Simi Hamilton

 
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

Kuusamo Kick Off

Topic: General News

Pretty awesome conditions here in Kuusamo. Temps are mild, which isn’t always the case when you’re living on the Arctic Circle in late November, and the race trails are in great shape. Things kick off tomorrow with the first World Cup race of the year… a classic sprint. Followed by a 10/15km classic distance race on Sunday. We’re all feeling the psych! Here’s a short video I threw together today of some random clips from the week. Hope it get’s your fired up… Don’t forget to go full screen and crank those HD settings! More to come soon.

 

11.28

2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 5.29.07 AM

Outside Mag

Topic: General News

I was flipping thru my girlfriend’s Nov/Dec issue of Outside a little while back and turned the page to find my ugly mug staring back at me. Yikes! That was kind of funny. But kind of cool too. I knew that I was going to be featured in the ‘My Body’ segment of the magazine at some point, but I didn’t think it was going to be so soon considering they had just wrapped up the interview questions and photo stuff a few weeks before. Anyway, it’s pretty cool to be featured in such a high profile magazine and I’m humbled that I got the opportunity. For a while it was only available in-print, but now you can find it online here:

Outside Magazine Article

It’s -18 celsius in Muonio right now and I’m rummaging thru my closet to see what else I can put on that will keep me warm for my ski this morning. I’m really hoping that sun that’s supposed to “rise” at 10:30 will warm things up at least a half a degree. We’ll see. I thought it was funny that in the most recent USSA Facebook update from Muonio, the author (who shall remain nameless) referred to the temps as being unseasonably warm. What season are you referring to, Matt?

 

11.22

2014

Yeah, pretty nice, right?

We’re Therrrre

Topic: General News

Well, in the spirit of the newest Dumb and Dumber having just come out, I thought I’d title this post as a bit of homage to that exquisite piece of cinematic work. And although I don’t feel exactly like Harry or Lloyd having just arrived in Asssssssspen, I do feel like we’ve finally touched down in a place where we can get back to what we’re supposed to be doing this time of year.

Our 30-hour travel day across the pond from Vermont to the far reaches of Northern Finland ensued without too much drama. My bags actually got spit out of the luggage carousel this time when we landed in Rovaniemi (actual home to Santa Clause), which definitely did not happen the first two times I made this trip. It’s always a humorous affair to listen to how cold the pilot says the outside air temperature is when you land in the small city on the Arctic Circle, and then actually step outside. You’d think that since we are, in fact, professional SKI racers, we wouldn’t have a problem when it’s 25 degrees out. I mean, that should be downright balmy compared to 95% of the places we usually race in the winter. But I guess summer makes us all soft because no matter how warm it is when you step off that first race-season flight, if it’s below 50 you’re gonna be cringing like you would if you were out for a 3 hour ski in January in Russia and you forgot your wind briefs. But you never complain because you know that coldness=snow and snow=skiing and skiing is a good thing.

The conditions are pretty darn nice up here in the north country. Not the best we’ve ever seen, but what they do have open, which is about 6 or 7 km, has great coverage and the cold temps means that the classic skiing especially is top notch. Great kick, firm tracks, and as long as you don’t get tangled up with one of the 4,000 Russians doing an hour of race-pace every single session, you’re bound to have a great ski. Even though we’re pretty far up here, it always surprises me how long it is actually light(ish) during the day. I mean, I’m pretty sure you could ski to the north pole in about a day if you wanted to, but it really isn’t all that bad. By about 8 o’clock you don’t need a headlamp to walk to breakfast, and as long as you leave lunch to walk home by about 1:30, you still don’t need a headlamp! Cool! I actually really dig those afternoon skis under the lights when it’s pitch black at 3 p.m. You feel like you’re nuking when in reality you’re probably going slower than that first race you did as an 11 year old.

We’ll be here through the weekend, just getting some final quality training in, before we make the windy 4 hour drive to Kuusamo for the World Cup kickoff party. Then it’s game on until mid-March. So check back in for some more reports from the way way out there. Because I may run into a bear. Or eat a snowshoe hair.

Landing in Newark, we flew right over a Giant's game. They looked small. They didn't look Giant.

 

Getting caught up with life in Rovaniemi... "Ahhh, we haven't seen our Instagram feeds for, like, an hour!" Just kidding. I took this pic on my phone. Right after I had checked my Instagram feed.

 

Noon, twilight ski. Cold here, but the kind of cold that makes you feel good and wakes you up like a strong cup of coffee.

Yeah, pretty nice, right?

11.19

2014

IMG_0140

Frozen(ish) Thunder

Topic: General News

No matter what time of year, it’s always a pleasure to ski on REAL snow. We spend, mmm, about 350 hours a year pounding the pavement on roller skis, so to finally click in to a pair of real skis in early October, as the anticipation of the quickly incoming World Cup season is at an all time high, is a pretty darn good feeling. Even if it is on a 2 km loop. For that last few years, our Canadian friends, eh, have been rolling out “Frozen Thunder” for skiers from near and far to come and train on. They stockpile a massive heap of blown snow all winter long, cover it with wood chips when the temps start rising in the spring, store it all summer, and then spread it and groom it in mid-October. It’s pretty cool to feel like you’re so close to home when you’re in a community that takes it’s XC training, racing, and culture so seriously. They do it right, and it’s pretty sweet that we get to take advantage of it.

Our dryland camp in Park City preceding our 10 days on snow up here was super productive. As is usually the case in October, we primarily focused on hard intensity and speed, spending a lot of time at the rollerski loop at Soldier Hollow. We did, however, manage to get up high in the mountains for some pretty sweet runs during prime leaf-peeping time. A quick flight from Salt Lake got us up to Calgary, and an hour later we were nestled back into the Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge in Canmore. Conditions haven’t been perfect this year on the ‘Thunder’, but like I said, any snow in October is good snow. Temps have been a little warmer than in the past, but the track is holding up nicely and they are forecasting for some colder nights tonight and into the beginning of this week. Our training focus thus far up here in the north country has been trying to get that good feeling of moving fast again after so many months of roller skiing and running. We’ve been doing a lot of speed work and have had one time trial (with a second one on the docket for tomorrow). Here’s a short clip of my teammate, Andy, and me during one of our speed workouts a couple days ago.

I haven’t had many good opportunities to snap some pics of the hamster wheel this week on the account of it being pretty rainy every day, but I think it’s supposed to get a tad nicer up here so I’ll post some photos in a few days.

We’ll have to pack up and get out of this beautiful place on Wednesday. It’s always a little bit depressing leaving Canmore because this little mountain town reminds me so much of home, but leaving here only means that our flight to Europe in a few weeks is that much closer. And our first opportunity to put on a World Cup bib will follow soon after. Thanks for checking in from the land of Molson, extremely nice people, and pretty sweet sunrises.

10.27

2014

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