Simi Hamilton

 

General News

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

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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

Done and done.

100,000 Meters

Topic: General News

There are countless things that are put into a ski-race-winning equation. There are the seemingly endless sets of 6×4 min level 4 intervals in the training season. There are the speed sessions that you do on the same stretch of road or trail, trying to get just a little bit faster and more powerful each time you do them. There are the 1,000s of pull-ups, dips, and lat pullovers. And every so often there are the workouts that are truly, at their core, so fun and challenging and ridiculous that you get a little nervous just thinking about them even when they are weeks away.

This past Saturday, our motley crew of SMS T2 skiers set out on a brisk Fall New England day to ski 100 km in one training session. When you train 800 hours a year, you get accustomed to passing the same fence lines, the same guard rails, and the same trees along a single track run week after week after week. So the opportunity to ski for over 6 hours in rolling farm terrain in country we seldom see is a rejuvenation for your mind and body. Everything becomes exciting, from the slow but manageable pace you have to maintain to reminding yourself to take down a liter of Gatorade every hour. The team becomes more cohesive. You take turns breaking a head wind at the front of a long pace line. And you find a rhythm to your skiing that you all too often forget you had.

We chose to ski the majority of our km’s just across the border in NY state. The roads and undulating terrain are ideal for long, slow efforts. The local tractor drivers and farm hands are psyched to see you out there and drive on the far left side when they pass, all the while giving you a thumbs up or a supportive wave as they slowly drive by. And when you reach the top of any one of the numerous hills you get a heart-stirring view of some of New England’s most historic and beautiful farm land and forests.

The cherry on top was having my mom, aunt, and uncle, as well as Annie Pokorny’s parents and boyfriend Will (aka photographer extraordinaire) along for the ride in the support cars (and bikes) as they kept our energy high and handed us apple cake and doughnuts from 80 km on. And of course a huge thanks goes to our coaches who not only work tirelessly day in and day out to allow us to become the best athletes and people we can become, but for the route planning and organization that went into this whole thing. I’m already looking forward to next year’s 100 km ski and many more adventures like it. After all, it’s part of the job description and that ain’t bad.

Heading out. Km zero

 

Double pole pace line

 

Coach Pat adding up the length segments

 

Mom making sure none of the pieces fall apart. She's had lots of practice with that in the last 27 years

 

Sver dishing out some words of encouragement at 90 km.

 

Soph breaking into that tired/giggly/happy/almost there feeling at 95 km.

 

Getting into the rhythm.

 

The girls utilizing the "Sverre brake" into one of the sketchy downhill intersections.

 

Power food.

 

The girls on the home stretch.

 

Enjoying a cold beer and a good laugh at 100.01 km. The girls (background) had a few more km to ski but they got their moment a few minutes later.

 

Done and done.

 

 

 

 

 

09.24

2014

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