On the road again

Hazy, but clear blue skies over the Salt Lake airport, another beautiful day in the west with a salubrious hint of fall in the air. If you look closely in this photo you can see the buildings of downtown Salt Lake in the distance.

Luckily the plane I was flying to Milwaukee in was bigger than this puddle jumper.

In Denver on my layover, the same gentle western mountain air and blue skies. The Denver airport would win the “P.T Barnum on Acid” award if there was one. It’s wonderful inside, but from the outside it looks like a circus tent that has added several unnecessary time-space dimensions to its existence.

Arriving in Milwaukee & straight to the rink, 35 degrees, biting cold, clouds cold as stone, snowflakes horizontally skittering along in gusty wind. WELCOME TO THE MIDWEST! There is something about low altitude damp cold that just claws its way through your jacket.

Inside the Pettit center was bustling with activity, and warm with the smiles of many good folks I know. Here are some of the young and the fast, in their US Junior National team blue & red. Mathew Shanahan and Connor Slivocka saw me wandering around with my digital camera. They said “hey! Your blog rocks! Can we be on it!”.

Sure, here ya go guys. That is Matthew Hickson sitting on the pads, grinning at their goofing.

Ski Sprinting

The US national cross country ski team was doing some sprint workouts at the Utah Oval today. Just as some ice speedskaters skate on inlines in the off-season, XC-skiers use wheels to accurately simulate their sport before the snow flies.

This picture is not evidence of levitation, this is world-class sprinter Andy Newell, double poling with such effort he is getting air between strokes.

Actually getting air helps them go faster, as the snow is not creating slowing friction when they are up, and they “fall” into the poles the same way speedskaters use their hips to “fall” into each stroke. In the 1500m sprint event, Andy earned the first world cup medal for the US men since 1983.

Fantastic stuff, he also is an independent filmmaker as well, and can do backflips on his skinny skis! I wish him and the rest of the US ski team studs success in the upcoming season.

What does it look like? To see one of the world fastest ski sprinters ripping out some double pole speed? Skiing like this is an important skill to master, as this is how you have to start a race in the cramped quarters of big packs. Click the play button to watch.

It was an interesting day; USA national team speedskaters & skiers respectfully watching the other sport go through workouts. A couple of the skiers remarked to me about how insanely fast we go. What I noticed watching them is how complete their athleticism is, they have both endurance and power, and balanced upper and lower bodies. Ice speedskaters tend to be scary imbalanced, to the extent that our left legs even grow slightly bigger than the right, since we just turn left.

XC skiing is a wonderful sport, both classic and skating. My Madschus skate skis are waiting in my garage for me to pay some attention to them, as it’s been a few years (hmmm, about the same amount of time I have been crazy serious about the ice).

Sigh, so many cool ways to move through this world, and only one lifetime available.

Groundhog Day & Molten Sugar

When the light comes slanting in the outside windows, it can be very pretty view down the straightaway as you step to the starting line at the Utah Olympic Oval. Unfortunately just before a 500m race, I am far too psycho-focused to really notice.

Ya’know the intense emotions when in a roller-coaster click-click-clacking up & up & up before the first big terrifying drop… Stepping to the start of an important 500m race kind of feels like that…

Have you ever seen the movie “Groundhog Day” where Bill Murray keeps waking up to the same day over and over again? I love that flick, even before I read this fascinating moral deconstruction of it.

It’s been feeling a lot like Groundhog day at training recently; Show up, see the same exhausted faces, & skate that same frozen circle over and over.

However this Thursday I fly to Milwaukee to prepare for Fall World Cup trials, and that will be a welcome change. I have come to love that gently rolling landscape of beer, cheese, Packers fans, & the moody waves of Lake Michigan.

My mom called me and said: “you haven’t blogged! other than being tired, how is the racing going?

Ok, my starts continue to improve, I clocked my 2nd fastest opening 100m ever this Saturday, a 10.25, and that will only get faster as I rest more. However I have somehow lost consistent body position entering the corners, so even though my starts are getting faster, I am still stuck in 37.1-ish time-land. If I can put it all together, I could pop off some scary fast racing in Wisconsin over the next 2 weekends.

However if the upcoming World Cup trials become a disaster of floppy technique & choppy skating; on the afternoon of October 20th, you will be able to find me at the Milwaulkee Krispy Kreme store, crying face down into a boxful of hot ones.

Some might drink, but I have always found that molten sugar mixes best with tears.

Big Box Jumps

Do one thing everyday that scares you.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Everything is sweetened by risk.
-Alexander Smith

Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.
-General George S. Patton

If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.
-Mario Andretti

Sometimes you just have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down.
-Kobi Yamada

Thanks to Jannicke’s cool Mum Carolyn, for these images.

Sorry for the silence over the last few days; I feel both an obligation and internal desire to post regularly here, but I had a hard time recovering properly from this past weekend’s races.

I feel great now, but I think that when too tired to carry on proper conversation with anyone other than the dog, blogging is a bad idea.