Tuesday, July 21, 2015


4 months have passed since the Junior National Championships in Truckee, CA - which I still find hard to believe - but there are only 8 months until Junior Nationals in Cable, WI. If you want to be skiing fast this winter, you got to be training hard this summer! Hopefully this video will get you out there to #ChaseIt.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Bend Project

Kahn Industries
In a sport where so mush has stayed the same, it is amazing to see some the big progress that has recently occurred. Viewing nordic skiing has changed significantly over the years. Back in the day, the only time that skiers could glimpse World Cup races would be during the Olympics. Now, with websites like Fasterskier and Crosscountryski.us, people are able to see ski news, clips, and races, faster and more conveniently than ever. Andy Newell's creation of "NordiEdits," cross country ski edits of skiers doing tricks that rival the most extreme terrain park edits, have changed how people quite literal view the sport of nordic skiing.

This Fall, the experience is going to change again with the release of Bend, the first professionally shot nordic ski film to be released in the United States.

Bend is the brain child of Charles Kahn. Kahn, a nordic skier, grew up in rural Vermont and founded Kahn Industry Films during his freshman year of high school. Always searching for adventure, he has come to film some really awesome things through Kahn Industries over the last seven years. 

Getting the shot on sight
Kahn Industries
I contacted Charles to talk to him about what filming Bend has been like. He says he wanted to shoot a film about nordic skiing because he thinks it is an awesome sport, but one too underrepresented. The idea for the movie came from looking at the past. Back in the 1990s, heading out to Bend to train for the summer was "the thing" to do. Even Matt Witcomb, the current U.S. Ski Team Women's coach, was known for heading out there to train during his summers. For some reason, this trend seemed to die down for a bit, but it has come back in full force. Bend focuses in on a couple of Eastern skiers as they head West to train for the summers under coach Ben Husaby, with Bend Endurance Academy. 

The four man crew of Bend lived with the collegiate skiers, filming their workouts as well as their lifestyle, to show what it really means to be a 24/7 athlete. The athletes days consisted of one big group workout in the morning, and then a second, less structured, workout in the afternoon.

The project of filming Bend was not easy. Charles says the biggest challenge was coordination. Being such a big project, with such a tiny crew, it was hard to get all the shots that they needed. They were filming skiers who were trying to train, and couldn't continue to ask them to repeat different activities just for the perfect shot; these athlete needed to worry about skiing fast, not just the shot! Despite theses challenges, all first clips of their project seemed to have turned out great. It will be exciting to see what the rest of their film has in store! 
Athlete Jack Elder posing for the film
Kahn Industries
Filming just ended for this project, and it is now in post production. Last week, a teaser trailer was released - you can find that here. Another teaser trailer is expected to be released an August, and a rough cut of the movie will be available to Kickstarter Backers in September. For the rest of the public, Bend is scheduled to be released in early October through Vimeo and Fasterskier. 

Although this is the first big film for the US nordic ski world, it will, hopefully, by no means be the last. Charles's kickstarted campaign for this project received 140% of the money that he asked for. Tons of local ski businesses jumped in as well to help fund this project. That is a telling sign that the nordic skiing community is ready to see more major projects like this one be undertaken. Hopefully, with Charles Kahn and Kahn Industries, The Bend Project, will bring other movie makers out into the world of nordic skiing!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Grind

Grinding it out at RNR
The last couple of days were ones that made me question why I was a skier. My last two skis have been hard, 90 degree +, suffer-fests, where I was waging war with nordic skiing and it was winning. There were moments where I had a hard time standing up straight, and where I would look at my watch and see my heart rate skyrocket, even though these skis weren't supposed to be too hard. These were moments in which I asked myself why I did what I did. There are so many non-painful activities I could fill my time with, I began to wonder why I have become so consumed by one activity that hurts.

To be honest, the main reason I didn't stop with my skis was because I knew that in a day or week or month or season I knew that I was going to be happy that I had grinder it out. And to be honest, this isn't that satisfying of an answer. 

Looking back at these experiences in a retrospective position, I can see why I did suffer through it, and it is because my competitors are suffering through the same thing, and if I want to be the one on the podium, and not them, I'm going to have to suffer more.

I also know why I choose skiing compared to marbles or painting, and that is because through skiing you will meet more awesome people, see more amazing places, and have better experiences than any other sport.

So looking back, it makes sense why I did what I did. But like I said, at the moment, the only reason I had was because I knew in the coming day or week or month or season I knew there would come a time that I was happy that I did.

This leads us to what the grind is. The grind is working when you don't want to, or skiing when the finish line isn't in sight. The grind is pushing when you forgot why, and i

t's doing it because you just know that in the future you will be happy knowing you did. Skiing when your motivated, now that's easy. Skiing when you just want to pull over, and lie in the grass, head home and nap, or tap out and get picked up, now thats when it is hard. Grinding isn't easy; but it separates who actually wants it from those who just think they do. 


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Goings

Summer is in full swing now, and we've been training like it. The beginning of June is also traditionally the start of RNR as well. This year there was a bunch of new faces, and even a new coach! Dylan Pudiak, coach of Brighton and Mid Atlantic, joined the RNR team this year and has already had a huge impact!

Dylan leading us through a new core routine
To start the summer season, we went over the classic Canadian Strength Test. The Canadian Strength Test is a test made up of a series of exercises which can be easily reproduced through out the years, to measure growth. Also, with so many skiers doing it throughout the country, it's pretty cool to see where you stack up. The test is made up of 5, 1 minute segments where you try to hammer out as many reps of an exercise as possible. During the test you will do 1 min of pull-ups, 1 min of sit-ups, 1 min of push-ups, 1 min of box jumps, and 1 min of dips. At the end of it all you add up all the reps you were able to do (multiply your pull-ups by 3) and that is your Canadian Strength Test score.
Hammering out some pull-ups during the Candian Strength Test
(Rochester Nordic Racing Photography)
This year I had a big PR, with a score of 246. I'm looking to keep building on that and bump it up even more by the end of the summer!

From there, a lot of my summer has been lifting and roller skiing with some bikes and games of golf thrown in.
Skate Ski Intervals
Also, from now until the end of March, my goal is going to be to get a post out every week, hopefully on a Tuesday each time, so make sure you stop back next week!  

Can find some sweet views while training!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

(Climate) Changing Who We Are

When I was younger, I was a big subscriber to the "Popular Science" Magazine. Inside this magazine, they often discussed newly discovered technology or new inventions, and how it was going to make the world a better place. I often remember them showing images of the "future." These images were grassy and green, the perfect mix of green technology, awesome gadgets, and nature. I fear now that our future will look more like polluted and destroyed future presented in Pixar's animated movie, Wall-E. We as a civilization have lost respect for nature, and instead have turned to profit as our source of life, instead of the outdoors.
The popular science future . . .

. . . or the Wall - E future?  

Our Earth is changing. It is an undeniable fact. The media today presents climate change as a two sided debate, where "critics" of global warming argue what 97% of scientists say is fact. These "critics" of climate change are just flat wrong. As Neil Degrass Tyson said: "We live in a world where people cherry-pick their science to fulfill the personal philosophies." As a society people deny what is occurring and deny the destruction they are causing because it is inconvenient to their way of life. In today's world, cash is king, climate comes later.

But the fact of the matter is our planet's climate is changing and our world is warming: 2014 was the warmest year in recorded history and 14 of the last 15 years were the warmest 14 years in recorded history. This is a direct correlation to human activity. For example, humans have been burning CO2 at an astonishing rate. Currently, the CO2 level in the atmosphere is the highest that it has been in the last 650,000 years! - almost double what the previous highest level of CO2 has ever been. The changes this causes to our atmosphere, and our planet will be devastating, ruining our culture. We are seeing the results.

CO2 Levels
Scientists agree that the drought in California would not have occurred if it was not for human industrialization. Larger and more intense forest fires will prevail, sea levels will rise, and snow will cease to fall. The effects of climate change were prevalent this past winter. In Truckee, snow was scarce. Their usual 300 inches + was cut to almost 1/3 of that. For Junior Nationals to even exist, snow had to be farmed and trucked in, and the course had to be altered. Similarly, in the over-industrialized city of Almaty, the host city of Junior Worlds, all the snow had to be farmed and trucked in as well. Will this unnatural, dirty snow be the future of Nordic skiing? Or worse, as climate change continues, will our sport continue to exist?

The Smog in Almaty, Kazakhstan
(Gavin Hess Instagram)
Scientist believe that we are currently on a tipping point. If we stopped our emission right now, we would be able to recover. But if we continue at this rate, there is little time left before the earth's weather is going to spiral. So what does this mean for a our sport?

It means that the time to act is now. The first thing is to become educated. First check out NASA, and then Protect Our Winters. From there, it's important to try to fight global warming on the smaller scale; in your own home and community.

In reality, there are little places in the country where climate change is actually debated. Unfortunately one of those places is our nation's capital. Despite that, there are still things you can do. Last week Protect Our Winters launched the "Phone It In" Campaign. Here you physically pick up the phone, call your senator or congressman, and tell them to either continue to support the measures they are taking to combat climate change, or to start doing so. Tell them that if they don't change, they'll be losing your vote. If someone can't even acknowledge science, why would you want them in office anyway?

Another measure that can be taken is signing petitions. A great way to get noticed, is to get noticed as a crowd. Some potential petitions can be found here (support Green Energy) and here (prevent the export of coal from Washington). Both of these issues are very important to anyone who wants to help battle against climate change.

And finally, get other people involved. Whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, or word of mouth, get your friends and family to help join in to save this planet.

Today is earth day, and it is important day to spread awareness, but if we want to make a change, earth day can't just be one day, it has to be everyday.


Truckee, CA - a major caution sign relating to climate change.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Things That Happened In Truckee 2015

This post is long overdue, and I am very sorry for that. Life caught up to me after nationals, and the majority of my free time was spent trying to catch up on sleep or school. With that being said, I would not be able to call this blog “Ski Young” if I failed to write a post regarding Junior Nationals. 

In the mid 19th century, thousands of people went west in the search of gold during the California Gold Rush. A similar experience occurred in the second week of the March, were hundreds of skiers made the trek to Truckee, CA to compete in the Junior National Championship, all too searching for gold. I was competing with the Mid Atlantic region, and like the people in the gold rush, we too were getting ready for our journey. Unlike the majority of people in the Gold Rush though, Mid-Atlantic was actually successful in finding gold! 

My Road to Truckee started months and months ago, but the physical trip to Cali started for me on the Saturday, March 7th. Starting early that morning, I took the long journey of 14 hours from Rochester to Truckee. Despite the long day of travel, it was pretty sweet to be heading out there. I loved flying over the mountains! After getting into Truckee I headed over to the Mid-A house, and settled down.
Flying over the rockies!

After the rest of the team arrived the next day, we headed over to the race venue, and I got my first taste of Truckee weather. All I heard for the last year was how much snow Truckee gets, accounts ranging from 10 to 25 feet have been heard, but once arriving it was clear to see the only snow we would be seeing was on the course. The race officials did a great job making use of what they had but coming from the cold and snowy Rochester, this defiantly was pretty crazy. I went from wearing jacket on jacket to only needing a tee-shirt. I loved training in this weather . . . racing - not so much. 
The start of the skate sprint! 
The first race was that monday, it was the Skate Sprints. To anyone who knows me, sprinting isn’t my favorite, and this sprint course did not play to my strengths at all. It was basically all down hill, then a 180 degree turn, and then some rolling up hills. It was fast, times being around 2:45 to get into heats. To me, the longer a sprint the better, and there wasn’t much length to this course. 

Another thing that didn’t play to my advantage: altitude. Knowing that Truckee was at ~7500 ft or so, I didn’t know what to expect. To be short, the air was thinner than what I was used to. It’s not something that’s noticed when you are just hanging out, or even skiing easy, but in a race, especially on the uphills, it’s hard. You just feel slower, and can’t recover as quickly (or at all). The altitude defiantly hurt me less and less as the week progressed, but it would be untruthful to say that it didn’t effect me though out the week. 

Everett and Scott after their super successful sprint racing!
-Falcon Filming Photography-
Anyway, the sprint didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I couldn’t send it on the uphills like I needed to, and I was out of heats. Although my sprint didn’t go the way I wanted it to, Mid-A had one of our best days in a very very long time! For U18s, Evan and Karl both made it into heats, Karl finishing the day in 17th and Evan finishing in 28th. On the U16 side, Henry, Everett, and Scott all made it into heats. Henry got 3rd in his quarter, ending the day in 14th. Everett and Scott went farther, and both ended up in the A final!! Together they skied a sweet race, with Scott ending up in 4th, and Everett in 5th! Gavin also skied a great day, ending up 10th for U20s, and continuing his record of never being out of the top 10 in a skate sprint at junior nationals! Already in the first day of nationals, Mid-A had more All-Americans than they had in the last 3 years!
That Wednesday was the 10k Skate race (for the u18/u20 men - 5k for everyone else) The weather was wacky - starting with dumping snow and ending with pouring rain. For myself, the race was awful, easily the worst race of my life. I think that that race was a bad combination of altitude, terrible conditions, and just a bad day in general; with the combination of the three though it was more than rough. 

The skate race - notice the rain/slush! 
Despite my less than awesome performance, Mid-A ripped!! Scott went all-american again, placing 6th, and KARL BECAME NATIONAL CHAMPION WINNING THE 10K BY 5 SECS!!!!!!  Seeing Karl on the top block was one of the coolest things I had seen in a while, and could not have been prouder! 

The day after the 10k skate was another training day, but came with an awesome surprise! My sister flew all the way from Key West, Florida to catch the last two races of nationals, which was so crazy, but I was pretty stoked she could see me race! 
My sister, Lauren, and I after the relay! 

The classic race was interesting, to say the least. Thankfully, I was the second race of the day, so the tracks were still pretty firm. I enjoyed the race honestly, but it was by no means a good race. I just still didn’t feel like I was actually racing. My results were, again not what I was looking for. Karl was able to squeeze into the top 30 again, getting 23rd, and Scott was just out of the top 10 skiing 11th in the U16 race. From New England, Mackenzie Rizio got into the top 10, skiing 8th, which was pretty sick to see! 
That night it finally hit that there was only one more race to Truckee 2k15. 
The classic mass start!
The relays were a lot of fun. It was my best race of the week for sure, I could really send it, and being the anchor it was sweet to be able to pass two teams! As a region we didn't have our best day, and mostly skied average races all around. Overall, I didn't race exactly how I wanted to during Truckee, nor do I think it is how I can be skiing. There are defiantly going to be some big changes going into to next years season, and I am thinking it’ll be making a big difference. 
Hammering in the relay!
With all this being said, Nationals did not fail to once again be one of the best weeks of my life. There is no experience that can compare to what nationals is, and I am so thankful and honored that I was able to be a part of it. I met so many awesome people, saw so many of my best friends, and got to see and ski at some just amazing places. There are a lot of people to thank for that. The first being my parents! There is no way I would ever be able to do what I do without my parents support. They are my biggest fans by far, and I am so thankful for them. I also want to support another one of my biggest fans, my sister, Lauren. I still can’t believe she flew all the way out there to see me race, and I am so honored that she did! 

My biggest fans! 
All the Mid-A coaches deserve endless thanks as well. Coming from a small team, our coaches are constantly over worked. Our coaches are not only coaches, but wax techs, van drivers, supporters, and friends, and this week is just as stressful for them as it is for us racers (if not more stressful) and everything always ends up running smoothly! So a big big thank you to Jason, Marge, Kim, Nick, and Dylan. I also want to thank the whole Mid-A team for being just a great group of people, there isn’t a team I’d rather go with! Our chefs were also hugely supportive, and we wouldn’t have been able to have the week we had without them - so a big thanks to Celia and Jed! And of course I want to thank all of the volunteers and race officials and organizers for hosting such a huge event, and for all the sponsors! 

Here are some more pictures from the week! 
This goon and her klister ski 
Gavin came for one last JNs! Was awesome racing with him,
and can't thank him enough for all the advice he's given me! 
Goon central at Lake Tahoe with @suckfitz & @madischriefer
Chilling w/ Tegan! Tegan can honestly say raced the hardest of anyone all week. 
Post race! 

Check out this sick video made by Far West skier Skyler Mullings! It is a pretty awesome recap of the week!  Also worth watching is a video made by our J2 Guys team - the link can be found here!

As of now, I don’t know what the future holds in store right now, but I am sure that it is going to be amazing. I’ll see you all in Wisconsin 2016!


Missing the Truckee views! 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

State-ing The Facts

Although it occurred 10 days ago, I still wish to write about the NYS Public High School Nordic Ski Championship, in Lake Placid, NY. These races were the culmination of the public high school season; but to me, the start of the championship season! I do apologize for how late this blog update is, but when I got home from Lake Placid, I began sleeping and studying more, to help with impeding Junior National Championship, which I am flying too right now!

The States races may have occurred on a Tuesday, but my story of states starts on the cold Sunday morning, where I met Section V and boarded the bus to LP. After a long bus ride, and much shenanigans, we all made it to Mt. Van Hovernburg, where we were able to preview the course. After skiing the 5k loop (during the race, I skied it twice) I was impressed by it, and walked away feeling ready to race. 
Nina and I at the banquet! 
That evening though, the temperature took a turn for the worst, plummeting close to 40 degrees real feel.  Do to these terribly cold conditions, it was decided that Monday’s race, the 10k classic individual start, would be pushed until Tuesday morning, and the 3 person * 3k relay would be held in the afternoon. @theofficalberniegardner said that it would be “the hardest day in NYS Skiing history” and I don’t think that anyone questioned that statement. Due to the lack of racing Monday, it became more or less of a “personal day.” Despite the 30 minute bike Jack and I did inside, I spent that night more or less sleeping and watching movies. 

Tuesday came upon us quickly though, and the races were ready to begin! The girls began skiing first (a 7.5k for them). Nina Armstrong, my Mid-A teammate, skied extremely well, winning the race by over 2 minutes! I’m super excited to see how she does in the coming up week at nationals! Nina’s sister Gabby also skied really well, coming in 3rd despite having the flu/stomach bug just a day before! Sara Urkfitz got 4th, Anna Shcriefer got 9th, and Rachel Jones got 10th! It was a pretty morning. 

Classic Skiing in the race
(Tolley Photography)
My race started shortly after the girls. I was able to execute my race plan pretty well, and felt like it was my strongest classic race to date. In the end I got 8th. Despite being my strongest race to date, I don’t think it’s the strongest classic race I’ll ever have. Coming down on the 1st climb on the course for the second time, I hit the wall. To me, it felt similar to waking up from a nap: completely disorienting, it felt like I didn’t know where I was or what was going on, but though it all, I finished the race pretty well. 
Karl Shultz won the race, with Bryce Hartman coming in second! Conner Hrynuk came in 3rd, Scott Schultz 4th, Evan Carr 5th, Aaron Huneck 6th, Henry 7th. I’ll be excited to see what these guys can do in the future!
The podium for the boys!
After the classic race, it was time to recover and get ready for the skate relay! The relay was pretty uneventful. Defiantly not my best race, but not my worst either. To be honest, I was very tired from the morning (I think most people were). 

The Lake Placid teams won both for girls and boys! My team of David Azzara and Dave Harvey came in 6th. The overall champions of the weekend were Karl and Nina! 

Skiing in the relay!
(Tolley Photography)
Since states, I’ve been back skiing in the very snowy Roc! Jason has finally got back from “euroworld” and we were able to squeeze in some quick RNR practices leading up to Junior Nationals! As of now, I am flying to the very not snowy Los Vegas, where I will be then flying to the also very not snowy Reno, where I will drive to the slightly snowier Truckee!!! It is the beginning of the end!