Friday, September 30, 2011

Coastin' on a Dream

My Mom made me promise one thing before I left, "Promise me, that you will take a lot of pictures." Of course that is a promise I have to make your parents after everything they have done for me, and I am trying to follow through.
Our days are basically the same from day to day. Sleep, eat, ski, dryland... and then wake up and do it again. BUT we try to keep things interesting and fun between nap-time and dinner. We just finished up a 5 day block on snow, and we are all feeling the altitude and wrath of the gates (I know they look bendable and soft, but don't be deceived).
Some days our dryland sessions primarily consist of stretching... (photo cred. Stefania Rizzo)

We multitask as well and work on our vitamin D intake! (photo cred. Stefania Rizzo)

We try to stay on the corner of the field, so we save a little money, and we are threatened with 50 push ups if we cross the line... (photo cred. Stefania Rizzo)

Other days we do cardio and play volleyball... (photo cred. Jenny Delich)

And today we have the dreaded lift. I say dreaded because we are not entirely sure how we are going to lift anything besides our body weight. If it must be done- It can!

On our last day off we decided to go on a little adventure in the gorge. We passed these log cabins on the way there, I can hear my Dad saying to me "There is a picture in here somewhere, you just have to find it, look for the lines and the patterns." I hear his voice, but I do not see with his eyes, maybe someday.
We began hiking down, enjoying the beginning of fall.

Mitch was enjoying the view.

And deciding our plan of attack to get down to this bridge. 

Along the way we found this little church on the side of the cliff.

And stone steps leading to and away from it.

 A ski boot in the middle of nature for the die-hards... Therefore, by definition my Grandpa.

 Making our way to the bridge...

And we made it. This calls for a planking session! (Anna Goodman took the next 2 photos)

The railing was a little rickety, so we scratched that idea after the picture was taken.  

We hiked up on the other side of the bridge.

At first we thought we were following a beautiful trail through the forest.

But eventually we ended up on the "path less traveled"... as usual.

I'm not sure how we ended up reaching the right path, but we eventually did.

With a little "I love you" pillow in German along the way.

Today we trained down a very steep pitch, so that the girls could prepare for Solden! I think it is the best preparation we have had before Solden since I have been on the team. Although we seemed to call it a day after the crevice on the pitch became a hole... I'm glad I had my skis on.

Tomorrow we have a much needed day off when I hope to blog again with a little video!! Until then.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Evil Eye- Saas Fee

After being here for a few days, we are now getting into the rhythm of things there. I no longer blame jet lag for everything that happens. The days have been beautiful, so beautiful in fact that these might be some of the warmest days I experienced this summer. However, it stays cold enough up on the glacier for the snow to stay hard. Every morning we leave our place at 7am to walk to the gondola. We then take two gondolas and a tram to get up to the glacier; traveling from 1800m to 3600m above sea level.

Thankfully they have a special line for the coaches and World Cup athletes, because the pushing to get onto the gondolas can get violent. When I was 15, I got cut in the line up and had to hold my hand under the cut in the gondola to catch the blood... not fun.
Anyways, once the doors open everyone rushes to the turn stalls that scan our tickets, then we quickly move up the ramp towards where we load the gondola. But it isn't like North America. Helpers do not take your skis from you and put them into racks on the side, while you comfortably take your seat. It is a "free for all", which in this case means... fit as many people as you can into the gondola.

Usually this is much more aggressive, but they shut the gates on the rest of us, so that only those 15 people could fit in.
After this first gondola, we walk quickly to the next gondola and repeat the process. -Just stick your elbows in and follow the crowd.
After that we get herded into a room to wait for the tram... 
It's like herding cattle through a very small gate.
Then we push and shove onto the tram, trying to make sure our bags don't get closed in the door.  

I need to practice this before training tomorrow... Giving the evil eye on command.

Finally, we are at the top ready to ski!
I guess I learned that there are a few rules of etiquette when it comes to squishing as many people in such small places:
1) Showering is a must
2) A little dab of deodorant goes a long way
3) It is not okay to put your hands on both side of another person
4) When close to a person, lean away, not towards them
5) Don't move too much, especially very quickly as if something is wrong
6) And most importantly... DO NOT FART

Our training has been very good these past few days. We bring everything we have to the hill, and don't seem to have much left when we come home.

At this altitude and with the extreme sun, hydration is VERY important.. and it doesn't matter where you do it!

After skiing we usually nap for 1-2 hours, then head groggily over to dryland at the sports complex!

It is a beautiful place to workout after a tough day on the hill!

I have to make sure to never take these places for granted, no matter what my days hold!

After dryland, we walked up to a cold pool to do a cold tub and help get the blood flowing in our legs again.

The cold water was more inviting than usual after spending some time in the sun. 

 But we may have been a little self- conscious with these guys staring at us.

I wonder who he is watching...

Despite the interval training we do in the morning to get to the glacier, it is a beautiful place to come and train.

There are so many things to do and see, that sometimes I have to pick and choose my activities because I am here to focus on skiing and make sure I have the energy to do that.

But there is always time to enjoy the views-

The European houses

 The colours

And the streets of Switzerland

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Land of The Cheese!

Saas Fee, Switzerland- The last time I was in this town, was 6 years ago and I was 15 years old. I was traveling with a new team and I wasn't sure of my place on that team at all. Now, 6 years later, I am back again, but in much different circumstances... including the receding glacier.

When Maddy and I arrived in Zurich, we were very tired and thought that the other girls were arriving much later than us. We decided to take a little nap on a bench near a man with an eye patch and a piece of paper in his mouth. We were woken up by Tim standing in front of us, looking confused saying, "Girls?" I guess we were wrong about the other flight and they had been waiting for us... I blame jet lag.
We then jumped in the car and drove 3.5 hours to Saas Fee, jumping on a car train along the way. The thing that sets this town apart from many other towns is that is entirely car free, other than electric cars. Thus, we walked our bags to our rooms, made ourselves at home and tried not to fall asleep... I blame jet lag.

The next morning we woke up to ski and realized that the glacier was closed because of the bad weather. It was foggy, pouring rain and very unpleasant. What do ski racers do when the ski hill is closed?
Create a ghetto gym!

Oh and update blogs, twitter, facebook and whatever else might be popping up on one's computer.

We woke up the next day, started heading up the gondolas and realized that we were not going to get above the fog. We free skied for a few hours "feeling out our equipment and seeing where we were", but I will honestly say that I didn't see a whole lot.
The t-bar broke down, so we naturally had an impromptu photo shoot...

But after a tough day on the hill, Hugues (our head coach) made us Fondu for dinner!

TODAY- We woke up and it was absolutely beautiful outside. We were no longer cold to the bone and scrunching up our faces, squinting our eyes and whimpering because we couldn't see anything.

We dropped our bags in the communal "bag area" and headed up to the courses...
Which one is even mine? A common question I asked myself throughout the day.

It is always tough to get used to everything you have to pay attention to on a glacier.
1) Many courses...

2) Crevices- Stay on the trails!

3) Other teams! Hey Team Sweden!

4) Levitating Girls?

Wait... maybe not that one...

We finished our runs and got ready to head down for the day.

And by get ready... I mean pose...

I decided that I should take a few pictures of the landscape early in the trip before the fatigue sets in later on.


After skiing we quickly had a nap and then hurried outside for a hike and some volleyball for dryland.

We had to hit a certain heart rate, so we were all hiking at our own pace. I was by myself at one point, starting to feel my breathing, my heart rate and the time, when I realized that the ground looked sparkly. Some of the rocks, which had crystals in them, must have broken down over time creating this shiny path. As I was putting one foot in front of the other I tried to come up with as many words for what I was seeing as I could: sparkling, shimmering, shining, shattered mirrors reflecting the sun lighting up the world around us... Apparently I got carried away, but it did pass the time when I was breathing heavily!

When we reached our destination, we took a few pictures

And hurried down...

for our volleyball game! (I'm telling Maddy what play to make)

We finished up our day with a little bit of slack lining, with the river roaring below us and the mountains towering above. 

Maddy nicely ended the day saying: "I was giving a dog kisses.... then it threw up." Classic!

(Thanks to Steph Rizzo, Mitch, Maddy and Anna for some of their pictures!)