Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Sweden: Great Racing and Great Times
By Logan Hanneman
Recently, I traveled to Europe to compete for the United States in the 2011 Nordic Junior Competition in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. These races are international races for the J1 age group, which is basically the ages of 16 and 17, or for those born from 1993 to 1994. It includes the best J1 skiers from Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Estonia.
For the first week, the team stayed in Ostersund, Sweden to have a pre-race training camp. Most of us arrived on time, however, there were a few stragglers that had rough connections in the U.S. due to the winter storms on the east coast, but we eventually all made it safely. We stayed in these extreme Euro-style condos that were very nice, and the nicest part about them was that we could walk out the back door onto 100 kilometers of ski trail that was groomed multiple times a day. This place was the ultimate training venue!
Ostersund hosts many World Cup ski races, so the stadium and the ski venue are spectacular. There were people skiing constantly, which amazed me. No matter what time of day it was, there were always large amounts of people skiing. I guess that is just their culture and that is what they love to do. It was funny, one day, during school hours, I was skiing on the trails and I came across a line of little kids skiing that must have been 2 kilometers long! As I skied by I thought to myself that somewhere in that group was the next World Cup champion! Speaking of World Cup Champions, we got to ski with many Swedish World Cup skiers while we were there.
We stayed in Ostersund for about a week, then we drove east to the coast to the town of Ornskoldsvik, where the races were held. The first race was a classic sprint, which was about 1.25 kilometers long. I qualified 4th in the prelim, so reasoned that I had a good shot at the podium in the heats. My quarterfinal went great, and I advanced onto the semifinal. However, right at the start of my semifinal, I broke the basket off of one of my poles, which made it next to impossible to hang with my heat on any flat section. I did not move on to the A final, which I was very disappointed about, but I just started thinking about the next day.
The next race was a distance skate race. Normally 10 kilometer races are not my cup of tea but I kept my head up. The race turned out pretty well actually, and I finished up in 14th place. However probably the best race I had there was the relay. This was a 3x5km race, with the first leg being classic technique. I led off for my team, and surprised myself a little with the result. I ended up tagging off to my teammate in the lead, which meant that I had beaten the guy from Norway who had won the sprint. This really made me excited because who knows what might have happened if I had not broken my basket a few days earlier!
The trip was a great experience. I was able to race right with the best guys my age in the world and show that I was competitive with them. Also I gained a lot more motivation to train because of racing with those guys and seeing what the world of skiing is like.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Lots of Races, Lots of Places
What a whirlwind this winter has been so far! It makes me tired just thinking about all of the races I have done, places I have gone, and the endless hours of traveling I have endured since the snow began falling. Looking back, I realized that I have been in Alaska for six days between November 19th and now, February 3rd. And I still have a few more weeks of racing to do before I come home for a short mid-season break!
It started off in the Lower 48, with the big season opener SuperTour races in West Yellowstone around Thanksgiving. The snow conditions were surprisingly good, and we actually got stuck in a few serious blizzards! I had some pretty good results, but the thin air up there at such high altitude made it a very tough series of races.
Next, it was on to Canada for the NorAms, which are probably the most competitive races in North America. The best skiers from the US and Canada are pitted against each other for a few weekends in a row, and most of American and Canadian Olympians were there, making the racing super intense! I had a 9th and 10th place finish in the sprints, which I was really pumped about, considering that I was competing against some of the fastest guys on the continent. I hope that next year I can beat a lot of them! But we will see...
After spending a week in Fairbanks for the holidays, I flew out to the middle-of-nowhere Maine for US National Championships. Having never been to that part of the rural East coast, it was certainly a new experience for me. The snow was a little thin which made things sort of sketchy, but they were able to hold all of the races. I was feeling really, really good in the classic sprint, which is probably my best event, and I was thinking that I could have a really great race. However, in one of my heats, I was involved in a big crash, where another racer took me down from behind. I was pretty bummed, but that is just a part of sprint racing I guess!
Luckily, I did well enough at Nationals to be named to the US Under-23 World Championship team. That meant that I left directly from Maine, and flew to Helsinki, Finland for a week-long training camp. Training in Finland reminded me a lot of skiing in Fairbanks; fairly, cold, dark, and even the trees looked similar.
Next, it was on to the ferry, across the Baltic Sea, to Estonia for World Championships. There, I focused on the sprint race, and I ended up having a pretty decent result. Although my goal was to be in the top 12, I was happy with 24th place, which is against all of the best sprinters in the world who are under 23 years of age. One of the coolest things about these World Championship races is that they are shown live on Eurosport TV to all of Europe, meaning that millions of people were watching me race right as it was happening!
Right now I am in Latvia, getting ready for some more big races. Basically, all of the best skiers from Europe will be racing, so there will be great opportunities to get some good race experience! I cant wait to throw down with all of the speed that I have!
All of this racing and traveling costs a lot of money; even though I am a part of the US Ski Team and am representing the United States at World Championship events, I still have to come up with all of my own funding. That is why I am especially thankful for Image Optical’s continued support this season! Without their help, I wouldn’t be able to do this!
I am really looking forward to the rest of the season, and there should be lots of exciting racing left!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
As an elite cross-country ski racer, I spend much of my time outside doing a large assortment of activities. The training that is done in the summer is actually the most important factor in a skier’s winter success, and so a lot of my time is spent with this in mind.
The early summer months were filled with bike racing and triathlons. Fairbanks has a great cycling scene, and the Tour of Fairbanks is one of, if not THE best, bike race in the state. I raced alongside my younger brother Logan against the best riders in Alaska, and out of the 4-day, 5-stage race, we were each able to come away with one stage win apiece and 5th and 6th overall respectively.
Triathlons are also a fun way to stay in shape. Having to do three different sports within the same race makes it extremely challenging, but it’s a blast! The Eagle River Triathlon is a super competitive event with thousands of people turning out to race; I felt really good and took 3rd overall, setting an age group course record in the process.
By mid-summer, it was time to get serious about ski training. This means lots of running, rollerskiing, and strength training. But one of the coolest experiences of the summer was getting to ski on a glacier for two week-long on-snow training camps. The Thomas Training Center is on the Eagle Glacier, in the Chugach Mountains behind Girdwood. It is a full-service cross-country ski training center, with almost 10k of groomed trails. The weather can be gnarly, with dense clouds, howling wind, and blowing rain all possibilities. The waterproof lenses on my Oakley’s from Image Optical really showed their benefits as I skied for hours and hours through some of the most moist conditions possible. The flat light and mist made having perfect eyewear not a luxury, but a necessity. Of course, when the clouds clear and the sun comes out, it is one of the most beautiful places I have seen.
Now as we near the end of fall, I am looking forward to another season of ski racing. I hope to build on the successes of last winter, and continue to represent the United States at the highest levels of international competition. I would like to thank Image Optical for supporting me in these endeavors and my pursuit of the Olympic dream.
by Reese Hanneman