Monday, August 10, 2015

Team bonding

 It's been pretty well documented that higher levels of team spirit lead to better results. In an effort to chase those better results, team USA had a team bonding session Wednesday afternoon. Team leader Ross made cookie dough, and we all rolled out, cut, and decorated cookies, generally with a Scottish theme. I think we discovered some previously hidden talents!

A great way to take our minds off of the pressure and stress in what is otherwise a very high-stress environment. Thanks for the idea, Ross!

The team getting into things. 

Some artwork - highland cows, Nessie, deciduous trees, controls...

More artwork!

This is a puffin. Ethan is really excited to see puffins. 

Giacomo made some sort of mermaid , apparently he heard there were mermaids  in Scotland. 

Alison managed to make bagpipes! And a haggis. We didn't know that was actually a critter. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Alison Crocker 15th in the Sprint Final

Spectators watching the coverage of the Sprint Final may have missed Alison Crocker's impressive performance on Sunday in Forres, Scotland where she ran her way into 15th place, the best individual result ever achieved by the US at the World Championships. Ali was largely overlooked by the video coverage and arena announcing and thus her fantastic result was a surprise, even to her.

                                                                                   Flying into fifteenth                                    Photo Credit: Ethan Childs

In the moments after finishing she explained that she had a small mistake on the second control but was satisfied with the rest of her race. The mistake occurred when she misread the control description, and expected the flag to be at the end of the wrong stone wall. She figures she lost 20 seconds there, and after that she really pushed hard with nothing to lose. When she crossed the line with several runners still to finish, she thought that she would be satisfied to finish in the top 30. The final result of 15 was a bit of a surprise.

Ali just after the race

Perhaps Ali's facebook update says it best:

World of O has a nice analysis of the race here.

Check out the split times here.

After the Sprint Final was over, Team USA did our best to avoid the traffic jam of spectators heading back to Inverness and instead headed out to celebrate with a fantastic dinner at The Abbey Inn in Kinloss.

Ali's next race will be the Forest Relay on Wednesday, August 5th. However, you can watch Team USA compete in the Middle Distance on Tuesday.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Ali is ready for the Sprint Final

Hey fans! The sprint final is starting in just a couple of hours. USA's Alison Crocker is ready to go.

Sunglasses are optimistic for Scottish summers

You can read more about the sprint final here.

Ali starts at 17:19 local time 29th out of 45 starters in the Women's class. Full start list here.

The best result that USA has had in the Sprint Final at WOC was a 20th place that Ali ran in 2012 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Cheer her on here and on Attackpoint!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sprint Qualification: Team USA with a strong start. Ali Crocker to Final

Today's Sprint Qualification took place in the town of Forres, a town lying to the East of Inverness. The action started with the Women's heats with US runners Kseniya, Alex and Ali racing through the residential area around the town.

There were plenty of familiar faces in the crowd of spectators watching from the arena and also a couple that had official positions. Valerie was working her magic in the download tent and Sandy was out on the course, guarding a set of fence crossings that were created by stacking hay bales into a rough set of stairs. This spot was a great spot to spectate, as every heat had a long leg route choice going past her position. All in all, there was a great atmosphere for cheering on Team USA!

Kseniya, had the first start of the Americans, and she raced her course in 16:52, a performance that landed her in 29th place in heat 2. She said that she ran well, and was happy to have finished without any big mistakes. She was 3:21 behind the leader, Tove Alexandersson (SWE) and 1:37 seconds behind 15th position in heat 2.

First US finisher, first big smile

Next to start was Alex, running in heat 3. She had a time of 15:47, which was good enough for 21st place. She said that she did have a small error of running down a blind alley for a couple of seconds, but overall she was fairly happy with the run. Alex was 2:02 behind the winner in heat 3, Minna Kaupi (FIN) and a mere 34 seconds behind 15th position.

Alex and Ed 

Last of the women was Alison Crocker. She was one of the very last starters, which meant that when she finished, the annoucer, Per Forsberg could say with certainty that she was fast enough to make it through to the final! She finished in 6th position in heat 1, with a time of 13:40. Less than a minute behind the winner, Maya Alm (DEN). Ali was satisfied with her run and happy to qualify. This was her 6th WOC sprint qualification race and her 5th time making it through to the finals.

Ali compares notes with a runner from Hong Kong

There was only a short break in the action before the men's race commenced. Scotland apparently decided that things were far too pleasant, and as soon as the women finished running, a light rain started to fall. This meant that the US men, Ken, Greg, and Ethan were running in a light cool drizzle.

Ken finished 30th in heat 3, with a time of 15:29. 3:01 behind the leader Jerker Lysell (SWE) and 2:10 behind 15th spot. He was happy with his run and was greeted by a happy fan club including his very supportive daughters, Samantha and Elisa. Their opinion that Dad was still the best is a very popular one with this reporter as well. Ken narrowly edged out Canadian Robbie Anderson, who reportedly was suffering from a certain amount of gastric distress during the later part of the course and made a bee line for the port-a-potty as soon as he crossed the finish line.

Ken is one of the first to the finish

Next to the finish was Greg in heat 1. He finished 29th with a time of 14:32. The fastest time in his heat was the jaw-dropping 11:48 set by Yannick Michiels (BEL). Greg was 1:51 outside of qualifying and said that he was perhaps too amped up with the excitement of the race and the speed of using the SI Air. He ran right past the flag on control #2 without ever going to punch. Luckily he realized this and went back to correct it. Overall he thought he might have had 30 seconds of error and was still pretty excited to have just finished his first WOC race ever. Greg raced in a heat where running the expected winning time of 13 minutes would not have qualified for a spot in the final.

A slightly blurry Greg sprinting against Milos Nykodym (CZE)

Ethan was the last American out on the course. His finish sprint against Canadian Will Critchley created a very loud cheering spectacle in the arena. Ethan logged the fastest time of the men, finishing in 30th position in heat 2 in a time of 13:58. The winner in his heat Kristian Jones (GBR) ran 11:44. Ethan was 1:20 outside of qualification and he too was in a heat where merely running the expecting winning time would not have qualified you to make the final.

Sweatiest American of the day award goes to... Ethan!

Curious to see more? Take a look at this detailed page on the organizer's webpage which contains links to the maps and the results. 

Ali and Valerie at the download tent

Ali has qualified for the final, which will take place on Sunday. That race will bring her back to Forres and give her a chance to improve on her personal best 20th place finish in the sprint.