World Skimo Championships Coaching

All I can say is WOW, what a crazy busy last few weeks. Things got busy the last week of January with a Tuesday to Friday trip to St Louis. I got home late Friday night and left first thing Monday morning for another work trip to Dallas. I got home from Dallas around 5pm on Wednesday and was off to Europe at 7:30 Thursday morning. All in all, from January 29th to February 19, I will be (or maybe at this point it ‘I was’) home for 73 hours. Add to all this trying to get the Powder Keg plans finalized and running into some permit issues as well as all of the US National Team Logistics, having 2 skimo races the week I get home (Feb 19 and 23) and by the time the Powder Keg is over on March 10, I may sleep for 3 days straight.


Way too much gear, luckily ½ of it stays in Europe.

Europe started out rocky. Tom, Dom, and I were sitting in the Delta lounge when Tom and I both got a mutual call from Delta informing us our flight from SLC to ORD was 2 hours delayed. This would mean we would miss our ORD to CDG connection. The Delta agent in the lounge informed us there was a flight leaving to ORD in 5 minutes at the other end of the airport. We took off sprinting, but didn’t make the flight. We were rebooked on a flight that left in 20 minutes to Seattle with only a 30 minute layover until we connected to CDG. We made both flights with no time to spare. Waiting to push from the gate in Seattle, we checked out baggage and saw it had gone to Detroit with plans of going to CDG on an Air France flight. Too many hours of flying later, we were in Turin with no bags. Delta couldn’t track the bags after handing them off to Air France, and Air France in Turin didn’t seem to have the ability to track them. We spent over an hour taking care of our bags. Max Taam came in with his bags, then Greg Ruckman came in but also didn’t have his bags. Finally after getting to the TRN airport at 11:30, we were able to leave at 5:30 with 5 of us, but 2 racers had no gear and I had no gear.


Amazing airplane views


Team dinner on day 1

Saturday was packed with racer checking (which was a total cluster), spending hours on thephone with Air France tracking our bags, and opening ceremonies. The day ended up being 16 hours of work without a break. By the time I went to bed at Midnight I had gotten 8 hours of sleep in 3 days and I was exhausted. The good news of Saturday was that Tom, Dom, and my gear arrived. Greg still had not gear and had to race on Sunday.


Parade of Nations at Opening Ceremonies

I woke up early on Sunday to get more preparation work done for the team. Sunday would be the first day of racing with the Team Race and all but 2 of the Matt, Micah, Meredith, and Nina were racing so the US had 6 teams of 2 that would compete on a challenging course. For details of the race and some photos check out the daily blogs I have been posting on the USSMA website. The hight light was the GREAT finish by Janelle and Stevie getting 6th place and John and Max getting 10th place. All of the US Teams did great, but these were the highest finish of any Americans in the Team Race,

Since not everyone’s gear had yet arrived, I loaned my race gear to Greg and I was on borrowed gear a size smaller. I was hoping to get some skiing in after the race on Sunday, but duty called and Meredith, Micah, and I worked on transitions for their sprint race on Monday during the free time. By the time we were done with this, it was time for me to skate and skin the 2.5km to Vallouise (we are staying in Pelvoux) to get our racers registered for the following day’s events. This is followed by the awards and then coaches meetings. Here is a great video of Sunday’s Team Race.


Meredith and I at the top of the Team Race Course – It was FREEZING!


Even if I am not face enough to race here, my skis and boots are (Greg R after a hard team race)

A storm moved in on Sunday night and we awoke Monday morning to 6-8″ of snow in Pelvoux and it was still snowing hard. Overall the storm dumped 12-16″ of snow. I spent the morning (10-1:30) helping the team at the sprint and cheering on all the racers. At that point, I had to get some personal time and put on my Scarpa Spirits and Voile Chargers to rip some pow. I figured I had 1.5 hours to ski, but it ended up being 2.5 hours as the snow was just too good. I enjoyed my runs, then skated and skinned to Vallouise for my coaches duties. There are some great writeup sof the sprint race on Andy Dorais site and the USSMA site. The highlight of the day was Nina Silitch winning a silver medal and getting the first ever US podium in a World Champship Skimo race. Nina trains very hard for the sprint races and lives in Chamonix so she is able to race this format frequently. We definitely need more sprint format races in the US.


The small room that Greg, Scott, and I are sharing. With now having 3 days of wet gear, it is starting to smell really good.


Skiing from the door of the hotel down the village street to Monday’s race

Tomorrow is the Junior Individual race. The US only has 1 junior so Micah will be the sole competitor. We will all be there to cheer him on, then hopefully have some time to check out the Senior Individual Race for Wednesday. This is the marquee event for most racers.

The strong showing and finishes of the US this year has been great and it has not gone un-noticed. I met Killian Jornet today and he comment about our strong team and numerous ISMF officials and coaches of other teams have also made note. It is a great sign of the progress we have made in the US with our skimo program.

Typical day

  • 6:30-8(ish): breakfast, email, prepare for the day
  • 8-1: races, on the course helping the team
  • 1-2: lunch
  • 2-4: if things go well free time, if not dealing with any issues, helping racers, etc.
  • 4-5: skate/skin to Pelvoux and register racers for the next day
  • 5-6: social media
  • 6-6:30: awards
  • 6:30-8: coaches briefing
  • 8-10: dinner and team briefing
  • 10-12: post blog, visit, etc


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