Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Skier of the Week: Colorado Mesa University Invitational

Ella finishing the Classic Race
Photo by David James

This week there is a large group of athletes who could have gained the title of Skier of the Week. It could be Trevor who placed 3rd only 4 seconds out of 2nd and 2 in front of 4th. It could be Sydney who won the classic race and took control of the Leader Bib. It could be Nick, Maddy, Leann, Michaela or Morgan all of whom had some of the best races of the season!

Winning the Skier of the Week took something special and Ella definitely had it. After turning 21 on Thursday and having her best classic race of the year on Saturday Ella was NOT satisfied until she crossed the finish line in the skate race and looked back at the huge gap to second place.

We watched her at 1km as she was stuck in a pack of women a full minute out of the lead and shook our heads. She really needs to get out faster if she wants to win. Imagine our delight when at 8km we looked up and Ella was free and clear, over 20 seconds in front of second place and skiing like someone with a mission.

This has been a long time coming. First learning how to ski race, building the muscles to support good technique, building the base with hours of OD over the summer, hours of rollerski technique as the sun rose over the mountains, biking to build skate strength... Ella has been waiting two years for this moment. The 5 hour runs up mountain passes in the summer, the extra exercises with physiobands to strengthen weak muscles, the endless technique work and hours of roller skiing and skiing lead to this amazing accomplishment and it is only the beginning.

As coaches we know that you can't fake fitness, in the end it will show. There are no surprises and there is no magic bullet. Just getting it done day after day as Ella showed us this weekend!

Ella is the perfect example of a UW Nordic athlete, dedicated both on the skis and in the classroom. Exploring through skiing and school to reach the pinnacles of both.

Congratulations to Ella. You ROCK OUR WORLD!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Skier of the Week: Stagecoach Classic

Leann sporting the J Diggs Socks in the Team Sprint!

The Skier of the Week for the Stagecoach Classic is having an amazing year! Not only is she starting to ski like a God but she is also doing an incredible job of leading the team.

She started her college career as the only freshman girl. She liked that role, being the young one, the baby. She reveled in having the older skiers watch out for her, help her, inspire her. She followed them and learned and through it all kept smiling.

Then this season came and suddenly she is not only the only graduating woman BUT she it the Team President. And what a Team President! Her organization, planing, advocating, encouragement, and just plain positive attitude puts her among UW Nordic's best every Presidents! 

Following Sam was a tough place to be but she learned a great deal from him, kept it going and brought her own brand of leadership and inspiration.

Now is it her turn to be the leader and the mentor and she has stepped up just when we needed it most. With 6 new freshman who need nurturing, mentoring, teaching and inspiring Leann has been kept busy but has thrived under the pressure. The team is an incredible unit due in part to her tireless ability to bring a smile and excitement.

All of this leadership doesn't seem to have affected her skiing. Her season started a little slowly with some physical issues that kept her from skiing well but this last weekend she busted it out. She skied 215 points and 10 minutes faster in the race this year! We generally hope for improvements in the 10-30 point range and she shattered that! In fact we had an entire team of huge improvements from last year and she beat the improvements of the next person (who was Syd with 158 points of improvement ) by almost 60 points!

Finally, as if incredible work as a leader, organizer and skier weren't enough, Leann is leading the team in the classroom by showing the youngsters how to balance skiing, school and fun. 

She truly has become a Phenomenal Woman, Leader and Skier.

Congratulations Leann Bentley! 


Monday, January 08, 2018

Skier of the Week: Casper High School Races

Sydney in the Classic Race

Wait... Did you read that correctly, Casper High School Races? It turns out you did read that correctly.

This past weekend we had hoped to go to Colorado for a citizen race but the snow conditions were poor and the race was cancelled. We were left with little option for a race, which is super important to our peaking plan. We realized that Casper was having a High School Race and Casper head coaches, UW Alumn Justin and Cassidy were gracious enough to let us forerun their races.

We are on a pretty high training load and our athletes are tired so the races weren't our fastest but they were very good for training.

The races were a freestyle sprint and a 8.5km classic. We had almost our entire team racing this weekend and it was fun to get together after the long break.

While we didn't really have any meaningful results we did have some good performances and one person stood out for not only this week but for her four season races thus far.

Sydney Wiswell came to us as a freshman in a hole from overtraining in high school. Her body was crushed but her spirit was invincible! She struggled through last season and then spent a summer focused on healing and base fitness. This is the hardest training an athlete can do as it often starts with having to walk/hike to stay at the training level required.

We all thought Syd had done this well during the summer but the proof of her dedication would not come until she raced so the fall was a time of hoping and waiting.

We are excited to say that the wait is over and Syd's training this summer was perfect! In the first race she skied like we have never seen her ski. Strong, powerful and with a smile on her face. It was followed by a race in which she was tired BUT a normal tired and a solid finish. In this first race her NRL points were 75 points lower than the average of her best 4 from last season AND for 100 points better than her best skate races from last season! This is stunning considering that she will race faster as the season continues.

This weekend she stepped up even further by finishing two sprint races and then a punishing 8.5km classic race. She is getting stronger and fitter in every race. We are truly excited to see the stunning smile and the raw power on display as she heals.

We know there will be better days coming this season and Syd may well be a logical choice at a later date but we just need to get a shout out to the phenomenal job of healing and training Syd has done.

Syd is the perfect example of the power of mindful healing.