Working Together

Blog by: CXC Team athlete, Felicia Gesior

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This past month marked that time of year when I say goodbye to summer and head back to Marquette, MI. The difference this year was I returned as a member of the CXC Team instead of the Northern Michigan University (NMU) team. After skiing for NMU  for five years, I wondered how it would be to transition to a new team. So far it has been a smooth change. There is so much opportunity to grow and improve when you put a group of dedicated athletes together. Instead of pinning one against the other, we have used our close proximity as a strength. Since being back in Marquette, I have synced up my schedule with the NMU ladies to make sure that I could train with them for important workouts. Having this wealth of talent right next door has been invaluable to me.

Throughout my college years, I have learned that teammates serve as a huge resource. Every skier brings a unique outlook on skiing and life.Training strategies, techniques and experiences can be shared to expand my own outlook on the sport. For example, I have learned about the importance of listening to your own body when you are sick. As an eager freshman, I was reminded by my upperclassman teammates about the role of proper rest.

Furthermore, when I am training with teammates we can push each other to find new limits. During a hard workout, I can look over to the side and become inspired by the effort that a teammate is putting in. This drive is what brings us to new levels.

I am so impressed by the support the teams show for each other. Whether we are in the weight room or on a specific strength hill, you can routinely hear cheers of encouragement being shared. Having this atmosphere helps bring everyone up instead of depending on other’s downfall.

The partnership between CXC and the Northern Michigan University Olympic Training Site is a strong one. I think we can look forward to many success stories coming out of this partnership.

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Large Training Blocks = A lot of Coffee, Daytime Naps and Blisters.

By: CXC Team athlete, Oscar Friedman

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Since I last checked in here in Marquette, the CXC Team has completed our largest volume block of the training year. That means a lot of coffee, daytime naps, and blisters on our hands. Roughly half of those hours were spent rollerskiing with a renewed focus on the double pole technique, with the remaining time divided between running (sometimes with poles) and strength in the gym.

Those of you in the cross country skiing community who know me well, know that I take an imprecise approach to planning and logging my training. During my distance workouts I don’t even bring a watch with me anymore because I know about how long each rollerskiing and running loop takes. Instead, I focus on my technique and let the way my body feels on a given day dictate the length and pace of the workout (within reason). Since I bring my phone I know how long I’ve trained at the end of the workout (and take some blurry pictures for this blog).

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Following this approach this summer I’ve had no problems meeting weekly hours targets set by Coach Keller. Furthermore, I often train slower than I would otherwise and enjoy the workout more. As a result I find that on interval workout and strength days I am able to perform at a higher level and with better technique.

The last hard workout of this training block was a 3000 meter time trial featuring the full Northern Michigan University (NMU) Ski and Cross Country teams as well as the Canadian National Development Team from Thunder Bay. The camaraderie of the group counteracted the dreary weather, and I ended up finishing in 9:33, just a couple of seconds off of my PR (runners keep in mind I weigh 190 lbs).

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Another highlight was a three and a half hour double pole to the Eagle Mine about 50 miles out of Marquette, which contains the largest climb in the region. It was a privilege to be able to follow my teammate Kyle Bratrud and NMU skier Fredrik Schwenke, both of whom ski with exemplary technique.

This past week was our recovery week which I spent visiting family and friends in Los Angeles and San Diego. I even got to surf a couple of mornings!

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As always, a big thank you to my sponsors Salomon, Finn Sisu, Honey Stinger, and Rudy Project for their support and to the staff at the Olympic Training Center in Marquette.

Technique, Technique, Technique

By: CXC Team athlete, Felicia Gesior

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My first real lessons on skiing began on rollerskis the fall of my freshman year of High School. That first day of practice, I felt hopeless when ten minutes into practice I was still learning how to put my boots into my bindings. Once I got on my skis, I did not feel much better. The bike path we skied on had a slight decline that felt like a drop off to my shaky legs. However, over time I slowly became more comfortable. With practice and time, I was able to find my rhythm on my rollerskis.

Now, when I ski I do not have to think about each tiny motion but instead rely on my muscle memory. Nonetheless, from that first practice onward I remember my coach telling me how important technique really is in order to become an efficient skier. Good technique practiced over and over again makes for good muscle memory and strong skiing.

To this day, I still have a long way to go on improving my technique. Yet, I found myself repeating these same words over and over again (“technique, technique, technique”) to a similar group of athletes this past week. Over the years, I have been lucky enough to help coach the Peak Nordic high school team during the summer. We just finished up another successful week long camp with some very motivated young skiers.

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Being on the coaching side of skiing always gives me new perspective, especially on technique. Since technique is such a critical aspect of skiing it is really worth the time it takes to break it down and go over it meticulously. We always dedicate a large chunk of camp to working on both skate and classic technique.

Watching and critiquing other skiers helps me reflect on my own technique strengths and weaknesses. Figuring out ways to put the pictures I have in my head into words is a great exercise in understanding how to break down the motions that now come naturally to me.

I was inspired by the eager attitudes of the campers I had this week. Their continued dedication to self-improvement has boosted my awareness of my own skiing. While technique work is not always fun it is important to continuously strive to improve.

I wish the best of luck to all the skiers I was fortunate to work with this summer as you enter into your fall sports and continued training!

Training Up North

By: CXC Team athlete, Oscar Friedman

After finishing my college degree this past June I moved from Hanover, New Hampshire, to Marquette, Michigan in order to train with the CXC Team. In Marquette I join my coach, Andy Keller, teammate Kyle Bratrud, and a hard working crew of NMU skiers; they couldn’t have been more welcoming.

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This time of year our training is built into four-week blocks–medium, medium, hard, and recovery–and I’ve just completed a full cycle.

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(Thanks Finn Sisu for the rollerskis and Rudy Project for the helmet). By the hard week my body began to adjust to the new training plan and I put in some quality sub-threshold interval sessions both running and rollerskiing.

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I also had the chance to be a guinea pig for a muscle activation test done on the rollerski treadmill. A high tech suit was involved.

During the hard week I became ravenous, and after an unsatisfactory experience with the $10 dinner box from Pizza Hut, I upgraded to these beauties.

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During the recovery stage of the training cycle, we enjoyed some time at the beach while maintaining a baseline level of training activity. Tomorrow morning we kick off another big week here in (extra) sunny Marquette with threshold bounding intervals.

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Go Team CXC!

Find Your “Marquette”

By: CXC Team athlete, Kyle Bratrud 

For my blog this month, I thought I would take a second to write about the new home base for the CXC Team and also my home for the last six years, Marquette, Michigan. Marquette is also the current home to the Marquette Training Group (MTG). MTG is the only “club” to have a man on each of the last four distance podiums at US Nationals.
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When I decided to attend Northern Michigan University back in 2011, I was very skeptical of this small town. Much of that came from the fact that my entire life, I had lived in the wonderful city of Eden Prairie, Minnesota and venturing into small towns had always brought about a rather eerie feeling. Over the last five years, I have absolutely fallen in love with Marquette.

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To begin, I realized that while small, compared to the suburbs of Minneapolis, Marquette is full of life and actually has many of the same stores and resources that the cities provide. The trail system in Marquette has been the major selling point for me. There are numerous ski, bike, and running trails at the tip of our fingers here and it is extremely easy to go out and train for hours without thinking twice about it.

The second reason I like Marquette has to do with the NMU ski team, particularly the men. Throughout my college career and now beyond it, we have grown together both as competitors and friends and the bond we have up here is something special. Some of my fondest memories in Marquette come from the guy’s nights we have at the ski house.

The third reason I love Marquette has to do with the weather. While this reason has been tested a bit this week with the warm and humid weather, the cool refreshing lake is never far away. The falls are beautiful and the winters are full of snow which makes this place a skiing paradise for anyone like me who loves to ski. Last year was a “bad” winter and we still had amazing skiing, although a little later than usual.

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My final reason for why I love this place is a given, but I thought I should mention it anyways. Marquette is awesome because Sten Fjeldheim, MNU Ski Team head coach, lives here. Sten is the reason I chose to come to NMU back in 2011 and he is the reason I am still skiing now. The hard working attitude and competitive nature we have formed through MTG all revolves around Sten’s attitude. At the end of the day, I am happiest when I am training with the boys in Marquette. The group we have here and the memories we are making along the way, will be with me forever. This is my home. I really encourage everyone who is passionate about something to find your “Marquette”. Stratton Mountain School (SMS) and Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center (APU) are other great examples of groups of passionate people living the good life alongside one another, as they try to better themselves towards a common goal. Positive environments harbor success and happiness!

Cheers,
Kyle

Heat of the Summer

By: CXC Team athlete, Nichole Bathe

The second week of July I finished up the third week in my volume and intensity block, with July 18-24 being a much needed rest week. I was able to do a couple of races during the past three weeks, including my very first canoe only race.

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My dad and I teamed up for the 8 mile Wisconsin River race, my dad has raced this before, but it was a first for me. I typically paddle in lakes without sand bars…so I was a little surprised when I realized we were going to be needing to dodge sandbars the whole way down the Wisconsin River. I was also so impressed with some of the people who do this race or the longer ones, they are such amazing athletes who come from all over the Midwest. My Dad and I are pleased to report that we won the 8 mile race, with his expertise in navigating the river.

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During the past few weeks I was also able to do more running on some of my favorite trails in the Madison area. This week brings some testing and lots of resting! Happy training!

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June, a Month Of Training, Traveling & Adventures

By: CXC Team athlete, Felicia Gesior

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This past June has been a month full of training, traveling and adventures.

I headed off to Iceland as a stopover on my way to Europe. While there, I was fortunate to get to see some amazing national parks. The highlight was a 30k hike in Skaftafell National Park that included amazing views of the the Morsarjökull  glacier. We even spotted an arctic fox!  I rounded out the trip by entering a local 8.5k running race in Laugavatn, Iceland. It was fun to put in a hard effort after the recovery week and to experience a local event.

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Next, it was time to head to Germany where I met my former NMU teammate, Vera Gruber.  It felt great to be back on roller skis. I enjoyed the rolling country terrain and the long uphill runs with rewarding views. Despite the rainy conditions we were able to fit in some great workouts.

The next leg of my journey was a few hours away in Innsbruck, Austria. Here, I met up with two other former teammates Sophie Schimpl and Malin Eriksson. We were fortunate enough to ski at the roller ski track in Seefeld just thirty minutes outside of the city!

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I also had the chance to visit Sophie’s home near Linz, Austria. This marked the start of an intensity week and I had the opportunity to get in some great interval sessions along with a fun uphill classic ski near her hometown.

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Back in Innsbruck it was easy to find sloping mountain roads for l-3 and l-4 bounding workouts. Ending out this week, I  spent my off day traveling to Tierp, Sweden where I will train for the next 10 days.