Simi Hamilton

 
IMG_2188

South. Way South.

Topic: General News

As in, ‘almost to Antarctica’ south. New Zealand is a special place. Every time I take my seat on my departure flight out of here, I promise myself that the next time I make the 14 hour flight down I’ll bring my backcountry skis. Or my climbing gear. Or my surf board. Or my mountain bike. %$#& it, I’ll throw it all in. Fifteen years ago, if you asked a 13 year-old Simi to draw a picture of where he’d most like to be instantly transported to via a snap of the fingers, it would be a blueprint of the Kiwi landscape. Every time I step off the Air NZ Auckland to Queenstown flight, I’m instantly transported to a “what if” world. What if I could just climb and ski that 3,000′ couloir? Or take my bike on a week long adventure through the incredible back valleys of The Remarkables? Or pack up my truck and drive the circumference of the islands, stopping every few hours at the next surf break or sport crag? With enough obsessive daydreaming, it’ll happen one day, but as it is right now, I’ve only got room for about 10 pairs of training skis, a big duffel of stinky training clothes (no matter how many wash cycles, you never really get rid of it), a backpack full of adventure non-fiction for the down time, and 15 days to make use of all of it.

Conditions have been spectacular here at the Snow Farm, a little secluded XC ski gem nestled in the high mountains north of the Crown Range Pass, in between the alpine towns of Queenstown and Wanaka. In the 5 times that I’ve been down here, I’ve never experienced such amazing skiing right off the bat. Of course, you can’t appreciate the really great days without a few of the miserable ones, hence the collection of adventure non-fiction I have stacked on my bedside table, but that’s part of the game. We’ll undoubtedly have a few training sessions in 60 mile per hour winds blowing all the un-anchored ice crystals (far different from snow) directly into any exposed skin, but those days are fun too, especially when the workout is over and you know there’s a boiling hot shower waiting for you inside (“Type II Fun”).

As a national team, coming down here gives us an incredible opportunity to put in a huge block of on-snow volume, the value of which can’t be understated. Skiing in the summer, on real snow, is a physical and psychological re-certification of sorts… your body and your mind eventually remember the little nuances and specific motions that roller skiing and running can never give you. And being able to revisit that unique feeling of collapsing a classic ski’s pocket or doing all out skate sprints up a 40 degree climb is a game changer when the World Cup season kicks off in November each year.  And when we’re not out on the trails, we treat our bodies well during the 30-hours-a-week training load with home cooked meals, comfy rooms, and an abundance of sleep (it’s pitch-black dark from 5:30-8:00 every night).

So you can say it’s a good life. And although spending two weeks down here with just a ski bag full of xc skis is a bit like showing up to an all-you-can-eat buffet and just eating the free sugar packets on the table, I know that there’ll be a day when I’m back here with way too much gear, no plan at all, and a huge smile on my face.

IMG_2137
IMG_2151

IMG_2188

 

IMG_2209

IMG_2139

 

 

 

 

 

 

07.14

2015

Back to the Training Life

Topic: General News

It’s hard to believe that it’s already June 9th. As cliché as it is, time does actually fly when you’re having fun. I arrived back in Vermont a few nights ago after a whirlwind two months of adventuring, training, and spending some down time at home in Colorado. Although the snowpack in Colorado was desperately low for pretty much the whole winter, the backcountry ski conditions up high in April were still fantastic. I spent most of the month exploring new lines and skiing old favorites, and the corn skiing was exceptional. To top everything off, it started dumping snow in late April, and conditions turned from really good, classic spring skiing to nearly mid-winter conditions with mother nature dropping several feet of fresh, cold powder over the last part of April and into May. After taking full advantage of the great ski conditions, we felt like some Mexican sunshine was for sure needed.

My girlfriend Sophie, sister Jenny, her fiancé James, and my mom and stepdad packed up our climbing gear, surf boards, and wedding outfits and headed south. Our first stop was to El Potrero Chico, just north of Mexico’s second largest city, Monterrey. El Potrero is one of the more famous big-wall, sport climbing areas in the world, and after a week of climbing some of the coolest multi-pitch routes on amazing limestone, it was easy to understand why so many of our friends have come home raving about the place. From there we flew down to Tulum, on the Yucatan Peninsula, for the wedding of my friends Jenna and Jake. The culture shock that comes with checking into an all-inclusive resort after spending a week in rural, inland Mexico, was quite impressive. But we had a great time trying to soak in the whole experience and be the best American tourists we could be, and the wedding was gorgeous. Our last stop south of the border was in the surf town of La Saladitas, just north of the popular tourist destination Zihuatanejo. We found great surfing on some pretty massive waves, and it was great to finally be able to get some fresh fish tacos from one of the many oceanside restaurants that scattered the beach just down from our house.

It was a quick turnaround when we got back to the states with our Park City camp starting 24 hours after our flight back from Mexico. Since we normally head to Bend, Oregon for our first camp of the year, it was a strange feeling being in Park City instead and knowing that we would not be getting on snow during those two weeks of camp. But our training block was still very productive and it was great being able to utilize the resources, strength training coaches, and physical therapists at USSA’s Center of Excellence (and, of course, all the Chobani yogurts you can eat isn’t bad either). It’s always getting the team back together after everyone has headed off on their own all spring. There are always some great stories of tropical surf adventures, great backcountry tours in the Chugach, and of course the relaxing time at home with everyone’s families (which becomes much needed in April after 5+ months on the road).

Needing to wrap up a few more things in Colorado after camp ended, I travelled back down there from Park City for a just a few days before heading back out to Vermont. That turned into a pretty great decision since there was still incredible crust skiing to be had on top of Independence Pass. I figure anytime you get to have really good skiing in June, and you’re not boarding a flight to Norway to do so, is pretty damn cool. And especially when you can add in classic Colorado sunshine, warm temps, and great friends.

I’m getting super psyched for the summer ahead and am really happy to be back in Stratton with my great teammates. The atmosphere on the team is awesome right now, with everyone carrying a super high level of motivation. We’ll head to New Zealand for a few weeks in early July for (hopefully) some great on-snow training before coming back to Vermont. With having bounced around so much all spring, it’ll be super nice to be in one spot here in Stratton for a few more weeks.IMG_1072

IMG_1024

On top of Petrero's tallest summit, El Toro

On top of Petrero’s tallest summit, El Toro

Soph on pitch 8 of Dope Ninja, an 11 pitch 5.10 in Potrero

Soph on pitch 8 of Dope Ninja, an 11 pitch 5.10 in Potrero

View of Potrero from out casita. One of the coolest places I've ever climbed, or even been

View of Potrero from out casita. One of the coolest places I’ve ever climbed, or even been

IMG_1115

06.12

2015

The amazing sprint course/stadium layout in Ostersund. This was one of the coolest designed sprint courses I've ever raced on.

Pre-World’s

Topic: Ski Racing

We arrived here in Falun- just a couple hundred km north of Stockholm- a couple nights ago after a great weekend of World Cup action in Ostersund. Staying right in the heart of the city, it’s easy to be constantly reminded of how excited the local businesses and residents are for the championships. There are huge billboards and banners throughout the town advertising the races that begin on Thursday and everywhere you go you can tell that the locals are ecstatic that all of us athletes are here and that the organized chaos of World Champs is about to begin. The courses are in great shape… Falun was spared the bizarre warm front and rain that blew in to Ostersund just before last weekend’s races. The championships will kick off with the individual classic sprint on Thursday, and distance racing begins Saturday with the men’s and women’s skiathlons.

I’m feeling good heading into Worlds… an 11th place in last Saturday’s World Cup classic sprint has left me confident that my fitness and speed are in really good places heading into this week. Racing is racing, and nothing is ever set in stone, but I know that if I get out there, stay relaxed, and ski smart, I’ll come away from this week with some results and efforts that I can be proud of. My mom and aunt, as well as a pretty massive contingent of North American parents, family members, and super-fans will be course-side for most of the championships, cheering on the stars and stripes. I can’t wait for it… 4 months is a long time to be away from home and all the people that make home so special.

More to come on the blog when the start gun goes off Thursday, so check back in for some stories and photos!

The amazing sprint course/stadium layout in Ostersund. This was one of the coolest designed sprint courses I've ever raced on.

The amazing sprint course/stadium layout in Ostersund. This was one of the coolest designed sprint courses I’ve ever raced on.

A quick training selfie with my sprint friend from Austia, Markus Bader.

A quick training selfie with my sprint friend from Austia, Markus Bader.

A view of the Falun stadium  from half-way of the biggest climb on the distance course. The abyss that falls below is the landing for the K120 ski jump.

A view of the Falun stadium from half-way of the biggest climb on the distance course. The abyss that falls below is the landing for the K120 ski jump.

Here is a video of the entire Ostersund sprint. I am featured in quarterfinal #4 and semifinal #2:

 

 

02.17

2015

IMG_0295

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

Help support my journey >
thank you for your donation!

Make contact

970.710.9092

24 Ardmore Drive

Aspen, CO 81611