will make it harder to get kick wax to stick come next winter.

With a layer of wax on the base, store your skis in as cool a place as you can find.  You do this for the sake of the base and also for the sake of the glue that holds the binding-plate down.  In very warm conditions even the glue that holds the ski together can be affected by summer heat.  To avoid softening the camber of your skis, store your skis with your ski-ties loosely fastened.  Skis should not spend the whole summer strapped tightly together, especially in hot conditions.

If you take the time to care for your Fischer skis, they will run fast for you next winter

Spring Tips and the Gold Rush Wax Report

Spring skiing can be the best skiing of the year.  It is also when the snow is dirtiest, and dirt is slow.  Before you apply any of the layers of your race wax, make sure you clean your skis (even if you aren’t a racer, cleaning your skis will really help their performance).  The best way to clean skis is the hot-wipe method.  We don’t generally use wax remover on the glide zones of our skis because it removes the wax we have dutifully soaked into our bases.  To start with use a nylon or brass brush to remove dirt from the surface of your ski then drip a soft wax such as Swix CH 10 or Swix Base Prep on the ski.  Run the iron tip to tail down the ski.  Repeat until the wax is molten.  Be aware of the temperature of the iron.  You want to open the pores of the ski base to pull out the dirt, but you don’t want to overheat the base.  While the wax is molten and warm, scrape it off with a sharp plastic scraper.  If you’ve been skiing in spring conditions, the wax you scrape off should look quite dirty.  Next you can give them another brushing to completely remove the dirt laden wax.  Now your skis are clean and ready for the first layers of race wax.

Marcus Nash E-tales

Marcus Nash intro

As our first inspirational and motivational e-tail we would like to introduce you to US Ski Team and Fischer Salomon Athlete Force member Marcus Nash. Marcus has clawed his way to the top of American ski racing and is in the process of joining the top skiers in the world.  Through Ski-Post, Marcus will be sharing his training, racing and life as a World Cup skier from  home and abroad.

Fischer is proud and excited to introduce:

US Ski Team and Fischer Salomon Athlete Force Member, Marcus Nash.

            My name is Marcus Nash and I am a member of the U.S. Ski Team and two Olympic Teams.   Over the next year I am going to be writing articles about a variety of ski topics.  The articles will be distributed via the Internet and they are designed to inform, entertain, and maybe even enlighten you, the reader, about the life and times of a professional cross-country skier.  I do not intend these articles to be so much about me, but rather about the places I travel to and the events on the World Cup tour, the  “White Circus”.  I will write about training camps, races, and a variety of things from rollerskis to guitar jams with other World Cup skiers.  Some of the articles will be more technical than others; some will be for pure entertainment. (At least I hope so)

 I have had reservations in the past about writing and exposing myself to the ski world so here is my disclaimer.  These writings are my views, observations, and opinions.  If you disagree with them that is fine and we can happily co-exist knowing that we have the right to disagree.  If there is something in particular that a reader is interested in I will be more than happy to include that topic in an article, assuming I know anything about the suggested subject. 

Skiing is a full time job for me and I take it very seriously.  Having said this I must repeat a quote from two-time World Champion Torgney Mogren.  “ The Olympic Games are just that, games.”   I have had many great experiences through ski racing.  Through the highs and lows of my career I have often reflected on this quote from the great Swedish skier.  I hope to inspire young athletes to strive for Olympic success, encourage a master ski racer to reach their personal goal, and to entice any non-skiers out on to the tracks for the first time.  But no matter what your level of expertise the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy yourself.  I hope these articles will enhance your skiing experience and even make you laugh at times.

So who is Marcus Nash and why are you still reading this?  I am a twenty-nine year old professional skier from Fryeburg, Maine.  I grew up skiing on the snowmobile trails behind my house chasing my older brother and sisters around our backyard on a pair of $10 wood skis.  Being the youngest of four I was picked on a lot by my older siblings.  From the first time we strapped on our second hand skis I had one thing on my mind, redemption.  I may have been their skinny little brother but no matter how long it took I was going to beat them in a race and show them what I was made of.  Well it took many years but slowly I was able to pick them off.  My brother, a good skier in his own right, was the greatest victory.  It took me almost fifteen years to beat him but I did it.  I often wonder if Olympic Gold will feel as sweet as that victory over my brother, Mac.

I began official competitions as a nine-year old in the Bill Koch Youth Ski League.  Competitions were held throughout Maine.  At the end of the season the best skiers from the New England states competed against one another for the Eastern Championship.  It was a great experience and a lot of fun!  From a young age I was hooked on the thrill and anxiety of competition.  I began to race in bigger competitions and improved every year.  I continued to race through high school where I competed for my school team and also as part of the New England regional team at the Junior National Championships.  From there it was on to college where I studied at, and competed for, the University of Utah.  It was here that I made my greatest improvements and began to focus on becoming the best skier in the World.  During my college career I was able to take part in the 1993 World Ski Championships and the 1994 Olympic Games.  This was the final stepping-stone before joining the National Team in 1995.

The transition from collegiate skier to professional skier is probably the most difficult time for many American skiers.  Most skiers lose much of their support system in terms of having any type of team or financial support.  I was very fortunate to make this transition with relative ease.  While on a shoestring budget, I skied well enough in college to go straight to the National Team.  While my finances did not improve, I had the support of both a team and teammates.  After several years on the National Team, when I began to rise to the top of the team, my financial problems were greatly eased through the help of some incredible sponsors.  Although it may sound like a typical endorsement, I would not be skiing today without the help of my sponsors!  The gratitude I have for them is immense.  Not only have they supported my goals, they have given me confidence and motivation to keep striving toward success.  The following is a list of sponsors who are currently helping me reach my goals; L.L. Bean, People’s Heritage Bank,  UNICELL Cellular Telephones, Fischer Skis, Yoko Poles/Gloves, Salomon, Toko wax, Personal Best Nutrition, XL-1, Marve rollerskis.

So what is it that is worth me writing about?   More importantly, what is it that is worth you taking time out of your busy day to read about?  Well, to begin with, I have some great teammates and friends who are worth writing about.  Justin Wadsworth, Nina Kempell, and Patrick Weaver are among the top skiers in the Nation but receive little recognition because, like myself, they are often in Europe racing and out of the nordic limelight at home.  I am sure they will provide me with plenty of material.  During most of my career I had to learn through trial and error.  It was this way that I learned much about ski technique and training physiology.  I hope to pass on some of this knowledge.  For the past three years I have worked with a great trainer, Christer Skog, who is extremely knowledgeable in physiology.  I hope to write about some of the testing we do and other training secrets that you can implement in your training program.  And finally, I hope to include some behind-the-scenes stories from the World Cup and World Championships that you won’t hear anywhere else.  So please keep reading and if there is something you want to read about don’t hesitate to contact me through SkiPost.

                                                                       - Marcus Nash


Travels with Marcus Nash

US Ski Team Racer – Fischer Salomon Athlete Force Member

Bend, Oregon

Cross country skiing in June might sound like a crazy idea to most people, but to many elite athletes and skiing enthusiasts June is a fantastic time to ski.  The central Oregon town of Bend plays host to several hundred skiers during the first few weeks of June.  The mix of snow filled mountains and dry desert lowlands make Bend the ultimate destination for the serious cross-country athlete looking for that perfect place to train in the summer months. 

You need not be a top-level skier, or a promising young buck to enjoy the superb skiing on the Mt. Bachelor trail system.  People of all ages and ability can be seen skiing with smiles on their faces.  Some are thrilled with the novelty of such great skiing in June, while others are elated, knowing that it is the best site in the world for early summer training.   Among the athletes training in Bend are both the U.S. National and Developmental Teams, the Canadian National Team, the Subaru Factory Team, the Rossignol Race Team, and the introduction of the Madshus/Alpina Team.  There are also many club athletes from all over the country, including members of my club, The Auburn Ski Club.  If you are new to the sport there are also instructional clinics available.  I saw Canadian World Cup star, Beckie Scott, spending a morning coaching some new skiers!

I had several training goals to focus on this year in Bend.  The most important was to improve both my skating and classic technique.  I spent many hours being video taped by my trainer, Christer Skog.  Christer would comment on my technique while I was training each day and then we would analyze the video after each workout.  It can often be frustrating trying to break bad technique habits, but better to fix them in June rather than in November.

 There is always room for improvement when it comes to technique.  There is not one World Cup skier that doesn’t focus on improving their technique.  Some of the things I worked on at the Bend camp included trying to relax my upper body more while classic skiing.  I found that I lean too far forward while skiing uphill, which, in turn, causes my hips to be too low and far back.  All this means that I slip much more and struggle to ski well uphill.  Another technique improvement that I focused on was maintaining a lower body position while skating.  Christer and I have found that I am able to ski with a much flatter ski on the snow when I have more flex in my legs.  This means I can improve my glide, especially on steep uphills.  To do this, however, requires much more leg strength and focus to maintain this new position.

Now it is back to dryland training in sunny Squaw Valley, California.  My next training camp is in mid July on the Dachstein glacier and in the mountains of southern Czech, where I will be training with members of the Czech national team. 

Train smart and have fun……………

                                                           - Marcus Nash

Travels with Marcus Nash

US Ski Team Racer –Fischer Athlete Force Member

At the Fischer Factory

            While traveling to a training camp in Ramsau, Austria, I visited the Fischer Ski Factory.  The main goal of my visit was to pick up my skis for the upcoming ski season and test them on the Dachstein Glacier.  I was fortunate enough to receive a tour of the Factory and see first hand how the skis are produced.  I can say that I now have a new appreciation of what goes in to the construction of a ski and how difficult it is to make a ski for all people and conditions.  I no longer look at my skis only as a mode of transportation, but rather a handcrafted work of art.

            Located in the foothills of the Austrian Alps is the town of Reid, home to Fischer Skis.  Upon arrival I was met by Franz Gatterman, the director of racing for Fischer.  Franz was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to go through the new skis with me, helping me choose skis for the race season.  Choosing skis at the factory can be very intimidating.  Franz was very helpful and made the decision process much easier, but the most important factor in selecting new skis was the fact that I had done my homework.  Since I began working with Fischer, three years ago, I have kept notes on which skis have worked well for me and in which conditions.  By knowing my skis well I have been able to keep things simple on race day.  By testing only a few pairs of skis on race mornings I am able to concentrate on my warm-up and the race at hand.  This homework made the job of picking skis simple and fun.

            After my new skis were picked and put aside Franz took me on a tour of the Factory.  What looked like a maze of hallways and large rooms filled with machines, tools, and boxes was actually an efficient running factory.   The factory is divided into two parts.  The half that I visited is where the skis are manufactured.  The other side was the airplane-parts factory.  Siding and other airplane parts are manufactured in the factory using Fischer’s aircore technology.  The entire factory employs close to nine hundred people.

            I was immediately amazed at how much work goes into making one pair of skis.  Each ski is made separately and takes many hours to complete.  By the end of the production line many people have worked on an individual ski, from the person who makes the aircore base to the last person on the assembly line responsible for the final stone-grinding.  This is not to say that the process could be quickened through automation.  There are plenty of high-tech machines used to make the ski manufacturing process more efficient, but the bottom line is that the human touch is needed to create a great pair of race skis.

            As we walked through the factory I was surprised to see racks of skis with the graphics of other ski companies.  It turns out that Fischer manufactures skis for many companies, both alpine and cross-country skis.  When we reached the beginning of the assembly line it was apparent what makes a pair of Fischer skis so expensive.  There is an incredible amount of aircore material wasted with each ski.  There is no way of reducing the waste without compromising the quality and strength of the ski.  The core of each ski consists of one solid piece of aircore material, which is cut from a sheet that vaguely resembles a piece of thick plywood.  The remaining waste cannot be pieced together and reused because the structure of the ski is changed and the strength dramatically reduced.

            After the base has been attached it is off to the press where heat is used to give the ski it’s desired stiffness.  Next, carbon is added to give the ski more strength and camber.  When the top layer is finally added to the ski it appears as though the process is complete.  This is not the case however.  What impressed me the most about the ski building process was the amount of work that Fischer does during the final base preparation.  Their Ultra Tuning process assures that the ski base is clean, level and smooth.  The ski is built with a thick base, which is planed down to perfection during the Ultra Tuning process.  This step adds both time and cost to the ski production process, but creates a much better product in the end.  Finally, after the Ultra Tuning is complete, the ski is stone-ground and ready for shipping.

            This quick overview gives you an idea of what goes in to creating a great pair of skis.  Next time you are in your favorite sports shop take a close look at the skis on the rack.  I am sure that if compare the base of Fischer Skis to that of another brand you will discover the superior quality and consistency of a pair of Fischer Skis.

Travels with Marcus Nash

US Ski Team Racer –Fischer Athlete Force Member

Dachstein Glacier

            When it comes to summer skiing the Dachstein Glacier is the place to go.  During the past two summers the U.S. Ski Team has spent several weeks training on the glacier.  After considering all the alternatives, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Alaska, and the ski tunnel in Finland, the National Team has chosen Dachstein as the best training facility.  While I feel that New Zealand offers the best possible snow conditions there is always that possibility that there will be no snow at all.  This makes booking a plane ticket difficult and expensive.  Eagle Glacier, in Alaska, offers great skiing but access to the glacier, due to poor weather conditions and problems with the lodge can be extremely tedious when planning a training camp.  I found skiing on the snowfields of Norway to be utterly demoralizing and unpleasant due to the horrible snow and weather conditions.  I cannot comment on Australia or the ski tunnel in Finland having never been to either place.

            So what makes the Austrian glacier a superior training location?  It is the combination of great skiing combined with superb dryland training.  Not to mention the fact that snow is guaranteed to be there.  Planning a trip to Dachstein is made much easier due to the fact that it is a glacier so snow is always accessible.  While the skiing conditions may vary depending on the time of year, Dachstein is usually fairly consistent skiing.  Even without the glacier, the town of Ramsau is an ideal training spot with a newly improved rollerski track and plenty of running and hiking trails.  You can also visit the Ramsau beach for an afternoon game of volleyball and a swim.

 The glacier is reached via a somewhat frightening cable car ride to an altitude of 2750 meters.  The cable car runs in any weather condition so you are assured to ski when you want.  The high elevation helps to provide fresh snow during the summer months.  It snowed several times while I was training there in July this year.  While not the most exciting skiing in the World, the glacier provides perfect terrain for easy skiing and technique work.  There are both five and ten kilometer loops on separate parts of the glacier but each is similar in design, having many switchbacks.   The grade of the track is perfect for high altitude skiing, not so steep as to cause you to either walk or build up too much lactate while trying to ski. 

A few words of warning before you pack your bags and hop on that jet across the Atlantic Ocean.  The Dachstein Glacier demands respect.  One must be well trained and in good shape if they are going to benefit from a training camp there.  Many skiers have ruined or setback their racing season from training to hard on the glacier or spending too much time training there without adequate conditioning. 

The stress to your body can be more detrimental than any benefits received from summer skiing.  First is the long trans-Atlantic flight combined with some serious jet lag.   Once your body has recovered from this, which usually takes two to four days, you can begin to ski.  The next shock comes to your system when you start to ski at over eight thousand feet of elevation.  Some of your muscles will have been dormant for a few months and will scream for oxygen after a few minutes of skiing.  While good training, rollerskiing is different from skiing.  Some small muscle groups will be used for snow skiing that are neglected during rollerski sessions.  Skiing at high elevation (or at altitude as we usually say incorrectly) could be discussed at length.  Without going in to too much detail I will say that Dachstein is high and you must keep a close watch on your body.  We use a small lactate analyzer to make sure that we are training at the correct pace and not creating too much lactate in our muscles.  For those of you without this luxury, keeping a close look at your heart-rate while training is the next best thing to assure a proper training pace.

I have found summer skiing to be a significant benefit to my improvement as a world-class skier.  I would recommend skiing on the Dachstein Glacier to those athletes who are serious about racing and training.  I would also recommend it to anyone who loves to ski and wants to enjoy the thrill of skiing in such a spectacular location.  You have the opportunity to see some of the best skiers in the world training around you while gazing out at some breathtaking scenery.  So keep up the training, wax those skis and hit the trails…..

                                   - Marcus

Moonlight and Moose; Fairbanks Training Camp with the U.S. Ski Team

            Awakening to the familiar chime of my alarm clock I am set to begin another day of training in Fairbanks, Alaska.  “ I swear I just closed my eyes and went to sleep five minutes ago! “  This is my first thought of the day.  A quick check of my watch confirmed that it was indeed six a.m. and time to get going.  After checking my morning heart rate it’s straight to the coffee maker.  Next to stir is my teammate, Justin Wadsworth.  Blurry eyed and groggy he too is eager for that first cup of coffee.  Finally, our trainer, Christer Skog, who is still suffering from jet lag, makes his way to the kitchen of our hotel suite. 

            Outside it is still dark and will be for several more hours but that is to be expected at this latitude during October.  It seems a long way to travel from California just to ski for nine days but there are many benefits in this early season ski camp.  The biggest benefit for me is more mental than physical.  After training close to five hundred hours since May, most of which was dryland training; I was ready for a change. 

            My goal in Fairbanks is pretty simple; ski a lot.  In the nine days that I will be skiing I will combine six days of distance skiing with three days of high-intensity interval training.  A typical distance day involves four to five hours of skiing, usually divided in to two workouts.  Some days I will ski less and add a strength training session.  The distance covered on these days usually ranges from forty to sixty five kilometers depending on the snow conditions. 

On my three high intensity days I will still ski for four hours but the morning session will be much harder than on distance days.  A typical interval workout involves doing a set time of fast skiing followed by a period of recovery time where I will continue to ski easy.  During this camp I will do two sessions of 10x3 minutes with two minutes rest between each interval and one session of 4x5 minutes with three minutes recovery time between each hard interval.  If that doesn’t sound all that fun just imagine my trainer, Christer, waiting at the top of the hill after my last interval to take a blood sample for analysis.  As soon as the last interval is complete I must quickly take off my glove so Christer can poke my finger with a small pin.  He then puts a sample of my blood into a portable lactate analyzer to check the build up of lactic acid, the stuff that makes your muscles burn and ache, in my blood during the intervals.  I think deep down inside Christer enjoys seeing me cringe as he is about to poke me with the needle.

By correlating blood lactate levels with heart rate we can determine how good of shape I am in.  An unusual lactate reading could mean I am either over trained or I have not done enough high-intensity training depending on the result.  Fortunately my lactate levels have been right were we want them for this time of year as a result of my summer training.

Enough about training.  What else goes on in Fairbanks?  Unfortunately the answer is not much.  Every year Justin, Christer, Scott Loomis, and I talk about going to a local bar for their open mike night to perform.  The problem with this idea is that by eight o’clock we are all too tired from training to do anything but stare blankly at the television.  It is probably good that we never make it to the open mike night because we haven’t played music together for quite a while and the odds of us all remembering the few songs we know are slim. 

Even though we never make it to the open mike night it doesn’t stop us from constantly talking about the new songs we want to learn or about our future as rock stars.  It will be interesting for people seeing us on VH-1’s Before They Were Rock Stars to realize that we were once a bunch of healthy cross-country skiers.  Our passion for music has reached humorous proportions at times.  The day after buying my dream guitar in Sweden I raced a World Cup and used my new guitar as motivation.  I told Christer before the race that the only race information I wanted to hear as I skied past him was that the faster I skied the sooner I could play my new guitar.  It worked; I had a great race that day!

So apart from our delusional rock star fantasies we pretty much eat, sleep, and ski.  One workout blends into the next, as I become familiar with every inch of the trail system at Birch Hill Ski Center.  Apart from the occasional moose encounter, which breaks up the monotony of training, I spend most of my skiing time focusing on the upcoming season or the workout at hand.   Factory Team skier, Phil Bowen had a chance meeting this past spring with guitar legend Eddie Van Halen.  Phil asked him if he was enjoying his vacation (they were at the Boulder Dam outside of Las Vegas).  Van Halen stated that he had been around the world twelve times, touring with his band, and hadn’t seen a thing so he was really enjoying his vacation with his family.  I liked this comment, not only because I wish I was a guitar legend, but because it describes the life of a professional skier also.  Even though I am training in a beautiful place like Fairbanks all I get the opportunity to see are the ski tracks and the hotel room. 

Regardless of the lack of time and motivation for sightseeing, being in Fairbanks is a great opportunity for North American skiers to train on our home turf.  It has become a popular early season destination for the US and Canadian National Teams as well as other top national level racers like the Subaru Factory Team.  The community is great and people here love to ski.

So as I head out on the tracks before the sun has risen the moon is my only source of light.  I am glad that I am skiing in Fairbanks.  The early morning skiing is tranquil and serene.  The tracks are freshly groomed and the temperature perfect for easy waxing.  Justin, Christer and I have the trails to ourselves, now if we can only avoid running into a moose!

Winners and Losers (World Championships)

            As I sit at home in my apartment I feel disgusted, shocked, and pleased at the same time.  The uncovering of a drug scandal in Lahti, Finland during the World Championships is definitely a bittersweet victory for me.  Finally some athletes have been caught taking performance-enhancing drugs.  Actually a large portion of the Finnish Ski Team has been exposed as cheaters and dopers.  The bittersweet part is the fact that I am at home, not racing because of over-training.  I foolishly thought that I would gain those precious few seconds by pushing myself to the limit during my summer training.  I now know that some of the Finnish skiers found an easier way to increase their performance, by using banned drugs.  Another reason that this is a bittersweet victory is the fact that it took so long for these athletes to get caught and the reason they were caught is because of mistakes made by their doctors, not improved drug testing procedures.  There is a better test out there but the International Ski Federation (FIS) will not use it.  I believe this is worthy of an investigation.

 When I first strapped on a pair of cross country skis I knew that I wanted to race.  As soon as I started to race I knew I wanted to win.  But my definition of winning seems to be quite different from some other athletes who cross-country ski race, namely most of the Finish Ski Team.  While my best World Cup result has been a pair of nineteenth places I know that I was a winner in those races.  My first nineteenth came in one of the toughest races in the World, the Holmenkollen fifty-kilometer World Cup race in Oslo Norway.  In my mind I was a winner because it hurt like hell the whole way and I didn’t move into the top twenty until the last five kilometers.  I pushed myself to the limits and didn’t give up.  That is my definition of a winner.

            When I started to compete I wanted to be the best in the World.  But as I matured it became more important to me to be the best skier that I can be.  Whether or not my best is good enough to be number one in the World will be answered in February 2002 in a place called Soldier Hollow, Utah.  The bottom line of this story is that it never crossed my mind that I would consider cheating to be the best because by doing this I would have to admit to myself that I am not good enough to be the best.

            What I witnessed at the World Championships this past two weeks was appalling.  To have six Finnish skiers caught with the blood expander HES in their system is a disgrace to all athletes at all levels of competition.  Even worse is the fact that the Finnish Ski Federation was systematically doping the athletes with a complete understanding that their actions were against the rules, not to mention immoral. As they began to get caught they continued to lie about the drugs.  This gives us some insight as to what kind of people these athletes are.

I am no expert on the subject, but from what I understand the blood expander HES is used to help an athlete using EPO to pass the blood test prior to a World Cup event.  Please refer to a more official source for a better understanding of EPO and HES.

            I am sure these skiers have many excuses to justify the trace elements of HES in their system but the bottom line is that it is a banned substance, they knew it was banned, and the only reason they would use it is to cover up their use of EPO-Blood Doping! 

            Some people may say that the lure of fame and fortune is enough for athletes to risk their lives and their careers by doping.  These skiers are not the first people to cheat nor are they the first to get caught.  The question is why do accept this form of cheating and brush it off as an athlete succumbing to the pressures of high level competitions and high finances.  If this is the case then the cheaters should be treated as criminals because they have cheated the other athletes, who play by the rules, out of large sums of money and fame.  When Isometsa had his silver medal taken away the Russian skier who was initially fourth place ended up with the bronze medal.  Do you think this Russian will ever receive the financial gain or recognition that he deserves?  Did he get to stand on the podium with a medal around his neck in front of thousands of spectators and possibly millions of television viewers?  The answer is no.  That lost opportunity will affect that Russian for the rest of his life. 

            When Immonen tested positive for a banned substance Finland was disqualified from the relay.  They had their gold medal taken away and it was eventually given to Norway.  Eventually three of the four Finns on the relay team tested positive for banned substances.  Those Norwegian skiers can never be restituted for what was taken away from then.  The Norwegian athletes will never know what it felt like to stand on top of the podium knowing that they recaptured the gold medal that they lost by inches in the previous World Championships in 1999.

            In my opinion, the two-year suspension that the Finnish skiers will receive is nothing compared to the damage they have done.  They are no better than common thieves and should be treated as such.   We, in America, had our own doping scandal back in 1987.  A nordic combined skier eventually admitted to blood doping.  In my opinion the penalty that that skier faced, along with the coach also behind the doping, was not severe enough.  Just look where those two people are today.

            If a skier is caught using a banned substance they, along with anyone who aided them, should be banned from the sport for life.  Not only should they not be allowed to compete, they should be banned from any contact with the sport unless it involves speaking publicly to deter others from cheating.  Cheating can not be tolerated and it is time to put a stop to it.

            There is a positive side to this scandal.  Most importantly is the fact that the FIS will have to be held accountable for their lackluster drug testing policy.  My opinion is that they have let the problem get out of control.  Every athlete knows that drugs are rampant on the World Cup.  I believe it is fairly obvious who is using them and who is not.  The FIS should be embarrassed for what happened in Lahti because it could easily have been avoided.  Now they will feel pressure to implement a better drug test to avoid a similar incident in Salt Lake City.

            Many people believe this scandal is harming the image of cross-country skiing.  Let me ask you this question; Did the Tanya Harding-Nancy Karrigan scandal hurt figure skating?  The answer is no, it drew more attention to the sport.  There is no such thing as bad publicity for a low image sport like cross-country skiing.  Any mention of the sport, especially in the U.S. media is good.  This is unless you are the one being exposed for cheating.  I also hope this scandal lets people know what North American athletes are up against.  During most of my tenure with the U.S. Ski Team I have been on the World Cup with minimal support while competing against nations that not only have more support but are also supplying there skiers with performance enhancing drugs.  I actually like being drug tested because it is the only way to find out what my hemoglobin level is at!  I just hope that this is taken into consideration before people like Marty Hall right articles about how bad North America skiers are and why they were so much better in the past.  We have improved dramatically in the past five years even when battling against drug users and cheaters.

            After reading this many young skiers may feel discouraged about continuing in the sport.  I’ll let you in on a little secret; There have been many days where I have wanted to walk away from cross-country skiing.  The days when a guy I beat for five years goes from thirtieth place one week to the podium the next.  What keeps me going is the fact that I am sure skiers like Per Eloffson, Thomas Alsgaard, and Katerina Neumanova are playing by the rules and can still win.

Don’t Be Stupid, Go To School

I recently went skiing with some Far West juniors and was surprised at some of the questions they asked me during our ski.  Nick Sterling, a promising high school junior from Truckee, asked me my view regarding skiing after high school and if he should go to University or focus solely on ski racing.  As it turns out there are many young skiers who are struggling with this issue and don’t know where to turn.  Even worse is the fact that there are coaches persuading young athletes that University is the end to a promising ski career.  I strongly disagree with this and say to anyone who is thinking of postponing their studying; don’t be stupid, go to school.

The most overwhelming argument in favor of going to school is the fact that good young skiers don’t always become great World Cup skiers.  The average age of the top thirty skiers in the World is twenty-nine years of age.  Many of those skiers did not even compete on the World Cup level until they were twenty-five years old.  They mainly competed for their clubs while working or going to school.  Many of these athletes worked or studied full time.  There will always be exceptions. Thomas Alsgaard and Per Elofsson are the only two that I can think of.  I can however name many skiers who were top juniors who are struggling on the World Cup.  Martin Koukal, of the Czech Republic and Axel Tiechman, of Germany were both Junior World Champions in 1998 and 1999 respectively.  These athletes struggle to place in the top thirty in World Cup races and often finish outside the top fifty. 

If you look at the Norwegian training system you will find that they put very little emphasis on the Junior World Championships, yet have dominated the World Cup for ten years with skiers who did poorly or did not even compete at the Junior World Championships.  Bjorn Daehlie did not place in the top twenty at Junior Worlds.  What the Norwegians have figured out is how to keep their skiers training well from age twenty to twenty-five and that is why they dominate.  Skiers like Espen Bjervig and Odd-Bjorn Helmesset, did not emerge as top skiers until they were twenty-five or older.

During my tenure with the US Ski Team I have seen the administration place far too much emphasis on juniors often at the expense of talented young seniors.  Most of these juniors fell by the wayside and the focus and money went to the next crop of junior “superstars”.  The only way to get support from the US Ski Team was to fight your way to the top as a senior as quickly as possible before they could pull the rug out from underneath you.  If you look at the top skiers currently in the United States you will find that most of them graduated from college.  This may be attributed to the fact that there was no development program to speak of when most of us where juniors or young seniors.  That is another story altogether.

What I suggest to a high school skier is go to college and train hard while you are there.  The college circuit provides the best level of racing in the country and brings good European skiers to compete against.  Go to a school that has some good foreign skiers and learn from them.  That is what I did and it helped me more than any other resource available.  If you don’t believe me then ask my former teammate at the University of Utah, Havaard Solbakken.  He won the bronze medal in the World Championship Sprint this year in Lahti.  Another teammate at Utah, Ine Wiegernas has placed in the top twenty several times during the past two World Cup seasons.  The winner of this year’s Vasaloppet competed for the University of Colorado last season.  Katerina Hanusova, three time NCAA champion at University of Nevada, Reno was eighteenth at the World Cup in Soldier Hollow.  She had the ninth fastest skate leg in the women’s pursuit while being a full-time student. 

Not all schools have good foreign skiers, but there are many Universities with good coaches and a great training environment.  The most important thing to focus on is choosing a school that will help you reach your goals.

Combining college and training is difficult but if you don’t have the dedication to combine both then you probably don’t have the work ethic to be a top skier anyway.  The worst that can happen is you get a college degree and have a lot of fun doing it.  The trick is to stay focused on training and use those four years to develop a base of great training.  My goal at Utah was to ski well enough to not only make the World Championship and Olympic Teams, but to go straight on to the US Ski Team when I graduated. The best part is that a bad race doesn’t seem so bad if you have that University diploma in your back pocket.

I challenge the top US juniors to do this and if you are as good as you think you are then you will have no problem.  You will be NCAA Champion, the US Team will be asking you to join them and your parents will be more willing to see you leave college a year or two early in pursuit of that elusive Olympic medal.

Kikkan Randle
Star Cross-Country Racer for The Fischer/Swix/Salomon Athlete Force

Hello from Szklarska Poreba!!!!

We had our first race today, the 15k skate mass start.  It was 3 laps of a 5k course, kind of reminded of me of a really really really long track race!! 

It was so long in fact that we had to take a feed which means we were given an energy drink while we were racing.   The race went pretty good.  I started in 37th position and was promptly passed by about another 20 people.  The mass start was crazy!! Girls yelling at eachother in different languages, girls flying of the trail and coaches giving out feeds.  Since it was going to be a long race I decided to settle down into a nice comfortable pace for the first lap and a half.  I did and without any broken poles or falls on the turny downhills.  All the girls in front of me were snow plowing which just made all the corners icy and rocky.  At the end of the second lap I started the engine!!  I felt pretty good although my legs were a little tired.  There was a USA girl about 15 seconds ahead of me, Jordan Seethawler, and I focused on catching up to her.  So for the third lap I started hammering all the hills.  I almost fell on one of the downhills after catching my skis in the burm that had been built up from snow plowers.  I passed a few girls that were getting tired and made up a little time on Jordan.  When I entered this gradual hill in the middle of the lap I V2'd up this long hill, it was my favorite part of the race because everyone else was V1'ing and I was faster than them!!!  Then the last two kilometers I was just trying to go as hard as I could.  I was slowly making up time on Jordan but not enough. 

On the final steep uphill I got stuck behind another girl.   Then it was mostly downhill to the finish.  I skied in as hard as I could and came in about 45th, about 30 seconds behind Tara and Jordan.  Needless to say we were all pretty tired!!! 

I am pretty happy with my race. I think I might have been a little to conservative on the second lap but then I had enough for a good attack at the end!!  Tara ended up in 37th and Jordan was 39th.  Rachel Mathis ended up coming in a couple of minutes behind us so it was a pretty good day for the USA girls.  The boys weren't quite as lucky.  Two of them dropped out (Eric Stabel & Zach Simmons).  Andy Newell was somewhere around 50th and Colin Rogers was somewhere in the 70's we think.  The girls all went out on the course and cheered them on!! 

Now we look forward to the 5K classic race on Thursday.  Today was a great warm-up for the other races!!!  Go USA!!


 Hello Everyone!!

We had our second race today, a 5k classic race.  It had snowed the last 24 hours quite a bit so we weren't quite sure how the tracks were going to be.  They actually didn't set the track until 90 minutes before our race.  Therefore our coaches had to test all the wax without tracks, they are so tough!!!  We arrived at the venue with plenty of time to test wax, get blood tested and so forth.  I was called for blood testing the other day so it was Tara's turn today.  She made it through it and we set out to test wax at 7:30 am.  It was just getting light!!

Our coaches did an excellent job with the wax and after a few test runs we had all the right layers on our skis.  Rode Super Extra Blue was the special wax of the day.   I had a slightly different combination on my skis but that worked well also!!!  By 9:00am the first racers were on the course and Tara and I were warming up in the start area.  Tara went out bib number 18 and I 29. Tara and I both felt like munchkins in giant land with all the other skiers around. A gigantic Russian started bib 30, right behind me, yikes.  She was blowing air out really hard and slapping her arms together like a gorilla for a warm-up, I wasn't intimidated though!! 

The start was on a gradual uphill underneath a giant neon yellow arch.  The starter gave each of us a little push as we left the start and then we were on our way.   I strided up the first 200m and then hit the first hill.  I had already been up that hill about 20 times while testing my wax so I broke into a familar rhythm and focused on skiing relaxed.  The next hill came fast and again I focused on skiing relaxed and with a quick tempo.  I passed several coaches that just stared as I went by and finally got a hup, hup, hup from the Italians.  As I crested the top of the hill I could see the Russian out of the corner of my eye.  My goal had been to make it to half way before she caught me so I was thinking," Oh no, she caught me already, man!!"  But she didn't catch me and I went really hard over the top of the next hill and double poled like a mad woman into the downhill turns. 

No snow plowing girls in the way this time!!  After the downhill I headed into the trees.  By now I was feeling really good and decided to put the hammer down.  I got a spilt that I was in 13th place, 31 seconds out of the lead.  Score!! Another few hills, a downhill and then I entered the pass through the stadium double poling like crazy.  The Russian still hadn't caught me yet!!! "Okay only 2K to go and one big hill, let's do this," I thought!!  The last hill was tough. It got steep and then the tracks disappeared and it required harring bone!!  Jan Buron, another one of our coaches from Alaska, was yelling hysterically. 

I was now in 11th place.  Cresting that hill I skied by Rachel Mathis, our teammate in charge of the video camera for the day.   I was so pumped as I passed here I almost thought about smiling, however seconds would be precious and there was no time for smiling.  Down the last downhill I sped carefull not to fall.  With 200m to go I gave it all I had.  Trying to go as fast as possible all the way to the line.  I crossed in 9th place without the Russian having passed me up, I did it!!!  "That wasn't bad," I thought, " That was fun!!"  I quickly ran inside put some dry clothes on and went on a cool down ski with Tara.  We were both so excited about having great races!!!  The hyperness generated by our performances demanded that we skied around. 

However, we quickly discovered that we had skied hard races and stopped to grab a drink and a snack.

Hi this is TARA,

We, all the girls, and guys, had excellent races today, and all the thanks goes to the great coaching staff that we have with us.  they were up all night waxing, testing, and then even early in the morning again.  Poor guys, and they have to put up with all of us too.  It was a great day to race, not to cold or windy.  The trails were great, nicely covered with fresh snow.  It was fun having an individual start today, not having to be run over and intimidated by the fast starts of some of the other European girls, like the mass start did.  I started off really hard, and was killing myself by the first hill.  I was a little concerned when I passed someone right away, but you gotta keep going. No time to think because there are really big girls breathing down your neck. 

The course was all up and down so there was plenty of rest time.  The wax was excellent, none of us were slipping, so we had a great advantage getting up the long hills.  At the end of the course when I passed Jan, he was talking very excitedly in his Polish American hysterical voice, so I thought I must be doing good.  My split put me in third.  Yeah. 

There were a ton of fast people behind me though, and when it was all done, I ended up 15.  Yeah again!  I was totally happy, and we all went out and cheered for our awesome American boys.  And the other cute Europeans too!!!!

Back to KIKKAN:

Well I ended up 23rd when all was said and done and I am pumped too!!!  Now we have the really fun races to look forward to: the sprint and the relay. 

Wish us luck!!

Thanks for all your support, we feel all the good vibes your sending us!! 


Kikkan and Tara

Hello Everyone!!

Today was the big sprint.  Actually it wasn't a very big sprint in terms of distance, only 1 kilometer.  It was a gradual uphill, turn, gradual downhill, turn and then a gradual uphill to the finish.  The day started out with a qualifying round in the morning.  It was fast and furious and everyone looked fast.  I went up to our coach Miles Minson to see if I was in qualifying position because he was taking splits on the course.  He said it was going to be close and that there were 15 women right around me. So for about 15 minutes none of us knew if we had qualified.  I prayed to Ha'anama (the god of nordic skiing) in hopes that if I was on the bubble he could help bump me in.  Finally they posted the results and I found myself in the 7th qualifying position.  Yipee I get to race again. 

I went inside grabbed some water and sat on a bench waiting for the next round.  While sitting there I was shivering.  I don't know whether it was because I was cold or because I was nervous or because the adrenaline from the qualifying round was draining down.  The quarterfinals started at 11:15.  I was the only USA girl that qualified and I started in the third heat.  Being the second fastest skier in my heat I got to choose my lane.  I picked the inside for a direct line.  The gun went off and I bolted out of the start into the lead.  At first I thought "What on earth am I doing leading the race," and then I quickly realized that is the way I like it!!  On the downhill I was passed by a norweign but held my spot into the finish, two moved on.  One round down two to go. 

I put on my parka and ran around to keep my muscles warm.  The boys went through their quarterfinals. 

Andy Newell and Eric Strabel both moved on to the semifinals!!  Next came my semifinal heat.  I got the outside lane this time.

When the gun went off I bolted out again and was skiing even with the other three skiers.  However, as we cut to the inside I was forced to tuck into fourth.  Over the top of the hill the other three pulled away slightly and I was left all by myself.  With one more race to go I decided to save my energy and I just coasted in.  I had about ten minutes until the B Final (those 4 that were knocked out in the semi's).  The coaches took my skis and brushed them to perfection!!  We lined up and this time I got lane three, right in the middle.  The gun went off and again I had a quick start.  As we broke out of our lanes I tucked into second behind the norweign.  We rounded the top of the hill with the Italian trying to move up from third. 

The downhill was a series of in and out moves trying to move ahead of the norweign and keep ahead of the Italian.  The fourth girl in our heat from Sweden had fallen at the start.  As we came into the last sharp turn the Italian girl cut to the inside and I was forced to ski around the outside of the turn.  However, I wasn't going to give up yet.  The three of us broke into different lanes and suddenly I got a burst of energy.  I don't think I have ever sprinted so fast in my life.  In the sprint I quickly lost the Italian and was gaining on the norweign leader when lo and behold the Swede came out of nowhere.  I dove for the line with my foot and just squeaked in ahead of the Swede for a solid sixth place, the best ever World Junior finish by an American woman!!!!!  The men's B final was just as exciting with Andy Newell coming in sixth and Eric

Strabel in eighth, also the best male finishes at World Juniors ever!!!  What a day for USA!!!  Tara ended up in 34th place, Rachel Daw in 39th and Rachel Mathis in 63rd.  We all look forward to a fun relay tomorrow to wrap up a great World Junior Championship.  Wish us luck!!


Hello once again!!

Today was the final race of the 2001 World Junior Championships.  The women had a 4x5km relay while the men skied a 4x10km relay.  The women started first as always and it was a wild start.  I skied the scramble leg for USA starting in 8th position based on our finish from the previous year.  The gun went off and everyone took out as fast as possible to get into a good position as eleven tracks narrowed down to one.  I found myself surrounded as we entered the first hill and quickly discovered that the fast pace felt quite hard after three hard days of racing.  My arms ached and my lungs burned.  That scrambling only lasted for the first 2k however and soon I had room to move.  As I entered the woods I focused on catching those ahead of me.  First I passed the Russian (the one who acts like a gorilla for a warm-up, she's huge!!) and then moved up on Ukraine. 

I entered the stadium in 9th place before heading back into the woods for the final two hills.  Just as I was about to break into stride for the upcoming hill a girl passed me on a corner and promptly slowed down.  She had done the exact same move in the mass start skate race, man.  I ran behind here and yelled at her to pick it up.  Who knows if she understood me though.  As soon as I found a chance to pass I quickly did and used my frustration to boost me over the top of the hill.  The last four hundred meters was gradual uphill and I was striding as fast as my legs would go.  I caught two girls ahead of me but decided to hang right behind them to make a smooth tag to my teammate Rachel Mathis. 

We had a clean tag and I fell on the ground to catch my breathe.  Rachel took off in 9th place but soon dropped to 15th as she too was tired from a strenous week of racing.  She tagged off to Jordan Seethawler who caught up to one girl and held 15th place.  The final leg went to Tara and she great.  Although her legs were burning the entire way she managed to move us up to 14th and very close to 13th (she lost in a sprint finish).  With two new members to the team it was a pretty good day.  The boys started in 6th position and dropped to 18th, they too were tired!!  The girls went out and cheered them on though and made snowangels in the new fallen powder. 

It was a great end to a great series of races and it gives us an excellent place to start off from next year!!  All the girls are eligible for at least one more year and Andy Newell is too!!  Thanks for all your support back home and we'll see ya soon.  I myself head to Italy next, then Germany and then on to Finland for the World Champs!!!  Until then, Ciao!!  (We learned that from the Italians!!) -Kikkanimal