Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More photos from Ski WOC

Just a couple more photos of the cold snowy winter that we experienced in Sweden - now that everybody is back in our regular springtime abodes. These photos are all from the organizers.

Nikolay a bit boxed in at the start.
Nikolay again.
Greg in the mass start.

Adrian at the start of the Long distance.

Scott on the bridge.
Chaos at the back of the pack - taking the time to just chill out and read the map.
Greg after the long.

Start of the long distance - women.

Ali after finishing - she held off that Russian girl.
Alex coming in to the finish of the Long.

Alex done.

Robbie in the relay

Ali in the relay.

Headcam guy.

Alex punching a control in the relay.

Monday, March 28, 2011

WCOC Training Camp Kicks off the Spring Season

By guest writer and US Team member Jordan Laughlin:

Photo by Greg Balter

This past weekend, while the United States Ski-O team was competing in
Sweden, Western Connecticut Orienteering Club hosted a foot-O training
camp to shake off the rust of the long hard winter in the Northeast
and kick off the orienteering season on a great note. Becky Carlyle
and Boris Granovskiy designed the great courses. This week was the
first that I have been injury free in the last month as I suffered
from an injury in my foot from too much road running in January. It
was nice to get into the woods and run.

Saturday’s events at Osbornedale State Park had a ‘back to the basics
focus.’ The weather was sunny, a little windy, and cool. Most
trainees were wearing many layers during their events and even more
between them. The events, distance estimation and compass, line-O,
and control-picking courses each did a great job on breaking the rust
off our skills. The week prior to this training camp was the first
week I began to do any real orienteering training in the woods this
year due to the immense amount of snow in the woods prior so some of
my rust had already began to come off but the training event expedited
the process. I began with the compass course, which was my weakest
skill this week. I messed up the first few controls and redid them
for extra practice, both backward and forward. By the end of the
event, my compass skill was more proficient but still in a little need
for some assistance. Next up was the line-O, this started in a nice
green patch but moved to open woods characteristic of most of
Osbornedale. This was great practice reading contour features and
certain point features, no problems for me on this one. My last
morning course was the control-pick. I started immediately after I
returned from the line-o in fear of losing my body heat. I arrived at
the start just prior to Ian Smith starting. I approached this as a
good thing so that I could practice my focus while running around
other runners. Running the control-pick was entirely fun even with a
period of time where I was failing to run in the woods and just
tripping over everything and hitting trees left and right. After
finishing the control-pick, I began to rest, relax, and refuel for our
evening training event, sprint training on Yale’s campus on a very
good map-in-progress. Socializing with the different groups in the
cold prior to collecting controls for the morning was enjoyable as
always, especially since I have not seen anyone since early November.

Prior to beginning the sprint course at Yale we met up piece-meal at
Becky’s Apartment, a whole 200 meters away from the start and finish.
We received our map, clue sheet, and control description (A small bit
of pink tape) and instructions to the start. While waiting to cross
the street to the start, a passing couple initiated conversation
asking me what I was doing. Immediately after they asked the
question, they recognized the map and informed me that they
participated in orienteering events but only in the woods. Sweet,
orienteers. I finished the conversation and shuffled off to the
start. This race was immensely fun due to the extreme urban nature
and irregular building shape and size characteristic of European
sprints. Initially, I had some problems finding the pink tape but it
became much easier with time. One control was improperly clued and a
few map errors were found but nothing that degraded from the
extraordinary training value. Immediately following the sprint, my
clan of West Pointers that decided to come quickly departed, as we
greatly desired to get back to allow homework to be started and sleep
to be had. Unfortunately, we missed the dinner hosted by Marie
Arnesson, surely a great bonding event.

Sunday’s courses culminated the weekend in a mass start event with 42
unique courses. Peter Gagarin’s comments immediately prior to the
start did absolutely nothing to quell the competition in the air,
“This is the event we have been striving for the entire time, a race
that everyone can win.” The race began quickly as with all relay
races. I started bumbling around to a few different controls but
finding each in relatively quick fashion but it was rather unnerving
since I was completely alone. Yep, I still have some rust to break
off. After my first long leg, I caught up to Ross Smith and we ran
near each other going in and out until about 2/3 of the way into our
courses where I promptly made a terrible parallel error which resulted
in a 10+ min error, again all alone. I finished the remaining portion
of the course decently. Ross chalked up a win in our friendly
rivalry. I guess it was good that I did not agree to the bet for a
box of cheerios. Thanks again to Becky, Boris, WCOC, and the rest of
the people who assisted and showed up for a great training event to
kick off the season.

Jordan's QuickRoute from Sunday is here.

Only 9 weeks until team trials and 20 weeks until WOC!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Women 8th, Men 15th in Relay

The competition week at SkiWOC finished with, of course, the relay, where each country battles it out for team glory. Racing for the US:

Men: Scott, Greg, Adrian
Women: Ali, Alex, Cristina

The men finished in 15th and the women in 8th. We'll get more details about the races up soon, but here are some pictures to keep you occupied in the meantime.

Adrian, just after finishing:

Cristina finishing:

Post-relay food consumption:

Getting warm in the garage by the finish:

Women's relay team:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Photos from the middle

These are taken from the organizers, who say that we can publish the photos freely. Mostly of the guys:

Adrian, during a spell of good weather.

Ali finishing.
Greg somewhere on the course.

Some photos from the Long...

We were all out racing, so not too many photos from during the race, but I did snap one of Scott powering to the finish, top American for the day! Ali may be our headline, but we should also give a shout out to Robbie Anderson, who barely squeaked into the top 40 for the guys, yea Canada!

Ali getting interviewed after the best US finish at Ski WOC ever!

Ali 8th in the Long!

Here's a quick post-race interview with Ali after she finished 8th in the Long:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Team Sprint

The team sprint was today, and Team Alligins (Ali and Biggins - the other option was Biggali) did quite well. Greg went first, and they each skied three legs. We all thought Ali was superman when she caught like ten teams on lap one, but unfortunately, that had been her short map, and the forks were quite different. We still ended up doing quite well, coming in 12th! If you think about it, this is actually remarkable - each country only gets one team, but, it's the BEST skier from each country! It was really exciting to watch, although the wind certainly made spectating a chilly activity.

The snow drifts were over the path to breakfast this morning. The groomer went leaping through it, squealing. I was very amused.

Nikolay with Greg's extra pole...

Mass start.

Greg after the turn, in the start.

The Russian fans were decked out - and their team won, which was quite the upset, as Finland had had a lead over Norway, and Russia was 20 seconds back going into the last leg.

The top four come into the tag zone.

Spain, New Zealand, and USA coming into the first tag. Ali proceeded to totally drop those girls, and we didn't see those teams again. Woo!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Some photos from Sprint and Middle

Every race morning starts with Ali dancing around the room in her long underwear to our Ski WOC playlist.

Start tent for the sprint.

In the stadium waiting for the rest of the guys to come in.

Snow whipping off the mountaintop - preview of what was to come the next day.

It's for real! The girl from Tucson CAN ski! (or at least, she can pretend...)

Cristina post race.

Adrian after the middle race. It was snowing a little bit.

SkiWOC Middle Distance Recap

Watch US Ski-O Team members talk about the races today in Tänndalen:


Spring? What's that?

For the middle distance race today we were served a healthy dose of blizzard. Lots of snow and a good bit of wind to make it more interesting.

The heavy snow and moderate wind of course made the skiing more physical, but it also made the navigation very tricky. Often you could not see the tracks at all, as it only took a few minutes for new snow to cover over where someone else had skied. Even the wide, groomed XC trails (normally as clear as a two-lane road) were hard to pick up! This led to some interesting orienteering by many of the competitors.

Ali had another great result, 18th place again, while Greg Walker was best for the men. Ali was wearing a GPS tracker, so you can watch her little dot move around the map against other little dots (Part 1 and Part 2). You can see the men's map (none of our men were tracked), Part 1 and Part 2.

Our results (full results:

1. Polina Matchikova, RUS 39:52
18. Alison Crocker, USA 48:45
30. Alex Jospe, USA 59:45
45. Cristina Luis, USA 1:26:00
52 starters

1. Staffan Tunis, FIN 40:13
51. Greg Walker, USA 58:33
60. Scott Pleban, USA 1:02:57
62. Adrian Owens, USA 1:05:17
67. Nikolay Nachev, USA 1:09:49
78 starters

Stay tuned for some post-race interviews!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Boys do the Sprint

Get your sprint on!

A great day for Team USA in the sprint, with a spectacular 18th place finish by Ali!

Summary of results:

1. Tove Alexandersson, SWE 15:11
18. Alison Crocker, USA 17:09
24. Alex Jospe, USA 18:55
47. Cristina Luis, USA 37:09
53 starters

1. Olli-Markus Taivainen, FIN 18:04
49. Greg Walker, USA 25:22
52. Adrian Owens, USA 26:55
53. Scott Pleban, USA 26:41
65. Nikolay Nachev, USA 35:13
76 starters

You can see results and splits on the SkiWOC 2011 website, plus GPS tracking for the women and the men. AND, there's video footage on the ski-O streaming channel.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Some photos from Tänndalen

We're all settled in and ready to take ridiculous photos, and I know Ali has a couple more excellent ones that need sharing. Spirits are good around here, I think we better do some racing soon, though, to work off some of this energy.

This is in the waxing building - it has two floors, and it seems all the english-speaking countries are on the top floor (mmm, fluoro fumes!), and the big teams are below. I think we're looking down at Finland's area, there. The Americans, on the other hand, are either having way more fun or having way more technical issues with their waxing setup.

Various countries testing skis and wax, on the one tiny area of the model event that is suitable for that sort of thing.

They had the model nicely set up, with a full pre-start and download station, so you could see how it would go.

We're using touch-free EMIT, so really all you have to do is ski under the bags and sort of wave your arm. The sensor on your arm keeps flashing for five seconds or so, so you can double check to make sure you punched.

Studious. In our cozy suite.

This is the bridge that we get to ski over. Cristina was having some doubts as to whether she could make it up the steep side, but I think tomorrow we get to ski down it.

The screen at the opening ceremonies. Unfortunately, the IOF logo was all it ever displayed, unless you also count the blue screen of windows death, as they tried to get it to play a welcoming video. Whoops.