Simi Hamilton

 

12.31.2013

Topic: General News

I had a breakthrough this week. I won a World Cup. It feels good to say that, as I’m still in a bit of shock that all of this is actually happening. You spend a lot of time closing your eyes and envisioning what it’s going to be like when it actually does happen. You go through it so many times that it becomes somewhat of a familiarity to you, even though it hasn’t even happened yet. But somehow, even after after all those sleepless nights and those long flights when you can’t think about anything expect how cool it would be to cross the line first, you can’t prepared yourself for how it actually feels.

I was talking to one of my coaches today and I found myself explaining what was going through my head in the last 100 meters of the race. If I were to put it into numbers, I would say that 99% of my brain was focusing on not putting a pole between my legs. And the other 1%? Well that part of me was the little boy in a candy shop just looking around wondering if what was happening was actually real. And even though almost all of my focus was on not doing anything to royally screw up the day, that 1% is still the emotion that I think about most when I look back to what happened. That 1% is an addictive drug that really good athletes love. It’s the feeling we get knowing that what we’re about to do, and the feelings that come with it, aren’t felt by that many people in the world. Winning something big and important is a crazy thing, and I’m pretty fired up for more of that same feeling.

I wish I had some good pictures from the day, but I literally haven’t seen any except for a few on the FIS website. I’ll keep searching around to see if I can track some down, but until then, you can watch most of the heat footage (including both men’s and women’s finals) at this Vimeo link. Thanks to crosscountryski.us for throwing this up on the web. Keep the vids coming!!!

Lenzerheide Sprint World Cup

01.02

2014

Me heading around one of two tight 180 corners on the sprint course during my quarterfinal. I'd go on to place 3rd in my heat and 14th on the day

Swiss Living

Topic: General News

I have found the elusive European internet, and if the past is any indication of the future, I’ll have to write this post quickly before it disappears into the great black void again (I’m still convinced that great black void is just one of the Canadian skiers downloading movies). My team and I have been in Davos for the last 10 days. Coming to this bustling, quaint town (slightly paradoxical but that’s actually a pretty accurate label) after spending three weeks in Scandinavian ice box ski villages above the Arctic circle is like the feeling you get stepping off a plane in Mexico in the middle of January… you can’t get enough of the warmth on your face, and you’re batteries immediately begin to recharge, filling you with much needed energy that comes from daytime lasting longer than 4 hours and long deck-lounging sessions in nothing but a pair of surf shorts. The conditions here are good… not the greatest we’ve ever seen, but of course the Swiss military did a superb job of trucking in the necessary amount of snow to fill the few random thin spots on the course. Our ten day Swiss vacation (as I like to call it), was momentarily interrupted this past weekend with two races. I, like pretty much all the World Cup sprinters, opted out of Saturday’s 30 km distance race in order to be as well rested and as sparky as possible leading up to Sunday’s skate sprint. We had some great team performances on Saturday, including 4 women in the points in their 15 km and Noah’s impressive 24th in the 30 km. Sunday’s sprint would prove to be no different, as we had 6 women and 2 men in the points (top-30). I felt good leading into the day… maybe not the best I’ve ever felt before a sprint, but I think that’s a really good sign in terms of where I want to be right now and how I want to be feeling. If I had felt like I was just completely on fire and nothing could stop me, that’d probably be a bad sign at this point. Anyway, I qualified decently well in 21st and felt good skiing in my quarterfinal. I tried to make a couple tactical moves on the one and only climb (Davos is always a 2-lap sprint course so you end up climbing the same short but steep hill twice), but I kept getting boxed out just as I would find a gap to climb thru and move up in the pack. I was unable to advance but because I was just two places out of the the second lucky loser spot (‘lucky loser’ refers to a placement that is good enough to advance you to the next round based on how fast you skied that heat), I ended up 14th on the day. Not the best result I’ve ever had, but as the Norwegians like to say, “The shape… it is coming.” I’d like to think that a top-15 on the World Cup is a result to hang your hat on, but I’m hungry for more and I know that if I keep my focus I’ll be climbing the steps of the podium someday. Tomorrow we travel to Asiago, Italy for a sprinter’s weekend where we’ll race an individual classic sprint on Saturday and a team classic sprint on Sunday. Then it’s back to Davos for a few days of dressing up in Christmas sweaters and wishing I was skiing powder with my family as I unwrap a couple presents that I got myself before we make the long trek up to Oberhof, Germany for the start of the Tour de Ski. Apparently the guy who makes the schedule for the World Cups is not a big fan of Christmas and all the great things that come with it, but oh well, what can you do. Thanks for checking in and I hope you enjoy some of these shots from our days here in Davos.

Swiss military preparing the course before the weekend

Catching some righteous rays in that sun that Davos is known for.

Mikey Sinnott and I headed out for a full moon ski the other night. We ended up finding perfect corduroy and didn't even have to turn our headlamps on.

Me heading around one of two tight 180 corners on the sprint course during my quarterfinal. I'd go on to place 3rd in my heat and 14th on the day. Photo Bryan Fish (USST)

Tight bunching at the start of my quarterfinal heat. Photo Bryan Fish (USST)

 

 

 

12.18

2013

Feeling like my power and energy are in a good place. Photo from Sunday's skate sprint qualifier in Beitostolen, Norway.

One Down, A Whole Lot More To Go

Topic: General News

I think it was when I was skidding to a stop on my face on a sheet of ice that I realized I wasn’t having a very great day. Generally, it’s faster to stay upright on your skis while you race, but apparently my kick pocket didn’t get that memo when it decided to launch me like a scud missile head first into the banked corner at the very bottom of the longest downhill of the season opener 15 km distance race in Beitostolen, Norway. So I think it’s fair to say that maybe the first real race of the year was not exactly what I was looking for. I felt terrible… my body was tired and it wasn’t firing like I needed it to, I shattered my pole when I face planted and had to ski the entire 2 minute climb after the corner with one pole (I actually did a fair amount of that this summer with a wrist injury, so I’d like to think that really helped), and then I skied for about 3 km with a spare pole that was 10 cm too tall. But I’m fairly certain that that by the time I was cooled down from the race and warming up in the shower, I was chuckling about how horrible of a day it was. You learn to deal with days like that after ski racing for 16 years. Sometimes I think it’s hindering to not get too worked up about a bad race day or an unlucky crash, but every now and then I think it helps to have that kind of personality

Fortunately, I was able to salvage a bit of my bruised ego two days later in the skate sprint race in the same small Norwegian town. At least for the first half of the day. I qualified decently well, which in Beito is generally a good sign considering it’s one of Norway’s biggest Scando Cup races of the year and more often than not all the big guns come out to play. My energy was great leading in to my quarterfinal but an overly aggressive move on the inside of an icy corner left me tangled with a German and with another shattered pole. Come to think of it, I’m really glad that I don’t have to buy poles anymore and that Swix’s support for it’s World Cup athletes is off the chart.

So the first weekend is in the books and now it’s time to get fired up for the World Cup opener in Ruka, Finland coming up in T-minus three days. The travel from Norway over to the true northland (Kuusamo is basically on the Arctic Circle and I’m fairly confident that this far north the reindeer to human ratio is about 5:1) was easy. The conditions here in Ruka are superb… this will be my 4th year racing here and I’ve never seen the race trails and the ‘tourist’ trails in such great shape. I’m unbelievably stoked for Friday’s sprint and the team energy is super positive right now. All for now!

Beauty of a morning yesterday flying out of Oslo en route to Finland

Feeling like my power and energy are in a good place. Photo from Sunday's skate sprint qualifier in Beitostolen, Norway.

Mmmmm. Look at that 'stache. That is a thing of beauty if I've ever seen one (Just kidding mom, I promise I'll shave that bugger off in a few days).

Brings me back to my high school days... some young jibbers setting up a handrail outside of our apartment last nigh. I think they just built the jump, looked at it, and talked about how sweet it would be to hit it. Posers.

11.26

2013

A short but productive storm that rolled in last night

Welcome Back

Topic: General News

Well, I’ll start this post as I do most of my posts: It’s been a while. But as I look ahead to the next 5 months on the road in Europe, I can genuinely say that I’m stoked to keep all of you filled on my adventures, races, daily run-ins with strange European mannerisms, and everything in between. I got to spend a lot of time with friends, family, and fans (that word makes me feel pretentious but oh well) at home and in Vermont before I left for the season, and one of the most eye-opening things that occurred to me is that there are many, many people out there that are anxious to know what I’m up to, here the stories, and see what I’m seeing everyday. So here we go.

Before I give a run-down about how great the travel/race season has been so far (granted we’re only about 4 days into it), I want to give an enormous shout-out to:

1. My home town… before I left (literally just a few hours before), we had our annual fundraiser in Aspen to help support Noah, Michael Ward (U.S. Ski Team Nordic Combined athlete and home-town Aspen boy), and myself as we head toward Sochi. As it has been for the two previous years we’ve done the fundraiser, the night was a huge success. It’s always so wonderful to see old teachers, family-friends, old teammates, and so many community members in general. Although I don’t get to spend nearly as much time at home as I would like to these days, I can’t tell all of you how much it means to me to be able to physically see and feel all the energy and momentum that is lifting us Aspenites towards our ultimate goal of becoming Olympic Champions and great role models for the next generation. It is huge for us, and we appreciate everything so much. For the event, I put together a video highlighting some of our past seasons’ performances and our thoughts as we head into the Olympic year. For those that don’t know me, I don’t usually comb my hair, have a mustache, dress in Christmas sweaters, and sit by the crackling fire while I read Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady, or at least in combination.

2. My aunt and uncle Tots and Lolly… Tots and Lol are like my guarding angels. If it wasn’t for them, I’d probably still be in Vermont trying to pack, organize, and get everything I needed to get done before I left for the season. You guys are so awesome and I can’t thank you enough for all of your love, support, and long drives to help me pack, organize, and take me out to lunch.

Okay, so we arrived in Beitostolen, Norway (a sleepy resort-town about 2.5 hours northwest of Oslo) a few days ago. Although we were told the quality of snow was above average for the area this time of year, we brought with us the warm temps and had a couple days of so-so (relatively) conditions. Our luck turned around last night as a couple inches of big-flaked snow carpeted the trails and was immediately followed by a cold high pressure system that is supposed to sit over the are thru the weekend. The skiing today was outstanding with firm tracks, plenty of coverage and northland sunshine. Ahhhh Norway, that’s how I remember you. There will be two distance races and a sprint this weekend, and most of us will race a combination of two. I, myself, will race the 15 km classic on Friday and the skate sprint on Sunday. Because this weekend is not a World Cup, a quota doesn’t exist for start spots. Which essentially means that because this is Norway and because it is an open-entry race, there will most likely be around 1,000 people racing each day (no joke). And since the sun rises at 8:30 and sets at about 3, people will literally be racing from dawn till dusk. It’s a great scene, and I’ve had some good races on these courses before, so I’m pumped. On Monday we hit the road, flying over to Kuusamo, Finland (where it’s even colder and darker) for our World Cup opener weekend. Even though training has been going great this week and my body is feeling a little slow from one last push of volume and a little bit of jetlag, I’ve been trying to find some time this week to take a deep breath and get my mind where it needs to be for a very busy winter ahead. Basically, I’m looking down the barrel of 5 months of racing every single weekend, with lots of quality training on those week days that we’re not racing. It’s going to be a good adventure, so continue to check back in and follow along as we head toward Sochi…

Here are a few pics I snapped from around Beito.

Sun coming up as Liz and I walk to the venue at 9:10 this morning

A short but productive storm that rolled in last night

A few of the many Norwegians pounding out some intervals on the great tracks this morning

Pretty stellar view from the venue this morning of the moon and northland plateau. Seeing this land makes me want to come on a month long crust skiing trip to this place someday

Here’s a short clip showcasing the quality of snow and skiing right now in Beito:

We work hard, but these guys are always working harder. They get it done in the wax room day in and day out and take very little credit for it. Simply, THEY F%^&*#G ROCK

11.19

2013

IMG_0008

From Down South

Topic: General News

Okay, I’ve been holding off long enough. It’s too much of a task to wrap my head around writing one huge post to summarize everything that has been going on since our camp in Bend in May (and, without irony, the last time I wrote a blog update). So I’ll put that challenge off for a little longer and hopefully revisit the idea of writing a short novel about Stratton, Vermont, surfing, and humidity soon and with more gusto. So, to keep things simple, to the point, relevant, and hopefully inspiring, Here’s what’s gone down for the last 11 days: Skiing. On snow.

It’s been an interesting winter down here in Wanaka, New Zealand so far. I’m told by local knowledge (local knowledge meaning our buddy, Steve, who runs the Snow Farm and Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground. And who is also, un-coincidentally, pretty much the coolest dude in the world), that it dumped snow here during one storm in early June. Since then, it’s been drier than a desert in drought. So, maybe we haven’t quite had the conditions that we’ve had down here in the year’s past, but it’s still New Zealand, and there’s still some km’s out there, and no matter what, this place is always a rad place to come and train. One of the coolest parts of training down here during their winters is that you can immerse yourself in the winter landscape up high (the Snow Farm is apprx 30 switchbacks up from the Cardrona Valley floor) and then 30 minutes later you can find yourself in shorts and a t jogging in 65 degree weather along some rugged coast line or lake shore.

Teammates Andy and Noah headed towards Wanaka on the Glendhu Bay Track. A cool run by the water.

Although we haven’t seen any snow fall from above yet, we’ve had some pretty awesome weather. The landscape lends itself to amazing cloudbanks, sunsets, and sunrises, and the 360° views offer glimpses of some of the most impressive peaks in the Southern Hemisphere.

Training has been going well. I rolled my ankle a few weeks ago on a run in Vermont, and I’m still trying to sort out some persistent and lingering alignment and ligament issues with that (most of them stemming from a bad ankle accident 8 years ago), but it’s given me a chance to get creative with my training. Yesterday, all of us North Americans skied a 15 km classic time trial on the trails around the lodge at the Snow Farm. Conditions were pretty much perfect for some good klister skiing. Rock hard tracks. Fast, icy downhills. And cold temps. For the most part, the course lended itself to double poling, and since I’m still not feeling great about striding on steeper hills (especially with the potential of a slipped kick), I decided to put my guns to the test and see how I would stack up to all the other dudes who were striding the course on klister skis. I was pretty encouraged with how I did, especially since I feel like my double pole has always been my Achilles’ heel. As a bigger skier, it certainly helped that it was super hard packed, but I think that I’ve made some solid adjustments with help from my SMS coach Gus Kaeding, and those showed yesterday.

Well, we’ve got a few more days of training here before we board the long flight back to the motherland. The forecast calls for colder temps thru this week. It’s always hard to leave this place, especially when the conditions are great, but it sure is nice to get back to the long days of summer, dinners outside on the porch, and some final days at the swimming holes. I’ll leave you with a short video I put together from a bunch of totally random clips I found on my computer the other day.

 

08.24

2013

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