Simi Hamilton

 

General News

Great session of L4 intervals to start camp off

lake placid, an attempt at a catch-up, and learning to be patient

Topic: General News

I rolled my ankle trail running in the Adirondacks yesterday… worse than I have in quite a few years (which is saying something considering this little chronic problem of mine is my nemesis ever since I partially tore a bunch of ligaments alpine skiing in the park in high school and I tend to re-injure it at some level about 2 times a year). So I’ve been hobbling around the hallways of the always lovely Lake Placid Olympic Training Center in an air cast and have subjected myself to using the Game Ready ice/compress machine several hours a day while staring at the same portraits of the greatest past Olympic moments that they’ve had on the bedroom walls for the last 15+ years (probably longer). But I don’t want to dwell on any of that, especially since I should be back to full-go mode in no more than a few days (KOW). There’s not a ton do around these parts besides train a lot and take advantage of the blazing WiFi (I’ve come to compare all internet I come across to European standards), and since I can only do one of those activities at the moment, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time perusing thru the various ins and outs of the inter web. There’s a lot of empty and meaningless crap out there, but there’s also a lot of pretty cool stuff. I’ve been checking out a lot of YouTube videos about space, and have passed lots of time reading about some of my friends’ adventure stories from skiing in South America or traveling the World Cup mountain bike circuit. So anyway, why is all of this relevant? Because I’m all of a sudden really fired up to offer something on the world wide web that isn’t just meaningless nonsense. I’m genuinely looking forward to sharing tons of great pictures and stories with you from life on the road as I travel home and abroad, from the Colorado mountains to the Vermont rolling forests to the European World Cup race courses. So I’ll start with a little recap of our summer on-snow camp in Alaska that we finished up a couple weeks ago.

We were lucky enough to get invited up to the land of midnight sun to train with the Alaska Pacific University crew for a couple weeks. Getting away from home for a little bit during the summer always mixes things up a bit and keeps training fresh, and being able to get on snow in mid-July is always an incredibly valuable thing. Training with the APU men’s team was a great opportunity to come together as a collective North American powerhouse, push each other in hard workouts, try some new technique ideas in the longer workouts, and share a beer, great food, and some laughs when all was said and done. Here are some photos from our week of dry land training in and around Anchorage as well as some from the Eagle Glacier, which sits nestled 5,000′ above the the little town of Girdwood on the Turnagain Arm.

Running in the Chugach. Hanging clouds and low temps made some of the days feel like October

 

The long climb up Hatcher. Such a beautiful area... made me want to come back with my BC skis

Headed up to Eagle Glacier on the coolest and quickest mode of transportation. Thanks to Alpine Air AK for the awesome shuttle service.

 

Although we had quite a few days of fog up on the glacier, we managed to see a few days like this up there. Simply stunning

 

Happiness. Most easily achieved by sliding around on snow in big mountains

 

After training about 55 hours in two weeks while in AK, a much needed break was needed. Home-home seemed the perfect place to spend some down time, catching up with family and friends, and breathing in some of that Colorado mountain air. I got out on some great adventures while I was there, swam as much as possible, and rejuvenated my body with a ton of sleep every night. It worked well for my girlfriend Sophie to meet me there since she was already in MT visiting family, and it was super fun to show her some of my favorite CO adventures even under the uncommon drizzly August skies.

Getting some air time into 45 degree water up the Pass.

Perfect running up on Lost Man Loop. Felt like late October even thought it was early August.

Three of my favorite people in the world. Two of my best friends, Gus and Linden, and my sister Jen.

Spending some time at our ranch in Southern Colorado. Lots of lake time and some great adventures into 1000's acres of National Forest that were burnt last summer

When things burn, new beginnings come. The wildflowers in the burn area were outstanding

On the very last day I was home, I got the sudden urge to run the “Four Pass Loop” in the Maroon-Snowmass wilderness. The loop is about 27 miles long and climbs four passes that are all around 12,500′. It was my first time running it and I was incredibly happy that I did. To be out on your own for 6+ hours and see only a few people in some of the most beautiful backcountry in the world is a pretty surreal experience.

Trail Rider Pass at about 7 a.m. Stunning place to be all alone.

When you adventure alone, lots of selfies are taken.

Some weather moving thru the Fravert/Upper Crystal Basin.

After getting back to the east coast, I pretty much blinked and it was already time for our next camp in Lake Placid. Which pretty much brings us full circle to me sitting here right now typing this in the OTC. It was a great start to camp doing some hard L4 uphill skate intervals up Hurricane Mtn in Keene. I’m hopeful that I’ll still be able to get in some more really good skiing and adventuring while I’m here. My ankle is already feeling worlds better with the center’s all-star crew of sports med folks helping me out. I’ll keep you posted with more training pics and stories next week.

Great session of L4 intervals to start camp off

Feels good to move fast this time of year

Newell, me, and fellow Midd alum Ben Lustgarten

 

08.29

2014

Photo Apr 11, 9 16 22 AM

A Good Way to Start a New Year

Topic: General News

It’s that time of the season again. We dust off the race skis and roller skis, double wash the polypro underlayers that somehow got missed when unpacking after the end of the race season, and settle into the routine of 30 hour training weeks. I guess if I were totally honest, that time actually came a few weeks ago, but I’m just now catching my breath enough to write this after a hectic first few weeks of travel between the west and east coasts, twice, tons of on-snow time at our annual spring camp at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon, and finally feeling somewhat settled down here in Stratton, Vermont where I’ll be spending my summer training season again. I’m super excited and humbled to be part of Stratton Mountain School’s T2 team again, and our team roster is comprised of some pretty outstanding people both on and off the race trails.

Usually, every spring, I find a way to escape to someplace warm where I can put my toes in the sand and catch some waves in water warmer than 50 degrees (something you get used to when you do the majority of your surfing on the New England coast). But this spring, I was completely content to hang back at home in Colorado and take advantage of the great snow year we had out there. Since I’m trapped on the road in Europe every year from November-April, being home with friends and family and finding some good lines to ski in the high peaks around my home makes me pretty darn happy. This year was especially enjoyable as I got in a ton of days and found the whole gamut of conditions from knee deep cold powder to super steep corn lines under blue bird skies. One of the best parts about spending time in the backcountry is who you get to spend those hours with. I was so grateful to get out with some of my best friends in the world this spring. One of the highlights of April was skiing North Maroon’s giant, 50 degree NorthEast Face (with some pretty big air at the bottom making it a bit of a ‘no-fall line’). Most of my other days exploring good snow were spent up by our cabin on McClure Pass and some great close-to-home tours in the heart of the Elks. Here’s a whole slew of some of the places we explored.

I also got in some great days in the desert when my sister, her boyfriend James, and I checked out some classic lines on some pretty inspiring desert towers around Moab, including Castelton (Castle Valley) and Ancient Art (Fisher Towers).

Our annual camp at Mt. Bachelor, just outside of Bend, Oregon, was one of the best we’ve had in years. I can’t remember the last time I was there and we had a such a crazy long stretch of beautiful days. Even though the skiing and grooming for us is great every year, I think I get most excited about everything else you can do around that area. Even with about 32 hours of on-snow time in 10 days, I managed to get out for some great rides and an afternoon of awesome cragging with the dudes while the girls were putting on Fast and Female.

I’m back in VT for quite a good chunk of time now before I head up to Alaska for our on-camp on the Eagle Glacier outside of Girdwood. I’m already scoping out a trip to Montreal to surf my kayak on the La Chine wave, getting to the Adirondacks for some sunny trad climbing on the steep walls around Keene Valley, and hopefully finding a day to escape to the coast for some good surf before I have to get on a plane and leave again. So stay tuned for some good adventure stories and hopefully even better pictures. Cheers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

06.11

2014

Jessie pretty much epitomizes the spirit I'm talking about.

Topic: General News

This is going to be a short one because I’m gearing up to go check out the women’s 4×5 km relay in a few minutes. There’s few things more exciting than watching our women CRUSH HOUSE, and they’ve had a few relays on the World Cup where they’ve done exactly that. Watching them ski as one team, it’s easy to see why they are regarded as the relay team with the most heart. And I don’t mean that in the sense that they go out and ski hard with lots of heart, but never do very well on the results list… They are becoming regulars on the podium and they find themselves up there because of what they know they can accomplish as a team of 4, not just 4 individual women skiing 5 km each. So anyway, regardless of where they finish, it always makes me enormously proud that they are such a prominent face of our team. They give us all a good name in the international ski community, and as USA XC continues to define itself as a nordic powerhouse, that’s pretty important. I’m hoping that everyone back home who doesn’t watch the relay live this morning wakes up to find some history-making news, but even if that doesn’t happen, I’m still enormously proud to be a part of this team with these stand up ladies.

Jessie pretty much epitomizes the spirit I'm talking about.

So a little bit about the sprint last Tuesday… Everyone who’s reading this has probably had that experience at some point in their life of really wanting to do things over again. That’s pretty much where I’m at with how the sprint turned out. But what I’ve realized in the last few days since the race, is that I do get to do it over again, because there are going to be SO many more races- Olympic races, World Cup races, World Championship races- ahead of me in the future. And although I can’t turn back time to avoid all the things that I felt didn’t go my way on that big day, I can wake up every morning with the goal of just becoming a better ski racer, a better person, a better teammate. No matter how big or small the tasks. It’s for sure a little frustrating to be in the middle of my best ski racing season ever, and feel like one specific result at the Olympics doesn’t reflect the racing shape that I’m in and the speed that I have at my fingertips right now, but oh well. Sometimes things line up in a sprint heat, and sometimes they don’t. That’s why this is one of the toughest sports in the world, mentally and physically, and that’s why we love it. It’s just a ski race and if we didn’t learn anything from all the days that we’re out there- the good ones and the bad ones- than this whole thing would be totally pointless.

It still feels like summer up here at the Endurance Village, so I’m gonna go throw on my cutoff race suit, cruise around on the course for a few minutes, soak up some righteous rays, and then get my cheer on for our girls. Go USA!

Soph showing the world the latest in nordic fashion… sleeveless. It’s been about 60 F during the last few afternoon races up here.
The queen. Marit Bjorgen (NOR) striding the big climb like a boss. I think she ended up 5th in the women’s 10 km classic, but she’s always one of the most graceful classic skiers to watch out there.
Sunshine, beautiful mountain landscape, raucous fans.

02.15

2014

IMG_1228

Sochi- Hot. Cool. Yours.

Topic: General News

We’re here! Kind of a strange title for this post, but seeing as Hot. Cool. Yours. is the official slogan of the 2014 Olympics, I thought it fitting. Still trying to figure out exactly what it means, and if anyone has any concrete answers for me, let me know. Anyway, there are more than a few perplexing things about the Olympics, not just the unique slogans, that seem to catch my attention when I’m here. Like where all the millions of plastic bottles go after they’e been discarded (we’re under strict rules to only use bottled water… even for brushing our teeth), how logistics seem to stay so smooth for the thousands of athletes, coaches, and staff that are here, and how to get three duffel bags of Olympic garb home once the games are over. Again, if anyone has any concrete answers, let me know.

We arrived at the Endurance Village a few days ago. This place is crazy, especially after contrasting it to what we say here and down in the valley when we raced our pre-Oly test World Cups exactly one year ago. As we walked to meals at the Endurance Village and drove past hundreds of iron and steel hotel skeletons lined along the highway up from the Black Sea last February, I remember thinking to myself, “How in God’s name are they going to get everything done by next February?” Well, from our end of things, it seems like they did. And hat’s off to the thousands and thousands of hard working construction workers and planners that made it happen. Sure, there are stories about media hotels still not having running water, and doorknobs coming off in-hand when people have checked into their hotel rooms, but from where we sit, everything is pretty darn amazing. We’re living the good life, as some like to say. The skiing on the race trails is unbelievable. Fast, great tracks, stunning views, and courses that are extremely challenging, technical, and fun all bundled up into one amazing bubble of a venue. I hit a pretty good speed on the big downhill today, and didn’t even blink an eye because of the perfect grooming and layout of the trails:

Thanks Zach Caldwell for the great shot.

Since it’s just the XC skiers and biathletes up at the Endurance Village for the entirety of the games, you see a lot of familiar faces everywhere you go. You get to know a lot of great people from just being on the World Cup all year, so it’s fun to hook up with friends around here for a quick game of pool, a training lap around the race course, or a bit of deck time in the afternoon sun.

So far, the two Olympic opening ceremonies that I’ve been to have ranked right up there with that time I took a trip to outer space and that other time I safely landed a 747. Somewhat unreal to say the least. The energy is out of this world and there’s really no layman’s way to describe walking into a stadium in front of 50,000 spectators with the stars and stripes on your back. It makes you forget about pressure and expectations and to be part of a larger team- not just an American team but a World team- is the most awesome feeling that exists, I’m pretty sure.

Noah and myself sporting our attire that doubles as our opening ceremonies outfits as well as what we'll wear when we deliver long-winded lectures about astrophysics after our skiing careers

Today’s women’s 15 km duathlon kicked off the XC events. We had 4 girls race really well, with especially great performances by Jessie in 8th and Liz in 12th. Just watching the live feed from our room made me antsy to get out there and ski some more, and I’m getting more and more fired up for the sprint on Tuesday with every passing minute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

02.08

2014

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

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