Simi Hamilton

 

Archive for January, 2015

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Rybinsk

Topic: General News

It’s funny; when you haven’t been in touch with truly cold weather for a while, you completely forget what it’s like. At -25°C your bones move slower. Any hair that finds its way out from under your hat immediately turns grey with a thin coat of rime. Your nose and cheeks, left out to take the brunt of the wind chill when you’re tucking a hill at 60 km/h, make their way down the color spectrum… from pink to red to crimson red and then eventually to white. You feel 10 years older with stiffness from the layers on layers of long underwear underneath your training jacket and pants. And then there’s the all to familiar high-pitched squeak of frigid snow as it tries to move underneath your ski bases.

I guess when you put it in a list, it certainly sounds a little bit miserable. But there’s a reason why we’re cross country ski athletes… we’re all a little off our rockers, we put ourselves thru days, weeks, months, and eventually years of this type of torture, and we love it.

We’ll leave Rybinsk, Russia tomorrow morning a little bit frostbitten, maybe a little lighter from all the calories burned trying to keep our bodies warm, but pretty darn happy with how the last World Cup weekend went before our long pre-World Championship break. The result highlight of the three-race series came on Friday with Liz Stephen’s 2nd place in the women’s 10 km skate race. Joining her in the points (top-30) were SMS T2’s Jessie Diggins (12th) and Rosie Brennan in 13th. Saturday’s skate sprint saw all four of us SMS T2’s in the points with Jessie skiing some extremely fast heats and coming in 5th, Sophie Caldwell bringing home 7th, Andy Newell locking down 22nd, and yours truly finishing 17th on the day. In today’s 15 km duathlon, we had 4 girls scoring points with Jessie again leading the charge in 5th (and Liz nailing her second top-10 of the weekend in 7th. We’ll carry this momentum into a great training block in Davos, Switzerland we’re we’ll be for 2+ weeks before we head north to Scandinavia to begin the final countdown to World Champs. Sunshine, warm temps, saunas on cold nights, and maybe a powder day or two on the alpine hill will greet us when we get to Davos, which will be pretty darn nice, but I, personally will surely miss the atmosphere and crazy nuances of Russia that make a ski racers life adventurous, exotic, and exhilarating. I can’t wait to come back here soon, duffel bag packed with plenty of wind briefs, hand warmers, thick Buffs, and chocolate bars for those really cold days. Thanks for checking in and keep up the great cheering from back home.

01.25

2015

The view of the Dachstein escarpment this morning from our breakfast table.

Headed East

Topic: General News

Sitting here in Munich, at the Mövenpick Hotel, which is a bit of a home-away-from home. We were reminiscing today in the car about the last time we were here and we all had a good laugh when we recalled the ridiculousness of the events leading up to our 24 hour layover here last March. It was the night of the Olympic closing ceremonies in Russia and we were scheduled to take a bus from the athlete village in Sochi to the airport at 12:30 a.m. Our charter flight to Munich left the Sochi airport at 4:30 a.m., but we assured that we wanted to be there at least 2.5 hours ahead of our departure to ensure that we could get all of our baggage, skis, and waxing equipment on our charter with us (our next World Cup in Lahti, Finland was only a few days after the games ended). We got to the airport, proceeded thru check in baggage drop in about 7 minutes, and found ourselves in what seemed like a giant catering tent sent up on the concrete of the Sochi airport tarmac. It had to have been the coldest night in Sochi all winter, and there were a few space heaters scattered throughout the tent. Exhausted, worn out, and shivering, we tried to find floor space on the frigid concrete (all of the temporary chairs were taken by the 200 or so international athletes that had gotten thru security just a few minutes before us. We covered ourselves in our ridiculous closing ceremony threads and tried to find our ‘happy place’. Our charter finally left Sochi at about 5 a.m. that morning, and with a relatively quick trip from the Black Sea to the German interior, we found ourselves circling for an hour around the airport waiting for it to open for the morning (the time change from Sochi to Munich is 3 hours, and the flight was about 2:45 but we couldn’t land until 6 a.m. or so). After finally touching down and shuffling inside to the baggage carousel, we waited like a hoard of zombies for our massive pile of luggage to make it’s way out to the carousel. We checked into the Mövenpick by about 8 that morning and I don’t think I’ve slept so well in any European bed over the many years that I’ve spent over here.

So anyway, as time rushes past and World Cup periods turn into seasons which turn into Olympic cycles, it’s fun to think back on stories like that… the ones that I’ll probably remember far longer than any race or training camp.

We head to Otepaa, Estonia tomorrow morning after just finishing up a little Tour de Ski ‘recovery camp’ in Ramsau, Austria. Our time in Tyrol was great, as it always is, even though we got about 24 hours of rain and 50 degree temps. The skiing was excellent when we arrived last Thursday, and it was near-perfect this morning, it was just those couple days sandwiched in between that left us wanting more. Perfect for some R&R I guess.

We’ll race an individual classic sprint this weekend as well as a skate team sprint before making the trip to Rybinsk, Russia next Wednesday. Russia will be the last World Cup weekend before a long break leading up to World Champs. I love heading into Eastern Europe as it’s always an adventure… The ability to appreciate all of its nuances is solely determined by how much you can embrace things that are totally and absolutely foreign to you.

More to come from the east soon…

 

The view of the Dachstein escarpment this morning from our breakfast table.

Not a terrible place to spend five days

 

01.13

2015

Lillehammer at sunrise

2014 Was a Good Year

Topic: General News

Well, you may be thinking that you’re reading this just because it’s the start of a brand new year and when something of significance happens (e.g. a brand new year) it’s a great time to write about something. But the truth is that I really, really needed to update all of you back home with what’s going on, and the flip-over from 365 to 1 was just a great excuse to make myself do it. So apologies for being MIA on the inter web for too long… I got wrapped up in getting healthy, traveling, packing my gear, traveling some more, unpacking my gear, eating, sleeping, and repeating. But I’m back and right now seems like a great time to fill you in where I’ve been and what shenanigans we’ve found.

It feels like Davos has become somewhat of a new home for us. We’ve always logged a lot of time there every season for as long as I can remember, but this year was a bit different. We drove in to the busy Swiss mountain town on December 8th and left yesterday. Just shy of a month in one of the most expensive towns in one of the most expensive countries on earth… but it was worth it. After plans to race in La Clusaz, France were altered because of the complete nonexistence of snow in (basically) all of Europe, we signed on for another week at our home-away-from-home when the skiing-crazy town of Davos decided to pick up the nearly-cancelled World Cup weekend and host it’s second set of races in just as many weeks. It boded great for me, as I was out with a cold during the first go around (and subsequently missed a skate sprint), especially since they changed the race schedule from 2 distance races to a distance race and a second skate sprint. It took a little longer to get 100% healthy, but toeing the line during that second skate sprint felt great and I was pumped to get back to what I know best… racing. The day ended much too early as the soft uphill got the best of me when I hooked my tip and landed on my face during my quarterfinal, but such is racing and it only made me hungrier for the next go-around.

Our original Christmas plans called for meeting my girlfriend’s family in the north of Italy for 10 days of training, eating pasta and drinking wine, and being with family, but again we made some last minute changes and pulled the trigger on spending all of Christmas in Davos since they were still the only place in Europe with skiing suitable for training. It was tough to hear that they weren’t coming, but we found a cozy apartment in the steep Swiss valley to decompress for the holiday break and had several of our teammates sticking around to train thru the holidays. So it wasn’t that bad of a plan B. We gradually kept getting more and more snow until we finally left yesterday, and the place was completely transformed during the 3+weeks that we were there.

Sun between storms in Davos
Most nights we night skied over to Liz and Ida’s apartment to cook dinner with them. On this specific night, we were the ‘wine mules’. An important job to say the least
The head of FIS XC marketing, Jurg Capol, and his awesome family had us over for Christmas eve dinner. It was so incredibly nice to spend a special time of year with a truly great family. And the spread was unreal.
Driving the one-lane, 10 km tunnel to Livigno, Italy for a day of skiing, pizza, and some good ol’ Italian tanning.
Keeping things exciting on the 5 km loop in Davos
Post-Christmas dinner ski under the lights
Lillehammer at sunrise

With the holiday training block wrapped up in Davos, we made the über cool drive from Switzerland to southern Germany. Oberstdorf is a special place with its plethora of 3,000 meter peaks rising from the flat lands that extend north to the Baltic Sea. People here love skiing and it shows when the xc and ski jumping world cups come to town. It’s been snowing non-stop here for the last week, but today we woke up to cold temps with clear skies and took advantage of the vitamin D offering.

Hard not to smile on a day like today
Soph striding up and over the stadium bridge
Cork-dog trying to keep up with these two all-stars

2014 was truly a memorable year. My first World Cup win. Another Olympics under the belt. Constant reminders of how loving and unbelievable my family is. But I’m ecstatic and anxious to see what 2015 brings. One of the things I’m most excited for is my new ambassadorship with Protect Our Winters. POW is an awesome organization that unites professional athletes, business owners, communities, school children, politicians, and winter sport enthusiasts who are impacted by our changing climate. It is a foundation for all of us who care about winter to stand on and speak up about why this season and everything it encompasses is important to us. I’m joined by friends Chris Davenport, Kikkan Randall, and Andy Newell, among countless others, who care about the same issues I do… we all do… and taking initiative to fight for what we believe in. So I’ve got some cool projects cooking in my head and I’m super stoked about helping the organization and its initiatives in meaningful ways that only I can do. Much more on this later, but in the meantime check out what we’re up to here and saddle up to fight the good fight with us.

POW!!!

01.01

2015

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